PBs to a coach are like sunbeams to a cat: we love them

As previously seen on Montreal Endurance, we had a little time trial on Friday evening. The purpose of this small event was to get those runners who are going to be racing 5k on the track this summer a feel for the distance. It was also a chance for the 1500m specialists to get in an over-distance race, without gumming up any mid-season training or racing.

Aside from the marathon, I think the 5000m on the track is probably the toughest of the distance disciplines. A 5k on the road is easier because there are usually more twists and turns to keep your mind engaged, and you only really see your splits every km or even every mile. The pain of a track 5k really takes some getting used to. I was given advice by former Canadian marathon champ Matt McInnes regarding the 5k on the track: try to run as many as you can. Of course, it’s tough because there are not that many on the schedule. What we have planned is one on May 7th in Montreal, one in Boston June 11, and then another in mid-July, at a venue TBC. Adding another one to the early-season mix is a good way to add experience without taking too much away from the training season.

Of course, the best thing about the day was that 8 of 11 runners ran PBs. Some of these (Dan and Mona in particular) were first time PBs, but still…A coach loves PBs. I will admit that the secret anxiety of every coach is that he or she might be screwing up the training for the athletes. I feel that, if I they manage to succeed, it’s because they did the work. In designing the work to be done, a coach has to be a Hippocrite, in the sense of the oath: “never do harm.” So when you get a blanket of PBs like that, it reinforces what we’ve been doing has not been harmful (yay!), and that’s nice for a coach.

I do love to tinker, though. Sometimes, it can get boring: consistent mileage, tempo runs, some intervals, core work, weights, recovery. That’s all it is. I have to restrain myself from getting too creative. But when the athletes come through with good results, it makes the boring ok. So far, our group has been great. We’ve managed to have PBs nearly every season for almost everyone, and, other than a few minor aches (and not including car accidents) we’ve mostly stayed injury free. As long as everyone keeps getting better, the training is not going to change (though it will progress–an important distinction).

There will be a time when some athletes start to plateau. I’ve referred to this before in a post: going from 17min to 15min is one thing. We expect to see big jumps from the newer people in the group. Getting from 15 to 14 is another. The more experienced an athlete gets, the smaller the improvements are going to be. We’ll see about making that break-through when the time comes. In the meantime, we’ll just keep on doing what we are doing, because it’s working.