Why question the expert?

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 22.14.59Imagine this – you have a serious legal problem and you hire a top lawyer. Pay him or her good money. Tell them about the case, every detail. And then question everything they advise you to do.

Or you have bad toothache. You book an appointment with the best dentist in town. And whilst still in agony, double check everything the dentist suggests on Google.

Or you take your car to the garage to be fixed and despite knowing nothing about engines you follow the mechanic’s every move whilst reading a Haynes manual, asking him or her why they are doing what they are doing.

I hope you agree that all these scenarios are pretty preposterous. Stupid, even.

So why is it that I hear runners questioning their coaches over and over again? Double checking every session. Asking whether they can do more or less. Wanting to know what the next two or five or ten weeks’ training will consist of.

When I first met my coach, Nick Anderson of Running With Us, I went to him because I needed help. I had read books and taken advice where I could find it and self-coached to¬†2:43:55 at the Paris marathon. But I knew I was now stuck. I had run a London marathon Championship qualifying time but I didn’t know how to run faster.

I had the good fortune to meet legendary coach Bud Baldaro and I asked his advice about what I should do next to take my running on a step:

Go and find a man called Nick Anderson and ask him to coach you

So I did. Nick suggested that I have a couple of months of regular running and we start working together in June. And I thought to myself, the only way to approach this is to do what Nick suggests – 100% – for a year. If I don’t, then there is no way of knowing whether his methods work for me. If nothing improves in a year, so be it and I’ll just work out what to do next.

So that is what I did – 100% dedication to the training and advice that Nick dispensed. No listening to other people. No double-guessing. No reading books and adding or subtracting from the sessions that Nick set me.

In November, five months after we started working together, I ran 2:40:49. Two and a half years later I ran 2:37:07 in London, despite having launched a business six months before.

I am not suggesting that the route I took would be right for everyone. I am also not suggesting that coaches know everything (in fact I was ranting on here recently about ‘coaches’ who I believe have little or no right to be dishing out advice). But if you are going to work with a coach that you have chosen because you trust that they can do a great job with you, then for goodness sake take their advice and just get on with it.

Once again today I overheard a coach talking to an athlete who was obviously determined to negotiate and question and second guess everything the person they are supposed to be listening to was advising. For crying out loud; if you think you know better, just go and do your own training. Don’t expect an expert in the field to give you the permission to do training that they obviously don’t think is right. If they did… that is what they would have set you.

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