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April 01, 2019

Runcoach Success Story: Steve

Written by Neely Gracey
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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.
Last modified on April 01, 2019
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!

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