Training in Lockdown
At the end of the 2019 season, Karl Zeiner (head coach from DeZeiner Fitness) asked to write a testimonial. I have been working with Karl for some years now, and 2019 was a good year. I completed Marbella Ironman 70.3 improving my time from previous year in Barcelona. After this event, I switched training to hill running, completing my first ultramarathons: Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra, and Jedburgh Three Peaks ultramarathon. There is no doubt that Karl has played a very important role in this year. I am an average individual trying to do triathlons and ultramarathons, and Karl has been able to place me with my maximum potential at the start line.
However, I would say that there is no a big ‘challenge’ when you are working on perfect conditions: a very motivated individual, no restrictions on outdoor training, and fully access to leisure facilities (pool, gym, physio, etc.). With recent lockdown conditions, staying at home and isolation brings particular challenges, when I was used to daily training sessions. In addition, motivation hits rock bottom when all summer events are cancelled, and you can see how fitness level is going down week by week.
In these circumstances, Karl has shown that he is not an ordinary endurance coach. Lockdowns are slowly lifting, and I would say that my fitness level has not been dented much thanks to the professionalism of Karl, who has kept us on our toes, despite the challenges. As always, he has been very approachable, ready to listen, reflect and come back with the optimal solution. And he has not stayed put with the ordinary schedule. He has gone beyond organising fun ‘virtual’ competition events with the training group, weekly zoom calls with everyone to stay in touch, and providing a diverse selection of training sessions from indoor rides to gym and yoga sessions.
Now, I am looking forward getting back to ‘normal’ training hours.
As a seasoned Marathon and Ultra runner I had looked to triathlon two years ago as the next logical step for me, and as my running club had a Tri sister club I was able to tap into some support and guidance as I entered some local sprint events. An entry into the inaugural Edinburgh 70.3 saw me huff and puff around the course as a finisher in just under 9 hours and realise I was going to need some help if I was to progress further in my new sport of choice. Karl was already coaching a few fellow club members who’s goals and times were clearly improving through Karl’s coaching methods, so it was an easy decision to make.
Karl’s initial consultation was an honest and constructive assessment of what was required to get me closer to my ultimate goal of getting to an Ironman start line. Nine months later and a tailored coaching plan and video swim analysis later saw me on the start line of Barcelona Ironman 2019 in a physical condition and with a quiet confidence that trusting Karl’s coaching ability had been critical in getting me there.
My overall time of 12 hours 21 minutes was an achievement that I never thought possible back in January so would have no hesitation in recommending Karl as a coach to anyone looking to improve and progress with a structured and tailored coaching plan that took into consideration my busy work / home life balance.
It doesn’t seem like seven years since I first trained with Karl in order to complete my first marathon at the age of 66, having only started serious running a short time earlier. Subsequently I decided that I would attempt a triathlon, quite an undertaking since, whilst I could just about get along swimming breast-stroke, freestyle swimming was a complete mystery to me. With personal coaching from Karl my swimming has come along in “leaps and bounds”.
Karl has guided me through sprints to middle distance triathlons with considerable success. Amongst the successes I have been British Champion for my age group in Middle Distance and runner up in Sprint Distance.
Almost 2 years ago I had a serious cycling accident leading to successful major surgery on my hip at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, which meant that I was unable to train for some time. Following recuperation I was able to re-start training again under Karl’s guidance and managed to complete four triathlons this season, 2019, including 2 middle distance a sprint distance and the Scottish Championship standard distance in which I became Scottish Champion in my age group.
I particularly like having the over- riding plan to enable me to reach my goals within triathlon but also allowing the flexibility to include other sporting activities, for example mountain biking and cycle sportives, which I particularly enjoy.
So what next? My intention is to continue to compete in triathlons, and to enjoy mountain biking and cycle sportives. I still have a number of goals in these areas and will work with Karl to try to achieve them!
Photo – Completing the Stafford Ironman 70.3
I have been fortunate to have benefited from Karl’s coaching over the last 3 years. I had competed in 2 Ironman events and a number of marathons and other events over the years and was seeking to improve on my PB’s and made the crucial decision to sign up with Karl’s coaching. We had an initial meeting and through detailed discussion and analysis he was able to identify specific key areas of improvement. He developed an effective plan and tailored this to suit my hectic home/ work life balance. One of the most important aspects of Karl’s coaching is the daily review and feedback he provides allowing plan adaption, thus avoiding training injuries and significantly following a serious bike crash only a few weeks before IM Barcelona he was able to guide me through a recovery phase when I genuinely thought it impossible. My Ironman times have now vastly improved from previous 12.30 to just over 10.30 and marathon PB well over 4 hours now at 3:29. His wealth of experience in multiple disciplines is invaluable and he has given me absolute confidence in my training and puts me on the starting line in optimum fitness and condition. I have been really impressed with Karl’s training and have no hesitation in continuing to recommend him to others as he supports me in achieving my next PB at IM Frankfurt 2020.
As a 72 year old, and not competing now, I know that it is very important to remain fit.
Karl laid out a simple and effective plan for me to reduce my ironman times from 13:37 at IM UK in 2013 to 10:57 at IM Copenhagen in 2014. In 2015 we switched objectives and he got me in shape for the Celtman! Extreme Scottish Triathlon. His wealth of experience in multiple disciplines really shines through and gives you total confidence in your training and fitness come race-day. His ability to fit work-outs into and around work/family/social commitments proved essential for me to sustain training over 3 years. I have total faith in recommending Karl to anyone who wants to get fitter or faster.
Mo and I have now been with Karl for three years. Originally this was to help us with training for our first marathon. We had asked him to help as we are both in our 60’s and had only come to running a few years ago. Following the successful completion of the marathon we have moved on to new challenges with Karl’s assistance. Over the last year Mo’s challenges were her first overseas marathon in Malta, her first cycle sportive and an open water swim. With Karl’s guidance she completed all these, coming second in her age group, over 65 women, in the marathon. The open water swim was the biggest challenge, whilst a competent pool swimmer open water had posed some problems as it does with even many more experienced swimmers. A week before the event, a ½ mile swim at Loch Lomond, Mo was very undecided but Karl persuaded her to have a go. On completion of the swim the smile on her face told it all, that smile was the highlight of my competitive year.
My own challenges have been the Malta marathon, only my second marathon and a personal best. In triathlon I did my first half ironman distance event, the Outlaw Half, which despite the weather I completed in sub 7 hours and was second over 65 male and the Helvellyn triathlon, the run comprised the ascent and descent of Helvellyn, which is over 3000 feet high.
Karl’s coaching has not only allowed us to complete the challenges he has also guided us to maintain or improve. For example our swim times have improved, which for us in our 60’s is extremely pleasing.
Next year with Karl’s continued guidance and coaching we will be looking for new challenges.
Karl took me from a very average 10k runner to not only a far better runner but an ultra-marathon runner in under three years. I blew away all my personal bests while training with Karl and had a seriously good time accomplishing goals I could only have dreamt of at the beginning. I live in Aberdeen which means almost all of our correspondence and planning was done over the internet. This was never a problem, and Karl was always available to chat over the phone if needed and even made detours while up this way to meet up and get some face-to-face training done. For anyone curious about Karl’s training style, I would have to describe it has thoughtful and determined; like any good coach he won’t let you quit easily. Sadly I couldn’t continue training with Karl forever but in the end, I accomplished a 39 minute 10k, a 1:35 hour half marathon, a 4:39 hour PB at the Glencoe Marathon (my first marathon) and another first with a time of 5:57:43 at the 37 mile (slightly longer that year) Speyside Way Ultra Marathon. I could not possibly be happier!
I started training with Karl at the end of 2013 at the end of my first season of triathlon, having completed only 2 novice and 2 sprint tris. My own training programme was high in volume but unfocussed. With Karl’s help I did a half Ironman in May 2014 and am now training for a full Ironman in Sept 2016. This year I did a second half IM, qualified for the European Championships next year in Standard distance and did the 2 day Coast to Coast adventure challenge. I have recently started regular coached swim sessions with Karl and find him an excellent coach, picking out one specific area to work on at a time, building up to an overall improvement in technique (though as a late learner I still have a long way to go). Karl plans my week carefully, taking into account all the other things going on in my life, and is quick to respond by email to any queries I may have. I am totally confident that with Karl’s help I will achieve my IM potential next year.
You are some kind of miracle worker.
DZFitness has helped me achieve endurance events with confidence. Karl has coached and helped me complete a number of triathlon and single sport events including my first ironman and ultra marathon. However he also gave invaluable advice and support in tackling more diverse races such as the Polar Circle Marathon – which involved running on the ice cap in Arctic conditions and mostly in crampons! Finished 8th female in that event and could have kept going – I have Karl to thank for that.
Karl has coached me for a number of years. I would thoroughly recommend his coaching. I would never, ever, have had the confidence to enter a marathon let alone an ironman race, without his belief in his ability to coach me to achieve my goals. He plans a bespoke training programme for each athlete’s goal(s) and provides constant feedback, friendship and advice while you are following the training. On race day you know for sure you have the ability and training behind you to have a successful day. Karl has coached me through my first marathon in Liverpool 2012, IM Austria 2013, IM Mallorca 2014 and IM UK 2015. Hmmmmm now what shall I enter?? Thanks Karl!
Woke early and had a small bowl of porridge, made my way to the start. Weather was good, light cold breeze. I started in the sub 3.50 catagory, and kept telling myself not to run to fast. Felt really good 5.12km pace, with 1m walking breaks at 19min. Through the first 10k in 54 min feeling great, enjoying the run. Gel taken at 1hr walk break. Through the half marathon in 1.54, and I am thinking I better watch I will die if I keep this pace up. But still feeling great so kept on at the same pace. Enjoying the crowd and the sunshine. At 20 mile 30 km still going strong 2.55. I am now thinking this last 10km is going to hurt…. and it did. Felt my pace drop, and had to add a few extra walk breaks but I still felt I was able to run past a lot of other runners. Felt no wall whatsoever, just a slight decrease in pace towards the end and a steady increase in my heart rate. The key new strategy for me was the walk breaks. Initially I was skeptical but I decided to trust Karl. This gave me a place to feed at and the mental resolve to stay strong, looking at my watch knowing I only had a small bit of time to run before my next break. In the last third I managed to run past many who were walking. I would recommend Karl if you want to take your race to the next level.
Karl helped me reduce my Sprint PB by over 10 minutes in 4 months. My 750m swim PB reduced by over 3 minutes. He also helped me to a second position overall at the 2013 Aviemore Cross-Country triathlon. “Thanks so much for your help in getting me this far, you have made an incredible differe
Karl took my goals and made them a reality, from back to middle then gaining some podium positions (a 2nd and 3rd), I qualified for Team GB Agegroup Champs. Thoroughly recommend his training plans and his enthusiasm. Many thanks Karl.
“Mo and I decided we would both like to do our first marathon, possibly not something usually done by a couple well into their sixties. We had both done races up to half marathons so had some idea of what to expect. However, partly because of our age, we asked Karl to assist. We knew him from Pentlands Triathletes so were aware of his expertise. We had about 4 months before our chosen event – the Lochaber marathon. We were supplied with individual programmes which gradually built us up to be able to complete the marathon. Karl also supplied advice and motivation. The programmes were excellent, it was always great to get out – even though training in the winter in the cold can be daunting. We both got through the programmes without any injuries, a real bonus as both of us have had any number of problems. The day of the race went really well in that we both completed Mo beneath her target time and me just above – own fault for going off much too fast. We are continuing to train with Karl’s help, as we now have new targets! We are not sure that we would have got to the start line without Karl’s help and would definitely recommend him as a coach.”
Karl coached me for 6 months in the lead up to the event providing a weekly training plan tailored to my existing strengths and weaknesses that fitted round my workload. In addition to the weekly training I also received feedback on other aspects of the event preparation including kit selection, nutrition and race day strategy which meant that everything went to plan on the day and the 6 months leading up to the race was probably my longest illness/injury free period ever. My confidence and fitness peaked at the right time as a result of the training, I was very pleased with my time which I would never have achieved training on my own.
“Karl has coached me for the last year to finish Challenge Henley, an ironman-distance triathlon in Henley on Thames. Previously I had prepared for a couple of half-ironman races on my own. And although I had finished I always felt that I should have done better. For Challenge Henley I therefore turned to Karl as a coach to get the right training for the long distance race fit in with a busy life. Karl not only provided me with a tailored weekly training plan. He managed to keep me injury free and set me up perfectly for all my milestones on the way to Henley. These races were great since I gained confidence and my mind was taken off the daunting task. I participated in the Heaven and Hell half marathon in Perth, the Clive’s Cumbrian Way cycle and Aberfeldy Middle Distance triathlon. I completely enjoyed participating in Challenge Henley and managed to finish in 12:02:46. Karl, thank you for the perfect preparation.”
“Karl has been coaching me for the last seven months. I had been taking part in triathlons for a couple of years when I decided I wanted to attempt a Half Ironman. Karl convinced me that this was feasible for a late forty something lady! With his programme specifically designed for me I had the confidence to tackle the training and kept the niggling injuries I had previously been bothered with at bay with conditioning and strength work as well as the swim, bike and run sessions. Karl encourages, inspires and gives people the confidence to tackle goals that may seem out of reach to us ordinary ‘never going to win’ athletes! I completed my race well within the time predicted or hoped for and I have decided to keep Karl as my coach as I’m addicted to having my training plan mapped out for me each week by someone whose advice I can trust. Who knows maybe Ironman (or woman) next!