Top 10 Runner Certifications
This article provides an overview of the most popular and sought-after running certifications available.
Published 17 min read
Certifications demonstrate a runner's commitment to the industry and their ability to meet industry standards. They also show that a runner is knowledgeable in the latest running techniques, safety protocols, and has received proper training. This can be especially important when applying for jobs in the running industry since employers will want to know that a potential employee has the necessary qualifications. Additionally, certifications can help runners stand out from other applicants because they show that they have taken extra steps to improve their skills. Having certifications can give runners an edge over others who may not have them when applying for jobs in the running industry.
This article reviews the top certifications for Runners and explains how they can help to enhance a runner's career.
What are Runner Certifications?
Runner certification is a process of verifying that a runner has the necessary skills, training, and experience to safely take part in a running event. Certification is typically done by an organization or governing body that has standards for safety and performance for runners. This can include checking that the runner has completed a certain amount of preparation for their race, such as mileage goals or specific workouts. It also includes verifying that the runner has access to proper nutrition, hydration, and recovery methods.
By requiring certification, organizations can ensure that participants are ready to participate in an event safely and with minimal risk of injury or exhaustion. Additionally, the organization can provide guidance on proper form, pacing strategies, and more to help participants maximize their performance. This can help reduce the risk of injury while also making sure all participants have equal chances of success during an event. For example, if someone who is not certified attempts to join a race without having properly trained and prepared they may be more likely to suffer from injury or exhaustion due to lack of preparation.
Pro Tip: Make sure to research the certification requirements for the type of race you're running in. Different organizations have different rules and regulations regarding runner certification, so it's important to familiarize yourself with them before signing up for a race.
Related: What does a Runner do?
Top 10 Runner Certifications
Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Runners today.
1. USA Track & Field Certified Coach
USA Track & Field Certified Coach is a certification program for track and field coaches. It is designed to provide coaches with the knowledge and skills needed to coach athletes of all ages, from beginners to advanced levels. The certification is valid for five years and requires a passing grade on the USATF Coaching Education Program (CEP) exam.
The CEP exam consists of three parts: an online theory test, a practical assessment, and a written essay. The online theory test covers topics such as biomechanics, nutrition, psychology, and physiology. The practical assessment tests the coach’s ability to demonstrate proper technique during drills and exercises. The written essay evaluates the coach’s understanding of coaching philosophy and principles.
The cost of the USA Track & Field Certified Coach program varies depending on the level of certification sought. For Level 1 certification, which covers basic coaching principles and techniques, it costs $150 plus any applicable taxes or fees. For Levels 2-4 certifications, which cover more advanced topics such as competition strategies and athlete development programs, it costs $250 plus taxes or fees.
In order to become certified as a USA Track & Field Certified Coach, applicants must complete all three parts of the CEP exam within one year of registering for the program. Once all requirements have been met, applicants will receive their certificate in approximately six weeks after successful completion of the exam.
2. Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach
The Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach is a certification program designed to provide runners with the knowledge and skills necessary to become successful coaches. The program is offered through the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA), which is the oldest and largest running organization in the United States.
The RRCA Certified Coach program consists of two parts: an online course and an in-person workshop. The online course covers topics such as coaching philosophy, goal setting, training principles, injury prevention, nutrition, race preparation, and more. It takes approximately 10 hours to complete the online course.
To become certified as an RRCA Certified Coach, individuals must attend an in-person workshop that includes hands-on activities and discussions on topics such as coaching techniques, communication strategies, and risk management. The workshop typically lasts 8–10 hours and is held at various locations throughout the country.
The cost of the RRCA Certified Coach program varies depending on where you take the workshop. Generally speaking, it costs around $200–$300 for both the online course and in-person workshop combined.
3. National Association for Fitness Certification Personal Trainer
The National Association for Fitness Certification (NAFC) Personal Trainer certification is a nationally recognized fitness certification program that provides personal trainers with the knowledge and skills they need to become successful professionals in the fitness industry. The program is designed to provide students with an understanding of anatomy, physiology, exercise science, nutrition, and other related topics. It also covers safety protocols, client assessment techniques, program design principles, and more.
The NAFC Personal Trainer certification consists of two levels: Level 1 and Level 2. Level 1 focuses on basic knowledge and skills needed to work as a personal trainer while Level 2 covers advanced topics such as sports nutrition, business management, and exercise programming. In order to receive the certification, students must complete both levels within three years of starting the program.
To get certified as an NAFC Personal Trainer, you must first complete all required coursework for each level. This includes taking courses from an accredited institution or through online learning programs offered by the NAFC. Once you have completed all requirements for each level, you must pass a written exam administered by the NAFC in order to receive your certification.
The cost of becoming an NAFC Personal Trainer varies depending on which courses you choose to take and how many levels you decide to pursue. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500-$1,000 USD for course materials alone. Additionally, there may be fees associated with taking the exams as well as any additional certifications or specializations you may pursue after completing your initial training.
4. American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer
American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer (ACE CPT) is a nationally recognized certification program that provides personal trainers with the knowledge and skills needed to help clients safely and effectively reach their fitness goals. The ACE CPT certification is designed to prepare individuals to become successful personal trainers, as well as helping them stay current in the field of exercise science.
The ACE CPT program consists of two components: a written exam and a practical exam. The written exam covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, nutrition, exercise programming and safety. The practical exam includes demonstrating exercises and assessing clients’ fitness levels.
It typically takes about 6-12 months to complete the ACE CPT program depending on how much time you have available for studying. In order to get certified, you must first pass both the written and practical exams.
To get started, you will need to purchase an ACE CPT study package which includes the study materials and practice exams necessary for success on the tests. The cost of these packages vary but generally range from $200-$400 USD depending on which package you choose. Additionally, there are registration fees associated with taking both the written and practical exams which range from $300-$400 USD each.
Overall, it can cost anywhere from $700-$1200 USD to become an ACE CPT certified personal trainer depending on what study materials you purchase and which registration fees apply to you.
5. National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
The National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA-CSCS) credential is a professional certification for strength and conditioning coaches. It is the most recognized and respected credential in the field of strength and conditioning, and it is held by thousands of professionals worldwide.
To become an NSCA-CSCS, you must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in exercise science or a related field, complete an accredited strength and conditioning program, pass the NSCA-CSCS exam, have at least one year of practical experience working with athletes or clients in a supervised setting, and maintain continuing education requirements.
The NSCA-CSCS exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions that cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, program design, testing protocols, injury prevention/rehabilitation protocols, administration/organization principles and safety considerations. The exam takes approximately three hours to complete.
The cost to take the NSCA-CSCS exam is $300 USD for members of the NSCA ($350 USD for non-members). Additionally there are fees associated with membership in the NSCA ($80-$120 USD per year depending on membership type).
Overall it can take several months to become an NSCA-CSCS depending on how quickly you can complete your degree program or accredited strength and conditioning program as well as study for the exam.
6. International Sports Sciences Association Certified Running Coach
The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) Certified Running Coach is a certification program designed to help running coaches gain the knowledge and skills necessary to provide quality coaching services. The ISSA Certified Running Coach program is an online course that takes approximately 6-8 weeks to complete. It covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, training principles, and injury prevention.
To get the certification, you must first complete the online coursework and then pass an exam with a score of 80% or higher. The cost of the course is $299 USD plus any applicable taxes. After successful completion of the course and exam, you will receive your official ISSA Certified Running Coach certificate. This certificate is valid for two years from the date it was issued.
In addition to the coursework and exam, you must also meet certain requirements in order to maintain your certification status. These include completing continuing education credits each year, maintaining professional liability insurance coverage, and adhering to the ISSA Code of Ethics.
7. National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer
The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) is a professional certification program designed to prepare individuals to become certified personal trainers. The CPT credential is the gold standard for personal trainers, and it is widely recognized by employers and clients alike.
To become a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, you must complete an accredited course that covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition, exercise technique, program design and client assessment. Courses are typically offered online or in-person at local colleges or universities. Most courses require approximately 150 hours of study time over a period of 6-12 weeks.
Once you have completed your coursework and passed the required exams, you will be eligible to apply for the CPT credential from NASM. To apply for the credential, you must submit an application form along with proof of completion of your coursework and payment of a fee. Once your application has been approved, you will receive your CPT certification card in the mail.
The cost of becoming a NASM Certified Personal Trainer varies depending on the type of course you take and where you take it. Generally speaking, most courses range between $500-$1,000 USD depending on where they are taken and how long they are.
8. International Olympic Committee Level 1 Coaching Certificate in Athletics
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Level 1 Coaching Certificate in Athletics is an internationally recognized and accredited coaching qualification. It is designed to equip coaches with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to effectively coach athletes of all levels in athletics. The certificate is valid for four years and requires a minimum of 30 hours of instruction and assessment.
To obtain the IOC Level 1 Coaching Certificate in Athletics, coaches must complete a series of modules on topics such as sport science, biomechanics, sports psychology, coaching methods, training principles, nutrition and injury prevention. The course also includes practical sessions where coaches can put their new knowledge into practice. Upon successful completion of the course, coaches will receive their certificate from the IOC.
The cost of the IOC Level 1 Coaching Certificate in Athletics varies depending on the provider but typically ranges from €200-€400.
9. USATF Level 1 Coaching Certificate in Distance Running
The USATF Level 1 Coaching Certificate in Distance Running is a certification program designed to provide coaches with the knowledge and skills needed to coach athletes in distance running events. The program emphasizes the importance of proper coaching techniques, injury prevention, and sport science. To obtain this certification, coaches must complete a three-day course that covers topics such as biomechanics, physiology, nutrition, training principles, and race strategies. Upon completion of the course, coaches will receive a certificate from USATF.
The cost of the course varies depending on where it is taken; however it typically costs around $300-$400 USD. The length of the course also varies depending on where it is taken; however it usually takes three days to complete.
To register for the course, you can visit USATF’s website or contact your local USATF member organization for more information about upcoming courses in your area.
10. National Federation of Professional Trainers Certified Running Coach
The National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) Certified Running Coach is a certification program designed to prepare and educate individuals who are interested in becoming certified running coaches. This certification program is open to anyone who has an interest in coaching running, from beginner to advanced levels.
The NFPT Certified Running Coach program consists of two components: an online course and a practical exam. The online course covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, injury prevention, training principles and more. It also includes video lectures by experienced running coaches. The practical exam is designed to test the knowledge gained from the online course and assess the candidate’s ability to apply that knowledge in real-world situations.
It typically takes between 6-12 months to complete the NFPT Certified Running Coach program depending on how much time you are able to commit each week. To get started, you must first register for the online course which costs $299 USD. Once you have completed the online portion of the program, you can then register for the practical exam which costs an additional $99 USD.
Overall, it will cost approximately $398 USD for the entire NFPT Certified Running Coach program.
Do You Really Need a Runner Certificate?
Whether you need a runner certificate or not depends on your individual circumstances. There are a variety of reasons why someone might want to obtain a runner certificate, ranging from the desire to prove their running capabilities to employers or friends, to participating in races and events that require one.
For those who simply wish to prove their running abilities, obtaining a runner certificate may not be necessary. You can do this by tracking your personal bests and other achievements through journals, social media posts, and other methods of documentation. This is an effective way of proving your fitness level without needing an official certificate.
On the other hand, if you plan on participating in races or events that require proof of running ability, then getting certified could be beneficial and necessary. This is especially true if you are aiming for a certain time goal or trying to qualify for competitions. Runner certificates can also be helpful if you are applying for jobs with physical requirements such as military service or law enforcement positions. In this case, having an official document showing your running capabilities can give you an advantage over other applicants who don’t have one.
Ultimately, whether or not you need a runner certificate depends on what your goals are and what type of activities you wish to participate in. If you want to track your progress and prove yourself without needing certification, then there are ways to do so without it. However, if official certification is required for certain activities or jobs, then obtaining a runner certificate may be beneficial and necessary for achieving those goals.
Related: Runner Resume Examples
FAQs About Runner Certifications
1. What is a Runner Certification?
A Runner Certification is a type of certification program that provides training and education to runners on topics such as nutrition, safety, injury prevention, running technique and more. The certification is designed to help runners become better informed about their sport and improve their performance.
2. How do I get certified?
To obtain a Runner Certification, you will need to complete an accredited course or program offered by a recognized organization or institution. You may also choose to take an online course or attend an in-person seminar in order to gain the necessary knowledge and skills required for the certification.
3. What are the benefits of getting certified?
The main benefit of obtaining a Runner Certification is that you will have a greater understanding of proper running form and techniques, as well as how to prevent injuries while training and competing. Additionally, having a certification demonstrates your commitment to the sport and can provide you with greater credibility when applying for jobs or seeking out sponsorships.
4. How long does it take to get certified?
The length of time required for certification depends on which type of program you choose to pursue. Generally speaking, most courses require at least 10 hours of instruction time over the span of several weeks or months before passing the final exam and obtaining your certification.
5. Are there any prerequisites for obtaining a Runner Certification?
Most courses do not have any prerequisites but some may require applicants to have basic knowledge in anatomy, physiology, nutrition and other related topics prior to enrolling in the program. Additionally, many programs may require that applicants be at least 18 years old before being accepted into the course.