How do you make decisions about purchases that you make in your life?
I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’d imagine that you probably do some research about whatever you are thinking about getting to determine if it’s worth what you’re going to have to pay for it. And the more something costs, typically, the more research you’re going to do to make sure that the value of the product/service that you’ll receive is more than the monetary cost.
Yet when it comes to working with a running coach, many people ask a running coach what it will cost to work with them and that’s it.
Believe me, there are many more questions you should be asking before you decide what coach you are going to (possibly) hire.
What You Need to Ask a Running Coach Before Worrying About the Price
I understand that how much a coach costs will impact whether or not you can work with him or her.
But if you’re going to invest in yourself as a runner, it makes sense to finding a coach that is a good fit for you. And the only way to do that is to ask a bunch of questions BEFORE you work with him or her so that there is no confusion about what you expect from the coach and vice versa.
So what questions should you ask a running coach? Here are a few big ones you don’t want to overlook.
- Background: Remember, just because someone is an RRCA certified coach, doesn’t make them qualified and capable of helping you achieve your goals. Similarly, not being RRCA certified doesn’t mean that a coach doesn’t know what they are doing. Ask about their background as a runner, as a coach, and what types of education they have. If someone can’t explain why they are a qualified coach, besides just saying that they are certified, that should be a major red flag.
- Time Table to Reach Your Goals: During your conversation, I’d recommend asking a potential coach how long they estimate it will take to reach your goals. Now, a good coach will remind you that there are a lot of variables at play and may not be able to give you an exact timeline, but they should be able and willing to give you a realistic idea. If they are promising almost immediate results or being extremely vague, you might want to look into some other options.
- Experience With Your Particular Goals: After you’ve explained your goals to the coach, you should ask if that coach has worked with many runners with very similar goals. If they haven’t, that’s not the end of the world, but how are they sure they can help you if they’ve never helped anyone else in a similar situation? I wouldn’t consider a lack of experience a deal breaker (we all have to start somewhere), but you should be aware of their level of experience as it pertains to helping you with your goals before you start working with them.
- Style of Communication: A good coach/client relationship requires 2-way communication to get the best results. If the coach only wants to communicate via email (which can work fine), but you prefer a phone call, this could cause issues down the road. If you ask before, there will be no surprises later.
- Life Interference: What happens when life happens? When you get sick? Have to work OT and miss a few workouts? If you get injured? Knowing that your coach is willing and able to tweak the training plan as needed when life gets in the way is huge.
I’ll be talking about each of these points in much more detail on today’s podcast episode, which you can hear by pressing play below!