I’m going to start this out by getting the explanation of how being an online running coach even works out of the way. This utilizes some very simple to use technology that is quite readily available. All you need is a smart phone, a specific type of app and preferably a simple biometric smart watch. Make sure that this app can run on both iOS and android, because any of your athletes that use one of these systems will quite readily refuse to switch to the other, as neither likes the other operating system whatsoever. I have seen fistfights break out over this, as silly as that seems!
The app can talk to the smart watch as well as GPS and other functions of the phone to track movement, track speed and track fitness statistics and biometric data to give coaches insight, and even virtual races and the like and be arranged by comparing these recordings through the right algorithms and keyed in environmental information. With voice over IP, you can also have real-time races at disparate locations, for those who don’t have schedule conflicts and still want some sort of real-time experience.
As for the effectiveness, it is every bit as effective on a practical level. It may be more effective on a practical level due to the granularity and precision of the data a coach can get, and it may actually be more productive in a way that people don’t realize, when athletes can exercise by their schedule and in their preferred personal venues. The elimination of gyms, a thing that is going to grow increasingly unpopular even well after the pandemic, does a lot for those more self-conscious people that don’t like to be watched while exercising, people like me!
In the end, it’s all about whether or not you regard that special spice that comes with in person meet ups to be all that necessary. In all honesty, proclivity towards traditional social interaction have been diminishing in generations since the 1980s. The Internet, though, was the real nail in the coffin of traditional sociality, with younger generations being just as comfortable talking over things like this quarter Skype than being together in person. Most of the traditional venues of leisure that require in person presents, such as arcades, shopping and the like are not as heavily sought after by younger generations either.
However, there is a teambuilding aspect to these in person meet ups that just isn’t quite the same with virtual interactions, and athletes tend to be somewhat more social and very physical in nature anyhow, so this is something that you will simply have to adapt to. I would expect that in a few generations of people being more used to this virtual form of cooperation in athletics, it won’t be that missed, as it is very much a perceived thing raced on our own cultural and evolutionary shaping, after all. Being an online running coach is easier, and online running coaching is every bit as effective if you can get past that one little perceived barrier of sociality.