A couple of years ago, I started noticing that downloading a plan from the internet to train for your half/full marathon seemed to be losing popularity, and instead, people were having bespoke (or semi-bespoke) plans written.
I possibly spend more than the average runner on…running because I’ve somehow turned this hobby of mine into a side hustle. But the truth is, coaching can be expensive.
And I have too much social anxiety (STILL, even after 6 years of running) to join a running club. I know, I know, they are friendly etc but I genuinely am too nervous to go to a session. I’ve tried so many times but I can’t bring myself to go.
So, a more affordable option for runners wanting a more personalised approach to training, that aren’t confident in their ability to write a plan for themselves, can turn to online running (and strength) coaching.
–they can be more affordable. Without the need for in person contact, (which is usually expensive) online coaching can be a really affordable way of getting a plan tailored to your fitness levels and race. You also have a lot more input in terms of days of the week, number of sessions and flexibility etc than you do with a plan you download from the internet.
-online plans. Most coaches use online plans to track their runner’s progress (we use it combined with Garmin data that syncs up to Training Peaks) so it doesn’t actually make much of a difference whether they are set in person or online. Unless of course you’re an elite with a coach with you for every session!
-course specific training. I’m working with Ash, who happens to have already raced the two BIG races I’m training for in 2019. Having that course specific knowledge is a big bonus to me, and she’ll be there in Phoenix too. I first started working with an online coach when I ran my second marathon, NYCM, because Gia was offering a great NYC marathon specific option and she knew that course like the back of her hand. And it helped me shave 45 minutes from my time!
-it’s still expensive! When I was working with Mary at McKirdy trained, I was paying out about £100 a month, which for me, is pricey. When I wasn’t training for anything in particular, it was hard to justify this monthly outgoing, and they make you sign up for 12 months in advance for a discount, so even with no race, I was still getting coaching plans. I will say that they did let me pause it when I got injured which I’m grateful for!
– the time change. A lot of coaches that I know of are based in the USA, meaning that as you’re getting back from your run, they’re going to bed (or are fast asleep). This isn’t ideal if you want instant feedback on whether you should change/skip a run.
– less personable? If you can see your coach, have them watch you at the track, analyse your form and spend time with you on your long runs, I think there’s definitely an advantage to that. Doing everything online needs trust from the coach that the runners is really doing what they say they’re doing, and not pausing their watch etc. And from the runner to know that the coach really is giving a personalise programme!
-no group sessions. Local running coaches often have group sessions that you can attend as part of your training (or at a price on top of this), which can be a great way to get your speed workout or threshold/tempo session done whilst being pushed, or just to make running friends! Plus the face time with your coach can be invaluable.
I absolutely love working with Ash and the sessions she sets are awesome, I can see my speed and strength improving week on week. But one thing I do sometimes miss (because of the time difference to California from London) is the instant feedback/communication. Working with Mary, I’d often have my run done before she went to bed so we would WhatsApp and then Skype chat regularly to see how I was progressing – but I would say that’s the more expensive end of online coaching.
The area that I don’t like just an online workout is when it comes to strength training, due to my own nervousness in the gym and wanting to ensure I’m doing the workout right. For me, a mix of inperson and online sessions works best when it comes to the weights workouts.
Online Running Coach Recommendations:
The above are coaching platforms or individuals that I know/have worked with or been recommended by a (fast) friend. If you’re looking for a spring marathon training plan or personalised coaching, these would be my go-to starting spots.