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What should you look for in your first running coach

Finding a coach can be intimidating. How do you find the right one? And what should you look for?

Are you looking to take your running to the next level? Or are you looking for help to achieve a specific running goal? Having a great coach is an essential part of every great athlete’s success, but to get to that point, you have to find a coach who fits the bill. Finding a coach can be intimidating. How do you find the right one? And what should you look for?

Use the following tips to help you find the best coach for you.

Your purpose

Why do you need a coach? What’s holding you back from achieving your goals on your own? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before you go looking. When you start your search, look for training groups or coaches in your area who have experience with coaching runners at your level. For example, if you are looking to run a marathon, it doesn’t make sense to seek sign on with someone who is primarily a sprint coach. 

Another thing you want to think about is your schedule. How much time you can commit to training? How much money can you budget for coaching? And what do you specifically want to focus on?

Their experience

There are plenty of running coaches out there who train athletes based on what they’ve learned through their years as a runner; some of them are very good, and others are less good. It’s great to have a coach who understands you as an athlete and knows or has experience in what you are going through or training for. 

Check out the coach’s experiences as not only a runner but as a coach of other athletes, and their qualifications. Chatting with past or current runners who have trained under that coach can give you a pretty good idea. Then you can see if your goals align with their coaching style to ensure it’s the right fit. 

A referral 

If any of your running friends have a coach, a referral is a great place to start looking. Ask your friends about their experience while training under the coach. Some great questions to ask are: How responsive are they? What does the typical training plan look like? What are the expectations? And what is the connection between coach and athlete like?

If you are new to a city or are unsure of where to find a coach, try asking at your local running store. Many running stores will have a list of coaches, plus they are familiar with other coaches in the area. 

The cost

Everything in life comes at a cost, and so do most running coaches. Depending on your goals or financial situation, you’ll have to find a coach who will fit your budget.

When looking for a coach, make sure you are getting good value for what you are paying. Don’t pay $200 a month for a virtual training plan that isn’t personalized. Make sure the cost is appropriate to what you will be getting in return. 

Another thing you need to determine is whether you are looking for a personal 1-on-1 coach or a group coach. Having a personal coach will generally drive up the cost per month while joining a coached group like Vancouver’s Mile2Marathon or Toronto’s BlackToe RC will cost significantly less. 


Treat finding a coach like a hiring interview. You always want to hire the candidate who is best suited for the job. Sit down and interview your potential coach before making your decision. Make sure your philosophies align and that they believe in you as an athlete. Try to ask in-depth questions to get an understanding of what training will be like under their wing. Good communication is the most important thing in any relationship. It’s great to interview a few candidates to find the best fit. 

Another thing to do is to trust your initial gut reaction. Your instinct and intuition should be your first gauge of whether or not a coach is right for you, and you’ll likely be able to determine that in your first interaction. If something feels off when you first meet them, keep looking. When you find the right coach you’ll know. 

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