Why You Need a Running CoachAug 22, 2021
Many runners believe that coaches are only for professional runners: the elite few who receive paid invitations to race events, who have sponsorships, and who are, generally speaking, faster than the rest of us.
The truth is coaches are for all runners. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been running for days or decades — if you want to improve as a runner, then you would benefit from a running coach.
Most running coaches are affordable, too. The trick (for most) is believing that you deserve to invest in yourself.
The benefits of a running coach
The benefits of hiring a running coach are myriad, but the main advantage is having someone in your corner who knows what they’re talking about and can develop a training plan that is personalized to you. That means taking into account your goals (or helping you develop more realistic ones), past running experience and injury history, and creating a plan for you that optimizes your performance while minimizing the risk of injury.
A running coach can also help you with:
If you have a watch that syncs your workouts, your coach will be able to see if you’re doing your workouts as scheduled — meaning you have an extra layer of accountability to do them.
If you don’t complete a workout as planned, though, don’t worry: Your coach isn’t there to get mad or rap your knuckles for missing a run or stopping one early. In this realm, a coach’s job is simply to offer support and encouragement to get back on track, or identify a cause that might have contributed to the missed or truncated workout and adjust the rest of the week’s plan accordingly.
- Avoiding common training mistakes
If you’ve been running for a while, you’ve likely fallen into the trap of adding too much mileage too soon or not taking enough time to rest and recover after a challenging workout or long run. A running coach can help rein you in and keep your eye on the prize.
- Running efficiency
Form is one of the most common issues running coaches help athletes correct. That’s because a problem with form can lead to injury. On the reverse side, proper running form can lead to improved running efficiency (i.e., faster times).
- Motivation and support
Everyone needs a cheerleader — someone who encourages you when you’re down, spurs you on when you want to stop and helps you celebrate your wins. If you don’t have that person at home, a running coach could help fill that hole. For most, motivation and support are critical to running success. Most of us only get so far on our own drive.
- Improved performances
If you’re chasing down a personal best, a running coach can help you get there. By understanding where you are now and where you want to go, a coach can create a training plan that connects the two — taking you from start to finish line.
- Identifying the cause of a recurrent or nagging injury
This one can get into a bit of a gray area because coaches aren’t legally allowed to prescribe medicine or treat an injury, but they can offer feedback based on their experience to help you determine what may be going on, and guide you to the proper healthcare provider who can help.
- Incorporating strength training
For many runners, strength training is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have. They know it’s supposedly helpful, but they believe if they only have time for one or the other, running makes the most sense.
A running coach can help you understand how strength training leads to improved running performance, and give you workouts targeting areas that will be most beneficial to you.
Now that you know the benefits of hiring a running coach, you should also keep in mind that you may want to ask certain questions before choosing a coach to ensure the match will be a good one. Questions about a prospective coach’s communication style and coaching philosophy — like whether they believe in quality over quantity — are fair game. You also might want to ask for testimonials from current or past clients.
Now get out there and run your life.