Do Runners Really Need a Running Coach?
Probably not the answer you were expecting from a guy that makes his living coaching runners, eh?
But it’s the truth.
That said, do I honestly believe that most runners can benefit from working with a running coach?
Just so we are clear, here is where I (a full-time running coach) stand on the subject:
- A running coach is a want, not a need.
- A running coach is a luxury, not a necessity.
- You can be successful as a runner with or without a running coach.
Running: Not Exactly Rocket Science
On the surface, running is a pretty simple process.
You basically keep putting one foot in front of the other until you either get get tired, bored, or cross the finish line.
Don’t exactly need a coach for that, right?
In reality, running is quite a bit more complex than simply putting one foot in front of the other.
Few things in our sport are more frustrating than being sidelined due to an injury.
Statistically, a majority of runners each year will deal with an injury of some form or fashion.
Some injuries? Simply can’t be avoided.
But many of the more common running injuries are very much preventable.
Building your base intelligently. Progressing appropriately. Scheduling workouts strategically.
All of these things, and many others, influence the odds of suffering a running injury at any point during your running career.
How confident are you that you are structuring your training in a way that reduces, instead of increases, your odds of sustaining an injury?
Progress in our sport is rarely a smooth and steady process.
Instead, there are various starts, stops, regressions, and forward leaps over the course of our years in the sport.
Occasionally, runners will find themselves stuck on a plateau making seemingly zero progress for months, and sometimes years, at a time.
If you’ve experienced being stuck on a plateau, you know just how frustrating it is to be putting in the time and the effort without reaping any of the rewards.
When that happens, when the work you’re doing doesn’t seem to be paying off, how do you respond? How do you know whether to change things up or keep grinding?
How do you make sure you’re not stuck on a plateau indefinitely?
In this day and age, there is no shortage of readily accessible information available at your fingertips.
Having access to a seemingly limitless amount of advice and information is a good thing, at least in theory.
In reality, information overload can lead to uncertainty. Especially when you come across conflicting advice.
Should you do A or B? This or that? More or less?
In many cases, instead of being helpful, too much information leads to inaction simply because you don’t want to make the wrong choice.
The Value of a Good Coach
While running may not be rocket science, it is seldom as straight forward as we would like.
A good coach helps minimize the complexities and allows you to simply show up and run.
Minimize Your Injury Risk
Running is a contact sport.
No running coach can completely eliminate the risk of injury.
What a good coach can do is adjust your workouts, recommend specific strength training exercises, and encourage (mandate?) proper rest/recovery to help you stay healthy while logging your miles.
Keep Moving Forward
Whether you’re looking to run faster, run farther, or a little bit of both, a good running coach can help you minimize the amount of time that you spend stuck on a plateau.
Progress in our sport is incremental and it is going to take time, but working with a running coach can help you avoid some common missteps that runners (novice and experienced alike) are prone to making.
A good running coach recognizes that what got you here may not get you there, and they can help you decide when to stay the course and when it’s time to do something different to continue making progress.
Chart the Course
A good running coach takes the guesswork out of your training.
Instead of hemming and hawing over which choice is the right one for you, a good coach makes the decision for you.
To be clear, this choice isn’t made without your input. Most of the time, the two of you work together to weigh the pros and cons of each option.
But when the rubber hits the road, a good coach eliminates the uncertainty and points you in the direction that is best for you.
Keep It Real
Perhaps the most important trait that a good running coach provides is a willingness to keep it real.
There are times that hard conversations need to be had, and a good coach isn’t afraid to have those conversations.
There are also times when you may fail to recognize the progress that you have made, and a good coach reminds you of how far you’ve come.
And sometimes you just need to vent, and a good coach is more than willing to simply listen when required.
It’s a tough pill for any runner to swallow when things don’t go right during a training cycle or a race.
But it has happened to all of us at one point or another, I promise.
When the shit hits the fan, literal or figurative, a good coach can help you to calm down, regroup, and keep the bigger picture in mind.
Looking for a Good Coach?
I know a guy…
Options for Coaching Abound
Just like there are no one-size-fits-all runners or training plans, there are also no one-size-fits-all options for working with a running coach.
To me, that means that a good running coach should have different options available for runners to choose from based on their goals, their needs, and their budget.
I offer a variety of different coaching options, each of which are detailed below.
Denny Krahe is a Certified Athletic Trainer & Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist that specializes in injury prevention in runners. Click here to learn more about Denny.