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Q&A - Picking Coach Michele's Brain

Have you ever wanted to just really pick Michele’s brain and ask her a ton of questions?  Well I know I do, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to ask Michele some questions and spread her great running knowledge! I hope you enjoy this Q&A with Coach. 

Brie: How did you come up with the idea of using intervals as a primary training method?

Coach Michele: I wouldn’t say it’s primary, especially not for all. However, it’s a great way to keep the mind distracted, while getting in quality miles.  Percent effort is absolutely key though!  I see a lot of athletes pushing too hard all the time instead of being mindful of the importance of some lower effort intervals as well.  This type of method comes from the Quality over Quantity approach (although one can work up in miles if they are needed), and part of some training I learned from an old coach, mixed with my craziness.

Brie: How does interval-based training work? What is it about the intervals that translates into healthy, strong, and fast athletes?

Coach Michele: Typically, one will reap the benefits from interval training sooner than other types.  Again, percent effort is key here. Usually within a few days, whereas, hills for example take a week.  But combine them, and you pack a powerful punch as well.  Practicing long slow mileage isn’t all bad.  It actually can be therapeutic.  However, depending on your goals (and most have a desire to get stronger and faster), one needs to condition their fast twitch muscle fibers.  We are born with different amounts (there are super fast, like Usain Bolt, followed by normal fast, and slow).  Even if you don’t consider yourself a “speedy” runner, it doesn’t mean you can’t get faster (train your muscles and the cognitive side of firing the muscle to act quicker).  And overall stride length x stride frequency is what gets you to the finish line.  Bottom line, if you practice running long and slow, you will be slow, which again, is totally fine.  It just depends on your goals!

Brie: Where did the name Rugged Running come from? 

Coach Michele: Rugged encompasses who I am, but I think most people as well.  We don’t judge, discriminate, or hate here at Rugged Running and simply wanted to state that.  We all have our “crap” in life, so let’s not pretend it’s not there, yet share some life, some help, and some miles on the trails together as Rugged Runners. 

Brie: How would you explain interval training to those who say it’s not safe to do on a consistent basis? 

Coach Michele: I don’t disagree necessarily.  However, again the percent effort is highly emphasized here.  As well as, recovery.  If the coach is not giving recovery days or even weeks in the program than one would for sure want to question it.  However, interval training that keeps the focus on the goals of the athlete and that utilizes recovery days, weeks, methods and percent efforts are indicated all while keeping in mind volume, can be extremely beneficial in helping an athlete reach their goals. 

Brie: What’s your favorite distance and why?

Coach Michele: To race or coach?  To race, probably a 50 mile trail race.  You can start in the dark or sunrise (which I like night running), yet get done in time for dinner.  To coach, typically the gritty, rugged, grindy, hard ultra trail races. But having experience in everything from a competitive road 5k to 100 miles+ trail, has me well equipped to help others in any type of race.  I truly get most excited when clients come to me excited to improve themselves at any level. 

Brie: What’s your advice to someone who is trying to overcome an injury?

Coach Michele: Depends on the injury.  But first off, mental game.  Think positive, no matter the situation. You will and can get through it.  It doesn’t mean you will be living life, running, or moving like you used too, but that is why I truly believe in living life to the fullest, not taking advantage of being able to DNF (meaning, there isn’t always next time).  Get a second or 3rd opinion if it is serious, research for the best doctor you can find, and execute whatever they and/or a PT has to say. Give yourself 5 minutes to cry about it, then get over it…the sooner the better.  All good athletes have injuries, it’s how they handle them that makes the difference. 

Brie: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?

Coach Michele: Caffeine and wine.  Not together!

Brie: What drew you to Coaching? How would you say you’ve evolved as a Coach?

Coach Michele: Haha.. so funny you ask.  I actually fought it for a while there.  I viewed a coach as a washed up, used to be a fast runner/athlete whose glory days were over.  I know that is terrible of me.  I don’t mean to offend coaches out there (there are really exceptional ones), but I guess in short, I falsely felt, if I took on the coaching position that I was done running as an elite.  Eventually though, I realized how gratifying it was.  And how, being faithful as I am, God called me to this, to serve people.  To use my gifts, talents, education, and blessings, to build a community of enrichment and empowerment. 

Brie: You’re continually growing and expanding the Rugged Running family, so what’s next for RR?

Coach Michele: Well just like my personal goals, I have high hopes for RR too!  We have several goals we would like to achieve by the end of the year and next year as well.  One being, partnering with a charity (we are looking into Girls on the Run).  We have also added our first coach that isn’t me, Belmont Boswell, and she is doing great!  We plan to hire a few more coaches over the next couple years as demand continues to increase.  I will still oversee all programs and coaches, however, it would be nice to have extra motivators on the team when I am unavailable and to be able to reach more people then I can coach personally.  We are also expanding our product offerings to include lower cost alternatives for people that either don’t want a coach or can’t afford one.  This includes launching our group training programs and establishing basic training programs for those who need just a maintenance type program or for those who just want to get their feet wet for now.  And one goal that is very important to us, is to give $100,000 to select charities over the next 5 years!

Brie: If you could only give one piece of advice, what would it be?

Coach Michele: Never settle in a race...never settle in life.

Thanks to Coach Michele for sharing more of her knowledge and self with us!

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