Most of my running clients are half marathoners and marathoners. Some are first timers and some have a few races under their belts and are looking to improve their time.
When they first contact me, they complete a questionnaire where I ask them all sorts of questions. I call this “getting to know them more as a runner”. It’s so important that I gather as much information as possible so that I can properly develop a plan for their goal race.
When I begin to lay out a training plan and begin to work with my clients I always keep the following in mind…
Plan, plan, plan
I always tentatively plan the long runs first. I say tentatively since my training plans are highly adaptive and, in general, I only plan 3 weeks of training at a time. I would be weary of a coach that hands you a 16-week training plan at once (unless you asked for it).
Long runs are the bread and butter of any endurance training plan. I take into account tune-up races, drop back weeks, vacations, and any other things I may need to work around. It’s easier to manipulate the long runs later on if you pencil them in for the entire training plan.
Keep your eye on the prize
Speaking of tune-up races, I ask my marathon clients to keep racing to a minimum during marathon training. I generally allow 1 HM and they either race it or use it as a marathon-paced training run. Either way, it’s a great confidence booster for race day.
For chronic racers, marathon training can get a bit boring. Long runs are the priority and racing has to take a backseat temporarily.
The more you run, the better you get at it
I have my clients run as much as they can. What constitutes high mileage is unique to each runner. Thirty miles can be enough for some while 70 is enough for others. I like to have enough time during marathon training to do adequate base building…slow and gradual increases in overall mileage and long run distance. This increase in aerobic capacity will not only make you faster but will lay a solid foundation for marathon or HM-specific speed work.
There’s a time and place for speed work
Many clients want to jump right into speed work thinking it is the only thing that will make them faster. Speed work will make you faster…to an extent. Over time, without proper increases in aerobic capacity, your speed will plateau. As I said above, the right time for speed work is after we have a solid foundation of base mileage. Your body is stronger and can handle the increased stress of speed work.
When clients begin training for a HM or marathon after a period of low mileage, I begin with so-called “pre-training” to base build. After an adequate base is established, then we can layer on the speed work. I sometimes use strides and hill repeats during the base building phase just to break up the monotony of all those slow miles and to help with leg turnover.
That’s just a few of my basic principles I follow when coaching. To find out more, hire me as your coach!
Lisa bishop says
Do you run with all your clients?
Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen says
You sound like a good coach 🙂 When I first started creating training plans, I would make it for the entire training cycle….I think my life must have been simpler back then because I know that would never work now! I do map out long runs and with a few extra weeks or more than one week at the same mileage to have a cushion if one gets skipped, but I do my mid-week training week-to-week now. And sometimes day-to-day 🙂
Thanks for this post! I just received my RRCA Coaching Certificate and have been reading about different coaching strategies and have been thinking a lot about coaching. This is very helpful to me and makes a lot of sense. Keep up the great work!
Good tips! How many days a week do you have your clients run?
I like this a lot! Have been thinking of sending you an email about this stuff… I want to explore my coaching options a little bit!
Interesting! I always plan out the entire time until the race. I’ve never only done 3 weeks at a time. The crazy planner in me would probably go nuts!
Amanda @runtothefinish says
great points!! I have been tweaking my own plan consistently as i am finding what works for me and I am (knock on wood) excited for the rest of this year. I am learning the hard way that while speed work helps me get faster, too much quickly wrecks my overall ability to perform…a balance!
I think the idea of evaluating every 4 weeks is really smart because things definitely change over a marathon plan!
I tried being my own coach but the client keep talking back to me and questioning my methods.