Friday, May 20, 2016

The Friday Five - Five Reasons to Hire a RRCA Coach

I think some runners think a coach is out of their league, that they are just for elite runners or runners who want to win races. Or that they are super expensive. What a lot of runners don't realize is that everyone can benefit from the use of a coach, whether you are a competitive runner or a mid to back of the pack runner.

The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) hosts running clinics that offer certification around the US a few times of year. They are very popular and usually quite difficult to get into. A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend one of the clinics in Austin, TX. Initially, it was something I wanted to do to improve my own running, but soon realized that one of my passions was helping other runners. I was already mentoring a couple of my friends and helping them with marathon training plans, so I figured, why not branch out and help others as well? What started as helping a couple of my friends, shortly turned into coaching quite a few! I quickly realized that it was something I loved doing. I was living vicariously through these athletes and their triumphs became mine. When they met their big goals, it was like I was meeting mine too. To say this opportunity has been fulfilling would be an understatement. I saw one of my athletes (in fact, one of the originals!) cross the finish line of her first ultramarathon this past weekend. It. Was. Amazing.

So, for those of you who are on the fence or wondering why you may want to consider a RRCA certified coach, I present to you the Friday Five...

1. Knowledge and Ethics

The main purpose of the RRCA is to "create a national community of knowledgeable and ethical distance running coaches to work with runners at all levels of ability" (RRCA, 2016). 

They focus on lifelong learning of sports science, training methods, coaching fundamentals, as well as professional conduct and ethics. If you were to ask me what the difference is between an RRCA certified coach and someone who calls themselves a coach sans any kind of certification, I would say that this is the difference. 

While the coaching workshop is just two days, it is two days packed full of information and hands on learning,  The RRCA does not teach one specific method of coaching, but teaches their attendees to base their own coaching methods from research, a wide range of well versed coaches and personal experience. 

I wouldn't say that the seminar was life changing, but it did provide an excellent base of knowledge to build on. I am still learning new things from other coaches. It truly is a lifelong journey.

2. You've hit a plateau. 

Hiring a coach is an excellent way to get out of a rut. If you feel like the PRs aren't coming as quickly as you like, it might be that you need to change something up. 

A coach can help you figure out a ways to meet your goals and get you to a new level of running.

3. Speaking of goals...

Working with a coach can help you set both reasonable and stretch goals . I have athletes that want to complete a marathon now, but their stretch goal is to qualify for Boston. Even though they aren't working on their stretch goal specifically now, it's always in the scheme of things and we will continue to chip away at her marathon finish time. 

Basically, a coach can help you keep it real, but at the same time keep your big goals in the grand scheme of things.

4. Your plan will be more personal, fit to meet your needs.

I'm sure you've all seen the canned plans that are available through Runner's World, Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with those plans and they will help you finish your desired distance. That being said, that's about all they will do. There are no specific challenges within them other than to cover the distance given for that day. They don't allow for "life". When your kiddo gets sick, you have a family emergency or just can't get your runs in, they don't really allow for that and make you feel pressured to increase your miles before you might be ready to. I've used these plans. The first year or two I trained for marathons I used various plans and basically got the same results every year. It wasn't until I started changing things up, doing different things and then hiring a coach myself three years ago, did I make any change in my outcomes. When I did that, the PRs...well they came fast and furious. I think hiring a coach is what inspired me to be a coach. It certainly helped me see their value and purpose! A RRCA coach will push you to go farther, capitalize on your gains and change things up if they aren't working for you on an ongoing basis, canned plans don't do that. If you miss your 14 miler, well, next week you still have your 16 miler. 

5. Support and Motivation

Last and most importantly, you get your own personal cheerleader. While most of the athletes I coach are also good friends, whom I'd support regardless, I feel vested in all of their performances, whether it be a training run or a big race. I want them to do well because that directly reflects on me (and I surely don't want any of them to hate me!). Whether friends or not, this holds true. You can expect another level of support from a coach as well as a frequent source of motivation. 

I think that about sums it up! Hopefully I've given you a good look at why hiring a RRCA coach is a great idea! While I am a certified coach, there are many others, all around the United States. Most of us are available for online multi-distance coaching and some even for local in-person coaching. Here is a list of all of the certified coaches available. If you are interested in coaching, I suggest reaching out to a few, to see who you think will fit your specific needs and would work well with you!

If you'd like more information from me, feel free to hit me up via email:

Happy Friday!!

Thanks again to the ladies in DC for the Friday Five Linkup!  Check out more awesome Friday Fives over at Courtney at Eat, Pray, Run DC, Mar at Mar on the Run and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What?!


Road Runners Club of America. (2016). Resources.