The internet has allowed more runners to work with coaches and for more people to become coaches themselves. Just like runners, the story behind each coach is different. The how and why they decided to coach, their training philosophies, and how they see their role in the coach-athlete relationship differ among each.
Salty Running contributors have appeared as guests on the DizRuns podcast, and when host Denny Krahe announced he was publishing a new kind of training guide, it seemed like a great time to flip the conversation around to him to find out about his secret coaching sauce.
Chicory: Tell me about your running background.
Denny: I didn’t care for running when I was younger — I played other sports. I grew up in Michigan and came to Florida for college. We’d go run the lake nearby, three miles. I’d do it begrudgingly. My wife was more of a runner. She’d run ahead, and then run back. But eventually it got to be more and more of a thing. I was working as a trainer at Middle Tennessee, where I worked with the track team. I was going to meets and being around runners.
Running just became something that I didn’t hate. Now I couldn’t imagine life without it!
In 2009, we moved back to Lakeland, Florida, after I finished graduate school. I thought to myself I should run the Disney half, but it was sold out. The full was still open, though, and I thought to myself if I waited until next year I’d probably forget! The Disney marathon was my first race longer than a fun run 5k.
I did it, said I would never do it again, and then did it again. 2010 was the officially start of me being a real runner, and I’m working on running a marathon in all 50 states. I also ran my first 50k in March.
Chicory: Wow! Another adult-onset runner. Given that you haven’t been a runner very long, but you have a background in athletic training — how did you decide to go into coaching?
Denny: I was doing athletic training full-time until 2012. I was also a physical therapy contractor for a theme park, providing preventative care for entertainers. Then I went into personal training exclusively for about a year and a half. But with personal training, the hours are always before and after work, because that’s when people can come, and that didn’t work with my family.
I asked myself what can I do that is different? I started a podcast talking about health and fitness, and I had my own running blog. I wondered, what if I did a show where I talk to people like we’re out on a run? And the DizRuns podcast was born.
Chicory: Okay, pause. Why Diz?
Denny: I’ve been “Diz” to most of my friends since my college years.
Chicory: Okay. Continue!
Denny: People started asking if I did coaching, and I was turning them down because I didn’t have a coaching certification. I looked into the certification and realized it wasn’t any different that my graduate coursework.
I started working with my first coaching clients in August 2014, and I’ve slowly built it up from there.
Chicory: Who are your coaching influences?
Denny: Definitely Matt Fitzgerald and his “80/20” method. I had him on the show a couple of years ago. Most runners do their easy runs too hard and their hard runs too fast. With my clients, heart rate monitoring is my preference. We also use perceived exertion and the talk test, plus communication with my athletes to know how a workout felt. A lot of my coaching is getting them to slow down and then go hard enough on the hard days. The target keeps moving as you get fitter.
Chicory: So what would you consider a signature workout?
Denny: The 5k time trial. It’s great for folks who don’t race often or just run longer races. It’s a good indication of fitness, and it helps us determine paces for workouts and easy runs.
Chicory: How do you interact with your clients?
Denny: I primarily have two groups. I have my one-to-one clients and I have the Coterie, which is a hybrid of individual and group coaching.
Pretty much everything happens on Google Drive. Everyone gets a spreadsheet. There’s a tab for each month, and a tab for notes. I check the sheet three times a week for feedback. Clients get their training program two weeks at a time. My one-to-one clients can also text and call me. I’m always working to make it better.
Chicory: And you’ve recently launched a book for people who aren’t ready to take the full coaching plunge.
Denny: If there’s one thing I’m not a fan of, it’s one-size-fits-all training plans. I don’t know why we’ve bought into this idea. We’re all unique. We all have our different needs, our different preferences, different components of our lives that have to be balanced. If you want to get the best out of yourself, it’s my belief that you need a training plan that’s designed for you.
And sure, that’s a bit selfish since I coach. So I wanted to write a book that would fill that gap. Maybe hiring a coach isn’t in your budget, but you can afford a book that’ll explain to you how to structure your own training plan.
Chicory: You’re a runner, father, coach, podcast host, and now an author! What’s a typical day or week behind the scenes for you?
Denny: For anyone running their own business, there’s no “typical.” On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I start with client check-ins, writing plans, answering questions, looking at watch data. The DizRuns podcast also goes out those days. On a good week, the show for Monday has been prepped before Monday.
Interviews for the podcast vary — one week I’ll have five, and the next week I won’t have any.
Then whatever time is left is business time. Social media stuff, my website, reading books and learning things, taking courses … I’m also part of a group with other running coaches to share ideas.
And I have five personal training clients three nights a week. Working on the book has been a big part of the past few months.
Outside of those days — toss the dice. I do try to run four or five days a week.
Denny’s book, Be Ready on Race Day, is available for pre-order. You can order a copy or listen to his podcast on his website, DizRuns.com. While you’re there, check out interviews with Pesto, Catnip, Cinnamon, Salty, Chicory, and come along on a group Saltine run on episodes 362, 374, 383, 387, 402, 404, and 411!
What do you look for in a coach?