December 23, 2022

Zipper Team

4 Things to Consider When Searching for an Endurance Coach

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Hiring a coach is not an easy decision to make. Your coach will guide and accompany you on your fitness journey for the next few months, if not years. A coach’s offerings, experience, and reviews are clearly important to consider. With these factors, generally comes a higher cost. This is an investment in your health, your performance, and your goals. There’s likely a dollar value you can assign to these things, but you're also likely working within a budget. As you begin, try to have an idea of what you’d be comfortable spending on a monthly basis before you begin your search. Finally, coaches are people too, just like you. They have families, hobbies and often balance other jobs. All of these things can make them more relatable and understanding of the struggles of the daily life of an athlete. Whether your goal is general fitness, winning your upcoming race or anything in between, a coach is undoubtedly the best resource to help you achieve it.

What basic criteria should I consider when searching for an endurance coach?

1. Discipline and race expertise

Begin by looking for a coach who has expertise in your discipline and perhaps specializes in preparing for a race you’re considering.

2. Pricing and Budget

Next, consider pricing and your budget. On the most basic level, coaches can provide unsupported training plans, which can range from $50-$100 for a race training block. These will give athletes a general outline of workouts to lead them on a multi-week build toward their event. These are the least expensive option but be aware that they offer little to no support. You get what you pay for.

3. Should you consider an AI training app or a real human coach?

On the next level, there are offerings that are artificial intelligence (AI) supported plans where coded logic adjusts workouts based on performance inputs from prior workouts. There’s occasionally a coach who compliments these AI programs and the programs generally offer a more dynamic experience than a basic training plan, but the level of human support and care is often minimal. This can lead to injury, poorly designed workouts, and only a surface-level understanding of the ‘why’ behind the training you’re doing. These can range from $15/mo for access to these apps to $299/mo to access to the app and a coach for questions.

Finally, there are real, human coaches. These are far-and-away the best option and can range from $80/mo for less experienced running coach to $2000/mo+ for a top-end triathlon coach. Typically, you can find an excellence coach for $100/mo-$300/mo. A human coach will also provide you with the highest level of training, care, and attention. Coaches generally offer plans that bill on a monthly frequency and involve the coach providing the athlete with updated workouts and verbal / text support on a daily, weekly or monthly frequency.

How experienced should an endurance coach be?

Generally, with higher costs also comes more experience, positive stories of success and athlete testimonials. Take a look through the coach's profiles (here are some examples) to glean this information at a high level.

While degrees and certifications are valuable, many coaches also have less-traditional resumes consisting of years of experience guiding athletes across finish lines around the world. There is no clear answer if one of these backgrounds is better than the other, but they can offer different athlete experiences. Some coaches prescribe training based on power, some on heart rate, and some on feel. All of these more intricate factors go into your perfect coach.

Generally, all of these coaches have proven track records using their own coaching philosophies, so often the decision comes down to the personal preference of the athlete.

Don't know? That’s very normal. Start a conversation with the coach to gauge their personality! This is often the most important factor to consider when hiring a coach. A quick 10-minute chat with a potential coach will often give you a very clear answer as to whether or not you could see yourself as a member of their roster.

Get matched with your ideal endurance coach

What kind of personality is ideal in an endurance coach?

Coaches generally communicate with athletes on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, depending on the level of service or package purchased. Over time, they’ll often serve as a mentor, training partner, sounding boards, and friends. Finding someone who you align with on a more personal level is key.

As you search, there will likely be a handful of coaches who meet your high-level criteria. When you come across a coaching profile that piques your interest, take a look at their bio to get an idea of how they describe themselves. On Zipper profiles, coaches have the option to film a quick introduction video to give prospective athletes a glimpse of how they communicate. While this is helpful, the best way to truly understand a coach is to set up a call with them. On this call, ask about their coaching style, if they have a typical ‘athlete type’, and how they’d guide you to your goal. Get a taste of their personality, communication style, and values.

Any other things to consider when searching for an endurance coach?

Lastly, coaches are parents, siblings, friends, and employees just like most athletes! They can relate to training, work-life balance, making time for family, travel schedules, and more.

If these, or any other intangible is important to you, bring it up! Finding someone who can prescribe training to align with your personal schedule and values is arguably the most important factor in this decision.

That’s one of the main reasons we started Zipper - to allow athletes to find a coach who truly understands them as an athlete & a person and will help them achieve their goals.

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