Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Sunday 7 November 2010

Should I hire a coach?

It's been in the back of my mind for a while now. I know I would benefit from a structured training plan. And if I had a specific plan for every day, over an entire month, I think I would stick with it.

As many of you know, my husband, SR, has been my coach. But there were 3 simple problems with this: the training seemed very good for getting faster at 5ks to half marathons. But I personally want to improve at marathons and ultra marathons. 2. I want a coach who can train me up to a good Ironman and SR doesn't have experience with this. 3. I need a detailed plan, including what I should do on the days I'm not training as hard, and this takes a lot of time. SR is not going to spend the time to make this training plan if he doesn't think I will follow it (for the two above reasons).

So I was suddenly excited when I learned from May-Britt's blog that Ole Stougaard, who won the 6 hour race with over 80km, and former winner of the Norseman Ironman, was a coach. I mean, how often can find one find coaches who are both successful ultra runners and triathletes?

So I wrote to him, explaining what I was looking for. I should mention that the company, Multicoach, which he owns, has pretty expensive fees for coaching (about $150 per month). I very quickly received a very nice and informative email from him about what he would recommend, but he said he had too many athletes at the moment to take on more. He then recommended another guy he works with. Well, I googled this guy and could only find one race result from a short triathlon and already knew I needed to say no. I really don't want to pay for a coach who doesn't have experience with ultras and ironmans(men?). Because then I would doubt the training plan and not follow it. But I'll write back to Ole and get more info on the other coach.

So I googled training plans for ultras and an Ironman and really couldn't find anything helpful. But then I ran across Lisa Smith Batchen as a coach, who seemed absolutely perfect. I was sold, until I saw that she charges $325 per month(!) if you want tri training included ($275 for just ultra training). That would be like renting an extra apartment. Wow. As step-daughter, Natali, might say "it's not like it's rocket surgery." Or is it?

As of now, my solution is to take an Ironman training plan from the internet, but make the long training runs longer. I will probably make other modifications so I don't peak for a specific race. But another part of me is averse to following any plan at all and simply doing what I want to do and what I can make time for on that particular day. Anyway, I'm open to suggestions.

Little update

I'm feeling much better after my total ultra breakdown. I got scared when, the day after I wrote the last post, I had such frequent palpitations that I had to stop on my bike ride multiple times to wait for my heart to beat normally again. It occurred to me that my potassium was low, so I started eating bananas. I haven't had any palpitations since and, now in spinning/pulse training, I have no trouble getting my pulse to rise and fall. I have to wonder if the potassium helped. It just seems to weird, though, that the solution was so simple.

30k run

In the week after the race, I ran a total of 2 miles, so today I was ready for something big. I had considered the local 10k race, but opted for a nice, easy 30k instead. It's kind of rare I stop and take pictures, but today I did - and what a beautiful fall day!

After 7.5 miles, I arrive in Appenæs.

And finally get to enjoy the bayside trails. It's difficult to tell, but this is salt water connected to the nearby ocean.

Here I am on my way home, along Slagelsevej in Næstved. (This is also where I run my intervals.)

12:24 pm - and look at the length of the shadows (I subsequently spent way too long trying to figure out when exactly the sun's zenith was and had to give up). This is the forest in our backyard. I'm almost home.

Time to watch the New York City Marathon. I'm rooting for Christelle Daunay of France.

Running songs of the day:

Can you tell by Ra Ra Riot (thanks, Steve Q, for introducing me to this band)

Drain You by Horse Feathers (beautiful remake of the Nirvana song)


cherelli said...

Tri coaching is waaay expensive...I couldn't justify the expense last year so ended up reading a few good books and designing my own training around that. Hardest thing for me was making sure I had a rest day each week! I read "Going Long" by Gordo Byrn which I really liked. Also "Be Iron Fit" by Don Fink which has 3 different levels of Ironman training programs included...Your trail run looked wonderful - it must be amazing to be able to just go out and run that distance :)

Danni said...

For Ironman, there are so many training plans available in books and online. For ultras, so many people have such divergent ideas of how to train that I'm not sure it's necessary, especially if you don't have the money to burn.

For marathon, Pfitzinger is always a popular plan.

mmmonyka said...

I am a strong believer in coaches. Therefore I would say keep looking! As you said you do not have enough experience to design an effective plan. Reading books and blogs will help you to create a plan but it will take you much longer to get to the desired shape than having a coach to create a plan just for you, not those generalized plans you find in books.
With coach you also do not have to spend hours and hours trying to figure out how to put things together. But since you are doing PhD you probably like research so maybe you would enjoy looking into different sources and figuring things out.

Your trail run looks amazing!

SteveQ said...

The first question to ask yourself is: would you listen to a coach?

If so, then you have to decide what kind of personality works best for you. Some people like cheerleader-types and some prefer drill sergeants (spelling looks weird...), some like daily feedback and some like to be left alone, etc.

Olga said...

I agree with Steve. With your obsessive personality (just a fact,no judging) you may not like to work with a coach who would put you on a strict regime, cut back on things you do just to be on the move and because you like them, and put you on some mile/time routine you are going to HAVE to do(and bike, and swim). No more: I only ran twice last week. Check the background of those coaches from former students - and I mean "former", not those who are under coaching now. Looking back is always giving more info. At this point, as much as you work out, I think ANY kind of coaching (if you follow) would be beneficial (as it was when SR got you on speed repeats). You are pretty erratic and not consistent, and surely not living up to your potential. Do you want to is a whole another story. You do have a family, a career and a life:)

Fast Bastard - World's Fastest Hematologist said...

I agree with Olga 100%.

Like I have said a million times: go harder on the hard days and easier on the easy days. Three hours of spinning/swimming/aerobics etc. is too much for a recovery day, which is why you are always tired on your hard days.

I know a guy who trains 6 hours a week and still wins most of his races. You know him too. Ahem.

That'll be $325 a month.

Jakob Lind Tolborg said...

The sun was in Zenith at your location at 11:56.

PiccolaPineCone said...

First off, I really don't believe that a person has to BE fast or HAVE BEEN fast to produce fast athletes. However if that is something you feel is important than I HAVE to put in a plug for a fellow Canuck - Nicole Stevenson. She has represented Canuck Land in the Commonwealth Games and has a 2:32 personal best over the marathon (1:12 half, 32 - 10 km, sub-16 5 km). I am following one of her plans right now! (yes her plan calls for me typing a very long comment on your blog :) ). She coaches elite distance runners and triathletes. You can check her out at

mmmonyka said...

Ohhh, I would love having a sergeant-like coach. I like boss people around and being boss around myself. I am sure I can make an awesome career in military.

PiccolaPineCone said...

@mmmonyka - quit reading blogs and go do 100 push-ups :)

sea legs girl said...

Jakob - that is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you. I got something even better out of this post than a coach: a good Danish almanac :).

PPC: Thanks for recommending Nicole. She seems good- granted very focussed on shorter racing and a (yikes!) drug rep. But she does seem to have helped shoeless culis.

FB - you are clearly not a believer in my InVar. One CAN train hard every day if you cross train correctly. Or I think so.

The more I think about it, the more I want to develop my own complicated training regimine - I think the big thing that is holding me back right now is too many races and I probably also need 1 day of complete rest a week.

mmmonyka said...

@ PPC: Now we are talking!!!
Unfortunately, it won't work now because I already know you are just too nice.

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Not sure that hiring a coach is entirely consistent with your desire to get pregnant again. That said, a coach might help you reach your potential, and you should try for that while you're relatively young, if that's important to you anyway (though you still have plenty of time). Probably, a coach would make you take more easy/rest days and periodize your training (likely good things).


PiccolaPineCone said...

SLG - wow, you have been doing your research. I can't believe you have the time to read some of the blogs in my blogroll! Shoeless is someone I actually know IRL. Re: your point about Nicole's focus on shorter distances, if you read Shoeless' blog from May - Nicole coached her to a 2:54 marathon debut so I think she (Nicole) has good experience over longer distances as well (though perhaps not ultra). Anyway I don't want to push her on you (though hmmm... that's what I seem to be doing) just wanted to say she's definitely experienced coaching and running the marathon.

SteveQ said...

My new favorite running song is "Devil in Stitches" by Bad religion - it's probably not going to be yours.