First Step to Becoming a Running Coach + A Great 7-Miler

I am thoroughly in love with running right now.


I just finished Day 1 of the Road Runners Club of America’s coaching certification course. I’ve been wanting to do this program since I heard about it last year, but it is REALLY hard to get into. Each course is limited to 35 participants to keep it relatively intimate, so they fill up ridiculously quickly. When I saw the NY course open, I was away from a computer and by the time I got to a computer 30 minutes later, it was full. I put my name on the waitlist and miraculously got in off the waitlist.

Two days of just learning about running? Yes please.

While this blog is mostly about my life and my experiences with fitness and training for races, I’ve wanted to be able to have some sort of credibility to talk about some aspect of health or fitness beyond what I read or experience, though I’m not looking for a total career change. I love running and get lots of questions from friends and from some readers, so I wanted to have a little authority. This coaching course is two nine-hour days, so it’s accessible but informative. I’ll also have to take a CPR certification and pass a 100-question test before I am officially certified.

Today we learned about principles of coaching, exercise physiology and principles of building a training program. Though much of the exercise physiology was brand-new to this journalism major, I was pleasantly surprised that I knew a lot more about the principles of building a training program than I thought I did, especially since I’d like to use this certification to do some work with new runners. I remember how exciting and overwhelming training for my first races a few years ago were, and I want to be able to help people.


Semi-gratuitous dog photo.

I got out of the course at 5, came home to walk my little pupernutter and headed back out for my own long run. After talking about running all day, I was more than ready to go out and do it.

I got ready…and the sky opened. I was about to take it to the treadmill (and tweeted that) and Victoria tweeted back that rainy runs were great. I’ve been a huge weenie lately about not running outside when the weather’s not ideal, and her push was what I needed to get outside.

For whatever reason, I’m still out of the habit of charging my Garmin regularly, so it was dead. I knew I’d probably get caught in the rain, so I didn’t want to bring my phone and decided to wear my heart rate monitor and just run by time. I only had 7 miles on the schedule (WOOOO cutback week), so I figured I’d just run for 70 minutes. Even if I was running 10 minute miles, I’d still get in at least 7 miles. I ran for 40, turned around and did 30 back so I could have a little time to walk and cool down on the way home.

With 70 minutes to think about the training course, not worry about pace and just look around at people, I had a lovely run.

Time to write out a sample training plan and get to sleep for Day 2!

If you could get any kind of health/fitness certification/degree, what would it be? I looked into getting my R.D. a few years ago and started the IIN program, but I’m happy I’m doing this running course. I <3 running. (I also want to get my yoga teacher certification one day, but that is both really expensive and takes forever. One day.)

33 comments on “First Step to Becoming a Running Coach + A Great 7-Miler

  1. Debbie @ Live from La Quinta

    I’m taking the RRCA course in August! I’m pretty excited. I’m already a USATF coach and personal trainer, so I’m excited to add this to my credentials. You’re right that those classes fill up quick. I hesitated to spend the $300 for half a day, then saw the class already half full and had to make a quick decision. Glad I did, so excited.

    Enjoy the rest of your class!

  2. MegG

    I got my RRCA cert earlier this year and I really enjoyed the course. I recently made a training plan for a friend from my crossfit gym, and it was great to be able to use those principles and also be able to throw my own flair of crossfit as crosstraining into it. I’m getting my crossfit mobility certification tomorrow and hope to get a gymnastics one in the future. Now I just wish I had a desire to stick to my own training plans!!

  3. Kimberly @ Healthy Strides

    Good luck on Day 2! And way to get out there in the rain. I’ve found that I’ve been whiny about the weather lately and sometimes just need a push out the door.

    I’m currently studying to get my personal training certificate after getting certified to teach Bodypump and loving it. I am a journalism major, too (stuck in newspapers right now), and hope to do some sort of career change – whether it’s a combo of two or just fitness.

  4. Maureen

    I did the RRCA course in Philly at the end of June at it was awesome. While a lot of the physiology stuff went over my head, I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the rest of the materials were familiar to me from my own training. Good luck with Day 2 and the test!

  5. Laurin

    I’d love to get my yoga teaching certificate, too, but it’s nowhere near affordable for me right now! Plus committing to giving up weekends for so long is a bit daunting! For now I’m looking into getting NASM’s Weight Loss Specialist certificate. Good luck on your class! I am not a runner yet but would love to hear your tips for getting started without getting overwhelmed or discouraged!

  6. Alicia at Poise in Parma

    LOVE that you are taking steps for the running coach certification. Love even MORE the comment about yoga TT (but you already knew I would!)

    Personally I’m ready for some 500 hour yoga certification hours. Incredibly excited for a training I’m heading to in September.

  7. Katie @ Talk Less, Say More

    I got my personal training cert back in November (thinking I was going to make a big career change) and while I’ve decided NOT to pursue anything major with it, I don’t regret getting that extra bit of knowledge. If anything, it can help me in my own workouts. I too am intrigued by getting my yoga certification, if only to improve my own practice.

  8. kristin miller

    That sounds like my kind of class! (As a teacher, I’m SO over classes after getting my bachelors and masters, DONE with school!) I like your idea of running for time, I may try that today since I’m being extra lackadaisical in getting out there.

  9. Katie

    I got my YogaSculpt certification through Corepower Yoga (they have some in DC as well as throughout the US but not NYC). It was a 6 week course and a great intro, maybe someday I’ll do a 100 hour or 200 hour yoga certification, but I’m happy with what I have right now.

  10. Jilly

    Exciting! Good for you.

    Are you still working at your regular job? You haven’t mentioned it in a while and I’ve noticed you’ve been doing lots of midday activities. Did you quit?

  11. Lindsay

    Congrats on taking the running coach course! I’m curious to hear what you think about it after it’s all completed. I’ve been interested in it myself for a bit – I feel like it would be a huge help when training for races! Maybe it would motivate me more to know why I should be doing what all these training schedules tell me to.

  12. Debbie @ DebRuns

    Yay, I’m so excited for you! I’ve been wanting to get into the class for a long time and always miss signing up in time. I just signed up for email notifications for when a class comes back to my area.

  13. Sara

    I’m so glad you’re doing the RRCA certification! I did it last year and really enjoyed it. Last week I started the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which is a year long program to become a certified health coach. I’m in the processing of starting my own running/health coaching business and couldn’t be more excited!

  14. Joseph Edgar

    Very inspiring! A 70 minute run! In my dreams! I am not at the 7 mile mark yet but, well ok, there is still hope! I just figure it will be easier after I loose some more weight. I will be on Dr Kareem’s program for that ( )It combines both exercise and nerve stimulation to speed up weight loss. It looks very promising! 🙂

  15. Katherine

    I am not sure what I would do. I love herbal medicine but I already got trained to become a Master Herbalist. Aside from continuing my education and studying under other herbalists, I am not sure what else I would do. Maybe become a personal trainer?

    I am so glad I found this blog! I used to love running but stopped doing it and now I am BADLY out of shape. Something to think about on my own weight loss journey.

  16. Jessica

    Good luck on day 2 of your course! I’m really jealous! I keep waiting for a course to open up closer to me. I’d like to take the course just for my own knowledge. . Have fun listening, learning and talking about running!!

  17. Marjorie

    What made you decide to not finish IIN? Or are you still in the process of completing it? I’m enrolled and doing RRCA in January (can’t wait!).

    1. Theodora

      @Marjorie: At the time, it was a matter of time. I just didn’t have/want to make the time to devote to it. Now, I’d say my interests and priorities have shifted and I’m definitely into fitness way way more than nutrition.

  18. David Gonzales

    Thanks for all your comment runners, looking forward also to becoming a running coach through RRCA or USATF , I am studying through a running program .I am active running in marathons ,trail running,and other runs. In three different running club.I set high goal for myself.

  19. Erin Crites

    Oh wow, just reading your post got me pumped!! I have been considering this certification for a few months now, but no courses were nearby. I randomly looked today and found one about 5 hours away, so I decided this was it! Sadly, I went to register tonight and noticed that although the page says it’s “OPEN”, it’s actually full. 🙁 Oh well, I’m on the wait list and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that all 14 ahead of me dip out so I can get in! And if not, well I have motivation to get my CPR/First Aid certification and study up on running some more. I saw you were attending IIN – did you finish? I actually start on the 19th and I’m looking forward to it 🙂


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.