What Does The Coach Do?


I have been coaching runners for over 10 years now- in my Lazy Runner Clubs, Online and all over Australia and the world with my  Running Bootcamps and Running Workshops.

I get asked so many questions about running. One of the reasons I wrote the Lazy Runner book was an attempt to answer all of the questions runners have asked me over the years about running. And often they do not only ask me questions and advice on their running , they like to know about my running as well.

This week I am going to answer a question here that I have been asked regularly in my bootcamps over the past few months-

How many times a week do you run, how many kms and what is your training schedule like?

Many people think that I am off doing amazing things with my running- because I am a running coach and I am special and gifted and talented and...yes you guessed it - Full of it!

I drag my sorry butt out of bed like every other runner out there, put on my gear in the dark (I always say you know your a real runner when you go running in a top that is inside out), half asleep, creaking and groaning to go for a run- nothing special.

When I train for an event- I follow a training program just like everyone else- I am a great believer in practicing what I preach, because I know it works. I have been a runner for 27 years and have run lots and lots of events- I have never pulled out of an event I have entered and I have never had a DNF (meaning I have finished everyone of them) and more importantly I have never had an injury and I have really enjoyed them (well most of them!).

I train for an event to the letter (I follow the same style of program that I give to all of my runners). I have run 15 marathons and I still wouldn't enter one if I knew I couldn't follow the whole training program for that specific race. I set a pace for myself and try to maintain it, just like I suggest to all of my runners.

My problem, like many runners, is fitting my training runs in. I coach 4-5 mornings a week, and although I prefer to run in the mornings, I know I will have to run at least one or two of my runs in the evenings to fit the 3 or 4 runs in. 

Years ago I made the decision not to include any of my running coaching sessions in my weekly km count. Being naturally Lazy I could easily of added in the weekly 5km or even 10km runs and called them my own. But I decided, its my job and I am not allowed to steal anyone else's kms- its like cheating. The 5km I run with my beginners or the stop start runs I may do on my group Ho Hum Runs are not really the way I would run- so I decided my training needs to be done in my own time- and as I said fitting it all in can be hard.

Like all runners my training depends on what is happening in my life, what type of event I am training for- and often how I'm feeling!
Here is an example of my running week 

1. Home Run- every runner should have a Home Run, its the run you do from home, its your regular haunt, you know every crack in the pavement and where every barking dog in your neighborhood lives. I have had about 15 moves in the past 10 years, so lucky for me I've had lots of home runs! The one for the past 15 months has been from my home in Rocklea. Its 12km, part road, part off road, a few doozy hills and a horrible highway run home the last 2kms. I usually do my home run on a Monday, its a great way to start my running week (plus its the one day I don't usually coach at 6am).  My home run is on a 12km loop. Some weeks I reverse it and if I'm feeling like doing more, I do and out and back on it, so its about 15km. What sort of pace do I do on this? Normal. Whats that you ask? Its the pace where I am daydreaming, planning my day, enjoying the surrounds and just knocking over some nice kms.

2. Pace Run- 5km- 10km fast or tempo (this is my nemesis run)- this is where I get out there and try to run a faster pace- or just maintain my PBs on these distances. Its hard, and its my least favourite run of the week, but I still do it. I don't care if you are a super dooper marathon or ultra runner- this shorter run needs to be in your training schedule each week. I do mine on the flat, and I usually try to do it on a nice, safe path with no road crossings (so no excuses to slow up or stop)- along the Brisbane river is always good. I swap and change it about most weeks- but the general idea is to work as hard as I can- I push myself- and there are no day dreaming pleasures on this run. 

Mostly I try to run the pace that keeps me on my toes- for me its under 5 minute kms- now everyone is different. I suggest you get your fastest race time over 5km and each week try to match it or on a great running day- better it. Doesn't matter if you don't reach the PB every week, as long as you are out there going for it.
I have several ways of going about it- so I will just pace myself on a five km run making sure each km is under 5mins for the whole run- then the next week I will try it on the 6km distance, if I don't make that, the following week I have to repeat the 6km before I go up to 7km and up I go (and let me tell you matching the pace I have been running for 27 years is very hard- and harder each year I add on!). This is the sort of training I am doing at the moment as I am conducting a running tour to City2Sea in November (15km) and I am trying to keep my RED group status.
But I do lots of other types of pace work on this session. Sometimes I will just run out to half way normal pace and belt back as fast as I can- looking for a massive negative split. Sometimes I tempo it- so I will alternate each km between fast and slow. The first km is slow of course and then I run as fast as I can for one km, then recover for one km and so on- 5km is ideal for this (that means two horrible kms and three nice ones!), but sometimes I push on to 6km or 7km depending on how I am feeling.

3. Long Run- now this varies a lot- it depends on if I am training for anything. If I am not training for an event, I do whatever here. About once a month I get out there and try to do a long run of about 2 hours- I find this just keeps me in the long distance running loop- so if a half marathon came up that I thought I could enter- I would without having to worry too much about being able to run it. And If I plan on running another marathon- at least I know I can start my training at the half way mark. On the other weeks, I could do anywhere between 10-15kms and I try to do them on a different course. A good course I have heard about, or as I travel alot I would do this run in the new place I am in- so lucky for me this run has been done all across the country (and the world) over the past few years. 

Once again, its usually normal pace and if its off road its a good one for building strength in my legs. If I am feeling good I sometimes put some pace on - and I always do that in the last few kms, never the first few (as I don't want to die too early- my mantra always is 'you have to make it back'). I always like to do negative splits so you very rarely see me go out too fast on any run. 

I have been known to tempo this run as well. I find a good way to do that is split it into thirds- first third will have some warm-up and normal pace- second third I try for race pace (meaning I pretend I have a number pinned on me and I have paid some money, so I am going to get my money's worth!) and then the last third normal pace- and as all my runners know- every run I do I end with my Lazy Big Finish- its standard procedure for all runs I do...

Now this is fine for me- I am an experienced long distance runner. But remember, the long run is always the long run for you. So if you are a 5km runner- your long run is 6km- that is fantastic. If your normal distances are at 5-7km, then once in a while you would bust out a 9-10km as a long run- we all have our long runs- and it is all about where you are at with your running right now and with the plan to increase one run a week by half a km or 10%.

So for instance- my next event is 15km. And after coming off a half marathon in July (and already having done a marathon this year) its doesn't sound long for me- but that is what I am training for , so that is my long run at the moment. Last week I decided to do a reverse of my training program- I started with more than the distance I had to run, so I ran 17km around the Brisbane river. And I thought, OK I can cope with the distance, now I am going to reduce the distance and work on the pace at each level. I have sent a training plan to all my runners coming on the tour and of course I will follow it as well.

I usually aim for three running sessions a week with a full day off in between. Sometimes I can fit four in and if I do, the fourth would usually be something under 10km - remember you only need one long run a week- repeating a long run in the week is just a waste of time and energy- and can often cause fatigue and injury down the track. If I am having trouble getting the full day off in between, I have been known to do a morning run and the next day an evening run- I feel 30+ hours or so in between is good for recovery. I do like to exercise everyday, its my habit! So I ride my bike in between or do my Lazy Gym session. Both are totally off my running legs and that is what I am always aiming for, giving those babies a rest!

So there you have it- nothing crazy or supreme running from me- just getting out there, making every session different, sometimes enjoying it, sometimes dragging myself along or looking for a bucket at the end! I find this style of training is perfect for me and all runners. It never gets you into a running rut, it keeps your cardio fitness levels high (yes this is the reason we run) and above all else I find it really interesting- never boring.





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