Hiring a coach: Pros and Cons

Is having a coach worth it?

The answer is, drumroll please, it depends! Believe it or not, ability is not a prerequisite for myself, or any of my other coaches to work with you. In fact, I’d say ability isn’t ever something I particularly look at when taking an athlete on. When I do, it’s not to determine if the person is “fast enough” to be with us, but rather to determine what coach will be able to serve your needs best.

Work Hard

If ability is not a prerequisite, what is? I do have a few traits that I do look at in potential athletes. The first is the promise to work hard. However, don’t confuse this with training faster or more that’s on your schedule! That’s not hard work, that’s just running as hard as you can without understanding the nuances of training.

Working hard is following the plan to your best of your ability, not finding ways out of doing workouts, skipping runs without reason, and just expecting fitness to come to you.

Buy in

This leads to the second trait is to buy into the philosophy. To follow the plan in principle. I know that things can be out of our control and adjustments need to be made, but just not doing something because it’s different from what you are used to doesn’t help you, or your coach. Going rogue on a plan means you don’t trust me, the philosophy, or yourself. Change in training is uncomfortable, but not believing in what you are doing almost guarantees failure. I am not saying it’s my way or the highway, but there has to be agreement by both parties in regards to what you are doing.


Lastly, there has to be communication. You’d think it would be easy with all the technology surrounding us, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I have been ghosted by athletes for weeks. Then like a flair in the night, I get a response (and it’s usually- I am hurt) Talk to me, I promise I won’t scold you like a child! I may give you some tough love, but I desperately want to know what’s going on.

Pillars of a Coach

Of course, the flipside of all of this is, what should you be looking for in a coach? Well, some of the same things. The big thing is communication. With our platform, Final Surge, it’s easy to comment on workouts to put context into workouts. I do my best to at least acknowledge a workout that I get notified about.

As an athlete, it’s good to know that someone is at least looking at what I am doing.

Commenting on workouts is a huge start because we can discuss directly about a workout within your training log. It allows for easy adjustments and teaching points.

Another big thing I feel a coach has to be able to do for you is to explain themselves. They are in charge of your training, your health, and your ability to perform at the highest level. If you have questions, they should be able to answer, or at least, provide resources to give you answers. This allows your ability as an athlete to buy into the system a lot easier, no?

The third thing I’d look for is their ability to modify your situation. In reality, we are unique, but our situations usually are not. Given that, a good coach knows those different situations and can keep their training philosophy, but adjust it to a variety of situations.

To conclude

Overall, having a coach is vital, as long as both athlete and coach are present.

If the athlete isn’t present, the coach gradually just stops taking interest.

If the coach is not present the athlete doesn’t buy in. In both situations it’s a lost opportunity and, more than likely, will end up in a poor experience for both. Now, I recognize that paying for a coach is a big decision, so I would really weigh the things we have talked about today. For us at LHR, we have recognized that paying for a coach can be expensive and so we’ve really tried to provide options for all price points. To see all the options, check out our page We also have a standard first 14 days free with our Bronze, Silver, and Gold options. This is to make sure it’s the right fit for you. If you are thinking about coaching, check out this page and we’d be happy to guide you in the right direction.


Luke Humphrey Personal Coaching!

Marathon Training Bundles

A lot of times, runners like our training schedules, but don’t want to full-on coaching. What we’ve come up with is a bundle package to give you all the tools you need, without the need to get coaching. Currently, we offer 20+ marathon training plans with the bundle option. I’ll add more marathon plans as I create them.

What makes the bundle your perfect solution to marathon training?

  • Your choice of marathon schedule that best fits your needs ($30 value)
    • 20+ marathon programs
    • broken into Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Elite
  • Placement in Luke’s coaching roster by level of training
  • “Team” message board
  • Access to training resource library ($14.95/month value)
    • videos
    • podcasts
    • important blog posts
    • calculators
    • meal plans
  • Access to the HCS Coaching closed Facebook group ($10/month value)

Get all of the above for $75/bundle (valued at $105 + access to coaches (priceless!))

Check out all the training plan options HERE and let HCS take your training to the next level!


Having a coach without the full time coaching price tag.

If you have read HMM and thought about the idea of coaching, but aren’t sure you are ready for that kind of investment, then the Facebook Training Room is for you. We know you have specific training questions about your own training. We also know that you have the book and don’t necessarily need a new training plan. However, do you really need to hire a personal coach for the few questions you might have along the way? No, and that’s why I have created the Hanson’s Coaching Training Room.

The HCS Training Room is a closed Facebook group designed for a couple purposes. First, build community among the athletes who trust us with their training. In an online world this helps us put names to faces and learn more about what needs you have as a runner. The second is that we know the plan works- many of you believe that too. However, taking a general plan and tweaking it to fit your specific needs requires a little more than a FAQ page. With this group you have direct access to me, Luke, and I can help you with your specific questions.

The Training Room is perfect for those who don’t have a coach, want to test the waters of having coaches, or just want be around those who are coached individually by HCS. We take your running serious and we know you do too. The HCS Training Room is here to help you maximize your training based on YOU!

Sign up for the Training Room for a sweet low rate of $9.97/month. With that you’ll get:

  • Access to Luke with your specific training questions
  • Access to all of our training resources- calculators and videos
  • Facebook lives/webinars
  • Discounts on any of our other 40+ training plans or custom training plans
  • A great group of runners using HCS and the Marathon Method to offer up support and advice.


Moving Beyond the Basics

First off, let me thank the tens of thousands of folks who have utilized the Hansons Marathon Method. One of the greatest compliments I receive is being at a function and someone asks me to sign a copy of a dogeared, note filled, and more than gently used book. While the book is the foundation for everything we do, there is often the question of what to do once you’ve been through the schedules a couple times. This post is for you!

Structuring for the long term?

Many of you have read the book and then simply put the training plan on repeat. While many of you have had success doing that, it certainly doesn’t leave much for variety. While the book is the foundation, I admittedly lack discussing how to grow as a runner after you have completed the advanced training plan. There’s a lot to figuring what’s best for you, so I’ve come up with a list of questions to ask yourself. It’s a little bit of work, but trust me, we take care of the rest!

What are my primary goals for the a) next training segment b) the next year and c) the next 3-5 years?

When a person comes to us for coaching we ask them about what their long term goals are. It gives a glimpse into the big picture but it also helps us organize our priorities. Even if you are new runner, or at least a new marathoner, we should have an idea what our big goals are so that we can create a road map. We can address immediate training problems. Let’s say you want to have a segment where we build your milage and just maintain fitness. Maybe we want to learn how to incorporate some general strength training into a running regimen. No problem, we can give you one of our base programs and then a 6 week strength for runners program. From there we can then go after working getting our overall speed up before going after another marathon or half marathon.

Do I need to follow an 18 week program all the time?

No! That’s the beauty of training at a moderate level. When people first start either the Beginner or Advanced program we are making some general assumptions. We are trying to fit the bulk of the population into a program that will work for everyone. Once we get through that, we can then start helping you get specific. Here’s a great example of moving beyond the classic schedules that we did with folks running Boston:

  1. Runners started in December training with an 18 week Hanson’s schedule.
  2. Completed Boston and took about 2 weeks of down time.

Here’s where it got tricky. With a marathon ending in mid April, we now had a ton of time before we needed to worry about a fall marathon. So what do we do? We definitely didn’t want to just sit idly by and watch! We had a couple otions.

Option 1: For those who were really just rocked from Boston or were at a point where they wanted to try and get mileage to a new level. For these folks we gave them a 8-12 week base building plan that allowed them to get their mileage up without a ton of intensity. Some of them started their strength and core routines here (which is a great time to begin). It also opened the door to another marathon, speed, or half marathon segment at the end. Leave the door open!

Option 2: Most of the rest of the folks wanted to attack some 5k and 10k races, which I was all on board with. So with theses runners, we gave a small buildup of about 4 weeks post time off. Then we went into a true speed segment where we attacked VO2max pace and true lactate threshold pace. Here it made sense because they already had such a huge aerobic base under their belt from the marathon training. We did that for 8-12 weeks, depending on the goal.

For either option we were able to fit a different training segment that would suit their needs and not put them into a training rut. With Option 1, these folks were at a new mileage level with a good general starting fitness point. With that said, they didn’t need to start over from scratch with the classic 18 week schedule. For whatever race they chose we could now put them into a 12-16 week training plan that wasn’t going to repeat what they had just done. For Option 2, these folks had already gone through several weeks of speed specific training so there was certainly no need to rehash a big block of speed again for a marathon. We could get them into a 12 week marathon specific plan and they’d be in great shape come fall.

As you can see, we can break up and take modified versions of the classic schedules (but still on point with the philosophy) and create a long term approach to fitness building and personal bet running.

The long road of running!

The long road of running!

Where do I fit a training segment for shorter races in? Or build my base?

A common question, which we began addressing above. I would further say that it depends a little bit on where you are from. We coach a lot of people in the midwest and down south. It might as well be above the arctic circle and at the equator as far as geography. What’s the point? Well, my midwest folks do well with a different running calendar than my friends in say, Florida. Here, while summer is warm, it’s not typically oppressive like it is down south. We can get away with starting our fall marathon training in June or July. Meanwhile, my southern athletes will typically just let summer be a base building period or maybe a shorter race segment. They typically don’t even want to start thinking about training for a marathon until late September.


Custom or Pre-Made Training Plans for any distance!

What if I want to run more? What about less?

Absolutely. While I really want to get you to handle mileage and workouts, we have to be smart about it! We have versions of the classic plans that are written on the philosophy but scaled down to longer segments (up to 24 weeks) with less mileage (about 40 miles per week). We also have extrapolated to shorter segments that are 12-16 weeks long, but with mileage anywhere from 70 to 100+ miles per week at peak.

I really need more recovery between workouts, but want to keep a high level of training; what can I do?

Along the same lines as above, we’ve also created plans that provide more recovery days in between. Right now we have examples of the classic marathon plans that are built around a 9 day training cycle and include one day off. What that means is you have a schedule that looks something like this:

  • Day 1: Long run
  • Day 2: Easy
  • Day 3: Easy
  • Day 4: Workout
  • Day 5: Off or Easy
  • Day 6: Easy
  • Day 7: Workout
  • Day 8: Easy
  • Day 9: Easy, reset the cycle

We are also currently devising plans that will still be on a traditional 7 day cycle, but with 2 SOS days per week, instead of three.

Do you have plans to help me with these?

Heck yes we do! We currently have over 40 training plans that can be downloaded right into a dynamic training plan. These plans notify you nightly of upcoming workouts. Easily move days around to fit your personal schedule with the drag and drop feature. Sync your Garmin to the training log so your training log is always updated. SEARCH THE PLANS


Want to pick the brains of the HCS coaching staff and hear what your running buds are doing with the Hanson’s training methods?

Is an online coach for you?

As a coach/owner of an online run coaching company, you might expect my answer to be an automatic enthusiastic,
“Yes! Absolutely!”

I’ll admit, when I first started Hanson’s Coaching Services, I probably would be a lot more likely to say yes, because as any business owner understands, it’s scary to think of turning away business! However, then you really have to start thinking about what we are all about as a coaching business. Are we here just to make internet money, or are we really only concerned with educating runners and helping them perform their best? As a young man, it was hard to differentiate the two, but 10 years later, it’s pretty clear cut that the latter is the most important and takes care of the first. The point of all this is, that online coaching is seemingly a pretty lucrative gig. There’s pages of them on any internet word search. A few I know personally, and they are great people with great philosophies. Others, I have no idea, but assume it’s like anything- there’s a whole spectrum. Since Hanson’s Coaching Services was started in 2006, we’ve learned a lot and still have making the athlete’s experience as good as it can be. However, what we’ve also learned is that not every person wants what we offer. Some want more, and some want less. Still others feel that just paying the money is going to make them a better runner. What I really want to discuss with this post is a few ideas that will help you decide if an online coach is right for you, and if not, what options are right for you?


Will you take advantage of the services provided? Indirectly, I am clearing the elephant from the room, right away. I understand that coaching is expensive, but ultimately what you are paying for is services and availability. What do I mean? Well, for coaching, we typically write your schedules in 1-4 week blocks, look over training logs, answer emails, and communicate with athletes on a regular basis. That is essentially what the monthly fees are for, along with covering our actual expenses. Now, the schedule writing is a given and I think we are all on the same page for that. However, here’s where things can murky for some athletes. This is really where the athlete has to ask themselves things like,

“Will I fill out my training log?” “Will I ask questions?” “Will I talk to coach about why I am doing certain things or provide my input?”

If you find yourself thinking that you might not, then maybe paying specifically for an individual coach is a poor investment for you. Others will take advantage of what’s available to them and hiring a coach can be a great running investment.


The biggest mistake that an athlete can make is not communicating with the coach (and the coach with the athlete).

Both parties can fall into this and could be easy to do since there is little face to face communication. If you hire a coach, don’t think you are bugging them if you have an issue that you need addressed. I always tell people, I’m not mad unless I find out about it after the fact. For example, I’ve had athletes in the past not doing very well with the workouts, but they think they just are going through an adjustment or something and nothing is said. I just assume everything is peachy keen (which is my fault) and then, boom! I’m sucker punched with the phrase

“I’m hurt and need a break.”

That’s when we both get frustrated. Now, I know a lot of people will just not respond well to a coach. They are fine in solidarity or, more likely, just want to know what to do and go do it. I totally get it. In these cases, an online running coach will probably not help you much at all. If you are this person, you would probably benefit more from something like a custom schedule or one of our downloadable schedules along with access to all the information we provide in the form of blogs, podcasts, videos, etc. Just point you in the right direction and you are good to go. There is certainly nothing bad about that if it fits the person!


At the end of the day, when you are contemplating getting an online running coach (or even a real live one!), evaluate what your wants and needs are before signing that dotted line. Figuring that out first could mean the difference between a rock solid investment and a money pit. If you can’t find a coach that will discuss those things with you, it might be time to go another route. I hope you all find the success you are looking for. We’ll see you down the road, hopefully with a tailwind.



My winter marathon experience: near debacle to salvation

I’ve been running marathons for some time now, for about a decade. However, since 2011, running has been tough. I broke my foot and femur, dropped out of the US Olympic Trials, and just struggled overall to get my own running back on track.

My femoral stress fracture was in June of 2013, just when I thought I had figured out what my problem was. It just shows that sometimes you gotta ride out the storm, even if it seems like it will never end! Long story short, it healed and we (my coaches and I ) started to try again. However, in order to move forward, I had to accept my diminished capacity and basically start over. So the plan was to build my mileage, do reduced workouts, and stay healthy! The Chicago marathon ended up being my goal focus for the fall, not to race rather pace my teammate mike Morgan as far as possible. I was able to take him through 14 miles at 5:05-5:06 pace so it was a success. There was improvement, consistent training, and I was healthy!

After a lot of thought and discussion with my coaches, we decided to continue to build on the momentum and train for the next marathon that made sense- Houston in January. We thought we’d be ok, because December is usually still pretty decent here in southeast Michigan. Of course, this would be the winter of the Polar Vortex.

Training for Houston went really well, until December 23. Then the “avalanche” opened up. I remember the day because it was the day of my Simulator workout (26.2 km at goal MP). We drove to the course where I was going to run, only to find it a sheet of black ice. For those of you who don’t know what black ice is, it’s basically asphalt that is frozen, but it looks like it’s just the road. Talk about a work hazard. So throwing up a Hail Mary, we drove to a parking lot loop about 20 minutes away. Luckily the loop was clear and the biggest workout of my segment could take place. It was cold and windy, but it had to be done. There really wasn’t any wiggle room on this one with Christmas and the travel to different places coming up. So, we did it and for about 18km, it went really quite well. The last 8km though, was a completely different story. Everything caught up to me and I am pretty sure I ran 6:00 miles for the last few km’s. However, I finished it and thought I would shake it off.

From that afternoon, of December 23, all the way to the afternoon of the 29th, I felt off. Not really too sick, but off. When my family and I got home from my parents house on the 29th, it was like somebody flipped a switch. I was down for the count. Over the next three days I thought it was all over. I lost nearly 10 pounds, was malnourished and dehydrated. To add to the scenario, it was the coldest air temperatures I had ever been in (below zero before the windchill) and the snowiest/iciest since I have lived in the Detroit area. “Great” I thought. Here we go again.

So, December was finally over and January blew in with a direct northerly wind, straight from Santa’s workshop. After regaining some strength, I decided I was sticking to the treadmill for the few days before I left to finally get to Florida. When I got to the Sunshine State, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders- literally, because I didn’t have to run in my snowmobile suit! Seriously though, it was a game changer. My mood lifted and runs were instantly easier. I was convinced that I could now at least have a same day finish at Houston.

When I got to Houston I was in a precarious position. I was really fit at the beginning of December, but with everything that had happened, who knew anymore. Kevin and I talked for about 5 minutes at 5:30 AM on Sunday. The basic conclusion was to err on the side of caution. To the athlete’s I coach- I followed my own advice I always give you. I was at a point where if I were going to have a successful day (which at this point meant to a) finish and b) get an Olympic Trials standard out of the way) then I had to put myself in a good position at half way. What I mean by that is to a) be fast enough to even have a chance at a Trials standard and b) to be slow enough to have the opportunity to at least maintain my pace.

The morning was perfect- about 50 degrees, some sun, and barely a breeze. The course is very nice. Pretty flat, but a few little rollers in the second half. I actually prefer this because it breaks it up a little and they aren’t significant enough to really take anything out of you! I was lucky enough to find myself immediately in a small pack. Fortunately,one was a former Hanson’s-Brooks teammate and an athlete I coach, Tim Young. It was the perfect scenario for me!

The first half was low key and uneventful. I was completely able just zone out and wait until I absolutely needed to focus on the race. My 5k splits were 16:08 (5k) 16:12 (10k) 15:58 (15k) and 1:07:56 at the halfway mark. Tim and I came through the halfway mark and I said, “Well Tim, the good news is that we can run 1:10 for the next half and still qualify!” He laughed, and said, “Thanks, boss.” By then our group was down to 3 guys and the group ahead of us was feeling the consequences of going out way too hard for where they were at, fitness wise. Again, it was a perfect scenario.

Tim and I continued on, though I had to keep calming Tim down. He was really fit and itching to make a go for it. I held him back because I had ruined a lot of my own potentially amazing races between miles 14 and 20. We kept right at pace with 16:05 and 16:08 5k splits.

At this point, between 35 and 40 kilometers, I slowed down. It was my slowest split of 16:28 for that 5k. I’m not really sure what happened. I was feeling it, for sure. There’s no real way to completely avoid that feeling of, “oh man, I still have a ways to go.” However, I didn’t crumble. Mentally, I was still making coherent thoughts to myself, but I panicked a little bit. It had been so long since I had run a marathon that I just forgot how that feeling is.

What really surprised me is how I reacted. I really thought I would have caved in a little bit, but  I didn’t! I saw some of those guys coming back that had went too hard. I was catching them still and I used that to regroup. Looking at my splits, the last half mile was under 5:00 pace! I knew I was a little slow, but I knew I still had a good one going. I just had to keep it together and finish as strong as possible.

I crossed the line and sae 2:16:3x. It wasn’t my fastest time, but it was a race I could be proud of! It was a testament to just staying the course and doing what you can. It was a time that qualified me for my 3rd US Olympic Trials and a time that motivated me. It convinced me that I am still at a high level and there’s so much room for improvment. This race made me so excited for the next few years. I can’t wait to be in LA in February of 2016!


New Basic Coaching Announcement

New Basic Coaching Announcement

We are pleased to announce some great new updates to the Basic Coaching program! We (the coaches) sat down and discussed how to truly make make coaching available to all levels of runners and all financial levels. We already have great training schedules based on time until event and mileage run. Over the past 5 years they have proven to be very effective. So, part one is taken care of. So how do we make coaching truly affordable to all levels? Well, the primary cost of coaching is the time the coach takes to write the training for each athlete and following up with athletes as their schedules need to be written. By using the pre-designed programs we already have and placing them in our training software at we take care of a large portion of that expense. The second part comes from making the athlete responsible for needed follow up with a coach.

Note: Currently only the marathon programs are ready to go. We are updating with the rest of the programs regularly.

Here is how it works:

1) Purchase a basic coaching subscription from

2) Upon completion, you will receive log-in credentials and a welcome packet.

3) After you log in, you can select whichever marathon program fits your needs.

4) After selecting that schedule, you are taken to Training Peaks and the schedule is applied to your free athlete account. Your athlete account is also automatically linked to a coaching account that is monitored by all of our coaches. Your schedule can be moved around to start or finish on a certain day.

5) After that, start training, use the members only content- videos, forums, training articles, etc. Following the guidelines, get feedback from one our coaches on a monthly basis including advice on how to alter training schedules.

Check it out:

A couple quick updates:

A new coach has been hired! Due to a large increase in athletes interested in coaching, we have had to meet the demand with another coach! We welcome Mike Reneau to the Hanson’s Coaching Staff! Check out his bio HERE

With the addition of Mike and with Corey coaching his little heart away, we are pleased to be in a position to take advantage of all we have to offer. With that, I am also pleased to announce our “Office Hours” program!

What: Open chat during weekday hours for our Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, Hanson Yellow Team members.

When: Beginning Tuesday, February 18th. 1:00-2:00 PM Eastern time.

How it will work: Log in to the site and there will be a chat icon at the lower right portion of the screen. It will say something to the effect- Chat with a coach! So, it’s as simple as throwing out questions. We’ll get to as many as we can throughout the hour.

We will be going on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1-2 pm (EST). Corey will be on Tuesday, Mike will be on Wednesday, and I will be on Friday! This should be a great resource to getting some pertinant questions asked and answered in a format that my help many others!

Coaching Options Changes

As some of you may have noticed, we have created some changes in coaching process, and are in the middle of (hopefully) simplifying some things around here!

The biggest change is in what coaching options are available now. The goal has always been with our business to provide some form of coaching to any level of runner out there. Before, we offered custom schedules and coaching based on how long a runner wanted to train for. Ultimately, I had two lingering problems with that. The first problem was that with a custom schedule, the runner was really limited to initial consulting and then sent on their way. For many runners, issues would arise along the way but were fairly stuck as to how much I could do for them, while being fair to the runners who had paid a premium price for actual coaching. Cost shouldn’t dictate getting help and that was something that i had struggled with ever since coaching! The second problem I had was that runners were penalized financially by staying short term, and not going with a long term coaching option. My philosophy with coaching was, and still is, that a system takes time. To reap the full benefits of coaching, their is an adjustment period and then a growth period. So, my intent was to make longer term coaching less per month to encourage the long term sign-ups. However, with the new system, you are really in our system as long as you want to be and having that freedom is important to most runners. I feel that ultimately, runners will continue on longer term if they aren’t reall “forced” too.

With that, we changed how we operate in an improved attempt to make coaching a better option for all of those runners who need help! What has been done is the custom schedule option has been infused with the coaching option and made a mid level coaching option. So, you have three options, the basic, intermediate, and advancd options. All coaching levels are month to month subscriptions. You have the control to say when you are done. I will help you as long as you want the help.

The Basic Level:

The simplest and least expensive option at $9.95/month.

What you recieve:

-Access to any of our pre-designed schedules from 5k-marathon. As long as you are a subscriber, you have free reign on these.

-Members only content

-Our own social media content- profiles, friends, groups, messaging, etc! All within our own site.

-Online chat- chat with other runners and chat with our coaches when they are online.

The Intermediate Level:

Where the old custom schedule option dissolved into. The cost is $74.95/month.

-Same stuff as the basic level, PLUS

-Free Training Peaks account. This is where we keep your training log/program and you can log all your workouts, gear, nutrition, resistance training, etc.

-MONTHLY schedule updates and feed back. So, if things come up, you aren’t left on your own. We’ll keep you on the right path.

The Advanced Level

The most extensive level of coaching at $129.95/month

You get everying above, PLUS:

-Upgrade to a premium Training Peaks account. If you were to subscribe through them, it would be a $20/month cost. We cover it for you! The premium account gives you much wider functionality uses and some perks for those who really want to in depth training analysis. (Plus you don’t have ads on the screen with a premium account)

-Nutrition Analysis- with the premium training account we have acces to perform a very detailed diet analysis and give you tips/ideas as to what you are doing well with and where you could use improvment.

-Annual Training Plans- We can map out your entire year, where you need to be, what you need to do, etc. Again, this is thanks to our premium Training Peaks account!

-Individual race planning- we’ll decide what and where you should race, as s well as how to approach each of these races.

-Unlimited contact/schedule changes

-Form analysis. We now have the ability to take video that you send us and use it in our software. From there we can tell you what needs work on making that form a little bit better!

Everything above for the Advanced is part of the monthly cost- nothing extra to pay for. This is where the value comes in. It’s an in depth full fledged coaching opportunity.


The overall benefits of the new system are numerous. Obviously it allows for at least some form of coaching for any level of runner. I believe this will further promote the idea of long term development. The goal for this site is to be a place of community and learning, so having as many members that we can, will only add to that community. Hopeful




Role of A Coach

My entire running career I have had a coach. Even at the time I began coaching, I still had my own coaches. A coach can nurture a young talent, guide the less talented to achieving the most out themselves, and advice even the most veteran runners. I have witnessed all three occur. Reading through Dr. Joe Vigil’s “Road to the top,” I came across a section on his thoughts regarding the properties of a good coach. I think that all athletes and coaches should take example from the following points.

Joe Vigil’s properties of coaching:

  1. Everyone needs a coach. I certainly agree with this. As mentioned, I have had a coach from junior high through my professional career. Most elite athletes I have had the opportunity to compete against have coaches. As we are beginning, we need to have someone to educate and answer a lot of questions. Think of it as laying the foundation for our house. Without it, we tend to learn the wrong habits and our structure is not as strong as it could be. As we become more advanced in our abilities, that constant guidance should naturally transition towards more of an advisor role. However, the coach is still present in the process.
  2. A coach should be thoughtful and imaginative. I certainly think that there should be a belief system with each coach. If you don’t then a lot of times a coach will end up contradicting themselves. For example, Tom Izzo coaches his basketball teams with a certain philosophy, it’s how he does it. However, there should always be the idea that knowing what works for one person, may not work for another. So, by still keeping that belief system, there should always be enough leeway to allow for variance.
  3. The coach will initially act as a tutor, then allow the athlete to introduce their ideas. This goes with the above. The athlete needs to be first introduced to the belief system and taught that system before they have enough experience to interject with their ideas. I struggle with this at times. Sometimes, an athlete will ask me to coach them because what they have been doing isn’t working. So, I write them a training program based on what I believe they should be doing. Sometimes, the athlete will just revert back to their old ways because my schedule was different from what they had been accustomed to. If that’s the case, why hire me? You have to put a certain amount of faith into a training program and allow the coach to help before making a decision. On the other side, I have athletes who have been with me for years and we now come to training decisions together and make plans based on each other input, because we are on the same page philosophically.
  4. The coach should have a good technical and practical knowledge in all aspects of training. This seems like a no brainer. When beginning the actual company (Hanson’s Coaching Services), I researched online running coaches and it amazed me how many people were doing it. Not only that, but how many people that were doing it without any real credentials. They must have a heck of a personality, but I have wondered what their knowledge base regarding training is? Anyone can take a beginning runner, increase their mileage from 20 to 30 miles per week and the runner will be better. Can the coach explain what they are doing and why? If not, they may not be the right person.
  5. The coach should be able to communicate this knowledge and experience to the athlete. This goes in line with number 4. Is the coach a runner, themselves? What is their experience? Even if they are and have experience, how well do they convey that to you? It really comes down to the coach having a rhyme and reason to what they are doing with your training.
  6. The athlete and coach eventually become a team and share in all aspects of training and proper direction of living. This may be more for those coaches working with junior high to college runners, but it certainly can be the case with elite athletes and recreational runners just trying to improve. It may also be the other way around. Many athletes I have worked with have taught me as much about life as I have taught them about proper training.
  7. A coach must be able to assess the ability and determine the athlete’s potential. I would take that a step further and state that the coach needs to be honest about what that potential really is. I try to never tell someone that it’s just not possible, because if someone said “no” to me, then who knows where I would be in life. However, I see a lot of times that people want something and they want it right now. The honesty comes from guiding the runner into realistic expectations and the concept that true potential is sometimes not realized for several years.
  8. A coach should inspire, motivate and lead the athlete in training and competition. A coach certainly serves as a mobile cheerleading squad at times, and as a competitive runner, it certainly helps having that. One thing I have noticed with good coaches is that they are truly happy to see a runner progress and succeed. I myself now get the same feeling of satisfaction from an athlete’s success as I do with my own successful race! My hope is to get every one of my athletes to realize what they can do.
  9. A coach must never use athletes to further their reputation. Especially since, if you coach enough people, you’ll have some relationships that just plain don’t work out. I see this with a lot of online coaching athlete testimonials. I also see it with a few professional runners. The coaches certainly exploit their athletes to further their own coaching career.
  10. A coach must be honest to the athlete, so that the athlete can rely on the coach’s decision. Honesty between athlete and coach is important for so many reasons. It is irresponsible for a coach to, if not lie, at least be misguided towards an athlete. That athlete then cannot trust what the coach is telling them about fitness levels, training, and racing decisions. While the coach may not be well liked for being honest with some things (especially when it comes to ability), but the athlete will know exactly where they are at.
  11. The coach must respect the athlete’s ability and determination. While a coach should know when to hold an athlete back, they should also know that both the ability and determination is what has allowed the runner to excel in the sport.
  12. The coach and athlete must get along well, both on and off the track. I tend to lean away from this one a little bit. I feel that as long as there is a mutual respect between athlete and coach, then the relationship can work. On the other hand, I feel that the runner’s who stay with me for any significant period of time, are usually people that I enjoy. I have a feeling that this sort of selection just occurs naturally.
  13. A coach should be a guide, philosopher, and friend. I think this goes along with number twelve. The runners and coaches that stay together for a long time usually have this type of relationship.
  14. A coach must be enthusiastic and easy to talk to. I certainly agree that if a coach doesn’t like what they do and doesn’t become enthusiastic over a runner’s progression, then they are probably not doing what they really enjoy.
  15. Above all, remember that if a good coach can stimulate an athlete, then an athlete can stimulate good coaching. That is very true, and not in the sense that a fast runner will simulate good coaching. Personally, a runner who wants to improve, is loyal to the coach, and listens to the coach’s advice will stimulate the best coaching from their coach. I have worked with a few “fast” runners who did whatever they wanted and that really just shuts me down from willing to sacrifice my time and effort for that person. On the other hand, I have several athletes who are great students who inspire me to make sure they get the best they can from me.


It becomes pretty clear that a coach, a good coach, is more than someone providing workouts and holding a stop watch. They really end up being a guide, mentor, and friend along the way. It is these points that I take into my own coaching so that I may be the best I can be in my profession. They are also points that a runner should keep in mind when seeking out their own coach.