Friday Five: Working with a Running Coach

It’s Friday and time for another fun link up with Courtney, Mar & Cynthia. Our theme this week? “Five things I love about…”

Lots of things came to mind for this theme, but then I started thinking about a conversation I’d had recently with my youngest son about why I was working with Coach Bennett. His exact words were – “Why don’t you just get out there and run?” Hmm…fair question. So I thought I’d share what I love about working with a running coach.

Coaching roadsign
Customized training plan — A running coach will develop a personalized plan for you taking into account your current fitness level, running history and current goals. It takes all the guess work out of picking a training plan.

Progressing smartly — Closely tied with reason #1, is working with a coach will help you to progress at a pace that will hopefully minimize the risk of injury. Life happens and training runs are missed – I’ve found it very helpful to have someone to help figure out when and how to get the miles in (or, equally importantly, when to let them go!)

Move beyond comfort zone — While progressing smartly, I have also found it very beneficial to have someone to push nudge me out of my comfort zone. (Hill repeats and some of my more aggressive speedwork would never have happened without Coach Bennett!)

Sounding board — A good running coach is definitely part therapist. A coach can help you with the mental side of running – helping to keep you both motivated and focused.

Race strategy — Having someone who can help you objectively review your training, set realistic race goals and map out a strategy for getting there is a huge bonus!

Have you ever worked with a running coach? If not, would you want to?


Let the base-building begin

Happy Monday!

It never ceases to amaze me how a few miles out on the pavement can be such a mood-booster! After bemoaning the affects of the Polar Vortex last week, Mother Nature decided to show some mercy this weekend in the form of temps in the high 40s and low 50s. While Saturday’s run was not without some rain and wind, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. And if I’m to believe our local weather people, this January thaw should continue throughout the week.

The Start

Perfect timing as it’s time for me to get focused and start re-building my base for my spring races. I’m looking forward teaming up with Coach Bennett again and getting back to following a training plan! Goals for this week: log 16 miles, 2 strength workouts, at least one day of yoga , in addition to my daily planks.

Did you get to enjoy a break in the temps? What are you planning for this week?


Friday Ramblings

Sitting here in a quiet house with the dog at my feet and coffee cup in hand…

There has been at least one, if not both, boys home sick since Tuesday! I was happy to see both smiling faces heading off to camp this morning – I swear there’s nothing worst than seeing your children not feel well 🙁

Between the sick kids and my cranky left hip, running has been a bit challenging this week. I am trying very hard to not get hung up in the miles I’ve missed, knowing that the cross-training will help and getting this hip happy is priority one!

Changes in family plans means I’ve needed to change up my fall racing schedule – I won’t be running ZOOMA in September so I’ve been on the hunt for another race to use as a “tune up” before I get to the B.A.A. Half in October. Though I think I’ve now found the source of my recent GI issues, Coach Bennett thinks it will be helpful to put my body through “race conditions” and see how I respond. So I think I’ll be adding this to my schedule:

countdown_wickedHalf It’s run on a beautiful course through Salem & Marblehead – Can. Not. Wait!

Seriously, how is it Friday again already? I feel like I just finished coming down from last weekend’s birthday fun and here we are again. Don’t get me wrong – I love seeing Friday arrive, but this summer is flying by way too fast! We still have a number of things left on our family summer bucket list!

We’ll get one more item checked off tomorrow as we’ll be catching a Boston Cannons’ game! My hubs J was elected to his lacrosse league’s all-star game (so proud of him!)  and they’ll be playing their game before the Cannons. So the boys and I are going to go cheer on our All-Star and then we’re all hanging out for the Cannons’ game afterwards!

How are you doing with your Summer Bucket list?

Do you run tune-up races?



Week 15 – Race Week

It’s week 15 of my half marathon training plan and it’s finally race week! Finish-Line

Yes I know I’ve already run four races this year, but when I started this year with the goal of running 13 races I had circled a couple on the calendar that are in my mind “goal races”…and this weekend’s half marathon is one of them.

So the wonderful Coach Bennett went about designing a 15-week plan for me that would allow me to fit in the other races while keeping my eye on this goal race. Not an easy task I’m sure and I know there have been moments as he’s looked the race schedule where he’s been shaking his head – but to his credit he’s not discouraged me and I’ve appreciated his support!

This week is all about some light running, yoga, getting enough sleep, prepping a playlist, setting race goals and carefully watching what I eat (no repeats of the Newport 10 miler drama!). In general I think race week is really all about the mental prep – the training’s done so the trick now is not to psyche yourself out before you get to the starting line.

So tell me — How do you handle race week?





Quick Wednesday Shout-out

If you’ve been around here for a while then you’ve heard me sing the praises of my running coach Bennett Cohen. With Bennett’s guidance I have gotten “comfortable with being uncomfortable,” become a better runner, and hit some PRs, all while keeping my sometimes cranky ITB from becoming downright uncooperative.

When Bennett told me that he was putting together an eBook titled “Injury-free Running for Women over 40” (did I mention that he specializes in coaching “boomers”) I was happy to sign on as an affiliate and spread the word. I knew the advice – it has worked for me.

So I wanted to give him a quick shout-out and mention that the introductory price special he’s been running ends on Thursday, April 4th. You can check it out HERE or click on the book image on my sidebar.




Embracing the Challenge

Today begins week 6 of half marathon training.

Recently Coach Bennett sent me the next two phases of my training plan. Since I was struggling with my runs due to my cranky ITB, I’d held off reviewing the rest of the plan – until yesterday.  I got a good look at the target paces, hill work, weekly mileage – and took a deep breath.  Time to get out of my comfort zone again 🙂

But I’m looking forward to moving into this next phase of training.  I did the things I needed to do to calm my ITB and am back to pain-free miles. So I’ll continue to do the strength work and exercises necessary to hopefully avoid any hiccups moving forward. And it is time to move forward – I’m ready to embrace the challenge.

“Embrace the challenge”  has really become my mantra for this training cycle – I’m going after each workout with enthusiasm and confidence…maybe it’s time to create a new comfort zone!


Good stuff happening

First off — Welcome to the new and improved Running with Attitude! After announcing on more than one occasion that I wanted to move from Blogger to a self-hosted site I’ve finally made it happen — Thanks hugely to Rita at Blog Genie, who I swear has the patience of a saint for answering all of my many questions 🙂

As for the Blizzard of 2013, I’m happy to say the RWA household had a good time. Despite the incredible winds and 24 inches of snow, we didn’t lose power and all around us seems pretty intact. There were lots of movies, games, snow fort building, snowball fights, cooking, laughing and, yes shoveling. The only downside is school is closed again today which means at this rate my boys won’t finish the school year until June 26th! (But that’s a bridge I guess we’ll cross later)

I’m also thrilled to say to I’m teaming up with running coach Bennett Cohen again! Bennett specializes in coaching women boomers (yes those of us 40 and older), and if you’ve been around here for a bit then you know he helped guide me to three PRs last fall. Bennett’s going to help me get ready for my spring goal race, Boston’s Run to Remember. We’ve got 15 weeks and it starts today!

How was your weekend?


3 Things: Almond milk, gym and PRs


Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk is my new guilty pleasure. If you are a fan of chocolate milk post-run, this is a must try! Just the thought of having a glass of this dark chocolately goodness got me through a trip to the gym… and you all know how much I love my gym (insert sarcasm here!)

Yes thanks to a lovely combination of snow that switched over to icy rain, I made my first appearance this year at my gym for a lunch date with the ‘mill. While I whined the whole way over there … and even briefly considered skipping my run altogether, I’m really glad I went. The gym was basically empty so there were no gym crazies to contend with – win! Training plan called for intervals, and if I have any hope of keeping my sanity on a treadmill, speed work is the way to go – so double win!

I want to give a shout out to my running coach Bennett Cohen who will be hosting a great teleclass tonight called “Nail Your Personal Best Regardless of the Candles on Your Cake.” Bennett helped me shave over 5 minutes off my half marathon PR on hilly courses so I encourage you to check out this call. You can find the call details HERE


Lessons from Training

As I make my racing plans for 2013, it seems only fitting that I do so based on lessons I learned during the past training cycle.

Lesson 1 – Get comfortable with  being uncomfortable
Almost from the outset, I remember looking at the workouts, target paces and mileage Coach Bennett had laid out for me and often my thought was – “he wants me to do what?!” But I chose to work with a running coach because I wanted to shake things up, right? So good bye comfort zone!

Lesson 2 – Trust in the training
Despite being uncomfortable, I followed my plan as it was laid out.  This was much more a test of me getting out of my head (fighting the “I can’ts” or “What ifs?”), and just taking each run as it came.

Lesson 3 – Hill work will make you stronger
‘Nuff said here.

Lesson 4 – Listen and be kind to your body
As much as I embraced my plan, I was also careful to listen to my body and cut a run short or take the rest day when I needed it. I was also diligent in what I call “proactive self care” – in the form of lots of foam roller, icing, massages and a lot more yoga. Collectively, I believe this all helped me to stay off the injured-reserve list.

Lesson 5 – Reflect and find the positives
My bi-weekly calls with Coach Bennett were so critical for this. As I mentioned HERE before the ZOOMA Half Marathon, the biggest gift Bennett gave me was to help me to take the time to look back, whether it was the past 2 weeks, the past month or the entire training cycle. To remind yourself of the challenges faced, obstacles overcome and successes all help to put your mind in the right space.

For 19 weeks I worked with Coach Bennett – through the crazy heat of summer, through hill work, through a sometimes cranky ITB, through many, many miles…and the results this fall were 3 races and 3 PRs. But more importantly, I believe I’m a changed runner, which will hopefully serve me well as I get ready for 2013.



Chilly Half Marathon Race Recap

All last week I had been agonizing over the hilly route, imaginary aches and pains, the weather & what to wear, my less than stellar final long run….you get the picture.

On Friday, I had a final call with Coach Bennett to discuss race strategy. Then Saturday morning I found this email from Bennett in my inbox:

Have a great run on Sunday.
 Be confident that you have trained well and
that you are well prepared to reach your goal.
I’ll be cheering for you (virtually).
“Run hard, be strong, think big!”
Percy Cerutty, legendary running coach

I read and re-read that email several times on Saturday and once more before heading to the start. Surprisingly, for all my angst all week, I was very calm Sunday driving to the race. Timing worked perfectly and I snagged a parking space with about a half hour before the race started. I ate a banana, took a short warm up run, and since I had time I opted for the indoor bathrooms. Then I headed to the starting area and chatted with a few other runners.  One runner, who had run the race before, warned me where the hills were and in particular to be prepared for one last climb at mile 12…seriously!?!? But despite what I was hearing, I was surprised at how calm I was.

The start was a bit of a mess as there were no corrals to self-seed and it was quickly clear that some people were not where they should have been. The lack of seeding plus the narrow streets made it pretty hectic. Adrenaline definitely kicked in because I went out too fast! I kept checking my Garmin and knew I should reel it in, but I was feeling really good. I decided I’d just keep going for the first 5 miles, knowing that the hills were coming. I saw J and the boys just around the first mile marker. I settled in, enjoyed my tunes and the first 5 miles seem to fly by. I’d see my family again, this time my dad and brother were there too. I don’t know how they managed it but my family seem to be everywhere on the course! (Other runners even commented on how great it was that they were out there, especially since in many spots they were the only spectators!)

As I got into the hills, I let go of looking at my Garmin and ran by feel as Bennett had advised. The water stops weren’t where I expected them so I didn’t take a GU until around mile 6. Almost instantly my stomach was not happy. Hills and an unhappy stomach?!? I took a couple of short walk breaks, hoping things would settle and just willing myself to the 8 mile marker, as I knew there would finally be a big down hill coming. As we came out on to Comm Ave I got the biggest smile on my face — the downhill 🙂 I fell in step with another runner and we chatted a little and just soaked in being able to open it up again.

The course was open to traffic and the police were doing an amazing job of keeping runners and cars moving — until we reached a large intersection where Beacon St and Comm Ave meet. All of the sudden we had a police officer telling us to stop for the traffic. He apologized but said that some local area groups (including a church) had complained that they were holding up people in traffic too long because of the race. So there a group of us stood on a corner, trying to keep our legs going… waiting. I didn’t even want to look at my Garmin and see the seconds ticking by. When we started again, my legs were not happy but at least I was running again.

No bling?! Finishers’ Gloves

Around 10 1/2 miles I spotted my oldest son running down the sidewalk towards me. He ran with me and told me he and J were leaving for his lacrosse tournament. So we wished each other good luck and I thanked him for sticking around for so long. (He did make it in time for the 2nd half of his first game!) The 12 mile marker appeared and I thought, ok one more hill. As I got to the top, I felt a little light-headed (despite having taken another GU at mile 10), I started to walk for a second and I heard a woman behind me say “Oh don’t stop. I’ve been pacing off of you for the last couple of miles.” I told her how I was feeling and she encouraged me to pace off of her. I promised her I’d catch up and that she should keep going; and soon I started to run again. There was one final uphill before the finish so I just tried to focus on picking off each runner in front of me. Then I came up on the woman who’d been pacing off me. I ran up beside her and urged her to push with me to the finish – and we came across the line together!

2:26 and a 3 minute PR! I was ecstatic!
I have lots of thought swirling in my head regarding this training cycle, but this post is long enough, so I will save those for another day.