So, I’ve decided that I need a running coach. I’ve already expressed that I’m not thrilled with the training program that I purchased back in July. I just don’t feel like it’s going to take me where I want to go and help me accomplish my running goals. It’s a total bummer because I spent money on it (I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can get some of that money back!) but in reality, it’s generic and, while it’s described as being “sport specific” – my sport being running – it’s really difficult to tailor it around the running that I want to do because of the CrossFit component.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of finding a coach for a while but then, I think “hey, I’ve already run 8 marathons without ever needing a coach so….”  Then, I stop thinking about it and just get back to trying to figure things out for myself. I’ve used generic training plans and I’ve even used Training Peaks plans through Runner’s World with a time-specific goal in mind (paid for those) and those have been fine. Mostly. For just running.

I want running and strength training, in a balanced format that doesn’t knock me on my butt or have me running intervals and time trials pretty much every running day.

Hence, my need for a coach. So, what are some of the benefits I expect to gain from hiring a coach?

Benefits of Hiring a Running Coach.

1. Customizable and Personalized Training Plan

This is seriously one of the most attractive things to me about having a coach. A coach does the hard part and creates the training plan and I get to do all the fun stuff, like running!  There’s nothing wrong with a generic training plan – I’ve used them pretty much my whole running career! – but they’re basic, they can be boring, sometimes they feel rigid, they don’t usually include strength training or mobility work, which is important, and often, the runner is left up to his or her own devices adjusting the schedule to life/work/travel/etc. I don’t know about you but I struggle to adjust a training plan. And then I end up feeling guilty when I do. There’s no one there to guide me. Besides, when you have a coach, you can contact him or her and talk about how a workout made you feel, whether it was tough or too easy, and then things can get adjusted!  You won’t find that with a basic plan from the internet.

2. Setting Goals

This actually goes right along with number 1.  When you have a coach, you can actually discuss your goals and then your coach will understand how to write your training plan to help you achieve them. Plus, if your goals are too big, broad, or vague, a coach can help you narrow things down into small, manageable, and realistic goals. <- Hey, that sounds pretty S.M.A.R.T.  (tee hee, see what I did there?)

3. Injury Prevention

You’d think, given my recent history, this would be at the top of my list! haha.  But seriously, a coach who stays in touch and monitors your progress can tell if you’re hitting that “over-training” spot and can help you scale back to prevent injury. If I’d had a coach last year, it’s possible I never would have torn my meniscus. But, hindsight is 20/20 so…. who knows? Also, with a coach, you’re not likely to get an intense plan right out of the box, especially if you’re a beginner. Most coaches will err on the side of moderate rather than difficult and then make adjustments after feedback. And, if you’re me and the basic training plan doesn’t necessarily include stretching or mobility, you might be tempted to just skip it using the old “hey, I don’t have time and it wasn’t written in my plan, anyway!” excuse. *insert eye roll emoji*  With a coach, it’s in there, especially if you are honest and you tell your coach you’re that kind of person. Be honest about that!! And then maybe, if you’re like me, you’ll feel guilty more accountable and actually do it. Yeah, more accountable. 🙂

4. Proper Training

Running coaches are not just for experienced and/or professional runners. A brand new runner can benefit from a run coach. I remember when I first started really getting into running, I did countless Google searches and read as much as I could about running, starting running, and how to build mileage, etc. Plus, I had a couple of work friends who were runners so I was always bothering them asking questions and driving them crazy. LOL  But not everyone has those kinds of friends or the time to do all that reading! I took public transportation to work so I had the luxury of reading during a 35 minute train ride. A run coach will guide you through all that! A run coach will explain the training, teach you about proper rest and recovery time, and pacing, depending on your goals.

5. Motivation

A training plan you get from the Internet is not going to pat you on the back, either virtually or in person, for crushing a workout or nailing a pace or running the longest distance you’ve ever run in your life. A training plan you get from the internet is not going to be out there with you at the track, cheering you on through that speed workout. A training plan you get from the internet is not going to check in on you and see how you’re doing and WHOOP it up with you when you meet a goal. A coach will believe in you and tell you that you can do it. And sometimes, that’s priceless.

Something else important about hiring a coach – don’t just pick the first one you find. Unless he/she is perfect for you. You need to have a conversation, discuss goals and strategies, find out what that coach believes in, how he/she works, etc. The cost is also important but it’s not the most important thing. You need to find a coach you jive with, who you can really talk to and who really listens. And I think I found one!!

5 reasons why you'll benefit from hiring a running coach. #sweatpink #fitlfuential #running #runchat Click To Tweet

So, tell me, do you have anything to add to this list?  Have you ever worked with a coach before? What was your number one reason for hiring a coach?

*Linking up with Marcia, Erika, and Patty for Tuesdays on the Run! Thanks ladies!*


  1. Agness of Fit Travelling | 13th Dec 17

    I can definitely see the benefits from hiring a coach, Jennifer! Excellent tips and a post which gave me food for thought. 😉

  2. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | 6th Dec 17

    I’m a huge fan of working with a running coach, no matter your level of running expertise. There are in-person and virtual options that can really make a huge difference. It’s harder to slack off when an actual person will call you out on it compared to following an online plan.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 6th Dec 17

      That is so true! The accountability factor is exponentially larger when someone is checking in on you.

  3. Clarinda | 5th Dec 17

    These all sound like great reasons to get a running coach! I’ve never used a coach and have designed most of my own training plans or used one in the Nike+ app.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 6th Dec 17

      Oh, interesting! Does the Nike+ app allow for programming in weight workouts or do you have to do that separately? Clearly it’s working since you PR’d the heck out of your half!!

  4. Chelsea Stockdale | 5th Dec 17

    I love the idea of hiring a running coach! I’ve never done it myself but have heard such amazing things about it! I bet you’re really going to thrive off of it!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 5th Dec 17

      Thanks! I’m really excited about the possibilities! 😀 I really feel like it’s what I need right now. I know some runners who work with a coach and they’re always just so happy and positive!

  5. Lisa | 5th Dec 17

    I definitely agree! I worked with a coach for my last marathon and it was so beneficial. After I became a coach 3 years ago I wanted to play around with making my own training plans for awhile, but after a year or so I felt like I needed outside help to take my running to the next level. Having someone else to give feedback and motivation was really helpful.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 6th Dec 17

      I’m so glad to hear that! I think this is going to definitely be what I need. I guess the bonus is – I’m pretty coachable. I don’t have any problems in doing what I’m told. LOL

  6. Wendy Leep Hammond | 5th Dec 17

    The only running coach I’ve worked with is the one from our running group. He is awesome and provides a few different plans for the group. I have yet to attend the speed and strength training sessions that are held during the week because my schedule hasn’t worked out.

    I struggle with finding generic plans for ultra trail running that include anything in addition to giving weekly mileage. Our coach doesn’t have experience with that (he is mostly about getting people to marathons and BQ) and I’ve not found much online.

    Good luck with your training!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 5th Dec 17

      I’m looking to do my first ultra in 2018 and, since I’m coming back from my knee surgery, I want to make sure I get there injury free! The strength and speed sessions offered by run clubs (I used to go when I belonged to a club when we lived in Maryland) were more running strength oriented than muscular strength. Does that guys plans include weight training? I need days of just plain old lifting weights in my schedule! Haha. I’ve also looked at ultra plans on the internet – basically, they’re all “just go run a lot.” *Sigh* Maybe one day, a basic plan will be less basic.

  7. Marcia | 5th Dec 17

    You make great points. I’ve run uncoached and worked with coaches as well. Your point about a good fit is SO key. As a coach myself, I’m lucky enough to work with many amazing runners. However I’ve had some come to me “on a different page” wanting to be trained in a way I felt was not in their best interest. It’s a really interesting dynamic. All the best with your search!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 5th Dec 17

      Thanks!! I couldn’t imagine working with a coach that I didn’t jive well with. Coming from a CrossFit point of view, a good coach can really help you improve. A bad coach makes you not really want to be there and that’s not good because that stuff requires coaching so you don’t get injured! I’ve had a few coaches that have made me change my schedule so I don’t take their classes. 🙄 With running, you don’t always have the option of taking the 5pm class instead of the 4pm class to get a different coach – you’ve gotta have that relationship all the time. I think I’ve found one that will be perfect for me! 😁

  8. Amanda Brooks | 5th Dec 17

    This makes me deliriously happy!!! I love coaching and have found what a difference it can make for people to just have not only the accountability but someone to say “it’s ok, take a day off!!!”

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 5th Dec 17

      Yay!!! Thank you!! And right?! It’s hard to focus on days off when you’re working toward something. I’m definitely guilty of doing too much because I felt lazy for taking a day off!

  9. Rachel Frutkin | 5th Dec 17

    I hope you find a great coach for your needs. I love my coach — I don’t need a lot of structure and he knows that. He gives me the challenging workouts and expects me to fill in the blanks. He gets how I operate and it’s been great.

    When I first start training someone, I do start on the more conservative end. And if I see they can handle more work, I adjust. Likewise, if something seems wonky, we dial it back. Coaching is both art and science. It’s fun being on the coaching side of things!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 5th Dec 17

      I think that’s the key – finding a coach who really understands how you operate. This training program that I’ve been following is generic but I can reach out to the coach. But, because it’s not tailored to me and anyone can buy in, he doesn’t give a rat’s patootie about me or how I operate. *sigh*

      I’m hoping that I can be a coach one day, too! The next RRCA course near me is in April in Northern Virginia. We’ll see. I’d love to be able to help others with their running goals!

  10. kookyrunner | 5th Dec 17

    I agree with all of your points! For me, the biggest reason I hired a coach was for accountability. Knowing I have to “report in” on my workouts helps to keep me honest 🙂 It’s always nice to feel like you have a personal cheerleader along the journey as well!!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 5th Dec 17

      Yay! I’m glad you agree! I’ve been considering it for a while and I really needed to make this list so I could see how I would benefit. lol And yes to accountability! I’m generally pretty good with staying accountable but lately …. I’m a little less so. Especially since I don’t have anything planned until March! It’s just too easy to skip a day and then two and then a few more because it’s cold, I’m tired, I don’t want to, or whatever!

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