In Shape / It's Life

Training for the Houston Marathon with Runcoach

Hi y’all! As you know, I’m an ambassador for the Houston Marathon and Half Marathon. I’ve been running for a few years now and each season I bump up the ante and challenge myself to pick up the pace and run faster, do more training races, visit more running groups, explore trail runs and more!

This year, as I train for the Houston Half Marathon, I’m training with Runcoach. Runcoach is an app that provides tailored training plans based on your schedule, history, and goal pace and is the official training program for the Houston Marathon and Half Marathon.  On average participants training with
Runcoach see a 7% improvement in race finish time over prior races.

How the Training Plan is Created

The app generates a training plan and calculates paces based on your goal pace and the average of your best races that you’ve entered. Your speed, tempo, easy run paces are all derivatives of the goal pace and historic races.

When setting up my account, I decided what days I wanted to run vs. cross train vs. rest based on my usual weekly schedule.

Each workout that it assigns has specific instructions and paces. For example on “Speed” run days, Runcoach provides drills that help prevent injuries, improve running form, and increase speed like toe walking, heel walking, skipping, high knees, butt kicks, and bounding. Each exercise comes with a video explaining what each drill is.

Pro Tip: go to Memorial Park after 6:30pm so you can bounce around the track and be weird without too many prying eyes.

As I complete workouts, the plan dynamically updates each week to ensure that I’m on track and trending towards my goal. It knows when I’ve skipped a day (sorry not sorry was tailgating at the Notre Dame football game), struggled with a workout (as designated by the smiley face button), or totally crushed it, and will adjust accordingly.

Although Runcoach doesn’t sync with Map my Run (which is what I’ve been using since 2013 to track runs!! ugh), Runcoach does sync with Strava and Garmin, Apple, and Nike watches. So the runs that track on your watch can be uploaded simultaneously.

“Running is no more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part of your brain that wants to keep going.”

Talking with the Coaches

The “14 days free trial” is to talk to coaches. The average person has access to the whole training plan for free, forever. However, after their first 14 days, if they need to talk to a coach about “nutrition, an injury, etc..” things that take time and effort from the Runcoach team, there is an optional upgrade to the Gold Plan for $19.95/month.

I’m using the upgraded version that gives me access to the coach, and I’ve already contacted them with a whole slew of questions. I’m a big fan of having the dedicated point person to talk to and get feedback. Knowing the areas where I struggled during my training in previous years, I asked and received specific workouts on how to prevent foot and lower leg injuries. I now plan to be watching this youtube video on repeat. Plus, I’ve asked detailed questions about learning to use the app to its full potential.

running with runcoach houston

Runcoach First Impressions

I like that the outputted training plans are specific to me. It’s not just “run 3 miles” but it’s a break down of what the warm up should be, what the cool down should be, what drills should be included. Also definitions and specific paces for what a “Tempo” run should be versus a “Maintenance” run.

I’m usually not a video person, but the supplementary material with the app is really quite nifty. I’ve learned the running warm up drills from the video clips and been practicing the 20-minute “all body” workout designed to work on runner’s flexibility, strength, and core muscles.  The video clips are organized well and are only 30-60 seconds long. The exercises themselves take about 1 minute to perform, which I’ve found is the perfect compliment to shorter running workouts.

The downside to running with Runcoach is that because the plans are so tailored it might make it hard to run with other people who aren’t on the same exact schedule. It would be perfect for someone who travels all the time for work (like me in a previous life) and does a lot of solo runs.

How are you training for the Houston Marathon or Half Marathon?

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