In part one of this series, I discussed why working with a running coach is a good idea, as well as things to look for when considering hiring a running coach.
This post (part two) will assume that you’ve found a coach whom you believe will be a good match and have decided to move forward… and are now assessing the following variables:
- In-Person or Online
- What Plan To Choose
- Contact Time/Methods
- Guaranteed Results
IN-PERSON OR ONLINE
This is largely based on personal preference as one is not necessarily better than the other – it just depends on what you’re looking for. With today’s technology such as Skype and video sharing, a remote coach can do almost everything an in-person coach can do including form analysis. However, if you’re more comfortable with a coach being local or would like for the coach to personally supervise and direct your workouts, then an in-person coach is the way to go.
WHAT PLAN TO CHOOSE
Typically, coaches have different level plans at varying price points. For example, the most simple program, and also the least expensive is likely a monthly program with little to no correspondence whereas the most involved program is a weekly program with unlimited contact and unlimited program modifications, if need be. There is usually at least one level option between these two extremes, and often more than one.
To some degree, the plan you choose is also based on personal preference in respect to how much involvement you want from the coach. As you can see, the package type/price is primarily influenced by how much involvement the coach personally has.
One thing to note – if you select the least expensive plan that includes just a monthly plan, make sure that the plan is not a generic template, but rather one that is custom built for you based on your correspondence with the coach.
This pertains to both running technology, as well as coaching software. As such, this area is a personal choice. If you’re a low-tech kind of person who works best with email and maybe an Excel spreadsheet, then you won’t want to hire a coach who uses the latest online coaching software such as Training Peaks. However, it should be noted that coaching software often allows for a deeper dive into the training process and also facilitates the process in a more intuitive way than can be derived from emails and phone calls.
If you decide to work with a coach that uses coaching software, find out if it is included in the price or if it’s extra (often, the software price is part of a coach’s set-up fee). If you currently use the software that your desired coach uses and charges clients for, ask if you can have that price deducted.
In respect to running technology, if you don’t have and, or don’t want to buy a GPS watch, then you shouldn’t hire a coach that prescribes pace in real-time. Conversely, if a coach only directly their athletes via exertion level and, or heart rate – but you are addicted to your Garmin, this likely isn’t the right coach for you.
- How many times per week or month do you want contact with your coach?
- Do you prefer email or phone?
- Does your coach limit and stipulate what times they can speak on the phone?
These are some variables to think about when hiring a coach. For example, if you prefer speaking on the phone but your desired coach only communicates via email, this is likely not a good fit. So figure out what method by which you’d like to communicate, as well as how often and make sure that the coach and, or plan offering you choose matches this.
Plans often stipulate specifically how many calls are allotted per month as well as the call duration. Some plans also denote whether the call is initiated by the coach or the client (ex: Two, 30 minute coach initiated calls per month). Again, make sure that if phone calls are part of the program, the call structure works for you.
This area of discussion will be short. If a coach offers, ‘Guaranteed Results,’ don’t hire them! I don’t care if they have five Ph.D’s in physiology, have coached 20 Olympic champions and can personally run a sub-4 minute mile while juggling… no coach can guarantee results! That is of course unless you can guarantee that you won’t get injured/sick during the training process and will have a perfect race come race day 😉
What happens if after a few weeks of working with a coach, you decide that it just isn’t working out? Can you cancel or are you committed to several months?
Some coaches will require that in order to work with them, you must commit to “X” number of months. This is often because they believe that takes that long for a coaching program to reach it’s desired effect and more specifically, for a client to realize substantiative results.
To some degree I get it as physiological adaptions take a while to take effect – especially with new runners. However, sometimes, even with prior due diligence, things just don’t work out. This isn’t good or bad, it’s just reality. Knowing this, it might be best to work with a coach who doesn’t lock you into a long term contract or a set number of required months.
Ahhh, yes… price. The two primary areas to address in respect to price are affordability and value. Assuming you don’t have an unlimited budget, if you can’t afford a coach’s rate – no matter how great they are, you can take them out of the selection process. I mean, I’d love to have a house in Aspen but…
In respect to value, since you have already identified the coach as someone that you’d like to work with, it would be advantageous to assess what they bring to the table (ex: results, experience, do they hold a running coach certification, personality, coaching philosophy, etc..) and then determine if the coach’s rate represents a fair value based on the aforementioned factors. One way to benchmark this is to research other similar coaches to see what rates they charge. However, as there are multiple areas that factor into price such as location (i.e., an NYC-based coach likely charges more than one based in Bismarck, ND), this shouldn’t be the only assessment that you use to decipher if a coach is offering a good value.
“You get what you pay for”
While this is often accurate, be aware that just because a coach’s rate is low doesn’t mean that they are of low quality. For example, perhaps a coach is relatively new and great coach – but in an effort to increase their clientele, they price their services lower than market rate. Or… perhaps a coach believes that coaching should be as inclusive as possible and therefore doesn’t believe in pricing out potential clients.
One thing to note – if a coach’s rate is quite low, ask them how many clients they have, or if they have a cap. Because if they have 100 clients, good luck getting any form of personal attention (ex: a gym that charges $9.99/month is so busy, you have to wait 45 min to find an available treadmill!).
Conversely, just because a coach has an absurdly high rate does not mean that they bring that dollar amount of value to the coaching process.
“What will it take for me to get you to buy a coaching program today?”
Can you negotiate with a coach for a lower rate? Sure. Is this a normal practice? Not really. This is one of the reasons why coaches often have multiple package options – so if one is a bit too expensive, you can select a lower priced option.
While the monthly price for coaching runs the spectrum from dirt cheap to damn near unaffordable, based on my time in the industry, I’d say that for most coaches the monthly rate averages between $50-$250/month.
As mentioned in many of the above areas, personal preference plays a large part in coach selection. It’s important to take into consideration how you want to be coached and to find a coach that matches your desired preferences and price range.
Photo Credit: Carlos Navarro Abin
Rick Prince is the founder of United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA), a science/evidence-based endurance sports coaching education company that certifies running and triathlon coaches.
To learn more about our Running Coach Certification and to get a code for $50 off, click here!