Should You Hire a Running Coach?

One expert weighs in on the pros and cons of working with a coach

While many of us wish our daily schedule looked more like that of an elite runner's— run, eat, rest, run, eat, sleep and repeat— the fact that training isn’t a top priority to us mere mortals doesn't mean a running coach is totally out of the question.

It's an elite athlete's job to train with and follow the advice of an expert running coach, but just because you're not training at quite the same level doesn't mean as a recreational runner you don’t deserve the same type of attention.

The resource is available to runners of all levels. In fact, someone interested in starting to run for the first time could save a lot of time and avoid a ton of beginner mistakes by working with a running coach right off the bat.

On the other hand, someone who has been running recreationally for years (and ahem, maybe thinks they know it all) might find great value in working with a coach who could help re-shape poor form that's become habit or re-spark motivation by helping to switch up their routine.

According to Davide Vigano, CEO & Co-Founder of Heapsylon, a company that designs body-sensing, wearable devices for runners, one of the best benefits of working with a running coach comes in the form of learning proper form.

"Good form is paramount to success as a runner," Vigano told me over the phone. "Having someone watch you run and give suggestions will teach you correct form and allow you to run longer and faster while avoiding injury."

A few other benefits: assistance with setting and successfully reaching new goals, avoiding plateaus in your progress and the opportunity to acquire a wealth of knowledge.

"You’ll learn valuable things like how to pace yourself properly, fuel each day, cross-train, recover from long runs, and how to prepare for your next big event," says Vigano.

However, working with a coach isn't necessarily beneficial for every single runner. Some will find it's not worth the investment. So before you hire one right away it's important to consider both sides of the spectrum.

"Hiring a coach can be a big time commitment, and varies on cost depending on their services and your needs," says Vigano. "Spending lots of money only to feel overwhelmed trying to squeeze meetings into a busy week can be a headache."

For those who are considering a coach, Vigano highly recommends looking for one that can flexibly work with your schedule.

It's also important to keep your own personality in mind. If you're the type of person who works well as an individual and you take pride in teaching yourself new skills, then a running coach may not be your best bet.

"Too often we pay people to teach us things that we can learn for ourselves with a simple Google search or with a smartphone app," says Vigano. "If you’re willing to do a lot of research on your own and you have the discipline to stay committed, you may not need to hire someone else."

Vigano also notes that coaches can be costly, so if you don’t have the money to hire one (but still want the knowledge of an expert) you should consider using a virtual coaching app, joining a local running club or a charity running group.

This is part one of our two part series on running coaches featuring Davide Vigano, CEO & Co-Founder of Heapsylon.

Part 2: Can This Activity Tracker Compare to a Running Coach?

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