How To Become A Running Coach

how to become a running coach

In this guide, we will provide you with information that will help kickstart your running coach career, including:

Download our FREE course prospectus to discover how a Personal Training Diploma can inform your future career as a running coach!

The Qualifications You Need To Become A Running Coach

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#1. Complete A Level 3 Personal Trainer Diploma

Having a Level 3 Personal Trainer Diploma is crucial to your career development as a running coach as it allows you to become a personal trainer, meaning you can elevate your coaching services with advanced knowledge and skills. 

You’ll learn the different roles and responsibilities of a personal trainer, including:

  • The importance of physical assessments to determine clients’ levels of fitness
  • How to design unique tailored sessions for clients to achieve fitness goals
  • How to develop leadership skills to motivate clients.

Once you’re qualified, undertaking a part-time position as a personal trainer can provide you with a fixed income, and even help build a client base to promote your running coach services too.

It also makes you eligible to complete a qualification to become a Level 4 Personal Trainer, which can expand your knowledge and expertise into other areas of health & fitness, which can increase your earning potential.

#2. Complete A UKA-Accredited Qualification

Having a UK Athletics (UKA) qualification is beneficial to your running coach career as it is the governing body for athletics in the UK, which will boost your credibility.

There are several qualifications you can choose from that carry this accreditation, including:

The Different Types Of Running Coaches You Can Become

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There are two types of running coaches that you could become- one who specialises in off-track or on-track training.

An off-track running coach trains clients in the following areas:

  • Cross country
  • Fell running 
  • Trail running
  • Road running
  • Marathon training

Off-track running focuses on improving clients’ endurance as it takes place on harder terrain and over longer distances.

This of course means you’ll focus on helping clients build stamina.

On-track running coach trains clients in different specialities, including:

  • Sprints (100m to 400m)
  • Middle distance (800m to 3000m) 
  • Long distance (3000m to 10000m steeplechases)
  • Hurdles (100m to 400m)
  • Relays (4x100m to mixed 4x400m)

To become an on-track coach, you’ll need the knowledge to create programmes that incorporate strength and conditioning.

This will help challenge and build strength in athletes’ muscles and improve their effectiveness in track-based events.


Develop Your Coaching Skills!

With Origym's Level 3 Personal Trainer course.

Running Coach Salary Explained

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The average salary of a running coach is £29,500, however, when you’re applying for coaching positions you’ll find it rare to work in a dedicated coaching position.

You’ll find your path to becoming a running coach will follow two steps, these are:

Step #1-You’ll Begin Working As A Personal Trainer First

Working as a personal trainer will be one of the first positions you’ll undertake before becoming a running coach.

As mentioned earlier, the role will allow you to write customised programmes but it will also help you build credibility with clients who achieve their fitness results.

Your success rates with clients can be used to promote your services as a running coach and cross-refer clients. 

Whilst working as a personal trainer, you can expect to earn an average of £29,000 per year.

This will help provide you with a stable income as you move into coaching clients to improve their running abilities.

#Step 2 You’ll Work As A Freelance Running Coach

The client base you’ve established as a personal trainer will teach you how to become a running coach.

Since full-time positions are limited, the best way to find employment is through work as a freelance coach.

You could refer clients from your personal trainer sessions to your running coach services to start earning an income.

To maximise your revenue, you can determine the number of hours you work but also the price you charge for these services, particularly if they cater to a niche market.

In a self-employed role, you could expect to earn £25-45 per hour. You could advertise these services on We-Run or use Google Ads to promote your business online.

The Types Of Insurance You Need As A Running Coach

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Before you can begin coaching, there are different types of insurance that you’ll require.

If, like many running coaches, you plan on operating as a PT, you’ll need these policies from AXA:

  • Public Liability Insurance- covers claims made against you from a client who experiences an injury or damage to property whilst being trained by you.
  • Public Indemnity Insurance- covers you from loss or damage claims made by clients for poor services or advice they believe they received.
  • Loss of Earning and Personal Accident Insurance- helps to cover any loss of earnings should you experience an injury yourself.

Other policies about running coaching can be found at Insure4Sport, including:

  • Running (Indoor Cross Country Path Road) Coaches & Instructors Insurance
  • Marathon Running Coaches & Instructors Insurance
  • Athletics Coaches & Instructors Insurance

While you hopefully won’t need to use your insurance, it’s a requirement if you want to become a running coach.

Additional Qualifications To Consider For Your Running Coach Career

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After achieving your level 3 personal trainer and running coach qualification, there are additional qualifications you could complete, including

#1 Sports Massage Qualification 

Preventing injury is important for any athlete, especially runners. Becoming qualified in Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy is a great way to understand what treatment is best for runners after training, especially if it’s intense.

This course teaches you everything you need to know about post-run massages, muscle soreness, managing injury, and rehabilitation.

Not only that, but you'll also be able to refer any sports massage clients with an interest in running to your coaching programmes, effectively combining the services you offer, and allowing you to maximise your income.

#2 Strength & Conditioning

A strength and conditioning coach functions similarly to a personal trainer but predominantly focuses on those at the very peak of their physical fitness. They often work with athletes and sportspeople, rather than ordinary gym goers simply looking to get fit, so it’s an ideal skill set to have when working with competitive runners. 

Becoming a strength and conditioning coach shows runners how serious you are about coaching them, as you'll be able to use specialised expertise to help them get the most out of their training and become the best athlete they can be.

#3 Nutrition

If you want to further develop your knowledge to help your athletes improve as much as possible, a Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course can be a great way to expand your skill set.

By gaining this qualification, you’ll be able to advertise yourself as a qualified nutritionist and can advise individual runners on what foods are required to fuel their bodies.

It’s also an excellent way to set yourself apart from other running technique coaches in your area. Having an advantage by becoming a sports nutritionist is a great way to expand the number of athletes you coach. 

Ready To Kickstart Your Career?

Assisting clients to achieve their fitness goals as a running coach can be a rewarding career, so why don’t you take the first step to become one with our L3 PT Diploma?

Alternatively, you can learn more about our courses by downloading our 2023 course booklet.

Written by Liam Donohoe

Content Writer and Fitness Enthusiast

Liam graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a 2:1 in BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing. He has also co-written a short film that has been featured in several film festivals. In October 2023, he ran and completed his first half marathon and for 2024, he's now training to complete his first metric marathon.

In his spare time, Liam likes to teach himself German, read books, lift weights and listen to metal music that only passionate fans of the genre will understand.

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