12 things a running coach can do for you

Coach encouraging runner
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you think that running coaches are only for the professional runners or elite athletes, you would be wise to reconsider. Whatever your level of running, employing a coach can offer many benefits. We take a look at why a running coach might be exactly what you need. 

1. Help you reach a goal

You are more likely to be successful in achieving a goal, such as a faster 5k or 10k time, or completing your first marathon, with the guidance of a coach. 

A qualified coach will be experienced in assessing your current fitness and ability and helping you to train towards the goal.

2. Set you new goals

Do you feel you have reached a plateau in your running career? Have you run all the race distances you can think of and now feel like you do not have anything to train for? A coach can help you to think about new goals, whether it’s to achieve a PB, a best-for-age time or to tackle a race on the trails, or in the mountains, instead of the road.

Coach timing runner using phone

It can help runners if they are accountable to a coach (Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Keep you accountable

It’s all very well telling yourself that you will complete a variety of training runs, including hill reps, speed sessions and longer distance tempo runs, towards your goal – but it’s another thing actually doing the sessions.

A coach will make you accountable and expect you to record the runs completed in a training programme. 

4. Help you avoid injuries

Doing too much running, or progressing too quickly, can lead to running injuries. A qualified coach should be able to guide you to a better running performance and avoid injury. 

5. Improve your strength and flexibility

Most runners know they should include stretching and strength moves for better all-round fitness but how many actually do this regularly? A good coach will ensure you include strength and stretching as part of your programme. 

6. Keep you motivated 

Running when you feel in the mood for running is easy, but there are days when many people simply can’t be bothered. It might be cold, wet and windy outdoors, or you might have had a busy day at work. Sometimes, it can be too easy to find excuses as to why you can’t be bothered to go for a run.

When a coach has set you a training programme, it’s much easier to stay on track and complete your running sessions.

Coach showing runner options on treadmill

(Image credit: Getty Images)

7. Handle the planning

Even the most self-motivated runners will tend to go for the same runs, clocking the same miles and routes week after week. If you have a training programme created by a running coach, it’s likely to include a mix of sessions. 

With a coach, you can think less about what you need to do and just follow the programme.

8. Help you perform better

An experienced running coach will customise a training programme to suit your aspirations. They will first guide you towards realistic expectations by assessing you goals according to the SMART metrics and then tailor a running training programme to help you to achieve your targets.

The best coaches know how to improve speed, efficiency and run with a better pace to reach your goals.

runner putting on shoes at home

You will have better motivation to run if you have a coach (Image credit: Getty Images)

9. Combat obstacles

It’s worth considering a sports psychology coach if you are battling mental obstacles, such as a lack of confidence or belief in your ability. Some runners suffer badly with  anxiety and nerves and this can affect performance even when all the physical training is working well.

A sports psychologist can help you to work through obstacles and help you to become a better runner, especially when facing goals and races. 

10. Help you train through menopause

Half the population will face peri-menopause and menopause at some stage. When this happens women can suffer a range of issues that affect running motivation and performance. A good running coach will help with tips for running through the menopause.

runner female

Personal tips and advice from a coach will most likely lead to a better performance (Image credit: Getty Images)

11. Introduce you to like-minded runners

Many coaches will train multiple runners a the same time and they may organise training get-togethers or camps. This s a great opportunity to meet other like-minded runners.

12. Provide tailored training

Attending a running club, or following a general race training programme, will most likely lead to benefits for running performance. However, you will be able to achieve more if you have a coach who focuses on your own strengths and weaknesses and tailors training to suit your aspirations.

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.