7 Things To Keep In Mind Before Becoming a Running Coach

You’re passionate about running, you’ve run a bunch of races, you’re the ‘go-to’ person that all your running friends turn to for advice and now you’re thinking about taking the next step and becoming a running coach. Great… now what?

Before we get into the specifics, it’s important to know what makes a great running coach. For starters, having a passion for helping others is a must! Additionally, being a ‘student of the sport’ and always looking for learning opportunities is critical to the growth of a coach whether or not you are a beginner or expert. Lastly, as a coach, it’s never about you! It’s not about your PR’s or what training methodology personally works best for you. Your clients are all individuals and as such, they must be treated as such.

Now that we got that out of the way, here are seven things to take into consideration:

Certification

To get a certification or not to get a certification… that is the question. While we’re admittedly a bit biased towards being a certified coach as we our business is certifying coaches, there are a lot of great coaches out there without a certification. A benefit of becoming a certified coach is that you not only learn about running-specific information, but how the body functions and how it applies to running. It is important to reduce individual biases when coaching others. Things to look for in a certification are:

  • Principles are grounded in evidence and science-based information, not personal opinion
  • Teaches safe and progressive programming methodolgies
  • Contains current training data
  • Information is directly applicable to your desired coaching practice

Insurance

If you coach runners, you need to have liability insurance. While there are many insurance companies that cover the sports and fitness industries, make sure that the policy you’re considering covers runners. For example, just because a policy covers personal trainers, it may not cover running outdoors. It is advisable to get a minimum of a 1M per occurrence policy. You should be able to get a 1M policy for between $200-500 annually. Most polices will allow you to select between 500,000-2M per occurrence. Be aware that if you think that you’ll be using a facility such as a gym, they often require a minimum of a 1M policy and they also often require proof of CPR/AED.

Lastly, if you train at a facility that requires insurance, you’ll also likely be asked to add the legal name of the facility as ‘additional insured’ to your policy. There is usually no additional fee for doing so and with quite a few policies, you can administer your own ‘additional insured’ online.

Online and/or In-Person

Is your coaching practice going to be online, in-person or both? One is not better than another, it’s purely based on what type of practice you want to have. The one area that in-person vs. online influences is equipment/technology. Below are some of your potential needs:

In-Person

  • Camera with slow-motion feature
  • Therabands
  • Stopwatch
  • Website with scheduling software

Online

  • Online coaching platform (ex: TrainingPeaks)
  • Website
  • Dropbox account to share large files (if video-based)
  • Skype/microphone

Passive Income

Whether you’re coaching in-person, online or even just writing custom training plans, you still have to invest time for each session/program. Having an e-commerce component to your coaching website will allow you to sell products such as pre-formatted programs, training templates, etc…

Marketing

Your marketing choices may be based around if you coach in-person or online, although there is a lot of carry over between the two. Below is a very non-comprehensive list of marketing avenues, with word of mouth being the best:

  • Word of mouth
  • Facebook business page/group/ads
  • Email
  • Website
    • Search engine optimization
  • Work with local businesses/organizations like running stores and clubs
  • Partner with influencers
  • Local mailings
  • Sponsor and/or partner with a local running race
  • Blog
    • Make sure your blog is part of your website for SEO purposes

Stay in Your Lane

To keep everything legal, you must know what you can and cannot do as a coach. For example, as a running coach, you cannot diagnose or treat an injury or illness. Additionally, in this same light, you cannot tell a client to take a particular medication – even something as seemingly innocent as Advil or Tylenol. Lastly, in regard to nutrition, you should not prescribe a dietary plan or supplements. While you can educate your clients on nutritional and supplement information, leave the ‘prescribing’ to a registered dietician or a certified nutritionist.

Website/Email Name

I’m pretty sure we’ve all come across those websites that look like they were made by a toddler. You know the type… a free template with terrible misplaced graphics and fonts with missing links (if you’re even brave enough to click on a link!). This is akin to a run down storefront with graffiti on it in a terrible part of town.

Would you shop here? Probably not.

Invest in a good looking and functional website that is easy to navigate and looks professional. Free isn’t always better.

Make sure that your email is professional and different from your personal email. As it’s free to create one at gmail (and most all other places like yahoo, hotmail, etc…), there is no excuse for not having a separate email. Lastly, keep your email related to your coaching practice and not something vulgar or immature – because you likely won’t get a lot of interested clients when your email is: johndoe@bestmuthafu#kingrunningcoach.com (yes, I’ve seen something close to that!).

Summary

While these are just a few things to consider before becoming a running coach, they are important as disregarding them can at best result in an unsuccessful running coaching practice and at worst, land you in legal hot water.

 

 

 

 

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