The Coaches Tip/handsoncoachalan

In order to be successful as a runner you need to train correctly, eat correctly, rest and get the mix of these three aspects just right. With the constraints and demands of everyday life involving family, social or friends, work and training the need for a coach to assist in drawing up an appropriate training schedule becomes of paramount importance. This is extremely evident when we see just how much confusing and conflicting methods of training to achieve the same result there are. A coach will assist you in getting the correct type of training to suite your goals, commitments and availability so that you achieve without too much disruption to the rest of your daily activities.

If you as an athlete had to try each of the various training methodologies and how they are put in place you would spend about five to six years trying and changing your training program without ever knowing what worked for you and what did not work. Some programs overlap in what they set out for you to use in order to achieve a specific goal so it might work or not depending on how closely you stick to what the program asks of you. Most people getting into running want to achieve their goals without all this confusion and hassle which is why they should consider using a coach to assist them.

A good coach not only keeps up to date with any new training ideas and formats but also has a vast knowledge of all the various training formats and the science and success behind them. A coach is not only a scientist who works with data and input versus output but is also an artist who relates to each athlete on a level whereby together they can modify and adapt a training routine to make it work for the individual.

When working with a training program it could ask you to work at a set heart rate or level of VO2MAX. Most people would ask how do I determine my heart rate level and what is VO2MAX? There are approximately 12 different versions that can be used to determine your maximum heart rate and then the various levels from 50% to 120% depending on where you need to be at any given stage of your training and recovery. These levels include the aerobic as well as anaerobic systems.


How about using your 1600 meter all out effort or 8 kilometer time trial to set training zones for speed and speed endurance sessions. Lets take it that you can run 4 laps of an athletic track in 8 minutes. This is 2 minutes per 400 meters or 30 seconds per 100 meters. Using these figures we can now work out what your approximate marathon time and 8 kilometer time should be. The marathon finishing time should be 3 hours 29 minutes and 45 seconds. This should give you an 8 kilometer time trial time of 36 minutes 15 seconds to 36 minutes 30 seconds.

From the above paragraph it sounds very easy to say that if you can run the 1600 meters at that 8 minute pace then with training you should run the 8 kilometer time trial in 36 minutes or just over. So why do so few people have this ability?

There are a multitude of reasons that this happens, with some of them been, easily identifiable. Howe about the fact that lots of runners train at the same pace every single session. They go out and do their planned run be it a short 5 or 10 kilometer to an 20 or more kilometer run at say for example 6 minutes per kilometer. The next session is their quality day of hills or speed work but they still do each repeat at this same effort or just slightly quicker say at 5 minutes 50 per kilometer. The next session and the one after that the pace stays exactly the same. Yes in the beginning there is a nice improvement in the athletes ability so they achieve better and faster times with what feels like less effort.

A coach will set the program in place so that the athlete will know which days they run at what effort level and for how long or far. They will set easy and hard days with sufficient rest days to recover and for other activities. If you are not rested and do not recover sufficiently between hard efforts or day you cannot push yourself to the correct levels so you plateau out and then start sliding backwards in your fitness and running ability.

Most of you are still probably wondering what is VO2MAX. It is your bodies ability to transport and use oxygen not only to sustain life but also to keep you moving at the required effort level during daily activities, training and running events. At rest all of us use 3,5 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute and as we get more and more active this level rises. With training we aim to improve our ability to transport and use oxygen so that at high levels of activity we feel comfortable.

If you train at 70% of your maximum heart rate your VO2MAX level should be between 55% and 60% of your maximum. Again what does this mean? This means that if you are capable of reaching a VO2MAX level of 42 milliliters oxygen usage per kilogram body weight per minute which is fairly accurate for an 8 minute 1600 meter comfortable effort. Not an all out effort leaving you wanting to pass out. So at 55% of this value you would be at 23 milliliters oxygen usage per kilogram body weight per minute which would be easily achievable but at 60% it goes up to 25.3 milliliters oxygen usage per kilogram body weight per minute.

Again all of this is confusing to the average runner. Which is why having a coach who does all of this for you makes your training and running so much more enjoyable.

If you wish to learn more about the science and art behind the training methodology let me know and we can either set up a one on one session or do a group discussion one evening at the club.


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