Starting Fresh..with a Coach!

Last weekend, I returned to my absolute favorite place to run…

img_0809ITHACA, NY

I was so excited to hit the hills and just get lost in the scenery. Some of my all-time favorite trainings runs have taken place on the Ithaca roads and I was definitely in need of a one those good runs. 60 minutes later.. I got exactly that! It left me feeling thrilled, refreshed and ready to take on week 4 of training.  Despite a 10 min first mile up hill, my legs felt great and my mind was in a peaceful running place.  I was able to reflect on this training cycle, finished the run with 7 miles under my belt and a better outlook on the upcoming training week and the next 5 months.

So lets back track as to why I was in need of a good run.  After Chicago, I was on that running high.  The wheels in my brain were turning and for the first time in a LONG time, I wanted to focus on JUST running and was eager to find my full potential in the marathon.  I always want to improve my running but I have never wanted to give up my Crossfit.  For the last 2 years, I have been willing to settle with average times for the sake of keeping Crossfit in my schedule.

Well, here I was contemplating taking my running to another level and found myself researching running coaches.  My initial searches steered toward runners with a Crossfit background. I contacted one coach but it pretty clear that this was not a coach with enough running background to take me to where I wanted to go…this was just a Crossfit coach that can run.  This is where my subconscious feelings surfaced and I knew that if I truly wanted to find my potential, I needed to come to terms that Crossfit and running do not mix in a marathon training cycle that would adequately prepare me for what I had in mind for Boston and Big Sur.  It was a realization I knew was true after having a real difficult time trying to balance it all in my Boston training cycle last winter. My coaching search continued and I was immediately drawn toward McKirdy Trained because of the raw honesty.  This is what I need. I will push the limits and over-train if given free rein to do so.  I need someone to pull me in and teach me that it is OK to just run short and slow some days.  A couple of days later I made the jump and fully committed to 6 months of training with McKirdy Trained.  I knew I had a long 6 months ahead of me so I asked to start the following week.  I need more time to digest this next step and come mentally prepared and fully ready to start a training cycle that will be entirely different from what I am used to.

A week later, I received my first week of training and was thrilled.  The first week was short and easy miles.  Something I rarely do!  It was a bit challenging to force myself to slow my pace but it felt good knowing it was for the better and in my best interest as I continue recovering.

img_0665So lets talk about week 3.  Still easy runs and just a tad longer.  Monday was a rest day so I started on Tuesday.  I went out in the morning hoping for a nice sunrise run but I failed to look at the weather report and my outfit choice made for a freezing cold and miserable run.  Thankfully I only had 30 minute on the schedule so I only had to hate my outfit choice for 30 minutes.  Thursday’s 45 minute was also not very enjoyable and unlike Tuesday’s run, I felt like someone put 1o843 layers on my body and sandbags in my sneakers.  In a less dramatic description – I felt tired and my legs felt heavy. I couldn’t help but think/dread that I still had 3 more days of running before rest day and my legs already felt dead.  I tried to stay positive and reminded myself that Friday was a holiday so I could sleep in, get some rest, have a nice stretch before getting out for my run which usually helps my mental and physical game.

img_0718It did.   But dang, 4 miles still felt long. What is wrong with me.  Saturday was just a 20 min warmup and since I was in Ithaca, I went to a gym and did it on the treadmill followed by some strength. Nothing to complain about but I was panicked for Sunday’s 50 minutes.  The sheer thought of being panicked for a 50 minute run made me feel even more uneasy. 50 minutes is usually a short run for me!  I was not only confused but also embarrassed and ashamed.  I have barely hit 16 miles this week…why is this SO hard.  I finally reached out to my brother’s girlfriend (they are both elite runners).  Her response was everything I needed to hear.  She told me that the numbers mean nothing.  My body is adjusting to running 5 days a week as opposed to 3 days a week.  I went from having no back-to-back running days to 4 in a row.  This is a complete schedule change and my body needs time to adjust.  She was so right.  I was focusing on the numbers and not trusting the process.  My body needs to move backwards in pace and mileage in order to move forward. It may not be high mileage at the moment but it is a big change in my training structure and that has a major impact on the body.  Her words and feedback were exactly what I needed to help relax my mind and mentally prepare for the 50 minute run I had planned.  With a more refreshed mental outlook, I was ready to do what I love and embrace the beautiful Ithaca roads. It was a mild, sunny and beautiful day.  I climbed up the first mile and reached the top feeling all sorts of happiness.

img_0772When I saw this view, I couldn’t help but think about the climb and how it reflects this entire running journey.  Every run in Ithaca starts with embracing the unavoidable, painful first mile hill in order to reach the insanely beautiful views. In this training cycle, I am going to have to embrace the painful workouts and the rough runs in order to grow into an even stronger runner.  The transpiring of these thoughts are easier to embrace and believe when I am just running easy, carefree, and staring off into the Ithaca views.  However, it is a mindset and a mantra I need revert to and repeat when times to get tough in order to improve my mental game.

To help ensure that I utilize this mindset during the hard times, I made sure to write it down in my newly received Lauren Fleshman “BELIEVE” training journal.img_0797  I dove right in and put my goals down on paper.  I love how this journal incorporates the reasons and steps. Reaching goals is more than just following a plan – it’s about being stronger than your negative thoughts.  My steps toward reaching my 2017 goals are much more than just running.  It is about toeing every start line feeling fearless and confident regardless of who is lined up next to me or how a run went earlier in the week.  Not every run will be easy and enjoyable.  The times when you want nothing more than to just throw in the towel but keep your goals in the forefront of your mind and fight – these are the times that grow your mind and body and separate you from the competition. I want to make sure the rough times never impact my confidence and I never lose sight on why I love this sport. Most importantly, I never want to forget how lucky I am to just have the ability to lace up and go.  The ‘steps’ are far more important than accomplishing the ‘goals’. 

So here is to changing things up, embracing the ups and down, trusting the process and loving my body for taking me through this journey 🙂


2 thoughts on “Starting Fresh..with a Coach!”

  1. Hey Mel,

    I follow you on Instagram and I’m like wow! She’s lifts and is an amazing runner ! I had a few questions. I know that you’ve decided to focus more on running but I was wondering how did you balance your workouts before? I’m about to start PA school and it’s going to be completely hectic. I may have to narrow my workouts to once a day and maybe an hour. I want to keep doing crossfit and running. My running goals will be just to stay in shape and maybe to a half marathon. Nothing crazy … with crossfit it’s just for the soul lol not looking into competing during school. What programming did you follow?

    Thanks !!! I too have been looking for a running/crossfire coach and no luck. Maybe you can be the first ! Lol jk jk 😉


    1. He Ileene!
      Aw thank you, that was so sweet. For a while my schedule was 3 runs a week – usually Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Sunday is/was always my long run, Tuesday would be a track workout or just an easy 4-6 miler and Thursday was a mid distance run (8-10 miles). I would do my runs in the morning so I could squeeze in either crossfit or hot yoga in the evening depending on how my legs felt. Monday was usually just hot yoga to recover from the long run, Wednesday and Saturday were my main crossfit days and maybe a hot yoga session on Wednesday. It is manageable to balance both running and crossfit if your goals are to just do both sports at a decent level. I am never looking to be a super competitive crossfitter so I don’t go crazy heavy, that way I can stay healthy for the running part of my training. Now that my training has tempo runs, speed and long runs, my strength needs to be structured and I can’t just play it by ear based on what my crossfit gym posts for WODS on that day so I am stepping away from that and adding more structure and running to my schedule!


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