When should you get a running coach? Do you need to be fast to have a online running coach? Aren’t they reserved for, well other people?!
Ah that’s the hang up. We tend to think it’s for someone else because we’ve got all kinds of ideas around our speed, our distance, our history, our injuries and everything else!
As a running coach, let me illuminate a few things for you right off the bat:
- The only judgement about your running is from you (and trust me we’ve all been there).
- Coaches freaking LOVE helping you hit your goals.
- There is a coach for every need!! (below I’ll help you figure out what’s right for you)
When are you ready for a coach?
Turns out this question has absolutely nothing to do with your pace and everything to do with your desire to hit your goals. Let’s see exactly what that means though.
Runners often ask me if they should consider a coach and here’s the list I run through when helping them decide if it’s the right time or not.
- You want one! It excites you and makes you feel more confident in your goal.
- You need a training plan customized to you, your life, your injuries, your schedule.
- You want to avoid injury.
- You want extra accountability and mental work to make it happen.
- You need their expertise to hit your goals. (speed work, gear, strength training)
When not to get a running coach?
There are in fact times where I’ve turned people away from our coaching services. Sometimes it’s just not the right time!
- You think a coach is going to do the work for you (i.e. magically fix your weak hips)
- It’s going to break the bank
- Because everyone else has gotten a coach
- You don’t like being told what to do
- You’re in the midst of doing 8,000 other things and aren’t really ready to focus on following a plan
How to pick the right coach?
Once you’ve decided that you want a running coach comes the online Googling and friend asking and Instagram stalking to see who might be right for you. I admit this has been a recent process of mine to find someone for my post surgery running to get back to the marathon without driving me in to the ground.
It’s OVERWHELMING!! There are lots of options and so many of them are great, but you need to find the right one for you!! Here are my top tips.
Online running coach vs in-person?
There are absolutely benefits to both, for me personally I’ve always worked with and am myself an online fan. It just eliminates excuses about meeting up or feeling nervous to attend a group workout.
HOWEVER, the flipside of that is in-person you can get more feedback on your form and the benefits of being pushed at the track with other runners. Again this comes down to really understanding your personality.
- Do you like to have a plan and execute on your time?
- Do you prefer the accountability of needing to show up? Having planned routes or a speed group?
- Is there realistically access to an in-person coach in your area that fits your goals?
- Find out how they deliver training plans and how often they are updated.
Basically no matter what you do…get a plan. Even a free one like the half marathon plan I provide!
Every coach has a specialty (or should).
Some are phenomenal at helping people make it to the Olympic Qualifying standards, some are well versed in the world of triathlon or Spartan racing and some like me derive a great deal of pleasure from helping people who feel like they’re still new to the journey (even if they have been running for years!).
While coaches can help people across a variety of levels, (I’ve sent people to a 1:25 half and a 6 hour marathon), there’s usually a sweet spot in who they train. And if they say they are for everyone…that’s not a great sign.
- RTTF coaches focus on Low Heart Rate Training
- RTTF coaches work with the newer runner and middle of the pack
- RTTF coaches believe you must incorporate strength training
What about certifications?
Here’s where my opinion may differ from some folks…much like spending 2 years getting a Masters Degree or 2 years doing the actual work there are benefits on both sides.
- I like a coach who has a Personal Training Certification because it teaches you about how the body moves, imbalances, basics to help correct issues. That’s not covered in run coaching.
- The primary national certification is via RRCA. It’s a fine certification, but everyone I know who has done it agreed that from reading hundreds of books I know more than they cover. SOOO it’s a great starting point, but again 1 certification does not make someone a good coach.
- Lack of experience is going to be the norm in any new job right? We all have to coach someone the first time, BUT if they’re charging you lots of money each month you want to know what that experience is based on:
- Former College/Elite athletes often have a great deal of knowledge and experience from their own days being coached
- Someone who has been at this for years and talked to thousands of people has some great knowledge. You just need to make sure they can implement a plan without injury.
- Revolution Running is a newer and I think really great certification program. I required RTTF Coach Kaitlyn to take that to supplement her years as an in-person personal trainer and distance runner.
Personality isn’t just for the Bachelor
Years ago I loved to watch The Biggest Loser while doing a long winter treadmill run. I was motivated merely by watching other people workout, which is bizarre and hilarious to me. I also recognized that’s Jillian’s in your face approach would be a complete turn off for me.
One of the reasons I don’t take a lot of classes is I don’t like being told what to do. Ha! So drill sergeant mode is not effective with me and it’s not how I choose to coach. However, some people absolutely need and want that intense level of accountability.
Make sure you understand how you like to be motivated and how you want your coach to counsel you through the hard times when you aren’t staying on track. Then find out their style before jumping on board.
- Do you need someone who texts you a lot?
- Do you want someone to do monthly phone calls?
- Do you want to feel part of a group with message boards?
Have you ever worked with an online running coach?
What worked well for you?
Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish
Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish