Three weeks before the Paris marathon a slight numbness in my foot developed into an ache and then a sharp pain. I iced, compressed, elevated it and panicked. I'd lost my last week of training before taper and of course I went down the slippery slope of telling myself the marathon was off, it was over.
With one and half weeks to Paris I went to a physio who sorted me out. But that's another story...
I tried to give myself the same support and guidance I'd give to my own runners. What would I say to allay their fears, encourage them to look after themselves properly and not worry about the marathon itself? Those around me offered support but I quickly realised that we were all missing something key - objectivity. I was too close. They were too close. I realise now that this extended beyond the psychological side of things and into my own training. Yes, I worked hard, but I didn't put anywhere near the care and attention into my own plan as I did others. I didn't give myself the feedback, support, encouragement I gave them... Again I was too close. This muddied the water, I didn't have the focus and it showed.
It was in the midst of this pre-marathon panic that a thought occurred to me.
"I'm always telling people about the benefits of having a coach. What's stopping me getting one?"
The answer to that was: Nothing. Apart from myself.
What was it then, holding me back? I could make excuses all day but what it came down to was a sense of control - the slightly scary idea that someone else would be in charge of what I do and when I do it. Control and pride. Was getting a coach admitting I didn't know everything? Well of course I don't know everything! What a ludicrous thought. I have huge amounts to learn and what better way to do that than find a coach myself?
I made a list of the pros:
> Becoming a better coach by having a coach.
> Being accountable to someone for all the bits I skimp on - strength, conditioning, cross training, proper rest.
> Having someone objective to give me support and honest feedback.
> Learning new ways of doing things.
> Investing in my own running, committing to myself and taking things to a new level.
...And the cons:
> Someone else telling me what to do sounds scary.
> Feeling out of control.
There was a clear winner. I reached out to the wonderful pool of runners and coaches I'm lucky to know and ended up on the phone to Beth Carter from Let's Get Running that very afternoon. Beth has done the GB thing and she's all about listening to your body over hard numbers.
As my friend, the inimitable Tom Benson would say: Deal.
Five weeks later and I'm a week into my plan with her. I took some time post-Paris to rest and run for the fun of it, stay up late, drink more than usual, eat a bit crap and I feel great for it. I'm ready to go again and try new things. I'm excited about what's to come. So my advice to you: If you're thinking about taking your running to new places physically and mentally but you've been dithering - do it. Get yourself a coach. Someone you can whatsapp when your knee twinges or call when you've had an outstanding race or when your social engagements get in the way of a long run.