There is all kinds of helpful free information floating around on the Internet. Running experts and gurus give away training plans and advice to you for free. Even this blog strives to provide free, helpful tips and tricks. But there is real value in hiring your own coach.
1. A coach will personalize a plan just for you. They should assess your starting fitness level and personalize the plan to meet your specific goal. The coach can take into consideration how much time you have available to train (even the days of the week you like to train, so no more changing the plan to fit your schedule), your gait weaknesses or injury proneness. They can also rearrange your plan if you miss workouts because of illness or injury!
2. Once you pay --you pay attention. Because there’s so much free information on the Internet, we don’t give weight to all the advice equally. But paying for the service assigns value to the information you’re receiving and it makes you take it seriously. Hey- if you’re paying for it, you’d better follow it!
3. You don’t have to second-guess your plan. With the multitude of free plans available on the Internet, it can be hard to decide which one to stick to. There are tons of different methods of getting a runner to race day—some plans have high mileage, some have speedwork, some have cross-training, and all are just a little different. But by paying and, therefore, committing to the plan, you leave yourself free to just follow it. You don’t even need to look ahead. You know the next day will come and your coach has a workout planned for it. You just need to focus on the workout in front of you. Especially if you’re prone to over-thinking things, you’re obsessed with the sport of running, and you like to learn new techniques, this really allows you to focus your energy on what you can do, and what you should do, on any given training day.
It also means you can cut yourself a break. As an athlete, you always feel like you could be doing more. You could be putting more into your workouts, you could be doing more cross training or muscle strengthening or stretching or yoga or any number of things that you’ve seen mentioned here or there. But any questions you have, you can take your coach, and after you’ve taken their advice you can relax. It’s not all your decision anymore.
4. They’ve heard it all before. With an experienced coach comes breadth and depth of knowledge of various situations that is hard to duplicate by research on the Internet. You can point on your own foot to where you have pain, and they can tell you what is the cause and how to avoid it. If your motivation is lacking, they’ve heard that before. They will certainly have advice on gear like shoes, shorts, nutrition, and hydration. And after seeing how you react to your training, they can advise you on a race strategy.
5. You can often join a group of that coach’s other runners, creating an instant community. Sometimes coaches have group sessions you can join. Some like to run alongside their runners, and, even if all their runners are not running at the same pace, you might not get all your coach’s attention, but could meet some other runners at your same ability level. Remember, running in a group is more fun!
6. Accountability. A runner’s goals are very personal and unique, so meeting them means you have to make a commitment to yourself. But a simple commitment to yourself doesn’t always work. Knowing that a coach is waiting for a report at the end of the week may be the push you need to complete every workout, even when you’re tired or hungry or cold. You don’t want to let down your coach!