If you follow the elite runners, then you know that Ryan Hall has been coach-less for a year now. Hall, who is 29, made the decision after withdrawing from the Chicago Marathon in 2010, citing that he was “just way overfried and overcooked.” He went on to say that despite maximum effort, he wasn’t seeing any improvement.
A strong Christian, Hall stated he “wanted God to be his coach.” This led to running by himself, at his own pace, according to how he felt on any given day.
Just seven months after starting his self coaching, he came in fourth in 2:04:58 in Boston in 2011. He was the only American in the top 15. He cut nearly four minutes from his 2010 time.
Hall had hoped to win the Chicago Marathon this year, but came in fifth with a time of 2:08.
Other runners have chosen to coach themselves including Frank Shorter, who won the marathon at the 1972 Olympics and Joan Benoit Samuelson, an Olympic gold medalist in 1984 who still races and sets the American marathon record for women over age 50. She has coached herself for most of her career.
This brings up an interesting question, as was posed in this New York Times article. How necessary are running coaches?
If you are an elite/pro athlete and racing is your JOB, your motive to hire a coach might be different than the recreational age grouper who is trying to get his/her PR. Either way, most people hire coaches to hold them accountable, to provide them with the best overall training necessary to reach their goals, and to take the guess work and time out of completing their own plan.
While the bulk of pro athletes have at least one coach, those like Ryan Hall are the rebels, choosing to make training decisions based on faith, personal preference and intuition. Although Ryan’s self coaching did not get him the title in Chicago, who is to say having a coach would have brought him any closer?
Have you ever hired a running coach? How has it helped you reach your goals? I have never had a coach, so I can’t speak to this. I do know many people who have been coached with amazing results. I would consider it for sure.
Do you think elites should have coaches to maximize their successes? Most of the time, yes. However, in Halls case, he wasn’t seeing results from coaching, so I can see the advantage of trying something new. Taking this step took some balls!
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