QT: How Much Value Does a Good Running Coach Provide?

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What does a running coach really do for the runners they coach?

If your first inclination is to say that coaches tell runners how many miles to run and what speed workouts to do, you’re not wrong.

But that’s not all a good running coach does.

In fact, if I may be so bold, that’s probably the least important thing a coach does for their athletes.

The Numbers are Pretty Straight Forward

When it comes to putting numbers on a training plan, that’s really not that difficult.

Now, I’m not trying to say that you can just pick numbers at random and that you’ll be good to go on race day, but a mileage progression isn’t overly complicated.

Shoot, Chat GPT can create a plan for you.

I’d say it’s not a very good plan, but it’s a plan.

Fact is, there are no shortage of free plans available online and on blogs and whatever that aren’t much more than mileage progressions designed to help you prepare for a race.

So while a coach is certainly going to put mileage numbers and progressions together for you, they better be doing much more than that if they are going to be charging you monthly to work with you.

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What Do Running Coaches Provide Then?

If a good running coach does more than just put numbers on a calendar/training plan, then what do good running coaches provide their athletes?

First though, a couple of disclaimers.

  • This list is not exhaustive.
  • Not every coach provides every item on this list in the same way. That’s ok.

Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, let’s get to it.


A good coach can explain why certain things are done/not done with regard to training.

Big Picture Planning/Perspective

It’s easy for runners to get laser-focused on the next race on the calendar.

Coaches keep their eye on the bigger picture, and how one race can impact the next race.


Pep talks. Cheerleading. Encourager.

If/when your confidence is wavering, a coach can give you the boost you need when you need it.

The Little Things

Strength training workouts. Scheduling yoga or foam rolling or cross-training activities.


Life is going to life. Always.

Having a coach to help you work through the inevitable ebbs and flows can be invaluable.

Race Day Support

Whether it’s putting a race day plan together or literally running with you on race day, support for race day should be expected.

Damage Control

Sometimes a running coach needs to save you from yourself.

This isn’t a fun part of the job, but it’s certainly necessary at times.

Is a Running Coach Worth It?

That is an Excellent Question

Ultimately, that’s for you to decide.

A good running coach can be an asset to any runner, I believe that fully.

But that doesn’t mean a coach, no matter how much value he or she provides to the runners they coach, is inherently worth the cost.

If you don’t think investing the money in yourself to work with a running coach makes sense, that’s fine.

Just don’t assume that all a running coach does is tell their athlete’s how much to run.

Because we do a whole lot more than that.

I Guarantee It

A good running coach does a lot more than just put numbers on a training plan. #runchat Share on X

What is the Most Important Thing a Good Running Coach Does In Your Opinion?

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