Have you ever worked hard to achieve a goal and then just fell flat? Did you feel like you were missing something—something key that might have turned the result around? Or maybe you thought it might be because of your age?
Have you ever considered using a personal coach?
I can answer yes to all of those questions. I ran my last marathon much slower than I had planned. After months of hard training, I went to the starting line fatigued and injured. I could have run through the hip issue, but when I got to mile eight in the marathon, I knew I just didn’t have the energy to push to my potential. Sure, my mind went immediately to the age excuse. Was I getting old?
Even at 60 years old, I’m not buying into that paradigm. I got faster in my fifties. Why can’t I achieve that feat in my sixties? After completing 17 marathons, most recently the Boston Marathon in April of 2015, I had developed a training program for myself that proved to be successful for my last few marathons. After all I ran a marathon personal record at age 54 and then again at 56. I also qualified for Boston again at age 59 shattering the age qualification time of 4 hours 10 minutes for women 50 -59 by over 10 minutes and over 25 minutes for women 60 – 64, and only 6 minutes away from another personal record. So, I’m thinking that I can do this. I can break another barrier. But I think something’s missing. I’m beginning to think I might need a coach, a personal trainer to get to the next level.
I’ve only been coached twice in my life for running. Once I took a marathon training course at age 29 to run my first marathon. Then again when I participated in the Leukemia Team In Training program for my third marathon. The program included coaching from John Loeschhorn, ultra-marathoner and coach. Both times, however, I was coached as part of a group. Never have I indulged in hiring a private coach who would just coach me. Somehow I thought they were reserved for the really fast runners out there. But with age comes wisdom, sometimes. Now I’m thinking, why not? Maybe that’s the key to running one more personal record.
I belong to a pricey health club in Irvine, California. The exercise classes are led by the top fitness instructors in their field and I love to take exercise classes. The club also employs the top personal trainers in their field. I took the leap recently and scheduled my two free sessions (included in my pricey membership) with a personal trainer. I learned much from those sessions and I knew I could benefit greatly from his coaching. So why am I hesitating? Following are the pros and cons I’m considering.
The Three Pros of Hiring a Personal Coach
- First pro: Knowledge
You can pick a private trainer that has a specialty in the area you want to improve in. The trainer I met with, Kent, has a degree in Kinesiology and is a marathon and ultra-marathon runner, and he ran the Boston Marathon. Oh yeah, he also participated on a club triathlete team in college. He’s only 23 so he knows all of the newest exercise developments. You can find personal trainers in many, many areas like Pilates, bicycling, overall strength training, etc.
- Second pro: Personally tailored and goal specific workouts
Kent did some tests the first time we met to measure my strength and flexibility and talked to me about my personal goals. The second time we met he guided me through a series of exercises to work on my balance and flexibility and to stabilize my hips. The program he developed will, overtime, make me stronger and able to sustain the pounding of running long distances before I even start marathon training. I plan to run my next marathon in October of 2016 which would give me time to recover from my injuries, work on strength and flexibility and then launch into a six-month marathon program.
Let’s say your goal is to bike a century, or climb Mount Whitney, or run your first 10K, or lose weight and tone muscles, a coach could develop your exercise plan at your pace to meet your specific goals.
- Third pro: Motivation
This one is huge. I felt very encouraged when I met with Kent. I believed that there is a way, with a disciplined, consistent program, that I can achieve my dream of running a personal record at the age of 61. The first step is believing, right? If you are someone who needs motivation to get to the gym and the discipline of having a scheduled workout time, this is a great way to go.
The Three Cons of Hiring a Personal Coach
- First con: Cost
This one is huge too. I knew the health club management didn’t give away two free training sessions because they were generous. No, they knew you’d be impressed and I was. The cost is a cool $100/hour, slightly less for multiple packages. Kent highly encouraged at least two to three times a week to learn the proper form and the exercises, which makes sense to me. I’m calculating a 2 to 2 1/2 month investment of approximately $2,400. Is the investment worth the price? I’m looking at investing in myself, in learning proper form and a way to get strong that will stay with me a lifetime.
- Second con: Commitment
When an investment is made, so is a commitment. You then commit to a plan that will take work, effort, and discipline. This isn’t an easy thing to do when there are so many other things happening in your life. Then again, this could be considered a good thing.
- Third con: Fear
When an investment and a commitment is made, then you must overcome the fear that you might fail. What if I work through the program, train for another marathon, and then fall short of my goal? What then? Facing a fear of failure is big for me. But, then again, you don’t really fail if you’ve done your best. At least you jumped in and tried and probably emerged stronger and wiser because of the experience. Again, this could be considered a good thing.
What’s your story? Do you have a pie-in-the-sky dream that seems out of reach? Do you think you’re too old? Is a coach worth it? Maybe the type of coach that could benefit you would be a life coach or a business coach. Education is a great investment in ourselves and can take us way out of our comfort zones. I’d love to hear success stories on the benefits of private coaching. If you have one, please comment below.
Meanwhile, I’ll ponder my decision which seems like an obvious answer, but it’s still a tough decision.
Let’s break barriers together!