Five reasons why I need a running coach


I hear different reasons why running doesn't need any direction. “Running is something everyone can do.” “Running is easy.” “Everyone is ‘born to run.’”

I am a Podiatrist with RunFix. Working with runners is my day job and has shown me that a running coach can be key to the success and enjoyment of running. My own enjoyment of running comes from two things: achieving a goal I set for myself and running with friends. My run coach and the group we train with provide both!

Here are my five reasons for having a running coach:

1. Getting results

The human body is an exquisite machine. It adapts to the stresses placed upon it by getting stronger and with time more capable of coping with those stresses. We can apply stress to a number of different systems, and in endless combinations. The ways in which our bodies adapt to these stresses is what we Podiatrists and other health professionals spend our university lives studying and it is the most valuable tool of the running coach.

Longer runs work our cardiovascular system. Tempo sessions work our ability to hold higher speeds for longer durations. Speed sessions work our anaerobic strength and ability to move fast.  As you can imagine, an effective running program will be a combination of all of these elements.

The science of combining these training stresses is the science of success, and this is what we get from a running coach. A program that improves us in each of these areas makes us better, more well-rounded runners. And if you want to enjoy running by improving, the understanding a coach brings will have you improving faster than you ever thought possible.

2. Skill development

The act of running is a series of distinct biomechanical movements, all requiring skill. Like freestyle technique in the pool, kicking a football 50m on the run or nailing a kickflip, running is a skill we can develop and improve. With a run coach who understands technique and how to teach it, you learn how to move more efficiently.

Moving efficiently has two major benefits when it comes to distance running:

  • Less energy expenditure, resulting in the ability to move faster at less cost. This is a huge part of achieving your next PB.

  • Lower likelihood of injury as there is less overload of the tissues most often injured in running.

If you want to complete your next race with a PB or have been injured by running in the past, your running skill development is vital to consider.

3. Safety

Depending which study you read, 40-70% of runners are injured every year. For us health professionals this is too high, as most of these injures fall into the category of ‘training error’.

Put simply, training error is runners doing too much, too soon, off too little training base. There is a simple way to significantly reduce the risk of injury in running: working with a running coach. A proper introduction to running and progression of training in a way that minimises injury risk is the speciality of the coach.

Understanding how to apply stresses to the body, combine these stresses, adequately rest between stress applications and safely progress the stress applied is the big WHY in run coaching.

4. Motivation

A run coach will work with you regularly and modify your training program based on how you’re responding to it. The motivation that comes from seeing success is addictive! Running faster times over longer distances and building that over time is enough to help you bounce out of bed on those cold Melbourne mornings.

Your next ParkRun PB sets the scene for your next Run Melbourne half marathon PB and then your next Melbourne Marathon PB. It’s exhilarating!

5. Team sport atmosphere

I grew up playing football and basketball in Euroa, a small country town. For me, sport means team, and team means friends. I'm getting a little older… 30+... and I long for those good old days of a team atmosphere and the banter that comes with it. Solo running doesn't fit for me. But running with a group certainly does.

My coach has a group that runs at lunchtime in the city, and it gives me the team-driven, group sweat, hard work feel that footy training once did. With that comes the drive for me to work harder and achieve more. I really enjoy it.

See you on the running path sometime soon.

Ben Westaway

RunFix Coach