The training

I’m not necessarily saying I wish I were a professional athlete (although who wouldn’t want to be a pro athlete?), but I wish it were my full-time (or at least part-time) job to train for, and compete in, all the races I want to compete in.

I would get on a running program designed to make me better at 5Ks and at 1-mile races. I would get on a good, solid, stair-race training program designed to increase my legs’ muscle endurance and teach me to be strong on the railings. And then, of course, I’d round it all out with some strength work aimed at targeting the parts of my body that wouldn’t get hit as much by the running and stair programs.

Unfortunately, I have to work a desk job to pay the bills, provide insurance, and all that jazz. It’s not that stressful a job, but it’s not as awesome as working out all the time would be.

Barring this dream scenario, I have taken one of those steps and I’m working it around my current schedule:

I have hired a locally-based online running coach and turned the reigns to my running over to him. His program for me is designed to make me better at 5Ks and at 1-mile races. My workouts under this new plan started last week.

From what I’ve seen of my new coach’s philosophies on running, feedback from his other clients, and in my discussions with him, I’m pretty excited for this coaching. I’m pretty excited about some of the things I’ve already learned about running and what more I will learn.

All my learning about running up to this point has come on my own and from my own experiences in the past couple years. Experience is the best teacher, but having someone wiser than you with more experience and experiences share some of that with you can really open your eyes.

My previous running program was sort of just me figuring out what to do on my own. I’ve utilized personal training, so my gym days were dictated by that, but I was left to run during the in-between days based on whatever I felt like doing, with no real instruction or guidance. I applied some things I’d read about different training approaches and I tried some cookie-cutter running plans. Even though I improved, I still never really felt like I had a good running system in place to get the most out of my abilities.

I feel like I’m now on the path to that. I understand it’s going to take some time for the full impact to be seen, but I know it will be seen.

My running schedule is a four-day-per-week schedule to accommodate my other training. So far, this program has me facing some gradual mileage increases, but also has introduced me to some speed workouts I’ve not experienced before.

So now the only problem is my gym/stair-specific training.

While my old system was half-gym/half-running, where the gym was structured and the running was not, now it’s the other way around. My running is structured, but the gym is not.

I left my trainer and my old gym in February for a new gym with a whole staff of trainers. Things haven’t exactly worked out there like I’d hoped. The facilities and equipment are nice, but the training service has left a lot to be desired.

The first trainer I was assigned was a basically a flake who canceled on me multiple times (once so he could train someone else and once so he could TAKE — not even instruct! — one of the gym’s fitness classes), didn’t get back to me for multiple days when I tried contacting him to reschedule, and then he would try to reschedule at times I had already told him I was unavailable.

I told member services what happened and they put me in touch with the fitness director, who met with me, and ultimately assigned me a different trainer. The second trainer was fine. He tailored his workouts toward my stair goals, but they were mostly still nothing spectacular. Right when I had my neck issues and had to step back from working out, his wife apparently had a baby. It worked out well because he took paternity leave while I tried to get my neck right. My first day back to the gym to work out on my own, I asked where he was, to which I was told he no longer worked there. Apparently he found a new job while out on paternity leave and neither he nor anyone at the gym bothered to tell his clients.

So then I asked to speak to the fitness director. Boom: also no longer an employee there. So how about the member services’ lady who signed me up and helped me through the first trainer debacle? ALSO NO LONGER AN EMPLOYEE.

What the crap?

Good thing all the training I’d had up to that point had been for free thanks to promotions and a make-up offer for the first trainer’s flakiness.

A couple days later I went in to cancel my membership. I was ready to switch to Stephanie’s gym and hire her trainer. Her trainer has helped her tremendously with her stair training. I only need once-per-week instruction with a written plan to follow, and that’s what she provided Stephanie, so it seemed like the perfect solution.

Well, apparently not. Stephanie’s trainer’s schedule is ridiculously booked, and there’s no room for me on it. So much for that.

Thankfully the gym I was canceling from was trying to woo me to stay by offering me more free training with a new trainer. With Stephanie’s trainer not looking like an option, I took them up on the offer. Try number three wasn’t as bad. I un-canceled my membership. The guy I got was cool and put me through some pretty good workouts. I had seven free sessions and I used them all. However, while he seemed like he was interested in my goals, there was sort of a feel like he was just training me because he was being forced to for however many free sessions I had. He also seemed unwilling to provide a written program; there was no sort of “big-picture” element behind the workouts. Just stuff that should help.

Those sessions are done and now I’d have to pay to continue. But I’m not sure that training is worth the payment to me. I don’t feel like I necessarily need a trainer, but I do feel like some guidance would be nice, especially with a big-picture view of how it should benefit me, as opposed to throwing out a bunch of exercises that might help. Progress tracking would be nice as well. This is why I’m excited about my running program.

As for my stair program and additional general strength work, if I could figure it all out on my own, I wouldn’t feel the need to seek help. I’ve watched plenty of videos about sprinters’ strength programs as well as some from some of the top stair climbers about what they do to train. I’ve implemented very little of what I’ve seen because I don’t feel confident trying some of these things on my own. So now my gym work feels like what my running used to be.

I want to be the best I can be, and it’s hard feel I’ll make it there by just continuing to just wing it. But that’s all I can do for now.

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