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(Guest Post by Kim, as part of our Side Hustle Series)
After running professionally for a few years, I noticed that people started asking me for advice. So, I’d just hand it out for free. I was working full time and didn’t need the money. Plus, I liked helping others get fast.
Then, in 2008 I was laid off from my full time job.
Though running covered my living costs, I wanted some fun money on the side. I had a coach who was helping me for free but also made plenty of money from helping other runners. He insisted that I get started on charging people for my advice. So, after thinking about it for several weeks, I just went for it.
How I Got Started
I already had a strong reputation as a skilled runner around New England, so the start was simple. I just designed an ad and placed it in my local running club newsletter. I started getting calls and emails almost right after it came out. I then did the same thing on running boards – that’s all there was to it. It never required any certifications or education because I had a lifetime of knowledge and proven self coaching skills that could be applied to almost anybody.
How Much I Make
I charge $85/month and give each client a four week training plan. The plan is based on my own training since I know it works. It’s a lot different than other plans that I’ve heard of and it just seems to work on all types. Some coaches charge hundreds, but I based my price to beat others and to just earn some extra cash on top of my stipends. A lot of people will pay more for coaching and the work can get tedious will all the fussy phone calls and emails from addicted runners. So, I’d say, unless you really like helping needy athletes, keep costs low but charge enough for your sanity.
Pros And Cons
The pros are that I get to work from home, on my own schedule. I often don’t even have to see many of the people that I coach face to face. They just want a training plan and a second voice in their head when it comes to knowing they are doing the right type of training.
The cons are that runners are mostly very needy. They can be self involved and high maintenance, which is the way to be if you’re going to be successful. I make myself available 24/7 and yes, I have gotten calls at 3am the morning of a race from runners that think they’re going to suck or have the slightest little pain in their foot or something. You’re not only there for physical prep. You are there for mental prep and that can be tough for people that don’t want to deal with a lot of crap.
How You Can Become a Running Coach
First, be a runner. Don’t be one of those fat lazy ex runners filled with regret and trying to live through the people you coach. You will be bitter if they succeed and you don’t get all the credit. It’s just something I saw in so many old, angry coaches. Take care of yourself and then you can help others. Also, while being a runner, you know what you are doing and what works. I would never listen to an ex runner that quit and I don’t expect people to listen to me if I decide to become a couch potato.
Next, if you don’t have the confidence to coach, just get some USATF certifications. They’re pretty meaningless but they’ll probably make you feel more professional and qualified.
And finally, just advertise your services at local running stores and with the local clubs. Fake it until you make it. If you’re a runner, you already know how to coach but you need to trust in yourself.
I admittedly don’t read or research running. I learned everything on the job and that’s how I know what works. So many amateur runners spend a ton of money on books and gimmicks and they get nowhere. Running is no harder than stepping out the door and putting one foot in front of the other. You learn by being around other runners that are smart and have been doing if for a long time. I learned most of what I know from runners in my own club that were about 10 years older than me and they learned from people older than them.
One of My Success Stories
I coach a 55 year old guy that had never run a marathon or more than 25 miles in a week. Within 6 months, I had him up to 80-85 miles in a week and qualified for the Boston Marathon. He ran a PR at Boston that year. He’s still PRing at many distances and keeps improving. (Fyi – “PR” is “Personal Record”) Most people don’t know what they are capable of and go too easy on themselves out of fear. I like to be the one to tell them they can do stuff they think is crazy. Then they get results and come back with a “Thank You”. It’s great.
Kim is a nationally ranked marathon and 5K runner. Her marathon PR is 2:38:21 (Rocket City 2009) and her 5K PR is 16:32 (Central Mass Striders 5K 2009). She travels to races for free and often receive stipends, appearance fees, and prize money (that’s her in the bottom pic up there). Kim’s proudly sponsored by Brooks and Marathon Guide.
PS: If you liked this hustle, you might like a similar one we did on Becoming a USA Triathlon Official :)
(Top pic by through my eyes only, bottom one courtesy of Kim)