You’ve signed up for a goal race and have decided that you’re going to take it to the next level by seeking out a coach. First of all, go YOU! There are many benefits to having a running coach- in fact, Julia and Tim speak all about this in Episode 2 of The BibRave Podcast 😉!
However finding the right coach can be an extremely confusing and overwhelming time, as there’s so much to choose from out there. But rest assured, I’m here to help you with some tips on what you should look for when selecting a coach.
First things first, there are two types of coaching. Face-to-face – where you and your coach are in the same location, or online – where everything, from training plans to communication take place virtually.
Face-to-face coaching is really helpful to keep you accountable and motivated, as well as picking up any errors in your technique that may lead to injuries later on. If you’re someone who likes to run in their comfort zone and needs that extra push – this would be a good option for you! Local running stores like Fleet Feet also offer coaching programs in the lead up to big races. This may also be an option for you to get some one-on-one coaching at a cheaper price.
The beauty of online coaching is that your coach can be based anywhere in the world, so you can have your pick of the best coaches based on their skills and your personal needs. However, unless you’re ready to record your running form on your phone, they won’t be able to help you with your running technique. If you want to find out more about online coaching, check out The BibRave Podcast – Episode 57 where Tim and Andy talk to Jeff Gaudette, founder of RunnersConnect – an online coaching platform. Some other great platforms that you can look at are Ekiden Coaching and Sweat Tracker.
Adaptability & Goals
Your coach should not only take into consideration your goals, but should also help push yourself beyond those set goals (and face it, sometimes we all need to be pushed outside of our comfort zones). While it can take a little time if you’re working with a new coach, they’ll be able to adapt your training schedule on the fly and recommend whether you need to readjust your own goals.
The beauty of having a coach is that if you do need that extra day(s) of rest, they’ll be able to update you on a shared resource such as Google Docs or on their website.You will be able to see your plan from there, rather than guessing what distance you should run when you’re back on your feet!
There should totally be a Tinder-type app for coaches where you can “swipe right” on a coach based on the personality type that works for you. I’ve been lucky to have had awesome coaches who know and can respond to my needs during a training cycle (especially when I was battling injury). Your coach should be approachable and able to help you (even motivate you!) when you need it the most.
Take time to research your prospective coaches, read up reviews, and chat with them on social media to get a feel for how they interact. Great coaches like our friend and running coach, Matt Flaherty, talk all about the coach/athlete connection and his expectations of the athletes that he trains. When you find the right coach to fit with your personality, it’s like magic!
What is a coach without skills? You should select a coach based on what your goal is – looking to hit that 26.2 mile distance, or perhaps you want to make the transition over to ultra marathon trails – there’s a coach for everyone! It may take some investigation to make sure you’re selecting the right one for you.
To find out what the coach specializes in, take a look at their website or contact them directly via social media, email, or in person. If they can’t help you – i.e. you’re asking an ultra coach to help you PR for a 5K – they might know the perfect person who can!
I’ve been on both ends of the relationship, holding a coach accreditation and also enlisting a coach to help me achieve my goals. Everyone is different and a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky and find one right away that works for you. But, the reality is finding the right coach may take some time. Don’t panic – once you find your coach and are comfortable in your training plan, you’ll wonder how you ever laced up your shoes without them!