We enlisted the help of a postpartum doula after our twins were born. Every other night, the doula—Deana—would spend the night at our house, watching over our babies (while folding laundry!) or quietly soothing a crying baby until its twin sibling awoke, when she would bring them to me to be fed. Tucked up in the sloped-ceiling suite of our renovated attic, Deana and I would talk and laugh as I breastfed my babies; I felt as supported and loved as I imagined my twin babies did. After the babes were done nursing, I’d go back to sleep while Deana changed, swaddled, and soothed them back to sleep.
Having Deana meant I got a reprieve every other night. In addition, Deana was like a professional parent, teaching my husband, Jack, and me how to “stretch” the babies so they didn’t want to feed every 45 minutes, how to usher them back to sleep faster, how to nudge the twins toward a schedule. As the agreed-upon three months of doula-help drew to a close, I felt sad and slightly panicky, but Jack and I had decided pre-twins, we’d only employ a doula for three months. As I hugged Deana after her last night with us, she said, “You’re my only client who actually stuck to the agreed-upon time commitment; everyone else always begs me to stay around longer.”
This scenario has played itself out in my mind a lot these past few weeks, as I come the end of seven glorious months of having a running coach, Briana. I had worked with Bri in 2014 when I qualified for Boston Marathon, and she was the person I called for comfort and encouragement as I trembled on a hospital gurney awaiting the results of my ankle X-rays in May 2015. When the time came to train for Boston, there was no doubt who would help me get through the training—and those hilly 26.2 miles.
Agility drills, strengthening routines, dynamic flexibility sequences: All these tools from Bri’s arsenal, plus smart, effective miles. After the mid-April marathon, I counted on Bri to prep me sanely and safely to accompany a friend on a 20-mile training run. When that endeavor was over, thoughts of “what’s next?” pinged around in my brain. Sure, I wanted another training goal, but mainly I wasn’t ready to run a Bri-free workout. So Bri and I teamed up to prep and push me toward a speedy 10K race. On that overcast evening on July 9, Bri’s magical combination of drills + smart miles helped me nab first in my age group, but I missed my time goal by 4 seconds.
Since then I’ve vacillated on whether to be #coachedandloved by Bri for another 10K in an effort to get that 50:xx finish I had been striving for. Or maybe to go for a 1:50-ish half-marathon. I found a few races that worked with my calendar, but my heart didn’t surge when I contemplated them. I finally confessed all of this to Bri. Part of her reply:
“Every goal, no matter how big or small, has to start with you wanting it. At the end of the day, it has to excite you. It only becomes truly successful when it comes from you! There is fun in trying to hit a time; there is also fun in taking a break and just enjoying no pressing date on the calendar.”
I’ve felt my commitment to challenging workouts wane in the last week or so: I skipped a strength series after Saturday’s run; I blew off a run-barre-class-run sequence in favor of an ambling run; I didn’t sweat it when I started tempo segments a few seconds late or ended them early. All heresy to this usually ardent, rule-following coachee!
So I am bidding Bri good-bye like I did with Deana nearly 11 years ago. The farewell isn’t as permanent as it was with our doula, though: While I’m certain I’ll never have another set of newborn twins, I’ll most definitely push myself toward another heady running goal—and I’ll want my beloved coach to help me reach it.
How about you: Have you ever worked with a running coach?