Training diaries: reflections on working with a coach

My big race goal for this year is running the West Highland Way Race. A 95 mile ultramarathon in Scotland. The race takes place in June and is my will be my longest and roughest race yet. To prepare myself as well as possible I decided to start working with a coach for the first time in my running career.

Under the guidance of my new coach Jeroen Renes I just completed my first training block of 2024. In the last 4 weeks we build up the total weekly milage from 60 kilometers to 95 kilometers. I’m looking forward to the recovery week planned for next week.

Over the course of the last 5 years I trained for many events, including marathons, triathlons and ultramarathons. Throughout this entire period I was ‘self-coached’: I created my own training plans based on research, podcasts and books. I’m very happy with the results I achieved. However, in the spirit of keeping an open mind, staying curious and experimentation I decided to partner up with Jeroen.

Jeroen has a ton of experience, running some of the toughest races in the world, such as the Spartathlon. He brings a fresh, objective and external perspective to my way of training. Furthermore, delegating the the planning process of my training to Jeroen frees me up to focus exclusively on the execution of the workouts to the best of my ability.

Getting through the first few weeks of training with Jeroen has been tough. Both the volume (weekly milage) and intensity (pace) have been demanding. Particularly the pace I have had to maintain to reach the desired heart rate zones makes workouts a lot more intense than what I’m used to. Looking back on the first few weeks of working with Jeroen has definitely been somewhat of an adjustment phase, but I’m very happy with the gains I’m experiencing in my fitness. So far this has been a very successful experiment and I’m excited to see what the next block of training holds in store.