Hi, I’m Molly Hurford and I am un-coach-able. Or, at least, I was. (This is said with full and complete apologies to all of my former coaches. I mean it when I say, it’s not you, it’s me.)
A few months ago, I was on the phone with SWAP coach David Roche, interviewing him for an article. I’ve interviewed hundreds of coaches over the years, but for some reason, everything he was saying just clicked perfectly. After we got off the phone, I read every article and listened to every podcast that I could find featuring him, and for the next week, kept turning over the idea in my brain, “I want to work with this guy.”
Here’s the thing about me, though. I have always tried to be a data person. I’ve tried a zillion watches, GPSes, apps, you name it, I’ve attempted to make using it a habit. And it has never stuck. This is why I am the bane of a coach’s existence.
But something about David seemed like we might actually mesh well—between his philosophy and where I was at that point in my running (excited about ultras, feeling like it’s something I can get better at), I asked if he would work with me, and yay!, he was into it. So, I started with the SWAP crew.
I was a week too late. Before starting up with David, I had done a number on my knee tackling a chilly, hilly gravel event that I hadn’t prepped for. It was my first overuse injury. Not how I wanted to start off with a coach, but in retrospect, I can look at it as a serious positive. So why is was particularly great? OK, yes, I would have LOVED to be in 100% good-to-run shape, of course. But luckily, David is the author of a book called The Happy Runner, so the man knows how to look on the bright side of things and I’m taking a cue from his eternal positivity.
Note: Peter, the coach here at Consummate Athlete, is also on board with this concept–actually, he sees tons of progress with athletes when they are navigating seasons of injury! It can be such a good time to make those changes that will add up later.
And while it’s been an annoying few months, I think having a coach through it has been HUGE. Here’s why:
It’s teaching me serious humility
I swaggered in, still high on having placed well in my first ultra. I was SO ready to be a total badass and immediate ultra superstar. Umm… that’s not how it works. I know that, you know that, but actually understanding on an emotional level? Not so much. So while it’s frustrating to not be performing at the level I want to be, this extremely humbling experience has been really good for me overall, and I think good for the ‘this is why we listen to our coach’ thing that I’m usually so damn bad at.
It’s letting us get to know each other
Even a minor injury like knee tendonitis means that we’re going back and forth with a lot more detail than I might have if I was 100% OK. It means we’re talking about my pre and post run habits, some nutrition stuff, things like that. It’s a lot more than just ‘workout done,’ it’s forcing real conversations that I know I would have skipped.
I realized I need a a coach who’s a cheerleader
This has been a frustrating couple of months. I’m not lying when I say many, many tears have been shed. Until I can’t run, I forget why I love running so much, so it was really emotionally taxing. Having someone as relentlessly positive as David cheering me along has been crazy-helpful in making my days feel a lot better and letting me see a light at the end of the tunnel. More than workouts and data analysis, I realize that that’s what I need in a coach. Some people don’t want that, and I totally understand that. But me, that’s how I operate, and it’s become clearer and clearer that it’s what I need.
It gives me an objective opinion
For those of you wondering why I don’t have Peter, my amazing husband and coach at SmartAthlete coaching me… That’s because we’ve discussed it at length and realized that for us, that’s not a good idea for a whole bunch of reasons. One big one: lack of objectivity on both of our parts. I absolutely trust and value his opinions on my training, but I’m a jerk and don’t take too well to being told what’s best for me if it’s something I don’t really want to do. Having someone totally objective about my training, someone who I can’t emotionally argue with, is super important, because again, I am a jerk, and Peter telling me to take a day off sometimes results in a bit of a Beyonce-esque ‘I’ll show you’ reaction from me that borders on the absurd.
It makes sure I don’t push
This is the biggest part—me coming back from anything can be a disaster because I love diving into big volume. Having someone sloooowly get me back to where I want to be is so important now that I’m not 21 anymore.
Hit me up in the comments—anyone else have similar experiences?