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Running coaches?

by Prince Of Petworth April 1, 2016 at 2:00 pm 31 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Caroline Angelo

Running coaches?

“I’m signed up for my second marathon (happy MCM lottery day!) and while I’m confident in my ability to set and follow a basic training schedule and to hopefully finish another race, I know I don’t have great running form and would love to meet with a coach a few times to get some pointers and drills/exercises I can use to improve. I’m telling myself that’s the reason I got slower, even for shorter races, when I started running longer distances.

Anybody have any suggestions or good experiences with coaching, ideally near NWDC or Capitol Hill?

I’ve done some research but a) so many options! halp and b) I feel like a lot of coaches are interested in getting you through an entire race, nutrition, cross training coaching etc., e.g. large fees that cover of those aspects of training but limited 1-on-1 focus on how I physically run. Have also been to PT but found that it was more injury/recovery focus than form correction. I know coaching can be expensive so would love any PoPville recommendations or suggestions on what to look for, especially for any coaches that won’t balk at runner’s asthma and walk-run wheezers who have no misgivings about their BQ potential.”

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  • Name

    To run faster, changing running form is one of the last things you should try. Any experienced running coach that isn’t trying to just take your money will tell you the best thing you can do to run faster is to find a training program that includes five plus days of running a week and stick with it for six months. I recommend Jack Daniel’s Running Formula. The more you run, the more efficient your form will become.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I agree with the vast majority of this, and Haile recommend that book. I would not recommend putting priority on changing your running form unless you find yourself repeatedly becoming injured, in which case there might be some benefit to changing your form if you can identify and eliminate the thing that is causing injury and stop doing that. My only disagreement is with the assertion that the more you run the more efficient your form will become. You will become a more efficient runner generally by running more, but if anything, running more will more deeply ingrain the inefficient motor patterns that are present and help you to perform those more efficiently, but it will not correct inefficient motions that are present.
      For some simple and easy aspects of running form that are easy to apply without a coach and without spending extra time doing anything other than running, the short sement on “proprioceptive cues” in Matt Fitzgerald’s “Brain Training for Runners” is really excellent. You can find most of the same content in a free article called “sensory cues” by the same author on Active.com. (Note – I honestly don’t recommend that entire book, the book Name noted is much more directly useful by a normal person who just wants some help structuring their training, but that one section on proprioceptive cues is really excellent.)

    • I agree with what Name and Haile say here. I just did my 2nd half, and this time I actually trained using all those types of runs that are recommended (tempo runs, hill repeats, speedwork) by experts in books/magazines. They really do work; not only did I get new PRs in my half and a recent 5K, but I also felt great during the races, as well as after (as opposed to feeling completely spent after my first time).

    • Anonymouse

      I’m an avid runner (MCM will be my 8th marathon), and yet I saw “Jack Daniels Running Formula” and thought it was a joke. Unintentionally well played, name.

      • HaileUnlikely

        JD is a really excellent coach. I had a good friend who ran for him at SUNY Cortland about 15 years ago. He entered college as a 17:30 5K guy and left as a low-14 guy.

    • Molly

      Ach! Wish I had seen that this went up sooner. OP here. I trained for 4 months for a marathon at the end of that (4x week consistently, 400+ miles in training) I had a slower 10 miler time — 10 min slower — than when I’d run 10 milers without training. And while not particularly injury prone, I know from my PT gait analysis (the only running-specific thing they did) that I do have pretty bad form, so if not now I think I’ll get injured eventually.

      Just wanted to give some context but in general I agree with your assessment!

      • Molly

        And will definitely check out these books and articles – didn’t do a lot of speedwork/tempo work etc. last time around as I was focused on finishing without injury. Thank you!!

  • elbeech

    Check out AJ who operates Multisport in Motion (.com) here in DC. I have so much respect for her as a person and as an athlete, and I know her clients love her. Not sure what her rates are like.

    Potomac River Running offers some coached programs too, which are probably good.

  • I Dont Get It

    Based upon the picture I thought someone was providing training to become a Senior Citizen. I’m disappointed since I know a few I’d like to sign up.

  • DC Runner

    Check out the guys at WindsorRunning.com. I bought a training plan from them, but I know that they also do one-on-one personal training. They also incorporate a strength plan into their running plans which helped me a ton after only focusing on running for many years. The strength work definitely helped my form. They are local so I am sure that you could reach out and have them help you with form and implementing their training plan. Good luck at MCM!

  • I know you said you saw a PT, but have you gone to a PT that has a specific focus on runners? I am a (newbie) runner and injured myself over the winter, and my doctor sent me to OCOR at MedStar for PT and the PT they paired me with (Melanie) is a miracle worker. Several months later, I’m still seeing her from time to time because my hips are kind of janky and I’ve had some recurring issues. Because I had never had any training or instruction with running, I had no idea what I was doing and so she taught me a lot about form and step cadence to increase effectiveness and minimize risk of injury.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Thank you for this recommendation. I did not know that this existed. I ran competitively for more than half of my life, then sort of got old and fat and lazy over the past few years. I’ve been having recurrent muscle cramps and knots in my calves that have repeatedly interrupted my feeble attempts at getting back to running again. Hopefully this will help.

  • Anonon

    Check out Fleet Feet’s program that is based out of their store in Adam’s Morgan. It’s very reasonably priced and is timed for the MCM.

  • Philippe Lecheval

    For little or no money you can probably download a recording of someone continuously saying encouraging things like “keep going!” and “don’t stop!”

    • Molly

      The Nike running app does attaboys at the end of each run and it drives me nuts, especially after a bad run. Sometimes I think I just need an enthusiastic dog to cheer me on, though.

  • jch

    Check out Pacers in Navy Yard too, they should have weekly fun runs. They also have a program:

    Potomac River Running and Fleet Feet also have groups to i believe.

  • A quick Google search will pull up all the running drills that you need (high knees, bounding, fast feet, etc.). Beyond that, you’ll benefit most from consistent training and perhaps the motivation of running with a group. Washington Running Club holds weekly long runs out of Georgetown, and Capital Area Runners generally does theirs from Fletcher’s Cove.

    Finally, I have worked with a number of coaches over the years, and unless you are doing something horribly wrong, they don’t tell you to run differently or try to “correct” your form. Running isn’t weightlifting or swimming, where there is a “right” way to do it.

  • Hill Denizen

    Look for a group that does speed workouts. I’ve seen a few running clubs in the area do them from time to time (thinking about Pacers Clarendon specifically, but I’m sure there are others or maybe on meetup). Not sure how advanced you are, but if you’re a woman, I did a half session with EZ8 DC (http://www.ez8dc.com/) and found it helpful (I’m a recreational runner who’s done two marathons). The woman who runs it is a certified running coach (if you’re a dude she might give private instruction, and there’s a co-ed group from time to time). You’ll do speed drills and hills, and she can also give you pointers on form. It’s kind of part running club, part running camp. It’s a pretty diverse group of runners as far as ability goes, but I think someone who’s really intense probably wouldn’t enjoy it. It was great for me, because goodness knows I never do speedwork on my own.

    • Molly

      I’m a lady and NOT intense. Would be thrilled to get to an 8 (or 9…) minute mile. Will definitely look into this – I work on the Hill and she has evening sessions starting on Tuesday. Thank you!!

      • Thanks for the shout out Hill Denizen! I invite all the runners or aspiring runners to try out a class for free. We are women only in the early morning MWF 5:45-6:45am and Tuesday Evenings is co-ed from 6:30-7:30pm on the Mall. For more info check out the site ez8dc.com or send me an email at kathy at ez8dc dot com. No pressure to join I promise!

        I hope to run with you!


        P.S. Looking forward to meeting/running with you Molly!

  • flieswithhoney

    If you think your form is causing/will cause injuries you could also try Rose PT for a running assessment. I’ve been struggling with injuries from marathon training and I had a video treadmill assessment done that was more comprehensive than the one you can have done at a running store. The angles of my legs/hips/core were analyzed and I was given specific exercises to address my weaknesses. Good luck with MCM!

  • Runner

    I’ve self coached myself through 13 marathons with a solid Bq record. In addition to following a solid training plan, I would also recommend investing in good equipment. I’ve found that a good gps/ pace watch, where I can upload and analyze my different workouts is golden.

  • Gave

    I was in a similar position- injury prone runner who had goals and wanted someone who could correct form stuff plus make sure my training program was smart and included running-specific strength training. I could not recommend Mike at DC Runing Coach (dcrunningcoach.com) more. The ~$300 initial program seemed steep and I was skeptical, but I can’t say enough but what a stronger, smarter, more efficient runner I am. He has a bachelors and masters in something to the tune of kinesiology, which I really appreciate because he discerns between details we need to care about and extraneous stuff really well. Many thumbs up to him.

    • Molly

      Thank you! Will look into him – had seen his site but glad to have a rec.

  • Congratulations on your entry into the MCM! I’m a DC based running coach and author of “Smart Marathon Running” and “Quick Strength For Runners” (both by Velo Press). Let me know if you’d like to discuss your form and training plan. Visit me at http://www.RunHorowitz.com.

    • Molly

      Thanks Jeff!

  • exiled in arlington

    As was noted above, running coaches don’t generally advise on form unless there’s something truly glaring. For running form, you want a gait analysis, which you usually get from a physical therapist. In DC, Robert Gillanders at Sport and Spinal (near Wash Circle on K st) is the best.

    If you want to train with a group (which I recommend, even though that wasn’t the question you asked :)), then I really recommend Capital Area Runners as a solid, truly all levels group (we have people who run marathons in under 2:20, and people who run them in well over 4 hours). Another good choice is Potomac River Running’s training group – for both of those, you’ll need to get to Ballston.

    DC Road Runners is another good group – despite the name, a lot of their training happens in Ballston also. Montgomery Road Runners and Nova Running Club are also good, though further from DC. In DC proper, your best choices are Washington Running Club (meets on weekends in Georgetown for a long run) and the DC Front Runners (gay oriented, but I believe they welcome allies).

    With regard to coaching, you do need to rely on word of mouth a bit. There are a LOT of people in this area who get a “USATF Level one Certificate” (which really isn’t worth very much) and then use that credential to market themselves as coaches.

    • Molly

      I’ve had a gait analysis and it was Not Good. Neither, in my opinion, was the follow up (it was more like ‘yep, running is probably causing this issue for you’) and I think I’ve probably fixed the hip part but not sure about knees/ankles and my turnover’s not very fast, since I’m tall and slow, which I think doesn’t help my form. I just didn’t feel that PT was great on the corrective end.

      • Molly

        — and thanks for the PT rec if I end up going that route!

  • bruno

    I am interested in the shoe repair academy the sign touts. Is the academy genuine? I always wanted to learn cobbling, a useful trade.

  • Runner

    Pacers on 14th St NW will videotape your gait on a treadmill and then slow it down and talk through it with you. Could give you some valuable feedback. If you’re in need of new shoes, go in (and look for the guy with the long-ish, curly, blonde-ish hair… wish I could remember his name; he was great).


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