*Disclaimer: I received 6 weeks of online coaching from Ekiden for free in exchange for an honest review. This is an awesome perk of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro and check out Bibrave.com to review and write race reviews!
So what is Ekiden? Well the name Ekiden comes from a long distance relay race that takes place in Japan. Relays are a team effort and require a great deal of communication to be successful, which is what Ekiden is all about – communication between coaches and athletes.
Ekiden is an online coaching program that pairs athletes with coaches and communication occurs through phone calls, text messages, and an online messaging system. I’ve been running for several years, but mostly casually with a few races here and there. I’ve run one half marathon about two years and recently decided that I would like to run another in a few months – The Carlsbad Half Marathon to be exact!. Since I have two kids under the age of four, it can sometimes be difficult to map out a running plan and stay consistent with training.
I was really excited to try out Ekiden! I figured this was the perfect time to experience this whole coaching deal and I liked the idea of it being online so I didn’t have to worry about scheduling appointments with the kiddos.
I was a little nervous about getting started with a coach. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect and I was kind of worried that the coach would think I was too slow or just not coachable.
The first step with Ekiden is filling out a questionnaire where you enter in your running routine, past races, racing goals and overall goals that you have with Ekiden. Then you are supposed to pick from three coaches chosen for you by Ekiden. They apparently skipped this step with me as I was automatically paired up with Coach Fiona. Then you wait for a phone call from your chosen coach and get to know each other a little bit better. This is the number that will be used to text back and forth between your coach. Note: the coach can call you, but if you try calling the number you will learn that it’s an automated system. I’m assuming this is so the coach isn’t bombarded with phone calls at all hours of the night.
Coach Fiona and I spoke for about 10 minutes. I let her know how many days a week that I wanted to run and that I wanted to run a half marathon soon. She was very friendly and explained her running accomplishments and qualifications as a coach. Then she loaded up the first week of my plan into the Ekiden scheduling system!
The Ekiden coaches use Strava to keep track of your activity so you will have to create an account. If you use a Garmin, you can also sync your activity automatically to Strava using Garmin Connect. I liked that my coach not only scheduled my runs, but also my cross-training days as well as my rest days. They also use a “blue dot” system. If you complete your daily goal you get a blue dot, if you don’t then you get a red dot. And much like grade school, nobody wants any red marks on their record.
One unexpected thing came out of my coaching experience – I started to enjoy yoga! I’ve never been into yoga before because it takes a lot of focus. But since I was already sticking to a plan I wanted to challenge myself to a new activity. I also knew that I would be doing longer runs and I wanted to get in more stretching and breathing. So on most of my cross-training days I chose yoga as my exercise. The kids even joined a couple of times! 😉 I really felt like I was getting stronger throughout the weeks as I was able to hold poses for longer periods of time.
Coach Fiona also wrote in some encouraging messages along the way and asked how I was feeling a couple of times. She also adjusted my plan when I let her know that I was actually running a 10k on one of my scheduled off days.
After a couple of weeks she began adding in a few more challenging runs. Like asking me to run my last mile faster than the previous mile or incorporating some interval training and longer runs into my routine. I liked that this happened gradually so that I wasn’t overwhelmed right away.
So how much does this whole shindig really cost? There are different Coaching Levels and packages that range in price from $59-$199, but you could do a personal coaching plan for as low as $49 per month. Would I pay this? Meh..for me personally, probably not as there are many free running plans available online and on Pinterest. However, if I were super competitive or just had no idea where to start with running, then I would be all over this.
There were also two things that I thought could be improved in the system: 1. It would be more convenient if there was an “add to calendar” option when the coach texts the daily goal to you. 2. The coach uploaded my weekly plan every Sunday or Monday. I would have preferred to know my schedule more in advance – perhaps every two weeks rather than each week.
Did I enjoy my overall experience? Absolutely! I loved the accountability! Some days I didn’t want to run, but knowing that Coach Fiona was “watching” gave me the boost to get it done! I also wanted to see how many blue dots that I could get in a row and wanted as little red dots as possible. I think this online coaching system is great, but just like any new program or product, there are always kinks that need to be worked out. I’m just glad I was able to meet my goals while running with the kiddos! 🙂
You can try Ekiden for yourself and save a little by using code “BibRave16”. This will give you a free month of training when you purchase three months! How’s that for swag?!
What do you think? Have you tried a running coach? Do you think online coaching is effective?
Can’t wait to review the next product!