Friday, July 28, 2023

Call me "Coach"

I am now a certified running coach! I received my certification from McMillan Running in June by taking a course online and passing the exam.

I always thought I would eventually want to coach other runners, once I was less focused on my own running career. I saw it as my retirement job-- when I was retired from running and from my full-time job as a marketing executive. Coaching definitely wouldn't fit into my busy schedule of marathon training, producing my Instagram content, and working full-time. And if I was going to coach someone, I would want to be attentive to their needs without being pulled in a million different directions. 

But I got the certification anyway. There were a few reasons why:

I wanted to gain the knowledge to apply to my own running.
I've been with McMillan running for nearly 10 years now. I've read countless articles by Greg McMillan and his perspective has always resonated with me. I wanted to learn more about the science of running and how he uses that to pull together his training plans.

I wanted to engage on Instagram with some level of authority.
I've always been very careful to not give blanket advice in my Instagram posts. Since I was not a coach, I didn't view myself as someone who was "qualified" to be guiding others. Instead, I mostly shared how I trained, my opinions, and what worked for me. I always included the caveat "this is what works for me" so that followers wouldn't blindly apply my approach to their running. But I often get questions via DM or in in the comments section, so I figured it would be good to have some level of certification to respond authoritatively. In other words, I didn't want to be some random Instagram runner spewing advice when I had no basis upon which to do so.

I knew I would eventually want to coach others.
As I said above, this would be something that would come in handy once I no longer had a full-time job and/or wasn't so dedicated to my own running. 

I wanted to self-coach.
I generally think self-coaching is not a good idea, now matter how experienced you are. I think runners always need an objective eye over their training-- someone to advise when things need to be tweaked. I also think accountability is important. Someone you have to go back to and explain why you didn't do that final rep. When you are your own coach, it's too easy to say, mid-workout: "Well, I scheduled you for 8 intervals, but I can just push that back to 6."

In the long term, I likely will not be my own coach. But I wanted to give it a try for at least one cycle (Marine Corps Marathon) to see how it went. I figured it would give me the flexibility to move workouts around in the summer heat and run more or less based on how I felt. Of course I could have done this with any coach I have ever worked with, but my perfectionist self didn't like going off plan. As my own coach, I can switch days around and run a little longer or shorter than what's written based on how I feel. It requires being VERY honest with myself about how I am feeling. 

I've coached my husband for all of his marathons. He started out with a 4:08 and made his way down to 3:18. I enjoyed creating plans for him and watching him get faster. So in that respect, I have some experience under my belt. 

Call me "Coach!"
Once I completed the certification, I felt differently. I wanted to coach right away! I didn't want to wait. But I had to balance that urge with the reality of everything else I have going on in my life. 

So I figured I could ease into coaching by starting small. Instead of offering a full-blown coaching service where I was available via email and text 24/7 to analyze the workouts of multiple athletes, I would simply write custom plans. I think there is a large number of runners who don't want to pay for a coach but they want something that's more tailored than what they would find on the Internet or in a book.

From a time management perspective, I have enough time to look at an athlete's history, experiences, preferences, strengths, weakness, and write a custom plan that also advises on areas to work on (like fueling, injury prevention, mental strategies, pacing, etc.).  And then send them off with the plan, giving them the option to check in with me on a monthly basis to potentially tweak the plan.

With this model, the athlete doesn't have to pay the cost of full-time coaching, but they are still getting guidance. And I am not over-extending myself in terms of my commitments. 

Introducing All Stripes Coaching
I am pleased to announce the formation of All Stripes Coaching! I created an LLC and I'm ready to start working with athletes. All the details are at

I chose the name "All Stripes" to represent that my plans take into account all aspects of running and are more than just numbers on a calendar. Athletes complete a comprehensive intake questionnaire that allows me tailor a plan specifically to their needs and preferences. Plus, the name "All Stripes" fits in nicely with the name of my blog, Racing Stripes.

Because I am just starting out, availability will be limited at first and I am not going to announce this on Instagram quite yet. In marketing we call this a "soft launch." If any of my blog readers are interested in a custom training plan, head on over to for more details and complete the interest form.

I look forward to coaching runners and helping them achieve their goals. 


  1. Well way to go Zebra, you always were a coach for yourself in your early days pursuits, then you hired and paid for professional coaching, and now you become a certified running coach! I did that both RRCA and USATF, but I never did it to take on coaching others, just to learn the principles to create my own training plans. But over the years I always gave coaching guidance to the other runners took time to call me, text me or email me. I never did it for a business or to earn income. could be different for you, but I know one thing, you will make a great Coach to any runner that makes the commitment!

  2. Congrats, Elizabeth! This will be such a good fit for you!

  3. Fantastic to read and see where you want to take this. This will keep you wanting to be engaged in the world of running as you put the focus on others and trying to help them achieve their goals in running. I think your own personal running journey (even if I haven't been able to read every detail of it) shows why this is something you will be good at for others.