I just told the one runner I was coaching that I can't coach him any more. He just wants someone to tell him what to do to get to his goals (which is what most people think of when - and if - they think about what coaches do). If that's what he wants, I told him, just pick up a book with a training manual and follow it or find a coach who's willing to take his money to tell him anything he wants to hear.
There are different kinds of coaches. There's a lot of "rah-rah" coaches who get paid to motivate and encourage, but don't really know anything. There are dictator coaches who force entire teams through grueling workouts and the ones who survive do well, leaving the others injured and hating the sport. I'm a teaching coach when I coach (and that's getting pretty rare); ideally, when I'm done with an athlete, they won't need a coach any more, because they'll know how to coach themselves.
While working on something else, I realized that what would probably be of most use on this blog would be to explain the workings of the two currently popular marathon training programs, those of Brad Hudson and Jack Daniels. It seems everyone I know is following one or the other blindly.
Brad, in brief
Breaking training into its most basic factors, you have 1) How far can you run at any speed? 2) How far can you run at a given speed? 3) How fast can you run a given distance and 4) What's the fastest you can run?
The first is taken care of by long runs, the fourth by his short hill sprints, the other two by tempo runs and intervals. His typical week has a long run on Sunday, hill sprints on Monday, a hard interval workout on Tuesday and a hard continuous run on Friday; that's addressing each of the four factors each week. As long as you improve in each category, it doesn't matter how you improve.
That saves you 200 pages of reading.
Jack's marathon plan A, in brief
There are two hard workouts per week. You approach your goal from two different directions.
For one of the workouts, you run as far as you can until you run as long a time as you'll take for your race and then you try to do as much of that run as possible at race pace. [He arbitrarily sets a limit of 2.5 hours for this run and adds some running faster than marathon pace late in the plan.] For the second run, you start by running fast intervals, then gradually increase the length of the fast sections, while decreasing the speed, until one's running about a half-marathon with much of the distance done at half-marathon ("tempo") speed. He also adds, in a footnote, runs with 6-8 repetitions of 20-30 seconds done at 1 mile pace.
So, which method is better? They both can work. Hudson's plan probably works better for those who are already established runners, doing a variety of training runs already and who do races at more than one distance. Daniels' probably works better for marathon specialists who are able to run long distances at or near race pace before they begin his program and are capable of running 2:30 or better.
Either way, you should know why you're doing a workout before you do it.
Big change in life today
4 days ago