November 2018 I was hungry. Hungry to improve, hungry to push myself, hungry for possibility, and probably hungry for tacos too. After dropping out of both Chicago and NYC marathons due to lack of training and was ready for a come back. I was following the founder of a coaching company on Instagram and was blown away by the results they were getting. One evening after feeling particularly down about my running I took the leap, asked some questions, and applied for a coach. The next day I was assigned to a coach.
“What do you mean you were assigned a coach!?” one of my friends exclaimed. “I got to interview a few different people before I chose who I wanted to coach me.”
I did not know that was an option, instead of interviewing a few different people and figuring out who would match with my personality and goals, I was assigned to whoever had an opening.
My goals were (and still are) to improve my speed to Boston Qualify. I learned my coach, after a quick google search, never ran further than a 10k, and was new to this coaching team. How does one coach someone through something if they have never done it before? However I continued optimistic and willing to take a chance.
Before we started laying out a plan, my coach and I had a phone call. During this we discussed my goals, how workouts would look, and what day I wanted off. Never did we discuss the program we would be using and how it works. I had no idea there was an iPhone app component to this until after we got off the phone call and had a random email asking me to sign up for something. I signed up,not knowing what I was doing but went on.
After a month of getting what felt like computer generated workouts I told my coach that I had a late week at work coming up. I am a teacher who during the winter months picks up shifts working the high school basketball games. I requested that if there was going to be speed workouts or longer mileage could it be on days I was not working games so I could complete the workout before the sunset. After getting my weekly workouts assigned to me I noticed that none of my requests were met and my longest runs were on the days that I said I had to work late. This was fustrating but I moved my schedule around myself and heard nothing from my coach so I figured he just wanted me to figure it out myself.
In December I asked my coach if he thought doing a baseline half marathon would be a good idea. He asked me which one, I told him and he begrudgingly agreed that I could do it. I thought it was weird that I had to ask permission to run a race but I had a coach now, we were a team, we would work together to improve because that is how a team works.
A month later I looked on my schedule during race week and noticed the race was not included, no tapering for the half, no decreased intensity workouts, just a normal week. I reached out to my coach and he told me that I never cleared this half with him. But being your typical female, I had screenshots that told a different story.
Comparing my coaching to others
This last move really pissed me off. I knew that if my coach did not know what races I was training for, he probably did not know what my goals were. I asked around and everyone else seemed to agree I was getting the short straw in my coach. We never talked, he rarely asked how my workouts went and he accused me of lying. I was paying $119 a month to just get a running plan that I could have gotten off the internet.
I talked to my friends who have coaches through different companies and they get weekly calls with their coach, text whenever they have a question, and they feel like the coach genuinely cares about how they feel as an athlete. Even watching the instagram stories of the company that I signed up with it seemed that everyone else was on a much closer level to the coach that they were assigned. There was one story posted where a girl only had 4 days a week to train and her coach created a schedule to work around hers. Meanwhile my coach doesn’t even remember I asked for certain days off.
I emailed the founder of the company that my coach belonged to. I asked if I could switch coaches or possibly end my year contract early and open a spot for someone else. I told him what was going on and why I felt this way. Remember those screenshots, yeah I sent those too. What did he respond with? Nothing.
I got a phone call the next day from my coach basically asking me why the hell would I tell on him. This was the first time in 3 months that we had communication and it was him yelling at me that I told on him. How professional. I did learn a few things from this phone call. Apparently there was a part in the app where I should have requested everything I told him, such as signing up for a race and what days I wanted off. I did not know that the app had that capability because we never discussed it, which apparently was also my fault.
Post Phone Call
After someone accuses you of lying, then retracts his statement but still tells you that the misunderstanding was your fault how do you think the working relationship between the two parties would go? Possible answers are
- Great! Both parties get along swimmingly
- Its tense but both parties change there ways and put aside their differences
- Nothing changes and there is actually less communication between the two parties
- The parent company allows you to switch coaches
It is a few months later. Besides for an out of the blue “how did your workout go” followed by a response from my end and none from his, there has been poor, if any, communication. If he asked he would learn I am struggling keeping paces, I actually feel very run down, I’m completely exhausted from my long runs which I still can not hold pace during, and no I do not feel ready for my marathon in a month.
This past Sunday I completed a tune up half marathon. The night before the race he told me to keep my first 6 miles marathon pace and decrease my pace second half. Did I do that, absolutely not because I can not keep pace. I tried. I tried my darndest, but I just feel out of shape. I finished the half sore and felt like I was not training at all. Do you think he texted me asking “what happened” or maybe “what could have gone differently?” or “How do you think we could have changed your training to go smoother and prepare you better.” HA. Fat chance.
Conclusion and take away
I have done everything in my power from not mentioning the company that I am working with. They seem to be getting results with other athletes who have different coaches. I do not want to slander the program, it is just very unfortunate that my experience is this bad. I am paying $119 a month to fail. I do not feel confident in my coaches ability. I know he doesn’t care about my results and I know I will never hit my goals under his guidance. Basically my warning to others is if you are looking for a coach ask to talk to your potential coach before you agree to sign up. Ask how they will support you to reach your goal. Look for personal testimony from other people who are being coached by your specific coach and not just the program as a whole. I am stuck until November, but maybe next year there is a coach out there who will be willing to listen to my goals and work with me to achieve them.