Why have a coach? This question seems to come up quite a bit in the running and triathlon community. Unfortunately there are a multitude of answers, but for now I am going to focus on one aspect of why someone should have a coach, and that is peaking. Having a coach can keep you on track to where you need to be with your fitness level with regards to peaking for the big day. I don’t know how many athletes with amazing potential come up short on race day due to impatience and improper planning. For example, lets say you recently signed up for a marathon September 1, 2015. It is currently October 1, 2014 ( 12 months away) and you’ve been running consistently the last few years and have dabbled in a few 5k and 10k races. The big mistake to avoid is too much too soon. Athletes sign up for a race, get excited, and end up either hurt or mentally burnt out from doing too many 20 mile long runs in the months of March and April 2015. If your long run is already in the 8-10 mile range, a good approach would be to start ramping up that long run about 16 weeks out from race day. So given a 2-3 week taper, you should start building May 1, 2015 with every fourth week being a down week to give your legs a break and you will have done about 8 long runs of 20 miles. This is more than enough for most people. Now the big thing to consider is how much to add to that 1 long run a week? If your long run is 10 miles, you can comfortably go from 10 to 12 to 15 to 18 and then finally to 20. Once at 20 miles, you will stay there and don’t be tempted to do a mega run of 25 miles in training. The recovery impact is too detrimental, so stick to the plan, use common sense and fire away race day!