Q&A with Kristy Campbell

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Meet Kristy, the runner and coach behind the blog, Run the Long Road Coaching. When we found out she was running the Philadelphia Rock ’N’ Roll Half Marathon for the 12th time, we jumped at the chance to speak with her. From sharing what inspires her to continue racing to revealing her favorite trail run within the city limits, you won’t want to miss this interview. Kristy’s also a RRCA-certified running coach and NASM-certified personal trainer—she’s helped runners complete their first 5k and marathoners improve their finish times. We hope you’ll find her as motivating as we did!

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1. Why did you first start running?

I started running about 14 years ago purely because it was something I always wanted to try and do. I’d see people running and think, “Maybe I should do that.” I was a competitive cheerleader for most of my life. After college, I couldn’t cheer anymore and needed something else to stay in shape. It was just a fun way to exercise at first, but when I signed up for a 5k with a friend, I was hooked on racing. I signed up with Team in Training to train for my first half marathon. The rest is history! I’ve now completed 11 marathons, one ultra marathon and 25 half marathons.

2. What do you love most about running, and why do you continue to race?

I love seeing the progress. That’s what keeps me going and motivated. I set goals and push myself to attain them. If you work hard and are determined, you’ll see results. I finished my first marathon in over five hours and now my PR is 3 hours and 41 minutes. You always need a goal. Even in the off season, I like to keep my base mileage high.

3. What’s the hardest thing about training?

If you’re not seeing progress, you can get frustrated. For a year and a half, I couldn’t improve my time. I was working hard, but marathon after marathon I couldn’t pick up my speed. I took a hard look at my training to see what I needed to do differently—and I made a breakthrough. Running can be very mental, so when you overcome that hurdle, you’ll go and go.

4. Have you ever competed for a cause, and if so how did that impact your training experience?

In 2002, I raised money through Team in Training, to support cancer research. It’s been really fantastic to see their growth over the years. It’s not rare that you find yourself in a sea of purple. But it’s been a while since I last fundraised. My daughter is now eight months old, so I have to juggle training, coaching and parenting.

5. If you could give your runners one piece of advice, what would it be?

Consistency trumps everything. As long as you’re consistent in your training, getting in X runs per week, you’ll see results. Progress is rarely linear, but hard-work will produce real results. We all hit walls and challenges—even the best runners. I tell my runners to never give up and they’ll make great strides in their training.

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6. What do you love most about being a coach?

I started coaching almost four years ago. It all started when I was sharing training plans with family and friends. One day, I decided to get serious about my coaching, got certified and the business has been growing ever since! Most of my clients are marathoners, but I help runners of all levels and abilities, from beginners training for their first 5k to marathoners completing their 10th race. It’s incredibly fulfilling, as I know what it’s like to achieve long-term running goals and want that for everyone I work with. They have goals and I want to be part of their journey in achieving them.

7. Why did you start your blog, Run The Long Road Coaching?

I was reading a ton of running blogs and thought my husband was tired of hearing about my running all day, every day. By creating a place to share my thoughts and feelings about running, he wouldn’t have to hear it every night. Instead he could check out the blog whenever he felt like it. I ended up writing more frequently than I thought, and it attracted a lot of clients. It’s also helpful to share my training with my clients because it shows that I am human and have bad runs like everyone else. We all have bad races and runs, and I want it to be an honest look at my training — the good, the bad and the ugly.

8. If someone is visiting from out of town for a race, what would you recommend they see and do while in Philadelphia?

If you’re here for the race, Philadelphia has a lot of awesome places to run. All of our major trails connect. I recommend hitting Kelly Drive, an 8.5 mile loop. Start at the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Another favorite trail is Forbidden Drive, a gorgeous, gravel path surrounded by woods — and it’s technically still in the city.

Philadelphia has so much history. After your run, check out the Art Museum. Visit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Constitution Center.

Need some sustenance before the race? As you probably know, we’re famous for our cheesesteaks. I also recommend heading to Reading Terminal Market, a historic, central place to grab a quick lunch.

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