Runners Connect is a website dedicated to running and to provide online coaching services to runners interested in their services. Besides providing running related information they also offer running training plans – more or less customized towards the individual runner. As I am training for a marathon I decided to give their services a try.
They offer 3 different coaching programs. The basic membership is more automated and less customized to the personal needs of the runner. It come with some basic features and is also supposed to include access to a forum (I never received any information how to access the forum nor did I see a link to the forum). The basic membership is priced at $29.95 per month. The personal coaching package provides a more customized training plan and the runner receives some additional attention as part of the package. It is also labeled as one-on-one coaching, but mainly happens online, email, phone, or text messaging. This plan also offers some additional training features. The 3rd package is labeled “in-person” coaching and the main feature are personal meetings with the running coach. I was not able to see how that works with remote users. Other than that the plan includes all other features of the 2 lower end plans.
I signed up for the basic membership. After signing up the system asked me some running and goal specific questions and then generated a training plan based on my answers. A bit later I received an email from a coach asking for more detailed information about my running and fitness background to further adjust my training schedule. I checked out the main dashboard and it was dominated by an activity stream and the training schedule. Each training session had detailed information for that specific workout. It also had the option to log a workout and to share it to the activity stream. The logged workouts showed up in the activity stream and people could post comments. That is also the way how the coaches seemed to correspond with the runners. Not a bad concept and I liked the overall setup, however, I was missing the forum that they had mentioned on the signup page.
In my welcome email from my coach I also received a link to video that would further explain how to introduce myself to the community, but the video link was dead and did not get fixed during the time I was a member. I had also emailed the coach with some additional questions which stayed unanswered. I logged a few of my workouts and received encouraging feedback from a few members and did the same when I saw other people posting their stats.
Overall I liked the setup and if they would have had the forums it actually would have been pretty nice from a feature and service perspective. From a pricing perspective I found the service a bit on the expensive side of things. $29.95 per month seems pretty steep for what you get – especially with no forums. If that would have been the price per quarter I think it would provide a lot of value and would be worth the investment.
I canceled the service after a few days for several reasons. The main reason was that I did not have the feeling that the training schedule put my personal situation into consideration. I am doing double-workouts 5 days a week and the extra effort was not reflected in my “personalized” training plan. While the individual exercises looked great, the plan just did not fit in for me. Canceling the service was another item on list I did not like. There was no easy way to cancel and I think no service provider should make it difficult to cancel. If you have trust in your product and service offerings, then displaying a link to cancel the service should be easy. People who like your product will ignore the option to cancel. As an example I am a member in a different forum where I just pay $27 per month for many years now. It is extremely easy to cancel, but I don’t because I like the people and their services.