Running Strong: Tips to Evaluate Running Programs


by John A. Ruibal

Whether your goal is an ultra marathon or a 5K, you’ll find lots of running programs claiming to help you across the finish line. How do you determine the program that’s best for you?

When evaluating training programs, runners should look for the following:

Motivation Look for coaches who motivate you and teach you how to be the best runner you can be. They do this by evaluating each runner as an individual athlete.

A total wellness approach This is much more than a piece of paper with workouts and miles to run.

Coaches with experience and credentials – A running coach should be a dedicated, accomplished runner. He or she should have coaching certifications like those offered by Road Runners Club of America or the United States Track and Field Association.

A personalized plan – When I coach, I build the programs with each individual in mind. Everyone has different goals and I am there to help you meet those goals.

Additional info – Added info makes you a more complete athlete. Great programs include information on injury prevention, heart rate training, strength training for runners, sports nutrition, mental preparation and good running form, to name a few.

Finally, cost is always a consideration. When you look at the full package, take into account the quality of the coaching, the ratio of coach to runners, the number of workouts you get per week, total workouts for the program and any additional services the program provides. The more expensive programs may actually provide you better coaching and customer service. Most important, take your time, do the research, and talk to the coaches before diving in.

NA_San_Antonio_08_13_web_Page_23_Image_0004John Ruibal coordinates the distance running classes available through both iRun Texas locations in San Antonio. He has been running for more than 40 years and coaching for 25. A veteran runner with 28 completed marathons, John is a registered dietitian who is board-certified in sports nutrition from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To contact John or learn more about his training classes, visit

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