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What is Personal Running Coaching?

Updated: Jun 5

Often, runners are curious what exactly is one-on-one, personal running coaching and why would some pay for that. Let me breakdown the details and go over all that comes with a coaching subscription from me!

I remember a talk I heard many years ago and this guy had a quote that has stuck with me for over a decade. He said something along the lines that if you were in New York City and wanted to go to Los Angeles, you could start heading that direction in a straight line. He said if that line was 1% off, 1 degree off, it wouldn't matter how hard you tried, how fast you went, you would never make it to LA. I think that's the best analogy I can give of how Coaching can be VERY beneficial for runners. I have coached a lot athletes, who before working with me, worked very hard, but maybe they didn't understand the complexities of aerobic threshold training, or how to do speedwork, or how to structure a training week. Maybe they were under-trained because they didn't have the motivation or support to get out there and put in the miles. With coaching we can often help people stay on that path to get exactly where they're trying to go with their running.

So how does it work and what exactly does the coach do? Well first, someone will reach out that they're interested in getting some help with training. It could be they're frustrated and not getting the results with their current training setup, maybe they've never really ran much before and have no idea where to start, or maybe it's a new type of event and they aren't sure how to navigate. So that athlete will send a message wherever they found me. Could be on VDOT's marketplace, through Sundog Running, Social Media, or often just a referral from someone who I've worked with in the past. People send messages look for more information all the time. Sometimes just inquiring about pricing, or to ask things like what my training philosophies are etc. If the athlete is interested I usually set up a call and have them fill out a form going over their running background and history. These steps are super important to learn more about the athlete and how they function specifically. Here I'm starting to put information together on how I can serve this athlete best. Are they a medical professional who has hardly any time and works grueling 12 hour shifts making training on those days difficult? Is it someone who has a lot of extra time and wants to really focus on adding in extra training modalities? Is it someone brand new to running, where I need to spend more time on explaining concepts and running terminology? Some runners are really interested in training philosophy and physiology and want to know the why behind each workout and the structure of the training blocks. Some runners have hit a roadblock and they can't reach that next level of performance. Some runners keep getting injured every time training picks up. So in this step I'm really dialed in trying to observe and listen so I can create a program designed to help each individual get what they're after.

After the call if an athlete is interested they can sign up for a subscription plan. All plans are month to month for me, and can be canceled by the athletes, no questions asked at any time. Drives me crazy when you want to unsubscribe from an email list or cancel a subscription and it takes an hour to go through all their hoops. If for any reason it doesn't work out, an athlete can cancel without even talking to me in under a minute.

Everytime a new runner signs up I get super excited. With coaching, every athlete gets access to a free coaching/training app and platform. These functions as calendars where the athlete's training goes. They automatically connect to GPS running watches so once a run is completed, the GPS data shows up on our shared calendar.

Depending on the athlete's needs, these calendars will contain all of their scheduled runs, rest days, strength training, cross-training, races, and more. Athlete's will often put notes on certain days for scheduling conflicts, like travel days, vacations, or any other commitment that would impact how I might schedule training.

As we start to complete workouts, I'm constantly looking over the workouts checking on how the pacing went, how heart rate is fluctuating during the workout and week to week, and reading any feedback and notes athletes leave on runs. At the end of each week I also have a feedback form where athletes can leave notes about how that specific training week went and suggest changes for the future.

Athletes are also able to schedule calls with me if they want to go over anything, ask questions, or just chat about training. Some folks hate calls, so they will compile all their questions into an email, and I'll respond at great length to each one. I always try to get a call in or a lot of written communication heading into important races as well, so we can go over strategy, tactics, fueling etc.

The great thing about coaching is that some athletes I have worked with for years and I consider them friends! Over time we're able to dial in our process better and better and achieve some awesome things!

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