But before altogether abandoning dreams of a running-centric career, consider this: There are numerous professions for which a passion for running isn't just rewarded, but required.
Parlay your love and knowledge into some cash with one of these seven jobs. No world-record times required.
Running Concierge1 of 8
Westin Hotels made national headlines when it hired its first national "running concierge" in 2012. Chris Heuisler beat out 1,000 applicants to take a position described as "an on-site running expert traveling across the country to help guests."
While that particular job may be filled, more hotels are taking a page from Westin's book and hiring a fitness or running concierge to cater to guests. There's also running concierge services popping up in cities across the U.S. Working with local hotels, these businesses offer guided running "tours" of cities, catering to people in town for conferences or events and leading group runs around some of the more scenic places in the area.
Can't find a concierge service in your city? Setting up your own may be an option—turning your daily five-miler into a business opportunity and workout in one.
Dog Runners2 of 8
Sometimes the best running partner can be a four-legged one. With 78 million dogs in the United States, there are plenty of loyal canine companions just waiting to get their daily miles in. Dog walking services are a fairly common staple in bigger cities, but dog running companies that specialize in a more vigorous workout for our furry friends are new to the scene.
Many owners hire dog runners to exercise their over-active—but otherwise understimulated—dogs to burn off some energy. Others simply want to keep their dogs in shape. Dog runners often work part-time and can log anywhere from 35-50 miles a week exercising the pups. Most companies require demonstrated running experience, proving that an applicant possesses the stamina to keep up with even the most energetic breeds.
Intrigued? Search for dog running companies in your own city or check out the ones that have been established in Chicago, New York and San Antonio.
Running Shoe Store Owner3 of 8
Running may be a sport that doesn't require a lot of equipment, but a good pair of shoes is a must. If you've got a passion for running and a head for business, owning your own running shoe store may be a great fit. While the rise of online retailers continues, most runners will continue to seek out brick-and-mortar locations where they can actually try on the shoes.
A great running shop can help you buy gear, get expert fitness and running advice and connect you with the local community through sponsored group runs and races. Several independent running stores around the U.S. have done very well, providing great merchandise, knowledgeable employees and efficient back shop systems that increase their profitability.
Owners love that they get to help athletes in their community while being immersed in the culture of their favorite sport on a daily basis.
Race Director4 of 8
There's nothing quite like the atmosphere of pre-race excitement right before the gun goes off--runners are ready, volunteers in place, course marshals standing by. But before the runners can unleash all that energy on the course, months of preparation have to happen; for both the runners and the race itself.
The race director is in charge of all of the planning required to put on the event: Permits, maps, course certifications, volunteers, expos, on-course support and many other areas all fall under the director's jurisdiction. Often, race directors are runners themselves, and their background helps them plan for every detail that's needed to make the event a success. While many race directors are volunteers, larger races typically have paid, full-time race director positions. There are also local organizations that pay a race director to put on several athletic events throughout the year for the community.
Excellent organization skills are a must, as is the ability to manage lots of moving pieces and parts. And be forewarned: Someone has to get up at 3 a.m. to put out all those cones and corrals on race day. But if nothing gets you fired up like giving thousands of runners a chance to reach their goals, this might just be the position for you.
Brand Ambassador5 of 8
Social media platforms have expanded rapidly in the last several years and with that expansion came an influx of new careers. Social media strategists, internet marketing directors and digital media specialists are all charged with capitalizing on timely online obsessions.
If you are the type of runner that enjoys crafting Instagram posts and tweets about your latest race, you might be the perfect candidate to become a brand ambassador.
Brand ambassadors utilize their social accounts to spread awareness through their current athletic activities and are often asked to provide feedback on new products and gear to the brand company itself. Sports apparel, gear and running nutrition companies are often on the lookout for well-connected runners who can recommend and post about their products. Many brand ambassadors are paid in free apparel, gear and entry fees—not cash—but if you are going to be active on social media anyway, those perks can be viewed as an added bonus.
Cross Country or Track Coach6 of 8
The opportunity to shape young lives and help propel hundreds of kids to their running goals is high on the list of what draws many coaches to the sport. Keeping that altruistic vision in mind is key, as many high school and college track and cross country coaches aren't exactly raking in the big bucks. With a national average of $76,000 yearly salary for college coaches and only $30,000 for high school, there are many other positions with higher earnings. But, for those of us that love the sport and love helping others reach their goals, the position of coach can be incredibly rewarding.
If you'd like to get into coaching, consider reaching out to your local schools to inquire about a coaching (or assistant coaching) position with the high school or middle school teams. Completing a USATF or RRRC course to become a certified coach can help boost your credentials and may help you land your first gig.
Nutritionist7 of 8
It's no secret that runners love to eat. And though we may not always choose "high quality fuel" over that post-run burger and beer, we aspire to feed the machine well so we can continue to knock out mile after mile.
If you've always been fascinated at the role food plays in performance, you may look to a career as a sports nutritionist or dietician. A good nutritionist who specializes in athletic performance can help take a runner's performance from sub-par to PR. Many colleges offer a Bachelor of Science in nutrition or in sports nutrition, or you can pursue certification by completing specialty practice in the field and passing an exam.
Fueling and nutrition make up a big part of a runner's training, and a career as a nutritionist gives you the opportunity to help enhance the lives of many athletes while gaining the inside knowledge you need to ensure your own training and nutrition are on point.