Where's the Finish Panda

Why I’m Firing My Coach

My first great coaching experiment has failed.  After being dissatisfied by my running coach for many weeks now, I finally officially “fired” him today (by telling him I’m taking a break from running, not renewing my monthly payment to him, and wishing him the best).


I initially hired a coach to get private attention and a personalized plan, and to learn from someone who actually knows about running and physiology rather than me just winging it as I’ve been doing all these years, especially since I had two marathons within 3 weeks of each other.  I also needed a boost of motivation – knowing that I’d have to report whether or not I did my runs and my strength training made me stick to my weekly plan even when I’d rather laze about on the couch.


Initially it was motivating, in the sense that in the beginning of the summer, I stuck to my running plan better than I would have on my own.  But any personalized help or advice seemed absent.  I repeatedly would report injury problems to him and ask for his advice (with detailed but not overwhelmingly long emails), and I’d get a grammatically incorrect, curt response to “ice and stretch.”  He never seemed to answer direct questions like, “Should I keep running even if my knee hurts?” or “Can I cause increasing damage if I keep running if my knee hurts?” or “How much pain is normal, and how much is too much pain to run?”


Beyond the neglect, he then messed up my training schedule and taper.  I had emailed him my marathon and race schedule (more than once – although why someone would need the exact same info emailed to them more than once, especially when their job is to coach you, is beyond me) but he still got the dates wrong, and haphazardly changed my running schedule at the last minute to accomodate.  I always noticed the training schedule looked pasted together, like he was pulling it from somewhere else or just changing a number here and there as the weeks went by.


The final straw came last week, when he sent me my training schedule that included the NYC marathon.  I was never scheduled to run NYC.  I could not have been more clear about that.  In fact, the crucial time between MDI and West Virginia is one of the main reasons I hired him to begin with – what should I do in the three weeks between marathons?  I didn’t bother responding to correct his mistake, because at that point I wasn’t following his training schedule anyway, and because I thought it would give him a chance to correct it himself.  But then today he emailed me one line “how was the NYC marathon?”  I told him I was never scheduled to run NYC, that I’m running West Virginia in 6 days, and have a nice life.  Ok, I was much nicer than that, but I didn’t need to be.


I’m not going to let this experience sour me on all coaching – I think there are great coaches out there, and I hope to someday find one.  But for now, I’m going back to self-coaching.


Do you have experience using a coach?  Do you have a coach you’d recommend?  Share in the comments!

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