Ultramarathon Coaches

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.

Ultramarathon Coaches
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.


Karl Meltzer
Karl Meltzer ultrarunning coaching servicesWhile 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
Lisa Smith-Batchen ultramarathon coaching servicesLisa 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.
  • 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 [email protected] 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.
  • Tom Nielsen – Long-time ultrarunner offering training starting at $300/3 months.
  • Howard Nippert – Another top ultramarathoner who coaches. $100/month; $1000/year.
  • OC Trail Trails – A group running program out of Orange County, California.
  • Jack Pilla – A great New England masters ultrarunner – $100/month.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Trails and Tarmac – Coaching programs from David Laney and Ryan Ghelfi are priced at $185/month.
  • 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.

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 February 13, 2018.]

There are 66 comments

  1. Anonymous

    Hello my name is George Velasco.I am a ultrarunner always in the back of the pack. Under Lisa Smith Batchens coaching in 2007 I finished 24 ultras.I completed 4 100s to include Western States 100,Grand Teton 100. Angeles Crest 100 and Javelina 100. In 2008 I completed The marathon Des Sables.Follow the program and you will suceed. GPV

  2. Anonymous

    GPVI am with you. Lisa coached me for 5 total years and at over 60 now I have never had any injury and getting up each day to workout was never a drag.Lisa is on top of it all the time.My vote is she is hands down the best coach.Stu

  3. Anonymous

    Hi,Just a comment about Lisa. She has been my coach since 2004- I have trained with her for a wide variety of events and expeditions. I've done 4 stage races, including the Marathon of Sands in Morocco, numerous marathons, some climbing, including Elbrus in Russia and Aconcagua in Argentina as well as biking events- including a trans-continental ride from L.A. to Boston this year. Lisa has helped me train for all of these- and considering that my goal is only to survive these events- she has helped me far surpass my dreams. She is not onle my good friend, but an excellent coach who I would highly recommend no matter your goal or athletic level.Jim Simone

  4. Anonymous

    I'll continue the pro-Lisa comments here. She's coached me for the past year, and I can't believe what it's done for me. In three months, I went from struggling with injuries during 5-8 mile runs, to WINNING my first-ever ultra, the 50-mile Rocky Raccoon. Then, while my original goal had been just to finish the Marathon Des Sables two months later, and I did better than I ever could have imagined.I'm not sure what it is, but she's got it. And she's a pretty darn nice and inspiring person, too.Ted ArcherSan Jose, CA

  5. Meredith

    Another Lisa student here :) She has been my coach for three years and I LOVE HER AND HER COACHING! I have benefited so greatly from her training plans, her race plans, nutritional information, cross training, pep talks and so much more.

  6. AnthonyP

    Well, I can also comment on Lisa, who I've been training with for several years now. I can't even begin to detail the tremendous benefits I've derived from having Lisa as a coach. One I can mention for sure – she also coaches my wife, which gets her out of the house, giving me some piece and quiet.

  7. Frank's Worldwi

    Hi, my name is Frank Fumich and Lisa has been my trainer for a number of years now. She has gotten me to the finish lines of many races..from Marathon des Sables to Badwater…from Ironmans to the tops of the highest mountains on multiple continents. She not only knows how to get me to top physical form, but knows how to train me when I'm injured, and get me healed. She's even in tuned with me enough to tell me to take some time off. So whether you're trying to run swim through Ironman challenges, run through deserts, or climb over mountains, Lisa has the knowledge and personal experience to guide anyone to their goals!!!!

  8. Trail Goat

    Lisa's students, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Peter,Thanks for the reminder re Howard. I was just on his website the other day and embarrassed that I left him off the list.

  9. Anonymous

    Lisa Smith-Batchen is great. I went to her with the thoughts of trying my first marathon. She coached me through it and now I am aiming at a 50 mile run. I never thought I'd even consider that. Lisa is such a great motivator. She has an enormous amount of expertise and is always quick to respond to all of my questions or concerns. It is well worth it to work with Lisa.

  10. Anonymous

    I met Lisa a year ago, when I was training for a half marathon and that was the height of my running goal. Since then, she has given me the courage and physical stamina to raise the bar and I have done 2 marathons and I'm one of her 5 clients headed to IMAZ in a couple weeks. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd do any of these. She improved my fitness while at the same time allowing me to recover from an injury I did to myself. I have been injury-free since then. She has an amazing ability to inspire people to dream big and she's remarkably intuitive about when you need to be pushed and when you need a break. She's my biggest support and my biggest fan (next to mom!). She is a gifted coach.Annemarie

  11. Anonymous

    I have been a client of Lisa Smith-Batchen since 2005. My original goal was to run the 2006 Marathon Des Sables – which I did. Then I did it again in 2008. I now focus on Ultras. Her training, insight and support is sensational. She has changed my life and I am so very grateful to have found such a talented coach and dear friend. Ed Kelly

  12. Derrick

    Hey Goat,Just thought I'd mention about a coach up here in Canada too. Me.I coach runners of all ability levels and all distances. I’ve been running since 1982 and coaching since 1990. I started coaching at the high school track level and have moved up in distance since then. Having a number of years of ultras under my belt, I am now offering my coaching services to ultra runners as well.For more information, please visit http://www.HealthandAdventure.com Take care,Derrick

  13. Caren

    I've been training with Howard Nippert for almost a year, and have seen an incredible improvement in my running and not an injury in sight. Not only is he a world-class athlete, as are the other coaches you listed, but I'm confident in his physiological knowledge. He's always available, always responsive, and willing to help in any way. Dude is awesome. Can't wait to see what he and his teammates do this weekend.

  14. AJW

    Hey Goat,Just thought I'd throw this out there: I would be happy to coach anybody who wants to finish a 100 mile race (I've done 20 since 2000). I don't charge any money but I do like beer. Interested people can email me at:[email protected] they live within an hour of Ketchum, ID my coaching services are only available over the phone or the computer.AJW

  15. Anonymous

    Lisa Batchen-Smith has coached me for two years through the MDS, the 100km del Passatore in Tuscany, Italy and most recently the 8-day Gore-Tex Transalpine Race. She is inspirational and I would recommend her to anyone who is looking to achieve their best.Ian ColesBermuda

  16. "Sherpa" J

    Signature wrestling move… I use to use it often and its known as "The Solid Slam." Ah the good ole days… Then I started running… what a combination!Happy to help at low cost!SJ

  17. Butler22

    Jamie Donaldson has been coaching me for over 6 months. I was able to complete my 1st 100K this year and plan to conquer my 1st 100 miler in the spring. Jamie has helped me go from go from a couch potato to almost an ultra runner:)

  18. Anonymous

    I ran my first 50 in 2006 and finished 15 min. past the cutoff. With Lisa' coaching I came in 2nd for my age group the following year. In 2008 I've completed:a second 50; MDS and my first 100. Lisa listens and gives you a plan.Steve Wolk

  19. Bob Becker

    Lisa has been my coach since training me for my first ultra in 2005, the Marathon des Sables. Then came a "50", a number of 100 milers and this year's decent finish at Badwater (35th out of 80). She has kept me injury free, has respected my training preferences when building a schedule and has gotten me ready physically AND mentally for each race. Lisa's coaching is very personal, and personally focused. She just gets it. When I consider how far I've come in the ultra game in 3 1/2 years, with a broken leg and a bout with prostate cancer in between, I'd say its the lucky few who have the privilege of training under Lisa's coaching genius.Bob Becker

  20. Footfeathers

    Is a coach necessary? Just curious. I've learned more from websites (Kevin Sayer's) and from reading reports and writings from hugely successful runners like AJW, M. Hart, J. Browning, Anton (not so much learned from AK, but, damn inspiring), etc. At $110/month for most coaching I've seen (which, by the way, is primarily email and phone based), it just doesn't make sense to a poor guy like myself when there is AMPLE material out there online. Anyone else have thoughts on this? The one time I listened to a "coach" I ended up with more salt in my system than the Dead Sea.Tim

  21. Trail Goat

    Tim,I agree that a coach is not necessary for many; however, they may be useful for some. Some folks don't want to take the time to do all the research and a coach is their expert, while others like the accountability of a coach. I've not had a "coach" since I began ultrarunning, but learned my running basics from high school and college coaches and then read a great deal about the top ultrarunners and talked to many other experienced runners.

  22. Ed Mafoud

    This past August, I completed my first 100 mile ultra – the Grand Teton 100. Three years ago, I couldn't even run around the block. I sought out Lisa Smith Batchen after reading about her in an ESPN Magazine article. My request to her was simple, 'Help me complete my first half marathon' – The Jersey Half. She got me through that one and then encouraged me to enter my first marathon. I entered the Anchorage Marathon and completed that too. She made me believe in myself and my ability to run not only marathons but also ultra endurance events. She urged me to try the Rocky Raccoon 50 this past February and coached me through that too. And just when I thought that a 50 miler was the end of the line for me, she urged me on to the Grand Teton 100 and helped me finish that too! Lisa has an amazing ability to bring out the best in people and all I can say to her is "What's next"!Check out her training camps. She holds them in some of the most beautiful places on this earth. I attended her camp in Death Valley as well as the one in Grand Targhee, Wyoming. I regret missing the one in the Galapagos. I've made many friends along the way and I've had many spiritual adventures. Thank you Lisa!!! You've given me a new perspective on the possibilities in this life time!!!Ed Mafoud

  23. Anonymous

    Lisa has talents and expertise that extend beyond simply "running coaching." Much of her knowledge and technique involves nutrition, clothing, pacing, and strategy for running/races. Many may not need a coach, but under her guidance, I was able to complete Badwater and MDS…two races I would not have wanted to undertake without having had the advice of someone who had been there…and won them. Kira Matukaitis

  24. Anonymous

    Seems to me after looking at all the coaching information on all the web sites that some call themself a coach. Just because you are a great runner does this make you a good coach? What credentials goes with being a coach?Paying for a coach is more than worth it if you are getting what you want and need out of the coaching. From the looks of it some of these calling themself a coach and charging for it have no education to back it up?Thank you for the information on all of the above.Josh in NYC

  25. Trail Goat

    Josh,Two important things. (1) I don't think that a great runner necessarily makes a great coach, although they can be. A great runner may be great because they are physically gifted or may not be able to communicate or work with students effectively. (2) I don't think the type of formal "education" that you may be looking for necessarily translates into being a good ultrarunning coach. For example, a USATF coaching cert that relates to track running ain't going to translate into knowing how to coach an ultrarunner. Not that formal education is bad, but there's a lot of ultrarunning that is self-taught and self-discovered and you'll only see their education by looking at the athletic resume.

  26. Anonymous

    I'm on the Lisa bandwagon! I signed-up with Lisa a few years ago after reading the wonderful testimonials on her website. It's hard to believe that she has so many students because Lisa makes you feel like you are her only priority (aside from her family!). I went from a jogger who had finished a marathon to doing ultraruns and completing my first 100 miler all under Lisa's tutelage. And no injuries! Lisa gives you a solid training plan and is so responsive to answering questions or concerns. I recommend Lisa 110% if you're serious about your training – she's the real deal. ~~Marcy

  27. Paul DeWitt

    Just wanted to throw a few of my thoughts in…Josh and others are right that a coach isn't necessary. Running ultras isn't brain surgery and part of the fun and challenge for many people is learning the ropes on their own. Finally, a good coaching relationship shouldn't be one that goes on for ever; the idea is to give a runner the tools necessary to feel confident about charting her own training and race stratagies going forward.That being said, here are the 3typical runner types that I've seen who seem to benefit most from a coach: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 HS or college) and feels like he isn't getting the most out of their 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. – Paul D

  28. Ultrachick

    Credentials? I have credentials! I'm a NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)and Road Runners Club of Amercica certified coach. I'm also a PSIA Level 2 certified Alpine Ski Instructor. Kelly Wilson

  29. Terry Madl

    I first heard about Lisa when one of my friends ran MDS 06 (he had trained with Lisa to prep for it). I was 52 and had run nothing but Chicago marathons each of the previous few years–and I had developed an alarming pattern of nagging leg injuries. So I started working with Lisa in the summer of '06 and I'd be hard-pressed to explain how incredible the transformation has been. Within 6 months I ran my 1st ultra (RR50 — 2nd in my age group), and then MDS later that spring, and then my 1st 100 mile ultra in Jul of 07 (VT100). Then in 08, RR50, MDS, KM100, and GT100. All with good results; and all with NO INJURIES. I barely have any muscle aches anymore, let alone any serious injury. I'm sure this is due to Lisa's approach which includes a lot of cross-training for me (spinning, yoga, stairmaster, ellyptical, jump rope, etc.). I also try to include at least one of Lisa's training camps a year into my program; they are a great way for me to re-focus, and to meet other runners from the ultra community. I would recommend Lisa to anyone who wants to get serious about fitness. You'll feel great physically, but you'll also get a mental, and even spiritual, boost as well. Terry Madl

  30. Anonymous

    Rumor has it Jamie Donaldson will head up an ultra running camp this summer in Colorado, focusing on training, nutrition and sports psychology.

  31. Jean Pommier

    Paul, thanks for clarifying the needs for coaching, makes a lot of sense. Although I'd add a key criteria: the ability of the individual to self-motivate, self-discipline and self-teach. Geez, I like Andy's cool position on the topic. Although I'm really not sure about the beer side. Sure it seems to work for you, Andy, but is this your best coaching advice? ;-) Is it what gives you this enthusiasm for running and competing, and this self-confidence? A carbo-loading trick or mental booster?Now that presidential debates are over, maybe we have you and Lisa debating over this fueling (aka drinking) dilemma! ;-)Good luck to all, with fun, with or without a coach!Jean.Farther Faster

  32. Bedrock

    Coaches certainly aren't necessary. Like Tim said, you can learn plenty by reading race reports, etc. from successful runners. That said, I have worked with Gill at Bad to the Bone for 2 years and remain a big fan. I am hoping to take things to the next level in 2009 and expect the advice I get will be a key factor. Just my opinion.

  33. Anonymous

    I emailed 'Sherpa' John and never heard back. I then looked up some results, and I don think he is qualified to coach…and wonder if he still is as he does not answer email. Maybe you should take him off your lost?

  34. Steve

    Hey All,I wanted to make a comment about "Anonymous's" and Bryon Powell's posts on May 29, 2009 about 'Sherpa' John Lacroix. Yes he is still coaching, but let's just say that life keeps him busy (like everyone else). Coaching is not his priority and he obviously doesn't do it for a living. IMO, he coaches out of pure passion for running, the love of helping others reach new goals and his own experience on the trails. Personally I can't believe that he would not respond, it is simply not his nature.That said, I am sure Lisa, Bryon, Karl and others are "better" coaches. Like others have already said, it depends on what the runner needs/wants.I personally fall into categories 1 & 2 of Paul D's list (Nov 11, 2008). I run because I love to run, I've never run competitively and I'm definitely not winning any races. I had no idea what it takes to run a marathon (let alone an ultra!) and I am also too busy/lazy to learn from the web.I met John by chance and we started running together once in a while. His motivation was contagious, and he quickly helped me realize that anyone can run an ultra if they want it bad enough and are willing to train outside their preconceived boundaries.I hired him to coach me through my first 50k having never run more than a half-marathon before. He also coached me through a second 50k. I finished both without injury and had some fun along the way. But I never would have imagined that I could do it if he hadn't worked out a training schedule that fit into my life, taught me the basics: food, hydration and just not stopping.That is what _I_ personally needed in a coach.Steve

  35. "Sherpa" J

    Sherpa John here… yes I am still coaching and always have been. Like Steve said, Coaching is not my priority and never has been. I am a full time student and my studies need to come first.That being said, No anonymous, I'm not one of the greatest ultra-runners nor do I pretend to be. I do not boast the most impressive times… but I CAN tell you that if that is what you are looking for in a coach I am NOT the person for you. I'm not interested in times… I'm interested in coaching for the "Journey." What I do offer is experience.. 2 finishes at Massanutten, 3 sub 24 hour buckles at Vermont.. and 2 Runs across NH (125 Miles) for shits and giggles. From what I've learned in ultra-running, you learn the most from those with real experience then you do from those who are simply "fast."I am an experiential and outdoor educator. I'm a few semesters away from a bachelors degree in this field. I do not have any specific coaching certifications nor do I think that you need any of the above to be a good coach. It's like in life.. I don't NEED a degree to accomplish what I want to in life.. but I go for it anyway. I do remember receiving your initial email which came across as quite rude. I knew right away that we would not be a good match where as I am more laid back. My mission in coaching is to help people get into ultra-running and survive their first race, as well as training, comfortably. I typically charge $50 a month.Lastly.. I find it quite insulting that anyone would use someone's "results" as a basis on if they are a good coach or not. Sometimes the best teachers in our lives didn't have a degree, any clinical experience.. they simply had something to share. This holds true in our sport. So no anonymous, it's not like me to not respond to an e-mail.. so consider yourself one of the lucky few.BP.. thanks for continuing to update this post.. it is much appreciated not just by us coaches.. but us runners. :)SJ

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