I started running with the fine people at Southwest Endurance Training (SWET) recently. I found them because I was looking for an individual running coach. Someone to meet with once a month or so, to work on my form; someone to give me a personalized training plan for this Dopey Challenge I want to train for.
When I met the owners of SWET, they convinced me that running with the group would be better – some company on long runs, but still individual attention from a coach and a customized training plan.
I find it easier to get the motivation to wake up and complete my long run when I know there’s a group of friendly runners waiting for me. I like that the group is informal – if you can’t make it to a run, no one thinks badly of you. The tips from the coaches include how to adjust the training plan to fit in everyday life.
As the time to start training for the Dopey approached, I gave SWET my recent race times, a summary of how I felt after the races in June, and a general idea of my goals. Going into this, I was hoping to finish the marathon portion of the Dopey around 5 and a half hours (about my 5:34 finishing time in 2015), but when Brandon saw my June finishing times he suggested that I adjust my expectations of myself. It turns out that he believes I can run a PR marathon even while running the Dopey Challenge.
At first I found this hard to believe. My race times in June were on a course with a steady, gentle descent. The Dopey may be in Florida, but in my memory, it is neither flat nor downhill. The internet disagrees with me and says that it is “pancake flat.” Since it was my first marathon, my perception of it could be skewed. But perhaps that’s beside the point – I didn’t think it was possible to PR a marathon at the end of an almost 50 mile/4 day challenge. Yet, when I got my pacing plan I realized that the proposed pacing for this race feels slow to me. If it feels slow in the middle of the heat of summer here, maybe I really can do it!
So, I’m beginning to adjust my own expectations: of myself and of my personal running capacity.