The Most Valuable Trait To Look For In A Running Coach

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Have you ever had a really smart teacher but they couldn’t teach to save their life? Probably.

Have you ever sought out a teacher or professor based on their IQ? Probably not.

Now equate this to how most runners seek out running coaches, as likewise, how most coaches market their services.

Check out the websites of most running coaches and you’re bound to find their PR’s, important races completed and race placings. Exactly how many of these factors equate to being a great coach? ZERO!

When selecting a professor, you’d likely be looking for someone that is a great teacher and really cares and helps their students. The same should be true for coaching because at the end of the day, running coaches are teachers.

While experience is helpful as a running coach, one’s race placings and PR’s are not. You don’t have to be a ‘fast’ runner to coach other fast runners. A lot of coaches believe that they are only able and qualified to work with runners at their speed/level or lower. What I’ve personally found is that this hesitancy often revolves around being intimidated and, or being insecure in their own coaching abilities. Additionally and to be very clear – you don’t have to be able to outrun your clients!

So… the MOST important trait to look for in a running coach is that are a great coach! Exactly what a great coach means is likely different for different people. That said, for most runners, this means that a coach is professional in terms of their behavior/communication and that they consistently get great results for their clients.

In closing, stop searching for a coach that can run a 2:20 marathon or has won their state championship and focus your search on coaches that truly care for and get great results for their clients. In other words, hire a coach because they are a great coach, not a great athlete!


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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