Tips for Finding a Running Coach That’s Right for You

Hey! Happy Saturday! : )

Last week I got a few emails asking me about my running coach and how to find a coach, so I thought I’d throw up a quick post about it.

(Okay it was only three emails, but maybe there are others thinking about starting to work with a coach in 2015, too!)

Untitled

If you’re looking for a coach to help you improve, here’s my best advice!

Learn About Your Prospective Coach’s Background:

When you’re evaluating coaches to work with, learn a lot about their background!

Did your prospective coach run as a collegiate athlete? This is usually a sign your potential coach has had great mentors and also understands running as a science (including cross training and nutrition) at a deep level.

Where did your coach get certified? From a respected organization? Are the certifications up to date?

How long has your potential coach been running and what have his or her personal results been like? I personally want to be coached by someone who has had results that far exceed my own and who also has been able to get better over time.

I don’t want some average hobby jogger who did a 1-day online course coaching me because she’s a stay at home mom and sees coaching as a way to make a few bucks! Yikes!

How long has your prospective coach been coaching? I really think beginning or slower runners have to be very careful when selecting a coach.If you’re like me, you probably don’t want to choose someone who has never coached before. I just do not want to be someone’s first experiment.

Runners who have more experience than I do could likely work with a less experienced coach to achieve great results, but a slower and newer runner like myself really needs to be able to rely on the coach’s expertise and past experience a lot.

Does your coach run the same or similar distances as you? I like having a coach that has experience with running the same distance races as me. If I was focused on the 5K I wouldn’t want to work with a coach that specializes in the marathon distances, and vice versa. Luckily for me Lauren is badass at every distance up to the marathon (and I suspect she would kick butt at 50Ks too)!

What do your coach’s former or current clients have to say about him or her? When I was looking for a new coach I asked my friend Cori for a recommendation. She had been working with Lauren for a little while and highly recommended her.  And now I highly recommend Lauren, too!

Find Out If Your Coach is a Good Fit For You and Vice Versa:

Many coaches require you to sign up for at least three months to get started.

I imagine this is for three reasons: it takes about three months to prepare for a race, being financially committed means the athlete will likely be more committed to training and of course results don’t happen over night.

Your coach needs to be able to work with you over a period of time for you to see results. It wouldn’t be fair to judge your coach’s abilities to train you after only one month of working together.

Once you start working with your coach, here’s how you can begin evaluating him or her:

Are you making progress in any one area? I think it’s unreasonable to expect fast results in multiple areas, but I do think it’s totally fair to expect to see results in one of the three major areas: speed, distance or comfort level.

Are you running faster? Are you running longer distances? Are you feeling more comfortable running at a specific pace or running a specific distance?

As long as you can answer yes to one of these after the first three months I think you’re on the right track. As time goes on you’ll start seeing improvements in all three areas if you’re working with a great coach.

Does your coach motivate you? Does your coach offer supportive and constructive feedback? Does your coach motivate you to want to be a better runner? If you can answer yes to these questions, excellent! If the answer is no, that’s okay. Not every coach will be a great fit for every person, but there is a coach out there that will be a good fit for you.

Is your coach available to answer your questions? Most coaches promise a certain level of “customer service” at signup. Is your coach available to answer questions and provide feedback as often as he or she promised? If you have a really urgent question (especially having to do with injury) can you contact your coach no matter what and expect a timely response?

Of course all of this is really just my opinion! I am sure other runners of varying abilities look to their coaches to guide them in different ways and have different expectations.

I just want to get faster and run longer distances. That’s not too much to ask, right? 🙂

As most of you know, I am coached by Lauren Floris who writes The Foodie Runner blog. I’ve been working with her since April of this year and have seen great results so far! I’m looking forward to a big 2015!

Do you currently work with a coach, or have you worked with one in the past? 

If so, what attributes do you value in a coach? 

16 comments

  1. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    I do not have a running coach but I am sure if I had a goal that I wasn’t sure I knew how to work on on my own, I would definitely seek one out! (This is not to say I think I could train myself to do anything, it’s just so far I have been choosing goals that I either knew what to do or knew a friend who could help me). ONE thing that I wouldn’t say is OUT of the realm of possibilities is doing a Tri, and if I ever did a Tri, I woud DEFINITELY find a coach,
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…How normal people who aren’t effed up eat.My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Tri Tri Tri! You should totally go for it!

      I’m trying to convince one of my friends to do a du or sprint tri with me in 2015!

  2. Lily @ Lily Runs the World

    I feel like after reading yours and Cori’s experience with Lauren, I had to choose her too! I looked for some local coaches but couldn’t really find one that was affordable and I don’t know enough people in LA yet for a personal recommendation. I’m really excited to work with her!
    Lily @ Lily Runs the World recently posted…I’m All About that BaseMy Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Yay! #TeamLFT 🙂 I worked with a local coach before Lauren and while that was a great experience since I was basically a super beginner back then and was able to get help with form and stuff, I’ve seen the most improvement since I started working with Lauren!

  3. Jess

    These are really great tips, Kristina! I still think I might seek out a coach later in 2015 if I decide to tackle a fall half (or maybe even full?!) marathon, and I’ll definitely be coming back to this post. Lauren sounds like a great coach!
    Jess recently posted…Race Recap: Decemburrr Dash 5K (2014)My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      I really like having a coach because I’m not a big fan of writing out a training plan. I don’t want to think about how many miles I need to run each day or at what pace and I probably wouldn’t be good at doing it. I like to just look at my plan and run! I also find the accountability for speedwork really helpful. If I didn’t have to log each run for my coach I probably would skip speedwork more often than not! hah!

  4. Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    This is really interesting- especially as I am looking to begin coaching more this year (hopefully!) its really good to hear what you think is important in looking for a coach. I have never had an individual running coach but I think if I was training for a specific goal that I didn’t feel comfortable working towards on my own that I would definitely consider it! And Im sure that Lauren is an awesome coach! I can tell through her blog and the results that you and Cori have had what she knows what she is doing:)
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Meal Planning And Prep Week Of 11/30-12/6My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      That’s so exciting that you’re looking to do more coaching next year! You’ve had such a great year of personal accomplishments and have so much knowledge to share. Plus, it’s so obvious how passionate you are about running!

  5. Kim

    I think if I decide to try another 50 maybe I should use a coach:)
    Kim recently posted…Dropped the Ball on December Challenges but Still Sweating! (11/30 – 12/6)My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      I really hope you do go for another 50-miler, I KNOW you’ve got it in you to finish strong! No doubt!!!

  6. Lou @ Running Through China

    Thanks for this very useful post Kristina! I have thought about getting a coach in the past but have never done it. I think, in the future, if I’m training for any event where I have a specific goal such as time or distance then I may bite the bullet and actually follow through and get a coach! For now, I am back to running as a few times a week casual ‘hobby’ (or maybe that is just an excuse for when I don’t go out there in the cold for a run?). Actually, I have no event to train for at the moment, so feeling a little lost training wise. Maybe a coach would be a good idea??

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      You’ve had some truly incredible races in 2014 including that 100K that was super recent. You totally deserve this “off season” you’re enjoying now!

      If you do decide to start looking for a coach at some point, shoot me an email!

  7. Jennifer

    These are great tips. I am considering a coach for fall 2015 or 2016 (I would have been another email so this came in handy).

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Awesome! 🙂 You have been making incredible progress. If you do decide to go for a coach at some point definitely send me an email!

  8. Karen

    You share some really great tips on how to pick and what to look for!! I guess I am too resistant to feel like I have to do something every week. I want it to be fun and I am not really committed to speed work at the current time so I would feel like I was wasting a coach’s time lol
    Karen recently posted…Training TimeMy Profile

  9. Jenn @ Running on Lentils

    I didn’t know you were working with a coach! Glad you found someone great.
    Jenn @ Running on Lentils recently posted…Sweet Potato Barley RisottoMy Profile

Comments are closed.