As both a running coach and an avid runner, I can tell you firsthand the benefit of having a coach. At several critical points in my running career, a running coach provided me with the motivation and knowledge to reach my goals. I was very fortunate to have two amazing running coaches in High School; Joe Monda and John Coffman. They worked hard to make running fun, teach the fundamentals of training, and provide the push you sometimes need to keep going. I attribute much of my desire to pursue an education in Exercise Science to the two of them. Their passion and approach to helping runners kept me in the sport for so long, both as a runner and coach.
First, a running coach is not for everyone, and they may not be necessary all the time. I trained for my second running of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run without a running coach by my side. However, this came from years of experience and working with a coach to learn proper training for an ultramarathon. To help you make the best decision for yourself, here are six reasons why you may need a running coach in your life.
Do I need a Running Coach? 6 Reasons Why You Need a Running Coach in Your Life.
Now, you might say, “I don’t care about my place or time,” or “I’m just trying to finish my first race,” as reasons for why you think you don’t need a running coach. And these reasons might be valid, but let’s consider the reasons why you need a running coach to help you make the best decision for yourself.
1. They can help with setting goals and choosing races.
Many runners have a hard time setting realistic goals and expectations when it comes to running. Even as beginner runners, we want to achieve great things, and that is okay. They can take an objective look at your goals, ability, fitness, and life schedule and help you make the correct choices.
The second challenge runners face in this area is choosing and properly scheduling races. Of course, we want to run with our friends and family, go on big adventures, and see unique places. But, at the same time, we want to achieve specific goals. Unfortunately, those two desires don’t always align. A running coach can help determine which races match your strengths, create a racing schedule aligned with your running goals, and be the voice that tells you that’s too much, if necessary.
2. Your running coach will create an individualized training plan for you.
Yes, there are a million ways to find a training plan to follow these days. I have a whole library of Free Running Plans for you right here on my website! These training plans will work great for many runners, but they will not recognize your individual needs, running knowledge, life schedule, or that annoying twinge in your knee after a few miles of running. Your coach will have taken time to get to know you, your history with running, and your strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, they will help you learn proper pacing for each type of workout; easy runs, long runs, tempo runs, and more. A customized running plan from a coach is the best way to know that everything is planned out correctly and adapts to your needs.
3. They can provide motivation.
When you first set out to achieve a running goal, your motivations are usually very high. But as the training weeks pass by and life continues to happen, that motivation can sometimes fade. A running coach is there to remind you of your goals and the steps you need to succeed. Coaches are there to recognize when motivation might be lacking and find creative ways to help you regain your commitment and focus.
4. Your running coach is a dedicated accountability partner.
Every runner will have those days when they want to sleep in or lay on the couch watching television. But when you know a running coach will be checking up on your day-to-day training results, it can help you consistently get out the door to do the work. Results may not always be what they were planned for a particular day, but your coach will be much more able to help if you are at least putting in the best effort possible every day.
5. They will help you train smart.
Even with all the free training plans and accessible knowledge on running, many runners don’t fully understand the need for rest, recovery, strength work, and flexibility. It’s easy to get caught in the routine of trying to get the most you can out of every running session. Unfortunately, that is not the best way to achieve consistent results, and it often results in burnout or injury and dissatisfaction in your running performance. Your running coach will ensure you have adequate time each week for rest, active recovery workouts outside of running that will keep you strong and injury-free.
6. They will provide you with ample knowledge and tools to help you succeed.
An experienced running coach will draw upon many resources and experiences to teach you how to succeed at following a training plan. They most likely will have years of valuable experience in their running pursuits and coaching other runners in their goals. Most are also going to have an educational background in Exercise Science or Health and Wellness. Running coaches share that knowledge with you and help you understand the “why” behind the different parts of your training plan. They can also help you through times of struggle with energy levels or minor injuries. Of course, running coaches should also always be competent and know when to defer advice to a more qualified Physical Therapist, Dietitian, or Physician.
Do You Need a Running Coach?
It’s not just for elite athletes. Regardless of your age, ability level, or goals, a good coach will work with you to make training fit into your life and be an enjoyable activity. Having someone, you can learn from, be inspired by, and receive consistent feedback can go a long way in helping you achieve your goals.
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