A Day in the Life of a Running Coach

A Day in the Life of a Running Coach

When I tell people I’m a running coach, the first image that comes to most minds is standing at a track, shouting instructions to young collegiate athletes. And while this is certainly what some coaches do, my job as an online running coach to adult runners is much different.

I work full-time as a running coach, running blogger, and consultant to companies including Runkeeper. I love my job, as it allows me to work from home, be creative, and work with people individually. Currently, I coach approximately 35 runners, from ages 20-60 and from the 5K to the marathon (and I am taking more if you are interested!). 

Here’s what a day in a life of a running coach looks like, based on a recent Monday. I have a basic weekly routine and Mondays are spent running errands, providing feedback to my athletes, and preparing content for the week ahead. 

A Day in the Life of a Running Coach

5 AM: Wake up. I’m a morning person, so I prefer to wake up early. I start working on social media and commenting on blogs right away, before I even get out of bed. It’s a nice transition into wakefulness and the workday.

6 AM: I clean the kitchen, prepare breakfast and lunch for Ryan, and eat my pre-run snack of a banana with some peanut butter. I sit with him while he eats breakfast and I drink a couple cups of coffee.

7 AM: I walk the dogs and then get ready to run. I am planning on running errands after my run, so I pack a breakfast and warm-up layers and double check my grocery list. I also reply to a few emails from some of my athletes before heading out the door. I then drive to a flat, uninterrupted paved trail for my run and listen to Audible while I drive.

A Day in the Life of a Running Coach

8 AM: After parking, checking my email, and doing a dynamic warm-up, I’m ready to run. My workout for the day is called a Rust Buster – a workout moving through a variety of paces to transition from base building to race training. 

9 AM: I finish my workout. The last few intervals were hard, especially in the wind, but it felt rejuvenating to run fast again. I cool down with a short walk, take photos and post to Instagram, and then eat my bagel and a plant-based protein shake. This isn’t my normal breakfast (I usually eat a bowl of oatmeal), but since I am running errands before going home, I want to ensure I refuel quickly after this workout.  

A Day in the Life of a Running Coach

9:15 AM: Errands: I gas up my car and grocery shop for the week. Usually, my grocery trip consists of plenty of fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, bulk grains and legumes, flours for bread baking if needed, lean meats, and organic dairy. I recently purchased new reusable produce bags and I’m obsessed with them. 

A Day in the Life of a Running Coach

10 AM: Home! I put away groceries, shower, and review my Ink & Volt planner for the day’s schedule and tasks.

10:30 AM: I reheat some more coffee and sit down to work. I begin with responding to more emails and then start providing feedback to my one-on-one athletes, who are just over one-half of the runners I coach. These athletes get weekly feedback every Monday. I read through their logs, comment on each run, adjust the plan as necessary for the next week, and then email them about their week as a whole and review their plan for the upcoming week. If an athlete has raced and set a PR, I’ll reassess their training paces and update their plan accordingly. One of my athletes messages me over Slack and we chat for a few minutes.

Noon: I take a break from work to make a huge batch of soup (this quinoa vegetable soup from Cookie and Kate) so I can have easy lunches for the workweek. While the soup is cooking, I take the dogs for a walk and check social media.

A Day in the Life of a Running Coach

12:45 PM: I read a couple more blogs while I eat lunch – a big bowl of the quinoa soup and a slice of homemade sourdough – and then I get back to work on coaching feedback. I take a couple stand and stretch breaks throughout this block of working.

I finish the weekly feedback with a few minutes before a call, so I let Ollie sit on my lap at my desk for a couple minutes. Cattle dogs are very needy; Ollie will sit under my desk when he wants attention.

3 PM: I have a check-in call with one of my one-on-one athletes. We spend a few minutes discussing recent training and what’s to come in the next few months. The length of check-in calls varies anywhere from 10-40 minutes, based on how much the athlete and I need to discuss. 

3:15 PM: I work on upcoming blog posts by researching some studies on donating blood and running. I enjoy when I can delve into academic journals for a blog post or freelance article. 

3:45 PM: I call a new coaching client. I always begin coaching with a brief phone consultation, because I believe in the importance of forming a rapport and building a foundation of trust in a coach-athlete relationship.

4:20 PM: I work more on the blog post about donating blood, chat with Ryan briefly on the phone as he leaves work, and check emails. I then walk the dogs again.

5 PM: Ryan comes home. We play with the dogs and catch up on each other’s day for a bit before getting ready to go the gym.

In the mail, I received this month’s StrideBox, so I look through it and take photos for social media before we get ready to go to the gym. I sample the cake bites as a pre-workout snack.A Day in the Life of a Running Coach

5:50 PM: Ryan and I head over to the gym. We use our apartment’s gym, so it’s just a short walk over. I strength train for about 30 minutes while Ryan strength trains and runs. Once I finish my workout, I head home to cook dinner while he finishes his run.

7 PM: We eat dinner: chicken fajita tacos. This is a simple recipe: I saute thinly cut chicken breast, green pepper, yellow pepper, onion, and garlic in a pan and season with cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder. I serve these on corn tortillas with avocado and some Greek yogurt.

7:30 PM: I usually work in the evening, but I have no pressing projects this day so instead I work on my own training plan for my May half marathon. I also research some new workouts both to try myself and to give to my athletes. While doing this, we watch a couple episodes of The 100 on Netflix. The science is implausible, but the plotline has us hooked. 

9 PM: I walk the dogs and get ready for bed. Ryan and I do our nightly Bible reading. I’m asleep before 10 PM, which is my ideal bedtime.

What’s a day in the life like for you?
What’s your career?

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15 Responses

  1. Its always interesting to read about how other people spend their day! Part of me thinks I would love being a full time coach, but then I also wonder if it would be hard to work from home every day. I bet its nice to have flexibility in your schedule though!

    1. Some people I know who work from home go to coffee shops or shared workspaces when they need a change of scenery. Our apartment has a shared workspace that I can use if I really need to get out of the house. The flexibility is nice!

  2. I love this peek into your day, Laura! I love the flexibility of working from home, too. I couldn’t sit all day- it’s nice to break it up with some errands/walks and cooking!

    1. Thank you! I agree – I love being able to take a break to walk the dogs or run errands during the day. I had one regular office job and it was so difficult for me to sit still all day.

  3. Fascinating post! I’ve always wondered what the heck you do all day 😉 I’ve always wondered what it would be like to work from home, and I find it so interesting to see how my work from home friends manage their time. Although I can’t believe you get up at 5 AM by choice every day, especially since you don’t go to bed until 10. This chronic late sleeper recoils in horror at this.

    What are some of the challenges of working from home? Does it ever feel isolating? Do you and Ryan do a lot of socializing with friends during the week to balance that out?

    1. Thank you! I’ve always been a morning person. I woke up at 6 AM on school days in my senior year of college and 5 AM in grad school. Working from home never feels too isolating – since we live in an apartment complex, I see some of our neighbors (some of whom also work from home) during the day. I also have friends I text throughout the whole day for a social aspect, and then we fill our weekends with a lot of activities out of the house. Honestly, the biggest challenge can be the days when I feel like I need to do some housework before I can work, and I spend time cleaning instead of working.

  4. I really enjoy reading posts such as this. It can be “fun” (for lack of a better word) to have a bit of insight on how busy your day truly is! And I love that you are able to sit with your hubs while he eats breakfast and gets ready to begin his day at work. Great time to bond. 🙂

    1. I enjoyed reading yours as well! I am a bit odd and I set an alarm on my phone when I shower and get ready – 5-7 minutes to shower. Otherwise I would spend a lot longer on those tasks!

  5. You mention that you train people from ages 20-60. Are there different tactics that you have to use with the different ages? My sister and uncle are thinking of training for a half marathon, and they would like to get a coach to help them. Would they need to get different ones, and train at different times? Or could they train together?

    1. It really varies on the individual runner! They can try together, depending on their goals, fitness, etc. As for tactics for ages, typically older athletes require more recovery and some tweaks to workouts, while younger ones may need more time ramping up into higher mileage (if they are not used to it) but can handle harder workouts.

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