Coaches: When to Hire, How to Choose, and When to Leave

Woman sitting at a table studying to become a coach.
Me studying for my CSCS exam in order to become a strength coach.

Have you been thinking about hiring a coach to help you with training? Whether it be running, strength training, climbing, or any other sport? Then this blog is for you!

And if you would rather listen to this topic than read, head to my podcast episode here.

Myths about Hiring a Running Coach

If you’ve ever thought about hiring a coach, you may have heard or believed any of the myths listed below (I know I did!). Let’s discuss.

  • You have to be elite/fast.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Runners at any stage can benefit from working with a coach. A coach helps build a training plan that works with your life, balances workouts with recovery, and provides smart programming. Anyone from a new runner to an elite can benefit from a coach’s knowledge.

  • You have to be training for a race.

This is a big misconception. Yes, a coach is EXTREMELY helpful when you are training for a specific race. But you don’t HAVE to be training for a race in order to work with someone. Running fitness builds over years of training, so working with a coach in between races can help build more fitness.

  • You have to be an “experienced runner”.

This goes back to the first myth, but any runner can benefit from a coach. As a newer runner, you may not feel ready to use a coach. Maybe you want to see if you like running enough to hire someone or you want to try training yourself first, and that’s reasonable! (If this sounds like you, check out my Ready to Run program!)

Reasons to Hire a Coach

** These are not all encompassing but these are the ones I’ve seen the most. **


Many of my athletes started working with me because they wanted someone to keep them accountable to their training, help them become more consistent and stay motivated. Along with accountability to keep up with their running, many also wanted accountability to make sure they weren’t doing too much (a common cause of injury and burnout).

Improve speed/distance

This is probably the number one reason that comes to mind when thinking of hiring someone. Aiming to PR at a distance or breaking into a new distance is a common reason to hire someone.

Incorporating multiple sports

Building a training plan around multiple sports can be tricky. Using a coach to plan workouts in a smart way to optimize your priority sport is super valuable. Many of my athletes are also climbers, and we work together to optimize their running while keeping up with climbing.

Less decisions

I’m willing to bet that if you’re reading this, you’re busy. Like all the time. Sometimes, deciding how far to run/what workout to do after a long day of work and life stress is too much. This is where working with a coach is extremely valuable. A coach puts together the plan and all of the details for you, so all you have to do is execute.

How to Choose a Coach

First and foremost, make sure your coach has knowledge around what you’re looking to be trained in. This most likely will be in the form of certifications or education. Along with that, I think it’s important to find a coach who also likes learning. As a coach, I don’t know everything, and the science around training is ever changing. I have a LOT more learning to do when it comes to running training, and I’m constantly bettering myself to gain more knowledge for my athletes.

One of the most important aspects of a coach-athlete relationship is TRUST. As an athlete, if you don’t trust that your coach knows what they’re doing or that they know what’s best, you probably won’t follow your training plan and get to where you want to be. And I don’t mean when something happens and you skip a run – I mean more like when you see your coach scheduled a speed workout and in your mind, you think “mmm I don’t need to do that so I’ll just go for an easy run today.”

Finally, along with trust, you should look for a coach that you LIKE. You can find this out through their content on social media, how they talk about topics, or by talking to them on a discovery call. If you don’t like your coach or their personality, you probably won’t like being coached by them – AND THAT’S OKAY! Each coach isn’t for everyone. I know there are plenty of people who would hate to work with me, and there are also plenty who would love working with me.

When to Break Up with your Coach

When It Doesn’t Feel Right Anymore

This could be for a number of reasons. When I’ve broken up with a coach, it was because I got injured and I wanted to be able to listen to my body and run when I wanted instead of following a more rigid training structure. When I’ve been on the receiving end, it’s mostly been due to injuries and life changes. If working with a coach adds more stress to your life than it takes away, then it might be time to stop working with them – and I promise you they won’t take it personally.

After You Reach Your Goal (yay!)

Many athletes stop working with a coach once they run their goal race, and that’s totally fine! It’s also common to stay working with a coach after your goal race so that you still have someone guiding your training – as a runner, I’m sure you’re going to run more than one race in your running career, so working with a coach long term is a huge plus. The better a coach knows you, the better they can tailor a training plan to you.

When You Want to Switch Gears

Not everyone wants to train for running year round. Many of my athletes are multi-sport athletes, meaning they participate in more than one sport. If one of them wants to spend part of the year focusing on another sport, like climbing, it might makje sense for them to work with a climbing coach instead of me.

When You Feel Confident in Training Yourself

As an athlete, you learn a lot from working with someone, whether it’s how to structure a training week, different workouts to use, or how to alter training based on how you feel. Once you feel confident that you can implement your own training plan, it might be a natural time to fly solo.


I hope you find this blog helpful if you’re wondering if you should start working with a coach, whether for running or another sport.

If you’re interested in working with me for running or strength training, check out my current offerings here!

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