Ultramarathon Coaches

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.

* * * * *

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.

There are 67 comments

  1. "Sherpa" J

    I'd like to answer these questions someone else posted as well:How many ultra runners do you actually coach?Currently 2. Previously is was as much as 4 which is about my maximum limitOf the ultra runners you have coached, what percentage completed their races in first attempts?100%What is the best accomplishment of an athlete under your direction? One went from half marathon to 50K in 3 months. Another from Half Marathon to 100K in 3 months.. both without injury and with great comfort. You should have seen the excitement. Another student went from 50 miles to finishing the VT100 in 6 months. His enthusiasm and dedication to training was both inspiring contagious!Thank you

  2. Bryon Powell

    Sherpa John,Thanks for responding to other's concerns. While it may seem counter-intuitive for me, a coach, to post about the availability of other trail running and ultramarathon coaches, I realize that each runner who is looking for guidance is looking for different things and works best with different people. I'd rather ever such person find the right coach for him or her than try to grab every potential coaching student. :-)

  3. Anonymous

    Lisa's coaching services are excellent! Highly recommend!

    Dont waste your time with Sherpa John. He is not qualified but wants everyone to think he has been coaching for years when in reality he himself has only been running for a couple years. Maybe when he gets ten or so years under his belt he should consider coaching but for now he is not qualified. And yes basing qualifications on result is very normal.

    He should be removed from the list.

  4. Ken Zemach

    I found my coach from this website (Paul Dewitt), and he's been great. While I don't know if I NEEDED a coach, I figured it would be fun since a) I started running about exactly one year ago and b) I could appreciate the structure to motivate me and c) why wouldn't I want to spend my time most efficiently??? and d) it's a heck of a lot less money than most spend on going out to dinner, or even their training run goo for the month!

    Totally been worth it. I just finished my first ultra, one year after starting running (the AR 50) and cripes, finished 68th! Not winning anything in the future, but WAY better than I would have done otherwise. And, far more importantly than my time, I went into it confident and strong and knowledgeable which resulted in me having way more fun than those around me (I was smiling the whole time, they were hurting).

    One thing to note: while you certainly can get a lot of information about ultra running off the web and without a coach, many don't seem to bother. I was pretty shocked after the race to talk to so many multi-run veterans who didn't seem to have any clue how best to feed, what to feed on, how to drink, pace, plan, deal with aid stations, pre-race strategize, etc etc. Which is probably why I beat them not only in time, but in fun factor. Again, for those of us in the back of the pack it's not about how fast you are and who you can beat, it's about enjoying it and doing your personal best. It's just that with Paul's coaching, my personal best was great, and I had fun the whole way. Am looking forward to him helping me knock down my first 100 next.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Ken, I'm so pleased that you've had great success with Paul and that we helped you find him. While I coach, I acknowledge and embrace that different pair best with different coaches and I want to help folks make the best possible pairings.

      As for some folks being "unprepared," I think that's a bit more complex than it seems at first blush. One thing is that many folks run ultras for the experience and embrace a simple, take it as it comes approach. It's the blissful, willful ignorance approach. There's probably a spectrum along those lines from the sauntering adventurer to folks who simply don't want to rush through aid stations or sweat the details. On other hand, there ARE plenty of folks out there who could stand to know more about what they're doing whether they receive that education on the internet, through chatting with others (who isn't willing to share in this sport?), or a coach. Any of these forms of engagement greatly reduces the time and suffering associated with the learning curve!

      Thanks again for your comment. Best of luck with your first 100!

  5. Gene Andrews

    Hey, I have been reading the above and am looking for a Running coach. Im still really new the whole Ultra thing, having completed 5 Marathons and only one 80k Ultra at this stage I am very much hooked.I am wanting to find a coach to help me train and push myself as I am very competitive and wants to get to the stage where I can compete instead of coming in the bottom half all the time. Im based on the Northshore,Auckland, New Zealand…any ideas of whos out there whos keen to coach?Thanks in advance

    Gene Andrews

  6. Bryon Powell


    I think most of the folks listed above would be keen to coach you toward your ultra goals. I think the biggest questions are: What sort of personality and training philosophy are you looking for in your coach? What degree of contact/interaction do you want? and What are you willing to pay? I'll be happy to point you in the direction of specific coaches, but first I'd need you to share some more info.

  7. Gene Andrews

    Hi Bryon thanks for your reply. I guess I like to be pushed and pushed hard. I get the most out of myself when I am pushed to breaking point, then pushed a little more. My sporting philosophy is, "you get out what you put it" so im a strong believer in training hard and having a set schedule and sticking to it. My running goals over the next 12 months are: Running Rotorua and Auckland Marathons in sub 3:55, running the Tarawera 100k in 13 hours and also doing the The Northface 100k in Sydney next year (unsure of time for this) there are other various events I will be doing as well but these are the main ones.

    Any thing else you are needing to know please let me know



  8. Jonny

    Hi Bryon,

    You have a list of elite coaches here . Karl Meltzer is awesome! Lisa is also excellent!

    It is an insult to Karl and Lisa to even include them on the same list as this Sherpa Jon guy. He has been thrown off teams because of insulting team members. Guy put offs like he is a major race director but he only has done two and that may not even be true. The one I ran at was the worst set-up race I have ever done. Many have complained about his coaching skills and attitude towards others. A coach he is not and does not belong on the list.

  9. Joe


    You have some elite and excellent coaches listed here. Karl and lisa are top notch, but including Sherpa Jon on the list is an insult to all these elite coaches. The guy is not qualified at all and acts like he has been directing racing for 50 years when in truth he only has directed 2 races which were both flops.

    On top of this he also was thrown off a team for insulting other members..

    Not the makings of a coach

  10. Utah Running


    There is NO way you can have a coach listed on your blog the publicly attacks runners! A good coach respects all runners of all levels. Reading his blog reveals a endless list of insults towards other runners and running organizations!


    This is not the makings of a coach and in no way is sherpa john a representative of the ultra world!

    Please remove his name from the coach list and do the ultra world some justice! You should not be promoting him on your blog.

  11. KenZ

    Hey Brian,

    Now finished that 100 (Javelina). Since this is apparently the place to rave about one's coach (or complain about them…), I'll throw another "Go Paul!' in into the mix. His training schedule for me was flexible, and geared towards where I was, my goals, and what I wanted to do. When work would come up, he'd modify the schedule around it and we'd get through the tough training periods.

    For the races (now three 50s and one 100, no DNFs) we'd talk strategy, pacing, how to handle in-race strategy changes if required, basic feeding/hydration/electrolytes, etc. His repeated wisdom on the slower paces to start my races based upon training ability really paid off.

    He took me from a guy who started running now less than two years ago, have never run a marathon, through my first 100. Could I have finished a 100 without a coach? Probably. Could I have done as well as I did (broke 19 hours and came in fourth)? Not a chance. And again, it wasn't just about the pace or the place, it was that I'd look around me during the last six hours or so, and everyone else seemed to be suffering way too much (due mainly IMO to poor initial pacing and really bad aid station eating/hydration habits). I'm darn glad I got to get through that sucker with a minimal suck factor. Having a coach definitely played a part.

  12. Brandon Dey

    Andy (AJW) has been training me for a while now. Very happy with the results. Very no nonsense program, you do need to be a self starter/motivator but if you are, the results will be there.

  13. Corrinne Wallace


    My training partner and I have been coaching beginners from 5 miles up to 50 miles on the trails now, and have a website. Please check it out. Is there a way to get on this list? We are also coaches for A Snails Pace in Laguna Hills. We are currently training a group for the Peters Canyon Series, and just finished a group for the Leona Divide 50 miler. They all did Awesome! :) Btw, i think i met you for one of Baz's races when you came out last year, or the year before?? :)

    Thank you

    Corrinne Wallace

  14. Phillip Senter

    Bryon, I've just started running. I'm 54, reasonably good physical condition. I haven't run any races yet, but do plan to run my first 5K in August. My long term goal is trail races, but for now just want to get a good base. Do you think a coach would benefit me at this time or should I wait until I can at least run a 5K without stopping.

  15. Marc Krejci

    I'm on the hunt for a coach (virtual is fine) that can provide some good workouts to help me get over a plantar fasciitis issue, as well as help develop a good training plan for my upcoming expedition where I'll be running 30-40mi per day for 300mi straight. I've done this distance before, but not while combatting PF issues.

    Not looking to get plugged into an out-of-the-box 50m/100m training program, but something more specialized to my running style, injurys and goals.

    Any idea what coach/trainer listed above (or not) might fit these requirements best? Thanks for any connections or resources you can point me towards!

  16. KenZ

    I'd start with Bryon himself, since he has battled PF. Next up is Andy Jones Wilkens, who's also battled it. Next up would be (the list goes on…) Joe Uhan, who while not on the list, does coach and is a PT as well; he's written a lot of the PT articles here so you can get a sense of his style. He'd obviously also be able to help you through that.

    And, I'd wager there are many more on this list that have had PF…

    I still use Paul Dewitt, who I think is great, and definitely works with me through injuries so he'd be good as well, but in your case I'd start with the list above.

  17. Jeremy

    Are there any coaches in particular with whom I may be able to consult regarding training with runner's knee (three months into a six month training plan leading up to a 125k ultra)?


  18. Nick B

    Hi there, I know this is a somewhat old post but I'm looking for a coach and it'd be great to get a couple of recommendations based on my current ability and what I'm aiming to achieve. Thanks in advance.

    Quick bio: Been running consistently since 2010; 4-5 half marathons and 2-3 marathons per year – PB's of 1hr30 and 3hr45 … would love to get faster!; have run three 50-mile trail races, plus Comrades (around 11hrs); I've got two more 50-milers coming up this year and I'm keen to do my first 100-miler in 2014.

    Luckily I've finished all the races I've entered so far … but I'm not happy with my pacing or general performance, especially in the second half. I've never followed a structured training programme hence my interest in proper coaching for both the insight and discipline.

    In terms of personality/training philosophy: I like to be pushed … but I also like an holistic approach to training – the stuff that Phil Maffetone talks about in relation to training and nutrition is of interest. I like structure and a bit of science to back things up. I'm motivated by progress and an pretty dogged at sticking with something that I know is working. Most of all, I want to be right up there in the races I choose to compete in – I'm finishing in the top third of the ultras I've entered so far but I'm sure I can do better.

    Final thing – I'm based in the UK but more than happy with online interaction etc. The most important thing is working with the right coach that can help me get to where I'd like to be.

    Thanks all!


  19. Dr Adrian Mulholland

    My coach is Hanny Allston who has a coaching business Find Your Feet. She specialises in the TNF100 here in Australia but will coach elite to beginners. She is magnificent. Does camps/worshops/net coaching and in person if you live near by.

    She has form on her feet and in the classroom. (World champ orienteering and real degrees from real universities). I have found her very very helpful in all the ways you would want a coach to be and also in others. She has taught me to rest, recover and also balance my training to get more out of it.

    A professional coach is a must for me and I think anyone doing this for fun. The internet allows us to look all over the world for a coach, I am lucky enough to hit the right one for me first stop.

  20. runtrailsrun

    WARNING – Terri Schneider should not be hired as a coach. She has scammed people out of $112,000 on Kickstarter! The money was supposed to be used to make a documentary about a trekking trip she did. Now 3 years later no film or transparency to where our money went. However, she has managed to take multiple extensive long trips to far off places and buy loads of camera equipment for her new quest to become the next Ansel Adams, since she is no longer capable of being any type of athlete (although she will tell you all day long how great she was!) She should be deleted as a reputable coach!!

  21. Erik Seedhouse

    100-km and ultra-endurance coaching is also available at TriathlonPro where the head coach is Erik Seedhouse who placed 3rd in the 1992 World 100km Championships and has held the Canadian 100km record of 6h 33m for 26 years. Erik ran under 7 hours 14 times before going on to be a world champion ultradistance triathlete.

  22. Jon

    I contacted Jack Pilla. He coaches through a company called The Run Formula. One on one coaching with him is listed at $185 per 4 weeks with 16 week commitment (more if you include nutrition).

  23. Jon

    I contacted Howard Nippert. He said he is “winding down my coaching duties. I don’t want to take on new athletes if I’m not able to dedicate the time and effort I feel that is required to adequately serve them.”

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