Tuesday, February 11, 2014


When I meet with an athlete to begin our athlete/coach relationship, I have many questions about  athletic background,  general health, available training time and recent training in some form of a log.

I realize though that the most important question I ask is "a year from now, how will we know that we were successful?".

Of course, there are as many answers as there are athletes, but establishing the definition of success is important early on. For some athletes, the goals are easily quantifiable. They want to qualify for Boston, or break 3 hrs. in the NYC marathon. For others though, the outcome is dependent upon their competitors too, and it's equally important to discuss this fact. Both the rider that wants to upgrade to Cat 2 as well as, the triathlete that wants to win Mighty Hamptons are as dependent upon their competitors performance as the triathlete that want to Kona qualify.

We look at where we are in context of what it will likely take to achieve their goal and I try to encourage them to aspire to these parameters and to accept whatever outcome they get. For instance, if a 35-39 yr old male triathlete wants to win the AG in Blackwater Eagleman, he'll have to go about 29' in the Choptank, ride around 2:10 and run sub 1:26 if he can transition fast. We set about building fitness to achieve these feats, we perfect nutrition and hydration, then execute. We make the goal a pace for the swim and run and for the bike, we make our goal power based (we cannot control the weather which affects bike speed more than the others). If we pull off the above, he should be in contention, but you never can tell when some super-stud is going to smash your expectations and go sub 4:00.

I bring this up in hopes of inspiring athletes to set goals, to set hard to achieve goals, but to set goals that are in their control.

Game on.

Friday, January 31, 2014

How Your Marathon Should Feel

Whether it be a discussion with one of my Athletes that is a runner or another that is running the marathon as part of an Ironman, our aim is the same. Break the race into four 10K's (and a little). Of course, we are aware of what the athlete can hold based upon the training leading up to the day we're about to discuss. Using this pace as the governor (as opposed to the task master) we aim to jog the first 10K, run easily the second, steadily the third, and comfortably hard (think stand alone 10K RPE)the last. They are encouraged to run as fast as they can the last 2K. Prior to the last 2K, the governor, or goal pace, must not be exceeded.

 I emphasize the pace is not a task master. If the athlete must run slower than GP to feel like she's jogging in the first 10K (or whatever RPE she is supposed to for that portion), then she must slow down a little and accept that either she's going to feel better later or that the goal pace has to be reduced a little for that day. Human performance is repeatable to within about 4%... that's more than 16 sec per mile for a 3:00 hr marathoner. "The Wall" that people talk about having hit has a number of potential culprits, but the first place to look is if the athlete ran too hard early on and simply cracked later as a result. Never (yes, I'm saying never) run faster than goal pace no matter how easy it feels... it's your great fitness, your taper and your enthusiasm conspiring against you.

 No matter how you try to sneak up on it... regardless of whether you put plenty of time 'in the bank' early on, you cannot trick or disobey your critical pace curve. As the expression goes, all you can do is all you can do.