I wanted to follow up on the Pre-CIM post from a few days ago…the post where I detailed the build up for Kelsey Bruce before her 2:34:03 performance at the Cal International Marathon / USATF Marathon Championships.
First, I don’t think it can be overlooked that I have worked with Kelsey for six years now. Whether she will admit it or not, I know her strengths, weaknesses, and how to push her and press the right buttons in order to get a desired result in training and racing. A training plan for her might not work for others, but that’s the art of coaching and the fun part of coaching.
Second, I know that as long as she is healthy, that she’ll be prepared on her end. The fueling, prehab, rehab, and recovery part of being an athlete is just as important as any training plan assigned. Kelsey has gotten better and better over the years at being prepared and so the reason that I was able to predict how fast she would run was simply because I knew she would be prepared to do what was asked of her.
So, before we get into any of the training details, it must be stated that the coach-athlete relationship is vital for any big successes in training and racing. You can imitate the training program outlined, but you can’t replace the importance of six-plus years of working together.
Now, going into the training and looking over the training that was published here, you might notice a severe lack of 3km/5km paced work…but a lot of half marathon and marathon paced work, especially within a lot of longer efforts.
The reasoning for this is pretty simple…
- Kelsey does not recover well from 3km/5km paced work. It’s definitely more of a weakness than a strength and in a specific training build up, I don’t believe in training weaknesses.
- For someone who has the ENGINE that Kelsey has this big work just builds her stronger and stronger. And in a specific training build up, we want to practice exactly what we are trying to do in a race and we want to focus on the strengths of the athlete.
So, what was done well in this build up?
First off, she prepared herself to run long and strong and did a great job of practicing the fueling that she would need on race day. You can’t overlook her big efforts of 18-25 miles including a lot of marathon pace running and faster than marathon pace running included within those miles.
The very first session assigned was 22 miles with miles 16-20 at 5-10 seconds/mile faster than marathon pace. We typically run this session in a naturally progressive manner until the 16th mile where she starts heading into that sub-marathon pace tempo segment. This is not 16 miles easy, then four miles hard. THAT’S NOT IT. We start easy and naturally work down so that the first mile of the ‘tempo’ segment is not an unnatural pace change. When you look at the workout done this way there ends up being 6-8 miles or more total in a very steady (almost marathon paced) manner. All in all it’s 22 miles at a very strong effort.
And from that first session onto the next and then the next and so on, you can see a similar thread of long and continuous work to prepare Kelsey for the marathon grind. Even on the second session assigned, 18 miles with 3 x 4 miles at 5-10 seconds/mile faster than marathon pace with a steady mile recovery, you see 14 miles that end up averaging marathon pace. From the second session in the training she was running 14 miles at marathon pace, the hard way…
So, with eight weeks of these workouts under her belt she arrived to the starting line on race day strong and confident that she could run the distance and at our desired pace / effort.
All in all, after a lost year of training, and going through this build up and coming out with a 2+ minute personal best, a top-15 USA time for 2017, and an Olympic Trials / IAAF Olympic A-Standard…IT WAS A DEFINITE SUCCESS.
Now, going forward I do believe that we need to work on Kelsey’s abilities over 3km/5km and I would love to see her make a run at qualifying for the USATF Outdoor Championships 10,000 meters.
Like they say, it’s still the fastest person to the finish line who wins the race, right? So, over the next few months we’ll start to work on getting her a little faster over 3km/5km and 10km as we continue to prepare and develop her over the 26.2 mile distance.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or email me at email@example.com.