Running Coaches & Recreational/Competitive Runners

“You don’t have to be a running coach to improve someone’s ability to run.” (Fountain, 2017, p.21)

In 2015, the number of weekly runners in England rose by 63,000 to 2.1 million according to Sport England’s Active People Survey. Sport England now uses the  Active Lives Survey and the latest data (2015-16, Year 1 Report) reports that of the 200,000 people surveyed, 15% suggest they go running.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2012) suggests “The number of Australians jogging or running as a sport or recreation has almost doubled since 2005–06…”, or around 8% of the population – nearly half that of England. “Statistics from the Australian Sports Commission’s 2006 survey showed an estimated 1,224,100 Australians aged 15 years and older participated in running in the 12 months prior to being surveyed.” (SMA, n.d.).

Running is an enjoyable sport/recreational activity which can be done solo or in a group, and people take running up for a variety of reasons:

  • Amateur/professional sporting career;
  • To get fitter or be healthier;
  • To lose weight; and
  • To be part of a community, and so on.

Running is available for all abilities and levels of fitness, from those who have never run before to diehard veterans.

The sense of achievement from being able to run longer or faster can be a primary factor in motivating running clients. However, runners should be aware that strength and conditioning is also required to help strengthen and stabilise ‘running’ muscles and to reduce the risk of injury. This would suggest that the strength and conditioning exercises might have to be performed in the gym. Yes and no. A knowledgeable fitness professional should be able to provide both indoor and outdoor strength and conditioning sessions, mixing it up will aid with motivation and interest.

‘Tight’ calves and hamstrings, and weak glutes can be issues for runners (Fountain, 2017), especially those new to the activity (advising newbies about DOMS is also useful). Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) suggests that “Up to 70% of recreational and competitive runners sustain overuse injuries during any 12-month period.” The SMAs Running Fact Sheet provides some good general tips, as well as injury prevention/reduction tips.

Advice and guidance from a fitness professional and/or dedicated running coach can be useful – especially if your fitness professional is a qualified running coach (like me!). However, if your fitness professional doesn’t have the expertise, they shouldn’t be afraid to recommend/refer the runner to an allied professional (e.g. local running club or ultra-running coach).

Your running coach should tailor sessions to the goal of your running. For example:

  • Is your goal short-, middle- or long-distance running?
  • Are you there just to feel healthier and fitter?
  • An amateur looking to improve their 200m time?
  • And so on.

If your new to running or considering starting and you don’t feel like using a dedicated coach/fitness professional, then consider Parkrun. Parkrun is a series of 5 km runs held on Saturday mornings in areas of open space around the UK (and other countries). They are open to all, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. Runners are expected to take turns as marshals, timekeepers etc which helps to keep the activity free.

Useful Links

  • Running Section:
  • Parkrun UK:
  • Parkrun Australia:
  • Parkrun USA:
  • Parkrun France:


Fountain, L. (2017) In It For The Long Run. Fitness Matters: The Official Magazine of REPS UK. Leeds: Coachwise Limited.

Sport England (2017) Active Lives Survey 2015-16, Year 1 Report. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 13 April, 2017].

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) (2012) Australians Keep Jogging and Running. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 13 April, 2017].

SMA (Sports Medicine Australia) (n.d.) Running Fact Sheet. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 13 April, 2017].


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.