Expert Pro Run Coach vs ChatGPT AI: Who’s Better?

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In the world of run training, the battle lines between old-school human coaching and high-tech AI guidance are drawn. While AI brings the big guns with its data-crunching skills, delivering precision and convenience, it can’t quite replicate the human touch. Coaches are like those wise sheriffs in Western movies who read the room, adapt on the fly, and truly get the emotional lay of the land. They tailor training to the oscillation of life—your feelings, your crazy schedule, the things you don’t even think to quantify. So, in this digital age, what’s a runner to do? Jump on the bandwagon of Team AI, or stick with the experience and wisdom of a personalized training plan? Let’s find out which is best.

What is AI Coaching, and Why Use It?

Strap on a smartwatch, and bam—you’re in the middle of an AI training revolution. These gadgets gobble up your personal stats and spit out training plans faster than you can say, “Hold my water bottle.” The best part? AI doesn’t slack off. It doesn’t forget. It’s like having a coach who never sleeps, constantly tuned into your needs, optimizing your training so every run is as effective as a double espresso gel of efficiency.

Why It’s Important to Integrate AI in Your Running

Hooking up with AI can feel like you’ve got a crystal ball showing how your fitness will evolve. It predicts, it adapts, and it learns (kinda) from your every move. This isn’t just about avoiding injury, burnout and illness; it’s about getting a leg up by leveraging the strengths and spotlighting the weaknesses that even the most seasoned coach might miss.

Implementing AI in Your Current Training

You can do one of two things or even a combination of both.

AI Journey One: Use an LLM chat-based app (Chat GPT, etc.)

LLMs are the name for all of the chat-based apps that feel like magic. Chat GPT, Google Gemini, Claude and more are great, as they have been trained on some really dense data sets. They have all the knowledge of articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, courses, and running and running science studies. This is great for you as it’s like a personalized Google search, and they can all spin up training plans, recommendations and suggestions.

While this seems like a no-brainer, all these apps must be prompted correctly. Prompting is just the act of telling it what to do. Think briefing a junior level person to do a task. The better you prompt, brief and/or prepare the person, the better the outcome. You need to know how to ask the right questions and tell them to give you the format that suits you best. This requires a few iterations and some patience. It’s not magic and can’t read your mind. This is dangerous (see next section on this).

AI Journey Two: Use your smartwatch coach insights (Garmin, Coros, Apple Watch, etc.)

Start by syncing your smartwatch with a killer AI app. These platforms get to work analyzing your pace, heart rate, and how much you were breathing during that hill sprint, offering up some tailored advice that’s all about you. Here’s how to turn your routine into a data-driven powerhouse:

  1. Data-Driven Workouts: Before you lace up, check what your digital guru suggests based on your latest stats.
  2. Recovery Insights: Got a wearable? Let it peek into your sleep and recovery. It’s like having a coach who whispers, “Hey, maybe take it easy today,” based on cold, hard data. Think Garmin’s “Recovery hours” recommendations post-workout.
  3. Progress Tracking: Dive into those reports. Watching your progress unfold can be as satisfying as nailing that new PR.

If you can, combine the two journeys to give you a holistic approach to your data. As of the time of writing, no LLM can connect to your smartwatch. I’m sure it will come in the future.

The Dark Sides of AI (Not just Arnold Terminator Stuff)

AI, like humans, has its limits. First, overloading on tech can make you tune out your body’s signals and early warnings.

Second, the data is only as good as the data it munches on, so it can choke up and make critical mistakes, especially if your lifestyle doesn’t fit the mold (pun intended). It’s usually based on an “average person”, which is the sum of all humans. Ironically, most humans don’t fall in the average and could be slight outliers, proving the suggestions and insights flat-out wrong.

And privacy—these devices know more about you than your mom. Try to only give your data to reputable companies that take your privacy and data seriously and hopefully won’t sell it off to third-party companies.

See how AI stacks up to a real human pro running coach

When you weave AI into your training fabric, you’re supercharging your runs with tech-savvy insights that make sure you’re not just running hard but running smart. As advancements in running technology progress, your approach to training should evolve as well. AI provides a multifaceted platform that bolsters your running capabilities and enriches your overall lifestyle.

Are you prepared to leverage AI to not just improve your running stats but also enhance your well-being and fulfilment as a runner? What immediate, actionable step could you take today to initiate this transformative journey?

For your informative and entertaining purposes, we went one step further and had a showdown between a real human pro running coach and part-time co-host of this podcast, Mike Trees (aka @run.nrg on Instagram). We gave him and Chat GPT two different runners and had both of them asses, give training plans, and feedback on what the runners can do to reach their goals.

Please listen to or watch the video at the top of this post or below during your next workout or run.

Episode Timestamp Learnings

  • [00:00] Introduction to the AI vs. Human coaching debate
  • [05:15] Case study: 22-year-old male sprinter transitioning to a half marathon
  • [12:34] Analysis of the training plan for the young male runner
  • [20:00] Insights on the limitations and benefits of AI in running coaching
  • [23:04] Case study: 50-year-old female runner aiming for a sub-four-hour marathon
  • [30:59] Evaluation of the training plan for the mature female runner
  • [33:22] Comparison of AI-generated plans and human coaching strategies
  • [34:34] Discussion on the importance of holistic training approaches
  • [37:23] Key takeaways on leveraging AI in running training
  • [39:00] Closing remarks and acknowledgments

Links & Further Learnings

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