One of the things I hear from clients time and time again is that having a running coach has helped them with accountability to put the training in to achieve their goals. Most people who come to me for help want guidance on how best to train for a particular event, but mostly they want somebody in their corner, who will be setting them sessions, and to whom they feel accountable. Some clients have broader goals, such as to train more regularly or to build speed or distance, without the focus of an event, so we have to work a little harder in this circumstance to find where the motivation is.

I thought I’d write a quick blog about what you might expect from a running coach, from my persepective, having worked with online clients for the past few years.

Being a running coach is a bigger responsibility than I ever initially considered, particularly working mostly online. Clients put their trust in me to achieve their goals, and to help get them there without injury or overreaching. It’s a tough call when I don’t get to meet a lot of athletes in person, so I usually have an initial telephone call or some very detailed email exchanges where I ask lots of questions. I’ll want to know details┬ásuch as what your weekly training load is , what your goals are, and what your current performance is, so that I can assess whether these goals are achievable, or whether we need to set some more attainable ones together. I also have a look on Strava or whichever tracking tool you use to look at data such as pace and heartrate on recent runs to see what adjustments need to be made there. Clients quite often simply want more structure, and somebody keeping an eye on them to help motivate them to actually do the workouts. Others are taking on events for the first time (I coach a lot of first-time marathon runners in particular) and simply don’t know where to start so come to me for advice and experience.

I’ve trained for a long time just winging it or following generic/as-and-when-I-feel-like-it plans/sessions, and this has been completely different. Knowing what I have coming up during the week helps me not skip sessions, and on occasions when I have had to make alterations, Michelle has been great with advising how to switch it around. Naomi

Fitting together the puzzle that is a training plan is very challenging. Every single plan I write is carefully thought out and individually crafted. I also send every plan out (aside from my Basic plan) with the proviso that we update it after each phase because it’s impossible to know how the athlete will respond to the training I recommend. We may need to give more rest in between long runs. We may need to do shorter, sharper speed sessions. We may need to factor in a new job or a holiday (that happens a lot!) or something else that inevitably crops up throughout life. Every plan is different and constantly changing.

When I always thought I was too busy to train for something like this , Michelle has shown me a way. First class service. Mark

Once I have sent the plan out, and it’s been agreed, I keep in touch with clients however they prefer. Some, I have a weekly telephone or FaceTime catch up with. Some send me emails with the past week’s plan annotated with how they’ve felt during each workout. Others WhatsApp me their progress or drop me a direct message on Twitter with any questions about particular workouts. I also keep an all-seeing eye on workouts posted online too. Essentially I’m always keeping an eye on things, and tweaking sessions as we go along.

The plan was really flexible and easy to follow, helping me gradually build my confidence … I enjoyed our weekly coaching calls too – a chance to catch up on progress, ask questions, and most importantly, get a little boost in motivation! Celia

The knowledge that I am always there in the background keeps most people focused and willing to work hard and stick to the plan, although some people don’t respond as well to the structure, so it’s definitely not for everybody and I am careful to question the client on the best way that I can support them, because ultimately the client employs me. Good communication between both parties definitely helps the coaching process.

I find the people who are willing to communicate with me on a frequent basis are my most successful clients, because they are most invested in the process, and I can tease out of them how they are responding to training so we know whether we need to make adjustments. If you are considering taking on a running coach, do find the right one for you who will work with you in a very individual manner to get the best out of you.

Michelle has … been there to discuss preferred training methods, to give confidence that it is achievable and she was also able to quickly turn around an adjusted plan when I had a setback in the middle of the training. Tim

My own coaching packages are here, but if you don’t see something that’s exactly right for you, do get in touch and I will tailor something especially to you. You might also find my blog about training plans helpful.

I knew I’d benefit from following a training plan but was nervous about how I would deal with not being able to just go for a run and do what I wanted to do. Thanks to Michelle’s varied plan I needn’t have worried. I felt motivated and supported throughout. Knowing it was also personalised and tailored to me also gave me greater confidence I as on the right track. Hannah