Tag Archives: run coach

The Most Forgotten Season

When I started running, I ran three seasons: cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. For much of the year, one season bled into another. Outdoor started as soon as indoor ended, and cross country ended after indoor started. I remember trying to convince our coach to let us take a week off, but we never did. We kept running, from August to the beginning of June. Sure there were periods of higher intensity, higher volume miles, but time off didn’t really exist.

Often times I’ll hear someone speaking of burn out. Of pushing too hard for too long and not being able to go any more. (Geoff Roes is a perfect example.) Most of the time, for the purely recreational runner, true burn out isn’t something we’re faced with, but there will be races that we fail miserably. We’ll look back at the miles we’ve put up for a year or two, the miles and hours we’ve logged and we won’t be able to figure out what the hiccup is about, and more often than not, we can’t figure it out.

The difference: The Off-Season. In high school and college, there is a sort of built in off-season. When outdoor track was over, school was essentially over and the summer began. We were supposed to run, and we did from time to time, but it came in floes, and more often than not, our attentions were turned to other thigns: frisbee, soccer, hiking, camping. What we didn’t realize at that time was that the summer provided a much needed off-season. It was a time when our bodies could take a break from the grinding workouts. Our muscles could relax and do something different. Even our minds needed it.

Unfortunately, as an adult, the world is a little different. There is no built in off-season to go relax and play frisbee for three hours with your friends, or take a week and go hike a bunch of mountains. Life brings with it many obligations, and it seems like many runners forget about the obligation to themselves to take time away. We go from one race to the next, one plan to the next. Fall races lead into a Christmas or New Years races, and before we know it we’re training for our first spring race.

It’s also important to understand that “off-season” doesn’t simply mean “go sit on your couch, eat cheese balls, drink beer, and watch the game on the TV.” That would be detrimental. Instead use the off-season to work on different aspects of your running. Cut down on volume, and lower the intensity of your workouts. Do 75% of your miles slower than your easy pace. Go out of your way not to push. Keep your muscles loose and in shape, but don’t kill them, let them recover. Do some form drills, do some mini-circuits. But force yourself to go easy.

Every runner needs an off-season. Some more frequently than others, but the key to a long and healthy running career is in those easy off-season miles. I promise.

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Who Needs a Coach?

The last time I ran with a formal coach was back in 2002 – college cross country. A lot has happened since then, including a long stretch of not running spanning near eight years. A lot happened in that time, including a fairly large decline in my running abilities. When I started running again I had an idea of what I was doing and quickly started to regain some of the fitness I had lost.

I experienced success for a few reasons:

1. I remembered a number of workouts from high school and college and was familiar with implementing a training schedule and strategy.
2. I knew where to look for further information regarding the science of training.
3. I had a knowledgeable support system.

Numbers 1 and 2, I think anyone can figure out. If you’re new to running it can be difficult to arrive there on your own, but it is doable with some effort. The problem is, steps 1 and 2 will only take you so far. There is a point where an outside force becomes necessary to improve our fitness.

Enter support system. By support system I do not mean a partner who gives you all the time you need to go train, or a couple of friends to mess about with you on a Saturday morning (though these things can be helpful); I mean a coach. A support system or coach can exist in a few different ways. There’s your garden variety coach who helps out at the local running spot once a week and tries to disseminate tips and techniques to better your running. Inevitably these are helpful ventures and a great way to find new topics or ideas to look into further, but they don’t offer everything. There can can also be a more personal coach; someone that is responsible for developing a plan or workouts to better your running.

While I haven’t personally paid for a coach, I have developed a couple of different relationships that work in much the same way. I am able to work with my brother to build workouts and training plans and then bounce them off of some elite ultra runners and gather their thoughts. It is not a simple task and takes a lot of digging and delving to ascertain the right techniques that will benefit me the most, but in the end, it’s worth it.

Another aspect of having a coach that I wholly enjoy is that I have someone to answer to. While there may not be a financial incentive, no one likes to tell their coach they didn’t make it through the workout for whatever reason – barring serious injury – especially when your coach is your brother.

You can peruse our coaching options: here.