Trusting Your Training

Trust is critical to your success as a runner. This is paramount when it comes to training. You need to actually believe that the training that you are doing is going to help you accomplish your goal. When you step on the starting line you need to know the the work that you have done has prepared you for accomplishing your goal. Whether that goal is finishing your first 5k or finally qualifying for the Boston Marathon, you need to believe that all the work you are doing is moving you closer to your desired result. This is often best achieved through a solid coach/athlete relationship. The more that you trust your coach and his or her training guidance the more you will adhere to the plan and the more success that you will have. I don’t just say that because I am a coach; I say that because all top level elite runners have coaches. A large part of trusting the training is in believing that you have actually gotten faster. In many races we may simply become creatures of habit and fall into the same paces that we have always run and ending up with the same results. Believing in your training requires that you embrace change and the improvements that come with it.

So how do we develop this trust in our training? I’ll spend some time talking about a few of the more popular training sources and give some advice for each one to increase the level of trust.

Static Training Plan

Many runners download a plan from the internet or from a magazine and adapt it to their lives. I for one am not a big fan of doing this because every runner is a unique individual with unique histories, physiologies, and life styles. The way a single male 26 year old runner who ran in high school and college should train for a marathon is very different that the training that will work well for a 45 mother of three who just picked up running a few years ago. If this is your option I wold recommend that you make adjustments according to your particular circumstances. For example if you are a busy adult with kids, Jay Johnson’s Simple Marathon Training is a near perfect resource. If you don’t feel like investing $14 in your training, consider that you most likely own socks that cost more. If you are in your twenties and single I would recommend Daniels’ Running Formula or Advanced Marathoning. The bottom line is that the source of your training should be tailored to you and your life. If it is, the training is so much easier to trust.

The Self Coached Runner

The next option is to write your own training. This is the option that I am in right now. I’ve read a good number of training books and spend some time reading journal articles on the science of running. I am able to put together training that fits my lifestyle and physiology. I can trust it because I have over a dozen books on running and a stack of journal articles with notes and highlights. This method takes the most time and requires that you are a bit of a running geek. There is also a considerable amount of risk involved as we have a limited ability to see ourselves objectively. We are always emotionally attached to ourselves and run the risk of being either too easy or (more often) too hard on ourselves when it comes to training. If you have a bad race and are self coached, it is easy for you to blame yourself and bombard yourself with self doubt. This is still a better method than downloading a plan but requires more time and effort to capitalize on. For this option you need to have a solid grasp of the exercise science as well as the time and energy to craft your own training plans.

A Live Coach

The next option is to get a coach (I am considering this for the new year myself). A face to face relationship with a local coach is the best option. You may have access to a good coach through a local running club or a training group at your local running store. Lots of stores run training groups around local races. This also gives you a community to rally around and having team mates is extremely powerful (not to mention a hell of a lotta fun).  Just make sure that the coach is not some runner who can just run fast. This person needs to have the communication skills necessary to relate to runners as well was the technical knowledge to know what to tell you. Another coaching option is online. Several very reputable coaches have programs that you can go month to month on and are very reasonably priced (less than $50/ month). The key here is to ensure that you get along well with your coach. Read their training philosophy and ensure you buy into it. Make sure that the coach is someone you will be honest with throughout your training. The relationship you have with your coach is probably 10x more important than the coach’s technical knowledge.The relationship you have with your coach is probably 10x more important than the coach’s technical knowledge. Click To Tweet


To trust your training you have to ensure that it is tailored to you and matched your lifestyle. Don’t just download a spreadsheet from some random website; do your homework. Learn about training theory so you understand the purpose of the workouts and runs the you are doing. Understand that fitness gains actually come with recovery and rest. Read a few training books or technical articles. Knowing the science will help you trust the training more. If you do seek out a coach interview them and make sure that you are a match for each other. A bad coach/athlete relationship doesn’t help anyone and is guaranteed to do harm. If you can learn to trust your training you will get to the start line knowing that you are prepared to crush your goals.

Enjoy the run.

Great books on Running:

Solid Online Coaching Programs

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