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Want to Become a Certified Running Coach? A Look at 4 Certification Programs

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a look at 4 certification programs to become a running coach Want to Become a Certified Running Coach? A Look at 4 Certification Programs www.runnerclick.com

Whether you want to up your running game, provide knowledge to others, make a little extra cash or you just love to see how many letters you can attached around your name,  being a certified running coach is feasible for most anyone who has some time and a little cash saved up. You may be asking yourself these questions…

What exactly do you need and what is required to ensure I am certified?
How much money does it cost?
Are there prerequisites?
How much time will it take to complete?
Which certification should I choose?

Not all are created equal and not each will satisfy all your certification needs. Here’s what you need to know about a few programs to help you make the best decision.

Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Coaching Certification Program

The RRCA Coaching Certification Program is probably the most well-known coaching program. The organization has been around for 30 years and seeks to educate coaches as well as ensure principled actions in their endeavor. A lot of focus of the RRCA program is safety, using smart training plans to ensure minimal injuries. With this coaching program you have a two level coaching option.


Level l is ideal for people who want to run (wink) a running club or training programs. This is a 16 hour, 2-day, in person course.  Your test to complete your Level I is online and must be taken within 30 days, but the course cannot be completed online. Assuming you pass, which is a score of 85% or higher, you’ll need to provide proof of a First Aid class and hands-on CPR class within 60 days of your RRCA course. The final step is registering yourself in the RRCA database then you’ll be added to the public listing of coaches and get your mailed certificate! It is your responsibility to maintain your First Aid and CPR certfications current and noted in the RRCA database to maintain your certification as well as any other personal information.

Level ll’s application is more in depth with a larger focus in the science aspects, both physical and mental, and delves deeper into the business administration from a client perspective. Level l must be completed and held for at least one year to be eligible for the Level ll option.

United Endurance Sports Coaching Association (UESCA) Running Coach Certification

This online course is one of the more time-friendly courses out there. From the day you sign up, you have one full year to take your final exam. Meaning you can have a life, too! This certification is mostly focused in the scientific aspect of running and how to properly apply it to training. Like the RRCA certification you will need to provide proof of an active CPR certification at the time you sit for the final online 150 question exam.  Your course is broken down into modules that in total take less than 25 hours to complete. A score of 80% or higher is considered a passing grade.

Unlike some certifications the UESCA does not require Continuing Education Credits to maintain your certification. Instead, they require the coach to write a paper every two years based on scientific factors, meaning no blogs or opinion articles. The paper could make or break some people’s decision to utilize this course.

North American Academy for Sport Fitness Professionals (NAASPF) Certification

This thorough module based course is specifically designed for people who would like to have a coaching certification for a particular specialty.  There are three options and the distinction is determined by your experience in each:  Marathon Running Coach (1 full marathon and 2 half marathons completed), Running Coach (experienced runner) and Walking Coach (experienced long distance walker).

You must be 18 years old and be able to provide first aid and CPR certifications.  The modules are broken out into a written exam, a case study, your first aid & CPR certifications and a practical. This course can range at minimum from 22 weeks up to 2 years if you need to take that amount of time to complete. The cost can be paid in full or can be broken out as you progress through the modules which can be helpful for those on a budget. This education ranges from fundamentals to the business aspect of coaching.

USA Track & Field (USATF) Coaching Education

Another well-known organization and certification program designed for parents, volunteers, officials and coaches of athletes younger than collegiate age. Their base program is a fundamentals course.  You must be 18 years old. This course is one of the more affordable courses at $65 with the USATF discount and can be completed all online. The time estimate is 2-3 hours for an average adult learner. Not only do you become certified with USATF, you also will be certified with the National Federation of High Schools advances USATF courses, have interscholastic employment certification needs or access to a wide variety of tools to assist in hosting a track event. The course is hosted by two Olympians and passing depends on the successful completion of competency quizzes.

Most of these courses also are continuing education providers for a variety of organizations. These are only a sampling of the courses out on the market. The best place to start is to formulate your end goal and seek out the most reputable organization geared directly towards your end goal.

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