How Do I Stay Injury Free? Hire a Coach!

By Lauren Evans

 

How do you stay injury free while continuing to push yourself to the limit of training and racing in order to hit new PRs? It is much easier than you think.

 

My answer to this seemingly impossible question for all athletes is to hire a coach.

 

Common misperceptions about hiring a coach:

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1) I’ll start when I can [insert sport here; ex: run, swim, cycle] to my full potential again.

2) I’m injured, I’ll wait until I get better.

3) I haven’t had a good experience with a coach.

4) I’ve never had a coach before, and I’m doing just fine.

5) I’m so experienced. I don’t think a coach would help me that much.

6) Coaching is just too expensive. Why would I spend money on that?

 

Analysis

 

1) I’ll start when I can [insert sport here; ex: run, swim, cycle] to my full potential again.

 

If I were to call you out on this, you’d understand. It just doesn’t make sense! It is like styling your hair before going to the hair stylist or buying a new outfit in order to go shopping at a high end store. It simply doesn’t make sense. The coach is there to help you reach your current full potential and, hopefully, set new PRs in the process. Put your ego aside and let the coach help you re-attain your fitness. I’m not going to lie, this is not easy to do, but it is simply irrational to think like this.

 

2) I’m injured, I’ll wait until I get better.

 

Over the past few weeks, several people have shown interest in beginning a training program with EFAST, but they have been hesitant to start. Every person has said something along the lines of, “Well, once I build up my mileage a bit and move past this injury, I’ll give you a call.” What I try to get these athletes to understand is the point where they are at that moment – injured and barely able to run – is the absolute best time to pick up a coach.

 

It is a coach’s responsibility to get the athlete healthy and able to run again. I am convinced that an athlete cannot be unbiased enough, no matter how intelligent or driven by reason they are, to coach themselves to optimization. This is why every athlete needs a second opinion, a teammate, a coach to help them reach their full potential. Besides, it is a lot more fun that was as well!

 

3) I haven’t had a good experience with a coach.

 

Coaching is an interesting profession. If someone is a doctor or lawyer, you can be assured that he / she has a certain level of education, certification, and professionalism in their work. However, anyone can go out tomorrow and call themselves a “coach”. This has really undervalued coaching in general.

 

Just because you had a bad experience with a coach in the past, it doesn’t mean there aren’t coaches out there that are not excellent. Give it another try. Do your research and make sure the coach is certified and has a positive view of continuing education, in addition to making sure that they are insured and professional in their actions.

 

4) I’ve never had a coach before, and I’m doing just fine.

 

To the person who has this sentiment, I would encourage him / her to simply give it a try. Ask the coach what levels of service they have, and find one that is not too intensive and will enable you to try the program without being locked in for a long period of time. That said, give yourself at least six weeks. Knowing that it takes 14 days to make a fitness improvement, you can’t sign up for a program and quit after one or two sessions and feel like you have made an accurate judgement.

 

Secondly, either look at or write down your dreams and goals. Is there something you are unsure whether you can accomplish but you would LOVE to be able to do? A coach can provide the perspective and experience to help get you there.

 

5) I’m so experienced. I don’t think a coach would help me that much.

 

Whether you were a junior athlete, a high school athlete, a college athlete, a professional, or if you just have years of experience under your belt, I would still highly encourage you to seek out a coach. Your experience will work in your favor as you’ll know what to look for in a coach, in addition to being able to ask in-depth questions to test the coach’s knowledge. This is great! Ask away.

 

If you feel comfortable, hire the coach for a trial period (over six weeks) and see how the coach can help you. When an athlete has a high “training age,” the coach should come in as a sounding board, team-mate, unbiased observer, and instructor. A good coach will provide a refreshing perspective on your training and help you get much faster.

 

6) Coaching is just too expensive. Why would I spend money on that?

 

Another misperception is that coaching is just too expensive. However, it’s not often that we think of coaching in terms of economics. When you think of the risk of injury and how an injury often derails many aspects that are important to you to live a fun-filled, good life, the risk-reward of doing all you can to keep from getting injured often tips in the direction of getting a coach.

 

Next, think of the expenses in terms of money and time you spend to get well again – whether it’s a physical therapy expense, a new gym membership since you can’t run outside, the cost of gas getting to and from your gym, the opportunity cost of missed races, and even surgery. If you take a coaching fee and mathematically change it into a daily expense, you’ll find that it can be as low as $1-$4 / day. That is a lot less than your daily latte, even tall coffee! (Also, I’d be hard pressed to hear an argument that a daily cup of coffee at a coffee shop improves your life more than a close relationship with a trusted coach, but maybe that’s just me?)

 

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All of these misperceptions aside, the crux of this article is that you must have access to an excellent coach. Personally, I believe that an excellent coach, more than anything else, creates and helps the athlete execute a plan specifically for you.

 

Simply put, a coach should create a plan for the athlete, rather than the athlete created for the plan. This is why, at EFAST, there are no templates. We start with a blank slate and, using targeted questions and continuing communication, we tailor the plan to suit your needs. You have to work hard and execute what is scheduled for the day, but we are always flexible depending on how you, personally, improve or the struggles you may be facing. This is the only way to coach properly. We are here to optimize your day, and help you hit new PR’s while staying injury free.

 

So, what do you need to do?

 

First, research coaches in your area or online (some online coaches can be excellent communicators). Try to make a personal connection with the coach – they should offer a free initial consultation on the phone or in person. Be sure that the coach has your interests at heart. Ask questions. If the coach is open to answering questions, even if the coach says that he/she will get back to you on one of them, that is a good sign.

 

Try to figure out the coach’s reputation – are they ethical and clean? Do their results and resume match reality? Make sure they are truthful to you.

 

Then, notice how responsive they are. This is a customer service business, and you are a coach’s customer!

 

Finally, ask about different programs. At EFAST, we have a lot of different programs at different price points. Be sure that you ask about this and work with the coach to create a program that fits your needs and desires.

 

What should you do if you already have a coach?

 

First, communicate, communicate, communicate! The coach assumes you have done exactly what is on the schedule, and that is how he/she will build out your next day, week, month. If you have skipped something or done something that is a little off the schedule, let the coach know.

 

Second, evaluate your coaching level. If you really want to improve, consider signing up with a more highly-coached program (a weekly program instead of a monthly, for example), or sign up for a running form analysis or running injury prevention analysis if these services are offered. These additional services will not only help you as the athlete, but help the coach to do a better job for you! Information is key and that is what is often lacking in a coach-athlete relationship (it’s not that much different from investing!)

 

If you are interested in being coached by EFAST, please contact me!