What Does a Running Coach Do?

It’s time for another update in my series on working with a running coach.
If you missed the first two posts be sure to check them out:
Why Did I Get a Running Coach?
Can I Afford a Running Coach? (You’ll be happily surprised by the answer.)

In this post I will be discussing exactly what my running coach, Laura of MommyRunFast, and I do together and how it is positively impacting me as a runner.  My hope is that this not only answers the question: “What does a running coach do?”, but that it also helps you to see the benefits in working with a running coach.

First, I emailed back and forth with Laura asking her questions to make sure her program was the perfect fit for me.  I asked things like:
What are the lengths of your program options?
How much does it cost?
How would we set up my training plan?
How often do I have contact with you?
What happens when I am confused or have questions?
After Laura was able to easily answer my questions, with answers that seemed to be a perfect fit for me, and the level of interaction I wanted to have with my coach (a lot), I knew that she was the right one for me.

Next, Laura and I scheduled an initial call.  During that first call we talked for about an hour! Laura asked me about my main goals, past running injuries, recent running performances, what types of cross training I like, what facilities and classes I have access to, and how I would feel about certain things being added and taken away from my plan.  In my case this meant more cross training and strength workouts and less running while I focus on my number one goal: getting healthy and being able to run injury, and pain, free.  If your goal was different, say setting a new PR, then your conversation would head in a different direction.

Laura created an initial training schedule for me, based on what we had talked about on the phone.  I love that she did this in a Google Document because it means we both have instant access to the spreadsheet and it updates every time you type into it (without having to worry about saving). The fact that it is a Google Document also means I can easily open it on my Google Drive from my phone or tablet so it is super easy to check in on.  Every night after my workout I go to the document and type in what I actually did, how I felt, and any additional comments.  These are all instantly saved so Laura can see my responses too.  Then I peek to make sure I know what my workout for the next day is (though they are listed way in advance in case I want to plan).  I LOVE how accountable this keeps me. Knowing I have someone to report to really keeps me on the right track. I need that!

Laura then goes into the document and makes comments next to my workouts and alters things as needed.  When I commented that I tried running (after a few weeks off) and it was still hurting my knee, she altered the plan and let me know I needed to stick to the elliptical for a bit longer.  She is always there to change and modify things as necessary.  As I begin to get healthier, and the pain goes away, we will be able to increase not only the length/distance of my workout, but also the intensity.  It is great having Laura there to make these decisions for me so I don’t overdo it by trying too much too soon.  Plus, when I am healthy it will be great to have her there to push me past what I would normally do on my own.

What if I need to ask her something ASAP?  It is really easy to reach her by email.  When I was feeling horribly sick and didn’t know if I should try to power through a walk to get something in, or just sleep, I emailed her and heard back within the hour.  I also have her number in case something is even more urgent and a quick email response is just not fast enough.

Would you ever be interested in working with a running coach?
If so what would your running goal be?

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  1. says

    Your coach sounds great! I love the idea of getting instant feedback. If I hired a coach, my goal would be to get faster. I get so comfortable at my go to easy running pace.

    • says

      I love my easy running pace too and have trouble speeding up. I am hoping that once I am healthy we can work on that goal.

  2. says

    I love that you can email her and get a response so quickly!!!
    I’m enjoying your series about a running coach – I don’t know if this is something I would ever do but I like all of these details you are sharing!

  3. says

    I read Laura’s blog and can tell that she’d be a really fantastic coach for anyone! Will we ever get details on the costs of her programs or do we have to ask her? I’ve always been curious about how much it costs to hire someone.

  4. says

    She sounds awesome! I’d love to have a running coach, but that’s definitely not in the budget now that I go to the chiro weekly (which, btw, I still can’t thank you enough). I think I’d probably go local so I could meet up with them and they could check my form, etc.

  5. says

    This was a great informative article! I’m sure you’ll have great success with your running coach. A good friend of mine hired a running coach to help her qualify for Boston and she was able to run Boston last year. Good luck!

  6. says

    So glad you have found a coach that will be helpful to you Abby! I don’t know why it took me so long to join a coached running group. I have an assigned coach and she has been so helpful with a training plan, nutrition thoughts and race strategy. It has been wonderful too having a group to train with each week and to discuss our passion instead of boring our friends and family.

    • says

      Your groups sounds wonderful. I probably need to eventually work on the nutrition so I am glad to see you think that the combination has been helpful.

  7. says

    I would definitely like to get a running coach, but decided to go with SmartCoach this time around, and am using a training group with run coaches for my fall races. My goal is to get faster. Although an actual PR would be awesome, id like to be able to run faster with less effort.

    And to answer your question back to my comment earlier: MAF training is maximum aerobic function training. It’s a version of heart rate training for base building that is known for helping to build strength & speed while having a low risk of injury.

    • says

      Thanks for filling me in on what MAF is.
      I do have a heart rate monitor, so I may have to Google it a bit.

  8. says

    This is great for you!!!! So happy for you!!

    BTW, no verbiage comes up in the tweet box when I try to tweet. Not just you – this is happening on other blogs too – like maybe an update needs to be done. I don’t do WP so I don’t know why this is happening on so many blogs.