Trusting Coach


On New Year’s Day Lynn, my workout buddy/marathon coach, and I ran a 5K. I am all about trying to improve. I wanted to beat my Thanksgiving 5K time, which had been a Personal Record for me. I’d lost seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I’ve read articles that suggest for every pound lost, one can expect to gain two seconds per mile. I’m no math whiz, but I figured I’d gain 14 seconds per mile, or 42 seconds for a 5K. But nature had other plans.

About an hour before the 5K began we were treated to rain…quite a bit of it. The streets were soaked. As Coach Lynn and I lined up to begin I mentioned my formula and how I’d planned to try to beat my prior time by 42 seconds. She quickly vetoed my plan. “The roads are wet and slick. The last thing you need to do is fall and injure your knee. Your only goal is your marathon. Today is just a three mile training run.”

Lynn and I run at different paces so once the gun went off I knew I wouldn’t see her until the end of the race where she would be waiting, camera in hand. My first thought was to ignore her veto. After all, I’m not paying her to coach me, she’s doing this as a volunteer. Then I realized:

  • Lynn has run marathons before. I haven’t. Heck, she’s trained marathoners. I haven’t. She’s the expert. I’m not.
  • If Lynn was nice enough to volunteer to coach me…and I accepted her GENEROUS offer, it would be disrespectful not to listen to her.

So I ran the 5K VERY conservatively, so much so that I finished one minute and 16 seconds slower than my Thanksgiving 5K. I was mortified when I saw the results, but Lynn praised me for a job well done. Another friend of ours who ran the race commented, “It’s going to be a challenge for someone like you to follow instructions and stick with a training plan. You’re always trying to improve when that’s not necessarily the goal.”

Afterward I renewed my commitment that I would follow Lynn’s coaching instructions and if I want to tweak the plan I’ll do so only with her approval. I have a history of exercise bulimia, so I don’t trust myself to increase my mileage in a healthy manner without guidance. This week she and I looked at the on-line training plan I’ve selected. While official training doesn’t begin until May, Lynn agreed that for conditioning purposes I can easily handle the weekly mileage listed for Week 7. My Saturday long runs will consist of eight, 10, 12 and 14 mile rotations. (I was excited that Lynn cleared me to go ahead and do some 14 milers between now and May.)

As a certified control-freak, I know it will be difficult to place my training in the hands of someone else, even though that someone knows more than I. But  the only way I can achieve this goal is to depend on someone who’s already achieved it. I believe that’s called trust.

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