Becoming a running coach can be a rewarding endeavor, allowing you to share your passion for running and help others achieve their fitness goals. 

However, you may be wondering what qualifications are required to embark on this path. 

Formal qualifications aren’t mandatory for becoming a running coach, but they significantly enhance your effectiveness. While some coaches rely on personal experience, formal education in exercise science or coaching provides a deeper understanding of training principles. Organizations like Athletics South Africa offer coaching courses while pursuing further education in sports science can broaden your expertise.

In this guide, we’ll explore the steps you can take to become a certified running coach and provide insights into the importance of education in this field.

Coaching Without Qualifications

While there are no strict regulations preventing individuals from coaching runners without formal qualifications, it’s essential to recognize the value of education and training in this role. Many aspiring coaches may rely on their personal experiences as runners to guide their coaching practices. 

However, this approach often overlooks the nuances of individualized training and can lead to ineffective coaching methods.

The Importance of Qualifications

Obtaining formal qualifications in exercise science, physiology, or coaching can significantly enhance your effectiveness as a running coach. 

A solid educational background provides a deeper understanding of the human body’s mechanics, training principles, and exercise physiology. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to design personalized training programs tailored to each runner’s unique needs and abilities.

Available Courses and Certifications

Several organizations offer coaching courses and certifications designed to equip aspiring coaches with the necessary skills and knowledge. 

The Athletics South Africa (ASA) provides Level 1, 2, and 3 coaching courses, covering various aspects of coaching theory and practice. 

Additionally, organizations like the Exercise Trainers Academy (ETA) offer coaching diplomas and courses that focus on practical coaching skills and techniques.

Pursuing Further Education

In addition to formal coaching courses, aspiring coaches can benefit from pursuing further education in related fields such as sports science, kinesiology, or exercise physiology. Many universities and educational institutions offer undergraduate and postgraduate programs specializing in exercise science and sports performance.

These programs provide a comprehensive understanding of human performance and prepare coaches to work effectively with athletes of all levels.

While there are no strict requirements for becoming a running coach, investing in education and training can significantly enhance your coaching effectiveness and credibility. Whether through formal coaching courses, certifications, or academic programs, acquiring a solid educational foundation is essential for providing the best possible service to your clients. By continuously seeking opportunities for learning and growth, you can embark on a fulfilling journey as a knowledgeable and competent running coach.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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