When To Hire A Running Coach

Since becoming an RRCA Certified Level I running coach last spring, I have received so many questions about what that “means” or what I (and other coaches) even do.

In short, a running coach is great for any level that you are at currently as a runner – even if you haven’t begun your running journey yet! They can assess your fitness history and running form, provide long or short-term training plans, give cross-training and recovery cues to stay injury-free, and give a general overview of running nutrition requirements and suggestions — all tailored specifically to you.


Depending on the coach, they may do virtual programs, host in-person group or individual runs, create one-off plans, or provide other consultative services to support runners.Each coach has different training styles and philosophies, but should always have one main priority: our athletes – and their goals and best interest.

Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider hiring a coach for your running journey.

You’re now running to become a fitter, better runner – not just to burn calories.

You start see other people logging miles “just to burn calories” or get in better overall shape, and that’s just not you anymore.You are finally getting serious about training – not just “exercising”. You want to succeed as an athlete and become a better runner.

This is an exciting place to be!  If running has become your priority, a coach can help you build a long-term plan to progress in this sport, specifically.

You’ve hit a plateau in races.

You were PRing every race…for a while. Now it seems like you’re stuck or moving backwards. What gives?

A coach can analyze your past training schedule, find gaps, and assess ways to keep moving forward. A coach is well-versed on how to periodize training to see improvements consistently. We also know how to help tweak goals to be realistic and attainable, but still reach whatever our athletes are striving for.

Lack of motivation and / or accountability.

Some days, you can’t seem to find the will to get out the door (especially in the heat of summer, the frigid temps of winter, or a rainy soggy day.) Some folks have the willpower and mindset to just go out and do it anyways, but plenty of people need some level of accountability to motivate them to do something – and that’s okay! There are different motivators that get us to accomplish our goals, and sometimes that means hiring a coach to help us through that.

Whether it’s the financial obligation, the constant support, or just knowing that someone is holding you to something, hiring a

running coach could be the best way to stay motivated as a runner.

The free plans you found online never work for your schedule and routine.

Maybe that plan looked great when you downloaded it, but you missed a long run and can’t figure out how to make up for it. Or, you just can’t run all 5 days per week because your work schedule has been crazy lately. And let’s be honest, you skip almost every cross-training day…because you signed up to run, not sit on the elliptical for an hour a week.

A good coach knows how to tailor a race plan specific to you and your schedule. We can help you decide when the best time to workout is to fit your routine, how to rearrange missed workouts, and make sure you’re not over-doing it. We can also figure out what cross-training is best for you and your schedule and how to fit it in so you actually complete it!

You don’t want to have to worry about your training.

Maybe you know what workouts to accomplish, how many miles to run, how to prevent injuries, how to recover, and everything else that goes in to a good training plan. But even the best, most seasoned runners HAVE running coaches! Not because they don’t know what to do – but because they don’t want to worry about doing it for themselves. 

Not to mention, often times we treat ourselves differently than others. Sometimes you need a coach to hold us back or push us further in training. A good coach finds that balance and takes the stress and planning out of running.

You, as an athlete, get to sit back, put the hard work in, and reap the benefits without worrying about the nitty gritty details of your training plan.

You keep getting injured (despite your best efforts to stay healthy)

We all have that little niggle that pops up, or injury that just won’t go away – despite trying recovery methods and rest.

A running coach can help you to decide what to run through, when to rest, and when to go see a doctor or specialist. Most running coaches have a network of physical therapists or recommended specialists when it comes to healing injuries. A good coach will know when to send you to the right person to keep you healthy and active.

We also know the best ways to help prevent injuries and can add those in to your training plan and routines to keep you as healthy as possible.

So whether you’re aiming for that BQ, fighting through a plateau, or working up to your very first mile, a running coach could be the right fit for you. With all of the different types of coaches and plans out there, you can always find the right coach for your needs to help you reach your goals!

Not ready to hire a running coach just yet? Check out my running blog for more running advice, motivation, and insights!

If you’re interested in coaching services, click here for more information, or email me directly at ally.c.omalley@gmail.com. 

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