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!

Race Report: Saunders at Rye Harbor 10K 2013

24 September 2013, 12:00 am
Published in Race Reports

First of all, this race report is extremely late. I’ve been meaning to write it, but it just never seemed to happen. So, here it is.

The Saunders 10K, which took place on August 15, poses a few challenges. The first one is that is on a Thursday night at 6:00 PM. The second one is that it is in the middle of August.

So what does this mean? It means that you never know what you’re going to get on race day. Did you have a bad day at work? Did you eat well during the day? Is it a hot and humid New England summer day?

Well, luckily, none of these factors came into play for me this year. I took the day off from work, so there were no concerns about the effect of the work day on me, and the weather turned out to be beautiful with no humidity.

All that would matter is how well prepared I was for the race, which introduced another twist into the evening. I have been training for a fall marathon through the summer, so from a mileage/training perspective, I should have been OK. However, I was also helping to coach an intermediate 10K running group that was training to run this race.

The training consisted of meeting and running with the group twice a week: one day on the track for speed work and the other day for a group run through the streets of Portsmouth and New Castle. This is the aspect that truly added a twist, because during the training group I was always training at someone else’s pace (slower than my normal training pace) and not my own. Would this effect me negatively? Only time would tell.

I met up with some friends at the start line, and I decided to start off running with a friend who had participated in the 10K training group. We ran together for about half of the race at a pace that was slower for me, and probably even a little too slow for my friend. Being familiar with the course, I knew that there was one small hill about half way through the course and then it would be all down hill. Once we crested the hill, I decided to pick up the pace and run my race for the rest of the time.

I started passing people and continued to do so for the rest of the race, right up to the finish line. It always feels great to be passing people at the end of a race and not being passed. When I finally crossed the finish line, I ended up with a 7:31 overall pace. I definitely could have run faster, but this was still a 10K PR for me and I still felt good after it was all over. So I’ll take it.

So in the middle of next August, when you’re looking for something to do on a Thursday night, definitely run the Saunders at Rye Harbor 10K! Maybe I’ll see you there.

Race Report: Great Island 5K 2013

24 October 2013, 12:00 am
Published in Race Reports

The Great Island 5K took place on Sunday, October 13, in New Castle, NH.

This would be the second time that I had run the Great Island 5K. I first ran in it in 1998 (with a time of 30:44 and a pace of 9:53 at age 27). There were a few things that would make it different this time:

  • I have been training and running regularly (something that I wasn’t doing in 1998)
  • I had run a marathon two weeks prior
  • I was coaching a beginner’s 5K group

So I had some things that were going for me this time, and some things that would remain to see how they would impact me.

The race starts at the Great Island Common in New Castle. The course is composed of a few rolling hills as well as a short run on a gravel road. It’s a scenic course with views of the harbor and ocean from the Common as well as along the course.

After meeting up with the other coaches and members of the Runner’s Alley Beginners 5K Groups that had been training for this race over the past 8 weeks in Portsmouth and Dover, we all made our way to the start line.

I started the race running with a friend. Our goal was to try to run a sub-7:00 pace. The last time that we had raced together with finished with a 7:02 pace. At this point, neither of us were sure that we were physically ready to achieve this goal.

We ran our first mile at right around a 7:00 pace. I was feeling much better than expected at this point. Although I always feel bad leaving a friend when we’re running, we always agree that if the other person should always run their own race. So I picked up the pace to see what I could do.

My running started to click, and I continued to pick up the pace and pass people along the way. In my head, I was thinking about the irony of my race attire. I was wearing a shirt from the training group that I helped coach, and on the back, it read: “Beginners Runner’s Alley Group.” This actually became a topic of conversation on a run later in the week, when someone mentioned that she had been passed by someone in one of these shirts and was thinking that she must be getting slower or wondering why this person was in a beginner’s group.

As we entered back onto the Common for the final loop into the finish line, I continued to pass people. I crossed the line with a time of 21:10 and a pace of 6:49. So I achieved my goal and got a PR.

After finishing, I made my way to the entrance to the Common to cheer on the members of the training group as they finished up their run. Even better than setting a PR was to see these runners finishing strong after all the work that they had put into training over the past eight weeks.

If you have a chance, you definitely should plan on running the Great Island 5K in 2014. It has an added bonus of being part of the Seacoast Road Race Series.