Sharing the Joy

8 June 2014, 12:00 am
Published in Blog

Seeing the smile on someone else's face or hearing the joy in her/his voice provides me with the greatest reward.

When I decided to become a running coach, I made this decision based on wanting to help people find the joy in running that I have experienced. Too many people think of running as a punishment, and in many ways, society has taught us this. Many coaches in other sports use running as a punishment for messing up or not performing well. This has even resulted in t-shirts being made that read "My sport is your sport's punishment."

What most people don't realize, however, is that nothing could be further from the truth. Running can be one of the most freeing experiences. It can take away the all the day's stress. It can give time to yourself to think. It can help you make new friends with similar interests, and so much more ...

Don't get me wrong, however, running is not always easy. Sometimes you simply don't feel like it, and you have to convince yourself to go. But in the end rarely does anyone say, "I really wish that I had stayed home instead of going for a run."

One of my jobs as a coach is to help people achieve this, and there is nothing better than seeing this transformation in our clients.

A perfect example of this is a client (and now a friend) who wanted to find motivation to train through the winter and to run a winter half marathon. I started to work with him one-on-one after he had been through a few Runner's Alley's training groups. We ran together and trained a couple times a week over a 12 week period. During that time, we worked on several issues, including running form, running hills and training in winter conditions.

Over the course of training for the half marathon, what happened was not simply that our client became a better runner, but he also began to embrace running and to enjoy running. At one point, we were running hills, and I provided him some coaching on how to become a better hill runner. He began to incorporate this training, and he immediately noticed the difference. He became a more confident and happier runner. There were several of these occasions, and he still reminds me of these when we run together today.

Recently I decided to go on a run for a couple hours on a Sunday morning at Mount Agamenticus in York, Maine, and he decided to come along. This wasn't a coaching run. It was simply a training run on the trails (since I run both road and trail races). He had expessed hesitancy about running the trails before, but he decided to join in and give it a chance.

The trails at Mount Agamenticus can be challenging at times. There is climbing and technical single track mixed with non-technical double track trails. Our run started off with a climb up Mount A followed by a descent and some rolling hills around the mountain.

After a couple hours, we ended back at the parking lot. And he had really enjoyed the run and the challenges that it had brought. Once again, it was great to see the smile on his face and to have introduced him to a new aspect of running.

Zosha Training can do the same for you, regardless of what you're looking to accomplish. Let us introduce you to new experiences and show you the joys of running!

Now, let's run!

And so it begins ...

16 May 2014, 12:00 am
Published in Blog

For anyone who has previously visited Zosha Training's website, you'll notice that we have a brand new look. We hope that you enjoy the update.

As part of this update, we have added a blog to the site. We'll try to update the blog regularly, but it will not always happen on the same day of the week, etc.

The purpose of the blog is to share our thoughts with you on a variety of subjects in a relatively quick and concise manner. Most of the time the posts will be running, health or nutrition related. But sometimes they may not be. They may be related to something going in on the world, other sports, etc.

In addition to the posts, we will also be writing more in-depth articles that you will be able to find in the resources section of our site.

Happy and safe running!

Risk, Reward and the Big Picture

28 May 2014, 12:00 am
Published in Blog

"I'd like to do it, but ..." How many times have you found yourself saying this? Whether we are thinking about doing something on our bucket list or we are presented with an opportunity, we've all said, "I'd like to do it, but ..." Just insert our excuse (real or imagined) for why we can't do whatever it is. Whether the opportunity is professional or personal, it doesn't matter. The reaction is usually the same.

It's easy for us to remain in our comfort zones. It is much harder to take a chance and do something new, even if it is something that we've always wanted to do.

When we decide that we want to get out of our comfort zone, we should look at a few factors to determine how to proceed. These factors are risks, rewards and the big picture.

At Zosha Training, many people come to us having made the decision to get out of their comfort zone. Whether this means starting to run, running a new distance or trying to run faster, it is always important to have the risk, rewards and big picture conversation in order to understand what the best approach will be for each person as an individual.

Let's start with the big picture. For some, this may mean starting to run in order to become healthier or to lose weight. For others, this may mean crossing something off their list (for example, to run a 5K, to run a half marathon, to run a marathon in all 50 states, to qualify for the Boston Marathon, etc.). While for others, it may be something completely different.

Within the context of the big picture goals, we then discuss risks and rewards and how they fit in. We will never tell a prospective client what he/she should or shouldn't do (or even agree to work with him/her) without first having an honest conversation about risks, rewards and the big picture.

Why does this matter? It is important that both the coach and the athlete are on the same page when it comes to training, otherwise there is a great likelihood that what follows will not be a positive experience for anyone.

When I was new to running, I met with a prospective coach. I told him my goals for the next 12 months, which included a spring marathon (my first one) and a fall marathon. Without having a full discussion of risks, rewards and the big picture, I was instead discouraged from wanting to run more than one marathon in a year because "it would be too much" and "we only have so many miles in us". After leaving the meeting and thinking about what had happened, I realized that this was not going to be good arrangement for the coach or for me.

From my personal perspective, my big picture is that I am an long distance, endurance runner, and I want to run as many distance events (marathons, ultramarathons and stage races) as I can. I'll never be competing with the elites, and I understand this. I want to run these events for me, to have fun and to enjoy these new experiences in life. Having said this, however, I also do want to improve, to run faster, to run stronger, to run longer.

So what about the risks and rewards? First and foremost, I understand that running is a sport where athletes are very prone to injury. The more we run, the greater the risk that we will experience an injury. Therefore, the risk that I take is that as I run more and more miles, I understand that I am exposing myself to a greater chance of injury.

I could easily back off my mileage and or my training intensity. I could say that I'm only going to run one marathon or ultramarathon a year. This would reduce my risk, but for me, it would also lessen my reward and impact my big picture.

In my first year of running distance events, I ended up running three marathons and two 50K ultramarathons. In the course of training, I did experience injury, but nothing that was significant enough to stop me from achieving my big picture goals.

This is how I will continue to train; however, it will always be in the context of the big picture. For example, this fall I will be running the New York City Marathon. In the context of this framework, my goal is remain healthy so that I can run NYC and have fun. This means that I probably will not run as many marathons and ultras prior to November as I would like to, but that's OK.

What is your big picture of your running? Let us know, and Zosha Training will work with you to achieve your goals on your terms.

Now let's run!