So what do you have to look for while shopping for a running coach? Radhika Meganathan demystifies the process.
You are excited because you’ve finally decided to up your game and hire a running coach. You have made inquiries at your gym, trawled through reviews online and on social media, and have also listed to recommendations from your friends /running buddies. And now, you have a name. Only, you are not sure how to know if they are the right one for you.
Fear not, we at the Finisher have compiled a template of questions just for you, that you can ask to your shortlisted choices before choosing one of them as your running coach.
BACKGROUND CHECK: What makes them great? What are their qualifications, credentials, accreditation? Are they still running? A non-running profile is not really an issue, a lot of retired athletes and runners offer terrific coaching, but you should be aware of where your coach currently stands in the sport, and whether they have relevance experience training for any specific marathon you are training for.
MODE / NATURE OF COACHING: Is it live, or virtual? If it is an online coaching option, would that work for you? What is your preference, and are you willing to go out of your comfort zone and experiment, or would that be too distracting? Are they willing to connect with you organically, and customise a plan just for you, or will they be selling a pre-packaged regimen to you?
FREQUENCY OF COACHING: Daily, weekly, fortnightly? What about breaks? What if you have to travel or forced to take days off from the coaching? Will they adjust to the changes in your schedule and redraft your training plan accordingly?
VENUE AND ACCESSIBILITY: Does the trainer come to your neighbourhood track, or do you have to go to him? If it’s the latter, do you have to spend on a long commute each time you meet with your coach? It can get surprisingly difficult to make use of a coach when their hours or location is not ideal for you, and if you have a busy lifestyle and cannot find the bandwidth to make it work.
COMMUNICATION STYLE: Did you have a chance to talk with them, either on phone or face to face? This step is important because first impressions are important. How does the person come across to you? Are they encouraging, positive, inspirational?
COACHING PHILOSHOPY: Ask them about their coaching MO, philosophy and ethics. How does it strike you? What do they think of their own coaching, and how do they articulate their ideas and plans for you, and for the sport in general. Do you see yourself being led by them for the next few months, years?
COST OF COACHING: How does the coaching cost? Is it an amount that you can comfortably afford for at least the coming two years? Is the coach clear on what training will be included with the rates? Is it all done with a proper binding contract?
After all the questions given above, comes the most important step: ask for references. A reference who is not your friend (or theirs!) can give you far more objective information. Do the references highlight and demonstrate the magic that you need, from the coach? Is your coach completely aligned to what your specific goals and talents are, and can they be focused enough to get from amateur to amazing?
No matter how highly the coach comes recommended to you, make an effort to talk to their past and current clients, mentees and trainees, and drop in for a trial session before committing to a contract. This will help you in taking a real time decision without blindly relying on your guts or a glowing reference.