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Neely Gracey

Neely Gracey

Neely was born into this sport, literally. Her dad (Steve Spence, 1992 Olympic marathoner and 1991 World Champs Bronze Medalist) was running the Boston Marathon on the day she was born. She grew up in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and in 8th grade set some big goals for herself.

While running for Shippensburg University, Neely broke Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) records, won 17 PSAC titles, and was named the conference athlete of the year for every season while at Shippensburg from 2008 to 2011. She is an eight-time NCAA DII Champion and still holds two NCAA records.

In 2016, Neely debuted at the Boston Marathon and was the first American finisher in 2:35. Later that year, she took it a step further with a 2:34 and 8th place finish at the NYC marathon. In 2017, Neely clocked victories at Rock ‘n Roll’s Arizona, New Orleans, and Chicago Half Marathons and was Runner-Up at the USA half marathon and 25k Championship races. She is excited for what the next year will bring as she pauses from her running career to start a family. She ultimately hopes to build towards the 2020 Olympic year.

Today, Neely lives in Boulder, CO with her husband Dillon and their Vizsla, Strider. They are happily entrenched in the running community. Between training, and competing, she enjoys coaching and helping other runners chase their goals!



Big breakthroughs don’t happen overnight. Steve shows us the importance of realistic goal setting, diligent training, and investment to physical and mental conditioning goes a long way. To qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon is a goal for many. Read about how Steve grabbed his fifth BQ, on a hilly course in Atlanta, while finishing 1st in his Age Group!

  • Qualifying for my 5th Boston Marathon and placing 1st in my age group at the marathon distance for the first time since I started running marathons 11 years ago.

  • Staying true to the Runcoach training plan, support from my Runcoach coach, Hiruni, and terrific support from my wife who would drive a few miles to meet me midway through my long run and provide hydration, nourishment, and a word of encouragement.
  • My biggest obstacle in reaching my goal was gaining enough confidence that I could once again run the distance at a speed sufficient to qualify for Boston. For the last few years, I’d been coaching myself and usually finished the marathon running on fumes and 5 to 10 minutes over the qualifying standard. Signing up with Runcoach gave me a more informed training plan which was challenging, but achievable. Having a highly trained and motivated coach to confer with really put me over the top.
  • Week after week I could feel the difference in strength, speed, and endurance. As I worked through speed workouts, tempo/threshold runs, and long runs on Saturdays, my confidence that I would accomplish my goal grew dramatically. Daily training plans are focused on preparing ones body to reach new capabilities, but the sum total of weeks and weeks of training prepares one’s mind to support the body during the race. There will be times when you start to doubt the body can keep going and that’s when your mind speaks about your training and that you can do this.


  • Unless you are sick or injured, push yourself out the door and get started. There may be days when your energy is low and you really don’t feel like working, but if you just get started, it’s amazing how quickly that changes. More than once, I was convinced I would not be able to complete the prescribed workout, but the outlook changed after getting that first couple of miles completed. Focus on the element of the workout you are performing and don’t think about the next element until it is time.


  • Knowing my goal race was a bit hilly (Atlanta), I sought out some hills to incorporate into my training, but there was no linkage in the training plan to the elevation changes of my goal race, nor any specific hill workouts included in the training plan. Also, there is no option to edit a workout uploaded from Garmin to indicate the workout was actually a race and not just another run. In order to post my results for races, I’d have to manually load my finish time and then I’d have to delete the details of the run data that came over from Garmin or it would double up the mileage.
  • Ron is a former competitive Road Cyclist who set a goal to complete his first marathon in 2019. Read about Ron's training experience, and how his determination to succeed led to a stellar, well executed 3:33 marathon debut in Tel Aviv!
    c314bf8Ron_Ayal_TLV_marathon_2019_copy
  • Completion of my first Marathon (in 03:33:52hrs)
  • A perfect training plan and amazingly accurate and personal support by Runcoach's team ( in my case - wonderful coach Hiruni Wijayaratne) that I followed with determination, dedication and faith in myself, in the coaching team and the application that proved over and over to be right to the point.


    What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?
  • Going over the top.... Every time I tried to go too far, too fast, too early - I paid the price. physically and mentally. I learned to trust the plan, follow the coaches advises and listen to my body. I learned to recognize my limits while not letting them to hold me back and most of all I learned to look at the long term goal...
  • Being able to accomplish the goals I set every time anew. Follow my dreams and doing so in a most enjoying way. Also the new PR's the plan helped me to set again and again were a very nice bonus ;)
  • First decide what your goal is. It might sound obvious but setting the right goal(s), especially on an application based plan, is a tricky game that would influence any aspect of your training. Consult the team! - They have the experience to help you set the right goals and the dedication to take you there. Follow the plan and have faith in it but also listen to your body. If you're heading for a marathon take the time to build up and prepare. Runcoach will give you the best plan and coaching but this up to you to execute the plan while taking care of your physical and mental health - Nutrition, Hydration, rest - they all has to be carefully taken care of. And most important - Don't forget to enjoy... A goal race is a single event on a given day with a rewarding outcome. However in long distance runs it's the way leading to this day which is really is the most important...
  • I was amazed by the accuracy and the effectiveness of the application in terms of improvement and projection. It prescribes precisely what you should do - not too easy and not too hard with proven outcomes. But what really impressed, and later also motivated me was the personal attitude in the email support - I hadn't expect it to be so personal, dedicated and caring. I discovered not only professionals but also great people who really cares about you.



    What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience?
  • 1. Adaption and fine-tuning for the metric system. The app does all sort of funny things when it comes to adapt for meters/km both in plan and in communications. 2. Allowing choice of different setting of weekdays - not anywhere in the world the week begins on Mondays... 3. Trail runs and ascents/uphill runs - The application doesn't offer any reference to those conditions which requires a whole different kind of training
Oren ran his first marathon and felt supported throughout the training program. He discovered that he saw progress in fitness and mental approach too.  He is an amazing example of how you can reach for your personal goals despite the work/life stresses surrounding you.

    7d01b88Marathon-medalMajor milestone: Completed my first Marathon!

    What is the secret to your success? Great training plan and support by Runcoach and the entire team! Hiruni, Ashley, Tom and everyone else. We created a plan that worked and I stuck to it. Was prepared for the highs and also the lows of the race day. Hurray, I'm a Marathon runner!

    What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it? There are always inner and outer obstacles. Inner is always the most challenging, with self motivation, self discipline and "coach-ability". Even on race day. The outer obstacles exist for everyone... Career, family life, physical health all require a great balancing act. Learning comes from persistence, miles and suffering it out (with a smile). I'd try not to look at a single training day or even a week, but always keep the long term goal ahead. For me, it's a process of moving forward, making the most out of the balance of internal and external forces.

    What is the most rewarding part of training? It's really great seeing how seemingly long distances have become easy. A half Marathon? No sweat! Let's blast it out!

    What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community? Training an executing a marathon is a completely different ballgame than shorter distances simply since there is much less tolerance for error on race day. I think my most valuable advice is to learn from the long training sessions (over 30km) during buildup and after every workout what needs to be adjusted and then apply it on the next. Trying a new strategy on race day is too late. Marathon is also very sensitive to execution: Nutrition, pace, and pace consistency. Bottom line, it's easier said than done to have everything under control especially for the first race. While avoiding a meltdown is best, I think it's best to prepare for it, at least mentally. It might and will happen, and you need to have faith to endure even if it lasts for a good part of the race.

    Anything else you would like to share? Training with Runcoach was a positive experience! I've trained with personal coaches for many years, and this was the first time going virtual. I found that the adaptive training plan together with personal email support (on my "entry plan") really works, and is definitely cost-effective.

  • What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience? There are several rooms for improvement: - Adaptation of the training programs to the metric system. An example: a workout calling for for 3.2 kms (2 miles) sessions. - Adaption of the website and email literature to the metric system. For example: minutes per mile pace in various communications.
Screen_Shot_2018-12-14_at_10.56.44_AMBrian took on a 28 day challenge to run a Personal Best Half Marathon. Brian works for Runner's World and we have partnered with them to bring Runcoach to people like you. Utilizing our program, He saw his fitness and confidence build as race day approached. He ran 1:20, over 2minutes faster than his previous PR, and shared his experience with us. 

Major milestone:

Running my 13.1 mile PR at the Rehoboth Half Marathon on December 8, 2018. 

What is the secret to your success?
Focus. Focus. Focus!I had been signed up for this race with the idea that it could be a PR type of race. Flat and supposedly fast. While I had been doing a lot of my standard training and logging my usual mileage, I felt really stagnant as a runner. I decided to see what I could do by truly focusing on increasing my speed for this distance with about a month out from the race. Though not ideal to overall training, I was hoping that all of my base training could be converted in a short amount of time. With Runcoach's algorithm seeing my recent runs and race times, it legitimately grabbed my training by the collar and gave me a few slaps in the faces. My speed workouts were longer and more challenging. An extra tempo session was throw into the middle of my training weeks to up my mileage, and my long runs stayed the same but felt more demanding because of the work I was doing during the week. In the end, hitting these workouts--or at least 90% of them--got my physically and mentally primed for my race. And I ran a 1:20:41 to take fifth place in the half. It was about two minutes off my half marathon PR... and I could have kept running after the race! 

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?
Seeing the schedule of workouts, and how it differed from my general training week, seemed daunting at first. But once I forced myself to get through the first week, I found that as long as I started any workout, I had the ability to finish it feeling strong. 

What is the most rewarding part of training?
Being able to bounce training feedback off the Runcoach staff to see where I could be doing something better. It always felt better when I wasn't sure about something to hear that I was way ahead of (the short) schedule and indicating that I was on a good track. 

What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?
Don't fear new workouts. They may seem intimidating, but they will break up the monotony of regular training and give you the assurance that you can run farther and faster than you thought possible. 

What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience?
Maybe some longer explanation in daily emails on what a specific workout will provide to the runner. What is it building, what is the benefit, etc.
    • I have been racing for 15 years, and I think anyone who has been in the sport knows that frustration is part of success. It is never entirely smooth, and when things start going consistently wrong, it is an opportunity for change. Neal shares his story of how things were not working and he kept getting side cramps while racing. He started working with us and, together, we were able to get him back on his feet, running strong, and with new found confidence! Congrats on your sub 2 hour half marathon Neal, and thank you for showing us that change is a good thing!

      Major milestone:Screen_Shot_2018-12-12_at_11.29.35_AM
    • Ran the Rock and Roll Humana Half Marathon under 2 hours, finished at 1:58:52.
    • Staying with my Runcoach training and talking with the coaches.
    • I had cramped on my previous two half marathons so I asked one of the coaches what to do. I was really nervous about cramping again but she told me to try Skratch labs hydration and it worked really well for me. I didn’t cramp and had negative splits throughout the race.
    • Getting stronger each week and feeling more confident that I could reach my goal.
    • Stay with the training and utilize the coaches if you have any issues.
    • I’m excited to start training for my first marathon in 2019.
    • The combination of running and cross training with rest in between helped me to reach my goal, I’m excited about my training for 2019.
    • At Runcoach, we provide training paces for every single run, and the number one thing we find is that a lot of people run too fast on their recovery days.  This leads to fatigue, illness, and higher risk of injury. As a pro runner, the best thing I do is run very slow and easy on my recovery days. Andrew started relaxing and enjoying his easy miles, getting faster by understanding that the hard days should be hard, and the easy days should be easy helped him qualify for Boston and crush his goals.

    • Major milestone:Screen_Shot_2018-12-12_at_11.57.44_AM
    • Setting an all time PR and qualifying for Boston for the first time fifteen years after I ran my first marathon!
    • I've been running marathons since I was 19 back in 2003. Still, I'd never qualified for Boston and thought my training had plateaued. The Runcoach program helped me gradually add weekly mileage in a sustainable way that helped keep me injury free. The speed and tempo sessions throughout the program helped me sustain my ability to run at a race pace onto of the mileage I was building.
    • I'd used other training programs and had injuries that disrupted my training (plantar fasciitis). Runcoach helped in that many of the runs were slightly slower than I thought I need. The steady accumulation of miles ended up being much more meaningful than the focus I had on just pace alone.
    • I set not one but two personal records this year- 3:14 at the San Francisco Marathon then 3:02 at California International. There's no feeling like maintaining and even increasing your pace in the last six miles of the marathon.
    • Other running communities such as Strava helped me find people with similar running goals so I could follow their training and ask them questions as I went through the program.
    • I considered five or six other training programs before I settled on Runcoach. I have a wife and a young daughter (18 months) who also have very busy schedules! In addition to liking the training itself, I really liked that if my weekly schedule had to change, I could make a few quick adjustments in the app and get a new training calendar generated (as opposed to editing dozens of upcoming sessions in iCalendar).
    • I really like the app. It does seem to double upload many of my Strava runs, however, so I have to delete them. Annoying!
    Joseph ran his first 26.2 mile race at the Columbus Marathon this fall. He loved the feeling of setting a goal, working hard, and achieving it! We are thrilled to have been a part of his first marathon and believe his message on being consistent in training helps all of us who are reaching for our goals.

    Major milestone:Screen_Shot_2018-11-13_at_4.08.49_PM
    Completing my first marathon!

    What is the secret to your success?
    Consistency, Runcoach app, and the support of friends and family.

    What is the most rewarding part of training?
    The most rewarding part for me was seeing how each week I was hitting new distances and new times.

    What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?
    Stay consistent with your training, don't let a bad training day ruin other days, and just keep going.

    What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience?
    The app was great for my training, It helped keep me consistent and really helped me stay on track towards my goal. The speed and threshold workouts were great.

    • I have two that, to me, I would see as my biggest milestones. Loosing weight, and in my first year of running, I am proud to say I completed my first marathon in Dublin, Ireland.
    • I find the secret to my success is creating a balance to my daily and weekly life. I set a weekly plan based on my work schedule and how I will spend my time on days off. Training for races and what types of training I do both in the gym and outside of the gym. I also set myself weekly/monthly goals that I aim to achieve and how I aim to achieve these goals over time.
    • I find that one of my biggest obstacles is training alone, I tend to do my training alone. I do plan on joining a local running club soon. I have noticed it is great to run with others and it can be great motivation for not just yourself but others too.
    • I can be honest and say in the past year I never realised how much stronger I could become both physically and mentally. I become more positive and driven to achieve your goals.
    • The best advice I can give is don’t be afraid to talk to others in the community, and the trainers from Runcoach are always happy to give some great advice. Always remember to tell yourself "I can and I will" and instead of saying to yourself one day I will do this and that, you allow yourself to say "today I will achieve my targets I set out for myself".
    • I find the support from the coaches here is amazing. They are so easy to talk to and share your progress with. A huge thank you to everyone at Runcoach who have supported my training and my progress.
    • I think one of the great things about Runcoach is not only the support and advice they offer personally, but their posts on Instagram can be very inspiring too.

    1-Wash your hands! It’s simple, takes one minute, and can protect you from germs that hand sanitizer can’t kill.staying-fit-winter 

    2-Get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 5 times per week. Getting the blood flowing re-oxygenates your body and helps boost your immune system.

    3-Stay well hydrated. In the cooler weather, we forget that hydration is still important!

    4-When you travel, change your clothes and take a shower after every flight to get rid of the germs you encountered en route.

    5-Don’t skimp on sleep! Rest is essential for your health.

    6-Mediatation, yoga, or a short walk to start your day and put your mind in the right place can significantly improve your day.

    7-Cut back on sugary foods and increase your vegetable and protein intake to boost your energy and your immune system.

    8-Spend time outside getting fresh air on a daily basis. 

    9-Avoid sitting down for long periods of time. If you get up every hour to get a drink, walk around, or stretch, your body will thank you.

    10-Smile, laugh, and be happy. One of the most important, but easily forgotten, components of health is happiness!

    Uma is a story if inspiration. She shares the importance of consistency in training, and how following a training plan canScreen_Shot_2018-11-05_at_3.03.46_PM help everyone remain accountable in the pursuit of their goals. But most importantly, Uma shares the benefit of the coach-athlete relationship and we at Runcoach are grateful for all of the runners we get to support.

    Major milestone:
    Marine Corps Marathon 2018 - Ran it in 5:06, which is almost an hour faster than the last two times I ran the same race. 2016 - 6:01 and 2017 - 6:05

    What is the secret to your success?
    Following the schedule given to me by Runcoach, which consisted of speed work, cross training and yoga.

    What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it? Consistent training and training alone combined to form the biggest obstacle for me. I trained alone for the most part, and was lucky enough to run with my local running group for a few of the final long runs. I tried to get over it by committing to reporting my workouts to the coaches at Runcoach and uploading my workouts through the app.

    What is the most rewarding part of training?
    Self awareness - Realizing that I am stronger than I thought - physically and mentally.

    What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?

    Stick to the schedule that the Runcoach app gives you. Report back to the coaches via email. It creates a commitment. Don't skip out on speed work. It was very challenging for me, and I had no track nearby where I felt safe to train alone in the dark hours of the morning. I tried to get in as many speed workouts as I could and that helped a lot to improve my pace.

    Anything else you would like to share?

    I would like to say that the timely encouragement from Coach Cawood and Coach Hiruni went a very long way to help me PR my race. I felt like they were my personal coaches. During a difficult phase during the race, when I wanted to walk the bridge, I told myself that I would not let Coach Cawood and Coach Hiruni down, I would run that bridge. And I did it!

    What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience?

    The overall experience was very awesome. I will do it again. The app needs some upgrades. For tempo workouts, I reported warm up, cool down, drills+strides, speed run and cool down separately so coaches could see my pace, but the app did not total them correctly. So I had to delete all of that and enter one aggregate number which did not show the effort I put into the workout.


    Share your story here!

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