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Hiring a Coach

Hiring a Coach

For my family and friends close to me, it hasn’t been a secret I haven’t been feeling well.  Outside of running, the last two months have been filled with highs and lows, ups and downs.  Right now I don’t know what’s causing my issues.  I have a hunch my body is rebelling against the self-created stress but to rule anything more serious,  I’ve opted to schedule another Inside Tracker to make sure my blood work is at least healthy.

Thinking out loud, now is also the perfect time to also tell you, I’ve hired a coach.  Hiring, meaning: I am paying full price.  I didn’t want a coach I wasn’t paying because honestly, I would find myself not listening, paying attention or putting little effort into following the plan.  Why waste either of our time that way?

I also didn’t want a coach I felt obligated to blast on social media because they were coaching me in exchange for social media promotion.

I wanted someone with credentials and already built success but also someone that matched my personality type well.

Competing in both swimming and cross country for college (you can read my entire story here), I’ve had every sort of coach you can imagine.  From the ones screaming and checking up on you every single minute to more casual who trust you will follow what they give you.  I tend to do better with someone who trusts me (not that I can really hide running on a running blog…).

In the past, I’ve talked to multiple coaches that I don’t connect with, or I can tell I’m going to be miserable.  So since my college coach, I’ve been training alone.  While not linear, I’ve improved to an 18:13 5k or 1:22.57 half marathon but I’ve also had my fair share of injuries and burnouts too.

Working at the running store as well as being a supportive military wife, my schedule can be chaotic with sudden changes.  I also thrive on racing and enjoy seeing my friends or leading group runs from work.  I’m not a professional runner and running isn’t my job.  It’s my hobby.  I want to better myself but I don’t want to sacrifice my personal happiness.

After the Base Half Marathon, in October (Yes I know that was almost 8 weeks ago), I began talking to James Mckirdy at Mckirdy Trained.  It’s hard to not to notice when one of your closest friends (Heather) drops over 20 minutes in her full marathon right into a BQ.  Of course, he has numerous other success stories too.

Several different coaches coach under Mckirdy Trained, but I am being coached by James himself.

So why am I writing this post 8 weeks later?

I had thought about saying 8 weeks ago right off the bat, by the way, I hired a coach, but honestly I couldn’t type out anything that sounded halfway normal.  As I drafted more and more incoherent posts, I ultimately put it on the backburner.  While hiring a coach is a big deal on a running blog, it isn’t a life or death decision.

As October turned into November, my body started not feeling the greatest (which had nothing to do with coaching).  So at the time saying: I hired a coach but now I feel like $hit, didn’t really do anyone any favors either.

So here I am almost 2 months later, telling you why my training has drastically changed.  I’m running fewer miles more frequently.  I’m also doing more workouts. I can feel myself getting faster and I’ve run my fastest races post injury (Medford Lakes Turkey Trot 5k 18:30) and (Dallas Half Marathon 1:23.44).

I haven’t PRed yet but that takes time and the final piece of figuring out what is going on with my body.  Last Sunday I ran the Dallas Half Marathon in 1:23.44.  It’s my third fastest half marathon, but my body felt like garbage.  Both times I ran faster half marathons, I felt on top of the world and like I could go on forever.

I have nothing but positive things to say about Mckirdy coaching and even though it’s only been a couple of months, I would recommend him to anyone wanting a coach.

So that’s where I’m at with that.

Question for you: Do you have a coach? 

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25 responses

    • I’ve talked with several coaches over the past few years but never connected with anyone. When talking with Mckirdy Trained, I liked his coaching style and attitude so I thought why not?

  1. This is a great post Hollie. I am a running coach and also work with a coach too. I think it is nice to have someone else look at your running and goals from another perspective. I definitely feel like I have had great races thanks to my plans from someone else.

  2. So excited about this for you Hollie! You are so fast on your own that I can’t imagine the progress you will make with a bit more guidance. Can’t wait to hear which races you are aiming for because I know you’ll be successful!

  3. I can say for the coach’s side of this conversion that having a connection between athlete and coach is very important. I have been a coach in different sports for over 25 years. I have coach swim, wrestling, track, cross country, distance runners, and triathletes, and I can tell you that the connection has been the true reason it has worked or not worked.

    I also work as a lifeguard at two different YMCAs. This allows me to watch 2 YMCAs swim coaches, 5 high school coaches, and 1 college Division 2 coach. I can tell you that all 8 of them are very different in their coaching styles, I can tell you that all of them reach some of their athletes but none of them reach all of their athletes.

  4. “I also didn’t want a coach I felt obligated to blast on social media because they were coaching me in exchange for social media promotion.” wow I didn’t know that was a a thing. Congrats on the coach! I think that’s a very good step and Mckirdy seems like a great coach and runner! I can understand being battle scarred or cautious after college coaches 😉

    Regarding the feeling like garbage thing, it may be just your body adjusting to a slightly different training load. More intensity, different type of intensity, etc. Most of the time I consider feeling like garbage a normal part of training anyway, haha, and I don’t feel great until I get a big taper. I would say that 50-75% of my feeling in the middle of training cycles is one of garbage. But I remind myself to hang on because I know that the reward will come after a few weeks of tapering. Sometimes I forget this though and I question the garbage feeling. Also on that note, personally I need a long taper to feel great! Even for a 5k. I wish I was one of those people that just needed a week of tapering after a heavy training load, but I’m not. Everyone’s different though and figuring out with the coach how your body responds is part of the fun.

    Looking forward to seeing how your training progresses under Mckirdy. I have a feeling this is going to set you up for an amazing 2017! Even with injuries you still prove that you’re an amazing runner, overcoming them like nobody I know. You deserve many more breakthroughs 🙂

    • Sadly, I’ve been approached by many coaches for free coaching if I continue to publically announce it and honestly that is something I’m not comfortable doing. Thank you Mike and I always appreciate your support.

  5. Hollie! I just started working with James under one of his coaches Esther in October! I am such a fan, and have totally seen and felt improvements in just a few months. I’m sorry your body isn’t feeling well, that is the worst, especially if you have no idea whats going on. Sending you lots of positive vibes on feeling better soon!

  6. I just started working with one of the coaches of McKirdy too. Due to learning of Heather through your connection with her on the twitter and then of her success. Unfortunately I got injured after 3 weeks under coaching 😦 Not coaching related just dumb timing. I think my body is rebelling against me depleting it for too long. I’m trying to figure it out and hope to be back to being coachable soon. I was having a blast having something written on a schedule for me and just going out and executing. What stinks is that now I’m paying but don’t need a coach right now because I can’t run. Bummer. Here’s hoping and praying this mysterious pain disappears soon.

  7. I just wrote a post about this as well! I am not currently paying to work with a coach, because I won a free 3 months in a contest, but I was going to pay for one anyway and will pay to continue working with her when the free time has expired. I’m no where near as fast as you, but I am still starting to see improvements in my own overall fitness and I know that if I am just a little patient, I will start to see some PRs as well. I love the accountability that comes with hiring a coach and the variety of workouts that I’m now doing.

  8. I hope you feel better soon! You still had an excellent half marathon time. I was thinking about you the other day and wondering if you’d hired a coach because I noticed your training logs looked a little different.

    I don’t have a coach because it’s not in my budget. This adulting thing is hard with a mortgage, savings, Clay’s student loans, and retirement to fund, and I only run to socialize and be with friends. If I had bigger running goals like time or competition based, I would consider it. I have done a few local training programs and been successful with those, including one where the coach of the program spent a lot of time helping me one on one and I liked that. He took the guesswork out of it, I liked showing up 2x a week to the practices and doing whatever workout he assigned rather than overthinking it. He doesn’t do the program anymore but he’s still so encouraging and I learned a lot from him (I still ask his advice today). So, I think a coach can be a great thing if you have big goals, as you do, and it’s in your budget. I do agree with paying as well because that monetary investment keeps people accountable.

  9. I do work with a coach! I love the accountability. I also love the training plans that are tailored to me. I can’t wait to hear more about your training experience as you continue to work with James McKirdy!

  10. I hope that you feel better soon! I worked with a coach once…she was lovely but it just wasn’t a good fit (and wound up with a DNF at the marathon I was aiming for). I’ve been turned off since then but have also learned A LOT more about what works for me. Plus I am more enjoying slowly getting faster and a loose plan vs the pressure of what to do daily. I feel like the coach/athlete connection is SO important and glad you found it (and see how well people do under McKirdy so excited for you!).
    I see coaches giving out cookie cutter plans to so many people without really individualizing and kind of boggles my mind people pay for them. For more average runners I feel paying is a waste year round when you can find a lot of identical plans yourself for free.

  11. I have been working with a McKirdy trained coach, Esther, since June. She is amazing, and while I’ve had some health issues (unrelated to running) that prevented me from racing much this year, I absolutely love the structure and feedback she provides. I can feel myself gaining fitness week-on-week as I complete workouts, and she’s always supportive and responsive. Plus she tells me flat out when she thinks something is a bad idea for my overall recovery. McKirdy Trained is actually the second coaching service I’ve tried. I used a different one in my Boston preparations last year and I got to the start line completely burnt out (and pretty much hating running). It’s definitely important to do some homework in advance on style and approach! I hope you start feeling better with your health in general!

  12. Small world – I recently won a McKirdy Trained giveaway for three months of coaching, and already love my coach so much I will 100% continue with her when my three months are up. I’ve been running marathons for almost 10 years and am kicking myself for not doing it sooner! I wish you continued success.

  13. This is too funny. I also signed up with McKirdy Coaching (I’m working with Mary). I also haven’t really talked about it on the blog yet and was just waiting for the appropriate time. James seems like a wonderful coach, I’m sure you will be crushing those PRs in no time. 🙂

  14. This may sound weird, but I’ve always wondered if you had worked with a coach before or if you currently had a coach … I’m excited to see what you can do with additional guidance for your training. You are crazy fast anyway, so I can only imagine where you are headed. This is super exciting!

  15. I just hired my first run coach to help me train for my second marathon in May. I expect it will help me a lot. It’s nice to see that even very fast runners like yourself feel the need for coaching. I hope it will be a positive experience.

  16. Very exciting news! Like you, I experienced a wide range of coaches throughout high school and collegiate athletes. It took me a few years to find my current coach, but he is perfect: very knowledge and process-oriented, plus he trusts me to do workouts; he’s basically the opposite of a “helicopter” coach.

  17. Was part of a run club where we had a coach. We did a ton of speed training, and for the first couple of months, it worked. But my body rebelled. Eventually, my times dropped and workouts that were progressively more challenging reverted into weekly setbacks.

    Backed away from those style of workouts and alternated hills/speed on a weekly basis, plus a normal weekend long run, and dropped my half marathon time by 5 minutes from last year.

  18. I’ve been thinking about hiring a trainer. I feel like it could help me. The problem is that I have paid for a trainer before (through the Les Mills GRIT program at a gym), but it didn’t work for me. I didn’t do well with someone feeling the need to scream at me to motivate. I think it was a case of just not meshing well together but it turned me off to the entire idea.

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