|Imagine how much a consultant was paid to design this and implement it into some sort of workshop...(frankly, the arrows make no sense. Are they the escape routes from this corporate weeny image?)|
Running last Sunday with Jaime, we were discussing coaching. The conversation went from general benefits to more granular specific skills from specific coaches. I've thought about it a lot over the last three days and will add a full blog post on the topic to the list of topics I'd like to eventually get around to writing.
Briefly, I've tried coaches in the past (twice) and found one to be incompetent (this is a veteran ultra runner) and the other one, while a solid coach with substance and quality, was too far removed from my goals and beliefs on racing (he wanted me to essentially race just twice a year).
Though I don't spew my boring training on this blog or talk much about training methodologies, I've read and feel I grasp concepts from several schools of thought from Noakes to Daniels (I used to follow track workouts based on my vdot like a robot until about seven years ago). Most runners need some sort of structure in their training, whether that is the same routine run every day or a complex array of varied workouts. I'm no different; I follow, loosely, a three or four week cycle with a "reset" week after the most intense week. I feel that once runners get to a certain experience level, they know how to get in shape and if they don't, then there's this cool new thing called google where one can find just about anything needed on training.
Like I mentioned to Scott on Sunday, I think the key in a "racer's" needs in terms of coaching is skill. I know how to run and how to run as fast as my limited natural ability allows. I need skill, know-how, insight, experience. I look at it like driving. Once you're 25 years old, you know how to drive and are likely really good at it. To do well on a grand prix course or rally, you can't just expect to go fast based your established time behind the wheel. You need to either spend the time learning through trial and error (smashing your car into a few walls, spinning out of control on the trackside grass, and puttering across the finish in last place) or you could consult a veteran racer. He's not going to show you how to turn on the car and drive in your neighborhood. He's going to teach you techniques in races, strategies on certain courses, what to do between races to prepare for the next one. You KNOW how to drive. He's going to teach you how to RACE. It's skill as opposed to ability.
I have the ability to run 5-6 100 mile races this year and run a couple of them to my potential but that doesn't mean I am able to do it. I need the skill from someone who knows the distance, has run multiple 100s, all of them, and has defined how to run 100 miles over the most technical terrain, someone who glides up climbs and defies logic on descents, running stronger over the last 30 miles than everyone else in the race. That's skill. That's what I need and am getting.
The dilemma is that traditional coaching is difficult for me with a heavy season beginning in a few short weeks. There's not enough time between races for a schedule to take hold. I can't just hop up the next day after a 100 miler and do a hill workout. So, I'm working out a custom-coaching thing-a-ma-bob with... an exceptional ultra runner. Gettin' me some skillz.