Friday, June 8, 2012

A New Chapter

When my husband, Dan, decided late last year that he wanted to re-learn the violin, he knew almost immediately that he wanted to hire a teacher. He had started playing when he was in third grade and he played through high school, dipping into it again in college, before dropping it entirely as his working life got underway. But everywhere he moved, his violin went with him.

When he started again, some things came back to him quickly. But he knew that to fine-tune his technique, to keep him accountable and to get him going at the right pace (not too hard, not too easy), he wanted professional guidance. He found a teacher and has been working with her since late winter. His first recital is planned for this fall. His ultimate goal: to play in a community orchestra.

For similar reasons, today I hired a coach.

I'm on the cusp of recovering from this back thing. I'm to the point now where I....just know I'm better. I still have bad moments, but now they're almost always limited to the mornings, when I'm stiff from being still all night. Some gentle yoga moves and a sweaty cardio workout usually are enough to deal with it. On really bad days, I might also need an hour or two in my sacro-iliac belt. And that's it. My next appointment with Cathy, my physical therapist, is Tuesday. I've been faithfully doing my PT and Pilates exercises. I'm feeling very optimistic.

But I'm truly clueless about how to ease myself back into running in a way that's not too hard (so that I re-injure my back, or injure something else) but not too easy either. I still have goals for this year.

I have two races already booked, the Detroit Marathon on October 21 and the California International Marathon on December 2. I thought about buying another custom plan from McMillan Running. I'm a huge fan of these plans as a cost-effective way to get some personalization in your training. Greg McMillan (he of the calculator) is a fantastic coach.

But with my back an unknown, with all the usual unknowns like illness, plus the fact that I'd really like one of those two races to be the One where I reach my Boston Marathon qualifier goal, a static plan, even a really good custom one, just wasn't going to offer me enough guidance. Many other bloggers have had great experiences with coaching. So I talked to Dan about the cost issue, did some research into what the going rate is....and made up my mind that now is the time.

I'm really happy with the coach I've found. His name is Darren De Reuck. He's the husband and long-time coach of Colleen De Reuck, who has been in the Olympics four times and still wins races at age 48. He's also coached my friend Cynthia, who came to running recently as cross-training for mountain biking, fell in love with it and, with Darren's workouts, has achieved all of her running goals up to this point.

My new coach, Darren, and his awesome wife, Colleen. I've run well behind them in many a local race. It's nice to say I have Darren on my team now!
Darren's also local, and I really wanted someone local because the other thing that's been lacking in my training has been group workouts. I'm working with him through Boulder Coaching (which also coaches runners and triathletes remotely), but the $90/month package I went with will allow me to join his elite group, the Boulder Striders, in their weekly track workouts when he thinks I'm ready (he assured me they have pace groups--a big relief given that I know how fast those Striders are!). After years of being intimidated by the Boulder running scene, I'm excited that I'm now going to put it to work for my own running.

I sat down this morning with Darren and mapped out a plan for the summer and fall. Here are the highlights:

1) Even if Cathy OKs me on Tuesday to run outside, Darren wants me to stick with the recumbent bike and the Alter-G next week. If I get the OK, the following week he'll incorporate some easy 20 minute runs outside. He wants me to keep outside runs on relatively level gravel tracks indefinitely.

2) I will be running the Detroit Half-Marathon instead of the marathon. The California International Marathon will be my goal race.

3) Local races will be sprinkled throughout my training, but we're waiting to see how my return to running goes before I actually sign up for any of them.

4) Once I've got a good four weeks of recovery runs under my belt and have proven that my back is truly stable, Darren's going to have me do a lactate threshold test (in the form of an all-out 3,200 meter run). This will determine my heart rate ranges for the workouts he'll be prescribing.

Cynthia was right about Darren. He's very nice, and un-intimidating despite his amazing resume. I really appreciate that that he asked about my kids and told me about his kids (he has two daughters) and that he said helping mid-packers is just as satisfying to him as a coach as helping Olympians. I joked with him that if I actually get to run the Boston Marathon, I plan to wear a tiara. To which he said--and he was serious--"No, you won't. You'll be racing Boston, too!"

My kind of coach!

I know hiring a coach is no guarantee that I will meet my goals. In the end, I'll still be alone out there in Sacramento with a marathon in front of me. But I feel like I have an ally now, someone else who will see my success as his own success.

Running, like the violin, requires the right touch. Since I'm still learning, and probably always will be, I'm so happy to have the guidance of a good teacher. I am one lucky girl. Big thanks to Dan for letting me hire Darren.


  1. Awesome!!!  I'm so excited for you that you're starting to feel well again.  I think your choice to hire a coach makes perfect sense.  What a great way to have an objective person (i.e. not your husband or BFF) help you avoid re-injuring.  Cuz afterall, you don't plan on injuring yourself, so sometimes you need someone to observe & advise so you don't have any repeat injuries.

    Wishing you well and can't wait to hear your comeback progress :)

  2. How cool that you have Colleen DeReuk's husband training you! I hope it's a really great relationship for you--sounds like a smart move to make at this stage in the game. 

    Did I know you were doing CIM? I am too so we'll get to meet!!

  3. So exciting!! Sounds like you will be running in no time. 

  4. How exciting!!  I'm pleased for you and look forward to hearing all about it as you go through the process.  

  5. I am so excited for you!  I'm glad you like Darren - i totally love the guy.   so cool he *knows* you'll be racing Boston, eh?

    I'm totally jealous too...waahh...i wanna to track workouts with Darren. 

    Sounds like he really listened to you and it's good to hear he has a solid plan to get you back from injury to BQ shape.  I know with your discipline/determination and his guidance the sky is the limit.   I am thrilled for you.

  6. Very cool! I know you've got to be even more excited now...the possiblity of running outside PLUS some one with knowledge to help you know what to do! :)

  7. BostonboundbrunetteJune 8, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Great decision!  I have considered hiring a coach as well but the costs have exceed $90/month by far!!  I found one that I really liked but the drive to train was an hour away and just didn't meet my schedule. Smart move and I hope you meet all of your goals.  I am really happy to hear that you feel better!

  8. Running50after40June 8, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    I'll be watching closely this summer!  I've kicked around the idea for a while now but have never pulled the trigger.  Best of luck, I have no doubt that it will yield great results for you!

  9. How exciting for you! I think this is going to be great for you. I can't wait to watch this!

  10. How exciting! I think that you will love having a coach. Takes so much of the mystery out of training. I wish that mine were local. I'd LOVE to train with his group. They sound like a really talented bunch. Hope your back continues to get better each day and that you are out on the pavement soon!

  11. How exciting to have hooked up with a great coach!  Since you are going all "celebrity" now, will we still be able to have lunch or run together sometime???  :-)  I am so happy that you are on the cusp of a wonderful and exciting new running chapter - good things come to those who are patient (and continue to be patient just a little longer.... )  And thanks to the sweet husband who supported hiring a coach!

  12. That's fabulous!  Both the feeling better part and the coach part!  Running the half at Detroit sounds very smart.  I'm excited to follow your comeback!

  13. That is really exciting! I think it will really be beneficial to be a part of a running group also.  I am hoping to once my kids are in school.  I hope to get a coach someday as well. 

    I can't wait to see what a coach does for you and to follow your comeback :)

  14. How exciting for you! Of course I'm biased, but I think running coaches are great! I see nothing but good in your running future :)

  15. Terzah, this is so exciting! I think it's so wise to have someone else monitoring you and guiding you back into your running- it's way too easy to reinjure ourselves on our own.  And having access to his coaching and the group runs sounds so ideal! I've only recently gotten more involved with group training here and can't understand why I waited so long!  :)

  16. Good luck with the coach! The Detroit half is the best part of the course, so don't fret dropping down in distance.

  17. This is so cool! I am really anxious to see how things go. I really liked in the book Born To Run where he wrote about how we get coaches or teachers for everything else but usually overlook running. Good for you, you'll do awesome!

  18. I love that you've found your coach! Now who's envious???
    I can't wait to hear how things come together ... and glean any intel from your experience.
    We get to come to Dan's recital, right?

  19. The minute I saw the last name i knew Darren had to be related to Colleen. How cool is this? Very exciting for sure. All the best with this next chapter.

  20. Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts here. I have been toying with the idea of a coach for a long time and have even exchanged a few emails with a potential coach. I am looking forward to hearing how this works out for you!

  21. You did the right thing. I agree with the decision to run a half before the whole marathon. I am sure that you will reach your goals.
    Good luck.