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Runners are a highly motivated bunch. We love to train; we love to race; and we love to see improvements.

However, being highly motivated can also bring on negative consequences, usually in the form of illness, overtraining, or injury. We rest up, get even more motivated, and then repeat the same mistakes. Why? Because it’s very hard to coach yourself.

But we can break the cycle.

Professionals, elites, and competitive age groupers all have professional or personal coaches, and for good reason. It’s not so much to motivate them to do the workouts – it’s to motivate them to hold back, objectively monitor their fitness, and make adjustments to ensure they stay healthy and experience steady improvements through optimal training practices.

So, if you are serious about improving your performance, staying healthy and motivated, and pushing through plateaus to be the best runner you can be, you would be well advised to add a coach to your health care team.

So, what can a coach do for you?

Well, for starters, a good coach can see what you can’t. A knowledgeable coach can better understand the data being tracked, and determine if the runner is improving safely, or about to experience a decline in fitness and overall health.

To begin, you need to decide what works best for you and your schedule. One on one personalized coaching, remote contact through Skype, or team based in person coaching are just some of the options available. Neither of these options are inherently better than the other. It will really come down to personal preference and lifestyle.

It is also important to look for is a coach that knows how to communicate, and work well with you as a runner. It’s a relationship, and it’s one where the coach trusts the runner to be honest about how he or she feels before, during and after a workout; and the runner needs to trust that the coach’s workouts are going to lead to steady improvements. It is therefore vital that both the runner and the coach are aligned with your realistic racing goals and the strategies to reach them. And it should go without saying, but also bear in mind that your coach must be basing your training on real science, and you understand why each workout is in your training plan.

A good coach can work the program around your busy schedule, and take your whole health into account. From building in time for socializing with family, getting adequate sleep, managing your work schedule, and leaving time for relaxation and recovery, a coach is a vital part of your total health plan.

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