Any runner who wants to improve (however you define improvement) can benefit from coaching. Perhaps you are fit but can’t seem to get faster –– a coach can get you off that plateau. Are you are repeating the same stale workouts but hoping for different results? A coach can help you mix it up and move forward. Do you need more structure (and perhaps a cheer or a boot to the rear) to do your best? Get a coach.
There’s no magic here. A well-trained coach makes it his or her job to help you achieve your goals. Coaches are there to offer their expertise and partner with you to create and implement a plan –– nutrition, workouts, rest, and recovery –– for your success.
Feeling like this? You might need one of these.
One of a coach’s most useful contributions is his or her ability to channel athlete enthusiasm to prevent their runners from getting injured. By keeping workouts specific and varied and mixing in adequate recovery time, coaches coax progress without letting their runners break down.
Achieving this balance between work and rest can be difficult for the self-coached. Endurance sports journalist Matt Fitzgerald explains, “Many elite athletes rely on coaches to keep them from doing stupid things, like responding to symptoms of overtraining by training harder.” (http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/do-you-need-a-coach_55211#vW4SMSilxI9tBxHE.99) By insisting that you respect your body enough to train it well and then give it sufficient rest, a coach can help you markedly improve your performance and enjoyment.
What should you look for in a coach?
So, now that you know that everyone –– at every level –– can use a coach, you are probably wondering: what makes a good coach? It’s pretty easy to spot a good coach. They put their athletes first, establishing good rapport that involves listening carefully as well as providing feedback and instruction.
Communication and trust is key. Sometimes athletes’ trust can be undermined if they don’t understand why they are being asked to commit their time to a workout plan. A good coach will take the time to explain how today’s workout helps the athlete build towards success. This ability to motivate and illuminate is important.
Coaches also should have the ability to be objective and bring a rational analytic approach to training. While you want a coach to be enthusiastic in the moment, you also want someone who can see the big picture of your progress.
Coaching philosophies come in all shapes and sizes and different philosophies work for different athletes. Some people thrive with a gruff Gus; others need a coach with a more encouraging personality. That’s a matter of athlete preference. It’s good to remember that there is not one best coach or coaching method. Better coaches, however, will identify ways to effectively train, respect, and encourage athletes as individuals. They will adapt workouts to the individual. Much of this workout specificity depends on a coach’s perceptive recognition of an individual’s fatigue signature. A good coach will dynamically adjust plans to make sure that their athletes are not overdoing. Rigidity should not masquerade as consistency.
Recognizing the fatigue signature
Fleet Feet Albany and Malta has taken much of the guesswork out of finding effective coaches by hiring people with experience and proven track records who want you to achieve your goals. Here are our current coaches, who have a wealth of experience: Meet the coaches.
The 5K beginner programs and the 5K advanced and 10K programs are filling up with runners that like the camaraderie and support of a training group, as well as the targeted coaching that our experts provide. Think about joining a Fleet Feet Distance Project training program to help achieve your goals: FFDP
Finally, be sure to find yourself a coach that can inspire and motivate. Successful coaches often measure their effectiveness based on victories. Legendary coaches go further and end up having an influence on their athletes’ lives –– they help make better people, not just better athletes.Have you had a coach help you achieve your goals? What qualities did they have that made them effective coaches? We would really like to hear about your experiences with coaching and being coached in the comments.