As the sport of ultra running grows, so has the market for coaching services. In the days before the Internet mentorship and experience were the vehicles to achievement, now runners have the challenge of sorting through the many different coaches and plans available. This can be difficult. Ultimately it is your money and more importantly your personal experience that is on the line. These are a few points that can help you choose the coach that is right for you.
- Experience– your coach should have experience coaching runners over the distances and terrain at which you will be competing. Personal experience is good, personal experience plus coaching experience is in even better. Formal training, certifications, etc. are important, especially if your coach shows the ability to apply concepts and the science of running to their athletes.
- Long-term development– Coaches need to have your long-term development in mind. Look to see what their clients have achieved over 2-3 years under their watch. Have they improved? Have they suffered from an abnormal number of injuries? A coach that can help their athletes maximize their potential are the ones you will want to associate with.
- Communication– How much interaction do you need? Daily? Weekly? Many online coaching plans base in part the cost according to the amount of interaction offered to clients. Do they encourage you to ask questions and seek no only the “what” with your training/racing plans, but also the “why.”
- Trust– this may be the most important aspect of the athlete/coach relationship. You must trust them enough to take the plunge and enlist their services, but more importantly this trust must be fostered as you seek to find your limits as a runner. A good coach will take interest in the complete person and foster trust through their interactions with clients.
Finding the right coach can be difficult and can be a substantial investment. With a little time and research you can find the right person to help you achieve your goals. A good coach will be your mentor, sounding board, and confidant. They can help you sort through the complexities of our “simple” sport. These include footwear, hydration, nutrition, and other gear choices. This will allow you to focus on training and preparing yourself for not only the next event but also a lifetime of successful running.