Saturday, January 8, 2011

Annie: Get a coach.

This week's exercise lesson: if you're trying something new, get a coach.

Mae and I are both trying to learn to run. We are both trying out programs recommended to us by others - similar, but not exactly the same.

Despite having prescribed programs used successfully by others, we've both been having trouble - because we didn't ask questions.

As you may have read in Mae's post this week, once she asked the person who'd recommended the program about what she was doing (which seemed to be too much, too soon), she realized she was following the wrong version of the program.

For my part, I thought I had it all figured out: the faithful Mo had built a reasonable-looking run/walk program to build me up to my 5K in May - she had even put dates to all the workouts for me, so I'd know exactly when to start, and what to do. She even gave me a logbook to track my progress.

So what else could I possibly need, right?

Well, it turns out we don't all have the same definition of "run." Since my first post a couple of weeks back about having run two minutes, I've incorporated two minutes of running into each treadmill session (45 minutes total).

But even though it was only two minutes, and not even consecutively, I was finding it pretty challenging, and was halfway secretly doubting I'd ever really be able to run more than a couple of minutes without stopping.

I talked to the faithful Mo about it one evening this week, and we got on the topic of how fast I was running for my two minutes (between 4.5 and 5.0 mph). She instantly said that was too fast - that I should be between 4.0 and 4.5 at this stage, no more.

This morning, I did my two minutes at 4.3 - and lo and behold, I can actually see how I might be able to build up to significantly more.  Hallelujah!

Maybe someday I will be able to run at 5 mph - but not now, and not safely at my current weight.

So the moral of the story is: get a coach. And if (you're lucky like me and) you have one available to you, use her! Ask questions! Don't assume you know what you're doing! Because honestly, if I'd kept trying to run at 5 mph as I began my gradual conditioning program next month, I may very well have given up, thinking I simply couldn't do it.

If you don't have a friend like Mae's or a faithful Mo like I do, and you can't afford a personal trainer, there's a great range of online coach programs and apps available, like the Adidas miCoach system (check out a video about it here) and the Nike Training Club app. 

Some advice has got to be better than none - you don't have to do it alone!


  1. A little bit every day... that's one of the things I remember the most from my coach! :)

  2. Hahaha - if only YOUR coach practiced what he preached, his wife wouldn't end up packing at 3am the night before every trip! :o)

  3. CHRIS! I didn't even know you were reading! <3