Is Hiring a Running Coach Helpful or Not

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It seems that personal assistance is becoming more popular. From virtual to real-life, there are people who can help you achieve any goals you can think of. A lot of people are asking if hiring a running coach is hype or helpful. To be honest, with all good hype, it depends.

Hiring a Coach – the Good

Finding a coach or mentor for any area of your life is usually helpful. There are a few different ways that a good coach can help you improve.

For one thing, coaches provide accountability. On those days that you just don’t feel like running, they’ll force you to do it anyways. They won’t let you skip a workout unless you have an extremely good reasons.

Annoying? Sometimes, yeah. But you’ll be thankful when all that hard work pays off.

Another reason to hire a running coach is vary your workouts. If you always plan your own workouts, there’s a good chance you’re not using enough variety. Or even if you are varying workouts, perhaps you aren’t making them tough enough, or perhaps they’re too difficult.

Coaches can help you create a flexible program that incorporates strength training, speed, endurance and flexibility.

Something many runners don’t think about is objectivity. A good coach will be very objective towards your progress, running form, gear, training methods, and everything else. They won’t feel bad about pointing out something that needs to be fixed.

For example, maybe you’ve been training on the same course for years, just because it’s convenient. Your coach will probably tell you that you’re training your muscles to get used to that course, and need to try something different.

Finally, consider the experience of the coach. A good coach will be able to tell you how other athletes achieved their goals, and help you do the same. They would’ve seen what works and doesn’t work, and optimize your plan to get results.

This includes everything from nutrition to clothing.

That said- some people have bad experiences hiring a running coach. Here are a few things to watch out for.

Hiring a Coach – the Bad and the Ugly

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Some people jump right in and hire the first running coach they come across. Even though that might work out- there’s also a good chance that it won’t turn out well.

For example, the coach may be inexperienced as a coach. Just because they’ve been running for decades does NOT mean they can coach well. Yes, they can definitely provide better insight than your average Joe- but don’t expect to get amazing results from someone just getting started coaching.

Also, make sure you consider the coach’s personality in the equation. Are they too soft? A good running coach is kind but firm. They’ll tell you what you need to know and be friendly most of the time, but when it comes to training, they don’t joke around.

Some coaches take one extreme or the other. They may be too nice, unwilling to scold you or give you a hard time if you slack off. The other type of coach, the one who ALWAYS yells at you and pushes you too hard, isn’t what you want either.

Finally, coaches can be fairly expensive, depending on who you hire. If you don’t have the funds, you may want to consider another option to hiring a coach.

Alternatives to Coaching

There are a few things you can do if you don’t have the funds to hire a good coach, or you want to get in shape but not to the extent of hiring a professional.

In that case, one option is to join a running group. There are tens of thousands of them across the country, ranging from 2-3 people to thousands. They tend to meet at health clubs, running shoe stores, high school stadiums, parks, and other places.

The good thing about a running group is that you can have people hold you accountable, but they aren’t going to push you extremely hard. Most running groups are about being social with the benefit of running thrown in.

Another alternative is to go down to your local library and pick up some books about running. These can help a lot with improving your nutrition, training schedules, and selecting quality gear. The only problem with books is that they can’t watch you run and tell you what you’re doing incorrectly.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that hiring a running coach isn’t just hype. It’s actually very helpful, provided you hire a quality coach that knows what they’re talking about. If you’re serious about improving your running speed, getting in better shape, and becoming competitive- you need a coach.

But if you’re just trying to have fun and meet other runners, consider joining a local runners club. It’s free, it’s fun, and it lets you meet cool people!

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