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6 Things I Consider When Choosing A Running Coach

I’m currently in the process of looking for a running coach. I’m by no means an expert runner, but I don’t think it should be just the pros that have running coaches. A coach is someone that helps us improve, develops our strengths and works on our weaknesses. Whether we want to run farther than ever before and tackle an ultra, run back-to-back races or earn a BQ, a coach can help us achieve our goals.

What To Look For In A Coach

Someone that knows their stuff. Obviously. When I was training for the NYC marathon a few years ago, I picked a coach with speciality knowledge of the course who could provide amazing race-day advice and meet me the previous day for a shakeout run. I loved the personal touch to both my training and the race itself. Now I’m aiming to run a BQ (and complete 3-4 spring marathons!) so I am looking for someone fast, that can help me through the long long training.

Testimonials. What do other people think of this person as a coach? The main coach I’m considering at the moment is a coach of a runner I hugely admire—and to have a personal recommendation from her is huge!

Their style and approach. If you like running 6 days a week, but your coach prescribes to a different method, then it might not work between you two (however it might be just the thing to improve your speed). I am not a high mileage runner; it just doesn’t work for my body and I know from experience (and injury). I need to prioritize cross-training and strength work too, so I’m looking for a coach with that mentality and expertise.

Someone you’re a little scared of. This might just be me, but I want a coach that I won’t want to admit that I missed workouts for no good reason, a coach that I’m a little nervous to give excuses to. Of course I need to be open and honest with them in order for the partnership to work and to be able to go to them with real issues, niggles and injuries. When I just don’t run because of a hangover, or it was hard, I don’t want them to go easy on me!

The cost. What do they cost, can you afford it, and can you justify the monthly/annual expense? For me, I think I take their advice all the more seriously when I’m paying for it and am less likely to sit back and do my own thing than when it’s a generic plan. For that reason, I would rather pay more for a personalized and updated plan than a 16-week pre-written marathon training plan.

Contact. How much contact will you have with them, and in what form? Will they update a Google spreadsheet, e-mail over your weekly plan or chat with you over Skype regularly? How much feedback from you will they take on board? I like to tell my coach how things went in a little message straight after a run—even if it’s at 5 a.m.!

Charlie Watson

Charlie Watson

Charlie Watson is a runner, fitness blogger at The Runner Beans, journalist and soon-to-be dietitian. She’s currently checking all six marathon majors off her race bucket list before she’s 30. Find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Bloglovin, as well as channeling her inner Casey Neistat on her new YouTube channel.