As a running coach, I wish I could say all runners (or potential runners) would be great clients and that I’d be an amazing coach to anybody. However, I know this isn’t the case.
Not everyone can be coached.
Or at least, not everyone will get benefits from coaching that will make it worth their time and money.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Hire A Running Coach
Here are a few things you should consider before you hire a coach. These questions will help you determine if a coaching relationship could be worthwhile for you.
Are You Willing To Do The Work?
A coach can give you perfectly tailored advice. We can develop the perfect plan that is entirely optimized for your goal, your schedule, and your life. We can send reminders, schedule appointments or set times to run with you (for IRL run coaches).
But ultimately, you need to go for the run.
You need to put on your shoes and head out the door.
You need to be stronger than your excuses and not make excuses for why you couldn’t do the work.
A great coach and give you advice and encouragement, but ask yourself: are you willing to do the work?
Can You Take Feedback?
Depending on the coaching relationship, you may get feedback on your training, your mindset, your form, your nutrition, or on one of the million other things that make you a runner.
Sometimes this advice can be hard to hear.
It can be hard to take action on even the most accurate or useful advice when it means you need to change your habits or push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Ask yourself: are you willing to listen and to adapt/adjust based on feedback?
Of course, taking and acting on feedback assumes the feedback is useful and is presented in a constructive, kind, and helpful way. If your coach is giving you non-constructive advice or is giving good advice but in a way that doesn’t work for you, that is a sign of a much bigger, and entirely different, problem.
Be sure your coach understands you and how you like to receive feedback, suggestions, or advice. Remember: your coach works for you, not vice versa.
What Do You Want From Your Coach?
Why do you want to hire a coach?
Do you want or need accountability? A bespoke training plan? Confused by what the ‘right’ advice for you is?
There is no right or wrong reason to hire a coach, but you should have some idea of what you want out of the relationship. Even if what you want is a coach to help you define what you want. A good coach can help you set and plan for challenging, but realistic, goals, for example.
You don’t need to have everything you want out of the coaching relationship figured out on day 1, but you should have at least considered what kinds of things you want a running coach to help you with.
Ask yourself: what do you want your coach to do for you?
Are You Willing To Communicate?
In the training plans I develop for my clients, pretty much everything can be adjusted, adapted, or modified. But in order for me to make changes, I have to know there is a problem.
If you hate your training plan, or if you just can’t make the Tuesday speed workouts happen, you need to be willing to communicate that to your coach.
This communication becomes even more important if your coaching relationship is online.
IRL coaches can read your body language during a workout. They can see how you physically respond to a workout. But for online coaches like me, I can only see the stats of a run and I only know what my clients tell me about how they felt and how the run went. I’m a good coach, but I’m not psychic.
There is only so much your coach can do for you if you don’t communicate with them.
Ask yourself: are you willing to communicate with your coach, even if what you have to tell them is about aspects of the coaching you aren’t happy with?
Do You Believe You Can Change Or Improve?
Carol Dweck has popularized the idea of a fixed versus growth mindset (Check out her book Mindset). A person with a fixed mindset believes your skills and abilities are set and determined at birth while a person with a growth mindset believes you can learn, grow and improve through effort.
A coach can help you grow and improve as a runner, but in order for that to happen, you need to believe you are capable of growing and improving as a runner.
You are ultimately in charge of what you do and what you accomplish.
If you don’t think you can improve as a runner, or if you always think of yourself as the victim of other people’s agendas, or that ‘they’ are the reason you couldn’t get out to run, a coach will likely have limited impact.
Ask yourself: do you believe you can grow and improve? Are you willing to take responsibility for your growth?
What about you? What do you think you should ask yourself before you hire a running coach?