Many of us who train marathons go through ups and downs with regards to staying motivated. Some marathoners say that they have been training hard for some time now and feel ready to get to the next level but are not quite sure how to do it. Others have not been seeing results that are consistent with the type or quantity of training they have been doing. Some are just yearning to sit and talk shop or take a run with someone who truly knows what it is like to train this hard. If you are any of these people or you are thinking about getting into marathons, then here are some tips on how to find a marathon training academy that suits your unique needs.
One of the first things to determine is how far away from home you are willing to travel or if you want to sign up for a virtual coach. For those who prefer to hire a coach to train with and are new to marathons, then perhaps a close location is optimum especially for the first few months when switching regimens is tough and the risk of dropping out is high. That extra hour per day in commute just might be enough of a disincentive to keep you on the road.
When you do find an academy that looks promising, the next step is to see what kind of services other than coaching, are offered. Marathon training is high endurance, tough on your body and tough on your mind. If you are going to train well, you will need access to a variety of services that full-service training groups offer. They include but are not limited to: an occupational or physical therapist, a deep tissue massage therapist, nutritionists, nursing staff, conditioning professionals and perhaps even a sports psychologist or a one on speed dial. All of these services will provide with a 360 degree support structure so crucial to your success. If they are not onsite, then ask who they use to ensure that they have the full compliment of professionals.
Of course, the most critical person that must be up to your specifications at the academy is a good coach, for you. And this last part is the salient part. Many coaches are great coaches but given where you are at in your training, your goals, your personality, some coaches will work better with you. For this choice, you need to be thorough and take your time to go through the steps. First, do your own mini background check. You have read the resume, you have checked online, you know who s/he has worked with in the past, so now it is time to ask for the references. Make your list and be prepared to ask the questions to the answers about temperament, training style and focus, any or all of the things that matter most to you.
The other avenue to check out is credentials. Many coaches now are coming to the sport without an academic or marathon coaching background. If this matters to you then ask to see where your coach is at in his or her education and ask about future plans. If you are agreeable to a coach with experience training elite athletes to peak performance with superior results then by all means get to the final step. If not, then start your search again.
Once your trial run with your coach has ended, and you believe that the facilities and training group are right for you, then all that is left is to ensure that you make your training goals and plan for that next marathon. Most importantly, you are part of a group now, so enjoy the companionship, support your training group, and promote the sport.