8 Reasons to Hire a Running Coach (Even if You Aren’t an Elite Athlete)

If you are like many runners, you may assume that hiring a running coach is something reserved for elites and runners with serious budding talent.   But we’re here to tell you: that assumption is wrong.

The majority of the running & endurance racing community (triathlon, OCR, adventure racing, etc.) is comprised of “everyday” runners – runners of all abilities and speeds who love the sport, but certainly aren’t paying their bills with prize money from winning races.   Yet “mediocre” (I hate that word) or not, we all have our own reasons for running, and we all have our own personal running goals we hope to achieve.   And sometimes, fast or slow, experienced or beginner alike, we may all find a point where we require help from a running coach.

A very proud Coach Geoff (and hiding Heather) with client Tony, after finishing his first 100 miler

8 Reasons to Hire a Running Coach

No matter what your speed or place in the “pack”, there are a number of aspects a coach can help with when it comes to your training and racing.  Here are eight reasons that everyday athletes may benefit from working with a coach:

Personalized Training > Cookie Cutter Plans

To be fully transparent, I have written and published numerous “cookie cutter” training plans for those who are looking for a sound training plan, but aren’t ready to work with a coach. However, I’ll be the first to tell you that these are always going to be inferior to personalized training. Why?

Because no two athletes are the same. Varying fitness levels, training availability, and so many more factors can contribute to how quickly an athlete progresses through a training plan. Further, each athlete is going to have their own individual goals. Sure, a 50K is a 50K – but the training needed to run a 50K on a flat, dirt road is going to be vastly different than training for a 50K on a technical trail with 8,000 feet of elevation change.

A coach can help you customize your training not only specifically for your goals, but based on your fitness level and how well your progress through the training cycle.


A running coach is going to hold you accountable for your training and workouts. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner looking for someone to motivate you to get into a regular running routine, or if you are an intermediate runner who has a hard time sticking to your training plan; a running coach will hold you responsible for running those miles. 

Of course, the level of accountability will vary between each coach and client relationship. And further, it’s important to remember that the coach can’t do the work for you: you still have to make the effort to lace up your shoes and get out the door.   But some people find that simply having to check in with someone at the end of the day or week is enough motivation to stick to their training plan.

Need help balancing training and “life”?

There are endless free training plans available online, in books, and in magazines. But for the average runner, figuring out how to apply that training plan to their personal life and schedule can be overwhelming. Can you move your long run from Saturday to a Tuesday? What happens if you miss a run, do you make it up, or move everything forward by a day?

A running coach can take ALL of the guess work out of scheduling – and rescheduling – your training plan, so you don’t ever have to question if you are “doing it right”.

Race Goals

Many intermediate to experienced runners find themselves with a specific time goal for a race, such as a Boston Marathon qualifying time, but aren’t quite sure what workouts they should be doing to help reach that goal.  A running coach will be able to take the guesswork out of your training by prescribing exact workouts, paces, and distances to help you reach your goal based on your current fitness levels and training volume.  Also, a coach is likely to be far more realistic about the time frame surrounding your attempts to achieve the goal; they aren’t going to promise a brand new runner that they will go from couch to 5K immediately into a sub 3 hour marathon, but instead give them more realistic goals to aim for.

Looking to try a new race distance?

Making the jump from a 5K to a half marathon, a half marathon to a full marathon, or even a full marathon to an ultra can be intimidating.  If you are looking to increase your weekly or monthly mileage, or perhaps train for a longer distance race, you may want to consider hiring a running coach. A coach will be able to help you design a training program that will allow you to safely progress as you increase your training distance, in order to help avoid overuse injuries, as well as mental exhaustion or burnout.

Coach Regan & Coach Geoff helping client Christina to her first 100K finish. Photo credit: Dove Light Photography

Constantly battling injuries?

Perhaps you are continually experiencing some sort of pain or injury that is directly related to a biomechanical discrepancy or poor running form. A running coach will be able to not only analyze your running gait and technique, but also suggest exercises and drills to help you improve your running.  In theory this works best with a coach that you can meet in person, however in this day and age of technology, even a remote coach may be able to help with biomechanical issues.

Or maybe, the incessant injuries are due to overtraining and poor recovery. A good running coach will make sure you’re not overtraining, not peaking too soon, and taking adequate rest intervals both during a training cycle and after big races.

Does your training involve special circumstances?

Many athletes find themselves with special circumstances that may require the advice and supervision of a professional running coach. For example, a runner who is recovering from knee surgery may want help in designing a training program that will allow them to successfully return to running long distance. Or maybe an expectant mother wants help in altering a rigorous training program to a plan that fits with her pregnancy. A professional running coach will be able to take your special circumstances into consideration to help you continue working towards your goals.

Do you want to take your running to the next level?

A  running coach can help you take your running to the next level, no matter what that means to you. Perhaps you have been a casual runner, but you are looking to start competing in local races, and earn your first “age group award”. Or maybe you are already competitive, but your progress seems to have stalled. Whatever the reason, a running coach may be the key to helping you take that step to improving your running.

Ready to talk to a coach?

Send us an email (click here to be taken to our contact form) and let’s start the conversation to see if our team can help you reach your goals.

(A version of this blog post first appeared on www.relentlessforwardcommotion.com)