Working with a Running Coach has the potential to be a truly transformational experience for a runner. A good Coach can help you reduce your injury risk, understand and improve your technique, get faster, fitter and stronger, and ultimately to enjoy running more than before. But knowing what to look for when searching for a Running Coach can be tricky. Having assembled the largest team of Running Coaches in the UK, we’ve spoken to hundreds of Coaches over the years. Here are our top tips for choosing who to work with.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve been thinking about working with a Running Coach to help improve your running or hit your running goal. Great idea! We are huge believers in the benefits of working with a Running Coach – no matter if you’re a complete beginner or a competitive runner.
But even once you’ve decided to find out more and maybe discuss your goals with a Coach, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you’re like most people, you might begin with a quick Google search, and hopefully find an individual or company offering running coaching in your area. But how do you assess your options?
This is really important. Start by checking out their credentials. Do they hold a valid coaching qualification? If they do – is it running specific? We get applications every week from people who claim to be Running Coaches, but who haven’t completed any running-specific coaching training. We don’t work with these people, and if you’re looking for help with your running – you shouldn’t either.
A Personal Trainer is not the same as a Running Coach. Even if you find a Personal Trainer who is an accomplished runner, if they haven’t undertaken training specifically geared at coaching runners, there will likely be gaps in their knowledge that could really hinder your experience. Running is as technical as any other sport, and so the specialist training that qualified Running Coaches have undertaken is worth its weight in gold.
2. OK, But Which Qualifications?!
The majority of We Run’s Coaches have undergone their training through UK Athletics, which is the National Governing Body for running. This is the official coaching pathway for Running Coaches in the UK, and their Coach in Running Fitness (sometimes abbreviated to CiRF) and Athletics Coaching licences are the most popular choices for aspiring Running Coaches. If your potential Coach has completed either of these courses, you know they’ve been signed off by the National Governing Body as fit to Coach.
There are quite a lot of other running coaching courses available (too many to go through here). If your potential Coach has a different qualification, do bear in mind that not all courses are created equal. Do some research into the qualification they hold – paying particular attention to how in-depth the course is, how long it takes to complete and how much contact time it requires. You can find everything from really robust, in-depth courses at one end of the spectrum, right down to a single online ‘quiz’, all claiming to qualify those that complete them as Running Coaches. Not all Coaches are created equal – so do your homework!
3. Are They A Runner?
Let’s get one thing straight; being a good runner does not mean you’re automatically going to be a good Coach, and some of the best Coaches around are distinctly average runners themselves. So the running ability of a Coach is no indication of their coaching ability. But! If you’re looking to improve your running, there’s a lot to be said for working with a Coach who is (or has been) a passionate runner themselves. They will understand your issues, your concerns, the highs and the lows, and will be able to relate to your running journey in a way that a non-runner simply won’t be able to. Simply put, a fellow runner will ‘get it’; and there’s a lot of value in that.
4. Do You Like Them?
Depending on what you’re looking to get out of your coaching, you could be working with your Coach for some time, and so it’s really important that you actually like them, and can see yourself working well with them. Take the time to talk with them on the phone. Talk through your aims and how they think they can help you, to give you the opportunity to get a feel for their approach and their personality. Running coaching is fundamentally about improving your running in some way, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be an enjoyable process! A friendly, personable Coach will help ensure you enjoy the journey.
Working with a Running Coach can be a truly transformational experience, but finding a good Coach can be a challenge
Running Coaching is a specific discipline, with specific qualifications attached to it. Generic Personal Training is not the same as Running Coaching
Improving your running with the help of a Coach should be enjoyable, so finding a personable, friendly Coach is key
Check their credentials; if they are UK Athletics Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) or Athletics Coach qualified, this is a good sign
Assess how robust their qualifications are; not all running coaching qualifications are created equal
Get them on the phone! A quick phone conversation is a fantastic way to check that you have a good rapport