Why do I need a coach? This is a question you may be asking yourself when it comes to your fitness goals and is brought up quite often in running and triathlon communities. There are many reasons to have a coach, but for now I am going to focus on the number 1 reason which is “peaking.”
Peaking is defined as reaching a highest point, either of a specified value or at a specified time. With regards to running, having a coach keeps your training (which includes recovery) on track so you reach your highest fitness level/fullest potential ON race day, not before. All too often, athletes with amazing potential come up short on race day due to impatience and improper planning.
For example purposes, lets say you signed up for a marathon that is exactly 12 months away from January 1st. You’ve been running consistently the last few years and have dabbled in a few 5 and 10k races. You’re excited for your marathon, see your times improving, and start ramping up a few of your runs to 20 miles in the months of June and July.
This kind of excitement for race day is great, however, doing too much too soon will either get you hurt or will mentally burn you out. I see it happen all the time. If your long run on January 1st is already in the 8-10 mile range, a good approach would be to start ramping up that long run about 16 weeks out from race day. So given a 2-3 week taper, my math comes out to building your long run the last week of August, with every 4th week being a down week to give your legs a break. (Remember, recovery is a big part of peaking as well) This would give you about 6-8 runs at the 20 mile mark, which is typically more than enough for most people.
Now the big thing to consider is how much to add to that 1 long run a week? If your long run is 10 miles, you can comfortably go from 10 to 12 to 15 to 18 and then finally to 20. Once at 20 miles, you will stay there and don’t be tempted to do a mega run of 25 miles in training. The impact on your recovery is too detrimental, so stick to the plan, use common sense and fire away race day!
Moral of the story, if you are unclear as to how to reach maximum performance on race day, if coming up with a plan specific to you seems too complicated and detailed…hire a coach!