RRCA Coaching Certification Recap & Was it worth it?

What a weekend! Gorgeous weather, gorgeous coastal city and what did I do? Spend 18 plus hours in a make shift back room of a running store turned into a classroom. All for a better cause I would hope!

What is RRCA and what am I certified for?

RRCA-coach

RRCA, stands for Road Runners Club of America. It’s basically a club of runners, coaches, running clubs and maybe a few other things all with an overall goal of promoting distance running. You can read the history more on their website and if you belong to a running club, chances are it might be an RRCA member club,

RRCA is one of several running coach certifications. So far, they offer the one basic level of training, and they are hoping to develop a level 2 course and some continuing education options.  Other programs include USATF Levels 1 and 2, NAASFP Marathon coaching, Natural Running coaching, etc. Maybe I should go make up my own and start certifications? I’ll call it run, eat, run, run get Plantar Fascia and fall of the face of the running blog world certification. 

Do you really need it?

As far as I am aware, there is nothing in state law that requires to be a certified running coach in order to coach running. Each different organization looking for a coach can have all sorts of requirements on its own. RRCA is one of the few that is more highly recognized (at least by me) and to some degree helps you gain a network and a structured (but not specific) theory of coaching. Also, once you complete your certification, you can give yourself a title of some sorts with credentials, cause we all love credentials in this world to separate us from all the other Slim Shadys, I mean running self proclaims experts.

How do I become an RCAA running coach?

You get online.. unless you have a hook up, the class open up a few months in advance and fill up in about 30 minutes (at least anything near Boston or NY does). You sit through two days of lecture and such.  You take a test, you give more money and get a first aid & CPR certification and bam…. through effort and such, you’re not deemed worthy of being a coach.

Why I want to be certified?

Of course I love running and I mostly wanted to learn a bit to self coach myself. However, I’ve had an increasing number of readers and friends asking me for coaching advice (or at least before I feel off the face of the blog world into self depression of Plantar Fascia world). I always here’s a few things that works for me, and talk about me. However, clearly, what works for me, is not even great advice since I broke down anyways. So, I wanted to find a more structured way of advising and helping potential clients and friends, as well as being involved in community running events and I felt a little lost with all the information that is out there. So I decided the RCAA course/certification program might not be the all in all solution, but it can make me focused a bit.

Things we covered

IMG_9672 (1)

  • Coaching history – Done via video
  • Types of runners and their training needs – Novice, Experienced, Elite
  • Building a training program – This includes lots of side topics
  • Running Form
  • Small amounts of bullet points on Nutrition & Injury
  • Runner Psychology
  • Insurance – they sold their perks and reminded you to be mindful, they do happen.
  • and maybe a few things more that I zoned on in

Things I learned and focused on

  • RRCA stresses uniform usage/meaning of certain terms like cross training, tempo run, or intervals, as it relates to coaching running. As coaches, they want us to be careful with how we use these terms. Basically, each different coaching theory uses a different definition for terms like “tempo” and intervals so when we give our runners plans, we need to be very specific on what we want them to do
  • Aside from putting together a running plan, most things in regards to said runner is most likely out of our scope, which includes but is not limited to:
    • Nutrition and diet
    • Injuries and dealing with them
    • Therapy
    • Legal stuff
    • And pretty much most other things
  • “Effort days” are basically workouts that occur at a harder than conversation pace and in a good plan only include 2-3 “effort day” per week with all other runs/workouts being “conversation pace” I think this is the theory that most of your workouts should not be in that grey area and should either matter (be hard) or easy. The rest is wasted effort if you’re on a goal for something.
  • Periodizing your training where the macrocylce includes the entire training period up until the goal race, the mesocycle includes a shorter training phase within the macrocycle that is targeted towards a specific goal, and the microcycle is a short period (usually a week) within a mesocycle. Then there’s a typical infographic pyramid structure used for overall goals of each mesocycle.
  • A tempo run in their definition where its lactic treshold is your fastest pace you can go for an hour, but should be trained in 20-40 minutes according to their training philosophy

What’s next and overall impression

Next step is a 100 choice test, CPR, & First aid certification. Will I be opening up for coaching? Probably not yet. A lot of passion for running is tied to my own running and until I resolve my plantar fascist nightmare, I think taking on running clients will make me more depressed about the fact that I myself cannot run. However, if you do have any questions, feel free to reach out to me and if I ever do start to pimp my coaching for business, trust me, blogworld, you’ll be the first to know!

Is it worthwhile and for whom?

I still haven’t made up my mind if the class was worthwhile for me. I think a short pros and cons list might help.

Cons –

  • The classroom was not decided for 35 students sitting there for 9 hours a day. The classroom, essentially the backroom of a running store and was not designed for the amount of people it was holding, felt miserable to me.
  • Lecture format – I loved learning and discussing, but sitting in a lecture for 9 hours a day for difficult for me. Personally, I would rather read a large portion of what was lectured in my personal time. I’m also not a hearing/listening learning. I can sit there and focus for hours on end while reading, I can memorize things I read and see, but if I heard something somewhere, the chances of me recalling it, are slight.  Everyone is a different type of learning and the part about slides on a projection board was not for me.
  • Too short – I really wanted to have time to soak in and discuss so much more running nerdness that I almost felt like a weekend wasn’t enough

Pros – 

  • All the things I learned that I listened above. Have this in a structured format was incredibly valuable.
  • Discussions, our instructor Randy did a great job of incorporating as much discussion as possible in the limited amount of time available. I felt comfortable approaching him with questions throughout the whole week.
  • Discussion with other “students” It was great to learn about other backgrounds and experiences, from the fellow “mommy bloggers” to competitive runners and other community leaders
  • I am ready to coach individuals and groups. While I am choosing to not pursue coaching yet, I do feel comfortable workings with group runs and individuals now and can confidently say I can work with you if you’re interested
  • Free (okay not really since I paid for the course) Daniels Training book

Overall, I do plan to walk away focusing on the things I learned and benefits I took from this class and certification (once complete). If coaching if something you are seriously considering, this class is a definite must even if it is just to cover some of the more obvious things since everything else is so subjective and individualized.

8 thoughts on “RRCA Coaching Certification Recap & Was it worth it?”

  1. I do hope your PF will heal, but I don’t think getting injured discredits your coaching or running ability at all! Some things are just unavoidable and anyone who runs for a long period of time will have some sort of injury or setback.

    It sounds like the course was a good one even if you were stuck in a little room in a running store for it. You can’t beat being around a bunch of other runnerds for a weekend discussing these things. I’ve always wanted to get certified, to possibly coach a kid’s running club or something. I’m hoping one of these classes or RRCA will come to SC so that I can.

  2. I also recently took the course. Have to admit I didn’t love it. I felt they really looked down upon cross training and really just advocated running as many days as possible. This doesn’t work for everyone. I also would have rather had more hands on and less lecture. I am also getting over PF. It’s the worst.

    1. i agree with you! I gave my feedback that I wasn’t really feeling the lecture back and wanted to have more hands on learning like the case we did with more examples.

  3. Glad to see you took some positives from the course, even just getting a decent structure for your coaching can be really useful. Hopefully they’ll adapt the course through student feedback and start incorporating more hands on work, nothing worse than sitting through a lecture for hours!

    Hope the PF clears up soon, my wife had it for a while and it was a real nightmare!

  4. Does the online test tells you what questions you missed and what the answers are?

    How much to re-take the exam if score less than 85%?

  5. Good course. Lots of great information. Very detailed materials. Class discussion. Must study because the test questions are very detailed.

  6. I guess none of the programs are perfect! Thanks for the helpful pros and cons list, I’m thinking of doing the RRCA course, but they are especially hard to get into as a Canadian! I tried the NAASFP Marathon coaching program, because it sounded more in depth and I liked that they supervise you with your first client, but I had an overall pretty negative experience with them, so I really wouldn’t recommend that course. (I basically made an address error with my in-person client, and they kicked me out of the program without giving me much of a chance to explain the issue. They are also super rigid about you following their exact recommended plan, even if your test client wants something different, which I think is kind of ridiculous given how many different approaches there are to training out there.

    But good luck with the coaching, hope the PF is long better by now!

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