The coach

David Chalfen

distance running coach David ChalfenDavid is a runner with over 30 years experience, and  more than a decade in coaching with a focus on longer distances.  Qualified at Level 4 (Performance - 10k to Marathon) within UK Athletics coaching system, and at Level 3 in Strength and Conditioning, he has extensive and diverse practical experience to support the formal qualifications.  Since 2009 he has worked as one of ten England Athletics Area Coach Mentors in Endurance, covering the North and East London, Hertfordshire and Essex area. This involves mentoring a group of experienced coaches and providing Flying Coach visits in the region

His book 'Improve Your Marathon and Half Marathon Running' was published by Crowood in September 2012 and has been added to the England Athletics recommended reading list for endurance coaches and runners.  Four times Olympic and World Championships marathoner Dan Robinson said of the work 'His dynamism and expertise come across brilliantly in this extremely well written, useful and entertaining book'. The world renowned 'bible' of athletics, Athletics Weekly, reviewed the book with Its pages cover everything you need to know in your quest for that perfect half or full marathon. The contents are easy on the eye....very useful, giving practical implications of the training paces and schedules, cross training, physical conditioning, nutrition, injury factors and information for veteran runners.’ While British world class endurance coaching guru Bud Baldaro commented 'Well planned and well written, this will add significantly to the required reading of road running'.  David believes a commissioned and well praised book is worth a thousand tweets, which is 999 tweets more than he has yet achieved. In Spring 2013 he became The Guardian's marathon coach for its popular online blog His second book for Crowood, with a 5k and 10k focus, will be published in September 2014.

He is also supported by England Athletics on the National Coach Development Programme, one of about 30 endurance coaches in England who are mentored by the leading elite coaches in the UK. 

As a runner he achieved a 2.32 marathon and 10 sub-2.35s.  He is a member of Serpentine Running Club and is part of the club's well organised progress towards being one of the country's leading long distance squads.

In a professional capacity, he has picked up much best practice from working on Sport England’s and UK Sports World Class Programmes that support elite British sport.

To complement his coaching commitments, he has managed numerous elite runners, both African professionals and GB internationals, at big city marathons such as Berlin, Istanbul, Seville and Odense. He once hosted recently deposed World Marathon Record Holder, Patrick Macau (2.03.37!) at his house though claims no direct influence on this athlete beyond giving him two chilled lagers and a chauffeur service to Finsbury Park station. He has also acted as National Team Manager for an England Marathon Team competing in Denmark.

He says:-

    - By a mixture of luck and design my early running, from age 14 was with the mighty Shaftesbury Harriers and then 3 years at Oxford University Cross Country Club where my 'achievements' included being not good enough to get near Blues level and struggling with TS Eliot. But I had the running bug far more embedded than any actual athletic ability, and I stuck to the task and was pleased to earn some Middlesex vests in my late 20s. I am continually entertained by reading of other coaches with a website presence who despite running slower than I ever did have awarded themselves borderline-elite status that is otherwise elusive to track down.

    I started coaching 13 years ago after over twenty years of training and racing through the age groups. As a self-coached runner I was always very keen to put in plenty of miles but underachieved through not training smartly enough and not having an objective external guide to shape the training and recovery as sensibly as it could have been. I made the typical errors of neglecting almost all non-running preparation to focus solely on getting the miles done.

      The progress made by the runners I continue to coach as a volunteer in the traditional club environment led me to extend the coaching commitments via this website. In varying and sometimes unpredictable ways, the technical knowledge and experience I have developed with some quicker runners is applied effectively to runners of all levels.

    I also provide running programmes that dovetail with triathlon training programmes, with a balanced running plan to combine with the cumulative training load of the swimming and cycling commitments.  With the growth in ultra distance running, and the longer term ambitions of some of my most ambitious runners, I am developing my knowledge and application of best practice in ultra marathons as well.

    I stress variety and progression across the programme so that, whilst one can never avoid doing the underpinning volume and regularity to make progress, there are an infinite range of different ways of structuring the training sessions to achieve the required physical challenge. Or to quote the coach of the GB Olympic medal-winning Hockey squad "If variety is the spice of life then repetition is the porridge"

Photo -  Maren Urner