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How Online Coaching Works

When I first moved to Rapid City during the late summer of 2014, I met a lot of new runners at the group runs.

One of the first questions to always come up is, “What do you do?”

I am both the Social Media Coordinator for SKORA Running and an online running coach. My answer is usually that I coach runners, since it’s simply easier to explain. Or so I thought.

When I told this to the group or runners that would ask, most of the time these people had no idea online run coaching was even a thing! I’ve always been very active online, so this surprised me.

So, this post is to explain a bit about how online run coaching works, with examples.

When I start with a new athlete, I have a fairly detailed questionnaire that I have them fill out. It asks about their diet, their work/schedule and how it affects training, their previous training, and their future goals. This is the basis for how we start out.

The bulk of the coaching happens in two places, in email and in the coaching dashboard. Email is where a lot of the day to day communication happens. This is because with email both parties can write out a good answer or question, proof read, and make sure everything is included. I tell my athletes that I try to stay off of the computer or my phone in the evenings, so if they have a question that is needed for the next day, they should text (because I’ll hear the alert). It is also helpful that email is stored and searchable for future reference.

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When it comes to me prescribing workouts and my athletes logging them, I use For any coaches out there, I highly recommend checking it out.

In a google doc I make a very rough plan of action, preferably starting with a future goal race and working backwards. In Final Surge, I generally update an athlete’s training each weekend. This training is based on the long-term goal, their previous weeks/months of training, and their schedule.

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If the athlete has a GPS, they can connect Final Surge to upload it directly from the device. If not, they can plug in data themselves.

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There is a notes and comment section where we can go back and forth with a discussion about a certain workout. I always make it clear to my athletes that feedback is incredibly important. There’s no such thing as too much information! One of the benefits of a coach over a static plan is to adjust training based on how you are feeling. This is why I only plan details 1 week out and why you must give feedback to your coach. There is no such thing as TMI when talking to your coach about how runs went and how you feel.

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With any new athlete, there’s always a period of getting to know each other. This often takes a lot of back and forth emailing. However after a while the relationship can become very fluid. I prescribe workouts, they get done, and a few comments may go back and forth. PR’s are beaten.

Final Surge sends me an email with any update an athlete does. I tell the people I work with that even if I don’t comment on a workout, I see every single one since it goes right to my inbox. Unfortunately this means that if someone does not update for a week, it makes it difficult for me to notice this. I always see workouts done, but I don’t always notice when you’re not getting training done (or at least logged) until the end of the week.

If you’re interested in working together, please contact me!