Perhaps Not So Smart.

I have decided that I am not a fan of the Runners World SmartCOACH. It’s not all bad and perhaps if you paid for it, you would get some better functionality and more quality plans. This week, I sort of abandoned it.

The good thing with the plan is that is gradually builds up your mileage and doesn’t have any crazy workouts. That bad of it is it ropes you in my projecting some magical PR time if you follow said plan, so you feel obligated to follow it. I finally decided it wasn’t for me this weekend.

I ran a 5K on Saturday morning and my legs were like lead. My 10K PR from February (the day after another 4K race, so I wasn’t rested) is 48:17. I ran 24:08 on Saturday. Literally the same pace for half the distance. My legs were toast.

I was not impressed.

Especially given that I am running about 10 more miles per week than back then – last week was 29 miles total – the most I’ve run since 2003. Granted, I did not really rest much to prepare for the race but it’s a 5K, for Pete’s sake.

I looked at the SmartCOACH schedule for this week (Fontana Days Half is this Saturday) and it looked like this:

Sunday 13 miles easy
Monday 4 miles easy
Tuesday 4 miles easy
Wednesday 2 x 1600 @ 7:36 – 4 miles total
Thursday 4 miles easy
Friday rest (gee, thanks)
Saturday RACE – 13.1

That’s 29 miles in the 6 days before the race. What kind of crack are they smoking?!

Apparently it’s crack that makes your legs miraculously recover for a race from the highest mileage week in the whole plan.

This is when I said, “this is some bullshit” and decided I was done with SmartCOACH. There is no way that is smart. If I was averaging 50 mpw, maybe 29 the week of the race would be OK.

Instead I did (am doing) this:

Sunday 8 miles (whatever pace I want, was 8:51)
Monday rest (actually, 4 mile hike/walk)
Tuesday 4 miles easy (9:14)
Wednesday 2 x 1600 @ 7:36 – 4 miles total (8:45)
Thursday 3 miles easy
Friday rest
Saturday race

Total of 19 miles before the race.

And you know what? My legs are starting to feel not like hamburger meat.  Go figure. Shocker, right?

Anyway, so I’ve tossed out my SmartCoach plan for Coronado 15K and Hobble Creek Half and am in the process of making my own plan which will be a combination of a bunch of plans picking whatever I feel like I need. I still think I will take my long runs (anything over 10 miles) slower than the 8:50 I was always doing before – I’ve learned that much. And I’ll probably try to reach 35-40 peak MPW.

I wonder if anyone out there has had success with this SmartCOACH. And if they have, was it their first or second race, how long the plan was, etc.


  1. hehe. yeah, I've never followed any plans or "coaching" advice. I find it much easier to follow my instincts and my legs. whatever they want to do, I oblige.

    kudos for following your own plan!

  2. just found your blog and i love it! so cute.

  3. WTFrack? 29 miles the week of the race? Sounds like a not-so-smart trainer. Glad you ditched it!

    GL this weekend. I see a PR coming!!!

    P/S I might see you in Coronado!

  4. I found the same problem with SmartCOACH. I started using it training for a half that was in May and it gave me a similar plan the week before. I have another half planned on July 10- it's 6 weeks between halves and "SmartCOACH" gave me the same output, but this time 14 miles the Sunday before the race. Hell no! I'm done using it and can't believe I paid $1.99 for it!


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