How To Choose A Running Coach

Running is one of the most convenient of all sports.

All you need is a pair of running shoes and of you go.

But things may get a little bit complicated once you start getting serious about your training.

In fact, even the most hard-working runners are prone to performance plateaus, injuries, and lack of drive from time to time.

One thing you can to help you avoid these obstacles is to hire a running coach.

In fact, whether you’re taking up running for the first time or are training for your 11th marathon, working with a qualified running coach can help you reach your goals.

A good one can help you design a personalized training plan that will help you realize your true potential as a runner.

Would you like to learn how to choose a coach for your running efforts?

Then keep on reading.

In today’s article, I’ll share with you my best guidelines and tips on how to pick the right running coach for your fitness level and training goals.

Sounds great?

Let’s get started.

What is A Running Coach?

Hearing the words “running coach” may seem foreboding to some runners.

In fact, most assume that only elite athletes making a living from the sport should hire a coach.

Couldn’t be further from the truth.

In reality, a running coach is just someone who instructs you on how to run right.

More specifically, a running coach is hopefully a certified professional who has trained and passed an examination of different topics related to human performance such as physiology, anatomy, biomechanics, nutrition and exercise science in general.

Most running coaches either offer training and communication in person (preferred) or using phone, Skype, email, or other online outlets.

They can provide personalized workouts, balance, advice, structure, accountability, and race strategy—all of which can help make the most out of your miles.

A running coach’s responsibilities will vary depending on the level of service and support you’re looking for.

Most simply offer a basic training program devised around your fitness level and goals.

Other services may include:

  • Diet advice
  • Cross-training and strength training guidelines
  • Mobility and stretching guidelines
  • Weekly check-ins

Is hiring a running coach the right move for you?

Let’s look into some of the reasons you should work with a running coach and then explain how you can find and choose the right running coach for you.

Design A Proper Plan

Working with a running coach helps you come up with an individualized training plan.

This is key for achieving your performance goals in a safe and systematic way.

Personalized Plans

There are thousands of free plans on the internet that cater to both beginner and advanced runners, but these tend to be too generic.

They don’t account for your unique fitness level, diet habits, personal preferences, and history.

But when you hire a coach, they’ll take into account your individual situation then build your training program around it.

Improved Performance

Improving your running performance is all about improving on a number of performance variables such as lactate threshold, maximum oxygen consumption, running speed, and running economy, running technique—just to mention a few.

That’s a lot to cover.

I know.

A coach can help you improve in these vital areas, speeding up your progress.

Hold You Accountable

Getting good at running takes time.

To see results, you’ll have to commit yourself for the long term.

Results don’t happen overnight, in weeks, or even in a few months.

Consistency makes running goals a reality, and a qualified coach can help be more consistent with your training as they’ll play a key role in keeping your spirit high, especially during low moments of training.

The Downside

Hiring a running coach might be expensive.

In fact, expect to pay upwards of 200$ (or more depending on the service) a month, which can be a little too pricey.

It’s hard to justify such expenses when you’re not making money from the sport.

But hiring a coach doesn’t have spell disaster on your bank balance.

I’d recommend that you do your research and find the right coach for you.

Some charge a lot, whereas others charge quite less.

How Much Does A Qualified Running Coach Cost?

Again, it depends.

There’s in a one-formula-for-all for running coaches rates.

Even coming up with a rough estimate is tricky as it depends on what services you’re looking for and how experienced the coach is.

There’s no universal formula.

The ballpark figure seems to be roughly 70 to 100 usd a month.

But there are coaches charging far more than that and a few charging a lot less.

After all, it really depends on the services provided.

Your investment will ultimately depend on how much you can afford and the type of service—or level of support—you need.

Of course, I’m biased, but I strongly recommend every runner to consider getting a coach—a good running coach’s value is priceless.

Can’t afford a running coach?

It would be fantastic if we could all have a running coach who can help us master our technique and improve our training focus.

But, unfortunately, not everyone can afford one.

If that’s the case, then don’t lose hope.

There are many online resources as well as running apps that can give you a helping hand at little or no cost.

Some of these include:

  • Couch to 5K
  • Run Coach
  • Personal Running Trainer

How To Choose A Running Coach

Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty part: how you can actually pick the right running coach.

Know Your Needs

The first thing to consider when looking to hire a running coach is your fitness level and training goals.

It’s all about where you are and where you’d like to end up.

The rest is just details.

If you just took up running, hiring an Olympic-level running coach can do more harm than good.

Here’s the truth.

You don’t only need to hire a qualified coach, but also someone who understands your needs and suits your fitness level.

Instead of shooting for the stars, look for a running coach who has experience working with beginners and can understand the obstacles you’re trying to overcome.

As a beginner, your coach can help you do the following:

  • Decide your running goals,
  • Find the proper gear,
  • Improve your running technique,
  • Introduce you to the different types of runs and how to do them,
  • Clean up your diet,
  • And so much more.

More than likely, you find plenty of running coaches who cater to beginner runners, and getting them started on the right foot.

You just have to look hard enough.

Check Online

The best place to start your search for a running coach is online.

Here are a few online resources to check out:

  • The Road Runners Club of America website (RRCA.org). By clicking not the “Find A Coach” page and choosing your state, you can have instant access to certified running coaches in your area.
  • Road Runners Club of America – look through their database for RRCA accredited trainers.
  • USA Track and Field – The best source for USATF-certified coaches
  • Training Peak – a treasure trove database of certified coaches.

Ask The Right Questions

I hate to sound like a broken record, but….

It’s key to invest enough time (before investing money) researching and identifying running coaches whose expertise matches your needs and goals.

Once you narrow down your list to a few candidates, reach out to them and start a conversation about their background and their training mindset to help you determine which one is more compatible.

To ensure you’re making the right decision, ask the following questions to potential candidates (remember, you’re the boss).

  • What’s your background as a coach?
  • What’s your coaching philosophy?
  • Can I meet you in person?
  • How do you motivate your runners?
  • How do you write training goals?
  • How do you set running goals?
  • What are your rates?
  • Do you offer packages?
  • What’s included and not included in the coaching packages?
  • What’s your schedule?
  • Do you have experience with cross-training?
  • Do you know how to pick the right shoes and gear?
  • Do you have a background in exercise science?

Check The Qualifications

You’d want to hire someone who knows what they’re doing.

Hiring the wrong (or unqualified) coach is not only a waste of money but also leaves you worse off than before.

Check the following condition to verify a coach.

The background. Check the coach’s background and then see if it suits your personal needs and goals.

As a rule, your coach should be accredited by one of the organized running organizations like the RCCA and USA Track and Field (USATF).

Use past client testimonials. Testimonials prove that a coach has helped other runners achieve success.

Come across a coach whose testimonials match up your expectations? You got a winner.

Trust. The whole coaching process only works when there’s trust between the coach and the coached.

Or else,  you’re less likely to follow their instructions

Style. If you can only work out three times a week, but your coach prescribes that you shoot for six sessions, then it might not be a good match.

This is especially the case if you have some running experience and know what works and what doesn’t for your body and injury history.

Go Online

One option in case you couldn’t find a coach to work with one on one to embrace the digital age and find one online.

Sure, an online running coach won’t provide you with the same hands-on guidelines and supports as an in-person coach can, but it beats not having a coach at all.

Conclusion

There you have it.

Today’s short article offers you the basic guidelines you need to help you understand why running coaches are important, as well as how to choose the right one for you.

Here’s the thing.

I believe that runners of all levels can benefit from the guidance, motivation, and accountability that comes with hiring a running coach.

Sure, not every runner NEEDS a coach, but having one is a great training tool.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of options out there, and you don’t have to feel married to any running coach.

Look at what you want to improve, your budget, and start sifting through for your ideal coach.