Unlocking Potential on the Trails: Do You Need a Running Coach, Even if You're Not an Elite Runner?
Trail running is more than just putting one foot in front of the other—it's a journey of self-discovery, embracing challenges, and pushing your limits. Whether you're a seasoned marathoner aiming to complete ultra-marathons, a beginner looking to hit the trails for the first time, or anyone in between, the guidance of a skilled coach can make a world of difference and help you reach your potential on the trails.
The Running Coaching Connection:
Finding the right running coach is like discovering a running partner who understands your aspirations, challenges, and unique journey. The coach-athlete relationship is a partnership that thrives on compatibility and shared values. This relationship is not only about receiving guidance but also about mutual growth and progress.
But what should you consider when selecting a trail running coach? How do you find one who aligns with your aspirations, preferences, and unique journey? In this guide, I hope to help you narrow down if hiring a running coach is right for you and what to look for if you are considering getting in touch with me or another coach to help you reach your goals.
Why Invest in a Running Coach When There's a Wealth of Free Running Information?
Let's cut straight to the chase. Do you absolutely need a running coach? I’ll keep it real with you. The short answer is no. There's abundant free running advice available online, in magazines, through apps, and at your local running club. Many runners have successfully trained on their own, and that's perfectly valid, especially if you're on a tight budget. If that's your situation, joining a local UKA running club is a fantastic option. You'll gain access to a network of qualified coaches for a minimal fee, and it can be an excellent way to enhance your running journey.
But here's the twist: Hiring a running coach can be a game-changer. Just as people invest in yoga classes and personal trainers to achieve their health and fitness goals, there's a growing tribe of runners who recognise the immense value of working with a running coach. They see the advantages, particularly when their lives are a whirlwind of work and family life, filled with unpredictable schedules and wavering motivation.
So, what sets a running coach apart from the sea of online resources and free plans? Let's explore why investing in a running coach can be a smart move for those who are ready to take their running experience to the next level.
The Power of Personal Coaching
Beyond the abundance of free running information available online, a personal running coach offers unique advantages. Whether you're a complete beginner or a seasoned runner, a coach can provide structure, guidance, and knowledge tailored to your needs. While running is accessible and straightforward, the benefits of a coach can improve your running experience and fitness incredibly.
How Running Coaches Help Achieve Goals
Personalised Training Plans: Coaches create custom training plans considering your fitness level, goals, limitations and personal life. Each run has a specific purpose, designed for your needs. This individualised approach helps prevent injury and overtraining. Unlike generic online plans, personalised plans adapt to your progress and circumstances.
Accountability and Encouragement: Running can sometimes be a solitary pursuit, but a coach doubles as your cheerleader, providing motivation and accountability to stick to your training plan. This level of support keeps you on track and leads to better results. Chances are you will also have a team of other athletes providing community support too.
Setting SMART Goals: Coaches help you establish Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals. This framework makes tracking and achieving goals more manageable, ensuring clear progress for both short-term goals and your long-range running plan.
Balancing Challenge and Achievement: Coaches help balance challenging yourself and setting achievable goals, preventing burnout and injury.
Personal Connection Communication and Adaptability: Effective communication and rapport are key to a successful coaching partnership. Coaches listen to your concerns and answer your questions. Life is dynamic, and circumstances change. A running coach helps you adapt your goals and training plan, ensuring steady progress. This personal connection keeps you motivated and engaged.
Finding Your Ideal Running Coach
Hiring a running coach is an investment in your growth and progress. When seeking the right coach, consider these factors:
Qualifications and Experience: Choose coaches with relevant certifications and qualifications. Experience matters, but don’t confuse this with how fast they are, as that has very little to do with their coaching ability—look for those with coaching skills that extend beyond personal accolades.
Coaching Philosophy and Compatibility: A coach's approach should align with your values. Connect with coaches during discovery calls to gauge compatibility. Ask about their coaching philosophy and assess if it resonates with you.
Availability and Communication: Determine how often you'll interact with your coach and through what channels. Effective communication is crucial for motivation and progress.
Investment: Understand the pricing structure and balance the cost against the value you'll receive in terms of personalised guidance, skill development, and goal achievement. A low-priced coach may actually be providing a static, generic plan that they give everyone without personalised guidance or adjustments to your specific needs. Investing a little more in a coach values their time to deliver tailored guidance, accountability, and real-time adjustments, ultimately saving you time and ensuring more efficient progress towards your goals.
Athlete Testimonials: Reviews from past or current athletes offer insights into a coach's effectiveness. Speaking to these athletes can provide a better understanding of the coach's impact and style.
You've found a coach or maybe even a shortlist of coaches—great job!
But what's the next step? Well, don't wait too long to get in touch. Coaches often have a limit on how many athletes they can work with at a time, and it's a smart move to start building a relationship with a coach before diving into structured training for an event. It's not about coaches trying to squeeze more money out of you but rather about prepared athletes gaining an advantage through a strong coach-athlete bond. Plus, this approach gives you the flexibility to switch coaches if you feel it's not the right fit.
So, first things first—reach out to the coach with a friendly message, expressing your goals and inquiring about their availability. Most coaches will arrange a discovery call to clarify your objectives, evaluate your current fitness level, and discuss your training expectations and needs. This call serves as a chance for both you and the coach to see if you're a good match and to create a personalised training plan that aligns with your goals and abilities.
As a coach, I meet the criteria outlined in this blog. However, I understand that I may not be the perfect fit for everyone, and sometimes, that becomes apparent during the initial discovery call. I've occasionally advised runners to explore other coaching options. This is your opportunity to find out if we're the right fit for each other as well. Let's get the conversation started!
To determine if you and a potential coach are the right fit, ask them a series of questions to evaluate their coaching style, experience, and compatibility with your goals and needs.
Here are some questions you can consider asking:
What is your coaching style/philosophy? This question will help you understand the coach's approach to training, recovery, and overall athlete development.
What is your coaching background and experience? Inquire about their qualifications, certifications, and experience as a coach. For example, you may want to work with someone with specific experience in ultra running.
What is your communication style? Determine how the coach prefers to communicate with athletes, whether it's through phone calls, emails, in-person meetings, or other methods. Ensure their availability aligns with your needs and that they can provide timely responses to your questions and concerns and update your plan, including feedback frequently.
How do I access my training plan, and how will you monitor my progress? Ask about their approach to creating personalised training plans, considering your goals, current fitness level, and any constraints like work or family commitments. Understanding how they track your progress and make necessary adjustments to your training plan is essential for continuous improvement.
Do you have experience coaching athletes with goals similar to mine? If you have specific race goals or objectives, ask if they have coached athletes with similar goals.
What is your approach to nutrition and hydration during races? Nutrition and hydration are critical in endurance running, so it's essential to know if they have the knowledge of the most up-to-date advice in this area.
How do you address injury prevention and recovery? Do you have a network of support professionals (e.g., physiotherapists, nutritionists) that you work with or recommend? Inquiring about their approach to injury prevention and recovery strategies is vital for long-term success in endurance running. A coach who can connect you with other specialists can be a valuable resource. Good coaches will only advise within their scope of practice and should signpost to other professionals as and when needed.
Can I speak to your past or current athletes? Speaking to current or former clients can offer insights into the coach's effectiveness and style.
What are your fees, payment structure, and coaching terms and conditions? Ensure you are clear on their fees, payment schedule, and any additional costs that might arise during your coaching relationship. It's important to know how you can terminate the coaching relationship if it's not working out as expected.
By asking questions, you can better understand whether the coach's approach and experience match your goals and preferences, helping you determine if they are the right fit for your running journey.
Why Choose Me as Your Running Coach?
Hello there, I'm Rachel Murphy, a Certified UESCA Ultra Running Coach and an England Athletics Fell and Mountain Running Coach. I love coaching and am passionate about empowering women to reach their full potential on their trail-running adventures.
Coaching Rooted in You
My coaching philosophy is simple: — it revolves around you, the athlete. I believe in looking at the big picture and blending a friendly approach to the skill of coaching individuals, which is grounded in exercise science, and an ability to communicate well and form a great bond with you. I create a coaching experience as unique as you are and around your individual goals.
A Focus on Empowerment
With a track record of pushing boundaries and inspiring countless individuals, I'm committed to helping you discover your true capabilities. One of my primary focuses is to empower women to invest time in themselves and their achievements. I firmly believe that every athlete is as distinct as their running journey. Your coaching should reflect your individuality, your dreams and your goals, not mine. I prioritise understanding you, your other commitments, and your personal circumstances, and generally, what makes you tick.
In the heart of most trail runners lies a spirit of adventure and a desire to push boundaries. As a trail running coach, I am deeply committed to helping women achieve goals that once seemed beyond their grasp. Together, we embark on a journey that challenges comfort zones and transforms aspirations into triumphs.
The She Runs Outdoors Team
When you choose to be a part of the She Runs Outdoors Team, you're not just gaining my knowledge and coaching experience; you're also becoming part of a team of supportive women. We're all about nurturing growth and celebrating your running journey.
From beginners to seasoned runners, my coaching caters to a spectrum of experience levels and is built on mutual understanding and respect. My approach is flexible, adapting to the ever-changing rhythm of life and encouraging growth while preventing burnout.
You'll find an unwavering partner when we join forces as I guide you through challenges and celebrate your accomplishments. As you contemplate your trail running journey, remember that personalised coaching isn't just about running—it's about personal growth and conquering challenges head-on.
Embarking on your trail running journey with a skilled coach can be a game-changer. Are you ready to take the next step on your trail running journey? Join the She Runs Outdoors Team, and let's unlock your true potential together.
Email me at email@example.com to chat or click the button below to find out more about my Online Coaching Packages and read athlete testimonials.
Images Phil Hill