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Runcoach Success Stories

Runcoach Success Stories (37)

Highlighting the successes of our awesome Runcoach athletes

Runcoach user Mark Gillis set a new PR at the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon this month. But the real reward was the strength he gained—and the 60 pounds he lost —on the way to the starting line. He's already setting his sight on his next goal, breaking two hours in a half-marathon this fall.

rc_ss_markgillisWhat prompted you to start running? I wanted to get healthy. And it was part of my weight-loss routine.

What was the key to your weight-loss success? Tracking what you eat is critical, because it is so easy to just grab something without thinking. If I don't portion out my meals and snacks, it's really easy to overdo it. I don't deny myself any specific food, but try and limit the salty snacks that I usually crave.

What’s your biggest obstacle, and how do you get over it? It’s fighting the small nagging aches and pains and getting motivated to run in the morning. I have my clothes and shoes beside my bed, so when I wake up, I automatically put them on. Once they’re on, I’m motivated to go out and run.

What advice would you give others? Start small, and keep the progressive increase in your distances small. I started by run/walking a mile. I use music to keep my pace steady. Now my daily minimum is 3 to 4 miles of running. Consistency is the secret to my success.   


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Robin Baurer grapples daily with the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis: pain, imbalance, numbness, and trouble seeing.  But she won’t let the disease stop her. She trained with runcoach and completed the 10-Mile Broad Street Run, and after revamping her diet, lost 85 pounds.

“Maintaining a focus on running has brought positive energy to my psychological, emotional, and physical well-being,” says Baurer, who also has Type 2 Diabetes. “I am determined, dedicated and disciplined to beat this mess of a disease.”

rc_robinbaurer_2Robin Baurer

Major milestone: The 2017 Broad Street Run. I ran the entire race and I was not winded!

How did you get started?  In the spring of 2015 my doctor broke the dreadful news that I was Type 2 diabetic and my  [blood sugar] levels were horrendous. I took this awful news very seriously and evaluated my eating habits. I designed a nutrition plan and watched my weight decline. After about four weeks, my energy level increased and my MS symptoms lessened. I incorporated power walking and light jogging.  By fall, my jogging became a run. The Broad Street Run seemed organized, safe, and challenging. The training  was awesome!  I felt prepared going to the starting line, and evidently I was.  I am so PROUD to have participated and completed this incredible race! Next: I am participating in a duathlon in Bucks County.

How does running impact your MS? On a daily basis, I experience pain, numbness, imbalance and difficulties with my sight, and these are  constant reminders that I have this dreadful disease.  Maintaining a focus on running has brought positive energy to my psychological, emotional, and physical well-being . Now, my MS symptoms and flare-ups are less frequent. I have lost 85 pounds since May 2015 and feel amazing.

 What motivates you to keep going? For many, many years I had difficulty walking so I feel blessed to be able to stand up everyday and teach as well as walk, jog, or run.  I not only wanted to show myself but also show others who experience physical difficulties to "push" forward and give it your best.

Regardless of my speed or lack thereof, I am a winner every time I cross the finish line!


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Sesa Pabalan discovered one of the most important lessons of running: if you want to run fast, you have to take your easy runs truly easy. She just finished a 1:48 half marathon. "It's fun to run fast," she says, "but best to not do it all the time."

2rc_sessaSesa Pabalan

Sport: Running

Major milestone: Going under 1:50 in the half marathon for the first time in three years. I'm still three minutes from my PR, but I'm getting more fit under the runcoach program!

What is the secret to your success? During my long and easy runs I switch the screen on my Garmin so I can only see my heart rate. That way I truly run at an easy effort and save my legs for speed workouts and races.

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it? Staying consistent with my running during major life changes. It's easy for me to stop running when things aren't going well in the office or with my relationships. I have very little motivation to run during difficult periods in my life, but I just tell myself I will feel a lot better if I run, even if it's just for 20 minutes.

What is the most rewarding part of training? Seeing it pay off in a hard workout or race. With the direction of runcoach, I've been running my fastest times in three years!

What advice would you give to other members of the runcoach community? Trust the process - but don't be afraid to back off if you feel sharp pain, sick, or burned out. I owe most of my progress to being consistent and doing the hard workouts, but it's better to be undertrained than injured because I didn't listen to my body. Run easy most days. I feel like most people run their easy runs too fast. Most of my runs are 11- and 12-minute pace, and I just ran a half marathon in 1:48. I think of sub-9 miles as my "party pace." Yes, it's fun to run fast, but best to not do it all the time.



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Matt Vulanichrc_2mattvulanich

Favorite sport: running

Major milestone: My first milestone was deciding to start running nearly 15 years ago at age 45.  I started with 20 minutes, three time per week on a treadmill as a stress reducer.  Since then, I have run enough miles to go nearly halfway around the world.  In terms of racing, it was completing Leg 5 of the Hood-to-Coast relay last August, as I approached my 60th birthday.  Leg 5 is widely recognized as the most challenging of the race.

What is the secret to your success? There’s no secret.  Just dedication, commitment, the challenge to get better and doing so as the clock ticks.  Father Time is the only undefeated opponent known to humankind.  I won't beat him either, but I'm going to make it tough for him to win!

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it? At age 60, the biggest obstacle is staying fit, staying healthy and knowing how hard it will become to maintain my current levels of achievement as I get older. I try overcoming it by making sure that I focus on training, not exercise.  Training is making sure that the workouts, fueling, diet and sleep needed to perform are all in complete balance.  Doing so keeps me physically fit and mentally prepared.

What is the most rewarding part of training? To me, it is rewarding to enter a race and compete at a level that is competitive with a few age groups lower than me. When I compete, I look to see how I performed overall and against anyone, say, 20 years  younger.  So far, I've done well and hope that it continues for a while longer.

What advice would you give to other members of the runcoach community? It's never too late to start. Be committed to an overall training regime.  It's the best way to stay healthy and compete at a high level. And have fun! I All the running plans and programs I've used over the years, I truly appreciate runcoach.  The ability to have a dynamic plan that adjusts along the way to my performance has been great.

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Kathleen Cason joined runcoach in 2015 with a goal of walking her first half marathon, at the age of 61. After beating her goals, she became a runner, and just finished her fourth half marathon in 2:05.

Kathleen Cason
rc_3kathleencasoncrop

Major milestone:  I started out with runcoach as a walker. I wanted to improve my fitness and figured setting a big goal would help. So I aimed to walk a half marathon in under 3 hours and started training with Runcoach. I finished that first one in 2:51:26 in October 2015. In January 2016, I started running. I recently completed my 4th half marathon, in 2:05:50. Three things contributed to my improvement: following my runcoach training plan, joining a running group and finding a compatible running partner.

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it? I started running at age 61. By including strength training, walking, hiking, mindfulness and realistic goals as part of my training, my age has not been as much of a problem. I do try to take steps to avoid injuries.

What is the most rewarding part of training? I feel like I did when I was 25. I can enjoy many of the activities I enjoyed in my youth and had quit doing when I was less fit.

What advice would you give to other members of the runcoach community? Be realistic about goals, follow  your runcoach training as best as possible and email the coaches if something isn't working out. Be patient, take baby steps and have fun. runcoach has pushed me at times but helped me become a runner. The drills and strides assigned before speed and tempo workouts REALLY improved my strength and speed.

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Elliot Norman had a 3:16 marathon PR and a dream of getting a Boston Qualifying time of 3:05. He used Runcoach to train for the Paris Marathon, and finished the race this weekend in 3:00 smashing his previous PR, and accomplishing his goal.

3elliotnormanparismarathon

What is the secret to your success? I listen to my body, if I don't think I can do a workout distance or pace I back off. I focus on form and try to think about how life decisions outside of running—in terms of things like diet, alcohol, and sleep— will impact performance.

What’s the biggest obstacle to reaching your goal and how do you overcome it? I think I have struggled in previous marathons to execute my success in shorter races and training runs through the last few miles of the marathon. This feels like a mental hurdle that I was hoping to push through by following an increased mileage plan with Runcoach.

What’s the most rewarding part of your training? Seeing the improvements in my times when it comes to race day and the feeling of satisfaction and achievement on a daily basis from completing my workouts.

What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community? Everyone is different.  Train to your body and your capabilities, adjust your goals based on your progress. Don't ramp up distance or pace too fast, take your time and don't push too hard all the time. You're better off skipping a workout and resting to let yourself heal and recover than to push through and miss a lot more because of injury.

Tell us about your racing success at the Paris Marathon. I started with Runcoach with the goal of making my Boston Qualifying time. After completing the Marine Corps Marathon in 3:16 and having a half-marathon PR of 1:21, I knew I had it in me. But I hadn’t found the right training combo to execute well in the marathon. I tore my calf last May which ruled out my fall marathon and so I reset my goal for the 2017 Paris Marathon. When I registered, I was conservative and estimated a 3:15 finishing time. But after very closely following my prescribed training plan I thought I would be close to the 3:05 I needed to BQ. I knew that time was unlikely to get an entry but seemed like a good goal. At the expo I had to use race results to move up a corral and was actually put in to the sub-3 ‘preferential’ group. I started at the back of the group to ensure I didn’t get wrapped up in a group whose pace was well above my capability and to give myself some room.


It’s a beautiful course starting on the Champs-Élysées with the sun rising on the Arc De Triomphe. It was 50 degrees, with no wind and clear skies. The conditions couldn’t be more perfect and the further in to the race I got, the better I felt. During my training I would stop every 5K at water fountains. So I  walked through the water stops, while this cost me a little time it ensured I was well hydrated and able to refocus on the next few miles ahead. 

As I hit the half-marathon mark in 1:29 I felt good and was starting to think that if I could keep that pace up I had a shot of going sub-3. But I stayed focus on my original goal. I knew there were a lot of miles to go. Paris is a beautiful city but I was focused on being on the ‘green line’ painted to show the shortest way around the course the whole time. As I ticked off the miles waiting for the wall to come I continued to feel good. Having drastically increased my mileage since starting with runcoach, I was more confident and I could visualize those last 9 miles as one of my normal weekday runs. I kept focusing on the sacrifices I’d made and the motivation my family give me to push. I was frantically doing the mental math over the last 6 miles to see if I’d break 3 hours. In the end, I finished in 3:00:25. Still way below what I dreamed and shattering my goal and PR.

Those 26 seconds frustrate me but gives me motivation for Chicago in the fall and hopefully Boston next April. I’ve already put both into Runcoach and after a short break I am excited to start training for them again.    

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Corie Smith

Favorite sport: Marathon 

cs_rss_amb2Major milestone: Reduced per-minute pace and injury rate!

What is the secret to your success? Runcoach, cross training and proper fueling. I've also weaved in Shaklee Pure Performance supplements to help build core nutrition!

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it? Available time seems to be my biggest struggle. Runcoach has given me a longterm view of training schedule and even helped move schedules around to meet family and work demands.

What is the most rewarding part of training? For sure it's exceeding my target pace for the duration of the run!

What advice would you give to other members of the runcoach community? What and how you fuel is just as critical as sticking to the schedule! Consistency is the key to success!  After running 2 marathons with programs I found online, I was introduced to runcoach via Marine Corp Marathon. Training with the runcoach app, the community of runners and coaches was the accountability I needed to stay motivated through the many months of training. I knew at that point I would always train for marathons using runcoach!



Jason Gordon

Favorite Sport: runningjasongordon_ab2

Major milestone: Since my first marathon 5 years ago, I've taken nearly 60 minutes off my finish time. The first time, I crashed and burned to a 4:15 finish. Last fall, I ran 3:23. I wouldn't have thought it was possible for a 45-year old. Conventional wisdom seems to dictate that middle age is when we should ease off of the throttle. I feel like I still have room for improvement. I look forward to seeing who is right.

What’s the secret to your success? Consistency and drive. As cliche as it sounds " just beat yesterday" is always my mindset. Run everyday your supposed to, know your limitations, and work hard to achieve the goals you set.

What’s the biggest obstacle and how do you get over it? Injuries are the biggest obstacle I face. Every training cycle I've completed has taught me something about what I shouldn't do.

What’s the most rewarding part of your training? It's hard to say that achieving a new PR takes a backseat to anything else, but since races are few and far between, I get the most positive feedback from long threshold efforts.

What advice would you give to other members of the runcoach community? Trust the training. Do the work exactly as it is assigned and you will see the benefits within a few weeks. Enjoy the process as much as possible. The long hard training session will wear you down either way. Embrace it, you've earned it. Besides, a rest day is right around the corner. The Runcoach process will make you a stronger runner, period.

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Julia Neilson

julianeilson_cropped_resizedFavorite Sport:  Running

Major milestone: After 4 years of running, I have a half-marathon PR of 1:36:10, and a 10-K PR of 42:25. But I'm not done here!

What's the secret to your success? Consistency! And big dreams :-)

What is the biggest obstacle  and how do you get over it? When an injury hits, patience proves to be a virtue. Rest, sleep, good food, water, cross training, strength and core work and deep tissue massages help as well. 

What is the most rewarding part of your training? The joy of racing well.

What advice would you give to other members of the runcoach community?  Stick to your plan! Trust your plan but also listen to your body whilst keeping your long term goals in mind. It's better to go easy and rest than pushing those shin splints through a hard workout. Keep your easy days easy so you can run your hard days hard.

Follow Julia's running adventures on her blog, karmly.com.  On Twitter and Instagram: @GetKarmly. 


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