The Benefits Of Hiring A Running Coach

If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that I love running and coaching.  If you are new, welcome!  Stick around for the end of this post because I am doing a HUGE GIVEAWAY today!

I have been an athletic coach for almost 20 years (yikes!) and have had my RRCA coaching certification for several years now.  I love the sport and enjoy studying it from all angles and learning from the best in the sport.  I myself use a coach to help write plans that better my running and keep me healthy (yes even running coaches hire running coaches!).

So why hire a running coach?

I have now coached hundreds of runners from beginner through advanced and for distances from 5k’s to the marathon.  Over the years I have heard countless stories about how someone is not looking forward to training for a half or a full because they did a race in the past and had a horrible experience.

After discussing their experience for awhile, a few things usually come to light.  Most often, these athletes didn’t follow a training plan and that made the race absolutely miserable.  Other athletes followed a cookie cutter plan they found online.  While this was a good start, many of them get injured because the plan was too much for them.  And others strayed from the plan and weren’t prepared come race day.

Training for a race of any distance is a hard task, but it should be something that is enjoyable and it should be tailored to your needs.  Having a plan that is meant for you and only you, is one of the best ways to ensure that you enjoy the process, stay healthy, and have the best race experience possible. It will still be difficult, but it will likely be far more enjoyable.


What should you look for in a running coach?

No coach is going to be the perfect fit for everyone.  Some personalities click and other’s just aren’t meant to work together.  Have you ever taken a course by a renowned professor, only to be disappointed in their style?  It’s totally okay and that’s why you should interview with prospective coaches.

When approaching a running coach, you should first receive a prompt response.  If you call or e-mail, they should return your inquiry within 24 hours in most cases.

You should be given a free consultation either in person or over the phone (virtual training can be fantastic for many athletes and saves lots of money too).  This consultation should be used to get to know you as an athlete better.  You should be asked questions about your experience, your goals, your schedule, your ability to fit workouts in and what you prefer, as well as a health and injury history.

After this discussion you should be given some options of different types of training that might work best for you.  A coach shouldn’t make promises about PR’s or race times, but should be able to give you a realistic idea of what you should expect.  They should be up front about how much a plan should cost as well as how long you need to reach your goals.


Your coach should make clear what you should expect out of them.  Will they give you weekly training?  Are you purchasing a one time plan?  What happens if you end up injured and need help?  Do you have the option to contact your coach at any time or do they contact you throughout your training?  Are there additional options you can add to your plan, and what will the cost be?  Transparency is key in any working relationship.  Always ask about what you will be receiving and for how long.

In the end, it is about what is best for you.  Training with a coach should be an enjoyable experience.  Your coach should help you to feel more confident as a runner and clear up any of those questions you felt were lingering in your previous training cycles.  A good coach should make you feel great about your journey and give you the confidence to reach your goals.  Keep in mind that sometimes our goals are a bit lofty and a great coach should find a nice way to show you what is realistic in the near and potentially distant future.

Have you ever used a running coach?  How do you like to approach your training?

To celebrate the start of summer training season, I want to kick things off with a GIVEAWAY!  I am giving away one FREE consultation and training plan for the race of your choice.  All you have to do is comment below and tell me what race you would love to receive a plan for.  I will do a drawing and announce the winner at the end of next week!


25 thoughts on “The Benefits Of Hiring A Running Coach

  1. Never hired a running coach – and doubt I ever will. Too many years of ‘just me’ to head in a different direction. I get the goals accomplished I want, maintain a love of running, and have surprised myself with some of the race times I managed. Earth-shattering? No … but that isn’t my goal.

    But I know I am unusual … I really can just get out of bed at 3:45 even after <4 hours sleep and go for my 10+ mile run … even if the wind chill is -20F. Call it what you want, it just works for me.

    At the same time, talking to so many others I know how important coaching can be in so many areas including running – the power of having another voice for reassurance, guidance, accountability? Priceless.

    (oh, and please don't enter me into the giveaway … I want someone deserving to get it! I just wanted to comment 🙂 )

    • I actual think you are one of the smartest runners around. I think you almost approach it as a science. You know what works for you and what doesn’t and don’t push past that limit.

  2. This is such as amazing giveaway! I’d love the opportunity to win a consultation and training plan. I think I’d like to figure out my goal race during the consultation. The most common races I’ve done are half marathons, so I’m inclined to shoot for a PR, but I also think it would be fun to see what I could do in a 5k or 10k. I haven’t done a 5k in years and have never done a 10k, so I think the new race distance could help me grow as a runner.

  3. I am about to begin training next month for my first Marathon in October! Having a consultation and personalized training plan would make me feel confident I can finish the marathon (my previous distance PR is a half marathon) with less likelihood of injury along the way. Thank you so much!

  4. You BETTER link this up with Running Coaches Corner! I love being a running coach, but I would love to be coached myself at some point, once I am out of the woods and working towards something again. But for now, I am trying my damnest NOT to think about it!

  5. This is a great giveaway! I would love some guidance on getting a 5k PR. My base is good, and I have the endurance to go long — but not the endurance to go long FAST. I’m pretty confidence with speedwork for longer races like the half, but when it comes to the 5k, I’m a little lost. Most online plans seem to be couch to 5k. Plus,I am working toward building endurance (and maybe a little speed) on the trails, so it’s tricky to “coach” myself.

    • This is a great goal. It sounds like some smart and specific speed workout in a training plan is what could get you to your goals. Thanks for your response. I will post the winner next week!

  6. I’ll enter. I haven’t hired a running coach, although I did have a coach as a part of a training group a few years ago. It was a fairly small training group, but he gave GREAT advice and taught me a lot. I PRed every distance I raced while training with him and still ask him running questions occasionally.

    Honestly, running is a hobby for me and I’m mainly doing it for fun and social purposes. I do plan out my training every week and write in workouts, races, recovery, etc, and I haven’t plateaued yet… have considered hiring a coach for when I do plateau to help me with all those details.

    Anyway, if I win, I would get the plan for the Charleston Marathon 2017. Ideally, I would like to BQ (I ran a 1:38:28 half in Feb. 2016, as well as many 21 minute 5Ks). I’ve already been looking at training plans but none really work with the frequent racing I like to do (I race to socialize…).

    • Awesome. Frequently races for social running is a great way to stay motivated. You can always build a plan around races. I have a client who races often and we just plan them around her larger goal races.

  7. Me me me!!!!! I would love for you to coach me! I would choose Phoenix Marathon because training starts immediately after NYC and I would love some guidance training for a marathon right after running one.

  8. I’ve never had a coach before but usually use a plan for a marathon. (I kinda just wing it on anything shorter). I’m hoping to run my 4th full this December. I’m coming back from two injuries so I’m trying to be careful and smart. 😬
    If that doesn’t work out I would love to try for a half PR….it’s been awhile!

  9. I’d love to have some inside knowhow! Since my achilles injury a few years ago, I’ve not been able to get my pace back. I know I should work a little more at speed. Do you have plans for a 21km Spartan Beast Race with 35 plus obstacles? The obstacles I’m more or less training for okay, it’s the distance. It’ll take longer than your usual 21km and I’m concerned about endurance. I know you’ve just got to get out there and do it! (like txa1265, I’m cool not to be entered!)

    • Obstacle courses definitely present some added difficulties. Beyond training for the distance, I would add in some speed work and some hill training. That would help get your legs prepped a bit better along the way. Those obstacles tend to freak me out sometimes!

      • Thank you! That’s my plan at the moment and it’s great you back it. I’ve also started running with a hydration pack which is part of the rules which I’m fine with apart from the sloshing sound that makes me want to pee! For now I can block it with music but not on the day!

  10. I’ve always thought about getting a coach. Life had allowed me to slip backwards with my times! I have seen under 30 for a 5k in quite some time! And I long for 29-something…29-ANYTHING! I’m stuck between 30-31!! I want to feel proud about my running again!


  11. i’ve thought about you on my runs and walks along the west side recently as i knew you were back in NYC and i always wonder if i might run into you! great post, and there are definitely parallels between a running coach and a life coach/therapist – many of these points can relate to that field as well. awesome giveaway option! i’m running the Mohawk Hudson full in October (i ran it in 2013 and 2015 as well) and would love to run a sub 4, which is actually just one minute less than what i ran last year — so maybe i should push myself and say a sub 3:55? 🙂

    • Excellent goal. I have yet to hit the West Side because we are staying on the UES and I just get lazy and go to Randall’s Island or the park. But the West Side highway is my favorite locale to run along from top to bottom. I have definitely wondered if I would see you in the park. One of these days we are going to run smack into each other when we least expect it!

  12. I tried the cookie cutter plan & even joined a running group… I still felt overwhelmed and ended up with an overuse injury for my last half. I would love to get a 1-on- consultation! I’m entering in a 5k and would love to PR.. Or even just an early training plan for the United half in NYC for next March! Thank you for your post!!

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