Is Hiring an Online Running Coach Worth It?

Read more in the full article to learn about if you should hire an online running coach

Chances are, if you read this website or spend time on the running accounts of social media, you have heard of people hiring an online running coach. You may be curious about what exactly a running coach does or how to find a running coach if you want to work with one. Is hiring a running coach worth it? This article will explore all you need to know about hiring a personal running coach.

What Is An Online Running Coach?

An online running coach uses a relatively new medium to train and support athletes. Online running coach has democratized run coaching. What used to be accessible only to elites or those living in certain locations is now accessible to runners of all abilities across the globe. 

An online running coach provides an individualized or custom training plan. A personal running coach provides support throughout training and cheers you on through race day. Finally, a running coach is a trusted source for advice and questions on everything from setting goals to picking running shoes. 

Benefits of Hiring An Online Running Coach

Running coaches are a luxury, not an essential. You do not need a coach to be a runner. However, for many runners, a personal running coach provides numerous invaluable benefits. Some runners benefit from a coach for a single race, while others appreciate the benefits so much that they work with a coach for several years. 

Coaches Provide Customized Training

While you can find many free training plans online, those plans are never individualized to your unique needs. A personal running coach does exactly that – they create a plan customized for you. 

A running coach will build a plan based on:

  • The number of days per week you run
  • Your schedule and how many hours per day you train
  • Training background, including how many years you have been running
  • Injury history and risk 
  • Your short-term and long-term goals
  • How you respond to different workouts
  • Other activities you do such as cycling, lifting, etc. 
  • Other stressors in your life that may affect training

A Running Coach Adjusts Your Plan

 Many coaches will adjust your training plan as you progress. For example, my athletes have unlimited adjustments to their training plan. If I notice something when going through their workout log or they communicate something to me, I change their scheduled workouts accordingly.

When life events crop up, your coach will help you adjust the plan. You do not have to guess how to fit a 20-mile long in during extra work hours or family visiting; your coach will guide you through how or they will change the plan. If you experience an injury, your coach will adjust the plan to help you heal as quickly as possible. 

A Running Coach Supports You

Not everyone understands running goals. It can feel like a strange bubble at times, especially if your friends or family do not fully understand your running. Even if they do, extra support always helps for staying consistent or preparing for a big goal race. You may want someone to talk to about your training, or want someone who supports your running no matter what.

A running coach provides accountability and support, no matter your goals. If your goal is to run consistently three times per week, or your goal is to BQ, a coach will support you through the process. Coaches celebrate your accomplishments and stick by your side through tough times in the sport. 

A Running Coach Takes the Guesswork Out of Training

Are you stumped by why you may be experiencing a plateau in your running? Are you trying to break a cycle of injuries due to poor training habits? Or are you confused by the large amounts of sometimes conflicting information available?

A running coach can help with all of these areas. They take the guesswork out of it. You don’t have to keep up on developments in training theory – they do that for you. If you have a bad race, they help you understand why and figure out what to change. While you still need to communicate how your runs feel, you do not have to spend time or mental energy planning out your training or analyzing your workouts. 

How Much Does A Running Coach Cost?

Since there is no industry standard, running coaches can range from $100 to $400 per month. That is a wide range! More expensive coaching does not automatically equal better coaching. 

When I surveyed runners on Instagram, a majority reported that they would pay $100-150/month for coaching. Ultimately, how much you pay is based on how much value you feel the coach will bring to your life, combined with how reasonable coaching is within your budget.

Factors that affect coaching prices:

  • Coach’s level of experience and education
  • How often do they communicate with the athlete
  • How often do they update the training plan
  • The cost of the coaching software they use
  • The cost of living where the coach resides
  • If they include strength training in their plan
  • Coaching just for races versus coaching year-round
  • Individual coach or part of a coaching cohort

Some coaches may offer special scholarships to underprivileged demographics or aspiring athletes who may not have funding. 

If a coach is part of a larger coaching cohort, there will likely be a slightly higher rate associated with their services. Coaching cohorts are often run by a head coach who invests time in training coaches, marketing, and other behind-the-scenes work. Part of the fee for a coach in a cohort is to support the head coach for their hard work. 

How to Choose The Right Online Running Coach

Ultimately, choosing a coach is choosing a mentor. They should be someone you trust and have a good rapport with. Coaching is built on trust and communication. They could be the smartest or most successful coach out there, but if you don’t click, they aren’t the right fit for you. 

Have an Initial Consultation

Questions to ask a running coach include: 

  • Credentials: What is their education? How did they get into coaching? How long have they been coaching? Do they keep up with continuing education?
  • Training Philosophy: How do they approach training for different events, including your goal one? Do they follow a certain framework (such as VDOT)? How do they distribute training intensity? What sort of periodization do they use?
  • Communication Expectations: Communication goes both ways in coaching. How often will you hear from your coach – and how often should your coach hear from you?
  • Experience: How have their athletes performed in the past? Have they worked with any special situations that may apply to you (such as postpartum, autoimmune illness, time-limited, etc.)? 
  • Length of Coach-athlete relationships: How long do people typically work with them? How long are their longest coach-athlete relationships? Do they require a minimum number of months committed to coaching?
  • Target Demographics: Some coaches work with all runners, but many do have demographics that they work best with. For example, if you are a masters athlete, you may want a running coach for older runners. If you are a 5+ hour marathoner, you want a coach who understands that and won’t just give you the same training plan as a three hour marathoner.
  • How Do They Schedule Training: Do you they program by time or distance? How do they adjust weekly mileage for different runners? What platform do they deliver training on? How often will your plan be updated?

Read Testimonials

Yes, testimonials will demonstrate how well a coach can help an athlete reach their goals. However, testimonials reveal more than just PRs. A testimonial will give you a sense of how a coach interacts with athletes. 

Testimonials often display the common demographic that works best with that coach. Do they work with road, trail, or both? Are their most successful experiences with BQ runners, mid-packers, or first-time finishers? 

Ask to See a Sample Week of Training

If you are curious about how they coach, ask! Ask to see a sample week of training and/or a sample of communication/feedback. A coach can provide samples with any identifying information removed. 

Listen to Them on Podcasts

Many running coaches host and/or appear on running podcasts. The podcast gives you a sense of their personality and communication approach. Many coaches will explain their training philosophy on a podcast. Since you can hear their voice in a podcast, you may get a better sense of them than on their social media.

Should I Get an Online Running Coach?

An online running coach is not essential for running. However, many runners find benefits in an online running coach. They find value in having someone take the guesswork out of training or helping them troubleshoot training issues. They appreciate having someone unconditionally support them as they work hard and pursue their goals. For others, a coach helps them hold back in training and break cycles of injury. 

If you are curious about trying a running coach, it never hurts to reach out to one! Many will offer free initial consultations to help you decide. 

Book a free 30 minute consult with a run coach today! If you are curious about working with me as a running coach, schedule a consult call or email me at [email protected] to learn more.

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