Finding A Running Coach
As runners, we know that we need to dig deep within ourselves to power through each run. It is us ourselves that put in the hard work to later see the rewards—whether it’s weight loss, increase of fitness, or crushing new running goals. But having someone else on our team, a running coach, can take our performance to a whole new level.
Many might think that running coaches are reserved for the professionals. Behind every Olympian or professional runner is a coach that helped train them properly to reach their specific goals. These include the greats like Bill Bowman, Arthur Lydiard, and Jack Daniels— just to name a few.
But everyday runners don’t need to hire a Joe Vigil in order to have their very own coach. There are countless certified running coaches that are knowledgeable in the sport to help runners reach their potential.
Why Hire A Running Coach?
There are many reasons why both beginners and more established runners should consider finding a coach to have in their corner. Here are the top reasons:
First and foremost a running coach helps to keep a runner accountable. There is a better chance a person would get out there and run if they knew they had to report back. Some coaches offer a remote program, but others actually show up to the track to run alongside their clients or time them. Regardless of their approach, the runner probably gets all their planned workouts since they leave like they have to.
Running coaches often send weekly assignments dealing the planned runs for the week. This is generally based off of goals such as being able to run a mile non-stop to crushing a new half marathon PR. The types of runs like pace and distance vary on said goals. But with a coach’s expertise, they tailor a workout plan to help the runner meet their goals.
The Right Training
Having a coach means that the runner will be able to increase their performance in multiple ways. Besides having a personalized plan, a coach provides the right type of training. This includes teaching proper form, which then can reduce the risk of injury. It also includes learning how to manage the mileage without overuse and learning the importance of recovery and nutrition.
Often a running coach becomes a friend. Not only do they provide motivation to a runner, but they also offer support. Many genuinely care about their clients and lifelong friendships are born.
Runners get to tap into the mind of someone who knows their way around the sport and down the road to success. Having a coach helps runner reach their goals, becoming more fit, faster, and building endurance. It’s always a great idea to have a mentor in whatever we are passionate about, so having a running coach is a great idea.
Running Coach Certifications
Not all coaches are made alike. Some are strict and can be cold, while others are energized, warm and bubbly. Some offer remote coaching, some show up for every run with their clients, and some offer a mix of both. The biggest tip to know about choosing a running coach is to make sure they are certified to be one. A runner doesn’t want to take instruction from someone who doesn’t know any real science behind the sport.
Running coaches should be certified by the USA Track & Field or Road Runners Club of America.
The Road Runner Club of America (RRCA) is the most well-known coaching program. An RRCA-certified coach knows how to train runners to prevent injury and help them reach their potential. There are two levels of certification through this program. Level I consist of a 2-day course with a test as well as a CPR class. These coaches need to keep their First Aid and CPR certifications updated. Level II focuses more on the physical and mental science behind coaching as well as the business perspective.
There are other programs like the North American Academy for Sports Fitness Professionals Certification, which is ideal for coaches with a specialty like a marathon coaching, and the United Endurance Sports Coaching Association Running Coach Certification, an online course that also requires CPR certification and an exam.
How To Find A Running Coach
The RRCA has a public database for all running coached that are certified via its program. This is a great tool for those looking to hire a running coach. The only problem is that it might be hard to find the right fit. Runners might need to go through a few different coaches before finding one they like.
The best way to find a running coach is by word of mouth. This is where having friends who run or participating in a running club really pays off. Chances are they know a coach who has helped them or someone they know. Local running groups are often led by certified running coaches who are looking to get more people in a specific community into running. Some groups have a fee, while others are free. One-on-one coaching outside of the group probably costs an separate fee.
Facebook and other social media sites are another way to find a running coach. Become members of local running groups and like local running pages and start connecting with others.
Tips To Finding The Best Fit
The worse case is that the runner really isn’t getting along with their coach. Their job is to push the runner and help them achieve what they detail their goals to be. But sometimes their approach, personality or training methods aren’t aligned with our expectations, core values, or overall vibe. If the shoe doesn’t fit, break it off and look for someone else.
A running coach should at the bare minimum guide the runner through their training plan, offering tips and advice along the way. They should be there to answer questions and provide a source of inspiration.
Here are some tips for finding a good running coach:
- Make sure they are certified and have running experience.
- Know what you are looking for in a coach and what you are not. (You may not want to be woken up at 5 a.m. to be told to run, but may want someone who allows for texting when an issue or concern comes up).
- Check out a few running groups. Go for runs with a few people and a few coaches. Scout them before inquiring and see if you could envision them helping in your own performance.
How Much A Running Coach Costs
At the end of the day, a running coach is providing a service. And they deserve to be paid for it. The amount they ask for their service varies. Some offer free group weekly runs but charge for individual training programs. This can range anywhere from $50 to $100 for 8-week programs.
Others charge $85-$100 for monthly training on average. In comparison, some personal trainers charge $50 per hour. Some have an hourly rate of about $25-$50 per hour.
The amount has to do with how much of their time and services are offered. Some running coaches do unlimited emails, weekly phone calls. Others include a basic strength training program to supplement running. There are some who train for specific events, whereas others are just for form and injury prevention.
Think of hiring a running coach as having a personal trainer at the gym. But this person should help the runner improve on their endurance and speed, as well as provide them with all the tools needed to become a better runner. The rest of the work is up to the runner.
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