The last time I had a running coach was also the last time I had a locker. Being a part of my high school’s track team allowed me a free education in drills, strength training, and various types of runs.
That foundation helped me in my adult years to coach myself to consistent training, Boston Marathon qualifying times, and running a race of over 100 miles.
But as I inched closer to 40, experienced the first major injuries of my running career, and have continued big racing ambitions, I decided to turn to a coach for help. Not everyone needs or wants a coach, but I’ve found it useful in a few key areas.
1) Help with short-term planning…
Creating a training schedule for regular running or an upcoming race is easier each time you do it. However, as a new runner, you might not have the knowledge of experience and as a veteran runner, your workouts might be stale.
A good coach can take your short-term goals and transform them into a plan that works with your run history and ability.
2) …and long-term planning
A coach can help you with your long-term goals as well. If you have a distance or race that seems out of reach at this time, a coach can help build a strong foundation to prepare you for the next step. They can provide you a series of cycles that increase your fitness and allows for rest and recovery between buildups.
3) They hold you accountable
I fortunately have no trouble with accountability myself, in fact, I’m quite the opposite. Without a coach, my easy runs are too fast and I’m prone to junk miles. However, a coach can keep things in check and hold you accountable to not just completing workouts, but doing them at the correct paces.
4) They provide valuable feedback
A coach often fills the role of a psychologist. They can give you a pep talk if you’ve had a tough workout or challenge you if they believe you are capable of more. Discussing how you felt if it’s out of the norm (good or bad) is useful to a coach for tweaking your plan and for you to lighten your mental load.
5) They help build your confidence
Paying for a coach is often the catalyst for runners to experience breakthroughs. Having someone else invested in your dreams can motivate you in your workouts as well as your performance.
A good coach will have an optimistic, but realistic outlook and will keep their expectations honest based on your training. Come race day, the mantra of trust your training will have even more meaning.