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!)
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?