Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Do I need a coach?

Running to win!

Been thinking over the past few years whether or not I should get a coach and recent events have again put this question front and center.

Ryan Halls' fantastic run in Boston has, I reckon, justified his decision to "Self Coach" but while I'm in awe of his achievements his fourth place still shows that time means little when you're racing at this level! You really have to race to win that means beating those around you no matter the time they're running! The question still remains could Ryan have achieved what he did in Boston keeping the coach he had? And can he race to win in future without the help of a good coach?

Also our blogging mate Thomas' recent sub three shows what a good program and a great coach can do for you. I applaud Thomas's ability train hard and listen to others, not easy for a smart guy! Still, this is not to say he couldn't of achieved what he did on his own, one way or another, I reckon.

My basic view is this: I want a coach as I think self coaching is basically a disaster but my options are limited due to the fact that I'm not an elite runner and don't have the money to pay for the kind of help that would be superior to the advice I can get from "friends" and what I can cobble together from the Internet and experience of others.

Below (listed) are some things I could possibly do as I'm not happy going along exactly as I am now so I'd like some kind of change. Yet it's tricky, knowing just what to do at this stage. What do you think?

I could

1) Stay with my current Marius Bakken's plan and pay someone, another high level coach, to adjust it to my specific goal, a sub 2:30:00 marathon some time within the next three years... (Cost about $100 US one off). Peter Pfitzinger offers such a service.

2) I could pay one of you guys my loyal and knowledgeable readers to guide me. Willing to pay in sports gear, shoes and the like before and after reaching goal (value about $350 US).

3) I could ask someone like Mcmillan, Pat Carroll or Peter Pfitzinger to coach me to this goal marathon,. Pay them monthly at the rates they offer, not too much but much more than the other options.

What do you reckon on the above? Do you see any other options for me? Are you able to offer your services? Let me know otherwise I might have to take "Coach Hoffman" up on his offer of a coach. Like he says in "Eat to Win"... "The side affects may vary but the results speak for themselves!" ;)


  1. Scott,
    I think I'm living proved that the M.B. plan works BUT i'm also proof that having a more hands on coach is also a good idea.
    I went off the rails last summer then again in my final build up to London this year, if I'd had someone monitoring what I was doing I might have stayed on track!
    I think it might be worth your while to ask Roberto if he is willing to coach you, not sure if he has the time or what he will charge, but to me he is the Man!
    Or on the other hand Ricks 1970's coaching style would match your shorts!

  2. It's a tough one, I know for sure that I would not have broken 3 hours without the coach, but on the other hand I would never have payed the going rate for such a service.

    I think you can start self-coaching once you have been coached for a while and have grasped the finer details of the concept, which is why Ryan Hall got away with it.

    Self-coaching from scratch will never be optimal.

  3. Scott: Run faster!
    Ok, give me my $350.

  4. Don't give Bob the $350!

    It's a tough question. Ryan's big mistake was shaving off the beard prior to race day. Seriously though, 'hands-on' can be useful to tweak various sessions, technique etc. I notice Keith Bateman seems to only do 'hands-on' coaching. A 3-year plan is a long commitment.

    You need 'unlimited email' if you go with online coaching. I don't know how individualised Pat's coaching is. I was going to suggest Jaymee's coach - but she seems to have a waiting list. I think Kevin Beck (via Pfitz) would be good. Or as Rick says, Roberto.

    Broadly, you need someone to fine-tune and who's coaching philosophy you agree with - no good going with a 'Lydiard coach' if you don't think you'll like that sort of coaching.

    Another option would be Nate Jenkins - as he's a Canova disciple and I think that method would work for you. He's also good on detailed email if the Running Times blog is anything to go by.

  5. Thanks all so far somethings to go on.

    I'm not going to give Bob the money, besides his copywriting fee is probaly more than that per A4 sheet! I going to look into some of the people you mentioned.

    Acually Ewen, a few months ago I did contact Keith Bateman and while he did say that he wasn't too sure what he could do for me from a distance, he did offer to look at a video of my form and give me some analysis. Said he'd do it for free too but I said I'd do it only if he would accept my offer to help him if and when he ever came to Japan. Still trying to get this video together to send him.

    Funny you guys that wrote don't offer yourselves up? I know you know a lot on the subject of coaching. I suppose you know me too well, or as well as you'd ever like to know me ;)

  6. Yes I know Bob, I spelt "probably" wrong! And I should have said "I'm" instead of "I".

    Actually I wish my wife knew something about running. She's the perfect person to find out/ highlight my mistakes!! ;)

  7. I love having a coach. I love having a plan and a group to run with. I'll never be a great runner but I'm a much better runner than I was because of the help and advice I've received. My advice would be to get one.

  8. Actually, I see from her most recent blog post that Jaymee is now being coached by her dog. In that case, I'll offer up my neighbour's cat.

    Your problem (as I see it) is that you've done very well thus far being coached by your wife. Seriously though, you've done well self-coached off (very) high mileage. So, aerobically you're strong yet speed-wise there's a problem. I think something along the lines of what beermatt is doing would work well to cure that. Maybe with a little more mileage (110-120 k some weeks?).

    If you can't do the ks/400s session (for example) that he did Wednesday, you won't run 32:XX for 10k or 2:28 for the marathon. But you need to work down to that (and intense speedwork does carry a certain injury risk). I still think if you want to throw some money at it 6 months under Nate Jenkins would be good value. Worth sending him an email and asking what he can do.

  9. Thanks Ewen.

    I think what you are saying is spot on. In fact, I was looking at that session of "Beer Matts" and tried one of these kind of sessions the other day.

    I wasn't able to get near completing this session well. And I was thinking something along the lines of... Geez I don't know if I have the lungs and heart for this game! Actual words "Christ, why have you forsaken me?!!!"

    But yes, it's where I'll have to head.

  10. As they've all said that's a tough question Scott. Certainly for what you want to acheive I think you would benefit from some form of coaching.

    However from reading your post I think you have already moved on and answered the next question "Do I want a Coach?" and all that remains is "What type of coaching should I get?".

    Have you though about your local running club coach as I would think that more benefit could be gained from a "real" as opposed to a "virtual" coach, assuming that you can find a suitable candidate.

    I'll be watching with interest.