Marathon training: why work with a coach?

2 January 2018 by
First published: 14 February 2018

Marathon training: why work with a coach?

Running coaches are just for pros right? Wrong! A good coach can make all the difference to your marathon training, and we caught up with running coach Kyle Kranz to find out why.

What are the benefits of seeing a coach?

It has been accountability and guidance during a change. With athletes I work one on one with, I specifically ask what has been holding them back and why they are seeking a coach. Sometimes people don’t want to have to think or worry about what training they should do and want to be told what to run with a custom schedule, sometimes they have odd work hours and need help adjusting. Often they’re an athlete that is training for their first big race; they realise that they’re spending all this money on gear and they deserve more than a free cookie-cutter training schedule they find online.

So, how can a coach help when you’re training for a marathon?

Specifically during marathon training, working with a coach will give you access to someone who knows you and your training better than anyone else. They’ll be able to work out nutrition strategies and pacing plans for the race, but most importantly help you plan leading up to the event during training. Coaches give specific advice and real motivation and encouragement because they know more than family, friends, and maybe even the runner themselves, that they CAN do it!

There can be a misconception that coaches are just for pros, is it still worth seeing a coach if you’re a less experienced runner?

I like to compare this to other activities like swimming or dance. Do you wait until you are an above average swimmer to take lessons? Of course not, you take lessons first in grade school to develop the skill early on. For adults, maybe they want to learn how to dance properly for their wedding, clearly hiring a tutor like my wife and I did to go in once a week to lessons is a great way to learn! And now years later we still use those dancing skills!

The same goes for running where no matter how fast or slow you are, if you want to invest and improve, hiring someone to work with is a great method. A few months ago I started working with a lady specifically for the NYC Marathon, and as I write this she’s standing in line to start. She knew that training for this would require a great deal of sacrifice from her family, time and energy from her, and money to travel and stay in New York for the event. Working with a coach to hopefully make the event as successful as possible was a no-brainer.

That’s so awesome! I always find one of the biggest problems for marathon runners is injury. How can a coach help prevent injuries?

Coaches help notice things. I find those novice runners who come to me for assistance primarily make three errors that can contribute to injuries. Many make the mistake of running medium hard far too often and lack true easy running in their lives. Others are super motivated and have difficulty taking rest days or weeks, but these are essential to avoid burnout and injury. And most people do not do regular and consistent strength and mobility to reduce muscle imbalances and increase their durability.

How often should I work with a coach?

I work with people in a variety of ways. Some people desire a fairly intensive coach-client relationship and we work together in such a way that I update their training every one to three weeks, have regular check-ins, and see their log live as it comes into my inbox. For people that really desire accountability and guidance, this is a good choice. For others, they just want to upgrade from a free or cheap non-custom plan, and that’s where I interview them and design a schedule based on their specific needs and abilities as well as going over ways to modify the schedule, race strategy, etc.

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