Tools for runners
In 2010, I stumbled upon the Smart Coach Program of Runnersworld.com. It’s an online tool that allows you to create a personalized training plan based on your current ability and goals. I’ve been wanting to share the Smart Coach Program to other self-taught runners for the longest time, but never got down to writing about it until now.
The Smart Coach system is able to make a unique program by getting your personal record for a given race distance (5K, 10K, 21K and 42K) and by asking you your target time. It figures out how many days a week you need to train and how fast your speed workout and tempo runs need to be by asking you how hard you want to train (easy, moderate or hard) and how long (4 to 16 weeks). After feeding all these information, the Smart Coach then comes up with a printable training schedule that looks like a weekly planner.
What I like best about the Smart Coach Program is that unlike other cookie cutter training marathon programs, it takes into consideration your actual and current ability as a runner and it takes into consideration how much time you can realistically devote to training given the demands of your day job and family responsibilities.
The Smart Coach Program is free and available online. Just visit www.runnersworld.com and go to the “Tools” menu.
Apart from the Smart Coach, you can also try the other free online tools that can improve your running performance such as the Fitness Calculators, Pace Calculators, Recipes for Runners, Shoe Finder and even a tool called “What to Wear” which is most can be useful when preparing for a race in colder climes.
The Fitness Calculators include a BMI calculator for your body mass index; the Target Heart Rate Calculator that tells you your target heart rate based on your age; the Calories Burned Calculator that calculates how many calories your run has burned and the Daily Calories Calculator that tells you your BMR or basal metabolic rate.
The tools under the Pace Calculators include the Age-Graded Calculator that allows you to compare your race times to age and gender standards; Race Times Predictor that allows you to calculate your equivalent finish times for other common race distances based on your recent PR.
The Run/Walk Pace Calculator allows you to calculate your run-walk combo and corresponding race finish time – most useful for ultramarathoners and those who want to run-walk the 42K.
My favorite is the Pace Band Creator allows you to create a pace chart that you can wear around your wrist during you race, to guide you whether you’re running your race too fast or too slow. If used correctly, the Pace Wristband will help you run even splits and prevent you from going out too fast early on in the race.
Just like the Smart Coach, all these tools are free and available online, just visit www.runnersworld.com and go to the “Tools” drop down menu.
Of course doing the math won’t work if you don’t do any actual running. Success comes when knowing and doing merge. Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the run. All the training and the analysis will be for nothing if you don’t find joy in it. As US Olympic marathoner Kara Goucher puts it, “Do the work. Do the analysis. But feel your run. Feel your race. Feel the joy that is running.”