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The RRCA is the oldest and largest organization in the US dedicated to distance running.

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Coaching Program Overview

The goal of the RRCA Coaching Certification program is to create a national community of knowledgeable and ethical distance running coaches to work with runners at all levels of ability.

Founded in 1998, the RRCA Coaching Certification course is designed to provide a baseline of education and training for individuals seeking to become an RRCA Certified Coach.  The RRCA Coaching Certification Course emphasizes how to be a successful coach, whether coaching individuals, small groups, or large group training programs such as 5K, half marathon, or marathon training programs.  The certification course focuses on issues specific to road running and racing for adults at all ability levels.

The course curriculum includes 16 hours of lecture, group work, and interactive exercises, including working in teams to build training programs for novice and experienced runners. The two-day certification course is an in-person course followed by a 100-question online exam that will provide immediate results.

RRCA Certified coaches volunteer with their local RRCA member running clubs, coach clients one-on-one, and coach training programs for groups of individuals working towards a common goal.  RRCA Certified Coaches will work with runners and emphasize the use of intelligent training plans that are based on a scientific body of knowledge and designed to help a runner achieve their goals, while minimizing the risks of overuse and over-training injuries.

RRCA Coaching Certification Process

RRCA Coaching Certification Courses are scheduled at selected locations throughout the year. We work with representatives from RRCA member running clubs, events, shoe stores, and corporate members to host official RRCA Coaching Certification Courses during the year. The RRCA uses a systematic process to certify our coaches. 

The process includes:

  • Attendance at an official RRCA Coaching Certification Course where the RRCA provides a specific body of knowledge on sports science, training methods, coaching fundamentals, and professional conduct and ethics for course attendees
  • Course attendees must demonstrate they have learned the knowledge and can apply it to coaching by successfully completing the online exam
  • Verification of valid First Aid and CPR certifications by certified coaches
  • Certified coaches must agree to abide by the RRCA Coaching Code of Ethics

Once a candidate completes all of the steps required for RRCA Coaching Certification the candidate will receive an official certificate and the RRCA will maintain their information on the registry of current RRCA certified coaches.

RRCA Coaching Certification Course Two-Day Schedule

The two-day course includes 16 hours of in-person coursework followed by an online, multiple-choice exam with immediate results.

Day One includes:

  • Principles of coaching
  • Understanding exercise physiology for coaching
  • Principles of building a training program
  • Understanding running form
  • Basic sports nutrition

Day Two includes:

  • The business of coaching
  • Sports psychology for coaching
  • Recognizing injuries and injury prevention
  • Environmental factors that effect running performance
  • Building training programs as a group activity

The cost for the two-day certification course is $325. Courses are limited to 35 participants. Classes tend to fill quickly, so register as soon as possible.  Learn more about course dates and locations.

RRCA Certified Coach Credential Prerequisites

Participants should be active runners with a desire to improve their own running or an interest in coaching others. Intellectual interest in the sport helps, as does seeking information about running from sports scientists and experienced coaches.

Step 1. Attend an Official RRCA Coaching Certification Course

The course and certification cost is $325 and registration is done online with credit card payments ONLY.  The fee includes the two-day course, course materials, continental breakfast, lunch, snacks during the course, and access to the online certification test. The prospective coach must be present for the entire eight hours of course work each day.  See the Coaching Certification page on our site for upcoming courses or to join our email list to receive announcements about newly scheduled courses. If you don’t see a course in your vicinity, you can request to host an RRCA Coaching Certification Course in your area.  There are no waiting lists for full courses. There is no online certification option. Coaching involves learning to do personal interaction. Reading or listening and answering questions online cannot simulate this interaction. Interactive experience is provided by group exercises within the program.

Cancellations: Cancellations must be done by emailing a request to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Cancellations are subject to a $50 fee until 14 days before the class date.  After that time, NO refunds will be granted.  Refunds will be by check sent from the RRCA office, which may take up to three weeks to process. NO class transfers are allowed.  You must request a cancellation and refund, then re-register for the new location.

Step 2. Submit the Online Test

The prospective coach has one opportunity to submit and pass the 100-question online test. The test must be submitted within 30 days of taking the certification course and the prospective coach must obtain a passing score of 85% or higher. You may use your notes and all of the materials and books handed out at the class. You may work together with your fellow classmates. When you submit your test, you will receive an instant score as will the coaching committee and your instructors.

If you receives a score of 84% or less, you have not passed.  You will receive an email from the Director of Coaching Education outlining next steps for re-testing to finalize the certification process.

Step 3. Submit Electronic Copies of First Aid and CPR to the Class Presenters

Any adult First Aid course that gives a certificate with an expiration date is acceptable. The CPR class must be “hands-on” and provide a certificate with an expiration date. NO online CPR class certificates will be accepted. We have no preferred providers for these classes; use a reputable one in your area. These certificates must be submitted within 60 days of the certification course. Submission can only be accepted in electronic format—either scan the documents or photograph them and send them in an email attachment. Very Important—fax copies will not be accepted. These certifications are for the coach’s safety. Coaches must be prepared to deal with emergency situations. The committee highly suggests either taking or scheduling those classes before the RRCA certification.

Step 4. Receive an RRCA Coaching Certificate and be Added to our Online Database

Your presenters will mail you a signed and dated certificate of course completion. You will be notified by email when you are added to the online database. The email will include instruction on accessing the private ‘coaches section’ of the RRCA website. It is your responsibility to check for accuracy, correct your personal information on the website, and to determine what portion of the information will be visible online. It is your responsibility to maintain your information, especially your current email address, as that is the only way the coaching program staff communicates with the coaches.

Continuing Education Credits

The American College of Sports Medicine’s Professional Education Committee certifies that this offering meets the criteria for 16.0 credit hours of ACSM Continuing Education Credit.  The American Council on Exercis certifies that this offering meets 1.4 CEU for ACE Continuing Education Credit.

Maintaining Your Coaching Certification and Listing on the RRCA Website

All RRCA Certified Coaches must maintain current First Aid and CPR certifications.  Coaches will be notified by email for three consecutive months when either of these certifications have lapsed.  If you do not update these certifications in advance of expiration dates, you will be deemed inactive and your name will be removed from the visible list of RRCA coaches. You may return to the active listing by updating your First Aid and CPR expiration dates in the private coaches section database. Click here for detailed instructions about updating your information.

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