22 August 2009

Got myself a Coach

I decided to get a coaching service from Sean W.

I truly enjoyed the self-coaching journey and I am proud of my outcomes as a mere mortal and a late starter to the sport. The 46 minutes improvement from 3:50 to 3:04 over 5-6 years shows that I am a man of limited talent. I had leaps and bounds during this period, but in general, I worked pretty hard for a newbie.

The question is whether will my dedication alone be good enough to take me to sub-3?

Last week’s HM results helped to put the nail into the coffin. I realized that I still got to learn in terms of training and peaking at the right time. I would have thought marathon fitness will yield a good HM time, but on race day, I felt flat. A good coach probably can periodize the training more effectively and design the appropriate workouts.

With no marathon planned until March or July 2010, this gives me a window of opportunity to experiment with new things.

I considered a couple of coaches, locally-based Guy Ogden (sub 30 10k, 2:24 marathon in his youth) and Sean W. The advantage of the former is face-to-face coaching and the squad trains together a few times a week. However, Sean’s CV as a coach (Lara T (national 10k champ, 20 yo), Tim R (2nd Canberra marathon), Ben SL (29min 10k), Keith B (low 70s HM at 50 yo) was too good to pass.

I want to experiment new things on training and I am hungry for new insights, so why not learn from one of Australia’s leading coach? Hopefully the long distance relationship will work. If it doesn’t, I have nothing to lose because I would learn new things.

Anyway, here is an interesting story. I received the first month program from Sean and did my first session, which was 6 x 5mins hard with 1.15 jog. Okay, when I looked at it, 30 minutes of hard running with short recovery sounded like Threshold (cruise) intervals. After all, Jack Daniels said in his book that for every 5 minutes of T-pace running, you get 1 minute jog recovery. For VO2max stuff, recovery would be longer (half or slightly less than the rep duration). During the workout, I ran the 5min reps slightly faster than T-pace in order of impress the coach. I got stuffed after 5 x 5 and decided to quit.

I emailed Sean about the workout and to my surprise, he said that the reps should be done at 10k race pace or faster (5k pace for the last 1-2)!. Gee, I was stuffed already running them at T-pace and just couldn’t imagine running them any faster. I also ask Sean whether should there be any concession for running in Singapore, such as longer recovery between reps or a tad lower pace to reflect the weather conditions; his response was ‘I will leave you the targets I have set and we will see how you go over the next few weeks. Your ongoing feedback will help me answer this question after seeing how you go’. He also added that ‘Try all measures to complete all sessions as they are. Injury would be the only fair excuse to stop’.

I guess that is the difference between me and other runners. I tend to stay at my comfort zone, and have been doing my interval paces conservatively (mostly just under 4s). In addition, when the going gets tough, I tend to quit or abort my workouts and this often spills over to my racing (aka giving up easily). From the two statements above, I get a feeling that he wants to push me (hard).

If you look at Sean’s website, his training philosophy is ‘Our job is to take you beyond a point at which you think a challenging task is impossible to a point where you believe it is possible’.

Maybe this is what I need, a kick to the butt…


speedygeoff said...

A coach - great!
Should be setting challenging sessions, but achievable.
I would expect longer recoveries would be needed in Singapore's humidity, and plan accordingly.
But as you suggest, suck it and see.
After all, you are well and truly acclimatised to Singapore by now. Aren't you?
Go for it!

Epi said...

I'm fascinated to see how it goes.

Good luck, I know for certain that you have a sub3hr in you, as i do, it's just a matter of getting it out there!

Clown said...

Will be very interested in seeing how it goes. I wouldn't mind seeing out of interest what a typical week of his is for you.

Best of luck with the program, hope you make it over for Melb.

Ewen said...

Great idea! Sean's a good bloke, and obviously a fine coach.

The email feedback will help fine-tune things. That first one sounds like a hard session! Reminds me of reading about when Goucher first went to Salazar and he got her to do something like 12 x 1000 - she'd never done anything like that before.

trailblazer777 said...

Sounds like a good idea to try and take things to another level...although IMO Guy Ogden would possibly have been a better choice for two reasons...(a) he has gone sub 30 and sub 2.25 himself, (not sure if Sean has done that), and (b) he has a squad there in Singapore that you can run with, and in the same steamy conditions...(some things Sean presumably can't give you?)...That said, Tim Rowe is clearly one of the best in Australia, and the other 2 you mentioned sound like legends too, and anyone getting results like that suggets the coach may be a very good one...Plus sounds like Sean will push you hard, and therefore may be the extra push you need to go to another higher level (perhaps the other coach may not push you hard enough?)...I think DNFing in races, and aborting sessions too easily are things to avoid, and periodizing plus a good balance between recovery/rest after tough races (e.g. the marathon) and peaking are some of the main things to work on...the sub 3 is there if you really want it, and get the right things done, get it it right on race day...all the best with exploring the whole coaching thing, well done and trying something new..intrigued to see how it goes. Just remember though the drive to progress has to come from within, the coach can only guide and extend that. the buck stops with you.
ok I'll shut up for a bit now...
All the best!