You've decided you want to improve your running or your fueling and you do not know where to start. After hunting around, you determine you may need a Run Coach or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). GREAT!!
But, have you thought about what exactly you want to get out of the experience? Or have you determined what your end goal or result is going to be?
After my last year as a Run Coach and RDN, I've decided to compile some things to consider when hiring a professional!
Often times, a coaches is not a world class athlete. Most of the times, a coach is someone who loves the sport and everything about it and just decided to fully immerse in the sport. Many coaches still hold full time jobs (in other fields) and have busy lives outside of the sport.
On the other hand, a RDN often has a private practice which operates solely for nutrition coaching and counseling. Understand that MOST RDN's are not run coaches and MANY run coach are not RDNs.
Things you should consider when hiring a run coach:
First and foremost, you must like your coach. Do you find this person interesting? Knowledgeable? Do you respect him or her? Is this person someone you would be proud announcing to the world "Hey, this is MY coach!" If you can answer yes to all these questions, this coach might be for you! If at the first meeting, the coach rubs you the wrong way or you feel he or she is unapproachable or you do not trust the coach, move on quickly please!
Do you know what this coaches style is like? Is he or she a high mileage runner? Or is the coach more conservative? What style fits you best? If you are told to do back to back easy runs, when you wan to Boston Qualify, are you going to be frustrated? During the initial contact or interview with a coach, ask questions! Find testimonies! Google your proposed coach! See if his or her style fits yours too!
What is your goal? Are you a cyclist riding a long distance "fun" ride? Then, why would you hire a run coach to coach you? Find a coach who specializes in your specific goal! If you are looking to Boston Qualify, ask your coach "Have you been to Boston? Did you qualify for this race? When? How?" Are you someone that wants to run track workouts or an ultra? If your coach is not seasoned in these types of adventures, best bet is that you need to keep looking for the perfect fit!
While for most reading this blog, cost may be a sensitive topic. I find many folks do not want to pay for a coach. Or they feel X number of dollars a month is "too expensive." Why not break down the fee by day. At $100.00 a month, that is $23.07 a week or $3.30 a day. Do you ever spend $4.00 on a cup of coffee, lunch, candy, so on? Think of the cost as an investment in your goal and your health.
Prices vary with coaches based on the experience level and credentials. Prices also vary based on how much time/contact you are provided with your coach and the delivery mechanism of their schedules and feedback. If your coach provides electronic coaching logs, the software has an expense. Before you have the initial call, do your research and have a number in mind that you can afford.
Things you should consider when hiring a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist:
Same as above. You have gotta like the person, trust the person and genuinely find him or her interesting!
Hiring a RDN can be scary! After all, you're enlisting this stranger to know all your big secrets in food, body, personality and life. How does the RDN approach sensitive topics? Is he or she kind, caring and compassionate? Or are you looking for someone who is more of a dictator? Know your wants and needs and ability to work with a specific style. This is hard stuff!
If you are hiring a RDN, first ensure this person holds a VALID license to provide nutrition advice. Many times, everyone is slapping the title "nutritionist" onto the end of their name and calling it a day! Where you will end up in trouble, is if you have a medical condition: Diabetes Mellitus, High Blood Pressure, Kidney or Liver issues, Autoimmune Disease (Hashimoto's, Celiac, Rheumatoid Arthritis) to name a few. Did you know, in many states it is illegal to provide medical nutrition therapy to individuals without a license. Be careful out there folks!
Also, if you're in search of someone to provide sport specific nutrition advice, like Ironman triathlon fueling schedules, make sure this person has completed or at least studied under Ironman triathlete provisions in the past. Knowledge and experience and licensure brings out the best when it comes to hiring the right professional.
Hiring a RDN is likely to be expensive. This professional was required not only to earn a 4 year degree, but also work for nearly 10 months (unpaid) at a clinically supervised internship within at least 3 or 4 different specialties. In addition, a candidate RDN must pass a rigorous exam in order to obtain a license to practice and provide nutrition advice. Therefore, established rates for nutrition consultation can be staggering. Know the price you pay will be worth it!
I've found my coach or RDN now what?
- Do the work your coach or RDN assigns. (Do NOT make excuses!)
How committed are you? Do you know your WHY? If you hired the coach or RDN, only you can do the work. There is no magic set of shoes or food to get you to your goal. Hard work and GRIT get you there.
- Log your training and communicate.
If your coach requires GPS downloads of training with comments, provide those items. If the RDN requires you log food and weigh yourself, same. Do.THE.requirements. We are not mind readers. We cannot write schedules or help you if we do not know what you've been doing.
Likewise, if you have a sore spot or you have stress in your life, let your coach or RDN know you need a revision or break. He or she will respect your honesty and honor your wishes.