I know the year isn’t quite over yet, but I wanted to go over a few things I’ve learned as a coach in 2018. I feel like I’ve really hit my stride as an endurance sports coach this year, and while I definitely don’t know everything I feel confident that I can help others reach their goals. Here’s my list for five the things I’ve learned about coaching in 2018.
1.Be Flexible. As a coach of adult athletes, I have come to truly realize that life happens for all of us. (No matter what perfectly curated social media images say!) And unfortunately, life is hard. I aim to be flexible with the athletes I coach as I understand that working full time and getting in the training is tough – not impossible, but definitely challenging. I would love my athletes to complete their workouts every week, every day, but I know that sometimes it’s just not gonna happen. From sick kids to sick pets, to maniacal weather – there are more important things than getting a green box in Training Peaks.
2. Ya Can’t Force Motivation on Someone Else. I recently spoke at a company about run coaching as part of their health initiative. As part of my talk I asked what the number one reason for hiring a coach was. One of the first responses I got was motivation. And man, I wish that was the case! I can’t force someone to be motivated. I don’t believe that is my job. Motivation comes from within. As much as I want everyone I coach to succeed if the drive isn’t there internally, there’s not much I can do. My answer to that question, by the way, is accountability. And accountability is much different from motivation.
3. Every Coach Has Their Own Method, But You Can Still Learn From Them. I have been fortunate to work with a slew of outstanding coaches and while I don’t agree with every methodology or philosophy out there, I have learned a lot from other coaches. I love to work with different coaches and discuss training with them. I also enjoy seeing athletes coached by others succeed. Successful athletes only help raise the sport and community for everyone else. In addition to learning positive styles and training tips from other coaches, I’ve seen some stuff that I don’t want to do. It’s less than the good stuff I’ve seen, but I will acknowledge that sometimes bad examples are still examples to learn from.
4. Athletes Change Coaches and It’s A-Ok. In the adult world, breakups happen. Firings happen. And at the end of the day, an athlete needs to do what is best for them. I myself have switched coaches and mostly it boils down to what my needs as an athlete are at that particular time. I will never be angry with someone who wants to move to a new coach. In fact, if they aren’t progressing with me, I encourage it! I wholeheartedly believe that the athlete-coach relationship is a collaboration – not a dictatorship.
5. My Athletes Teach Me. Being able to coach a variety of abilities and people from a lot of different backgrounds is a real blessing! My athletes are always teaching me things. Coaching is just as much a growing process as it is a teaching one. If I ever say I know everything – please throat punch me. I feel like athletes make the coach and not the other way around.
I am looking forward to 2019 and I will have a New Year’s post for you. Plus, I’ve got another trip lined up for the Gulf Coast at the end of next month! Who else is running Big Beach?!
After much thought on my next marathon, I’ve decided to downgrade to the half marathon at Jacksonville in December. I had intended to run the full but in light of some new discoveries, my coach and I decided it would be best to push that next full into a different race for 2019. So, what’s the story?
Well, let’s look back at Chicago. And my training. I did all of the training – in the Florida heat and felt pretty tired through most of it. I felt like garbage in Chicago and after. And I still feel really wiped out after long runs. My coach suggested I have my blood work done to see if I am low on iron and/or ferritin. And, as it turns out, I am. And I’m not. Wait, what? Let me explain.
*First up, what’s ferritin? According to the internet, it’s an “intracellular protein that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion.” In reviewing my blood work, my ferritin was at 33. Now, for normal people, meaning non-runners, the levels are quantified as 12-300 for men and 12-150 for women, so this would mean I was good to go. Right? Eh….
The internet says that this number with regards to performance feels different for everyone and that the recommended numbers are probably different from those who are sedentary. Iron, in general, is needed by everyone but a surplus is good for runners as without it, we experience fatigue and that can cause a drop in performance. (Please understand I am not a doctor, this is just all internet research and working with my coach.)
Everyone loses iron in the same ways: through their feet from striking the ground while running, through sweat (ah, hello, Florida), and through the intestines (AKA pooping). But we women are especially lucky and also lose it through our monthly visitor. Apparently, female runners are more likely to be iron deficient because their dietary intake of iron tends to be poor. I mean, I like red meat now and again, but I am pretty terrible at leafy green vegetables. And to top it all off, training induces an additional loss of iron. Awesome.
I’ve read that ferritin levels in some studies for women suggest the minimum be raised to 40, and that elite runners try to get their ferritin levels up into 70. Some of this is trial and error and having blood work done regularly throughout training. Now that I know mine could use an increase, I will take a supplement and wait for the two to three months for it to raise my levels to see if I feel better. Unfortunately, since it is getting cooler out it may be tough to decide if I feel better due to the ferritin or if it’s just no longer 11 billion degrees. The true test will come next summer.
I’m not sure why this wouldn’t have been a problem for me before now, but I ain’t no spring chicken and we do know how things change as we age. I am not sold on this being a magic bullet and all of the sudden I start crushing races like I’m Mo Farrah, but I don’t think the iron supplement can hurt. I plan to take it with Vitamin C for better absorption and pay attention to any side effects I may encounter. I will keep you all posted on this as I start taking the supplement this week. Fingers crossed.
*Again, not a doctor. These are just my opinions and research on this matter. If you think you have low iron/ferritin, go get blood work done. See a doctor.
Iron Deficiency in Runners
Iron Level Upkeep For Runners
If you are confused and thought you were coming to Discombobulated Running – don’t be! You are in the right spot!
Before I get into all that I have to say hello to Bob and Kevin! Both are readers I got to meet IRL this weekend while volunteering and spectating at Ironman Florida! Heeeeeeey guys! (Bob, I promise not to post about how I’m sorry I haven’t posted. Ha!)
Ok, back to this here new blog page and coaching services.
I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected from Discombobulated Running for a while now. Not because I no longer love running and blogging, but because somewhere along the way these last NINE years, I’ve become, well, less discombobulated. I’ve grown as an athlete and as a coach. I have always maintained that my favorite thing about endurance sports is the finish line. And I’ve had that I Heart Finish Lines verbiage in my head for quite some time. I did print up and sell some shirts with the name a while ago, and it’s my coaching business name. It only made sense that I rebrand everything to that.
After several edits to the logo design, I was thrilled when we (the graphic designer) and I finally landed on the one you see now. I have several different color options I’ll work with moving forward, but the one I chose for the blog seemed the best for both men and women. This way, with my coaching clients and anyone else who wants to wear I Heart Finish Lines gear it’s a fairly neutral design. I truly love it and the direction I’m headed with all of this.
The direction is to continue growing my coaching business and keep blogging about all the things! It’s really what you came for, right? I’m not promising to blog weekly at this point, but I will continue to do my best to pop on here and opine about this sport that gives so many of us so much joy. And, I will be flying my I Heart Finish Lines flag at my races. And other people’s races. And probably to sleep in. Basically, I’ve got merch!
Speaking of merch, I have a gear store open from now until December 2. I don’t make a profit on this but I would like to hit the minimums and see all of you in a sweet I Heart Finish Lines tank or tee, while you cross those finish lines! (The “flowy” tank runs large, so size down.) Click HERE to shop.
As always, thank you all for reading. Can you believe I’ve had this space for NINE years? It’s crazy!