Adventures With Hiring A Running Coach

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

Hey guys!

Here’s the time and date:

Sat 29 Aug

And here I am:

Deepak Shukla

I’m actually sitting in a Costa Coffee now in Ealing Common as I have my final session as part of a 6-pack plan I bought with ‘The Running School’.

Maybe around 2-months ago I finally picked back up the book that I started reading all those years ago when I spent one week homeless in London.

I was wandering around Oxford Circus in Central London and sat down in a Waterstone’s and came across this book called ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall.

It looked fascinating and I had plenty of time to kill so it seemed like it was something worth having a read of.

As I did, I sat there transfixed for almost 2 hours just sitting and reading Christopher’s story of traveling into the Copper Canyons in Northern Mexico in search of the legendary running tribe called the Tarahumara who would conduct 24-hour races as part of their way of life. Way before ultrarunning became a modern phenomenon.

Given I’d just literally come back from the Oslo marathon and decided to step immediately into homelessness – fortune and circumstance were NOT to reign gloriously that day, as whilst I was engrossed….

Well I got hungry and I was homeless as part of my masochistic desire for tortured self-expression; what with the cameraman a.k.a my friend Sharif whom I’d also enlisted for the adventure.

He was actually to spend a night sleeping rough with me as well.

So five years later, and as of 2020, I’ve had since May 15th something of a reading renaissance – and have firmly rediscovered that actually I was born to read just as much as I was perhaps Born To Run.

And I finally gave myself the opportunity to read this book again.

As seven minutes have passed now since I penned my first word this morning – I also ran my 5k yesterday in less than 20 minutes for the first time in a long time – and I’m almost certain that this running coaching I’ve taken is key to it.

The discovery that drove to seek a running coach finds its roots in this very book.

From looking at the Tarahumara – amazing runners who ultimately entered and won the Leadville 100 mile race (an incredibly grueling race in Colorado, USA that many many runners never finish), to then going on to discover the underground world of ultramarathon ‘fun’ runners…

All doing inconceivable things against any popular medical opinion, and doing it all for fun, and setting incredible records – came this realization – as McDougall points out – that running is the highest participation ‘exercise activity’ in the world.

For someone like me, I’ve been going on runs at 13 years old, and I’ll still be out running when I’m 63 years old. And yet….none of us learn how to run.

Of course, we can all naturally run, intuitively, but what happens when you take ‘on-the-job’ training born from experience – and apply solid running theory to it?

Well, this is exactly what a top coach did in the United States with triathletes – as McDougall described. They began taking athletes in their 60s and younger who considered themselves very fit, and ultimately tweaked their running style.

Everyone started setting personal bests everywhere!

With this in mind then, having finished the book – made me decide to seek my own running coach in a bid to work on any of my weaknesses.

Costa

So here I am sitting with my Costa cup of tea – 9.49 am, needing to leave in a couple of minutes, Pickering away – to go to my final session.

And as I’ve discovered with the circa £400 I’ve spent – it’s been worth every pound and penny.

When you’ve run 33x marathons and go and see a running coach at 34 years old to discover you’ve got a very inefficient running technique.

If you cross your legs slightly when you run, you don’t extend your right arm properly, and don’t swing your arms up enough nor kick your heels up high enough – you get a rude awakening.

That’s not even to mention the walking. They put you on a treadmill, tagged up, and monitor the way you walk, your gait, pelvic tilt, any obvious dependencies, the way you swing your arms, your speed and more.

Everything is recorded and then via playback…they tear you apart.

In a positive way – but extremely constructive.

The first session blew my mind.

As I sat there with Lee looking at the PC screen – he stared at it whilst he watched me walking on the treadmill – and then paused it to explain to me what was happening.

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Thankfully, Daniela is very open to me doing this type of stuff – because most of my friends laughed at the idea of me needing a running coach.

But I enjoy the experimentation and ‘newness’ of it.

I actually paused writing because I ran off for my running session – literally :p

Sat 29 Aug

I’ve just finished up with it now and come back to Costa to finish up this blog and then perhaps see what else I feel like doing.

But overall over the course of the last 6-weeks, my running has come a long way – I had the definitive proof today when a video was recorded showing my final running stride as compared to how I was 6-weeks ago.

What a difference.

The plan now is I’ve just booked in for an 18-week program with them for £945 which works out at around £52.50 per session.

I could go with cheaper options somewhere else I expect but here’s the way I (and everyone I believe) should think about such things in their mind.

The goal is – within an 18-36 week period – where my total spend with this company will probably end up being close to £2.3k – that I will have run and completed a sub-3-hour (or close marathon)

That’s the aim I’ve set for myself which they are aware of – and the truth is – I don’t have the self-discipline to do this myself – else I would already be doing it.

So here’s the way (and it becomes very black and white when I do this) I look at it –

‘Deepak if you found a running school and coach you were happy with who provided a marathon training program as well as a weekly session to track your progress, run assessments, and also have weekly WhatsApp check-ins….

With them taking you up to complete a sub-3 hour marathon – what would that be worth to you?’

I can tell you right now that it would be worth £10,000.

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I’m someone who has run 33+ marathons and has never run anything under 3.38 – which I did many years ago now and have never been able to surpass – so even if I got to 3.15 it would be a huge victory for me.

And this is why I’m on that journey.

With running at least – I’m much more interested in quality over quantity now and am hopeful that with ‘The Running School’ I’ll be able to get to where I want to go.

Also – we’re also in talks with them as to doing some B2B lead generation – so if that goes through it means that it’ll have turned into an opportunity to do business with a business I’m already a happy customer of.

And it looks like the change in technique – as awkward as it is for me to practice this adjustment with the cycling motion of my legs and keeping my arm stride high – I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I may have run one of my quickest ever 5km’s:

Deepak Shukla

It’s certainly the fastest I’ve ever run on Strava at 21.19. Now I need to and do the same thing and break the 20-minute barrier – which would be something else.

Nonetheless – it’s amazing to see myself maintain a 6 min 25-mile pace.

This is the big hidden bonus of coaching – when you pay someone for something you could theoretically get for free – it causes you to focus your mind space and put more energy and effort into it than you ever would if you did it for free.

So this is my last mention of my joys of hiring a running coach – I absolutely recommend you do the same – and I’ll catch up with you in a couple of months (on this) as the journey unfolds 🙂