13.1 in 1:46. It wasn’t the shoes, it was the coach.

I had been feeling pain in my right ankle for a few weeks, which I finally realized was because I had broken down the soles of my shoes. I’ve been running on these shoes since August! I started using Training Peaks to track my shoe mileage in January, and according to the site I’d put 200 miles on the shoes. Its likely I’d run 500 miles on those sneakers; certainly a couple triathlons and half marathons. It was time for new shoes. I went back to New Balance and there’s a new model of the shoes I wear, now in hideous electric blue or bumblebee yellow. I now have a pair of ugly blue New Balance which correct my supination.

I am three weeks away from Oceanside 70.3, and I am knee-deep in heavy training. The slow tapering begins this coming week, but I’ve been going hard since last weekend and the Desert Tri training race. Today had a 1:45 descending interval run on the books. In the last few times I’ve done them I’ve gotten faster as the intervals get shorter, even though fatigue sets in slowly. I’ve been known to touch 7 minute miles doing this, which in the past I’ve blamed the Garmin for lying to me. I’ve come to acknowledge, slowly, that I am getting faster on foot. When Coach Brian offered to run with me after I went shoe shopping I happily took him up on the offer because 1) he’s a great, inspiring coach, 2) he gets me to run faster than I think I can, 3) company on a run is so much better than running alone, and 4) I really like his friendship. It turned out to be a breakthrough run for me.

This is what great coaching is all about: breakthrough workouts that change how we see ourselves. I was hitting 7’s and 6:30’s in 1/4 mile Farklets, even holding 7’s for longer than I thought. Brian pushes me to go beyond what I think I can do and helps me to realize my potential. He does this by creating workouts that done on my own keep things interesting and playful. When we go out together, he talks me through theory and practice and I implement it as a live fire drill. Stuck in my own head I can often demotivate myself, talk myself out of what I think I can do. But Brian knows what I can do – he sees the data coming back to him through Training Peaks and adjusts my workouts accordingly.

An hour 46 is ten minutes faster than any race I’ve ever run. Instead of descending intervals we ran around Santa Monica beach and did 1/4 mile Farklet sprints 1-2 minutes per mile faster than our base pace. I no longer think the Garmin is lying now when it says I am running and holding a 6:45 or 6:30 pace. It’s amazing to me, though when I look at the watch and see it I still think, “crap – this locomotive is going off the track real soon”. Those speeds aren’t sustainable for long periods yet, but I know my body can do them and hold them for a little while. This means eventually I will be able to hold them and that will be my race pace. For Oceanside in three weeks I will try and throw in some intervals because it shakes things up a bit, wakes up the legs and mind, even after the exhausting swim and bike.

On our run Coach Brian and I talked about the comfort zone. As a change junkie I do what I can to break out of my comfort zone as much as I can. My sister and I talk about boredom being our enemy and I certainly use triathlon training as a way to stave off boredom. I dislike riding the same route every time, the monotony of laps in the pool can be torture, but I still create mind games to keep track of my form and my progress. Running, as I’ve said before, is hard for me because I don’t feel weightless as I do in the pool or the bike. But running is now finally giving me the reward of hard work, which feeds the change junkie habit, and reminds me to get out of the comfort zone more often. Brian raised a good point, that being comfort zone adverse can also mean overtraining, or doing dumb things that lead to injury, or compulsive training. Everything in moderation is the key, as always. But I need to mix things up. I have surrendered so much of my career to others in my writing, do so many repetitive tasks in my IT life, and struggle with the daily routine of routine that training is my safe outlet for change.

It is breakthrough workouts like today that shatter my sense of what I can do, which is way beyond just running quickly. It’s a way of looking at myself in the world. Change your expectations, change your limits, change your belief in what you are capable of doing. Brian is a gifted coach, he is seeing his clients make real progress which is good for him. The spirit of TNS Training is that people help people to achieve their goals. It is something I firmly believe in because I am experiencing it on a regular basis.

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2 responses to “13.1 in 1:46. It wasn’t the shoes, it was the coach.

  1. thanks max – the check is on the way!

    seriously, though, you are MUCH faster than you think you are – keep up the good work, it is paying off.

  2. Awesome job! Breakthrough workouts are always the best. You sound perfectly ready for Oceanside.

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