“One thing I’ve learned about coaches, from having a coach myself, is that he inspires me to get the job done. Simply having someone looking at my running log (and give me the workouts in the first place) is such a huge motivation to do your best for them. That is a great inspiration for those tough miles or intervals, doing my best for my coach. A cookie cutter online plan or even a book does not care if you skipped a run or missed your paces, and they’re not going to help you figure out how to proceed either.” — Kyle Kranz
My goal for 2014 is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. That requires a lot of running and key workouts to maximize my efficiency and endurance. The downside is that I do not have a lot of time to run since I have work and family responsibilities. I rely on a plan to fit my schedule and get me where I need to be to meet my goals.
This time, I am utilizing a running coach as opposed to an online training plan.
For my first two marathons, I used a pre-made marathon training plan. These plans worked fine for helping to schedule workouts and hit key fitness goals. Where they lacked was in real-world situations – like vacations, injuries, or just missed workouts. There was no adjustment since the plan is already carved out for the entire training period. I learned the hard way when I had to miss several weeks of workouts prior to my last marathon. I tried to jump back into the plan as if I hadn’t missed any time, and I think that caused me to go into the race already fatigued.
Choosing a coach required research. My goal was to find a coach that was on the same train of thought as me. We need to be able to work together and communicate throughout the training period. I happened upon Kyle Kranz’s website and postings on the Skora site about various running topics. A lot of his methods and philosophies matched mine or intrigued me to try something new. It turns out he is a running coach. A couple email conversations later, I had a coach.
Kyle had me fill out a questionnaire to find out more about me and my running history. Using that and my goal marathon time, Kyle started mapping out a sixteen week plan to prepare me for the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 16, 2014.
Since Kyle was learning more about me, I needed to know more about him. I asked Kyle a series of questions to get a feel for how he catered my plan to my goal and abilities. Kyle’s method for planning a runner’s activities is to get to know his athletes, be accessible, work well with the clients, and provide a good service. Kyle prefers to start with a future goal event, and work back from that. Unlike many books or plans, much of his prescribed training has goal pace in mind, and many people feel you should not train for a future speed, but by your current speed. Most important is what volume you can give to training each week (which comes from your schedule and your previous volume) as well as your work and family schedule. Simply getting runs in on a consistent basis is the #1 way to improve. Next is your previous marathon PR and your goal, which are considered when looking at different pace prescriptions for various workouts.
To plot out a successful plan for his runners, Kyle starts with a loosely planned out, rough global schedule from the goal race back to the present. He rarely schedules specific workouts more than two weeks at a time, and usually writes these at the end of the previous schedule so he can make sure all went well with the last 1-2 weeks worth of runs.
When it comes to injury, Kyle believes that it’s better to be safe than sorry. He personally not taken time off from running due to injury for at least two or three years. He has had little niggles, but he has been able to cut volume or modify his own training to allow for healing. Most often overuse injuries can be overcome by simply resting, which does not have to mean a full stop in training. The same goes for illness. No worries, single runs don’t matter anyway. It’s the weeks upon months of consistent training that counts.
Kyle sends out a short set of questions every 3-5 months asking about vacations or planned breaks. Know this ahead of time allows him to modify the running schedule to the runner’s personal schedule.
I asked Kyle about why he believes having a coach is an asset to a runner looking to meet a certain goal.
“Many ‘regular’ runners feel they don’t need a coach. However, I feel anyone who wants to become the best runner they can, and are able to take the sport seriously, would benefit from hiring a trainer. I’m nothing special as speed goes. However, becoming a coached athlete myself has been, without a doubt, the best thing to happen to my running. In the past I was a triathlete, and the most common question asked on tri forums is in regards to best purchases or most bang for you buck upgrades. Most often a new bike frame or race wheels are brought up, but in my opinion a coach trumps everything.
“Strangely enough, I’ve come to realize that the job of a coach is to not tell athletes what to do, but to tell them what not to do. Hold them back. I don’t care about you hitting a certain mileage amount of the week or year. What I care about is you holding back if you have a twinge, about you staying within an easy pace range during easy runs, and you running hard when it’s a hard run.
“Another thing I’ve learned about coaches, from having a coach myself, is that he inspires me to get the job done. Simply having someone looking at my running log (and gave me the workouts in the first place) is such a huge motivation to do your best for them. That is a great inspiration for those tough miles or intervals, doing my best for my coach. A cookie cutter online plan or even a book does not care if you skipped a run or missed your paces, and they’re not going to help you figure out how to proceed either.”
At the time of writing this, I am one month away from my marathon. I have gotten stronger and faster without a doubt. My 5K times are getting faster and faster, long runs are getting easier and easier. I don’t feel like I have pushed myself overly hard, while at the same time I do not feel like I have held myself back. Most importantly, I feel like Kyle is invested in my success, and I do not want to let him down. That feeling of accountability is enough to get me on the road or on the treadmill and to not cut any corners. Let’s see how my training helps in March!
Interested in getting Coach Kyle to help you train? Visit KyleKranz.com and read how he can help you.