6 Benefits of a Running Coach

February 16, 2023

Nick Hancock

One of my friends recently asked me, “with all the new running apps out there, why should I hire a running coach?”

To some degree, he has a point! If you’re looking for a basic training plan or an easy way to track your mileage, there are plenty of apps and resources available.

But do you know what those running apps and resources don't offer? A personalised touch! 

Think about it. No two people are the same- it’s basic science! Or kinesiology, to be precise. Kinesiology is the study of human movement, including the mechanics, anatomy, and physiology involved in physical activity. 

So back to our point of no two people being the same! It then follows that no two people run the same. We all have different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses- so why would we expect to achieve effective results from a generic training plan?

That would be like putting ten people in a room, handing out glasses of the same prescription, asking them to take an eye test, and expecting the same results! This illustrates why a one-size-fits-all approach from a generic running plan doesn’t work.

A running coach can give you personalised advice and guidance, regardless of your goals or starting point. Beginners, intermediate, and experienced runners can all benefit from a personal running coach to improve their performance and reduce the risk of injury

Let's take a close look at six benefits of having an online running coach:

  1. Personalised training plans
  2. Guidance on proper form and technique
  3. Detailed progress monitoring 
  4. Nutritional guidance 
  5. Gear recommendations
  6. Accountability and encouragement
Having a running coach should be about more than just tracking miles and time. The benefits of an online running coach who will personalise your running plan far outweigh what any app or software can do!.

But a Running Coach Is (Not) Expensive!

There are plenty of nay-sayers who think that hiring a running coach is too expensive. Meanwhile, as soon as the latest running watch hits the market, they're the first ones in line to throw down hundreds of pounds to buy it!

Look at it this way- in the world of finance and investing, people talk about the "cost of advice" versus the "value of advice." What's the difference?

It’s pretty self-explanatory! The "cost of advice" is how much it costs you to obtain the advice, while the "value of advice" is the benefit you receive from it. When tossing up the cost of using a running coach, the value of the advice should take priority.

During my years of coaching and the 250+ races I've run in, I've seen first-hand that among recreational and even seasoned runners, those who had a personal running coach performed better and experienced fewer injuries than those who didn't.

Think of it like this; to get a degree in engineering, whether in a classroom or online, you would do so with the instruction and assistance of a professor and mentor.

As with any skill, having an experienced and knowledgeable guide drastically improves your performance, knowledge, and ability.

So when it comes to running, an experienced online running coach is invaluable for helping you get the most out of your training and avoiding injury. 

And remember, it's not as expensive as you think. The “value of advice” far outweighs the “cost of advice”!

Personalised Training Plans

I’m sure you've read of many online coaches offering “personalised” plans. Only to find out that either they have a handful of "cut and copy" programs, or worse yet- they expect you to create your own plan (under their guidance- but still!) 

A personalised plan should be just that- personalised! Tailored to YOU, your goals, and your abilities.

With me as your personalised running coach, you can expect

  1. A comprehensive analysis of your current fitness level.
  2. A detailed plan catered to YOUR specific needs and goals.
  3. Plans that evolve as your ability and goals change.
  4. Continuous feedback and guidance throughout your journey.
  5. No limit on communication! This might sound bizarre but many coaches charge extra just to communicate with them via text/phone etc! I don’t charge for my time, I only charge to get YOU results!

A great online running coach should get to know each client as well as they can. I believe this step is vital for building an effective personalised training plan that best suits the individual. 

As my client, some of the things I’ll want to know include your

  • Previous injuries or current niggling pains
  • Family life schedule and routines
  • Secular work life
  • Sleep patterns
  • Diet
  • Current training

The more you’re willing to share, the better I can tailor my advice for you. From this information, I’ll give you personalised plans that will evolve with your progress. I’ll help you with runners strength training, nutrition advice, recovery tips, and more. 

Having a running coach should be about more than just tracking miles and time. The benefits of an online coach who will personalise your running plan far outweigh what any app or software can do even with the invention of ChatGPT AI and all that, NOTHING takes away the human touch!  

Guidance on Proper Form & Technique

One of the biggest causes of injuries and poor performance is incorrect form and technique. So ask yourself, is hiring an online running coach worth the investment to reduce this risk?

From the moment you start running, the proper technique allows you to run more efficiently, increasing your performance. The correct running form can also avoid muscle imbalances that can lead to injuries such as shin splints or knee pain.

It's really important to remember again that we’re all different when it comes to running. We have different heights, body types, strengths, and weaknesses.

‌How to improve your running form

So one-size-fits-all advice clearly isn't going to work. A personal running coach can guide you on the proper form and technique for your body type and ability.

Running Interval training is a method of improving running performance and endurance. This type of training involves alternating between high-intensity efforts and periods of recovery. Interval training has been shown to increase the body's ability to utilise oxygen. Incorporating interval training into a running routine can also be an effective way to burn calories and increase metabolic rate. To optimise the benefits of interval training, it's important to tailor the intensity and duration of each interval to individual fitness levels and goals. Gradually increasing the intensity and frequency of intervals can lead to continued progress and performance gains. In addition, proper nutrition and hydration are critical components of an effective interval training program, and athletes should consult with a sports nutritionist to develop a nutrition plan tailored to their needs.

Interval training for ultra runners can be particularly beneficial for ultra runners who require high levels of endurance and stamina to complete long-distance races. Incorporating interval training into a training plan can help ultra runners improve their speed, endurance, and overall fitness levels. By alternating between high-intensity efforts and periods of rest or recovery, athletes can improve their lactate threshold and train their bodies to operate at higher intensities for longer periods of time. Ultra runners may also benefit from incorporating hill repeats and other forms of uphill interval training, as these can improve leg strength and prepare athletes for the challenges of hilly or mountainous ultra races. As with any training program, it's essential to gradually increase the intensity and duration of intervals to avoid injury and ensure consistent progress. A sports nutritionist can also help ultra runners develop a nutrition plan that supports their training and racing goals.

Strength training is an essential component of a well-rounded running routine. By incorporating exercises that target the major muscle groups, runners can improve their overall strength, stability, and balance, which can lead to improved performance and reduced risk of injury. Strength training can also help runners develop stronger bones and connective tissues, which can support the body during high-impact activities like running. Exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, and calf raises can be particularly effective for runners, as they target the muscles used most during running. It's important to gradually increase the intensity and volume of strength training for running exercises, focusing on proper form and technique to avoid injury. A strength training program should be tailored to the individual runner's needs and goals, and may include bodyweight exercises, resistance training with weights or bands, or plyometric exercises that focus on explosive power. Runners should consult with a coach or certified personal trainer to develop a strength training program that complements their running routine and supports their overall fitness goals.

For clients that live far from me or abroad, I periodically get them to send me videos of themselves running and their strength training. I then analyse their form and technique and advise them on making the necessary corrections. The benefits of modern technology allow me to slow down videos, zoom in, and analyse what needs adjusting.

For those living closer to me, you can come to my gym, or we can go for a run together. I’ll give you real-time advice and make any corrections on the spot.

Remember that form and technique aren't static but evolve as you progress, and your skills and body strengthen. So I’ll adjust and monitor your form and technique as you go.

Detailed Progress Monitoring

Progress is everything when it comes to running. Even the most minor improvements can make a huge difference on race day. For example, a few seconds' improvement in your 5K time can mean you qualify for that big race you've wanted to enter!

That’s why it's so important to have detailed progress monitoring and data analysis when running. A running coach will help you measure everything from pace, heart rate, and weekly mileage to the amount of sleep and recovery time you're getting.

They can also keep an eye on training to make sure you're not overdoing it or pushing yourself too hard (or not hard enough!). Training, of course, is vital when preparing for big events like marathons, as it helps put you in peak condition come race day.

As your online coach, I’ll constantly communicate with you to monitor your training plans and goals in detail. Every Monday, we’ll do voice check-ins where I’ll ask how your training went, what type of workouts you did and if there were any problems I can help with.

This information makes all the difference in guiding you towards achieving your goals. I believe this type of detailed progress monitoring is best done by an experienced human, not by an app!

Buddha bowl dish with vegetables and legumes. top view.

Nutritional Guidance

Good nutrition is the foundation for any great runner, so not something you want to overlook. Eating the right food makes all the difference in performance. It's like the fuel for your car engine; the better quality fuel you put in, the more efficiently your engine runs.

The benefits of eating the right food include

Higher energy levels

Improved recovery time

Lower inflammation in your joints

Weight management

Improved performance

Long run nutrition is essential for endurance athletes to maintain their energy levels during extended periods of physical activity. Proper fuelling can help avoid fatigue, dehydration, and other negative consequences that may arise from inadequate nutrition. Carbohydrates are a crucial component of a long run nutrition plan, as they provide glucose, the body's primary energy source. It's recommended to consume around 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour of exercise. Additionally, hydration is vital for performance and recovery, and athletes should aim to drink fluids regularly during a long run. Electrolyte replacement may also be necessary, particularly in hot and humid conditions. To achieve optimal long run nutrition, athletes should consult with a sports nutritionist and tailor their plan to their specific needs and goals.

The biggest problem with getting nutrition advice online is that it's often too generic or flat-out incorrect. I've seen this happen to many of my clients; it slows their progress and can lead to injury or illness.

When it comes to marathon carb loading, getting the right nutrition advice is crucial. That's why working with an experienced professional can make all the difference in achieving your goals. As your coach, I'll guide you through the process of discovering what foods work best for your body and developing a tailored race fuelling plan that will optimize your marathon performance. Whether it's experimenting with different carb loading strategies or fine-tuning your nutrition plan, I'm here to support you every step of the way. With the right fueling plan in place, you'll be ready to tackle any marathon challenge that comes your way.

Also, I have used my 20+ years of working in hospitality for the likes of Jamie Oliver and several other notable chefs to create a recipe book which is available on Amazon here!

Gear Recommendations

The right running gear is essential for several reasons. It can improve your running performance by providing comfort, support, and protection from the elements. Running shoes that fit well and provide adequate cushioning can reduce the risk of injuries, while breathable and moisture-wicking clothing can keep you cool and dry, allowing for optimal performance.

The right running gear provides other practical benefits, such as pockets for carrying essential items and reflective materials for increased visibility and safety during low-light conditions.

Wearing the right gear can also increase motivation and confidence, as feeling comfortable and prepared can help you focus on your goals and enjoy your running experience.

As your online running coach, I’ll advise what gear is best for you. New runners often think the more they spend on gear, the better it is, but that's often far from the truth!

Over my years of running and coaching, I’ve learnt what works best. Believe me; I’ve been through my fair share of trainers and running gear! So I can recommend the correct type of gear for you depending on your running terrain, the weather, and other factors that come into play.

Accountability & Encouragement

It's no secret that sticking to a plan requires focus and dedication. Life has the knack of getting in the way. And once you break your routine, it can feel like you have to move mountains to get back on track or start right back at the beginning.

A running coach can help keep you accountable and focused. As your coach, I'll be in touch regularly and provide motivation whenever you need it. Whether it's on those days when you just don't want to run or when your training isn't quite going to plan.

Often when faced with roadblocks that come our way, we can also feel like we’re at a crossroads with our training. It’s easy to spiral, wondering, can I push through? Moments of doubt decide whether we succeed or fail.

Having someone in your corner makes all the difference! I've seen time and time again how this is true. So I'll be there for you, offering advice to get you over the line.

How do I know what advice to give? My experience as an athlete and coach has taught me many strategies to help people overcome any mental or physical obstacles. I've fine-tuned these strategies over the years and am passionate about helping runners reach their full potential!

As a busy person who has held big corporate jobs and a parent of 2 young boys, I have perfected the art of training around busy life and still smashing PB’s and crushing races! 

Marathon runner that has a running coach
Alison Graham on her way to a massive 1:37 half marathon and winning her age group... she has a running coach by the way! Guess who?!

Ready To Take Your Running to the Next Level?

Do you want to take your running to the next level? Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned runner, having an online coach can make all the difference. 

It can mean the difference between smashing that personal best or getting injured and feeling like you want to hang up the trainers for good.

As your running coach, I will help you achieve your goals. You'll have access to personalised training plans, nutrition advice, and gear recommendations that fit your needs.

Plus, through constant communication, I'll be there to provide the accountability and encouragement you need to stay motivated and on track with your plan.

My mission is to help busy people like you get fast, get strong, and ultimately reach your full potential as an athlete. 

So if you're ready to take your running to the next level, get in touch today! Complete the online enquiry form, and I'll contact you as soon as possible. 

In the words of good old Benjamin Franklin, “Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” It’s a cliche because it’s true!


Do You Really Need a Running Coach?

Ultimately, this decision will depend on your goals and needs. Before answering this question, ask yourself what you hope to gain from a running coach. 

If your goal is to improve your overall performance, then the answer is definitely yes! If you want to remain injury free, achieve personal best times, and take your running performance to the next level, having a coach will help you get there.

How Much Should a Running Coach Cost?

The cost to hire an online running coach varies based on the coach’s experience and qualifications. Prices can range from £30-£200 per month. 

Before jumping in and hiring a coach, read reviews and testimonials from previous clients. Customer reviews are a great way to get insight into a coach's experience, style, and qualifications. 

Is It Worth It To Hire a Coach?

A running coach is a great investment for any serious athlete. Their expertise and experience can help you reach your goals faster and more effectively than if you were to go it alone. Plus, having someone to hold you accountable and keep you motivated can make all the difference between giving up or pushing through to reach those personal bests.

It’s especially worthwhile to hire an accredited UK athletics or UESCA (United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy) coach- like myself! We have a strong understanding of the science and principles of endurance sports coaching. Additionally, this accreditation emphasises the importance of safety and ethical coaching practices, which are critical for the well-being of athletes. 

What Makes a Good Running Coach?

A good running coach should fully understand the science behind training and racing, including the principles of progression, recovery, nutrition, and periodisation.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term periodisation, it’s an approach that involves dividing a training program into specific periods or phases. Each period has a different focus, whether the type, intensity, or volume of training. The goal is to maximise performance and minimise the risk of injury.

A good running coach should also be able to communicate clearly and build positive relationships with their clients. The better they know and understand you, the better they can personalise a training plan that meets your needs. 

A coach that can do all this to help you safely reach your goals as a runner is worth their weight in gold! Be sure to read our blog on the benefits of ultrarunning coach

Author: Nick Hancock is a UESCA Certified Ultrarunning coach and UK Athletics Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) and has coached many busy professionals and parents to achieve finishes, top-10s and podiums in events such as London Marathon, Manchester Marathon, Amsterdam Marathon, UTMB, UTS, Centurion events, Endure24, Backyards and many more. Host of the Maximum Mileage Running Podcast and author of the Ultimate Cookbook for Runners

He can be found on Instagram @runwithnick

Now go run hard! And remember, if you ever want to talk about the potential you can reach by taking on the services of a running coach then do get in touch by hitting that enquiry button

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