DIY vs. Running Coach: Which Path Best Leads to Attaining Your Running Goals?

By Ferne Kalamer



Running is a progressive and transformative journey that can redefine you. Whether you are starting out small; planning to attempt your first 5k run, or whether you want to improve on your half or full marathon times or enhance your overall fitness, goalsetting should be the first step. But how do you achieve these goals? Do you do it alone, plan your own training and rely on your own motivation? Or should you invest in the guidance of a running coach?

In my experience, a relationship with a coach is invaluable. As they get to know you, they can design a programme around you and your lifestyle. A coach can give you a realistic perspective regarding your goals and can then develop a tailor-made programme based on these goals and your current fitness level. They are also there to be your motivator, hold you accountable and help you train smart.


The Benefits of a Running Coach:

Accountability and Motivation

Training is not always easy, especially if you are doing it solo. You might find yourself lacking motivation and discipline, or you could be giving in to the persistent self-doubt that creeps in. A running coach holds you accountable—he or she will make sure that you stick to your training plan and will demand feedback based on the sessions done.


Smart Training

Smart training and a structured programme, tailored to your current fitness level and goals, are necessary to achieve your running goals. A coach will develop workouts that are balanced and progressive, set sessions to challenge you and maximize your full potential. A programme created by a professional, such as a running coach, should also ensure no fatigue and minimal risk of injuries.


Personalised Planning

Everyone is unique and we all have different goals. A great coach will work close with you to understand who you are, what makes you tick, what motivates you, your flaws and strong suits, your lifestyle and your dreams, and this will ultimately allow him or her to develop a personalised training programme.

Realistic Perspective

We all want to dream big and achieve crazy goals, but a running coach will hit you with a harsh dose of reality. They will communicate clear and realistic targets. Yes, you should always dream big, but unrealistic aspirations and goals can lead to disappointment. A coach knows the balance between challenging you and staying within your limits and capabilities.


Building a Relationship

In your running journey, overcoming the mental and emotional battles is paramount to your success. A coach should not only focus on the physical part of the journey, but by tapping into your fears, insecurities and barriers he or she should be able to design a holistic programme, focussing on mind and body.  With a coach and mentor who guide and encourage, you will be afforded the opportunity to face and overcome your fears and to ultimately break through your barriers. 


The Verdict? A Running Coach IS Worth the Investment

Ultimately, it boils down to your goals, whether you are aiming to reach higher heights and whether you are prepared to break through self-imposed limitations. A running coach is an investment, but it’s only worth the cost if you are serious about your goals. Their expertise and experience will significantly enhance and enrich your training journey. 

The key is to find a coach that you can trust, who understands your lifestyle and who can tailor a programme to your goals and needs. Whether you are just starting out or whether you are an experienced runner, the support and guidance of a professional coach is worth the investment. With the right coach in your corner, you might not only achieve your goals, but you may also discover your unlocked potential and realise that you can achieve what you never thought possible.


A few coaches we would recommend:

Fitness From Africa

The Bakery

Mike Obery

Jo Keppler Coaching

Team Ashworth

Coach Parry

Natural Running Co

September 21, 2023 — KoaKoa Active


Kaylin said:

I love this article, it is so true. Since investing in a coach, I have taken 2 hours off my Comrades time, in just 2 years. A coach gives you a new perspective on running and really pushes you when you need it both. Mark Dingle Coaching – the way to go!

Leave a comment