UPDATED!! Alot of you requested names of coaches I would recommend based on your style, so I’ve added a name and link after each description. All of these coaches are very versatile, and able to adapt to their athletes, but I picked the style I most associate with them.
Whenever I take on a new athlete, we spend about an hour together on the phone getting to know each other. I also have him/her fill out an information sheet. Yes, some of the information I’m looking for is standard: What is your normal training volume? List your PRs. What is your injury history? Who’s your favorite Muppet? (just kidding, but that would be a very informative question!). But, in addition to the running basics, I’m also trying to get a sense of the runner’s personality. I’ve learned over the years that the best training plans can yield the worst results if they are not applied to the right runner. In short: I can’t use a Warren Buffett plan on a Steve Jobs personality.
Since my training roster is full, I’m having to refer new clients to other coaches. At first, I simply gave the prospective athlete the list of great coaches I know. But after awhile, I realized that not every coach is right for every runner. Different coaches work best with different personality types. The most effective coaches seem to be those who can get a good sense of WHO their athletes are, not just how to construct a solid training plan.
I think this same type of knowledge is helpful to any runner looking for a coach. Do you know what type of runner you are? Do you know what style motivates you, and what style makes you want to hit the snooze button every morning? You are going to be much more likely to meet your running goals (whatever they may be) if you know what your “Mogul Style” is and how to make it work for you.
Typically, I see 6 types of Running Moguls:
1. The Sam Walton: This runner is “old school”. She likes to find a simple brand of shoe and stick with it. She rarely wears anything other than a Timex, and usually not even that. She likes to run, plain and simple. If you make her workouts too complicated or specific, she will just ignore you, and eventually quit working with you. She really wants someone to talk with about running more than she wants to push the envelope on drills, gadgets, and nutrition. This runner will often end up as one of your top performing athletes simply because she believes in hard work, and lots of it. Don’t underestimate her – just because she can’t tell you her VDot or her resting heart rate, doesn’t mean she isn’t VERY serious about running. Coach: Ian Sharman
2. The Oprah: This runner is all about the “experience” of running. He wants his runs to have a purpose, and not just one that involves numbers and data. He wants a hill workout to be about strength, a speed workout to be about speed, and a trail run to be about adventure. This runner also wants his coach to address his psychology in his training. It is important to him to understand what motivates him and what will make him excel. He cannot fake his passion for running – don’t ask him to do a race or workout he is not motivated to do – he needs to feel connected to the goal. Coach: Lisa Smith-Batchen
3. The Bill Gates: This runner is your bulldog. He wants what he wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it. He wants to be trained aggressively, and doesn’t care much about how he “feels” about a scheduled run – if you tell him to do it, he will do it, and push harder than anyone else in the group. This runner, with his aggressive style, can end up easily injured, so it is important to give him workouts that keep his energy engaged, but don’t put constant stress on his body. He often doesn’t know when enough is enough and his competitive personality can drive him to push too hard. Coach: Olga King
4. The Steve Jobs: This runner expects originality and novelty in her workouts. She’s not going to be happy with a training plan that calls for little variation or unique workouts. She loves her gadgets, and likes to monitor her heart rate, calories burned, and pace on every run. She trains best when she is given targets to hit and a creative workout to do while hitting those targets. She needs variety and a fast pace – intensity and novelty are her touchstones. Coach: Scott Jurek
5. The Warren Buffett: Much like your “Old School” runner, this athlete likes to keep it simple – but with an aggressive twist. This runner rarely goes for the short-term goals, finding little interest in being an age group winner in a 5k. He wants the big returns and is willing to work for it – long runs, big mileage, big races. He’s willing to use technology and new research if there is a purpose to it, but not just for novelty’s sake. If he knows why you want him to track his heart rate, he will, but only to get the necessary data. Driven by the win, this runner will train with discipline and sheer will. Coach: Howard Nippert
6. The Ellen Degeneres: This runner will work hard, with great results, but only if you make training fun. While she takes her running seriously, she also wants to have a good time while she is doing it. She will follow most workouts, but will want to train with a group, so don’t expect full adherence to any plan. If the group is going long, so is she. Camaraderie is more important to her than full allegiance to any training plan. If she is given a general concept of what needs to be done each week, rather than on a workout-by-workout schedule, she will adapt it to make herself AND her coach happy. Coach: Jimmy Dean Freeman
Do you see yourself in any of these Moguls? Are you definitely one type, or a combination? Knowing how you like to train will save you (and your coach, if you have one) a lot of frustration. Excelling at running, or anything else, is more about making the MOST of who you are, rather than trying to force yourself to be like everyone else.