Disclaimer: I received coaching services from Ekiden Coaching as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
If you follow my blog you should know that trail running is still fairly new to me. I ran many miles as a road racer, most without elevation. Coming to LA and trying out trail running with some serious elevation gains was literally like learning to run all over again. Yes I have a good endurance base, but all that goes out the window when you hit the mountains of Southern California.
Earlier this summer I made a commitment to run a fall trail race. I choose Whoos In El Moro, because it was very well reviewed, and offers a challenging course I could seriously train for. I hired a friend/coach to put together a training plan for me, and coach me on trail running 101. This was an amazing first step into my training and helped me develop a base level where I felt comfortable running on trails an conquering the hilly climbs.
Then I had an opportunity to test out a launch of a new coaching group, Ekiden Coaching. I was looking for an option to fine tune the end of my training and get feedback on how things were going. Ekiden Coaching fit perfectly into that plan.
Ekiden Coaching is a company founded by some very well-known reputable guys in the running world. Not only are they serious athletes themselves but both have both worked for many years within the running community. Peter Duyan has a web design background including products with Strava and Fitbit. Mario Fraioli the head coach, was most recently the senior editor at Competitor magazine. I was very familiar with Mario, and his weekly email blog, so I was pumped to have the opportunity to test out is newest project. (PS Mario also started the Instagram hashtag #saytwowords)
Ekiden Coaching is an on-line coaching service, but don’t let that fool you. The coaches are very hands on and personable. They offer a broad variety of coaches to cater to a wide audience. If you are just starting out, looking to win a marathon or even 100-mile trail race, there is a coaching option for you.
The starting process was very easy. Once you register, you are sent a survey which includes questions regarding your experience, goals and training styles. The questionnaire is pretty comprehensive and I found providing honest answers got me paired with a very compatible coach. I mentioned in my questionnaire that I was running a trail race, only wanted to run 4 days a week, and how important it was for me to include cross training into my weekly schedule. My coach was an absolute perfect match. Coach Jenny is a yoga instructor, a personal trainer and has run numerous trail races. She even knew the Southern California race I was running pretty well.
Once your coach has been selected you schedule a phone consult to discuss your plans, needs and concerns. I found my coach was very attentive to my conversation, which enabled her to set up a solid training plan for me.
When the training begins an athlete is provided a weekly training plan via their website. Their website links with Strava, so you need to log your training runs and workouts on Strava in order for the process to work. (PS, Strava has a free option and syncs with most running watches) When the Strava training log syncs into the Ekiden website, your coach can review your runs in an effort to tweek the plan or provide feedback. For those type A runners, the Ekdien plan gives you the ability to check off training from your list by showing a blue dot when a workout is complete and a red dot when it isn’t. (yes the goal is to get that blue dot).
One thing that sets this on-line coaching system out from others, is the communication between coach and athlete. There are various levels of coaching you can subscribe to, but the basic level offers weekly feedback and/or communication with the coach. From what I have heard, most Ekiden coaches download about two weeks of the training schedule at one time to the system. However one huge benefit in all options, is that the coaches text the next day’s training plan to your cell each night. I found this communication great, especially for speed work days. You don't need to write down your workout for that day, just refer to your daily text.
If you haven’t had a coach before, not having to think about what is next on your training plan is one of the best features to hiring a coach, but when you literally have your training plan on a text the night before, well it doesn’t get much easier than that. If you aren’t able to do a specific workout or need to modify a plan that week, you can just send a message back to your coach and they will make adjustments.
I have to say I really enjoyed the interactive process. My coach was able to review my training progress and plan my next week’s training accordingly. When I needed more running she pushed my workouts, and then followed it with active recovery such as yoga. This was exactly what I was looking for in a training plan and I appreciated that she took my needs into consideration. When a coach only wants to stick to the training type of their personal running style, I honestly don’t think that makes for a success training cycle for the athlete. It is so important that the coach listens to the needs and realistic progress of the runner and is willing to find a plan that works with their needs. Maybe I got lucky with my match, but Coach Jenny did just that. She heard my needs, knew my goal race, understood my desire to incorporate cross-training and yoga and used that to develop weekly plans. I was able to ask questions and once a week she would respond back with my answers or feedback.
I could go on and on about the benefits of a coach, but that only works if you have a coach that is right for you. Ekiden does just that. They have a variety of coaches from all different backgrounds, so there is something for everyone. I experienced a very welcoming coach and the training tools are so easy to use. **However, keep in mind an on-line coaching experience can't really provide you with feedback on your running form or efficiency. You will need to look elsewhere for those one-on-one personal critiques.
I ran my race this past Saturday, and it went really well. Even though I only utilized the coaching from Ekiden for the last 4 weeks, I think it really made a difference. I went into my race, strong, well-rested and very confident in my ability to reach goals. My coach even sent me a message the afternoon after my race to find out how I did. That meant a lot to me, it meant she actually cared, even though I was just an athlete reviewing her services. I am already plotting out my next trail run, and you better believe Ekiden coaching will be a part of my training plan.
Are you running a race in the next few months? If so you should try Ekiden Coaching. Monthly coaching options are pretty affordable, with pricing starting at $59 a month to $249 a month for high level plus program. There are also monthly packages that offer even lower rates. Bonus: if you buy a three-month pack, use code BibRave16 and get one month free!