COACH RACHEL LAVOIE
My running career started out much like any other non-runner's- "No thank you, please". Relatively athletic in high school, I played varsity team sports but largely hated the running portion. It wasn't until midway through college, prompted by late night pizzas and beer, that I really started to pick up running. After running a half marathon my senior year, I started to actually enjoy it and somewhere along the way, I became a competitive runner.
In 2013, after spectating the Boston Marathon from Boylston Street and witnessing the destruction and devastation, I vowed to run my first marathon and attempt to qualify and come back to that finish line the following year on different terms. Six weeks later, I ran my first marathon, qualified, and promptly vowed never to run again. Luckily that feeling lasted only as long as my struggle to get up and down the stairs and I have since run 6 marathons with a PR of 3:00:42.
The past 10 years of running for me has not, however, been all smooth sailing through finish lines and PRs. I've stumbled many times along the way but ultimately that led me to my passion for coaching. Following years of over training, I spent 2015-2017 dealing with two major injuries that sidelined me for the better part of two years, one of which ultimately required surgery. During that time, I began coaching at MYSTRYDE Treadmill Studio in Boston and got to put into practice much of what I had learned both through formal certification programs and through my own training.
Coaching truly is my passion and being able to relate to and understand the stresses my runners face through my own experiences has proven to be a huge asset. I love the personal relationship of coaching and for me there is no greater joy than getting an athlete to believe in their own abilities and see the potential that I see in each of them. Running is a passion that does not come without its fair share of hard work but at Finish Stronger Racing, the goal is always to find balance in the work and enjoy the process. Otherwise, what's the point?
While my running career has had some incredible highs, it has certainly had some lows and I truly believe it is both of these that ultimately determine the strength of every runner. I never look at a runner struggling with injury, mental game or motivation and say, "this is beyond help". These are truly the things that force us to become stronger and more balanced runners and people. I believe that every one can be a runner, regardless of history, physical shape or experience and I am committed to finding a way for each individual athlete to train in a style that recognizes that.
Much of my personal coaching style has come from my own experiences, coaches I've had myself in the past, and a great certification program through the Road Runners Club of America. While there are many different facets of my coaching philosophy, there are 3 primary pillars that serve as the foundation for the way I coach athlete.
Every Run Should Have a Purpose. One of the biggest pitfalls I see in training is too much, or too fast. While volume is certainly important for building endurance for a long distance race, junk miles for the sake of mileage will only serve to break down your body unnecessarily. The same is true for speed. Each run should serve a purpose, meaning a workout is meant to target specific speed goals, a long run is meant to build endurance and act as a race day rehearsal, and a recovery run is just that - for recovery! If recovery miles are too fast, your body won't be able to recover and your quality days will start to suffer.
BALANCE. A training cycle must have balance. From a physical and mental standpoint, a 3-5 month training block is taxing. I try to be cognizant of that in each of my runners. Some feel the stresses more physically and some feel the mental burnout in a more pronounced way. For that reason, training weeks include crosstrain days, strength training and rest in addition to run days. I also rely on regularly scheduled check ins to ensure that athletes aren't breaking down physically or mentally under the stress of their training. And most importantly, in the wake of a bad workout or a difficult long run, I try to remind athletes that ultimately it is just running and at the end of the day comes another new day and a fresh start to leave behind a bad run. Drink a beer, eat a donut, spend time with family and friends. Running should never break your heart or your spirit and part of my job is to remind my athletes of that.
Everyone Is Different. In every sense of the word. It's the reason why I love working with athletes 1-1 and what truly fuels my passion for coaching. Every athlete has a different skill set, a different history, and a different personality and style they prefer to be coached in. These pillars serve as the foundation but ultimately my style of coaching differs between every single athlete I work with. That is why before we start any training program, I schedule and in person meeting or phone call so the athletes get to know me as a coach and I can get a better understand of how best to help them reach your goals. I love building that relationship of trust and understanding with each athlete and I truly believe it is a big difference maker when it comes to performance.