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Five Things to Do Before Hiring a Running Coach

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

Are you thinking about hiring a running coach?


This blog is intended on helping you shape your thoughts before engaging with anyone.


There are some age-old deltas here.


Why do I need a running coach.

Where do I even begin.

We have a running coach at my club but they seem to focus on things that don't feel right for me.


....and the number one 'I DON"T THINK I AM GOOD ENOUGH TO DESERVE A COACH'


Hopefully the things we have included below can help you. Everyone deserves some form of coaching. There are also plenty of good people out there who offer some services for free or at discounted prices. However there are also experts who specialise and this is their profession. So again it's about understanding your current needs and then using the type of ideas below to be better prepared to begin any process.


This is intended on being a starting point for more conversation. We will add more information based on things that you might share with us.


Camino Philosophies on Coaching:




If you contact us and we feel that there is another coach out there that would be better for you then we will encourage you to speak to that Coach.


We specialise in ultramarathons - 50KMs - 100 miles - 24 Track events - Multi-dayers. We do coach people who are training for other distances but we often refer you to the point above x


Camino coach as a Team. Almost every other alternative out there is a single coach. We believe that our coaches have great experiences in many things. However our male coaches will never experience things that our expert female coaches understand and some of us have deeper knowledge in a certain race, certain distances etc. This is where a team of coaches can be a real game-changer.


We work with other experts. We care deeply about the pillars of nutrition, sleep, recovery, strength etc but where these things are critical to you as an athlete we will almost always encourage you to work with them and us together.


Ok so below are the main five points we think you should start with with. There are more. We asked our community and we got some beautifully weird and wonderful ones - these are the ones we would find out if they are your 'buttons' and if so we will delight in pressing them for you.





  1. Start with your own Reasons: We already come from a place where we strongly believe in the Coach/mentor process. All five Camino Coaches have a coach - all of us have been coached by multiple coaches. We may get the majority of our run structure from one coach but we will often get the other pillars of knowledge (nutrition/sleep/resilience/strength etc) from different experts/coaches. The subject of your Why? is fundamental - if it is strong and from a place that feels right you are already a long way down the road to a successful athlete x coach relationship.

  2. Great Runner vs Great Coach: Some coaches have come from a specific race background - some have won the Montane Winter Spine , some have podiumed Western States or been regular strong finishers at a Centurion 100 mile series. Some coaches have a love for a certain race distance or terrain. Some great coaches have a much more modest running CV but they have coached runners to a multitude of successes. It is important to understand what it is that you want from a Coach - are you hoping to be a finisher of a big ultramarathon. Are you better served by being with a Coach who has been a mutiple finisher of that same event and has gone through the same experiences that you might do. If this is your life goal would you be get a more realistic coaching experience if you work with someone who has DNF'ed events and knows what it is like to be close to that race but knows where it goes wrong. These are all themes that you can explore before deciding on the better CV of a coach.

  3. Remember your Uniqueness: When you read someone else's race blog - that is their experience - yours will probably be very different. The best coaches will coach you for your specificity - your age, your experience, your health and your fitness (which are different). Some coaches are nerds - they love data - if you love data then ask about the data - test and challenge the science with a potential coach.

  4. Pre-warn the things you feel might not work: There is often a voice inside your head which has a list of things that you feel might not work with any coach - some of this is called 'Imposter Syndrome' - not thinking that you are good enough to be coached - YOU ARE - everyone is - everyone could (and in our opinion should) strive to improve themselves in any facet of their lives. So look at the areas that might be the blockers to a successful relationship and begin the process to catalogue them - communicate them with any prospective coach and see if you can find answers that will begin that journey to help unlock them.

  5. Approach it like Stephen Bartlett - The Dragon's Den and 'Diary of CEO podcast' creator is a strong advocate of journaling - getting out a pen and paper and writing down your thoughts - leaving them for a while and using some tools to help you reflect why you have written what you have. This can be a whole new experience inside the traditional run coaching experience.


So even if you aren't thinking about a coach (or if you are) sit down (grab a real piece of blank paper and a pen) and on that piece of paper write down some questions that you want to ask - questions that can help you appreciate where you are with your own fitness, your running and your current life situations. Now look at the ones which would be helpful to ask any prospective Coach.


Questions that have been asked by people within the Camino community might be ones that are helpful for you.


So where can you find a running coach in the UK?


Chat GPT suggest the following - we haven't doctored these and we only have our own personal experiences of the trusted No. 4: Here are some of the options:

  1. UK Athletics - UK Athletics is the national governing body for athletics in the UK, and they have a list of accredited coaches on their website. You can search by location and specialty to find a coach who fits your needs.

  2. Local running clubs - Many local running clubs have coaches on staff or can recommend a coach who works with their members. Joining a club can also be a great way to connect with other runners and get training advice.

  3. Online coaching platforms - There are several online coaching platforms that connect runners with coaches, such as TrainingPeaks, Final Surge, and VDOT O2. These platforms often allow you to search for coaches based on location, experience, and coaching style.

  4. Personal referrals - Ask other runners in your network if they have worked with a coach they would recommend. Personal referrals can be a great way to find a coach who has a proven track record of success.

  5. Social media - Many running coaches and clubs have a presence on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. You can search for coaches using hashtags or location tags to find coaches who work in your area.


Finding an Icon - we love this suggestion from Camino Legend Miki - Miki loves Fernanda Maciel. David loves everything that Debbie Martin Consani does - Debbie was a real inspiration for future big-dream ultramarathons and how to prepare for them. These icons have a unique way of 'feeding your enthusiasm and dreams'. We would love to build a small list of these Icons - some are already featured in our Podcast series - like the one with Dan Lawson


Jonty Brown (ChasingChange and Co-Founder RunLimited) shares: "I think best advice would be to do your research! Find a coach that you get on with, inspires you and specialises in the goal you are aiming for. Everyone is different so find who works best for you. Talk to other runners with coaches for recommendations but remember, what works for them, might not work for you.

ALSO! make sure you’re committed, coaches can be an incredible addition to your training plan, but they don’t come cheap. Make sure you are committed so that you benefit from the plan"


Oscillation - this is a huge part of our coaching philosophy. It is the idea that you come to us for coaching when you are oscillating in one direction. However coaching may take you somewhere completely unexpected - hence an oscillation in a different direction. We work with you on this. It could be that you embrace another form of movement - that you find your love for running in a different terrain - that you join us in become a Coach and the cycle continues x


Are the Coaches actually Available and free to give you the support you need?

As Team GB athlete and Coach Nathan Flear shares: "One of The main things to consider should be the availabilty and accessibility of the coach, you need to be in contact with your coach on a regular basis, giving and getting feedback, and plans adapted if needed"


Summary:


Please let us know where you are in the process. If you are still on the fence then let us know what is stopping you looking at being coached. If you want to coach yourself but are stuck then let us help you with some free advice. If you are a runner and are thinking about becoming a coach then we would also love to help you formulate your plans and support you in becoming a great coach.

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