Coach Mike Mead

March 2011

Running Technology without a Coach

I have written in previous columns about the importance of having access to a coach daily if one wants to improve as a runner. A coach can provide valuable feedback while working you through your paces by providing a challenging workout schedule that will prepare you to be at your best when you want to run your best.

But a majority of runners do not have daily access to a coach, nor can one afford such a luxury. You might have had a high school coach, or if you were fortunate enough, got coaching through your college years. After college, however, you’re pretty much on your own unless you are at an elite level, can afford to pay someone to coach you, or you know someone who will give you guidance. The sad thing is many runners give up running after high school or college when in actuality their best years of competitive running are ahead of them into their mid- to late-20’s and early 30’s.

However, with the advancement of technology, there is hope for determined runners who wish to go as far as they can, running-wise, without having a flesh-and-blood coach working with them on a daily basis. It does require a little more work on your end, but it can be done to some satisfactory level utilizing many of today’s technical advances.

First off, computer technology is a runner’s greatest tool. With the internet at your fingertips, runners have unlimited access to all sorts of resources that can put you on the right training program. You are only limited to the amount of time you have researching the information you are seeking.

Are you experiencing a little pain? Maybe you need a new pair of shoes, but cannot find them in your local store. The internet can help you determine what might be ailing you and find a store on-line to buy a pair of shoes for less.

Perhaps you have a few spare coins for a coach. You can find several coaches on-line who can “talk” to you by phone, text message, e-mail or social network to guide you through your training period. These coaches can give you specific workouts that can be – for a small fee -- personalized for your training objectives.

There are web sites like Flotrack you can utilize to log your workouts, keep in touch with other runners and even map out your favorite running routes. You can keep up with how long you’ve been wearing those Nikes and when you should be replacing them.

Perhaps the best running aid in the past few years is the GPS-enhanced watches. The beauty of these watches is you not only know how long you ran, but how far and at what pace. These GPS-enhanced watches take some of the guess work out of training effort when you are not able to train on a 400m track.

But with technology, I must caution that too much may not make a runner faster. The best shoes, GPS watch, or internet site will only take you so far. The bottom line – you still have to run your butt off to make progress. If you are looking for a short cut to running success, you may have some resource or shoe company telling you one thing, but old fashion hard work is still the rule.

And that flesh-and-blood coach? Having an in-person coach working with you on a daily basis is going to see things you cannot see. That coach will make you do some things that you will not do that will make you the running you want to be.

There are just some things runners cannot live without to be successful. If you cannot afford a coach, utilize the technical resources that are available to you. Good luck!