Wondering how to find a good running coach ? Not every runner needs a coach. Whether you’re just a casual jogger or a pro marathon runner, you could take care of your training on your own – as long as you’re in tune with your body, understand your weaknesses, and know how to play to your strengths. However, if you want to improve your performance and minimize the risk of injury, you’ll need some help.
With the right coach, you’ll see a positive difference within just a few weeks. With the wrong one, on the other hand, you risk hitting a plateau with your training and growing to hate the sport you once couldn’t live without. Therefore, you should know the difference between a good and a bad coach.
Take a look at just a few of the signs that are telling you that your coach is subpar, and learn how to find a good running coach.
1.They tear down your self-esteem
Your running coach’s job is to let you know about any mistakes you’re making and guide you to correcting your behavior.
However, there’s quite a difference between a coach pointing out the mistakes that impact your training and performance and them bombarding you with criticism on every little thing you do. You don’t want them commenting on the way you wear your hair during practice, your running apparel, or how you tie your shoes.
If you’re learning from a coach who continually makes you feel bad about yourself, it’s high time you found yourself a new coach.
2. They use fear-based coaching
The movie trope of a yelling, screaming coach who drives fear into your bones “to help you become the best version of yourself” is never something you should deal with in real life.
Yes, a good running coach might occasionally shout to motivate or get you to listen to them, but they should never make you feel afraid. That’s a sign of a bad coach who simply doesn’t know how to teach you in a productive, positive environment.
3. They focus on winning
As a general rule of thumb, it’s always best to avoid goal-oriented coaches focused solely on winning who won’t accept failure at any cost. The only thing they’ll teach you is how to wallow in your failures and ignore your body when there are high stakes in a race. That’s a recipe for sustaining running injuries.
A good running coach will always prioritize your well-being. They’ll focus on helping you improve your performance and turning you into a better athlete. In this instance, winning races or setting new records will be a welcome bonus, not a necessity.
4. They pretend to know it all
You want your coach to be informed and knowledgeable. You want them to be able to teach you about improving your physical fitness, adopting the proper techniques, and making the necessary lifestyle changes that can help you run better.
However, you don’t want a coach who seemingly knows it all. In all likelihood, they won’t be as well-informed as you might’ve thought. After all, no one can know absolutely everything about running, regardless of how much experience they may have.
If your coach never has to learn new information or check up on something before answering your question, you might be better off looking for someone who isn’t afraid of not knowing.
5. They don’t keep up to date
Pretending to know it all often goes hand in hand with relying on outdated methods and techniques to shape your training routines. A bad coach who doesn’t keep up to date on new research and relevant scientific findings will only reflect poorly on your performance.
Avoid coaches who don’t believe in rest days and think you should always push through the pain if you want to improve. Avoid those who keep telling you that running will be bad for your knees or that you shouldn’t do strength training if you want to be faster. Those are all outdated beliefs that were proven false long ago.
Look for coaches who keep learning and keep adapting your training to suit the latest findings.
6. They have a one-size-fits-all approach
Although running is a relatively simple sport that virtually anyone can do, not all training techniques will be effective for all runners. After all, you can’t expect a middle-aged mom of three with an office job to train in the same way as a college-aged man who works in construction. They have different bodies, physiques, and overall lifestyles, so it’s only normal that they’ll have different training needs.
Therefore, you should avoid coaches with a one-size-fits-all approach to training at all costs. Your training should be customized to suit your needs, wants, and capabilities; a good running coach will understand that.
7.They use training as a form of punishment
Everyone’s had that one coach in high school who forced them to do fifty-odd pushups and fifty more situps for making a mistake or taking a break. While the exercise in itself is always beneficial, the approach to it is certainly not.
Training should never be perceived as punishment. All that does is force you to develop an unhealthy relationship with running and training in general, having you think of physical activity and effort as a negative thing.
Training should be a rewarding experience. Difficult, without a doubt, but always positive and constructive.
8. They try to control all areas of your life
A good running coach will give you tips and advice that will help you improve all areas of your life. They might suggest good diets that can increase muscle gain and fat loss. They might advise you to reduce your alcohol intake, for instance, or give tips on developing a better sleep schedule that accelerates muscle recovery.
However, they won’t try and control you by telling you what you can and can’t do. Your coach is your guide and mentor, not your master.
9. They comment on your physical appearance
A coach that frequently comments (whether positively or negatively) on your physical appearance is never a good coach. It’s not their job to say what you should or shouldn’t look like. It’s not their job to criticize or praise how much fat or muscle you have.
Their job is to organize your training in a way that suits your current capabilities with the aim of helping you improve your performance and become a better runner.
When done right, your training will most commonly result in muscle gain and fat loss. A good running coach will notice if you’re losing too much weight or gaining weight despite your training. However, instead of constantly commenting on it, they will reorganize your running routine to ensure your well-being.
10. They don’t practice what they preach
Finally, one of the greatest signs of a bad running coach is that they don’t practice what they preach. Why would any athlete take advice from a coach who doesn’t believe in what they are saying?
A good coach will “walk the talk.” They will lead by example and help you improve by setting high standards, working to help you meet them, and trying their best to meet them as well.
How to find a good running coach
If you’ve just started running and are searching for a coach, finding someone who is good for you can be somewhat challenging. Take a look at some tips that will help you find the best running coach for your needs.
Check with friends and family members
To start your search for a good running coach, it’s always best to first ask around. Check with friends and family members to see if they know of someone. Ask around in your local community and see whether there are any great school coaches – many of them will offer private lessons outside school hours.
Running events are excellent for meeting like-minded individuals and finding great coaches. You’ll connect with the running community in your area and hear their experiences with different coaches. Other runners’ stories can help you identify the best coach for your needs.
Check out RRCA
The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is a great organization with thousands of members all around the US. It has excellent services that can help you find local running clubs, events, coaches, and race directors.
All the coaches you find through RRCA are experienced and certified, so you won’t have to worry about their coaching credentials.
Finding a good running coach can be an exhausting process. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to come across a bad coach than a good one. However, when you know all the main signs of a bad running coach, it will be much easier to discern the ones who have what it takes to teach you and help you improve your performance.