Why Longtime Runners Need Form Coaching

Molly Hurford
by Molly Hurford
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Why Longtime Runners Need Form Coaching

If you’re an experienced runner, it might feel like you have nothing left to learn about this sport. You may have even helped introduce a new runner to the intricacies of 5K racing and pacing or turned a friend onto the sport.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from expert help. In fact, veteran runners may be the best suited for getting coached: You’re already comfortable with putting in the work and the miles, so you’re already able to tackle specific types of runs and likely have a good understanding of your perceived exertion and heart rate zones.

A coach — whether in real life or virtual life with MapMyRun — can help you improve your efficiency in dozens of small ways and help you work specifically toward whatever goals you have in your running — from losing weight to PR-ing a marathon to tackling an ultra for the first time.

Accountability partners have long been listed as one of the top ways to stay motivated to keep exercising regularly, and a coach is often the best accountability partner a runner can have.
Don’t forget, a coach can only offer advice and guidance as long as he can see what your current training looks like, which means logging your runs. While logging your training can sometimes feel like an annoying added task, it can also keep you on track. Research has shown using nutrition logging apps like MyFitnessPal can improve your chance of losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, and the same can apply to your training.

Research has shown run form deteriorates as runners get more tired in-run. Often, we don’t even realize we’ve shifted from running like a gazelle to running like a hippo — it just happens as we fatigue. A coach can help avoid this in two ways: First, by programming your training in a smart way to avoid those runs that push you into a state of extreme exhaustion where maintaining running form becomes impossible. And second, by helping you become more aware of the point when your stride starts to slip, which can, in turn, help you restart the good habits and form you know.

That’s right: The toughest part of an athlete’s job is knowing when to take a break and when to push through feelings of fatigue to get the work done. A coach’s job is more often prescribing rest than it is prescribing certain interval sets. You might not feel completely drained, but if you can’t remember the last time you took a day (or two) off from running, a coach will likely tell you that if you hope to get better, faster or stronger, you’re going to need to actually let your body recover. We get stronger when we let our bodies recover, but sometimes it takes an outside reminder to keep us honest and on the couch.

Your running stride has been shown to be the key to running more efficiently, and it may take some work. For many of us, our natural run stride is far from optimized thanks to environmental factors like constantly being hunched over at our desks for work, that slipped disc caused by picking up the kids, the hamstring tear that still twinges when it rains. In short, if your stride feels great and you’re making steady gains in your running, you may be doing fine — but if you’re not, or if you feel like you’re leaving some efficiency on the table, a coach can assess how you’re running and offer suggestions that you can take or leave. Under Armour’s HOVR shoes actually connect directly with the MapMyRun app to offer run tracking and gait recommendations from a virtual coach.

The one thing a coach can’t do for you is run. When it comes to actually getting out the door, doing the mileage and the efforts, you’re on your own.

About the Author

Molly Hurford
Molly Hurford

Molly is an outdoor adventurer and professional nomad obsessed with all things running, nutrition, cycling and movement-related. When not outside, she’s writing and podcasting about being outside, training and health. You can follow along with her adventures on Instagram at @mollyjhurford.

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