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Going full circle as a running coach with MTA

About six years ago, an ITBS injury indicated it was time for me to get a running coach. As a listener of the Marathon Training Academy (MTA) podcast, I reached out to Angie Spencer.

Angie and her husband, Trevor Spencer, are the podcast co-hosts and co-owners of MTA. Angie is the more experienced runner of the two and frequently shares useful training, recovery, and injury prevention advice on the podcast and the MTA Facebook page.

That’s exactly what I needed.

My injury stemmed from trying to coach myself. After having been a runner for a few years, I was confident that I could create my own training plans. Well, I could create a running plan but a training plan was different. And that’s what led to my injury — a poor training plan and even worse decision-making on the onset of an injury.

As I’ve told Angie, I needed someone to save me from myself. She took me on as a client in the summer of 2014, helped me get back on my feet, introduced core work and yoga to my weekly training plan, and was instrumental in making me a better runner.

Coach knows best

At the time I began working with Angie my marathon PR was a 3:53, which I had trimmed down from a 4:08 at my first marathon in 2012. Still, I had a long way to go until I could qualify for the Boston Marathon with a 3:25 or better.

I admit at first I wasn’t sure what to make of the twice-weekly core routines and regular yoga sessions. But Angie was the coach and I bought in to her plan since obviously mine was not working. She was always available when I had questions and I quickly began to soak up her knowledge and philosophy.

And my running improved. PR after PR came. And then I felt primed and ready for a real shot at my Boston Marathon qualifier at the Indianapolis Monumental in November 2016. The Monumental was my first marathon and the 2016 version would be my fifth straight year at it, which gave me the advantage of knowing the course really well along with the confidence go to along with it.

I followed Angie’s advice — “Don’t let that 3:25 pace group pass you” — and finished with a 3:23, which is still my marathon PR today. While I didn’t get into Boston with that qualifying time, I re-qualified the following year with a similar time and made it into the historic race thanks to being bumped up an age group.

Giving back

Thanks to Angie’s guidance and inspiration, I soon gravitated toward wanting to give back by becoming a certified running coach too. I started out by coaching a few friends, developing their training programs and giving them encouragement on their journeys.

In the fall of 2018, I signed up to earn my coaching certification from the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA). To become RRCA certified, a coach is required to attend a two-day class, pass an online test and have current First Aid/CPR training.

Ironically, it was during the first day of the class in North Carolina that confirmed I was doing the right thing. I received a text from one of my athletes, Cameran, who let me know she nailed a six-minute PR in that day’s half marathon at the Indianapolis Monumental.

It was all I could do to contain my excitement and not burst into a raucous celebration in the middle of the class. I’ve continued to work with Cameran, and she has continued to improve. A year ago, she nailed a Boston qualifier at her first marathon.

After receiving my certification, I grew my stable of runners. My athletes achieved 5K PRs, first-time marathon finishes and other major personal accomplishments. It’s an honor to work with all of these amazing individuals and accompany them on their running journeys.

Recently, my own personal running journey has come full circle.

Angie and Trevor invited me to become one of the coaches at MTA, which I agreed to immediately.

MTA is an incredibly inspiring group, and one that I am proud to be a member of since I first joined as an injured runner looking for guidance. Now thanks to Angie, I am honored to be on the team that provides such guidance, motivation and personalized training plans for our training clients.

Come join us. After all, you have what it takes to run a marathon and change your life.

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