10 Reasons You Should Hire a Running Coach

See how you can improve your time with the help of a coach.

September 16, 2016
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Most runners are self-coached, but sometimes they can improve their ability to run fast by seeking the advice of a coach.

More: The 12 Secrets to Running Success

You can also get coaching advice by joining a team or an online training program. Here are 10 services that a coach can provide for a runner seeking improvement.

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Motivation

Getting started is important for beginners; keeping going is a necessity for even experienced runners. A good coach can provide the necessary jump-start in the first case and continuous pushing in the latter. Reporting on a regular basis to a coach or mentor—even only once a week or by e-mail or phone—can provide an important keystone to any training plan.

More: 6 Workout Motivation Tips from Top Trainers

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System

Good coaches have been compared to chefs. They know how to mix the different ingredients. In addition to a system, they also have a methodology. Often, the details in any system are secondary to its mere existence.

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Planning

Proper planning can sharpen the focus of your goals. A coach can help pick goals that are realistic and design training plans to achieve those goals, both long- and short-term.

More: 7 Marathons Perfect for Beginners

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Advice

Once a runner has been working with a coach for a long time, the training plan becomes obvious. One key role for coaches advising elite athletes is picking races, particularly knowing when to say no in this era of run for the money. But average runners need similar help to avoid over-racing.

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Injury prevention

Big plus. A coach who carefully monitors an athlete's progress can recognize when the athlete begins to show signs of the fatigue from overtraining that often precede any injury.  But even more important, a coach can help prevent overtraining, which often leads to injury. 

More: How to Injury-Proof Your Knees

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Plateau busting

Sooner or later, all runners reach the point at which they fail to improve. How to get off a plateau is a common problem. A good coach can suggest different types of training that may allow the plateaued runner to climb upward to a new level of performance.

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Checklist

A good coach provides a system and a plan to the relationship. The coach knows the athlete: his or her background, his or her potential. This allows the coach to prescribe workouts, not only for the day, but for weeks and months down the road. This allows the runner to focus on the actual training with an open mind. 

More: 5 Essential Strength Training Moves for Runners

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Feedback

Most runners maintain logs or diaries, on paper or online, but they don't always know how to interpret accumulated information. A coach, based upon his experience with many athletes, can evaluate training from an unbiased point of view. Feedback, going both ways, is essential in the coach/athlete relationship.

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Cheerleader

Runners' muscles run on glycogen, but their minds often run on praise. They need encouragement. A coach can offer a shoulder to cry on after a bad race or a pat on the back after a good race.

More: 25 Trainer-Approved Motivational Mantras

Fun
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Fun

A coach can make training fun by offering a variety of workouts and running routes. The coaching environment offers an opportunity to interact with other runners working with the same coach. For those who run for enjoyment, this may be the best reason to hire a coach.

Adapted from Run Fast 

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