I have mentioned a couple times on my blog that this year I started working with a running coach to help me reach my running goals. And since mentioning that, I have received some questions about what that’s like and how to find a coach.
The first thing I would say about having a running coach does not mean you now suddenly have some magical power to PR or BQ. That being said, since working with a coach I think I have become a stronger and smarter runner (and at times a faster one too!). For example, while I didn’t reach my time goal at my last marathon, I did run a strong race that I’m really proud of and before that I PR’ed at a local race (shaving 3 minutes off a 6 mile distance).
There are several reasons why I would recommend working with a coach. The first (and most important for me) is you have someone who will tell you no. I personally have the problem of doing too much. I will run fast everyday or run long distances everyday. My coach tells me no, don’t do that (so does my husband but I apparently don’t listen to him about running, sorry babe!).
Another reason a coach can be a benefit is that you will have training personalized to you. I let my coach know weekly how much workouts went, when I felt good, when I didn’t. He can then modify the next week’s workouts to reflect my current fitness levels. The online training plans you can download give you great plans and workouts. I used them for years and likely will again sometime in the future. But they cannot know exactly where you are as a runner and you might not know how to modify them to help you reach your goals.
Of course, having a coach costs money. So you have to decide if these benefits are worth that cost. If you decide to go this route, the next step is finding a coach.
Finding my coach was easy – he’s the coach of our running team. But I did talk to friends who had worked with him as individual coach to see what they thought of working with him. I also met with him to discuss my goals, how we would communicate, etc. For example, we both agreed that weekly emails where I give him a kind of report of my runs worked best for us. But others contact him more often. So other than cost, one thing you want to think about is how & when you will communicate with your coach.
Convinced that it’s time to start training with a coach? Remember you have lots of options and you don’t have to work with someone in your community. My training is pretty much all through email communication and long-distance training can work. But also if you need face-to-face training, take that into consideration. Make a list of what you want from a coach (goals, cost, communication). Then I recommend touching base with your local running community, who uses a coach and who do they work with will help you find the right person. But don’t be afraid to stop working with someone. If you don’t click, you don’t click and that could end up harming your running and reaching your goals.
Do you work with a running coach? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it?