Hey runners! While I’m focusing my energies on being a new mom, I’ve lined up some great info and inspiration for you. In this Spotlight blog series, I’ve done a little Q&A with some great run coaches and fitness pros. Let’s see who we’ve got this week!
Spotlight: Heather Caplan
Why did you become a run coach?
Basically out of curiosity – I wanted to know what I didn’t know about the sport. Given my position as a wellness coach and registered dietitian, I thought it having a fitness certification would be helpful in my career. But honestly, as a distance runner I was curious about the science and logic that goes into crafting personalized training plans, and curious about the philosophies behind popular approaches to endurance running.
What I love about coaching is how different every runner is, and what I learn from my clients. No two training plans look the same, and no two runners will have the same relationship with me. I’m constantly learning just as much from them as they are from me (I hope!).
What is your coaching style/ philosophy?
My first experience with having a running coach involved the MAF method of training, which is the backbone of the Team Amazing Day (TAD) coaching philosophy. While I don’t adhere to it strictly, I do introduce heart rate-based aerobic training to help runners build a strong aerobic base to support their endurance running goals.
I don’t meet most of my athletes “in person” right away, as most of my coaching is virtual, so I try to get to know them pretty well right away. We’ll chat on the phone, via email, etc. until I get a good sense of their priorities, schedule, and preferences. I think it’s so important to keep aspects of your lifestyle and your running that are important to you, because if running doesn’t make you happy then we’ve missed the whole point.
Favorite running hydration, fuel, and/or gear?
I use OSMO products for hydration and recovery while I’m training; Skratch chews, dates with sea salt, chunks of a Larabar, or CLIF shot bloks for snacking while I run; and have been running in Oiselle or luluelmon attire for years (love them both). Currently I’m either wearing Brooks Ghost 8s or Altra Intuitions for road running or walking, and Inov-8s for trail adventures.
What piece of advice do you frequently give to runners?
“Don’t focus on pace, focus on effort.” (Eventually the pace you’re training for will come, we’ll work towards that.) When Katie (head TAD coach) and I first started working together, she tried to nail that in my head over and over and it took quite a while to stick, so my patience is thick for everyone else! I get it; it’s not easy to ignore our pace on most runs, but the truth is the body will respond well to effort and we need to know how to run easy, what “hard” means, and how to find the happy medium. Pace comes in when you’re ready, strategically, but for the most part, on most days, it won’t matter that much. It’s important to loosen the grips of expectations and learn to tune into your body.
When should runners hire a coach?
Anytime! I’ve worked with a coach before, during, and after major training cycles, and found value in having my coach at every stage. It has helped me build a base, chase new challenges, and recover well so I can do it all over again! I think it’s more important to note that anyone could hire a coach — you don’t have to be an elite, or breaking any records, to “deserve” or benefit from a coach. We all deserve someone who’s on our team, in our circle, support our desire to grow, change, try, fail, and succeed.