Disclosure: I received an free trial of Sweat Tracker online coaching to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Sweat Tracker offers online coaching and training plans for all types of runners, whether you’re transitioning from walking to running, training for your first 5K or half marathon, or want to qualify for Boston. Lucky for me, they even have a coach who has experience with ultras and trail running!
After answering their questionnaire and a few additional questions, Coach Chris sent me my custom training plan for my first ultra, the Squamish 50k on August 23. I began the plan on July 4 so I had about 7 weeks to increase from 37 km to 50 km on mountainous trails. My goal was just to finish before the cut-off of 11 hours.
Every Sunday I received an email containing the upcoming week’s workouts. Each day I received an email listing my workouts for the next two days. This was super helpful for me as I check my email often and it kept my workouts at the front of my mind.
After you complete your workout, you can either respond to the daily email or text your workout mileage, total time, and any comments to your coach. They encourage you to do the assigned distance, but understand that things sometimes prevent that.
It was hard for me to follow the training plan exactly since most of my long runs are group runs in the trails. I was a bit at the mercy of how far and how fast others wanted to run as I’m not about to go run 30+ km in the mountains alone. I’m way too afraid of bears for that! And I’d probably get lost.
When I didn’t do enough mileage, I half expected to get a stern taking to like I used to get from my piano instructor for not practicing enough. In fact, I was almost wishing I would (sometimes I need a kick in the butt)! But this wasn’t at all the case. I did, however, flag a couple concerns to my coach regarding mileage and injury and he was very helpful!
This is the real value of Sweat Tracker – having someone who is looking out for you and able to provide honest advice when you are physically struggling or doubting your training. It’s also great that they are able to modify your plan based on your progress, injuries, or general life events that may derail your training.
More than once, Sweat Tracker checked in to make sure I was happy and answer any questions or concerns I had about their services. I’m sure part of this was because I would be reviewing my experiences with them, but I also think they genuinely want to know if there are any ways they can improve to better serve their clients.
In the end I completed my first ultra in a time of just under 10 hours! I do credit some of my success to Sweat Tracker but due to my tendency to run tag along to group runs, I’m not sure if online coaching is right for me personally. However, I think it is great for new runners, runners attempting a new distance, or runners trying to PR who are looking for guidance and support. You may also have to be able to make the tough choice between running with friends and running the specific distance/pace of your training.