You Can’t Run It Alone. Why I Hired A Running Coach To Make My Marathon Dreams A Reality

August 5, 2013

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, yet so many of us fear taking the first step because we wonder how we can journey alone.  For me, half marathon training was a challenge but I chose to do it alone, without even a basic training plan and I was resistant to get advice simply because I was overwhelmed.  After a year of running, I faced the biggest challenge yet, signing up for my first full marathon, a journey towards 26.2 miles, and I was trembling in my running shoes.  I realized didn’t want to fly solo and wing-it, since the goal of a marathon was far to big to venture alone.

No matter who you are, you will have one running goal that’s almost too big to fail- whether it’s your first charity walk or you’re gunnin’ for a marathon, you may feel the fear creeping up and it’s time to face the fear (with help) and tackle what your heart desires.  Many of us think we’re not “serious enough” to hire a coach, but you’d be surprised (as I totally was) that hiring a coach is both sanity saving and budget friendly.


Houston marathon mile 26

My amazing coach, Laura, of Mommy Run Fast, set up a totally do-able marathon training plan with an online spreadsheet that sets up my mileage based on my goals, ability and availability on a day-to-day basis so I can easily plan my runs at a glance.

She has done a phenomenal job of assessing my needs and addressing my concerns- working with her has taken so much of the fear out of my marathon training and empowered me to move forward, day by day, towards my big, audacious goal of 26.2 for the Route 66 Marathon in November.

Laura has training pointers to share with you. She’s a marathoner herself and a dynamic coach with some great advice.

Half or Full Marathon Training Advice from Running Coach Laura:

  1. Have a solid base: Before signing up for a half marathon, you should be running consistently for several months, with at least 10-15 miles per week.  Before a full marathon, you want a base of 20-25 miles per week.

  2. Start where you’re at! Increase your mileage gradually and be cautious when adding both speed work and mileage at the same time.

  3. Incorporate rest days and weeks:  More is better up to a point, but your body needs at least one day of complete rest every week.  Likewise, you should plan a cut back week in mileage and intensity about every 4 weeks to let your body recover and rebuild itself so you can adapt to your training load and get stronger.

  4. Fuel well! Distance running is not a good time to try to lose weight.  You need to eat sufficient protein and complex carbohydrates to feel your best and perform well.

  5. Set goals. Use a calculator like McMillan to determine an appropriate goal time for a race based on other recent runs or shorter distances you’ve raced.


Enjoy the process! Making it across the finish line is a powerful motivator, but remember to enjoy the training as well!


5 comments so far.

5 responses to “You Can’t Run It Alone. Why I Hired A Running Coach To Make My Marathon Dreams A Reality”

  1. I’m excited for you, Shannyn! Thanks for the feature, too. 🙂

  2. Courtney says:

    I thought about a coach for my first full, but instead am doing lots of group runs with folks that have run a full and bought a great book (Run your first marathon by Grete Waitz). So far, so good…but I thought it was interesting to note that my plan starts me out w/15 mile weeks. However, my plan is a 5 month plan so there is plenty of time to increase and build up!

    • Shannyn says:

      Awesome Courtney!

      I totally did my own thing for my half but the thought of doing a full by myself and trying to be totally self disciplined on my own was too much… I know that even a virtual coach will keep me on track since I don’t want to email her and say “Ya, I didn’t run all week” so I stay on it.

      Go you!! You got this, keep me posted on your great journey!

  3. Nicole says:

    Wow, that is great. I would love to run a full marathon. I have been running for roughly five years, but a full marathon always seems to elude me

    • Shannyn says:

      Ya, I’m not sure what got into me… my boyfriend has been running for several years too but never did a marathon until I got it in my head to do one and asked him to help me get there! 🙂


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