Give Yourself The Gift of Coaching


A training plan from the internet might be suitable to get you to the finish line of your next big race, or it might not. If you’ve recently felt like you gave it your all, yet didn’t reach that goal time you’d been hoping for, maybe it’s time you thought about hiring a coach (or asking for one for Christmas).

Having a coach can be an eye-opening experience if you’ve been training solo. Putting someone else in charge of calling the shots other than yourself can be liberating. And while looking for a coach to help you with training might seem like a selfish endeavor, there aren’t many of us who have the unique capability of analyzing our own training plans from every angle.

Coaches are popping up left and right in the ultrarunning world, so do your homework. Find someone you connect with who has enough experience under their belt to guide you through training with confidence.  Many of the runners who’ve been successful throughout their careers are often looking to pass along advice to runners who seek it, so it shouldn’t be hard to find someone familiar.

Ian Sharman, Head Coach of Sharman Ultra Endurance Coaching, offers online coaching to runners all over the world. Clients can choose between an elite staff of coaches including Ian himself, who has raced approximately 200 ultras and marathons (and won 50) and holds records for the fastest 100-mile trail race as well as the Grand Slam of ultrarunning. Other elite ultrarunners who provide coaching services include Ryan Gehlfi and David Laney (Trails & Tarmac), David Roche, Ann Trason, Jeff Browning and Meghan Arbogast, just to name a few.

Most runners who explore the idea of finding a coach often do so because they’ve hit a plateau in their training. When asked about the reason most clients reach out to Sharman Ultra, Ian said, “Runners use coaches for a whole host of reasons, whether it’s to take on a new distance, get faster, overcome injuries or virtually any other desired change. We help to speed up the learning curve for these new challenges.”

Getting advice from a coach who has run dozens or even hundreds of ultras and been successful doing so, usually means you’re going to get answers that come from years of lessons learned. If you’ve got a problem, they’ve likely got a remedy (or two). Time on the trails, course experience and all of the other obstacles the coaches have endured are hard-earned, from which their clients can benefit.

Training and/or nutrition plans created by coaches are usually customized for a specific race or distance. Some offer different levels of coaching, while others charge a flat fee and costs range anywhere from $80 up to $500 per month. Prices on the higher end including detailed services and frequent communication, while more minimal fees might just include a training plan. If these prices seem steep, consider the length of time you’ll be needing the guidance of a coach. When targeting a specific race, it may only be a four-month time frame.

The thought of hiring someone to watch over your training might seem a little daunting, but it can mean the difference between feeling frustrated after a race, and knowing you gave it all you had.


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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