Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Benefits of a Running Coach

Have you ever wondered if you needed a running coach? Many runners feel they don't need a running
coach because they don't view themselves as "real" runners. Others may feel that they can get enough from online articles, posts, or training plans or from their fellow runners. Others may think running coaches are too expensive. While others feel they just don't have time.

First of all, if you are putting on running shoes and heading out for a run on a regular basis, please most definitely consider yourself a runner. Second, periodical and online articles are great and online plans are fine, but the one thing to keep in mind, is that these plan are written for the masses, not you. Third, like any service, prices will vary. Shop around and find a running coach that's within your budget that provides what you need. Fourth, most running coaches have a variety of ways to interact to meet your busy schedule.

So, what's the answer? Do you need a running coach? Well, no, a runner doesn't have to have a running coach, but having been one for over 13 years, I can share with you some of the awesome benefits you may not have thought of.

Below are some great reasons a running coach can help you with successful training:

  1. Keeping Your Accountable: Knowing that someone has crafted a plan for you and will be checking in with you ups your accountability greatly. Many running coaches also incorporate group runs into their training which ups accountability as well as build relationships with other runners. 
  2. Prevent Overtraining and Possible Injury: A common mistake of self-trained runners is overtraining. When a runner starts to make progress, they'll often get excited and begin to push themselves harder. Nothing wrong with pushing yourself, but a coach can help determine when too much of a push may be detrimental to your running mojo and/or your body. A running coach is a great first line of defense in preventing running injury. Runners are notorious for letting an ache or pain go too long before seeking treatment. I always encourage my runners to share with me when they are experiencing something beyond regular delayed onset muscle soreness, especially they if it's something they've had for more than a couple days and it's not getting better. I'm not a doctor or physical therapist, but I'm often that needed push to get a runner to seek professional medical help.
  3. Keep Better Perspective and Prevent Self-Doubt: When training for any race, but particularly a distance race such as a half  or full marathon, self-doubt can creep in pulling a runner down. There's a saying that running is often 90% mental and 10% physical, and in many cases that is true. We can be our own worst enemy. A coach can help put things in perspective. If you 've had a bad run, a coach, can help you evaluate that run and determine if the lackluster performance was due to improper fueling or hydration, over training, poor sleep, stress, or some other factor.
  4. A Real-Time/Catered-to-You Sounding Board: When I'm in a training cycle with runners, I get emails, messages, phone calls and in-person chats all the time regarding anything and everything about my runners' training. Instead of wondering if you're on the right track, you have someone well versed in your training as a sounding board in real-time.
  5. Create a Plan for You and Your Goals Not the Masses: A running coach will craft a plan geared specifically for you. Factors such as your running history, your current running, the race you've selected, your personal goals, and more will all be taken into account when crafting your plan. Often runners will use the same plan year-after-year. Most runners don't stay the same, they may have made great gains or had a set-back from the previous year. A running coach will create a plan based on your current running.
  6. Adjust Your Plan During Training: As a running coach, one of the first things I tell a runner when I meet with them to talk about their training and goals, is that the plan I create is fluid. What I mean by that is, it's not set in stone. Changes can and will be made along the way. Sometimes life gets in the way and a plan needs to be revised. Sometimes a runner will make great gains during training and training paces need to be made. A runner needs to have structure and guidance with a plan, but not feel that they are completely locked in.
  7. Explain Your Workouts and Why You're Doing Them: Many online plans will have a variety of runs, but with very little explanation for why you're running these different types of runs. If a runner was not involved in track or cross-country in high school or college, they may not be familiar with some types of run workouts. Many runners will avoid speed work because they think they need access to a track. A running coach will thoroughly explain everything in your plan. They'll also explain how workouts can be accomplished without access to a track. (None of my speed workouts need a track.)
  8. Help Fit in Cross-Training to Support Your Running/Training: Many runners know that adding in cross-training can benefit their running, but don't know what to incorporate or how to incorporate it. While other runners are unaware of the benefits of incorporating other types of fitness. A running coach can help safely add in appropriate types and amounts of cross-training to your training regimen. 
  9. Explain and Help Support You With Your Fueling and Hydration Needs: Just as important as the weekly runs, proper fueling and hydration is vital to successful training. A running coach can provide proper guidelines for fueling and hydration to support your runs.
  10. Motivate and Inspire: A running coach is your biggest cheerleader. Ongoing motivation and encouragement can often be the difference in successful race training.
In the Greensboro, NC area and looking for a running coach, click here.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Alternative Fuel Sources

 Are you a runner for which fuel sources like gels, Gu's and chews, just don't seem to do the trick. Do prepackaged fuel sources give you stomach distress or maybe you just don't like the taste or texture? Then check out my tips for alternative fuel sources. Some might be right in your cupboard!

Friday, December 3, 2021

Heathly Blueberry Muffins

A runner friend of mine brought me some blueberries from his own blueberry bush, so I decided to make some blueberry muffins. I searched for a healthier version of a blueberry muffin and came across this one. I've tweaked it a little and here's my version. Great for breakfast and/or pre-run fueling!


  • 1 ¾ cups plus 1 teaspoon white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup honey 
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt* (Any fat percentage  even fat-free will work. Higher fat Greek yogurt will make a richer muffin. I used 2%.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (also called raw sugar), for sprinkling on top


Preheat the oven to 400° F. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ¾ cups of the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix them together with a whisk.

Combine the oil and honey in a medium bowl and beat together with a whisk. Next, beat in eggs. Then mix in  vanilla extract and yogurt .  

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a large spoon. A few lumps in the mixture is fine. Before adding the blueberries, place them in a bowl and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of flour. This keeps the blueberries  from sinking to the bottom of the batter when baking.  Fold the flour-coated blueberries into the batter. The batter will be thick.

Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups. (I use paper muffin cups.) Evenly divide the batter between the dozen muffin cups Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with turbinado sugar. Bake the muffins until golden (16 to 19 minutes). If a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, they're done.

Cool muffins on a cooling rack. 

Baked Berry Oatmeal

My running friend Cathy Jackson shared this simple to make Berry Baked Oatmeal recipe. It's the perfect breakfast or pre-run fueling for runners! 

Baked Berry Oatmeal 

1 hour - Serves 4-6

  • 2 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup Steel Cut Oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce 
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 cups Unsweetened Coconut Milk (I used 1% regular milk)
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Chopped Almonds
  • Coconut Sugar


Preheat oven to 400°F.

In large bowl stir together rolled oats, steel cut oats, baking powder, salt & cinnamon, set aside.

In medium bowl combine brown sugar, honey, oil, applesauce, egg & milk.  Add to oat mixture & stir until combined.

Pour into a greased 2 quart casserole dish (a 9" x 13" glass baking dish works good too).  Top evenly with berries, chopped almonds & sprinkle lightly with coconut sugar.

Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until set and lightly browned.  

Serve warm -  top with Greek Yogurt and chopped almonds 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Pumpkin Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Cookies

 Looking for an easy cookie recipe for the holidays? This recipe is perfect. Full of fall flavors this cookie will satisfy that craving for pumpkin, chocolate, cranberries and pecans all in one bite!

Pumpkin Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Cookies


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup  Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries 
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 



Step 1: Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. (I used a baking stone without parchment paper and it worked fine too.)

Step 2: Combine flour, oats, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl.

Step 3: Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract; mix well.

Step 4: Add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in pecans, dried cranberries, and chocolate cihps.

Step 5: Use a large cookie scoop (about 3 tablespoons) to drop approximately 8 scoops of dough per prepared baking sheets.

Step 6: Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Spice! You can hardly get away from it from October-December. Here's an easy and healthy
recipe what will put all that hype to shame, giving you a very satisfying and healthy muffin that's easy to make and almost guilt free! 

I discovered this recipe at Amy's Healthy Baking. The version reflected below incorporates an increased amount of Liquid Stevia recommended by Amy if you'd like a sweater muffin. Even with the increased amount, the muffins are not overly sweet making them great for breakfast, a snack, or pre-run fueling. My version also includes chocolate chips and walnuts. You can leave them out if desired. 

Healthy Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins 

Yields: 12 muffins

They’ll keep for at least one week if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp. (90g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 6 tbsp. (84g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp liquid stevia
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for Muffins:

  • 2 cups (240g) white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur's White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 1 tbsp. (8g) ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp. (14g) unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp liquid stevia
  • ¼ cup (60g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup (244g) pumpkin purée, room temperature (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • ½ cup (120mL) nonfat milk
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup walnut pieces


Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a muffin tin with paper baking cups.

To prepare the filling, beat the Greek yogurt and cream cheese with a mixer until smooth and creamy. Add in the liquid stevia and vanilla. Beat until fully incorporated. Transfer to a zip-topped plastic bag.

To prepare the muffin batter, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg whites, vanilla, and liquid stevia. Stir in the Greek yogurt, mixing until no large lumps remain. Stir in the pumpkin purée. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.) Finally fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups. Cut the corner off of the zip-topped bag with the filling, and pipe the filling into the center of each muffin cup’s batter. (It’s okay if the filling sticks up over the top of the batter. The batter will rise around its sides as it bakes.)

Bake at 350°F for 20-23 minutes or until the pumpkin parts of the tops feels firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the pumpkin part comes out clean. Cool in the muffin cups for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Storage Tip: Cool the muffins completely, place a sheet of waxed paper inside  a 1-gallon size plastic zippered baggie. Place the muffins in the bag onto of the waxed paper, zip up the bag and place them in the refrigerator.  I've found that heating a muffin for 15-20 secs in the microwave is perfect! (May very base on the microwave and personal preference.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

If you're like me, you're always looking for a healthy breakfast, snack and/or fueling ideas that are easy to make with readily available ingredients. If it has chocolate in it, that's even better! 

I stumbled upon a recipe for "healthy chocolate peanut butter banana" muffins that looked pretty easy to make. I tried the original recipe and after a few batches, I tweaked it a bit making them even better for you!

The great thing about these muffins are you can make a batch or a double batch and freeze them. They freeze great in a zippered plastic baggie. Take one out when ready and heat it for about 30 secs. Because they are muffins, there's nothing to cut, no plate needed, and they transport easily for on-the-run eating. 

I've eaten these muffins for breakfast, as a mid afternoon snack, and I've eaten them for pre-run fueling and post-run refueling. Unlike muffins made with refined white flour and a lot of sugar, these muffins provide lasting energy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter creamy
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips and 1 cup walnut pieces


Preheat the oven to 375°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a muffin tray with muffin liners and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. (I sift all the dry ingredients together.)

Next, peel the bananas and place them into a separate bowl. Mash until no lumps remain. A pastry cutter works great for this.  (I use 3 1/2 bananas if they are small.)

Add the honey, egg, apple sauce, oil, and peanut butter, beat with a hand mixer until all the ingredients are well combined.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Then fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Make sure to avoid over-mixing.

Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Some days 20 mins is good. Some days 25 mins is good. Test them at 20 mins with the tooth pick. Cook a little longer if needed, but avoid overcooking as it dries them out.

Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature.


  • Flour: I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour in the recipe. White whole wheat flour is milled from hard white spring wheat - a lighter-colored grain than traditional red wheat. It has the same benefits of traditional red wheat but yields a milder-tasting baked good that also has a lighter less dense feel than baked goods made with traditional whole wheat flour. 
  • Applesauce: Make sure to use unsweetened applesauce. Sweetened has a lot of added sugars. 
  • Don’t overmix: Fold the ingredients gently until just combined to avoid tough, dense muffins.
  • Storage: Store in an air-tight container or a zippered baggie in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Reheat before serving.
  • Freezing: Allow muffins to cool completely, then freeze in an air-tight container or a zippered baggie for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or in the microwave until warm.


  • Calories 152
  • Total Fat 9.7g (Sat Fat 1.6g)
  • Cholesterol 8mg
  • Sodium 67mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 14.1g (Dietary Fiber 2.2g / Total Sugars 5 g)
  • Protein 5g
  • Vitamin D 4%
  • Calcium 2%
  • Iron 9%
  • Potassium 4%