I’ve got a Coach :-)

After my first London marathon I took recovery to the extreme and did nothing for 6 weeks, it was a further 18 months before I completed another ‘A’ race which was the stunningly scenic but hellish hilly LochNess marathon, that I was totally under trained and prepared for.

As I am still a 70.3 virgin yet to pop my cherry at this distance of the three disciplines in a single race and hopefully same day, my main ‘A’ race for 2013 is The Challenge Henley Half in September.

I realised that I really need some help in planning this challenge. Finding a marathon training plan is relatively easy, the internet is abound with plenty of options for whatever level you are at. They are full of running session that include  interval / speed sessions, tempo runs, hill runs, trail runs and steadily build up miles weekly over 3 to 4 months.

Simple find a marathon plan and follow it.
Even better if you can add a variety of training buddies and have a variety of routes especially on the long runs to keep boredom at bay.

Whilst there are plans for middle distance, 70.3, HIM training I found that these aren’t so much as one plan fits all. They assume that you are equally proficient at all three disciplines – swim/bike/run.

I am not at all equally balanced across the triathlon activities. I have an OK swim, Good Bike and a rubbish run.

Back in November 2011 I sought some running specific coaching from James at Kinetic Revolution, to help my run be more efficient so that I could finish off my triathlons with a flourish, well OK lets settle for finish and not be in a medical tent or collapsed on course after darkness. He filmed me, counted steps per minute, gave me some outrageous exercises and ran me around the track at St Marys until I was gasping. Whilst I haven’t necessary found masses amount of speed I have had respectable run times within a triathlon, where I’m holding my pace from that of a run only event.

Realising that I would benefit greatly from a coach who could devise a training plan based on my own personal strengths, time, equipment & facilities available to me I contacted James. However he had moved out east and that was too far for me to commute. But there was Neil who works with James, was based in Bristol so much more local to me, had a background in marathons, ironman, endurance sports, nutrition and offered coaching.

James swopped contact details for us and I think from hanging up after the first hour long conversation with Neil I knew he was the right coach for me. We agreed to meet in person after I had done London marathon and even with my beer & social stops on route he agreed to coach me – said he like my attitude, based on whilst I want to push and challenge myself I still want to enjoy the training and race experiences. 

Three coffees later and the parking meter about to expire he agreed to take me on and devise a plan for me to get to Henley Half tri and even include and work around the races I’d already signed up to for fun or club championships and include a few to knock the rust of my race craft. Plus managing to keep current trail runs with friends, coached sessions and work around my police training.

Unlike my previous luxurious 6 week recovery from London marathon, Neil planned 2 weeks of recovery. I was then into my first 4 week training block.

As I hadn’t swam for 9 months and been on my bike for 11 months I need some benchmarks.  Time trials were introduced. First appointment was on my bike at Castle Combe race circuit and consisted of 5 timed laps. I averaged 19mph but as I didn’t have anything to compare this against I wasn’t sure what it meant. So quite ignorant in my speed or lack of it.

The swim time trial was a real reality check and whilst it is my best of the three disciplines the time trial proved I couldn’t take my swim background for granted. I was well over a minute off my race time for 400m and one and a half minutes off my best 400m.

Well benchmarks are set and I can only improve 🙂 Now into the rest of the training block which mainly concentrated on getting some bike miles in and me getting back in the pool/lake. At this point the plan seemed to be light on running, but I wasn’t complaining, I had just done a marathon !

I followed the plan virtually to the session, there were a few days I had to switch around due to work or access to the pool / gym. But generally if it was in the plan I’d do what coach said.

I enjoyed ticking off sessions and adding to my online log and see the minutes and miles add up. Also I’d eagerly look for the red comments from coach Neil in my notes. Dropbox allowing us to share all data.

I totally trust coach Neil’s plan, he has done more races, challenges and coaching than I’ve had calamities. Its great looking at the weekly plan, checking it fits in with the rest of my work and life, adjust or shuffle days as necessary then get in the my diary. Then all I have to do is the sessions as set. One huge less headache or struggle for me to work out what I should be doing.

First 4 week block – May 6th to June 2nd

Activity     Actual / Goal (minutes)

Swim         268 / 280
Bike           805 / 955*
Run           481 / 349**

* missed a 2 hour ride due to hay fever hell
** extra trail runs for RUN24 team practise

Summary – First month just 30 minutes below goal training time, not bad, feel good, happy with that. 

Also included a 10k trail run with llamas in a respectable 58 minute finish time which I loved and my first triathlon of the season a very windy Westonbirt sprint tri in 1:31.

Based on the first month and already seeing improvements in swim, bike and run times compared to last year and also my disappointing time trials would I recommend a coach to ‘normal, slower, average, older’ people like myself ?

OH YES   🙂
Go get a coach today, best thing I did for myself.

ImageImageCoach and student in race action


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