With the Internet becoming increasingly popular these days, it is so easy to Google for online training programmes to prepare yourself for a race, be it a “Couch to 5K” programme, a Half Marathon training programme or a “16 Week Full Marathon” training programme.
But how effective are these online programmes, really, in preparing runners properly, for a race?
Most online training programmes are generic
Said Ben Pulham, a former elite triathlete from New Zealand and the Founder of Coached, a boutique online-based fitness company offering training programmes, “The problems with most online plans are that they are generic. They don’t take into account your background, current fitness and time available to train and as such are not always suitable for you to use, and can lead to overtraining, injury and burnout.”
He added “On top of that, they are static, meaning you can’t adjust them, move sessions around or easily make changes. If you decide to do some tune-up races during your build-up, there is also no way to add them and adjust the plan.”
Ben also pointed out that another alternative is an online coach but this may not be suitable for everyone. He said, “While there are many wonderful coaches out there who offer their services online, they come at a significant cost, which not everyone can afford.”
How to choose a suitable programme to meet your needs
To gauge whether an online training programme is suitable for you, Ben feels that runners should look at a few parameters. He says, “Each runner will have different needs, background, goals and available time. You need to look carefully at each training plan and consider whether it takes into account each of those parameters. If it does, it’s worth a crack.”
He added, “But in choosing a suitable programme, the most important thing to consider is the experience of the coach who wrote the training plan. Ideally you want someone with an extensive background in coaching athletes similar to you. If they’ve also had significant experience as an athlete themselves, then that’s a great bonus.”
If the training plan is well constructed, Ben feels that online training programmes can contribute to improvements over time. He explained, “The main benefits in following a well constructed online training plan include an improvement in performance and a reduced chance of injury and overtraining.”He added “The benefits to following a holistic training programme like Coached, are numerous and include the above benefits along with improvements in fat burning, body composition, energy, race execution and understanding of the process of training.”
Ben’s Coached programme
And though Ben admits that he may be biased but in his opinion, he thinks that Coached is the “most comprehensive and advanced training programme available online for runners and triathletes.”
Said Ben, “Coached has leveraged technology in its platform and by gathering data in the Coached Lab to be able to offer advanced personalisation and support at an affordable price point.”
Since August 2015, I myself have used the online training programme by Coached, formerly known as Journey Fitness Company, and since then I have noticed improvements in terms of my running endurance and the ability to keep on running – without having to constantly stop to catch my breath and stretch out my cramping legs.
I find that I am able to last for longer distances with less amount of refuelling, taking of energy gels and other quick energy supplements. For example, when I ran a half marathon prior to joining the programme, I used to require up to three gels to keep myself going. Nowadays though, I can complete a 21km run with one gel, or even zero gels at all – depending on what heart rate zones I am targeting. Also, the issue of leg cramps during my long runs have also been reduced and in short, my body generally feels stronger as well.
At the same time, while I used to fear the hills during races and always tended to walk up hills, I am also approaching them recently, by simply running up these without breaking much of a sweat – and then still have the energy to continue on with the rest of the race. This is probably due to the overall fitness philosophy of Coached.
Explained Ben, “We have a very holistic approach to health and performance and advocating eating in a specific way that improves general health, fat burning, recovery and performance. We advocate getting plenty of sleep and keeping stress levels as low as possible. We provide clear race execution guides too, to ensure that our athletes maximise fitness on race day and don’t fall prey to the common race-day mistakes made by the majority of athletes.”
He added, “In short, we consider most areas of life that affect performance and have carefully built a platform and programme that offers fantastic value to athletes who want to improve but need flexibility around their work, family and social lives.”
Find out more about Coached
To find out more about Coached or how to join the programme, check out the website at http://www.coached.fitness