I interrupt your regularly scheduled “She Runs Around” with a “He Runs Around” today. And I’m so excited because I’m featuring my coach, Andrew Simmons! (Read more here on why I decided to finally hire a coach. Best decision ever.) Running with a coach has been a huge game changer for me and I often wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. Not only is there an enormous weight lifted from my shoulders knowing that I am not alone in this PR pursuit, but I have someone to turn to with questions about any and everything. I have also found that being held accountable is everything. Knowing that he’s watching my Garmin Connect account like a hawk makes me 100% dedicated.
Last year I ran 4 marathons and my average marathon time was 4:23. I ran Tokyo in 3:48. The training paces I worked up to with Coach Andrew are faster, with less effort, than they were since before Lou was born. In fact, I was curious after I ran 20 miles at an 8:31 average while training for Tokyo if I had ever done that before, so I did lots of combing through my Garmin Connect account. I found that the closest I ever got to that was a 20 miler at an 8:49 pace on October 30, 2010. (Click here to read about how important it is to be able to look this stuff up. Click here to read about how well the race went that I was training for in the fall of 2010.) That was a pretty good feeling that day! I know that I’m on my way to a PR with those kinds of improvements.
Today is extra exciting because not only do I get to feature him, but on Instagram, starting at 5pm EST, my coach and I will be giving away one 90 day custom training program to the race of your choice. Wether you want to qualify for Boston, or run a half marathon in under two hours, this would be incredibly helpful. Coach Andrew knows his stuff!
A little about him before I ask him a couple questions:
2009 brought new challenges and the completion of my first marathon. Finishing the Grand Rapids Marathon in 3:45. Those 3 hours and 45 minutes would go on to change my life forever. The person that started the race was different than the one that finished it. 2010 would bring in the completion of a half Ironman and multiple olympic distance triathlons (check out my shoeless photo for a good laugh, it fell OFF a mile from the finish), as well as lots of Ultra Marathon Cycling. My Highlight was setting the race and my personal record for the 6 hr TT with 126 Miles.
2011 was a turning point for me. I had dropped 60 lbs and was ready for the biggest event of my life. The 2011 Louisville Ironman, I dedicated an entire summer to school and training. Only finding time to chat with friends if they would join me for a run or a ride. It would turn out to be a fruitful effort as I managed to balance 20 credits that summer and finish under my 12:00 goal time in 11:23. After completing the race, I knew there was more in store for me and I had to see what I could do. My friends are a constant inspiration and push me to new goals. I completed the Ironman in August and would turn around to run a PR Marathon in October at the Chicago Marathon.
However, 1 marathon wasn’t enough. We found the Marathon Maniacs group and found out we could get 5 stars by completing 3 marathons in 3 states in 8 days. So why wouldn’t we? A group of 25 of my running friends ran Chicago 7 of which would continue on to run 2 more marathons over the next 8 days. I completed Chicago in 2:57 my second marathon under 3 hours (Kalamazoo in the spring of 2011 I ran 2:59). It’s now 5 days later and we’re at the start line of the Indianapolis Marathon, I would finish in 3:11 with 2 of my close friends finish 8th,9th, and 10th Overall. We all piled in the car back home to Kalamazoo and got some food and slept until the alarm went off at 4:30 to drive to Grand Rapids (where I ran my first) and run the Grand Rapids Marathon. I paced a friend to a then PR of 3:17 finishing our goal of 3 Marathon in 3 states in 8 days. It was only then that I realized that marathons and long distance running might be my thing.
In the following years I would finish school, move across the state and back, only to find that my calling was in Colorado. I’d fallen in love with a woman who’s passion for teaching and learning was just as strong and deep as mine. Katie is a huge driving force and was integral to taking my hobby of running and coaching friends and making it into a business. In the time since those 3 marathons I focused on learning the science and absorbing knowledge from peers and mentors. I now call myself a coach, a mentor, and an advisor to athletes who have run and qualified for some of the most prestigious races on earth. However, I feel that I’m still at the starting line of my coaching career.
It had a lot to do with my mentors, and the impact that the Kalamazoo running community had on me. I stepped into coaching to help change lives, and give something to others that impacted me so greatly. I’d really like to thank Rob Lillie for showing me the ropes in college and guiding me to a 2:43 PR. His dedication is something I hope to embody, a coach that’s at the track with his athletes a 5:15am and there right after work 2 days later at 6pm. He taught me a lot by sharing his knowledge and making his intentions know. HE was very good at telling his athletes why they were doing something, even something small and seemingly inconsequential.
The impact Rob had on me is one part of a bigger part of why I succeeded. Having a coach is more than one person, it is an integral part of a community. Coaches key you in closer to the work you’re doing and help pull you away when you’re focusing or perseverating on one thing too much. We’re also really good at helping you find all of the 100 things you did right and to let go of the 1 or 2 things you did wrong.
Having a positive impact, and the opportunity to change lives through coaching is why I coach. I know that my work is going into helping someone achieve their goals, set a PR, and complete something that once seemed impossible. Teaching patience, science, and understanding all that it takes to achieve your goals is why I love my job.