Vail running column: Get a coach |

Vail running column: Get a coach

Greg Decent
Vail, CO Colorado

Running is not just about putting one foot in front of the other and propelling your body forward.

Running well requires specific wisdom. After running for years on my own, a self-coaching journey in which I learned new workouts from books and other runners, I felt that my own personal wisdom had reached its peak. I was frustrated with my lack of progression on my marathon finish times.

I hired a running coach to help me run a personal best time at the Boston Marathon to break through this wall. This decision was not easy for me to make. After all, I enjoy engaging in conversations with other runners and offering advice, but now I was on the opposite end seeking guidance. However, I felt the need for a change in order to take my running to the next level.

Accepting help is the first step of seeking to change yourself; and I discovered rejuvenation in a professional coach. I sought the guidance of Rob Parish, former Battle Mountain High School cross country/track and field coach and a current assistant coach for Eagle Valley High School.

I wanted a coach who understood training at altitude and who was also willing to work with runners who thrive on high mileage. Rob uses his professional experience to coach all athletes, from the recreational runner to the elite athlete attempting to win a race. As my newfound training progressed, I quickly realized how beneficial Rob was to my ultimate goal of a personal best time at the Boston Marathon.

Prior to Rob, most of my workouts were focused on mileage; I would run for 8 miles and hope to average a specific pace for that run. After being coached with daily updates and specific workouts, I realized my training was elementary in comparison.

Rob monitored my training and varied my workouts according to my interests. Rather than being diplomatic, Rob was flexible and engaged. The variety of workouts kept the training fun and focused. Lifting weights was a new routine, and I noticed rapid benefits in my running form.

When I arrived in Boston for the Marathon, I felt extremely prepared and focused to run well. I believed in myself and knew that my training under the guidance of Rob had gone extremely well. I was equipped with the adequate amount of training to ensure that I was at my optimal performance level, not undertrained or overtrained and I had my race plan.

The Boston Marathon was a memorable experience for me. For the first time in my 12 marathons, I remained strong and ran a consistent pace to the finish. In my previous races, I would always start off running well and then fade in the final miles. Racing well to the finish feels much better than dying towards the end. I owe my newly learned knowledge and success to the professional coaching of Parish.

Going out of my comfort zone and seeking professional help was really the “restart” button for my running routine. If you are stuck in a rut, seek guidance. After working with Rob and reaching my goal of a personal best time at the Boston Marathon, I encourage all runners to contact Rob at

Greg Decent writes a weekly running column for the Vail Daily.

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