5 reasons every newbie runner needs a coach (and not an app)
Finding a running coach when you’re just starting out can be intimidating, and you probably think it’s not worth it. But I’m here to tell you that a running coach can be the BEST money you’ll ever spend on running. Here are my top reasons why!
1. A coach will help you avoid injuries.
You wouldn’t expect to learn to play football, or the piano, without an experienced guide showing you the ropes, would you? Ok, maybe you would, but we all know that you’re probably not going to be as good as you could be without one. Well, having a running coach is EXACTLY like that. A running coach will help ensure your running form is solid, and work with you to correct problems before they’re a huge problem.
If you’re new to running, then you’re especially susceptible to injuries as it’s more than likely you’ve got a few bad habits, weak muscles, or dodgy running form. It’s ok though — most of us do! A running coach will help you avoid injuries by improving your form and building your muscle strength slowly.
Let’s face it, money spent on a coach to correct technique is way cheaper than money spent on a physio when poor technique has put you out of action.
2. A coach will personalise your plan so it’s specific to your goals and your abilities.
Sure, you could totally download and follow that free marathon training plan, but who’s it actually written for? If it’s written with a gym-buff bloke who’s super-fit already and can run 10km in under 45 minutes in mind, then that plan’s not going to be for you if you haven’t exercised since you were 15 and avoiding PE class with the ‘I’ve got my period excuse’ every other week.
A running coach is going to carefully plan your program so it’s a perfect fit for you. Their aim is to build you up slowly, so the sessions are hard but not so hard that you don’t think you can do them.
A carefully written training program will get you running parkrun non-stop, or completing that marathon, so you will reach your goal as well as enjoying the journey to get there.
3. Your coach is your cheer squad and advocate.
Your coach will be the leader of your cheer-squad, your biggest advocate and your sounding board about all things running. Seriously, your coach will be just as thrilled — and possibly even more so — when you smash out your first sub-30 minute 5km, or finally hold a plank for longer than 30 seconds. Your success is their success, after all. And who couldn’t use an extra bit of moral support, hey? Your coach will be that person.
4. Coaches usually come with a ready-made squad of awesome running buddies.
You might feel that joining a running squad is too daunting when you’re first starting out, and I totally get that. It took me a good 18 months (and a half marathon under my belt) to take the leap and join a running squad and train with a coach in person. It takes a fair whack of courage to take that first step — and that’s ok.
I implore you to swallow that knot of fear, and try running with a group. It doesn’t matter how slow a runner (or walker) you are, those other runners will be the most supportive, kindest people you will know. They will be thrilled you’re trying their drug. Because they know that once you’ve let go of your fear and embarrassment, you’ll more than likely get hooked. Let’s face it, running is a drug and your coach will be your pusher. Embrace it!
Running buddies are the best — especially when exploring new-to-you parkruns while on holidays!
Photograph by Lisa Scott, Run Eat Sleep Repeat
5. You won’t need to write your own plan.
Some days getting out of bed, lacing up the shoes and getting out the door is hard. Sometimes completing the run is even harder. Don’t make things even more difficult by trying to write your own training plan, or worse, having to tweak and change up that plan when life or a cold gets in the way. Let your coach do what they do best: write the plan. It’s your job to follow that plan.
I’m all for making my life that little bit easier, and getting someone to do the thinking for me means I will do the work. If I have to do the thinking AND the training, then there’s a very good chance I’m not going to do either.
Running is hard. Don’t make it harder. Get yourself a coach. I promise you, you won’t regret it!
Lisa is a mad-keen runner, mad-cap mum, and still can't quite grasp that she runs marathons 'for fun'. She also believes there's no coincidence about the number 42. After all, 42 is the distance of a marathon, her current age and according to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the meaning of life!