Michele Gonzalez: An Introduction

Michele Gonzalez (left) and her sister Nicole have joined forces for 2014. Photo: Michele Gonzalez

It’s hard for me to answer when I started running because running has always been a part of my life. Maybe not in the “training for a marathon” sense, but always as a way to stay active and/or stay in shape for the other sports I played growing up (basketball and softball). After making the decision to attend West Point, I started running to “just” run since I would be required to run 2 miles as part of the Army Physical Fitness Test. But it wasn’t a love-at-first-run sort of relationship. It took me years before running went from a “have-to” to a “want-to.”

My real love for running began during my last deployment. I was depressed from being away from my husband (boyfriend at the time), family and friends, and was stressed with work requirements and a lack of sleep (I was working 16+ hour days, seven days a week). I turned to running as a form of therapy and way to control one aspect of my life, and it became something like a best friend to me. I trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon during that deployment and returned with a deep love for running that extends far beyond anything physical.

From my very first race (2002 Philadelphia Marathon), I coached myself (I am now coached by a professional coach). I read some running books, studied a few training plans and came up with a plan that fit my lifestyle and preferences. From there, coaching began as a hobby—a few friends were training for half marathons and marathons and asked me to create training plans for them. I was hooked—I loved it. There’s something so exciting about helping someone train for and finish a race and/or set a PR. After starting my blog and joining Twitter in late 2011, I received a few emails from readers about coaching and decided to become formally certified and attended the RRCA class in spring of 2012.

I work on training plans almost every night and for a good part of my Sunday. Each client’s training plan takes time, but the time and energy invested in each person is 100 percent worth it.

My cadet is my youngest sister, Nicole, who lives just 20 minutes away from me! She began running as a way to lose weight but recently got the racing and competitive bug (I blame her coming to cheer me on at races!). We interact on a regular basis about her training plan, how she’s feeling and how the run went, and we plan to do at least 1-2 runs/week together when training picks up (our target race isn’t until December so we have some time). We also will be doing several tune-up races along the way—our first was a 4-miler on Memorial Day. She ran the fastest 4 miles of her life!

For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.

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