By Alex H.
Change. The word change even SOUNDS uncomfortable. As humans, we are creatures of habit. You probably don’t have to think too hard to come up with someone you know who orders the same thing every time you go out to eat with them, listens to the same few songs on repeat, or buys the same pair of running shoes year after year. It is not a bad thing by any means to find out what works for you and stick with it, but how can we truly adapt and grow without switching up our routines? How do we know that something out there is not better than what we are so comfortable with? As you can probably tell by now, I made a big change.
I’ve been coaching myself for the past 6 months and it has been driving me crazy. Sure, I help coach college runners, and have studied the science and art of coaching distance runners for longer than I can remember. Yes, I’ve taken pride in being the friend that people ask for advice on how to lower their 5k time, or what exercises to do to help strengthen a weak muscle that is leading to a nagging injury. I enjoy helping others reach their goals, and when someone instills their trust in me, it makes the process so much easier. But when I must put that same trust in myself, I question everything I think I know about this sport. Apparently, I am not alone. I have spoken to other coaches who have taken a crack at getting themselves to run fast, and they either end up going crazy picking workouts and mileage goals or get injured from pushing themselves too hard. In my situation, I was one step away from going crazy and quite possibly a single step away from injuring myself. I got much too used to riding that fine line between healthy and broken. I had to make a change, so I could focus on doing the work, and not creating the work.
The process of finding someone to write my workouts did not take long, and for that I am grateful. Matt Gosselin, Assistant Track and Cross-Country coach at Lasalle University, was an easy choice for me. At only 27 years old, he has already coached at three universities. In addition to his Lasalle position, Matt has coached at Binghamton University and the University of Pennsylvania. He has trained athletes from the 800 to the marathon, and those athletes have flourished to NCAA All-American performances, sub 4-minute miles, and sub 2:25 marathons. Matt also works as a coach at Pinnacle Performance, an elite training program for youth athletes, which partners with our very own Jenkintown Running Company.
The sport of distance running requires so much focus, and now I can spend all my mental energy on the workouts themselves, rather than creating them AND getting prepared mentally to attack them. I am fully aware that to reach my goals in this sport, I am going to have to keep making positive changes. That first change was taking three days off from running. If you know me well, you know this was a big step. I had only taken five days off from running in three years and became accustomed to 125 miles a week. Yes, it was difficult for me to realize I needed to rest a few days, but I now see sometimes we must take a step backwards to take a giant leap forward.
The type of running I will be doing is very new to me. We are building mileage slowly (which is far from what I am used to) but doing more purposeful training. Matt has created a six-month block which targets a fall marathon, and each day, week, and month is written so I can be my strongest when it is time to race. Although Matt is now the brains behind my training and will be doing the thinking and planning for me, that does not mean the workouts will sting less, or that going for a second run after a long day will take any less willpower. I still must do the work. I will be trying new things and taking new approaches to training, but I trust Matt, and any new changes the future will bring.
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