Maybe you’ve found extra money in your budget, gotten a raise, won the lottery, or received an inheritance that will allow you to hire a coach. Perhaps you have a friend who is willing to coach you for free. Or maybe you joined a running group that has coaching available.
What’s the best way to take advantage of this resource as you reach for the next level in your running? Here are some guidelines to enable you to be an exemplary client for your coach:
What do you expect from each other? In addition to the financial considerations, if applicable, you should also talk about how information will be communicated back and forth, as well as how often this will occur. For example, do want to receive your schedule on a weekly or monthly basis? Will it be e-mailed to you every Sunday afternoon or Monday morning? Does your coach want you to e-mail weekly feedback about the workouts, or check in after each workout is completed?
Will there be any in-person face-to-face coaching? Evaluation of your running form? Nutritional advice?
Have a clear picture of what you expect from your coach, and be open to hearing about what your coach expects from you.
Provide thorough background information
Your coach will probably ask for background information. Don’t skimp on the details. Talk about your current running schedule—how many days per week, average weekly mileage, time of day you prefer to run, hydration and nutrition while running. Do you stretch?
Include information about your sleeping habits, for example, whether seven hours a night for you is normal. Tell him/her about your eating and drinking habits—what does an average day look like, nutritionally speaking?
Also talk about your activity level outside of running. Do you swim, bike, hike, rock climb, walk the dog, chase three kids around the house? Is your job sedentary or active? What is your stress level like on a daily basis?
All this information will help provide your coach with a ‘baseline’ to work from when monitoring your workouts. It will assist you both in identify when you might be over-trained or when you might be over stressed, tired, dehydrated, etc.
What are you trying to accomplish? Do you have a specific race in mind? A specific finishing time? Work together to set goals—not one single goal, but multiple goals. A dream goal (“gold”), an achievable but challenging goal (“silver”) and an achievable goal (“bronze”). Set yourself up for success, and set the bar a little higher than you think you can reach.
Listen to Your Coach
This is probably the hardest part of becoming a client. We think we know what’s best for us. Or, we think we know what we won’t be able to do. So when your coach tells you to do eight laps of 800 meters in 3:30, just do it. At the very least, go out there and make every effort to do it to the best of your ability. Don’t change the workout. Don’t tell yourself that you “can’t” do it. Obviously, your coach thinks you can handle it, or it wouldn’t be on the training schedule.
If your going to pay someone to tell you what to do (or not do), then listen to them. See what happens. Most likely, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Make Sure Your Coach Is Listening to You
Be honest with your feedback. Your coach needs to know how you feel in order to adjust the training schedule. If the workouts are too easy, you won’t see much improvement and you’ll get frustrated by the lack of results. If the workouts are too difficult, you risk getting injured or burned out.
Keep in mind that some of the workouts are supposed to be hard. You should be a little uncomfortable. There’s a fine line between “hard” and “impossible.” Monitor yourself carefully and share your observations with your coach.
Bottom line: Being a good client insures that you will get the results you want.