Should I Hire a Running Coach?

You’ve been running for a while and you’re considering hiring a running coach. You want to know hey, Jesse, that’s me, is hiring a running coach worth it? So, if you haven’t been with me here on the channel before, I’m Jesse Funk.

You’ve been running for a while and you’re considering hiring a running coach. You want to know hey, Jesse, that’s me, is hiring a running coach worth it? So, if you haven’t been with me here on the channel before, I’m Jesse Funk. This is a show I call Runner’s High. And all the things I talked about are both my personal experience and things I’ve learned through the various coaches I’ve had over the years. I’ve had a number of them and learned various philosophies that are running. And figuring out whether you need a running coach can be a crucial difference in how well you do running.

Now, not everybody needs a running coach, I’ll be the first to say that. I think I’m perfectly capable of being my own running coach if I want to be. But there are some very major benefits to hiring a running coach. And the number one thing is going to be the mental load that it takes off of you. I know that I have the skills, I have the background, I have the knowledge to write a running program for myself to take myself to a pretty high level. But what comes with that is extra mental load and extra strain. It’s extra time I have to spend to figure out what I need to do.

Now I have to figure it out. And I have to execute it. It’s hard to understand the difference between the mental loads of planning and training your entire schedule, versus just doing what somebody tells you to do. There’s something relieving about just being able to say, “Okay. Coach, what am I doing today?” And they say, “This is what you’re doing.” You say, “Okay. That’s what I’ll do.”

And there’s nothing else to do, you just do it. Saving yourself mentally, saving that mental energy is a huge boon to be able to run better, to run faster because you can focus on executing instead of thinking about is this right? I know when I was coaching myself, that I would come two times in a workout and I would go: I know I plan this, but should I cut early? Do I feel okay? Is it right? And you question yourself, you try to overthink it? Or maybe you don’t overthink it. I know I certainly do. So, taking that mental strain off by having a coach definitely makes it worth it.

Now, obviously, you have to consider whether it’s financially feasible to hire a running coach. And that’s something that each of us has to deal with on our own. I can’t help you with that and you can’t help me with that. But if you can, I think it’s a boon to make you a better runner. Now running coaches run from the low hundreds into the thousands. I know Joe Friel, the author of The Triathlete’s Training Bible is kind of famously known for only taking 10 athletes or less every year.

And it’s like $1,500 a month last I knew from him. He’s on the very high end. You’ve got to be pretty, pretty darn good. I would say a high, high amateur looking to be pro kind of thing to justify that or you’re just flush with cash. But you can probably find a coach in the low hundreds. Even my friend Barb Lindquist, former Olympic triathlete, former world number one, she is in the low hundreds for her monthly services, and you get the quality of a world-class coach.

So, not everybody charges like Joe Friel does. It depends on your budget, who you’re going to find, what you’re going to find. But there are options out there which are going to be comparable to a gym membership, and like a couple training sessions, but the difference being, you’re going to get your entire month written out by somebody who’s paying attention to what you’re doing.

That being said, if you can get over the financial hurdle, the other benefit to hiring a running coach is that they’re probably going to be able to take you to a level that you wouldn’t be able to go on your own. Because they can see what’s going on with you without having the inside emotions you go through as a deterrent to figure out what the next step is.

Now, you have to also communicate with your coach. You can’t just say, “Okay. Coach, I ran eight miles,” just log it, put it in your training peaks or log in on Strava or whatever it is, can’t just log it and say no big deal. You have to communicate with your coach. You have to say, this is how I felt on this run. You know, these are my times, this is how I felt, this is what my perceived effort is. All those things are invaluable to coach. Data is great too if you have it, but it isn’t always necessary if you have the right coach and you’re very honest about your communication.

In my case, if I say, “Hey, coach, I had a great time today, but I just felt terrible.” Often, that’s some kind of indication that maybe I didn’t sleep well. Or maybe it’s at the end of a couple training weeks’ block, and we’re just getting too fatigued. It’s right about the point where it’s time to start recovering. It could be, hey, we’re just starting this new spin work. And it’s perfectly fine. It’s all going to be dependent on where you are in your training schedule, what that actually means.

I felt bad, I felt good. It felt okay and then it got better. It felt okay and then got worse. Anything in between, there’s a lot of variables. And having somebody else outside of yourself to be able to look at what you’re doing, and say, hey, this is how it feels at this time. It’s okay to feel this discomfort. It’s okay to feel great, and know they can make those adjustments for you is invaluable.

It’s such a big lift to how you can perform that I would recommend it, absolutely, if you can afford it. If it’s something that you can figure out how to budget into your monthly expense. Because not only are they going to write your training schedule, but a good coach is a partner. They want you to succeed just as much as you want to succeed.

It reflects on them as a person, their coaching skills. But beyond that, I don’t know a good coach that sticks around and stays coaching that isn’t personally invested in their athletes. It is obviously this is like a paid relationship where you’re paying them to coach you. But, because you both have this passion for this sport, they’re in this profession you are trying to perform, there’s a relationship that goes beyond that monetary exchange, as well.

So, having that training partner that’s intimately familiar with what you’re doing and how you’re doing, both physically with the workouts and mentally and socially what’s going on in your life can make things easier. If you’re having a hard time, you lost your job, or there’s just a lot of stress going on at home, your coach can take that into account because all of that stress goes into account of what’s going on with our workouts.

And if you just say, “Oh, I’m stress, I should go workout even harder, I need to train even harder.” Sometimes that’s the wrong thing. And having that outside voice is what you need to keep you going without getting injured and to eventually reach your peak.

So, is hiring a coach worth it? I would say if it’s feasible for you financially, absolutely, it is worth it. So, are you considering hiring a running coach? Do you have one now? Can you share your stories, positive and negative? Anything you want to share down in the comments below, let us know what it took for you to find the perfect running coach for you. And I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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