On The Run

How A Running Coach Can Help You

When I first hired a running coach, my parents and husband thought I was crazy. I think their shock was largely because coaches have long been associated with elite athletes and here I was ‘Miss-Dodge-Running-At-All-Costs’ getting a coach! Admittedly, at the start, I felt embarrassed telling people I had a coach. But looking back, having a coach was one of my best decisions. When I started running, I had no idea what I was doing and the free running plans I found seemed ill-suited to my needs. I didn’t have the experience, knowledge or confidence then to design my own plan. So in today’s blog, I want to discuss how a running coach can help you set and achieve your goals. I’ve been lucky to have worked with two amazing coaches, Coach Nicola and Coach Marcel for different goals and both have provided great online programmes.

Why Work With A Running Coach?

1/ They Help You Define Your Goals. Coaches are really good at helping you figure out what you want. What is your goal? Is it to get faster? Is it to build endurance? Is it to lose weight? I’ve used a coach at different stages of my running journey – starting out, running my first Half Marathon, training for a challenging mountain race, building a solid base for marathon training and running a sub-60 10K. A friend of mine engaged a coach after having a baby to get back into fitness. And yet another friend was coached when she wanted to qualify for the Comrades Ultra Marathon. Coaches ask critical questions that help you understand what you want to achieve and then guide you on what’s realistic (and not) and what it will take to get there.

2/ The Plan Is Right For YOU. As I don’t always have a coach, I know the stress involved when I’m on my own! As I’ve gotten more experienced, I’ve been able to tailor free online programmes with the knowledge I’ve gained from having a coach. But what I love about having a plan that is specifically designed for me is that it takes into consideration so much more than a generic plan would. A good coach will usually explore several things before designing your plan – your health, running history and running injuries. I remember the first time I engaged Coach Nicola, she asked what my work and family schedule looked like, if I had signed up for any races or if I had any travel plans. All this helped to make a plan that would fit into my lifestyle. Also, if something is not working along the way, a coach will know exactly what to change to make it more suitable.

3/ You Don’t Have To Think! When I have a coach, the best feeling is getting to Sunday and seeing what’s been planned for the following week. I don’t have to figure out distances or paces. I just have to focus on where I’d like to run and what outfit I’ll wear! When I don’t have a coach, I tend to worry a lot about whether I’m pushing myself too hard or maybe not hard enough. But with a coach, I simply focus on what’s being asked of me – if it’s an easy run I go easy and if it’s speedwork, I focus on hitting those splits. My coach tells me how much recovery time I need and when I should taper. Without the stress of planning, your focus becomes enjoying the process.

4/ You Are Accountable To Someone. Of course, not thinking doesn’t mean chilling! Ultimately, you have to put in the work and one of the best parts about being coached is you’re always accountable to someone. Many coaches use online apps and you can set your data to sync to these apps. From my experience, when you know someone is watching, it’s not very easy to skip a run. In fact, sometimes trying to find an excuse takes more energy than just getting the run done! That’s not to say coaches are unreasonable. There’s a lot of interaction with your coach and based on the information you share, your coach can adjust your plan as needed. Forced accountability usually means you’re more motivated to do your runs which ultimately helps to keep you consistent. And as we all know, consistency is the secret to your success.

5/ Improved Confidence. A coach lets you do all the work but is always there as a safety net. They help to pick you up when you’re going through a bad patch and they’re also there to celebrate with you. Both my coaches have always seemed more excited about my achievements than I’ve been, if that’s even possible, LOL! They are also often more aware of your strengths than you are. I remember a particularly tough hills session that Coach Nicola set me. I was terrified beforehand but once I’d done it I was so chuffed and grateful that she had challenged and encouraged me to do it. Each challenge helps to build your confidence and knowing that you’ll have support if you fail, sometimes just gives you that extra courage to try it out.

6/ You Learn So Much. A coach has so much knowledge and experience and if you pay close attention you will learn and grow. When I started running, there were things I dismissed like proper warm up drills, stretching, balance and stability work and strength training. I didn’t know what an easy run was. I just ‘raced’ everything. I didn’t know the importance of speedwork or hill repeats and I also did not know anything about good recovery time, tapering, race strategy or fuelling and nutrition. These are all things that help to make you a happier and healthier runner.

I’ve seen huge improvements in my running and I’ve shaved a lot of time off all distances – the 5K, 10K and Half Marathon under the guidance of a coach. But I’ve also put in the work. If you are not willing to put in the work, having a coach won’t help you much. A coach can give you the perfect plan but it still needs you to put into action. Also, use your time with a coach to grow and learn. The reason I’m able to keep training even in times when I don’t have a coach is that I use the lessons gained while being coached and apply them to times I’m on my own.

Do you have a running coach? What do you like about having a coach? If you are a coach, what do you enjoy about coaching? From a coach’s perspective, what would you say are some of the benefits of coaching?

I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By MileCoach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerRuns with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.

24 thoughts on “How A Running Coach Can Help You

  1. I think the number one goal of all runners is to get better ==> and that a coach is the route to get there. It’s not all or nothing, you can work with someone for a few months and then go back to being on your own if you want to. Now is probably a great time to work with a coach since it’s not like we’re spending money on race fees:-(

    With that said, I haven’t worked with anyone yet but it’s something that I definitely want to try some day

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly right! I wish I had a budget for a permanent coach, LOL, but as I don’t, I love bringing them on board when I need to achieve a specific goal or I feel I’ve reached a plateau. And that’s worked really well so far. I haven’t tried a coach who is physically present and can look at things like form and technique – that would probably also add another dimension that’s not as possible with online coaching.

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  2. I loved not having to think about it! I’m good about coaching myself, but sometimes, having someone else tell you what to do, is really nice. 🙂

    I also loved having a personal cheerleader! My coach (runningonhappy.com) was amazing.

    And yes, everyone can benefit from a coach!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hired a running coach for my first marathon and it was the best decision I made for my training. My coach was also a friend which really helped as well. I loved that having a coach took all the guesswork out of what I should be doing – I knew exactly what type of workout to do on each day and it was great!

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  4. I’ve never had a coach, but I definitely like the idea!
    I would really like to have a coach who is physically present and would run with me. One can dream! 😊
    I especially like that I wouldn’t have to think about all the planning, but could just focus on executing what I’ve been told.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. All excellent points!! I’m glad you had such great experiences with your coaches 😉 I worked with a coach once, and I wish I would have been more upfront with my thoughts and apprehensions on things. While I was pleased to be doing some of my highest mileage weeks and months ever, my gut told me it was too much. I just went with it, though, because I figured the coach knew more than I did and had a strategy. When race day rolled around, I had a nasty injury that plagued me for the entire race (it was a marathon, no less). I sincerely think I had over-trained, and I should have addressed that going into taper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no Kim! So sorry for that experience!! I’ve heard a similar case so I guess it emphasises the point that coaches do need to keep checking in and also encouraging you to be honest with how things are going. They have the plan but it also really needs to be a true partnership.

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  6. I have worked with two coaches and had great experiences! I am a running coach myself but its really nice to have another perspective on things. Like you said its nice to just have someone tell you what to do!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I work as a running coach, and I hear from my athletes all the time about how much they enjoy these benefits! I think the most popular is not having to think about if their plan is right for them. That’s awesome that you have found a coach who works so well for you and your running goals!

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  8. I’ve had a coach since I started running – best decision I ever made. But, saying that, it doesn’t mean I always listen to him! When I do, however, I see the results!

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  9. I agree that a running coach can offer so much to the beginner runner and the experienced runner. It is nice not to have to plan and think about your workouts. It is also nice to have someone to keep you realistic. Glad you had such a great experience.

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  10. I’m so glad you’ve had great experiences with coaching! The right coach with the right plan for you can be a total fast track to reaching your goals. All that said, all coaches are not created equal. I’ve had great experiences and not so great ones. At the end of the day you need to listen to your body and trust your gut instinct.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I never really thought seriously about hiring a coach for running. Until now. It does make so much sense. A coach would have so much more knowledge than me and I like the concept of not having to think about what I need to do. Someone else could do the thinking for me!

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  12. As a running coach I endorse this post! 🙂 Really a running coach is a great investment for almost any runner. Every runner is different, so just picking an internet program is not the way to achieve your best success.

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  13. As a running coach I concur and you list so many great reasons for hiring a coach. I have coached a few runners online, but prefer working with groups and in person. Finding the right person is key and it sounds like you did just that. Here’s to continued success!

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  14. Coaches can be so great! I’ve used one a couple of times and it was a super positive experience. I need a little more in person coaching, I’ve learned, so I probably won’t try again until I set some sort of goal after coming back from the whole leg and surgery thing.

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  15. I love working with a coach! I have worked with 4 different ones and things are going pretty well with my current coach. I know I can follow a plan online but now just want someone to tell me what to do. 🙂

    Thank you for linking up with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It’s cool that you point out that a running coach can help you come up with a good plan to reach your goals. I want to run a Marathon by the end of next year, so I’m considering hiring a professional running coach to help me. I’m going to search for a reputable running coach that can help me reach my goal of completing a Marathon.

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