Put Me in Coach- One Coach’s Personal Story from Client to Coach : Megan Conner

I never grew up athletic.  I was the choir and drama nerd with short hair and no makeup and played JV tennis because I liked the skirts but could never do varsity because it conflicted with advanced drama.  Somehow I ended up with the high school heart throb and envy of all of the girls. (Don’t ask me what he saw me in back then because I have no clue!) He liked to run and play football and baseball and lift weights and had a six-pack.  Me…I was the lead in all of the plays, focused my energy on making all-state choir and had never run a mile in my life.  Until him.  He took me on a run on a very hot Texas summer day.  I felt my heart pumping and the endorphins surging and I was hooked, and that was when my HS BF became my first “coach.”  

Now, let me define the term coach for you in my language… to me, it’s someone that cheers you on, guides you, points you in the right direction, probably knows a little more about what you’re doing than you do and then helps you believe that you can actually do the thing.  It can be a spouse, a friend, a significant other or an actual pro.  

I started coaching 19 years ago – everything from bootcamp to spin to personal training.  I’ve been coaching running for over a year now and am in love with it!  To see a person set a goal, formulate a plan, put the work in and cross the finish line – there’s nothing like it.  Whether it’s doing your first 5k and need a run/walk program or if you’re training to qualify for Boston – it’s all the same.  Miles are miles are miles.  Either way, you end up at the finish line, and It’s amazing.  

Here’s the quick version of how I was inspired to start coaching running…. 

I ran the Boston marathon the year it was bombed.  I crossed the finish line 15 minutes before the bombs went off, and I was 2 blocks away around the corner.  I ran it for charity that year after suffering from IT band syndrome that stopped me in my tracks. I thought I’d never be able to run a full marathon again so I wanted to go out with the marathon of all marathons – BOSTON.  

The year before Boston, I was in Huntsville on pace for a 3:20 marathon when my IT band blew out at mile 16.  I started walk/jogging which turned into a jog, and by mile 22 I couldn’t even walk on it and had to be carried off.  I rode away in the golf cart in tears and heartbroken.  So, when the American Liver Society contacted me and asked if I wanted to raise money and do Boston the following April I said – YES.  I truly thought this was the only way I would be able to do this monumental race.  

So there I was just at the most coveted marathon in the world having crossed the finish line, bent over getting my race bag at the bus, and then the bombs went off…. two big booms… 

My heart broke for all of the people affected by the bombing and it broke for the sport of running.  I knew at that moment that I wanted to qualify no matter what it took.  I wanted to come back and run Boston for redemption, for renewal, for myself, for those that lost their lives and dedicate my run to all affected that day.  The problem was – I didn’t know where to start.  I had never even stepped foot on a track before, so I hired Dave Milner as my coach, worked my ass off, qualified and went back to run it again – and this time it meant even more.  

I learned SO much while training for that marathon – I had never been in better shape, and it changed my views on training so much so that it inspired me to get certified to do the same thing to help others reach their goals.  There was so much I thought I knew from having a background in training, but I had so much to learn, and for that – I am grateful.  

Here are a few things that runners that don’t have a coach sometimes miss when training for a race…

-Did you know that you should rarely run at the actual pace that you’re going to race at?  It’s true!

-Running slow makes you faster.

-You need to EAT and DRINK during races from a 10k race up, and you have to practice this during training.  Anything over 45-hour of training – you need to be taking in calories to keep your body from burning muscle.  

-Lube is your friend.  

Did any of the above surprise you?!  They sure surprised me when I learned about them from my coach.  I always tell my runners – hire a coach for one race just to experience what it’s like because it will change the game.  (It doesn’t have to be me – I’m not tooting my own horn here.  Toot toot – totally kidding.)  Do your research, talk to others that have used the coach you’re thinking about, and most importantly – find someone that you believe in, trust and that inspires you.  It’s an investment in yourself.  Is there really any better investment?  

It’s crazy how a big dose of confidence and a few small tweaks in how you prep and train can make a difference in having a meh race turn into a great race.  Taking the time to figure out what works for you as an athlete verses the guy next to you can also make a huge difference in how you feel, race and recover.  That means everything from what cross-training works for you to what you wear.  Whether it’s crossing the finish line with a fast PR or just crossing the line – it’s your race, it’s your experience, it’s your memory, it’s your moment.  Why not set yourself up for success?  

I am a coach that has a coach.  I am always a client.  There is always someone to learn from.  I am currently training for an olympic distance triathlon and have a coach myself (Conrad Goeringer), and I don’t know where I’d be without him! Conrad gives me confidence, knowledge, helps me understand the why behind the training, and gives me the know-how to believe that I can accomplish my goals. When I cross that finish line – it’s not just me… it’s him, it’s all of the miles I’ve put in, it’s the people cheering me on, it’s the time he’s spent walking me through the training, it’s both of our dedication to being better humans, and it’s my why.  That finish line isn’t just a line you cross or a sign you run under.  It’s not just a time on a watch or a clock – it’s so, so much more.

Put me in coach!  I’m ready to go!  Are you?