Running Coach Certifications: How To Become A Certified Running Coach
Are you thinking about getting your certification to become a running coach? Four primary programs can help you achieve that goal.
Let’s get prepared for a deep dive into the world of coaching.
1. Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Coaching Certification Program
The most well-known of the four coaching programs, RRCA has been around for a long time. Their primary goal is to educate coaches on running techniques and skills and on training in a smart manner to help athletes avoid injury. This coaching program has two levels.
Level 1 is for individuals who want to organize and facilitate a running club or training program. The actual course is a 2-day course taught in 16 hours.
If you pass the course by scoring an 85% or higher, you need to also take classes in both First Aid and CPR within so many days of finishing your RRCA coursework.
After completing those additional steps, you can become added to the RRCA database of available certified coaches. The coach is tasked with maintaining his or her certifications to stay coaching eligible.
Level 2 training goes into the scientific aspects, both physical and mental, of the sport. In addition, it has the participant learning about the business administration side of things.
You have to have been a level one coach for at least one year before taking the Level 2 class.
2. United Endurance Sports Coaching Association (UESCA) Running Coach Certification
Done completely online, the UESCA is a favorite of people who want flexibility. Participants have a full year to take the final examination after starting the class.
Focused on the scientific aspects of running, this certification also has the coach taking CPR before receiving certification. The class is broken down into modules that take approximately 25 hours to complete and culminate with a 150 question exam.
The UESCA does not require the coach to engage in formal professional development to stay certified; rather, the coach must write and submit some paper every two years. The paper has to be based on scientific factors.
3. North American Academy for Sport Fitness Professionals (NAASPF) Certification
If you wonder if there is a certification out there geared toward a specific activity, NAASPF is the one. There are options based on the coach’s experience as a runner.
One is for a marathon running coach, and the person taking the class has to have run at least one marathon and two half marathons to qualify. The running coach requires you to be an experienced runner but does not quantify that in any way. Likewise with the walking coach certification: you just need to be an experienced long-distance walker.
Participants need to be at least 18 and provide proof of having taken both first aid and CPR. Also done in online modules, they are broken down for the person taking the class.
The course can easily be done in 22 weeks; however, you have up to 2 years to complete the requirements from the day you start.
4. USA Track & Field (USATF) Coaching Education
The USATF coaching program is the most affordable and takes the least amount of time, estimated at taking 2-3 hours for the average adult to complete. The participant can complete the entire course online.
This is the route high school coaches choose since many of them have sport-specific experience and are already employed working with teenagers.
Want to Become a Certified Coach?
Certified Coaches’ Advice & Tips
Lauren Sheu of Running For Wellness
“I was certified through the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA). I highly recommend this certification program – it is highly comprehensive and ensures that you are equipped to coach athletes in a safe and effective way.
Carrie Miller of On Pace Running
“I have two certifications: RRCA and USATF. I’d recommend the RRCA but probably not the USATF as that was more track-based and very broad. I do not have additional training in these related areas, but I have a partner who is trained in nutrition to offer that to our clients.
I feel that I could do some research and find out quite easily how to get trained in other areas if I wanted to do that. Lastly, if I were giving advice to someone looking to start a coaching business, I would advise getting additional training on running a business and marketing. I have an MBA, and my undergrad is business, so this works in my favor.”
Evan Wood of Just Another Running Coach
“I went through the RRCA Level I Certification course. It was a weekend intensive in which all of the fundamentals were covered: how to communicate effectively and respectfully to our athletes, how to build safe and effective training plans, and how to run our business, among other things.
Chris Bailey of Without Limits Charleston
“I have an RRCA Level 1 certification and a USATF Level 3 Endurance certification. If a coach wants to take one certification course that is geared towards long-distance running and adult runners, I would recommend RRCA. However, if the coach plans to coach at the high school or college level and/or intends to seek higher-level certifications, I would recommend USATF. With USATF, I first took Level 1, which provides a very surface-level introduction to all track and field disciplines.
However, the subsequent Level 2 and Level 3 certifications allow you to specialize in a specific event group. My specialization has been in Endurance, covering events from 800m to the marathon. The level 2 and 3 courses were great in-depth learning and networking opportunities.
Whitney Heins Of
Picking the Right Certification Program for YOU
When looking through the options for candidates to get their running coach certification, many options are out there. Choosing the best option for you is not a simple task.
If you are hoping to get the certification done in one fell swoop, the RRCA may be the one to go for. You are all in for an entire weekend, then it is done.
If you are looking for an entirely online option, choose NAASFP because of the flexibility in the programming. Unlike the UESCA version, you do not have to do a research-based writing project every couple of years to maintain certification.
You need to dig into the choices and make the choice that is best for you. Just like the running programs are unique, so is a perspective coaches’ needs and what will work best.
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