Whether you're new to running or have been at it for years, if you're working towards a big running goal, hiring a coach may be the right move for you.
But how do you even find running coaches for hire? And when you've located a few, how do you decide which one to work with?
If you're already active in your local running community, the best way to find a running coach is to ask around. You'll find that many runners have recommendations for local area coaches.
Getting recommendations from friends can be especially helpful if they know what your goals are and have worked with specific coaches themselves. Many times you will also get first-hand insight on coaching style and pricing.
Jon Noland, a triathlon and running coach based in Tampa, Florida, actually prefers personal recommendations, as opposed to online marketing.
"One thing I am very proud of as a coach is that 95 percent of my athletes come via referrals from existing or former athletes," he says. "There is no greater compliment as a coach than when someone you work with or have in the past has no hesitation in sharing with others how positive their experience has been."
Do Your Own Research
If you are a new runner or need more options outside of your friends or training group, let your fingers do the work and try an online search. Many running coaches have websites or facebook pages that detail their services. You can do a search to find one in your area specifically or try to find someone who offers online, remote coaching.
These sites will typically list their pricing and information on their expertise and backgrounds.
Yet another option in finding a coach is to head to your local running store. Most running stores offer group runs and have coaches on staff or, at the very least, can offer a recommendation.
How to Decide
As you narrow down your search, it's important to think about why you want a coach and what you are willing to pay for one.
Running coaches run the gambit when it comes to fees. Typically, coaches who have more experience and work with elite or professional runners are going to be more costly.
Always remember that a running coach is similar to a personal trainer. It's a service-based industry, and there aren't real guidelines for pricing. You decide if what they are offering is fair based on what you are looking for.
The running industry has several certifications for different types of running coaches. At this time, there isn't a certification for all running coaches across the board, so it's important that you speak with your candidates about why they may or may not hold a certification.
Meeting Your Coach
Before you officially commit to a coach, you should have a meeting with him or her. At this meeting, you'll want to learn about their training philosophy and what they will expect from you. It's also important to know the methods and frequency of communication that they prefer.
Perhaps the most important question you should ask: Do you like this person?
The athlete-coach relationship is very special and requires a good understanding on both parts. There should be mutual respect, and camaraderie is also important.
Taking criticism can be tough so it's crucial that you understand how your coach will help you succeed. Will it be tough love that motivates you or praise that gets you moving? Make sure you ask about their specific coaching style at your meeting.
"Shop around and never settle," Noland says. "Coaches get many chances to 'get it right' with athletes, but each athlete gets only one shot at their journey towards greatness. Be clear in your expectations and criteria when interviewing potential coaches, and don't be afraid to walk away from one if the fit just isn't there."
Running coaches aren't just for the pros anymore. They can also be a great help in meeting your personal running goals. Just make sure to do the research and choose purposefully.
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