For all runners, amateur or elite, it helps to have a running coach. It certainly becomes more beneficial the more serious you get about running, but even recreational or casual runners who run between 1 – 3 times a week can certainly benefit from having a running coach. This post dives into what you should perhaps consider if you’re wondering whether it’s worth having a running coach.
Should You Have A Running Coach?
#1 – What Do You Want To Achieve?
As a runner, you need to decide what you want to achieve. Here are some reasons you may be involved in the sport of running:
- You feel good running
- To keep fit
- You enjoy the social aspect of it
- To represent your running club, county or even nation
- To run a certain time over a set distance
- You love to race and compete
- You enjoy the process of running and trying to improve and get faster
These are all valid reasons for running and there are many more out there. Once you’ve decided, you need to see if you can find a coach who will align with these goals and do their best to help you achieve them.
If you’re a recreational runner then you may not want a running coach or you’ll likely want one that prescribes less intense training sessions. A running coach will be able to provide you with the information and tools to help you improve your technique, be wary of overtraining and prevent injury as best as you can.
Most running coaches want to coach runners or athletes who are determined to run fast, so in that respect, the more competitive and serious you are and the more you want to run fast, the more a running coach will probably pay attention to you.
#2 – Do You Have The Time?
Secondly, you need to decide whether you have the time to talk to a running coach and give feedback from running sessions. If they’re present whilst you’re training then this isn’t so much of an issue since they’ll be able to observe your technique and form to come to their own conclusions on how they think you’re feeling in terms of fatigue.
If you’re doing coaching over the internet or phone and the running coach you’ve decided to work with can’t be with you during your training sessions, you need to make sure you have enough time to call them or write feedback to send to them about your training session so they can decide what training sessions you should do next or perhaps they’ll give you a recovery run or rest day depending on how you’re feeling. However, the feedback you give is paramount for this type of coaching to work and you need to have the time (as do they).
If the running coach you’re working with is able to be there in person that’s generally much better for the relationship between yourself and your running coach, however, bear in mind that whilst they will be focusing on you, they’ll likely be focusing on a range of other runners and athletes at the same time.
Needless to say, in-person coaching will require more time than online coaching, but my personal view is that it’s much better to see the coach in person and have a good relationship with them. There’s a lot more to talk about and bond over than if you never see your coach in the flesh.
#3 – What Does It Cost?
Then you need to consider finances. What is the cost of coaching and do you consider their time to be worth the money?
Online coaching can cost anywhere between £25 – £300 a month and upwards. The cost usually determines what you get with an online coach, and for some, the price can be too steep to justify, especially if you’re a recreational runner who isn’t too competitive.
With in-person coaching, fortunately, many running coaches actually coach for free in order to help the running club they are affiliated with. This is because many running coaches were once runners when they were young and want to help out the other runners to achieve their running goals. If you want free running coaching, then it’s usually a good idea to join a running club and be serious about representing them at competitions.
Needless to say, there are coaches that do charge for in-person coaching. This tends to be either because they believe they are worth the money or coaching is quite literally the job they depend on to make a living.
#4 – Are You And The Coach In It For The Long Run?
One other important factor to take into account is are you and the coach in it for the long run. Having a running coach becomes more beneficial the longer you work with them because they start to learn your strengths and weaknesses in training and can help you develop your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
If the coach is only going to be around for another year before they relocate for retirement or move abroad or perhaps they’re too focused on other athletes, then it might not be worth going with that running coach. You get more out of a running coach the longer you stick with them.
#5 – Do You Want Extra Running Related Advice?
Needless to say, running coaches are heavily invested in running and will tend to read a lot of things related to running such as:
- Training of elite athletes
- Nutrition for recovery
- Massage and removing knots from muscles
- Active recovery
They can probably have quite a few connections with local physios who can help you out if you need a massage or need to correct muscular imbalances within your body. Whilst there’s a lot of information out there on the internet, running coaches can help give you the specific information you need to aid your development.
#6 – Have You Hit A Plateau?
Quite often, at times during their training runners hit a plateau where they struggle to improve further. Running coaches (especially those you’ve worked with for a long time and know you well) are quite good at figuring out how to break through a plateau. Some ways to break through a plateau include:
- Changing up your training
- Being patient (and trusting the training and the process)
- Taking some extra rest and focusing on your recovery
Ultimately, having a running coach is great for all runners. At the very least it costs you time, but I think it’s definitely worth it. Especially if you love the sport of running.
Thanks for reading, if you found this post useful or interesting, I’d greatly appreciate it if you could share it with others!