Last weekend, I had completed the Sundown Marathon 2016, after having had about 18 weeks of Sundown Marathon training with Coached Fitness.
Formerly known as Journey Fitness Company and founded by former New Zealand professional triathlete Ben Pulham, Coached is a boutique fitness company that helps runners and triathletes to achieve their sporting potential through proper guidance in terms of training and diet.
Base training sessions
I have been a member of Coached since August 2015 and have used the programme to train for the Standard Chartered Marathon 2015, followed by the Sundown Marathon 2016 after a couple months of rest.
For the Sundown Marathon, my programme had firstly comprised of base training sessions which aims to teach the body to utilise oxygen as efficiently as possible. This is common for all Coached programmes.
For the base training sessions, these are typically done at the lower heart rate zones to build up the body’s fitness and running base.
Strength Training sessions
After that, the programme then shifted to strength training, which as the name suggests, has a focus of building strength and anaerobic endurance through the use of resistance. Coached’s form of resistance is primarily hill-based and consists largely of either hill reps or rolling hills.
But the area that I am living in, is quite flat and generally devoid of rolling hills, so there have been times when I have substituted the hill reps with strength sets, which is another alternative in building strength, according to Ben.
Strength sets typically include reps of exercises such as squats, lunges and walking lunges, and serve a similar purpose to repeatedly running up and down hills.
At other times though, when I felt the need to run actual hills, I would run hill reps on a treadmill at a gym, as I felt that this would be a good substitute to replicate hills, without having to travel to a hill.
Having done hill training with Coached to prepare for the Standard Chartered Marathon last December, hill training comes easier and more naturally to me now, though I still have some issues with trying to keep my heart rate down during the hill climbs. Hopefully, this will get better during my next training cycle.
For long runs, Coached usually incorporates strength sets into these. According to Ben this is supposed to tire out the legs faster when you run. But it can actually save time because you do not have to run 30km before you are able to feel the same effects.
This was the hardest part of the training because my legs ache when I incorporate these strength sets into my running. Also because of time constraints and clashes with my schedule, I also ended up cutting short some of these runs to fit them in.
So perhaps this could have been one reason why I had failed to get an overall marathon personal best at the Sundown Marathon.
But reflecting back to how I had performed during the actual race, my legs did not actually cramp up till the final few kilometres of the race, so perhaps this was a sign that the Coached training sessions have been helping me in terms of my endurance.
At the same time, I also noticed that I require less gels in order to function properly during both my training runs as well as during the race. For example, in a 21km run, I used to take at least three to four gels, but these days I can get by with one gel, or even zero gels if I am running at a more conservative pace.
During the marathon too, I also took four gels, as compared to the six that I would have taken in the past when running the 42.195km distance.
So in that regard I think that the Coached training programme has been helping me with my endurance and I look forward to the next training cycle and race, which will probably be at the end of this year.
To find out more about Coached and to sign up for the programme, take a look at their website at http://www.coached.fitness.