Have you been thinking of hiring a running coach? Or perhaps you already have one and are wondering if it’s doing you any good? Working with a running coach, in person or online, should be fun and the value should be obvious to you, the client. However, the responsibility to make the coaching experience fun and valuable isn’t completely on the coach. It’s also on you! Here are 5 tips for getting the most out of your run coach.
Track Your Time
Obviously getting the most out of your coach involves actually completing the workouts they give you. Time is the number one obstacles we all claim to struggle with here. Every client I’ve ever worked with has missed at least one workout or run because “there was no time” that day. You can increase your success rate at actually doing the workouts by taking an honest look at how you spend your time on a typical day.
DO THIS: Keep a time journal for 3 to 5 normal days. Jot down a quick note about what you did each hour between waking up and going to bed. Review the journal, looking for tasks you can simplify, routines you can adjust, and chunks of wasted time (unplanned tv show binging or social media browsing) you can put to better use.
THEN THIS: Be honest with your coach about how much time you can commit to training on a daily/weekly basis. It’s best to do this from Day 1 of working with your coach but life is fluid, priorities change, and sometimes you have to revisit this conversation mid-training. Do this so your coach doesn’t waste time creating a plan for you that you can’t realistically complete.How much time can you really commit to training? How to get the most out of working with a coach. Click To Tweet
Pick Your Priorities
You can’t do it all. Of course you need to know your priorities, or main goals, for training. Your coach may work with you to set smart goals. However, you also need to know where your training fits in with other priorities in life (family, school, work, other hobbies, social commitments, health, etc).
DO THIS: Write down your top priorities. Ask yourself where your training fits in. Look for things that can temporarily take a back seat to your training (e.g. excusing yourself from the Friday night pub quiz when you’re running double digits on Saturday mornings). Plan to adjust “life as usual” while you get used to a new routine and again during the most demanding phases of your training.
THEN THIS: Be honest with yourself, your loved ones, and your coach about the changes and even sacrifices that will have to be made. Remind yourself and your loved ones that this is only temporary. You won’t miss Saturday mornings with your kiddos for the rest of your life. Yet while you’re training with your coach, you must commit to making it a higher priority than your usual runs or workouts.
Bug Your Coach
Many times I’ve had clients start an email off with “Sorry to bug you about this, but…” and then they proceed to ask some super critical questions or share some need-to-know information that they’d been keeping a lid on for a while. To which I respond in my head, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” Just because a question has an easy answer doesn’t mean it’s a “dumb question.” And believe me, as a coach I welcome questions with easy answers!
DO THIS: Over-communicate in the beginning. As you develop a relationship with your coach, you’re questions will become fewer and you’ll learn what kind of info they need from you and what they don’t.
THEN THIS: Follow common courtesy (no midnight texting) and whatever guidelines they may set (e.g. one email per week or one call per month). Make a list of questions/concerns so you can address them all in your weekly email or monthly call and then take notes on the answers/responses so you don’t forget!
Brutally honest, that is. Your coach needs an accurate report (run stats, honest self-assessment of your perceived effort level, etc) in order to recognize if any part of the training program is not producing the desired results. Sure, we want to impress our coach or not let them down or look like we’re making excuses. However, fudging your numbers or saying you didn’t give it your best that day when you really did…totally undermines your coach’s ability to use his/her wisdom and expertise to help you.
DO THIS: Remove all judgement when you report your workout results. If you struggled mentally/physically in a workout, express that briefly. Your coach will follow-up for more details if it’s important.
THEN THIS: Remember your goal isn’t to impress your coach. You’re not paying him or her to think you’re cool. You’re paying them to get you from where you’re at now to where you want to be. In order to do that, your coach needs to know exactly where you are throughout the process.
If you did your research, found a coach that is a good fit for you, and are communicating honestly with them…then HAVE FAITH. Trust their process and be coachABLE. Once you’ve chosen to work with a coach, have some faith in them and defer to their expertise. If you’re constantly doubting him or her, there are only two explanations: either you didn’t pick a good coach for yourself or you’re listening to anyone and everyone but your coach.
DO THIS: Let your coach worry about the big picture and focus your energies on doing your best to follow the plan. If coach tells you to rest, then rest. If your workout plan says to run easy/slow, don’t bust out your 5k race pace just because you “felt good” that day.
THEN THIS: Know that if you need to question your coach’s plan, any good coach should be happy to explain the method to their madness or the “why” behind a workout. A good coach will want you to understand your training process and not be offended if you question it once or twice.