Stop Training Your Clients Like You Train Yourself!

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Do 12 reps of double box jumps like me – it’ll improve your finishing kick!

You get your best results by training hard on back-to-back days followed by two consecutive easy days. After you know that this training structure works best for you, you integrate it into all of your clients’ programs. Why? Because if it works for you then it must work for everyone else – including your clients.

When put this way, it sounds ridiculous, right?

Then why do so many running coaches structure their clients’ programs after their own?

While there are likely many reasons for it, the most important thing to understand is that your clients are not you and you are not your clients. As such, a client’s program should only be based on one person… them! Let’s look into several reasons why running coaches make this mistake:


Lack of understanding of the body

If a coach does not understand how the body functions, they likely do not understand that from a physiological standpoint, individuals differ in regard to their response to stress (i.e., training workloads), their muscles are likely made up of different ratios of fast/slow twitch muscle fibers and that individuals progress at different rates to the same training stimuli… just to name a few.


This is the worst. Let’s assume that a coach does understand that individuals have differing responses to the same training stimuli – but still incorporates the same training that they personally do into their clients’ programs. This is pure laziness and they have no business being a coach!

I used to work as a personal trainer at a big urban health club with over 70 full-time trainers. I can recall a trainer that regardless of the client (i.e., age, sex, goals, health issues, etc…), all of the workouts looked exactly the same. Don’t be the coach version of this trainer!

Guinea Pig

I’m all for trial and error but unless it’s early in the training process where there is little to be lost or if your client is not responding well to your current training methods, you should not seek to implement a new training structure purely based on your own training structure. The one caveat to this is if the training structure has been historically proven effective across a wide range of subjects/clients, in which case is not really trial and error.

But it may work…

True – a training method or structure by which you train yourself may work for another client or clients… or it may not. The issue is not that you prescribe a training method for a client that is the same as the one that you also do – the issue is why.

If you implement a training method because you believe that based on your client’s individual needs and their training history they will have a positive response, then go for it. However, if you’re solely adding a training method to a client’s program because it worked for you, and therefore you believe that will also work for them (based on no data)… stop and do not pass go or collect $200 – you’re in the wrong!

Why did the client hire you?

Anyone with an internet connection can go online and find a free training program with generic workouts. Your client hired you because they want a customized program from a running coach that is professional, results-focused and understands how to progress them safely and effectively to their goal race.

If you randomly construct a client’s training program based on what works best for you or another client, you are no better than a free online training program. In fact, you are likely worse as online training programs have some degree of thought behind them.


Always put the client first and everything from how many reps you prescribe for squats, to how long each tempo effort is must be solely based on the client.

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 get a $50 discount on the Running Coach Certification, click here!

Rick Prince

Rick Prince

Founder/Director of United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA).

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