Ever wonder how those running coaches earn their credentials? Currently there are no official national credentials to place behind an a name for coaching when one wears the coaching hat. However, there are a few different ways to earn your coaching wings. Here is some brief information on running coaching organizations that provide certifications if you are thinking of getting one or just looking for a coach.
1. Road Runners of America: This certification involves taking a weekend course (16 hours total) and a 100 question online test. Coaches must also have a valid first aid and CPR certifications.
2. USA Track and Field Certifications: USAFT has three levels of certification. For level I, a person must take a 2 1/2 day course (21.5 hours) and complete an online exam. Level II consists of passing Level I and then taking a week long course on a specific event and then passing an exam. Level III consists of taking a 6.5 day course at the Olympic Training Center and implementing a project in the 6 months after taking the course. You must also have been coaching for 5 years or more.
3. North American Academy for Sport Fitness Professionals Marathon Coach Certification: This certification encompasses taking a 100 question 3 hour exam, a case study in which a training program is provided for the case study, first aid and CPR certification and a practical for a client. The client is then coached for at least 18 weeks under the guidance of the person taking the coaching certification as well as a Master trainer.
4. Degrees in Coaching: This is provided usually by a 4 year university. A minor is usually the pathway and involves completing a number of units of coursework (6-8 classes) and an internship in which one or several athletes are coached by the individual under the guidance of another coach for 3 months. Once completed, the coach has earned a minor in coaching and certification by some organization such as ASEP (American Sport Education Program) Certification.
5. Experience: This is a general way to gain the title of coach. Usually, experience is acquired by becoming an athlete at the high school, collegiate, professional or amateur level or a combination of the above. Hands on experience is gained by being coached by another coach or alternatively coaching oneself and doing research.