While it may not be as dire of a question as whether to live or die, asking yourself if you need a coach or not is a good question to ask yourself at any point in your running life. Ever since I've graduated high school, I've had trouble responding to a coach. There may be a plethora of (piñatas?) reasons for this, but I think it mostly has to do with the fact that I love to run. Winning and racing is not the driving force behind why I go out for my daily ritual of hitting the trail or road. I really enjoy being a student of the sport and like being able to push myself in different ways in training, sometimes even if it's not the most logical thing to do. I'm experimental to a fault, and the end result ultimately becomes another piece of data for me. This is not to say I don't care about racing or setting PRs. I do, but on a daily basis what fuels my mind is creating something that I've never done before and seeing if it works out.
There are people out there who are good at seeing the big picture and have the self control when it comes to training. There are also those that know what works well for them and a good method to improvement. I have realized that I am not one of those people. I can get too immersed in what I'm doing and become too emotionally biased to really know which way is North. I have a good sense of direction, but the path I take can meander and I often find myself in very high peaks or deep valleys. I tend to turn what could be a good stimulus into what might be considered an unhealthy obsession. Sometimes this can work out great! But sometimes it can end in tragedy :( (see Macbeth). So this is the quandary I live in.
The end of 2015 was rough for me. I struggled mightily in my last two races. This dampened my spirits for a little bit, but before long I was running again, feeling strong and healthy, and looking forward to the new year. I already had ideas in my head of how I wanted to train and what races I wanted to do, when a friend/old training partner suggested that I should get a coach. I was hesitant at first, afraid to give away my freedom and personal experimentation, but on the other hand was excited at the prospect of working with someone that could help me reach my goals with and unbiased eye.
After a couple weeks of some thought and a few interviews, I decided on a coach that I felt comfortable with and confident in, and who also valued my input and was not going change anything up drastically. I've been working with her since late January and as I write this now, training has gone well, and I feel like a more complete runner. This weekend I am going to be racing in my first big race of the year at Caumsett 50km Road Race, which is also the US 50k Road Championships. I'm excited to see how it goes!