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How To Find The Perfect Running Coach

Finding the perfect running coach for you is not easy, but one runner shares what she looked for.

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I’ve always felt insecure about wanting to work with a running coach. I’m an average runner who runs for fun—why would I need a coach? At least, that’s what I told myself so I wouldn’t have to admit that I didn’t want to disappoint myself or my coach if I gave up on a goal when training became uncomfortable. I know what it feels like to fall short of a goal and it felt safer to just see what happens instead of working towards specific goals. That was until I realized that I was making excuses instead of pushing myself to see what I was capable of.

Finding a running coach is a lot like dating. You want to play the field and test drive all the options before making it Facebook official. These are the seven things I looked for when I was searching for my running coach who is helping me chase an impossible goal of shaving 27 minutes off of my marathon time and running a Boston Qualifying time (BQ) during this year’s Chicago Marathon!

1. Fun.

1 fun
Probably not the smartest attribute to look for in a running coach but this one is really important to me. I want a coach who is going to make me laugh when I’m frustrated or someone who I look forward to seeing before an intimidating session at the track.

2. Qualifications.

2 we can do this
Arguably the most important aspect of a running coach is their qualifications. Sure there’s a certification process but you don’t actually need any certification to call yourself a coach. That’s why it’s important to look into what makes a coach qualified. I had my friends in the running community give me recommendations for prospective choices. I looked into who they coach, how they coach and what their background as a coach is.

3. Goals.

3 doable
Be honest with your prospective coaches. I want to take my marathon time from 3 hours 59 minutes to 3 hours and 32 minutes. That is a 27 minute chunk that won’t magically disappear. It’s going to require hard work. I’m 82% positive I can do it. (I have doubts. I know, I’m working on it.) I needed a coach who will look me in the eyes and say, “If you do the work, it will happen.”

4. Someone I will actually listen to.

4 get you to race
Respect is the name of this game and I need a coach who I will say yes to 100% of the time. If my coach walks up to me and asks me to run a 6:30 second mile, I need to be able to say, “WHAT! OK! I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN DO THAT BUT I’M GOING TO TRY!” Instead of, “WHAT! NO WAY! THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!” I am a strong personality and finding someone I will actually listen to is really important.

5. Open communication.

5 ok where do we start
I like figuring stuff out before doing it. I want a coach who is available by text and email. If I have a question that I think is silly, I want a coach who is happy to talk about it. I don’t just want someone who is going to send me a training plan and say go. I want a coach who is immersed in the process with me and open to a dialogue.

6. Community.

6 work together
I run stronger when I have people around me. I love distractions and I love watching people smash their own goals. So I knew I wanted a coach who led a team in addition to individual runners. Two days per week, my coach holds group runs with his team Gotham City Runners for the tougher tempo and track workouts. Suffering on a track with a group of kick butt women and men is a lot more fun than doing it solo.

7. Running form 101.

7 form
Running injuries are inevitable if you’re not working on your running form. I suffer from calf tightness and knee problems because I have weak hips and gait issues. So staying injury-free is on the top on my to do list! My coach Josh is already helping me make small changes that have been game changers.

One of the reasons I’m starting to feel like BQ’ing is possible is because of my coach Josh Maio. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not terrified! See for yourself! This is what happened when Josh and I got together to talk about BQ or Bust!

I know it’s not impossible, it’s just going to be really hard. But what fun is it if we’re not pushing ourselves? Now the real fun begins, TRAINING! Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.