Running with a Coach

With grateful thanks to Bronwyn Cottrell – Physiotherapist

Running with a coach is growing in popularity with ordinary runners and is no longer for elite athletes. Be it personal one-on-one sessions, ‘virtual training’ or running with a guided programme, many runners are choosing some form of coaching to achieve their goals. Whether you a seasoned runner or a novice, there are several coaches and guided programs to suite your needs.

One-on-one coaching, a certain way to achieve. One-on-one coaching is exactly that. Coach and runner work together to meet specific goals. Running programmes are designed to meet an individual’s needs and wants. Thanks to modern technology this no longer means having to meet up for runs. It can largely be done virtually.

Running watches and fitness devices now days give so much information about each training session. An athlete can send this data to a coach for analysis. This is used to build the programme accordingly, and to motivate the individual runner. The information can be hugely beneficial to both coach and runner. It assists in solid and safe training progressions.

Caution – be careful not to get ‘stuck in the technology’ and thus stop enjoying your running, it can happen. Also, don’t feel you have to strictly maintain the coach’s pace, rather settle into a natural rhythm of your own running style. This is far better for running gait and injury prevention.

One-on-one coaching works well for many, you feel accountable to the coach and turn up to every training session, instead of rolling over and pressing snooze. There are many coaches who can make you feel incredibly guilty for missing a morning run, not a bad thing in the early parts of training when one is trying to get into the habit of regular running.

A good coach will always have a strength regime working in parallel with the running programme. This is vitally important for injury prevention.

Good coaches give nutritional guidance as well. It is important for on the road training, during the long hard slog of endurance running. It is equally vital when off the road, while boosting fitness and optimising recovery.

On the downside, one-on-one coaching can get expensive, and many coaches have developed different payment packages to meet individual financial needs.

A strategy that works well, is goal driven coaching. Coaching, say, for a specific event. After which you can taper into a maintenance type programme once that even or goal is met.

When running with a coach, both need to buy into the relationship. The relationship rules and boundaries need to be discussed and must be clear from day one. Without buy in from either party, individual goals will not likely be met.

If you are seeing a physiotherapist during the training programme, it is vitally important that both coach and therapist communicate well, as colleagues and professionals. A physiotherapist needs to understand the training goals. Equally, the coach needs to understand how a programme may need to be adapted to accommodate injuries and assist the healing process.

In my experience, working closely with a coach has achieved optimal results for our runners. Together we have managed to keep athletes productive over what could potentially be a stressful time.

I highly recommend training with a coach. We are spoilt for choice in South African for good solid coaching talent. Individual coaching is not just for Gerda Steyn, the average runner like myself, has benefited hugely from their expertise. Be it a finish line you want to cross, a time you want to improve on, or simply just getting ‘running fit,’ a coach can give you that edge.