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I am SO excited to introduce you to another one of my AMAZING runners! So, I’ve technically “known” Vanda since we were seniors in high school – because my boyfriend at the time (now husband) sorta kinda coached her when she was running track in high school.  He then went on to coach her for one year in college, and while we never really actually met, I’ve known her name for over 10 years now.

So, when one of my other runners referred her to me, I was really excited to get to know her and start training her!  She immediately amazed me with her drive + determination to follow-through with her goal of running a marathon every year for 10 years!  Plus, this girl travels all over the WORLD to run races, which is just simply amazing to me!

Meet Vanda below, and be sure to join the Badass Running Buddies Community to meet more of my AMAZING running buddies, and become one yourself!

Name: Vanda

Age: 32

Hometown: Los Angeles, but currently STL

Occupation:  Physical Therapist


Number of years running: 18 years. Ran HS and collegiate XC and T&F for 8 of those years. And I’ve been doing halves and fulls ever since; probably always will until my legs fall off.

Favorite Distance to Run: 5 miles. Easy to get in if you have a busy day and it still feels like you’ve done a gratifying amount of a workout.

Favorite or Most Memorable Race: Any of the RunDisney races. Disney definitely knows how to put on a great show. You will never be bored because of all of the wonderful entertainment and support on the course. Everyone is there to have a great time, and if you don’t come in costume then you are definitely under-dressed. Every mile is magical at Disney.

Biggest/Best Running Accomplishment:  Berlin Marathon 2015. Cried tears of joy as I crossed the epic Brandenburg Gate which was the finish line. Despite the airline losing my luggage, the jet lag and excessive walking the day before the race, I was able to PR big time and break 4:00:00 by almost 13-min without struggling. This race made me believe in myself.

Why did you decide to hire a running coach? I was scared of the fact that I proved to myself that I could run a race, and run a decent time with mediocre training. I didn’t want to teach myself that this was ok, because it is not. I don’t consider myself a spring chicken, and my slowly, aging-body needs to take more responsibility to make sure I am well rounded with cross training, strength training, stretching, etc. As a PT, I treat tons of weekend warriors that end up injuring themselves because of mediocre training. I will not be one of them.

What have you gained from working with a running coach? Kristen keeps me accountable and her workouts take me out of my comfort zone to push me to be better. I know I have potential, but she is helping me untap it. I am learning that a recovery run is just as valuable, if not more important than those hard, speed workouts. I used to try to run every single one of my training sessions at GMP but this only burned me out mentally and/or cause unnecessary aches and pains. She has definitely opened my eyes with her training approach, and its working.

What advice can you give to someone who is just starting their running journey? Runcations are worth it. Make a point to travel somewhere new every year, domestic or international. Running a race in a foreign place makes you feel like a kid with rose-colored glasses. There’s always something exciting about exploring a new place on foot. When you walk into a race expo, there’s that feeling like you are with your kind of people even if you don’t know anyone in town. You can always make money, but you can’t always make memories. And all of that hard work and training that you do to prepare for your runcation makes the race that much more special. And you’ll never know what you’ll learn about yourself.

Want to become online running buddies with me + other runners across the globe, and have the chance to be featured on The Concrete Runner?!  Join the Badass Running Buddies Community and apply to be featured on the blog!  Runners of all ages, genders, and ability levels are welcome to be a part of our GROWING online community!