Fitness

Do you need a running coach?

A recent article in the Globe and Mail extols the virtues of hiring a running coach, even if you are a recreational runner.

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A recent article in the Globe and Mail extols the virtues of hiring a running coach, even if you are a recreational runner. The article provides a number of examples of people who have used professional coaches to improve their running performance, as well as to tackle injury problems that can be caused by things like an improper running gait.

I can think of a number of reasons to recommend hiring a running coach:

  • You’re suffering from a lack of motivation: Having a coach can push you to train harder.
  • You’re in pain: A coach can identify problems with your gait and your training to deal with and prevent injuries.
  • You want to get better: A coach can give you a training plan to improve speed.

That last point is why I got a coach.

Last June I endeavoured to break the 40-minute barrier for a 10K, and wrote about it for the LA Times. Part 1 described the training and Part 2 described the race. I hired a professional who had once run a 10K in just over 31 minutes to put together a training plan for me.

I knew the fundamentals of improving speed from my personal training education, but I didn’t have specific knowledge of putting together daily plans. My forte is to focus on the big picture of fitness; I leave tactical implementation of achieving specific fitness goals to focused professionals. In this case, the professional I used really helped me because he put together a spreadsheet that outlined exactly what I had to do each day. I taped that plan to the fridge and stuck to it rigidly.

I may not have achieved my goal, but there was the extenuating circumstance of choosing a terrible race course with lots of sharp twists and turns and hills, and running on a pretty hot evening. Still, even on this harsh course I managed a personal best of 41:51 and came in third out of almost 800 people overall. The two people who beat me were both professional runners half my age.

So, yes, the coach really helped. I haven’t given up on my goal either.

If you’re struggling with your running in some way, or if you feel that it’s time to ramp things up, think of finding a coach. You can try your local university kinesiology faculty, a running store, or just Google to start your search.

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