Runner’s World put out a good article on coaching in the July issue that just came out. It is a fun read overall following the Training Editor’s journey to hiring a professional running coach. It looks like the website does not yet have the article posted, but it is worth the look if you want to get that issue of the magazine. In the article, they recommend a set of questions for any potential coach you might hire, which I think is a pretty good idea … so I thought I would answer those to the best of my ability below:
1) How many runners like me have you coached?
That’s a tough one to answer in a generic way :) Obviously, this would come down to individual runners, but here is a little background on my history with coaching: I have coached 20 year olds all the way up to ~65 year olds. I have consulted with 13 year olds up to ~65 year olds. I have coached many male and female runners all throughout the age range. I have coached runners who win local races and runners who finish near the end of local races. Similarly, I have coached runners with big PR goals, and others who just want to finish. This has included working with brand new beginners and very experienced runners.
2) What’s your coaching philosophy?
Well, if you check out my site, you’ll find that I highlight the following as tenets of my coaching philosophy: Individualization, Injury Prevention, and Variation. I firmly believe that the best chance for success with runners is to have an individualized plan catered specifically to an individual runner’s history, goals, and lifestyle. I focus on keeping runners healthy and injury-free even when reaching for high goals – my expertise as a Physical Therapist definitely comes into play in this arena. Finally, I am a big believer in variation during training. I feel that many runners and coaches fall into the trap of training by familiarity, which usually only works for a short time.
3) What’s your experience working with individuals?
Most of my experience in coaching is working with individuals. I have not been a coach of a local team, nor do I currently lead any type of training group (i.e. Team in Training). I have been involved in some local generic training groups that run programs similar to a “couch to 5k” set up; however, my belief in individualization as a key component to coaching makes me less interested in those types of training groups. I do have a desire to coach younger runners on a team level in the future.
4) How much personal interaction can I expect to have?
This is again outlined on my site. This varies client to client and is very flexible. I would say that the majority of time, I provide 7 to 10 day training plans over email that is followed up with multiple texts or emails throughout the week. I offer a scheduled phone call, but most clients prefer to only talk on the phone or Skype as needed. Some clients like to have some face to face time, which is set up on an individual basis.
5) What’s your background in dealing with injury?
Extensive. My “day job” is working in an outpatient Physical Therapy clinic where I specialize in treating injured runners. This work includes staying up to date on current literature, injury prevention, return from injury planning, gait analysis, and much more. I do everything I can to keep runners running and to prevent injury.
Those are my generic answers to those recommended questions posed in the article. I think it is a great idea to consider these questions and others when considering a coach!
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