November 6, 2008 by Bryon Powell · 64 Comments
You’re here because you’re looking for or considering working with an ultramarathon coach. Great news, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the best ultrarunning coaches out there. If you want, you can jump right to the list of coaches or you can keep reading and find out why an ultra coach might be right for you.
Why Work With An Ultramarathon Coach?
Ultramarathon coach Paul Dewitt left an insightful comment regarding the types of runners who would benefit most from an ultra coach. They are:
1. Somebody who has decided she wants to run an ultra, but really doesn’t have a built-in support system of other local runners to run with and learn from. Many of these runners mistakenly believe that, “If I ran 45 miles a week for that marathon last year, I probably need to run 100 miles a week to do a 50 mile.” For this runner, it is really a mentoring situation and giving reassurance that the amount of running they are doing is fine; they just need to work on some of the logistics and strategy aspects of longer running, such as fueling.
2. A good runner who is already putting in plenty of effort and getting good results, but has never had a structured training program (never ran in high school or college) and feels like he isn’t getting the most out of his efforts.
3. Somebody who has had a really bad first ultra experience and is very apprehensive about giving another one a shot unless they feel like they have a better chance of finishing, etc.
To those, I would add a fourth type of ultrarunner who benefits from coaching:
4. Somebody who, for whatever reason, desires to be held accountable in their training. This is little different from the many individuals who hire personal trainers for years on end. The possible reasons behind this desire for accountability are too numerous to name.
What follows is a list of ultramarathoners who provide ultrarunning coaching services. While this list is not exhaustive, it is also not meant as an endorsement of any particular coach. A good coach is one who provides the services you need when you need them, motivates you to train and achieve your goals, has a system you can believe in, and, most importantly, has a personality that works with your own.
If you’ve worked with an ultramarathon coach, please leave a comment sharing your thoughts, (but please be respectful.) Coaches should also feel free to add their voices to the comments. Coaches, a few words about your training philosophy or unique aspects of your coaching services would be particularly welcome.
Sean Meissner has taken over iRunFar’s coaching duties and we couldn’t be more excited. He’s completed well over a 100 ultramarathons, been sponsored by Montrail since 2003(!), and has been coaching runners for a full decade. With iRunFar, Sean will be coaching runners of various abilities with a breadth of goals. If you’d like to know more, please check out iRunFar’s coaching services. Also, feel free to contact Sean if you have any questions. He’s here to help you achieve your goals.
iRunFar charges $175 per month with bi-weekly schedules and six-months of coaching for $900.
Matt Hart is an extremely versatile coach. While he’s currently a very strong mountain ultramarathoner, he comes from adventure racing and mountain biking backgrounds. (Matt’s bio and race resume) Matt’s been coaching full-time since late 2005 and this former Microsoft software test engineer knows running theory and data frontwards and backwards. That said, Matt can do something even more impressive – that is reduce all the heady stuff to workouts and a plan anyone can understand. As a bonus, Matt’s knowledge of gear is encyclopedic.
Matt Hart’s coaching services – Matt charges $205 per four weeks of coaching while requiring a three month commitment. He’s also available as a consultant at $70 per hour.
While some youngsters have burst onto the ultramarathon scene of late, Karl is the dominant mountain 100 miler of the decade and has won more 100 milers than anyone else. (Karl’s bio) If only a small portion of Karl’s training and racing skills (not to mention toughness) rub off on his students, they’re bound to improve greatly. He’s been coaching since 2007. For a glimpse of Mr. Meltzer, take a peak at his entertaining blog.
Karl Meltzer’s coaching services – Karl offers continuing online coaching that runs $175 per month with bi-weekly schedule updates. He will also provide a 3-month schedule for $300.
Lisa Smith-Batchen has the most ultramarathon coaching experience of any of the featured coaches listed here. (Lisa’s bio) She’s is a great person who’s current and former students often sing her praise. Lisa undoubtedly knows how to coach runners from the back-of-pack to ultramarathon champions. Lisa also puts on races and running camps along with her husband, Jay. You can get a better sense of Lisa on her blog. You can also read Lisa’s students’ testimonials.
Lisa Smith-Batchen’s coaching services – Lisa coaches runners for $300 per month with a three month commitment. She provides bi-weekly training schedules. She is available for consultation at the rates of $50 for half an hour and $90 for an hour.
[Featured coach information last revised March 25, 2013.]
Additional Ultramarathon Coaches
If none of the coaches above strike your fancy, you are looking for a more local coach, or perhaps a less costly one, take a look at these additional ultrarunning coaching options.
- Bad to the Bone – Trail runs & training/coaching – 90 minutes sessions with multi-session discounts.
- Ron Bowman – Four weeks of coaching for $130 with unlimited calls and email.
- Duncan Callahan – $200/month. Multi-month payment discount and schedule-only plans available.
- Paul Dewitt – $100/month for unlimited access with discounts for 6 & 12 month plans
- Yassine Diboun – Check out his coaching services webpage for more details.
- Michael Wardian – Email Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
- Liza Howard – Ultramarathon training and guidance. $150/month.
- Stephanie Howe – Coaching from $100/month after $150 initial consultation.
- Neal Gorman – Grand Slammers only – $990 for 9 months.
- Andy Jones-Wilkins – AJW’s now coaching runners for Western States. Interested? Email him for more info.
- Mauka Running – Jorge Maravilla and Laura Kukta offer a wide range of coaching services.
- Tim Neckar – Personal running coach in the Houston area.
- Howard Nippert – Another top ultramarathoner who coaches. $100/month; $1000/year.
- Alene Nitzky – Specializes in coaching athletes with serious medical conditions.
- OC Trail Trails – A group running program out of Orange County, California.
- Jack Pilla – A great New England masters ultrarunner – $100/month.
- Chad Ricklefs – Custom schedules ($79/month) & online coaching ($129/month). Significant multi-month discounts.
- Terri Schneider – Coaching, clinics & sport psychology – $199/month with multiple month discounts.
- Ian Sharman – Varied offerings from training plans to personalized coaching with multi-month discounts.
- Cindy Stonesmith – Personalized training for $160/month with a wide range of additional services.
- Derrick Spafford – This Canadian is a long time runner and coach. $130/month.
- Andy Sulak – NoCal coach with range of services from $75-$150.
- Zeke Tiernan – Coaching shaped by U Colorado and experience. $100 season plan or $125 monthly.
- Ian Torrence – McMillan Running plans start at $200/month for 3 months and $1500 for 12 months.
- Ann Trason – The legendary ultrarunner creates training plans for $225/8 weeks, $300/12 weeks, or custom lengths of time. Phone consultations at $60/hour.
- Scott Weber – Leadville 100 coaching for $275/month. 25 years ultra coaching experience.
- Kelly Wilson – Ultramarathon coaching from Vermont – $100/month (with $40 setup fee).
If you found this article useful, consider subscribing to iRunFar via RSS or via email. Whether or not you decide to training without a coach, you might want to pickup a copy of my book Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons.
[Coaches list fully updated March 25, 2013. Last updated March 7, 2014.]