Coach to 50K

Spencer and I after The North Face Endurance Challenge, CA 12/2014.

You’ve heard of couch to 5K, the running/training app?

How about heart-monitor to 50K in 18 months?


You haven’t heard of it?!?

Well, then let me tell you a story…

I met Spencer when I was super focused and quite a ways into my lifestyle re-vamp. I was down to 200 pounds and off insulin. I was working to get off all other meds and wanted to lose 40 more pounds. I was falling in LOVE with being able to MOVE; running specifically had captured my heart.

I was loving the active life I was building! 

We were introduced randomly at work. ‘Hey you both run. You know each other right?’ 

(Me at 200 pounds and teaching myself to begin to run, being introduced to a tall, thin, fit, very obviously a runner-looking dude…)

Spencer said ‘You run!’

I stuttered back something intelligent and confident like ‘UH… I’m NOT THAT kind of runner… Not like you can obviously run. I’m really, really slow. I just wanna be able to run a mile without walking…’

Spencer said “It’s cool you run! Let’s grab coffee and talk about running.’

So we did.

I explained how I had gotten to the point of wanting to become a runner; mega weight loss, getting off insulin. Lifestyle changes, NOT diet.

I confessed I couldn’t run more than a mile or two. But I still told him my heart’s desire; I wanted to run an ultra someday. Did he even know what the heck I was talking about? Spencer, with a grin, said ‘Yeah. I’ve heard of them.’  ‘Do you really think someone like me could run an ultra?’  ‘Absolutely.’

Heard of them? Geez. Turns out he had RUN them!

The ultra world isn’t very big. With DUMB luck I had just stumbled into someone who KNEW about them. More importantly to me? He was only the second or third person to greet my ‘ultra’ goal with a POSITIVE response and not the now-standard ‘YOU are crazy.’

He asked me what I was doing to train. I told him; LOTS. I was running and biking and hiking and weight lifting and doing boot camp classes.  If a little is good, a lot is better. Right?!

Spencer said ‘You’re doing a lot. Be careful and maybe look at some structure to keep from getting hurt’.

My brain shut down at his words of caution… 

I was SO, so, so tired of everyone preaching caution AT ME on this journey. Diabetes was trying to KILL me. Caution seemed stupid. Couldn’t people see I was ACTUALLY going to win this war against diabetes if everyone would just get THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY?!!!

Turns out that I was JUST about to reach a very real breaking point…

June 2013 I literally hit the ground. I passed out in Safeway. An off-duty fireman walking toward me saw the impending train wreck and broke my fall…

I wound up in the ER.

Exhaustion and potassium depletion was what they finally told me. ‘Hang up your running shoes for a few weeks and give your body a break..’

I met Spencer for coffee again a few days after my visit to the ER — wearing a portable EKG/heart monitor. I was defeated, scared to death I was going to lose my foothold on this new lifestyle.

I was ready to LISTEN.

I needed help.

I really wanted to be a runner.

Blacking-out scared the crap out of me. I clearly did NOT know what in the hell I was doing. At all. I asked Spencer about structure. And preventing this from happening again. And coaching.

Spencer was not coaching anyone at that point. He was insistent about it.

After some additional conversations; I flat-out begged him to consider working with me. Some more conversations? He agreed we could give coaching a try for a short period of time.

Fast forward 18 months.

Spencer is still my coach. 🙂

There has been lots of cussing and learning and sassy moments as I struggled to be OK with trusting someone else to help me on this journey.

I had to learn to accept that Spencer really was on my side.

Please understand; that statement is NOT a judgement on Spencer. THIS whole journey of changing your entire lifestyle..?  It can be lonely and hard. You get used to doing a lot of this stuff on your own, without crowd approval or understanding or support from anyone beyond a small handful of trusted friends.

To invite Spencer into this journey and then give him some portion of involvement and control was a very BIG step for me.

I ditched the heart monitor after a TON of tests. I got a totally clean bill of health after a period of serious rest. I had permission to start back to exercising and running – slowly and cautiously.

I started back from my ‘crash’ working with Spencer as my coach. Our goal? He was going to help me re-build in a healthy, sustainable, safe way.

The trial period worked out.

He hasn’t fired me. (Yet.)

And… I ran my first 50K this past weekend.

That is my heart-monitor to 50K program in 18 months story.

Or as I have been calling it this week..?!?

‘Coach to 50K’. 🙂

Thanks for not firing me Spencer… 🙂

2 thoughts on “Coach to 50K

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