I spent the spring and summer of 2011 training for a fall marathon, where I planned to better my only other marathon effort. Never did I imagine how much better my performance would prove to be.
As a participant of the Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10-Mile race in Darien, IL, I learned about Coach Meghan Kennihan and her personal training programs for runners. I did a little research and liked what I was reading, so I decided to give Coach Meghan a try. Coach Meghan had me fill out a questionnaire and calendar with all of my training exercises for the previous 28 days. I met with Meghan on August 1st. She conducted gait and strength analyses and assessed deficiencies and problems. We discussed my previous 28 days of training,
with Meghan pointing out the good and bad of what I was doing. Meghan put together a personalized training program based on my own abilities, strengths, weaknesses and schedule. I was excited and eager to get the ball rolling, as this was my first personal training plan designed for nobody but me.
Despite being on Coach Meghan's plan for only seven weeks pre-race, I was able to run the Fox Valley Marathon in 3:28:30; a PR by over 41 minutes (that is with me tearing a calf muscle at mile 20!). I was completely amazed. I did not think I could pull off a marathon at that pace. I am not a nay-sayer, I just did not think I was at that level yet. Meghan had her own ideas and made a prediction as to how my performance would be. Not surprisingly, she was spot-on.
Coach Meghan brought everything together and created a plan tailored specifically for me. She considered things like races, vacations, work schedules, etc. She compiled a comprehensive schedule that included my expected training run paces, cross-training as well as rest days.Coach Meghan was supportive in my endeavors, yet critical when she needed to be (I got scolded a couple of times!). When you read magazine articles, talk to runners or just guess on your own as to what you should be doing, the picture is confusing and murky. Coach Meghan makes that picture clear. There is no question; I will be using Coach Meghan when I train for my next race.
Coach Meghan, thank you for getting me to where I am today.
I could not have done this without you!
At the beginning of 2011, I thought about once again running the Chicago Marathon and trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Having last attempted that feat in the 2007 and 2008 Chicago Marathons, when the temperature was very hot and hot, I had some trepidation to try again.
If I was going to do it, I wanted to give myself the best shot possible. After doing some research, I decided to work with Meghan.
She did a gait analysis and evaluation of my running style and had me prepare a questionnaire including my goals for the year.
Not only did I want to qualify for Boston in my age group but, since I was only turning 55 in 2011, I wanted to qualify as if I was
in my old age group the time for which was 3:35. My worst case goal was 3:45 for Boston that I subsequently learned really had to be 3:40
for 2013 due to the accelerated registration.
My times in 2007 and 2008 were a disappointing 4:24 and 3:58 due to the heat. In addition, to my marathon goal, I also wanted do a 1:42 half marathon and a 21:30 5k.
In early March 2011, Meghan laid out my first 4 week training plan to build up my base and to begin to prepare me for races in May.
I was impressed with the structure of Meghans plan which included combinations of hard and easy workouts, easy runs, speed work,
long runs, and importantly, rest and recovery.
The plan was tailored to me which is a huge benefit. She worked me hard but also allowed for that all important recovery which is hard to do.
I also once questioned why the plan included several fairly long runs early on. She responded with a lengthy email explaining the physiological reasons and benefits; it was the last time I asked! Each week I provided my results to her which she reviewed and adjusted as needed. Her responses were always the same day.
That feedback is instrumental for proper training. In addition, she motivated me and celebrated my accomplishments.
She also scolded me a couple times when I deviated from the plan, for example, running too hard on what was supposed to be an easyday. That feedback too is critical and necessary. She also helped me get through an injury about 6 weeks before the marathon.As a result of Meghans coaching and a 38 week schedule, 2011 was my best running year ever.
I exceeded all my goals and established some PRs. I broke 21 minutes for a 5k.
I ran a half marathon at 1:37:35 in September and beat that with a 1:33:55 in November, beating my goal by almost 10 minutes. Interestingly, Meghan had predicted my time for the November half to be between 1:33:00 and 1:34:00; she was obviously spot on!
And, I qualified for Boston with a 3:32:33 Chicago Marathon despite warm weather! I continually improved my race performances during
my training program with Meghan. Im now frequently placing in the top 3 in my age group and sometimes winning.
Besides these accomplishments, I now feel like an athlete. Rather than just running and following a generic training program off the web,
I truly feel like Im training to achieve specific goals. And, it works. Moreover, Im mentally focused on racing, not just running.
Working with Meghan has been a real treat. Her structure, feedback, and motivation provided the environment I needed to flourish.
Clearly this past year has been successful for me but also has created a foundation for continued enjoyment and further improvements in running and racing. I plan on working with Coach Meghan in 2012.
I highly recommend working with her!