fitness | Working With A Running Coach

Eight weeks ago I decided to start working with a running coach to PR for an upcoming race. There was nothing particularly special about this race, I was just bored with my workout routine and wanted something that would challenge me. Although I’ve been running since I was 13 years old, I’ve never run competitively (my small private school didn’t have a track team), so I was excited and nervous to finally work with a coach.


The coach I worked with, Michelle Lay, works as an exercise specialist at my gym, but is also a former track & field runner at Purdue and a certified track & field coach. She knows her stuff. Before Michelle and I even began working together, she wrote me up an 8-week plan that would end on race day. The plan was definitely a step up from what I’d been doing – a variety of 4-5 workouts a week. While the plan was challenging for sure, it also kept me focused with an end in sight. Below are a few of the pros and cons that I personally experienced working with a running coach.


I never had to come up with my own workouts. This was a huge pro to me. Even when I’ve trained for races in the past, I’ve always just done my own thing and sort of played the workouts by ear. With this plan, I knew exactly what to expect each day and could mentally prepare for it.

I also challenged myself much more than I would’ve on my own. While I love to push myself no matter what the activity, this plan set the bar high. Michelle knew my fitness level and knew how hard I could go. She made me work to get better, which I really loved.


I burned out. Bad. I’m sure it’s because I’ve never followed a training plan, but I found myself dreading workouts toward the end. The plan had me running four days a week, strength training once and doing cross training on the sixth. The hardest part was forcing myself to do a workout I didn’t want to do just because I knew I had to. Other than that, there really were no cons.

In the end, I came up short of my PR, but I have zero regrets. Working with Michelle helped me realize how hard I can work if I really want something. While the thought of continuing to push myself until I can PR is tempting, I also know I’d 110% burn myself out of running and that’s not something I’m willing to do. I love it too much.


so what’s the plan now?

I want to give myself freedom to work out how I want, when I want. That will most likely look like 4-5 days a week, depending on my schedule. I also want to do some different workouts – yoga, barre, hiking. I feel like I’ve lived in the gym the past couple of months, so I want to do as many activities outside of it as possible for the near future. And yes, I will continue to run (I have a 5k next weekend), but for fun. Being a runner means being able to step back or dive in whenever you want. That’s the beauty of it.

are you still that running girl?

Even (maybe especially?) if I’m not training for something, I want to spend some more time on the blog. Things have been so busy the past few months, it’s taken a back seat, but I really want to devote some time to building it up to what I think it can be. There is so much I love outside of running – mainly travel, food and style – that I want to share. So I’m hoping to focus on some of those things for awhile!

My running coach was Michelle Lay. You can contact her at

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