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Should You Hire a Running Coach?

Specialized Coaches Can Help You Run Your Best
  -- By Nancy Howard, Certified Running Coach
Whether you are contemplating training for your first 5K race or are a seasoned runner looking to improve your performance, working with a running coach may help you reach your true potential.

The Benefits of Training with a Running Coach
A running coach can be a tremendous asset in helping you develop and improve your running form and technique. By removing much of the guesswork that comes from not knowing how to properly train, a coach can guide you through the process.  A running coach can design a personalized training program based on your current level of fitness and your future goals, which is a huge benefit. In addition, a running coach can help you: How to Find a Running Coach
The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is a great source for locating a certified running coach in your area. There are more than 700 certified running coaches across the country. On the group's website, you can find a state-by-state listing of coaches who have completed the training to be classified as an RRCA Certified Running Coach.

The USA Track & Field Association is another source for locating a coach, although these coaches are generally geared more toward track and field events at the high school, college and professional level, rather than amateur road running.

Your local running specialty store probably offers clinics, workshops and classes for runners interested in training at distances ranging from a 5K to a marathon. However, the classes may or may not be led by certified coaches.

The cost of hiring a running coach varies widely according to region and each coach's level of expertise. You may find training with others is a less expensive option than one-on-one training, and online training options can be even more affordable. Although it may cost more, meeting in person and running with your coach may be the most favorable for a personalized experience.<pagebreak>

What to Look for in a Running Coach
Like a personal trainer, a running coach should be experienced and certified and also meshes well with your personality and listens to your concerns. Here are some things to consider when considering a running coach. Should this individual be insulted by any of your questions, take that as a red flag to look for someone else. The relationship you have with your running coach can make or break you as a runner, so make sure you do your homework first. Finding the right coach can bethe difference between you being an average runner or you being the best, most efficient runner you can be.

Sources
The Running Times Guide to Breakthrough Running. 2000. Champaign: Human Kenetics.

Youngren, Jack. 2009. Next-Level Training: Club or Coach? Finding the Right Path to Better Running. Running Times, May 2009.

Higdon, Hal. 2000. How to Find a Running Coach. Road Runners Club of America. http://www.rrca.org/find-a-coach/ (September 7, 2009).

This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople Coaches Jen Mueller and Nicole Nichols, Certified Personal Trainers.