How to Become a Running Coach

Are you looking to take your passion for running to the next level? Have you ever considered becoming a running coach?

Becoming a running coach is an exciting way to help others reach their running goals. In this article, we’ll discuss how to become a running coach and what it takes to be successful.

How to Decide If Being a Running Coach is Right for You

If you’re considering becoming a running coach, it’s important to assess whether or not it’s the right career for you. There are several factors to consider when making this decision:

  • Do you have enough knowledge and experience in running? Being a successful running coach requires having significant background knowledge of the sport. You should have experience running and understand the basics of nutrition, biomechanics, and injury prevention.
  • Do you have good communication skills? Being a successful running coach also requires excellent interpersonal and teaching skills. You should be able to communicate effectively with your clients and help them achieve their goals.
  • Are you willing to put in the work? Becoming a running coach requires dedication and commitment. You’ll need to be available for your clients, manage their progress, give them some tough love (when needed), and help them reach their goals.
  • Are you a lifelong learner? The best running coaches are always learning and refining their coaching skills. They take the time to stay up-to-date on new developments in running techniques, training methods, and injury prevention.

Once you’ve determined that becoming a running coach is right for you, it’s time to start taking the necessary steps to become one.

How To Become a Running Coach

The Benefits of Being a Running Coach

As a running coach, you can help people reach their goals and gain satisfaction from seeing your clients’ progress. You’ll be able to develop strong relationships with your clients and help them become better runners. The job also provides a flexible schedule and the opportunity to work with different types of clients.

On the other hand, keep in mind that coaching can be demanding. You’ll likely have clients that don’t always reach their goals or get injured, requiring your guidance to persevere and stay on track.

How Much Can You Make as a Running Coach?

Surprisingly, running coaches make more than an average sport or life coach. According to ZipRecruiter, running coaches make an average of $89,496 or $43 per hour. It doesn’t appear to matter whether you coach online or in person. For a job that doesn’t require a college degree, this can be a great way to make a living doing something that you love.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that your income as a running coach could vary significantly depending on the number of clients you have, where you live, and the services you offer.

How to Become a Running Coach – Do I Need to Get Certified to Be a Running Coach?

Ultimately, the answer is no, since there is no single governing body that certifies running coaches. However, a variety of organizations offer certifications that can give you an upper hand on the competition and help you feel confident in your coaching methods. Depending on the organization, these certifications may focus on nutrition, biomechanics, or injury prevention topics.

If you dream of coaching elite athletes, you will definitely want to pursue a well-known certification program that athletes trust. This will ensure you have the necessary knowledge, credentials, and skills to be successful.

When selecting a certification program, consider researching the types of certifications available and the cost of the program. Ultimately, the best certification suits your needs and will set you up for success with a budget, time commitment, and mentorship that fit.

How To Become a Running Coach

How to Choose a Running Coach Certification Program

When selecting a running coach certification program, several factors must be considered.

  • First, research the credentials of the organization offering the certification and ensure that they are well-respected within the running community.
  • Second, look at the program’s curriculum and ensure it covers topics you’re interested in learning about and offering to your potential clients.
  • Third, look into the certification program’s cost and ensure it fits your budget.
  • Finally, look at any mentorship opportunities or apprenticeships that may be offered to provide you with additional hands-on experience before becoming a running coach.

Let’s review some of the top coaching programs on the market:

  • RRCA (Road Runner Club of America). A program that offers two levels of certification. The only prerequisites are a high school diploma and general knowledge about running. You can complete the program online or in person at a cost of $335.
  • ISSA Online. A budget-friendly program for coaches and personal trainers. This $53 course offer self-paced learning for all the basic of running, including human anatomy, running technique, strategies, and injury prevention. Plus, get ongoing support once you’re certified.
  • UESCA (United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy). An online comprehensive program that also includes marketing training to get your coaching business off the ground. This all-inclusive program is $499.
  • USATF (United States Track and Field). This program is offered in three tiers, online or in person. You must be a USTAF member and 18 years of age or older. The cost of each course is $210.
  • USTFCCA (U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association). This program offers a different program based on where you want to specialize, such as long distance, sprinting, and throwing. For exact details, browse their large offerings of classes that average about $200.

How to Decide if You Will Coach Online or In-Person

When deciding between online or in-person coaching, consider the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Online coaching offers a bigger pool of runners to cater to. Plus, it provides a more convenient option for clients with limited schedules or living far away from you. You can provide workouts at home and offer personalized advice without meeting with your client face-to-face. However, it does require clients to be self-motivated and disciplined.

In-person coaching is more interactive and allows you to observe the client’s form directly. You can also provide exercises that are customized for individual needs. However, in-person coaching requires more preparation time since you’ll need to travel to meet with your client at a predetermined location.

Furthermore, you may want to consider a hybrid approach and offer both online and in-person coaching services. This way, you can reach more clients and provide the best of both worlds.

So You’re Certified; What’s Next?

Once you’re certified, there are a few things to consider to start your coaching business on the right foot. These include developing a training program, getting the word out, and building a client base. Plus, there are some legal considerations to keep your business protected too. Let’s dive in deeper.

Time to Develop a Program for Your Runners

When you’re a certified running coach, the next step is developing a program that your clients will benefit from. Here is what to consider as you design your program:

  • What type of runner(s) will I be specializing in coaching?
  • What type of plan should I offer? (Per race, per month, etc.)
  • What are their dietary and nutrition needs?
  • What other activities will you recommend for their training routine? (Cross training, strength training, etc.)
  • What medical professional will you recommend if they run into any concerns? (Dietician, physical therapist, orthopedic physician, etc.)
  • How will I adjust their program based on races and other events?
  • How will I track progress?

Related read: Why is My Running Pace Getting Slower?

How To Become a Running Coach

Now, Build a Thriving Business

If you have your certification complete and an idea of how you want to approach training your clients, it’s finally time to start thinking about the business side of coaching. First, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much will I charge for my services? Running coaches charge anywhere from $25 to $100 per hour.
  • How many hours a week/month do I want to work?
  • Where do my ideal clients hang out? How can I reach them?
  • What local (or online) running groups can I connect with?
  • Should I build a website or start my own forum to attract clients?
  • Should I offer free coaching initially to get my name out there?
  • What other marketing strategies should I consider? (Newspaper, networking lunches, chatting with other coaches, online ads, content marketing with a website, etc.)
  • What type of liability insurance should I purchase to protect my business? (Against lawsuits for injuries, missed goals, etc.)

If you’re feeling stuck on these questions, it’s best to chat with other coaches in online forums and ask for support from your certification company- they’ll likely have tips or even offer additional mentorship.

Finally, Stay Up to Date and Strive to Do Your Best

Once you’re certified and working with clients, your work is never done. Staying up to date on the latest strategies, trends, and technology within the industry is essential for staying competitive in the market.

You can achieve this by reading physical or digital publications, attending conferences, or taking additional courses to stay ahead of the curve. If you’re struggling with helping your clients succeed, learning coaching psychology can be a game changer too.

Additionally, make sure to stay focused on your clients and do everything you can (within reason) to help them reach their goals. Essentially, learning how to keep your clients motivated and thriving is the key to their success (and yours). It’s the best way to ensure your business succeeds and your clients are satisfied.

Related read: How to Recovery After a Long Run

How To Become a Running Coach

13 Qualities of a Good Running Coach

You now have all the information you need to get started with a successful running coach business. As a final reminder that offering a high-quality program is most important, let’s review some of the best qualities in a running coach.

A good running coach should be:

  1. Passionate about running and helping others improve their health.
  2. Be articulate so that expectations are clear.
  3. Knowledgeable in the different running techniques, strategies, and medical assistance.
  4. Patient and supportive to all levels of running clients.
  5. Encouraging and motivating to help their clients to stay on track (for some, this requires helping them build mental toughness, while others will need a gentler approach).
  6. Experienced enough to adjust plans, troubleshoot any issues that come up as needed, and answer any questions.
  7. Able to connect with their clients on a deeper level to help them reach their goals.
  8. Organized and prepared to design individual and effective training plans for each client.
  9. Dedicated to their client’s success and helping them achieve their goals.
  10. Ready to keep up with the latest running trends and continue their education as needed.
  11. Aware of their strengths and weaknesses, they can work with clients to help them reach theirs.
  12. Be authentic, and your clients will respect you and appreciate your help.
  13. Remain optimistic yet realistic and honest with your clients when helping them set goals.

These qualities are essential for any successful running coach, and if you’re able to combine them with your passion, dedication, and enthusiasm for the sport, you’ll be well on your way to developing a thriving business. Good luck!

Are you a running coach? Are you considering becoming one? What program sounds best to you? We’d love to hear from you.

Photo of author


JayDee Vykoukal

JayDee is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and ex-collegiate Division 1 athlete. Through her own online platform, Health Means Wealth, she is dedicated to helping her clients live their best lives through the power of healthy habits.

Leave a Comment