Jessica Kuepfer was an injury-prone runner who felt she wasn’t reaching her true potential as an athlete. She hired a coach and just celebrated her first 12-month cycle without a single injury. She explores what training with a coach looks like for a non-professional runner. You can read about finding the right coach in the first part of the series here.

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While I understand that every coach-athlete relationship is different, I wanted to share what it’s like for me. Hiring a coach was the best decision I’ve made for my running performance and it has made me a stronger, smarter athlete.

Once my coach and I decided to work together, it was time to get down to business. He had already analyzed my stride, knew my weaknesses as he had treated my injuries before and was aware of my current training schedule. We didn’t have too much information to fill in so we got to move forward.

He’s passionate and coaches everyone from beginner to elite level. What was important to me was that he believed that each athlete needed to be treated individually and tailored my workouts to my goals. Here’s a look at what it looks like to train with a coach:

Communication

Communication between my coach and I is vital for success.

To begin, we met for coffee and went over my hopes for the year. He explained that he was scaling back my milage and rebuilding slowly because his philosophy is to train smart, not hard. Ever since then, we meet regularly to go over my goals and adjust as needed.

My coach and I text consistently. I give him updates on how I’m feeling, how my workouts went, what my energy is like and first signs of any injury. It’s better to take one or two days off than it is one of two weeks.

We also use a training platform called Training Peaks where I can see my workouts for each week and leave notes on my split times or overall impression on each workout.

Sample training week outline

Sample training week outline

Consistency

My coach comes up with a plan and shares it weekly. It’s a slow, healthy build with as few interruptions to regular training as possible. The more consistent the build, the better the results.

Accountability

After each workout, I upload my files to Training Peaks and he can see if I followed his instructions. Having that accountability allows me to focus on my times and paces, not comparing my workouts to anyone else and reaching my potential.

Encouragement

If I have a bad workout, bomb a race or just am dreading a long run, my coach is there to remind me of my past successes and guide me to a positive mental state. He’s just as invested in my success as I am.

Trust

Having a coach with years of experience in helping athletes allows me to fully trust my coach. I cannot stress this enough. I always ask before adding anything to my running such as an extra tempo in a long run or an unexpected race. Not only that, but I am also prepared to listen if he suggests backing off. I know he has my best interests in mind for my overall performance. I also buy into the workouts that he prescribes. They are set to a specific time and intensity for a reason so I try not to be a hero and go faster than suggested.

I will be sharing my new learnings throughout the 2016 running season, but in the meantime, you can find me on twitter@lacesandlattes and my personal blog.


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