1) Make like a drill sergeant and shout and prod athletes to make them go faster?
2) Tailoring training plans for each athlete constantly to make him/her train on their time?
3) Get athletes to run slower on their easy days so that they have enough energy to perform well on their hard days.
If you chose 1, you've been watching too much TV. I know the stereotypical coach on TV shouts at unwilling athletes to get them to do his will. Fortunately, people who see me are quite willing to run fast when called upon, so this is never a problem for me.
If you chose 2, that would be true when I see athletes in the beginning. There is a lot of time involved with understand their available time, but once that is ironed out after several weeks, not much work is needed to maintain that continually.
If you chose 3, you are CORRECT!
Every single athlete that has seen me are perfectly WILLING to put that extra effort forward to help them do great in their race. In all my years I've been coaching people, there have been no exceptions to this, so I am quite fortunate.
The problem with most competitive athletes is to make sure they don't try to kick butt in training all the time. It's shutting those competitive juices down that can be tough on competitive athletes.
In a properly structured weekly training regimen, I only have my athletes go hard around 3 times per week. Sometimes it's 4 times, in case an athlete is approaching his/her big race. Sometimes, it's zero times, when an athlete has his/her normal recovery for the week.
The rest of the time, it's easy miles that fills up the rest of the week. And when I
mean easy, I mean ridiculously easy!
For the run, easy means going at least 90-120 seconds per mile pace slower than your marathon pace. If that sounds ridiculously easy, then they are running too hard.
Sometimes it's even better just to leave the watch at home and just run! There is something really liberating about running without any kind of instrument attached to you whether it's a heart rate monitor, or GPS, or even just a stopwatch. Just get out there, go ridiculously easy, and enjoy it!
A workout should be ridiculously easy enough so that they should feel energized after an easy workout, not tired.
And that is key for those 3 hard workouts on that weekly training plan. The overall strategy is to try to be 100% ready for that hard workout so that one can blast them to smithereens and get the best out of those harder workouts. If one goes too fast on their ridiculously easy workouts then can end up tired for those hard workouts that count; chances are he/she will not get the best results from those workouts.
"You want to do well in your harder workouts? Then make sure you train easy in your easy workouts"
Case in point, when I was training for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning last year, I found that I have done around 80% of my miles at a very slow pace last year. Granted, most ultramarathons, especially 100 milers, have me running at a slow pace, so you can argue that point. But there were hard training days that were needed to give me the extra power to go up the hills of the Rockies and the Wasatch range, especially at higher altitude where oxygen was scarce.
This year I qualified for USA Triathlon Nationals at a blistering 2:10:59 at an Olympic Distance triathlon in Massachusetts. I did a bit more speedwork for this race, but was pleasantly surprised that 75% of my run-up for this race was still ridiculously easy.
"Consistency in training is one of the critical factors in performing better fitnesswise. That means training 5-6 days per week. If you want to keep training for 5-6 days per week for every week, you'll need to make sure a good percentage of those workouts are easy. Otherwise you run a high risk of getting burned out or injured in your training."
Bottom line...if you want to perform better and go faster at races, you'll need to slower in your easy recovery workouts...
"...Trust me on this."