Finding a Coach


Spending my days alone in a home office keeps me longing for an escape, and a well-earned lunch of fresh air and vitamin D on the trails is often the highlight of my day. And while I run regularly with others, we typically don’t make a habit of analyzing our training plans. That’s where the services of a coach can come in handy. Here are a few things to consider when looking for someone to crack the proverbial whip.

Expertise:  Coaches come in all shapes and sizes so depending on your needs, make sure they’re the right fit. Someone with thorough experience and an understanding of the distance you’re tackling (or planning to tackle), and familiarity with the race course you’re aiming for will allow them to adjust your training to fit the demands of the terrain. It pays to do a little research, ask questions and weigh your options. While many coaches offer adequate training plans, not all will provide the attention to detail you might be hoping for.

Price:  Runners spend the majority of their budget on running shoes and race entries, which means the monthly cost of a coach might come with a little sticker shock. Considering the price of a gym membership or personal trainer, hiring someone to create a personalized plan and give you feedback on your weekly training isn’t that crazy. Most ultrarunners I know consider the sport to be one of their top priorities and given how much time is invested during training, it seems pretty reasonable that we might hire someone manage it. Kind of like paying for insurance, if you will. While you think you might have everything under control, there’s a little voice in the back of your head that says otherwise. Find a coach that offers what you need without breaking the bank.

Style:  Remember your favorite teacher? A coach who will encourage and motivate you is a lot like that – you’ll always remember how much fun they were to learn from and work with. That’s because style matters. While some athletes may be looking for someone to analyze their data, others are looking for feedback – both analytically and personally. Most coaches can operate almost entirely on a virtual platform, but it shouldn’t take away the personal touch. Find a coach that not only inspires you, but communicates with you throughout training.

With so many coaches to choose from, the process of finding the right one may seem overwhelming. I’m a big fan of following your gut instinct when it comes to making these kinds of decisions, but doing research and asking questions always helps. The most important thing is to find someone who will keep that fire lit, without burning you out.


About Author

Amy Clark is the Editor of UltraRunning Magazine. She began her career at a small advertising agency in Bend, Oregon, where she enjoyed the fast pace and creative environment. For over 15 years, lunch hour runs were a ritual. Amy also joined the board of the local running club, became a race director and finished her first ultra. She has completed over 35 marathons and ultras combined, and continues to run long distances while encouraging both kids and adults to ignite their own passion for running.

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