Whether you’re a well-tuned veteran looking to shave seconds off your race time or a hobbyist seeking massive improvements, hiring a coach will shore up your skills as a runner.
Training on your own is tough. Mapping out a regime in a way that maximizes your efforts is virtually impossible. For one thing, you lack the expertise in running technique and physiology. Secondly, objectivity is non-existent when assessing your own performance. You’re either too hard or too easy on yourself.
Whereas, an outsider’s expert perspective offers accurate feedback and analysis of your running performance. From there, they’ll cater a personalized program to your fitness levels and overall goals.
Plus, a running coach will implement a variety of training methods – such as hills and tempo-runs – so that you’re ready for the next big race or trail run.
Are you interested in hiring a running coach?
Then read below and learn where and how to find one:
Don’t scour the ends of the earth for a running coach.
Start at your local specialty running store. Chances are, they host clinics and workshops for those interested in distances both short and long. Keep in mind, these aren’t always run by certified coaches. But, if you’re seeking basic tune-up tips and nothing too comprehensive, these workshops are your best bet.
Searching for Certification
You’ll have your pick of up to 700 certified coaches at the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA). There are state-by-state coach listings on their website. The USA Track & Field Association also has coaches with vast experience, but they’re focused mainly on high school and collegiate track & field events. While the skills do transfer to road running, it’s not necessarily ideal.
Finding a coach is like hiring anybody. They need to be the best fit for the job. Though, that doesn’t always mean the most qualified.
Here are the best questions to ask of potential coaches:
Q: Are you certified with the RRCA or USA Track & Field Association?
Keep in mind, while certification should undoubtedly play a part in your decision, certified coaches cost more money. As previously discussed, running store workshops aren’t necessarily instructed by certified coaches – but they’re cost-effective and helpful.
Q: Do you have a degree in physical education or exercise physiology?
Find out the highest running-adjacent degree your potential coach holds. If you’re competing at a high level, such expertise can make a huge difference.
Q: How much experience do you have? What kind of running have you coached?
Your coach might be more experienced with shorter distances or longer distance. Ensure their expertise aligns with your goals.
Q: How much will it cost?
Of course, your training sessions must fit the confines of your budget. If you’re paying a lot, training schedules, number of sessions, and personalization should play a role in your choice of coach.
Q: What is your coaching style?
Know if your coach is a task masker, casual, or cooperative in their approach. Their personality and style shot be a good fit with your personality and training habits.
Q: Do you have insurance? Will I need insurance?
Provided your coach needs you to sign a release, read the fine print.
Now that we’ve helped you find your ideal coach, it’s time to get running. Good luck!