Hello everyone, I just wanted to give a quick shout out and thank you to my friend and coach Shannon McGinn for helping me train for 3 Days and so many other races over the years.
I’ve been training with Shannon for the past ten years and she’s been such a key to my running success in both marathons and ultra-marathons. She is an extremely skilled and knowledgeable coach who builds a plan that enables me to reach my goals. I’ve trained with her for two marathons and each time she’s coached me, I’ve improved my PR by 15 minutes. I’m currently training for another marathon where I hope to see the same results.
Shannon takes an academic approach to coaching where she’s able to take all the information out there about training, nutrition and strategy and breaks that down for me in a very digestible way. I often get overwhelmed by not having a clear training plan and Shannon creates achievable goals that work around my life, so I don’t fall down the rabbit hole of overtraining.
As my coach Shannon is available to talk about running, fueling for races and recovery and gives me great feedback on how things are going. We constantly adjust my training plan so I can get the best performance possible. The best part about working with Shannon is I don’t have to think about what I’m doing; I just execute the plan she’s created for me. I completely trust Shannon’s coaching skills because training with her has given me the greatest successes I’ve ever had.
I recently ran a six-day race where I logged 356 miles and Shannon was a big part of my success. Being a good friend for the past decade, Shannon regularly checked up on me throughout the race and kept me focused on solving problems and reaching goals. When my race was on the line and I needed advice to run the last 50 miles in 12 hours, I called Shannon and she advised me with nutrition and pacing to help me reach my goal.
Whether you’re training for your first 5k or looking for a new PR, I highly recommend Shannon McGinn as a coach that can help you reach your goals.
In 2015 when my running plateaued, I decided to seek out a running coach. This can be very daunting. Just about every running coach has a web site, a presence on social media and many certifications. But even then, it’s hard to determine how knowledgeable they actually are and whether or not they’d be a good fit.
When I finally found Shannon’s blog, I immediately wanted to work with her. Why? Because she would openly discuss her own experiences with running / racing. She would talk about what went well (FYI - she’s an incredible runner with many records and accolades on her resume). But more importantly, she would emphasize what didn’t go well and what she would do to correct it (with great detail). I quickly realized that if she could critique her own running this well, then she could definitely help me achieve my own goals.
And she did help…immensely! In the four years we worked together, she helped me set new personal records (regularly) in every distance from 400 meters to the marathon. In addition, she helped me find my love for Trail and Ultra Running. She’s helped me set (and later break) PRs in the 50k and 50 mile distances. Lastly, she also encouraged me to go even further and attempt my first 24 hour race, where I finished in the top 10.
Overall, I think any runner who’s willing to put the work in will ultimately find success with Shannon as a coach. I believe you will get the best from her, and she will get the very best out of you.
Antonio, NJ 2021
After working with you as a running coach, I was excited for the opportunity to see what you could do for me regarding resiliency. The process couldn't have come at a better time; we started to work together right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic "stay inside" time. It was challenging for me to have my daughter return from college and my husband, who usually works outside of the house, around all the time. I had some difficulties establishing boundaries and was feeling a bit lost when we first started working together. My work also changed significantly and I was at a loss for how to cope with that.
I really enjoyed how our weekly sessions were guided by the particular areas in my life that I was struggling with and each week we were able to dig into specific issues and also keep working on larger overall themes. You were a great listener and I really enjoyed your recap of our sessions which you emailed me after we met. When I worked with you as a running coach and again as a resiliency coach, I always felt like you genuinely cared about my goals and struggles. You were insightful, compassionate, never judgmental, and gave me clear guidance.
The length of time of each session and the overall time working together was perfect for me. I am grateful to have had your caring support during this time. I will be in touch again for more coaching in the future! Thanks for everything! Amy B, 2020
As a self coached runner for the past 20 years, I always wondered what training with a coach could do for me. When I reached out to Shannon, I knew I was getting ready to age up which would give me an five extra minutes for a BQ. Although I had previously hit my BQ time, it was by too narrow of a margin to actually get in. I hoped with the help of her coaching, I could qualify again with enough of a cushion to actually get in. In addition to running, I also teach indoor cycling classes and was reluctant to give that up. I also had a very limited window of time in which I was able to schedule a marathon because of my work commitments. So with a bunch of restrictions, I reached out to Shannon through the assessment process to see what she thought coaching could do for me. From the beginning, I appreciated her honesty and reality. She created a plan that was challenging but doable, accommodated my schedule and respected my limitations while favoring my strengths.
From the beginning, the workouts were hard but manageable and I grew to love the feedback that she gave each week as she reviewed my workout logs and Pillars of Health. Shannon is insightful and often pointed out issues that seemingly were unrelated to running but ultimately were all about how I was showing up to each workout. She understands that there are many other factors that tie into performance than just what happens when I'm wearing my sneakers. She made me feel heard, respected, and like my goals were her goals too. I valued her insight and knowledge and came to completely trust her guidance. It was a relationship unlike any I've had even though we communicated only online. As a matter of budget, I was a little reluctant to pay for coaching but after working with Shannon, I can say it was worth every penny I paid!
As for my marathon, I was never as confident about my abilities as Shannon was. I used her positive encouragement to hold me steady when I was worrying and set out to run the best race I could. Shannon had suggested I run Big Bear Marathon in CA which was a point-to-point, net decent marathon. I wish I could say I achieved the time that she projected I could run but it didn't go quite that well that day, probably because I got a bit ahead of myself and the goal times she set out for me.Or maybe because the race gained almost 50 degrees from a chilly 30 degree start to a hot 80 degree finish! Regardless, I hit my BQ time by almost 5 minutes and hope that will be enough to earn me a bib in Boston 2021. It was a great feeling and Shannon was the first person I reached out to after crossing the finish line.
Working with Shannon was a great experience for me. She taught me so much about running, fueling, and pacing. But she also taught me some amazing lessons about myself. I hope to have the opportunity to train with her in the future, maybe as I get ready for Boston 2021!
Amy B, 2019
I first reached out to Shannon last year after running the Atlantic City marathon in October and not getting the time I wanted or thought I had trained for, I ran a 4:05 and was shooting for a Boston qualifying time of 3:45. I decided to register for the NCR trail marathon which was only 5 weeks after Atlantic City so I really had no idea how to train to go from one to another in such a short time. Shannon was very responsive to my email and I did an assessment and had a plan that I really liked within a few days. I ended up running the NCR marathon in 3:47 which was a 4 min PR from my previous marathon PR, while it still wasn't the BQ that I wanted it was still a pretty significant PR.
Fast forward to 2018, I registered for the Steamtown marathon, while I couldn't really afford coaching I decided to just follow a plan I found, I ran Steamtown in 3:41, which was a 6 min PR and would've been a BQ had the times not changed a few weeks before.It was abnormally hot for October and I decided I would try for the NCR trail again, I again reached out to Shannon and she was very responsive to my email.First she was congratulating me on the PR, then just asked that I fill out an assessment form, I really like how thorough the form is and how thorough Shannon's email response to my answers was. We only had a few weeks again to try to get me to the time I wanted. Shannon is very straight forward and I loved that while talking to her, we discussed my goals and a few things that I could work on tweaking and I worked on the things we discussed and she also worked with my schedule of going on a 2 week cruise right before my race and gave me alternative workouts that could be done on a treadmill or track of the cruise ship. I told Shannon I wanted to be challenged and she did just that and gave me hard enough workouts that I was able to hit the goals but also not burn out or get injured. I really loved how each workout had a specific purpose and how Shannon even gave me pacing goals for my race. Shannon emailed after my first 20 mile run of the plan and her message actually brought tears to my eyes, telling me that I had to pace to run my goal time and I just needed to believe that I could do it, well that message stuck with me and I repeated it over and over to myself during my race. Well I ended up running a 3:34:09 which is my BQ time plus almost a 6 minute cushion and almost a 7 minute PR.
If you have a specific goal or are just looking to improve your running times, I would highly recommend Shannon's coaching services. I've been running marathons for over 10 years and I finally feel like i'm reaching my potential after having the little push/help that I needed.
Dawn L., 2018
I started working with Shannon in May of 2017. I reached out to her because my friend wanted me to pace the last 24 miles of a 100 mile race with her. My longest distance at that time was a half marathon. I knew that if I was to be a good pacer, than I needed to have more consistency and focus to my training. I had heard about Shannon, through this same friend, and I knew how much Shannon had helped her to achieve her goals. As soon as I reached out to Shannon, I saw why she is so successful with her coaching. She is responsive, encouraging, and thorough! She immediately suggested that I set my own goal in addition to pacing my friend and I decided to use the increased mileage base to run my first marathon. Through her expertise, I was able to PR my half distance, comfortably pace my friend, and run my first marathon. Her guidance and experience were incredibly helpful. She is an inspiring force and you can tell that she is truly invested in seeing her runners succeed.
Mark W, 2017
I decided to reach out to Shannon because she is a warrior! I had followed her from afar for a couple of years, reading her race blogs and posts. She is so thorough and very meticulous on meeting everyone's needs. I will never be a world class runner or even a state class runner. My goal is to do my hardest and train and be able to run for the rest of my life. Shannon respects those goals and makes you reach as high as possible. Nothing is a failure. You learn from all your runs. You feel like a hero with her!
She individualizes everyone's program and gives a reason for each workout. She prepares you for a race. You can try to stump her on questions but you can't. She will find the answer and they all make sense. If you need to tweek your program, she does it for you.
You need to trust her and listen to her plan. Her goal is for you to meet your goals and prevent injuries. I would recommend Shannon to anyone who would like to improve and reach their goals.
I trained for 11 weeks total for the Boston Half. What a hilly course that was!! I wouldn't think too much if I was just running on a regular day. However as a race course, it was tough. I was 21 seconds off of my PR. I still consider it a PR since my last PR was on an easy course! Nothing worse than being 21 seconds off! You might say if I would just have pushed more but I could not have!! I gave it my all from start to finish. I listened to Shannon's words IN my head. I followed her strategic plan for my race. She analyzed the course and trained me accordingly. She gave me a strategic plan for each mile. She told me to write it on my arm. There was no need for that since I had memorized it over and over. I followed it to the best of my ability. I pushed and pushed. Many thanks to Shannon for having confidence in me and for pushing me. Two thumbs way up!! I DON'T THINK I COULD EVER TRAIN FOR A RACE AGAIN WITHOUT THE ONLINE TRAINING. SOP, 2017
I've been getting consistently faster and stronger. Email feedback is always prompt and thorough. Whenever I needed my schedule adjusted for any reason, it's done without question. It's difficult to think of more a running coach could provide.
Bryan Corrado, 2017
I am sharing my experiences working with Shannon McGinn as my coach to highly recommend her to anyone who needs help reaching their running goals. Shannon took the time to learn about me, both through the initial assessment process and then through interactive email communication. I was eager to learn and Shannon loved to teach and share her very broad and deep range of knowledge that spanned not just running, but the physical and psychological aspects that go into running. I could tell from Shannon's perceptive feedback and overall supportive approach that she would be the perfect coach for me.
I joined Shannon's Online Coaching Program in May 2016 to help me prepare for the NYC Marathon, which was also my first ever marathon. Shannon created a training plan that helped to gradually build both the volume and frequency of my running. I learned to make changes in my daily routine in order to accommodate the increased demands that I was taking on to reach my running goal. Thanks to Shannon, I was able to go from running once a week on the weekend, typically no longer than 10 miles, to up to 5 days a week, with peak mileage of 40 miles. One of the things I love and appreciate about working with Shannon is that she helped create a part of my life with running that felt under control, which in turn has helped me to feel better about managing all the other parts of my life.
In addition to the running itself, Shannon helped me with lots of the support requirements that go into running. This included learning about fueling and hydration and making sure I had sufficient calorie consumption for longer training runs. Shannon's supportive approach was very encouraging, so I never felt there was ever a question that was too stupid to ask. Shannon would always respond promptly and give me the guidance I needed.
Leading up to the NYC Marathon, Shannon sent me detailed emails geared for the race, including an elevation chart for the course, clothing options depending on the weather, pace recommendations and guidance on nutrition, including carb loading. We spoke by phone to go through everything and mainly to help put me at ease. I went into the race feeling very confident and excited, because Shannon's training had me very well prepared. I had a wonderful experience at the NYC Marathon and was able to not only finish my first marathon in under 5 hours, but to also complete it with a negative split. When I had first started training with Shannon, I just wanted to finish the NYC marathon and hopefully do so in under 6 hours. I learned so much over the course of training with Shannon and am so grateful for all of her support. And beyond all of that, it felt so good to know how Shannon truly shared in my happiness with my results. She really cares about the people she coaches and that was so motivating for me to do my best.
I am very excited to continue with Shannon as my coach to help me further grow as a runner and continue to support the healthy habits I need to feel happy and strong. - Abigail Garb, Edison, NJ, 2016
I started working with Coach Shannon two years ago after setting a goal to BQ at the Steamtown Marathon. I had been training on my own using a cookie-cutter intermediate/advanced training plan, and while I saw minor improvements in my finish times, it wasn’t enough to take 10 minutes off my PR.
Once I received my first training plan from Shannon, it was immediately clear why. Shannon’s plans are tailored to each individual athlete and developed in a way to ensure that you are prepared to achieve your goals. Each workout had a purpose and a targeted pace. I not only met my goal, but I exceeded it with a 16:10 minute PR and a BQ with 13:46 to spare.
Since then, Shannon’s coaching and guidance have enabled me to PR at pretty much every distance from 10k to 50 miles and beyond. Working with Shannon has also encouraged me to try distances I never thought I would be able to run, including a 12-hour race (where I broke the female course record by 5 miles) and not one, but two 24-hour races where despite difficult circumstances, I walked (or rather hobbled) away with 100-mile belt buckles.
The most amazing thing about Shannon beyond her customized training, is how much she cares about each athlete. Shannon works with many athletes on top of juggling other responsibilities and yet, when you reach out to her with questions, she treats you like you’re the only person she is focusing on. She truly wants the best for each of her athletes and provides the support necessary for us to succeed.
There are so many times when I doubt myself and my abilities, despite the countless hours I devote to training. But Shannon always believes in me, and her confidence enables me to believe in myself. I can’t thank Shannon enough for everything she has done to help me develop into the athlete I am today.
- Rebecca S., NJ, 2016
Shannon has now trained me through two transformative races.First came the 2014 Philadelphia Marathon.After my marathons 3, 4, and 5 were all run within about 90 seconds, I broke through and improved my PR by almost 5 minutes in marathon #6.Those races spanned November 2011-November 2014.
So, when I got it in my head to run the Comrades Marathon (actually a 55.3 mile ultra) in South Africa in May 2016, I knew who to turn to.Here is why.
Shannon was responsive from the first time I contacted her.She graciously talked about the coaching experience and the idea of an ultra through multiple emails before the actual training program began.She also helped me think through how to overcome some iliotibial band issues that I was facing after running a race to qualify to enter the C starting group in October 2015.
Shannon was thoughtful about my constraints.I am a father of three.I have a time consuming administrative job at a major research university.I expressed to her how difficult twice a day workouts would be.I gave an honest assessment of how long I could spend running any one day.I told her that I have specific work things that just have to happen and that I wanted to miss as few performances and sporting events for my kids as possible.She worked out a training schedule that fit all my constraints.
She developed a plan that was absolutely relevant to the course I was running.This year was a down year at Comrades.That meant a lot of long and steep downhills and some steep ups before the downs.I’ve never had a training program in which I was instructed to run hard downhills before.I was this time.Hard down.Steady back up.And this type of workout would always come before a weekend long.My legs weren’t perfect on the day of the race.But I didn’t stop moving forward (except for a number of bathroom breaks and two places to get quick rubdowns with arnica ice), I could keep up a decent pace even when doing a run/walk mix, and I was able to run across the finish line, walk onto the plane the next day, and be ready for some light runs later the same week.I was prepared.
She challenged me.She never said it was going to be easy.(Comrades advertises that it humbles you.)And the biggest challenge was a full marathon as part of a 70 mile week during which I was not trying to set a new PR but to come within 10 minutes of the PR so that I could move up a starting group.And not only did she challenge me but she prepared me for the challenge.She gave me a plan.I stuck to the plan.And I succeeded.
She taught me how to be safe.This is an incredibly important aspect of preparing to double the longest distance I’d ever run.How to keep to a plan.But not just for timing.For consuming liquid.And for consuming calories.
She prepared me to respect what I could not control.The weather was warmer than it had been when I left the US.I had stomach issues two days before the race.But I was prepared to face the unforeseeable.
And in the end, I ran a 9:47:54. Very satisfied with my first attempt at this distance.And strong enough to take joy in just having the opportunity to chase my dream and experience the adventure.
Would I turn to her again if I were looking for a third transformative race?For sure! - Kevin, Baltimore, MD, 2016
Since I have been running most of my life, I never gave coaching much thought. I figured my years coached as middle/high school cross country runner gave me all I needed to know. That was until I began to see the changes in my fellow running buddies as they began to work with Shannon. Not only were their times far surpassing mine, but they had a new focus and control to their training I hadn't seen before.
Once I started working with Shannon I really understood why. She is holistic and comprehensive in her approach to you as an athlete. She uncovered errors in my fueling and strength training habits that I had never thought to examine (and likely wouldn't have been addressed in other coaching programs). Her recommendations are not only research-based (which I appreciate being in the healthcare field), but they come from personal experience with the sport. Most importantly, Shannon understands and supports her athletes in balancing their training with their personal lives. I regret not starting with Shannon earlier. Her coaching has become not a luxury but a necessity in my training. Jessica, 2016
When I came to Shannon for coaching, I had very different goals than what a typical runner might have who looks for a coach. I didn’t have a goal race to train for, or a PR to target, and I generally didn’t care much about running far or fast. I’ve yo-yo’ed with running a lot over the years, with somewhat bipolar feelings toward running—I would get excited and sign up for marathons, then burn out from training for them and quit running for a year (and repeat a few times over). My main goal was to figure out how to incorporate running into my life (the right amount of running) in a way that wouldn’t burn me out, and that I could maintain consistently so that I can be happy and healthy.
I admit it was more of a “warm fuzzy” kind of goal, and part of me wondered if Shannon could really get me there if my goal was less “measureable.” But she was willing to take on the challenge, so I was willing to do whatever she told me to do. Shannon set off getting me back into shape (starting from zero). At first I just appreciated having someone to keep me accountable, and help me get through the difficult time of starting over.
But over time, I came to really appreciate what was truly special about Shannon’s coaching style—the way she personalizes it for each individual runner. This is what sets her apart. She doesn’t just turn over a training plan. She encourages a large amount of communication, and she pays attention to all the details you give her, including how you feel, what’s going on in your life, and how it affects your training, and she actively thinks about how to modify both your training plan as well as how she coaches you—to meet your goal. Most of the time I didn’t even realize it was happening. I thought she was incredibly patient the times I bit her head off (“you want me to spend HOW much time on strength training?” *hugs*), and very encouraging when I was feeling unmotivated or too stressed from other parts of life to train. In those times, I was just trying to get through my days. But Shannon was learning, and using the information to help me get to my goal.
She started to know my running needs better than I did. She also recommended things that I didn’t ask about or ever gave any thought to, but might be the most brilliant and insightful ideas I’ve heard. (“I have a tendency to get lost a lot, and trip and fall.” “I think you would like running trails.” “Okay coach, good idea.”) ;) It really shows that Shannon is always thinking about her clients’ needs, and truly wants them to succeed, however they define “success.”
Not to under-emphasize it, though—Shannon does know what she is doing with the practical part of training, too. While running faster was never my goal, after four months of training with Shannon, I am now on par with both my 5K and half marathon PRs, and I don’t even feel like I’m in my best shape, nor am I anywhere near the peak amount of training I had done in the past. I’m not sure how she works that kind of voodoo, but she’s doing something right there, and even I can appreciate that. Now I love looking at graphs of my progress, and how every month I’ve dropped 30 seconds off my average training pace. She told me early on she thinks I’m capable of more than I think I am. I now believe her. If I ever decide to adopt a loftier performance goal in my running, Shannon is the one I’d want by my side.
I thought about waiting to write a testimonial until after I felt I achieved my goal. But then I took a step back and realized what Shannon has done for me already—I am already a happier runner. I have learned a lot about my own needs as a runner, how to accept them, and how to adapt my running routine to fit my life. Isn’t that what I wanted? Shannon pulled a “Miyagi”—she took a goal that I doubted she could do in the first place, that takes a lot more insight and attention than just knowing what kind of training plans work, and helped me reach it--and I didn’t even realize she was doing it. That deserves a major tip of the hat, and is why I have to share this recommendation now. Don’t worry, though, Shannon—I won’t be dropping out of your roster anytime soon. Wax on, wax off.
- Becky W., NJ, 2016
You have been such an inspiration to me. Since starting to run with you I have watched myself grow and develop in many ways. When I first started, I remember that I was in a really low point in my running. I had good times in the past year that I was trying to get back to but it was impossible to me. I was suffering from depression and a lot of pain in my body unsure of what was causing it. I had just started a new job working nights and running wasn't an easy task. I remember that I could barely make it through two miles without having to stop and walk. I was so upset with myself and had become depressed.
When I started working with you everything changed, slowly but surely. You started working on my base. Although I wanted things to happen quickly I knew that you were training me and doing what was best, so I listened.
Over time I watched myself develop. I had many set backs in my training, but you never gave up on me and only encouraged me more. I feel that you believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. When I wanted to give up on the marathon training you encouraged me to keep trying.
For the first time last week I was able to run 14 miles on a very hilly course. I was so proud of myself and I knew I was truly getting better. It was a really rough last couple of months and you have not only been an amazing coach, but an awesome friend and support system. I went from being depressed and unsure of running to being so much happier and loving running again.
When my grandpa got sick, you helped me train harder so I can do this marathon for him. You have been such an amazing help to me. My running has improved, my health has improved, and my life has improved from your coaching. I am not only a new and improved runner but a new and improved person. I have to thank you for that!
I am actually looking forward to running with the team this year and training for my race. No longer do I feel like it is impossible. You have helped me get so far.
I love that you reply to my emails so quickly and understand when I constantly have to change around the schedule you have planned because of work/family life. You never give me a hard time about making changes and are always willing to work with my crazy schedule. Thank you so much for everything you have done. I am looking forward working with you for a very long time! I know that I can do so much with my running because you have helped me discover that. You have helped me realize that I have potential and I can do well with your training.
Thank you so much!
- Paulette, NJ, 2016
Prior to 2015, some of the best running I’d done was out in Chicago while in graduate school back in 2007/2008. After building my career, getting married, and having two children I was eager to get back to Boston and a new marathon PR. Getting in the miles was never the issue for me, but committing to a plan was. I hated the sight of those 16 week plans. Every mile was pre-determined 16 weeks in advance. There was no flexibility or accountability and so these plans never really worked for me. My prior training history would have best been described as “run whatever the heck you feel like”.
Needless to say, I came to Creating Momentum with history of very unfocused training despite some seriously lofty goals.
Shannon brought focus to my training for the first time in my 19 running years and for me, the results were instant. 10 days into her training program I PR-ed in the 10K. 8 months later I have PR-ed several times over in every distance.
You can’t argue with these numbers:
But why does it work?
1. Shannon wants you to succeed She answers endless emails, writes the most motivating pre-race strategies, and if you are lucky enough to see her at the end of a great race, she is almost as excited as you are with the result. She also knows how to curb the enthusiasm when necessary because there is a point at which the overly ambitious become loose cannons =P
2. The plan is evidence-based As someone with a science background, knowledge-based training was important to me. I wanted to be able to trust in the advice I am given and I value the time and effort Shannon puts into advancing her education to benefit her athletes.
3. The plan is flexible If you tweak a muscle sprinting to catch Anthony on the second lap of his road mile, she may take miles away from you. You might be bummed out by this… but she is right and you should rest!
4. The plan evolves with the athlete My second training cycle is in full swing and as the miles ramp up and the training times come down, I can see all the progress I have made. But just in case I didn’t have hard evidence to back that up, I made sure to complete my assessment at the end of cycle 1/beginning of cycle 2.
Creating momentum has been the missing piece in the pursuit of my running goals. I’m so grateful that I was introduced to Shannon and so looking forward to continuing to grow as a student of the program.
Thank you, Shannon and Creating Momentum for always keeping me inspired to work my hardest and do my best. Now about that extra two-a-day… =)
- Nikki Drader, NJ, 2015
I found out this fast girl named Shannon McGinn was going to switch clubs and join our running team at the start of the 2014. I was happy for the team, but little did I know it would be so much more. I only knew about the mystical famous Shannon McGinn from a couple of anecdotes at the time.
I knew she was a speedy runner and a coach. Apparently, she could run 50 mile races and write up training plans at the same time. Above all Shannon is a good friend who would help you with anything. Sometimes goals are set for different reasons. Running goals can be about defeating a rival, overcoming the odds or being the best you can be.
There are many different reasons to want to run a marathon. I signed up for my first marathon after 4 years of running on New Year’s Day 2015. I probably still had some alcohol in me. As the winter went on I had a rough go of it including injuries and others things. Though I had some speedier times in the past, I was pretty much starting over.
The great thing about Shannon is she doesn’t just ask your paces, past times and gives you a plan to follow. Shannon has a very unique and different coaching method for each runner. Life is not only about running after all, running is only one part of it. There are always other things going on. If you need to be babied along, Shannon will do it. If you just need a solid rigid structure to follow, Shannon will do it. If you need a dominatrix in your life, Shannon will (?) do it.
She has daily and constant interaction throughout your training and will use your feedback to constantly adjust the plan if it is needed. Shannon will also put up with constant Yankees and WWE updates in addition to bad jokes. She will help you through anything going on from nursing minor injuries to just feeling crappy.
The training always had a coherent solid plan to it, even when I didn’t. I felt myself improve throughout the process and getting close to former glory. I really look forward to the next training cycle to meet and surpass my former times. I have confidence in Shannon to guide me there.
You should know I write this two days before my marathon, gone insane from taper madness. I highly, highly recommend contacting Shannon McGinn for your coaching needs. - Anthony D,, NJ, 2015
Working with you was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I've done, not only in running but in life as well.
You inspired me to reach levels I never thought possible before I began your training plan.
A couple years ago, I would say that my goal was to run in the Boston Marathon, but believing that would most likely never happen. You changed my way of thinking and got me into BQ shape in 20 weeks. If not for some unfortunate weather, I know I'd have reached my goal.
I can't wait to start up with you again for Chicago. Asking you to coach me was one of the best decisions I made.
- Rich Timlen, NJ, 2015
2014 was a banner running year with completing the 48.6 miles in 4 days Dopey Challenge, an ultra marathon distance PR of 50 miles and finally breaking the 4 hour barrier (3:53:41) at the Steamtown Marathon. Hitting these milestones inspired me to go further. Qualifying for running the Boston Marathon someday didn't seem like such a pipe dream anymore. A 100 kilometer (62 mile) to 100 mile ultra marathon didn't appear as intimidating. Thus I set my sights on working to knock down my marathon times and increase my ultra running distance. Which to do first? After looking at races, I decided to concentrate on the ultra distance goal for a major spring race first. The race I chose - 24 Hour Race at 3 Days at the Fair held at the Sussex County Fairgrounds on May 14, 2015.
Despite having a lot of triumphs in 2014, something was missing with my running. This was consistency with training. My biggest problem was making things up as I went along. Many of my training weeks were not written or even well thought out. For example, I'd think of running 5 miles and cut it down to 3 because of staying up too late the night before and surfing the internet until the early afternoon. Long runs were even more problematic at times. If I didn't budget my time accordingly for other life tasks, I'd end up saying forget it and do it the next day. I needed structure if I wanted to go further and faster with my goals. After some discussions with friends, the answer was get a coach.
Who to chose to help me with my goals? The answer was Shannon McGinn. I've known Shannon for a few years seeing her at races, becoming friends on Facebook, following her race reports and reading testimonials of happy runners who have gone very far with using her coaching services. Shannon is very knowledgeable, thorough, honest, compassionate and supportive. Her pre-coaching assessment process and wanting to know what I was looking for set up a process to train. After being accepted into her Online Coaching Program, training began at the end of December.
Shannon's training plans were flexible, but rigorous. She wanted to know as soon as possible if my work schedule changed so she could adjust my plans. Workouts were not eliminated to accommodate work schedule changes. No matter my work hours, if I wanted to be ready for my 24 hour race, I had to do the work. Over the months leading up to my 24 hour race, I truly believe I have become a better runner and person. As the weeks went by and the mileage went up, I learned to budget my time to get the workouts done. No longer was I staying up late to watch TV, surf the internet and online games were sacrificed. Every hour and minute saved went to running and I peaked at 80 miles in my last week before tapering.
Shannon's training program was also very interactive. Emails following workouts were required. This also provided a sense of accountability which motivated me more. I wanted to send emails with my workouts, thoughts and feelings as opposed to "I didn't run because..." Her responding to emails was something I really loved about her program. She was always encouraging, addressed concerns and answered questions. A phone conversation reinforced the direction of the plans to the goal. I always felt like I mattered and was always excited to send my workout reports.
All the hard work paid off with a new distance PR of 72 miles at my first 24 hour race. I exceeded my acceptable goal of 100K and have the confidence of reaching 100 miles at an ultra marathon someday. I look forward to working with Shannon for future goals and highly recommend her to anyone looking to go far with their running endeavors.
Thank you so much Shannon!
- Dean Giering, NJ, 2015 (See Dean's Guest Blogger Race Report Here).
As an active runner for the last ten years I have slowly but surely increased the number of races I compete in, while lowering the finishing times of those races. Seeing myself as an ultra-marathon runner, I’ve trained relentlessly for races longer than the traditional 26.2 mile distance. I’ve completed races that range from 50k (31 miles) to 100 mile to 72 hour running events.
Since running my first marathon more than 10 years ago, I never gave much thought into that distance. I would simply show up to the starting line with whatever ultra-marathon training I currently had. Needless to say, this process did not make for quality marathon times.
This spring I had a talk with my mentor, coach and friend Shannon and we discussed a racing plan for the Steamtown Marathon where I would try to shoot for a new personal record. Besides aiming for a new PR, I was also going to look to qualify for the Boston Marathon for my age group, which means I would have to train harder than ever before.
Based on my running goals, Shannon devised a plan that included speed work, hill training, long runs in the range of my goal pace and weekly mileage goals. Over the course of 4 months, we met once a week at the track for speed work, gradually increasing the number of repeats at the pace she set. In the weeks leading up to the marathon we met for long runs and worked together to reach my training goals.
I have never focused so long and so hard on one particular race. With the research, expertise, commitment and positive encouragement Shannon provided, I chopped 15 minutes off my best marathon time to finish the Steamtown Marathon in 3 hours and 17 minutes.
Thanks to Shannon I realized I have much more potential than I ever thought I had. Though I didn’t run a Boston Qualifying time, I still took a huge chunk out of a previous PR by more than 30 seconds a mile. I am highly encouraged to continue training with Shannon and look forward to toeing the starting line at the next marathon with confidence.
- Dave "SUPERDAVE" Lettieri, NJ, 2014
By now, I have been training with Shannon for about a year. Before we worked together, I used to design my own training program, based on the classic 10% weekly increase, putting a lot of hours of research, trials and errors, and the worst part getting, injured following somebody's advice.
The first thing Shannon did for me was to review my running history. Based on that, she then designed a program for me. The program was spot on. Since then, I have PRed in every single race category I have entered, from 5K to full marathon. My previous PR for a marathon was 4:40, my new one is 4:20. The training shaved 20 minutes out of previous record!
I feel sorry for her, because I email her everyday with my run report, race report and in return, she tells me very precisely what I need to tweak. At this point, Shannon has prepared me for 4 marathons (Boston, Chicago, NYC and Philadelphia), 4 half-marathons (NY Half, Queens Half, Brooklyn Half and Newport), and multiple 10k, 10 milers, 4 milers and 5k. All of them successful. Said it once, will say it again, as long as I am running marathons Shannon will be on retainer. This is the best spent money in my monthly budget.
Shannon cannot fix stupidities, but she will smack you in the head when you make one. Big smile.
- Enrique, NJ, 2014
Shannon has created an amazing coaching experience that she shares with others for a price that cannot be beaten.
I have worked with Shannon twice now. The first was a short stint during which she prepared me for a 5K--I was trying to run my best since high school (I'm 44 now so that was a long time ago). I got to know how she shared information, how easy she was to correspond with even in a remote coaching situation, and how fun she could make the journey to a running goal. Despite not achieving my goal, I decided that her approach and her style would be exactly what I needed for my last attempt to hit 3:10 in a marathon. My previous personal best was a 3:14:25. So, I was very uncertain of whether I could hit my goal, but I knew that if anyone could get me there it would be Shannon.
Her pre-training questionnaire helps her to guide her runners along a path that will work for them. And not only did she ask a lot of questions before we started, but she asked questions each day. How had I done? How was I feeling? (Those are standard things to report back.) She asked questions from week to week. I am an extremely busy professional with three sons, who loves to cook, leads an active family life, and is involved in my community. She worked with me to structure every set of workouts during a week to match my crazy schedule. Particularly when I had to travel on one day but not another and we needed to flip which days during the week the harder workouts were on or which day of the weekend I ran a longer workout. And if there was ever a reason that the workouts shouldn't be flipped, she gave me a complete and careful explanation that made sense. Plus, she was perfectly happy to exchange numerous emails each day to "talk shop" about running.
Finally, as the 2014 Philadelphia Marathon approached, she offered advice on not just how to approach the day but how to approach the whole week. Yes, I could qualify for Boston again if I ran as fast as I'd trained for but I should not focus on that—it would be putting too much pressure on myself. When to eat the night before? How to handle food the morning of, even for a 7 AM race? How to approach the pace, with numerous options for how fast to go out and the implications of different choices I could make.
She had listened carefully to my stories of failure to hit goals in marathons because of fading at the end. So in the second half of training, week after week, it was about running long miles with the last six being different than the earlier ones. And instead of weekly tempo runs like many plans use, she had me doing weekly progressions to get my body used to pushing harder at the end.
Well, it all paid off. This runner managed a 3:09:49 in the Philadelphia marathon. It was not exactly "by the book." No, I still went out too fast. I took her comment that "you shouldn't have to rely on crushing at the end" and "run the pace if feels effortless" just a little too far. The official time had me holding a 7:09 or 7:10 pace (faster than the 7:15 I ended up with) all the way to mile 18.6. But I was already slowing down there and continued to slow down through mile 22, running a 7:36.
Somehow, between Shannon's excellent coaching to prepare my body, and the encouragement of a friend who finally caught up with me after 22 miles, I finished the last 4 in 7:33 (not slowing any further), 7:15, 7:17, and 7:24. Then my Garmin had me at 26.36, and the last 0.36 was run in 2:21 or a 6:27 pace. I could say I don't know where that energy came from. But I do. It came from what Shannon's training had prepared me for.
This will be one of the most memorable races of my life. Right up there with the 1600 meter race in 1987 when I ran a 4:41, my Boston qualifier, and Boston itself. And my success is due so much to the incredible coaching and accountability experience that Shannon provided. As a final note about her style, she even shared how especially proud she is when one of her runners gets a better time than she's ever managed. I'd recommend her coaching without reservation to anyone who is comfortable with the idea that internet-based interaction with a coach can work.
- Kevin from Baltimore, 2014
I had the positive experience of being coached by Shannon for eight weeks. She helped to set the groundwork for me to aim for a strong 5K goal (I'm 44 and it would have been my fastest since high school)and to think about injury avoidance and more miles for fall distance races.
She set down a plan and worked with me in a way that did several things. First, no two consecutive days were exactly the same--I loved the variety. Second, each week (aside from one cut back week in the eight) saw progression. Even the week spent tapering for the 5K was more intensive on speed. Third, her communication was exceptional. Many mornings, I would run by 6, report to her by 8:30, and hear back from her (at least once) by 10 AM. Fourth, by building the intensive training plan every week, she was able to adapt on the fly, such as when I had a shin issue at mile 7 in a 14 mile run and she counseled me on how to carefully come back to test the injured shin. I was fine just two days later. Fifth, everything was about data and communication. As someone who analyzes data and writes about it for my job, I loved working with her. All she asks--do the workouts and tell her how it went; I was able to take advantage of that greatly and really benefited as I think about my future running goals.
In conclusion, for anyone who loves the running data, who loves to talk about their runs, and who would benefits from feedback from others about their runs, Shannon would be a great coach and resource. Sometimes having either someone who can both help to design your training plan or someone who listens with a genuine interest each day to your running stories is a good thing. With Shannon, you can have both in one coach. And that is what was best for me.
- Kevin from Baltimore, 2014
Last year I reached a plateau in my running. I have only been running 5 years but I was stuck. I had goals I wasn’t achieving . My training was haphazard. A little of this plan… some of that. What I had done had worked to a point but It wasn’t working anymore. I need some outside help. So I started thinking about working with a coach. I’ve made contact with some wonderful people in the running community . But I had someone who was in my circle of running friends who I thought would get what I was trying to accomplish. That was Shannon McGinn. She had being giving me advice during races we would run together. I also knew something about her personally and her worldview kind of fit my own. So I contacted her.
She sent me a survey to gauge my current fitness level (that brought out some shocking truths) and we then set out upon a plan. Shannon always took into account my current life . Be it busy work schedule, family and life obligations. She always took the time to explain the reasons Why (sometimes in almost too much detail...lol) I was to do such and such workout.
It wasn’t easy for me to let some tell me how run a training plan. Shannon would not let me simply do what I want do. The first part of our working together was rough for me. She had a clear vision of where we would be going, which was different than what I’ve been doing. (She would tell me to "slow down”… Who slows down in training I thought). But that’s why I decided to work with her in the first place. So I simply trusted that she had my best intentions at heart and we went forward.
To say that my training went beyond anything I thought I could accomplish would be an understatement. We had discussed What my goals were, which in my case was a sub 24hr 100 miler. I had run a 100 before but not at the pace I was looking for, so Shannon created a plan that step-by-step would get me to where I wanted to go. She took into account races that I had planned to run, workouts that love to do (the Infamous Bandfield 5's), and at times getting out for the heck of it.
She always had my physical health as top priority. What good is it to run lots of miles to get injured in the process. If was sick...she told me to rest so the down would be minimal. If though I was getting some type of injury...she would tell me to back it off till I was able to participate fully. I was able to stay pretty much injury free through most of my training with her. With her Guidance and support was able to run over a 100 miles a week in training (the most I’d ever done was about 65 - 70) while getting through the most horrific winter in recent memory. It wasn’t easy. I was willing to put the work in. But I felt followed Shannon’s plan that it would produce results
So the proof is the pudding...since training with Shannon I’ve lowered my 100 mile PR by over 3 hours to 21:42: been able to run two 100 milers within 6 weeks of each other, both under 23 Hours. I’ve lowered Marathon PR without doing any marathon specific training by 15 minutes and my recovery from races is light years ahead of where it was (two days versus a week recovery from a 100 miler). I have few more goals to achieve this year...but I’m sure that by working with Shannon, the are obtainable.
- Stephen Bandfield, NJ, 2014
I highly recommend all runners to hire Shannon at least once in their running life. She made a goal for me based on previous logs and finishing times that I had not believed attainable. Strictly following the plan and trusting in it I was able to achieve the goal!! A year and half later I still use the tools she equipped me with!! Forever I will thank you Shannon!!
- Amy Ballard, MS, 2014 (Client from 2012)
I have been running with Shannon for about a year now with another organization (she donates her time and experience). I am the runner I am today as a result of this (she will deny that). Every Saturday our group long run is a relaxed, enjoyable, educational experience thanks to her. Each one starts the same way, with Shannon asking how everyone is doing, what questions they have, or what difficulties they are experiencing. Then, while we are all enjoying each others company, the knowledge flows. I have learned what to do, what never to do, and what changes to make that work for me. I feel as if I have read novels on how to be a better runner, yet I have never opened a book on the subject.
Shannon knows her runners well; better than they know their "runner" selves. She tailors her suggestions to their abilities. I have followed her advice on hydration, nutrition, clothing, when to walk, when to run, and when and what to eat, throughout the past year and for this race. As a result, I had the best possible experience I could have had. She said Maria, "You can do this". She was right. She always is. I was well prepared because I had good coaching.
I picked this race at the last minute. I was training with the group and realized that I was training well. I told Shannon that other people were asking me what I was training for and I had nothing planned. I felt silly. I was just running for the love of running. Shannon commented that this is the perfect way to train. She explained that picking a race AFTER you have trained hard and well, is the smart thing to do. I no longer felt silly and found a race. I realized that she was right. It was so much more pleasant and fun to train this way. The stress of hitting the weekly mileage according to the plan was removed. I was running more miles this way, than I was when I was following a plan.
Most importantly I have learned how to run injury free by following Shannon's advice. I have noticed that she is never injured. And with all of the racing she does, this seems amazing. But it makes perfect sense. She has taught me how to safely increase my weekly mileage and I have reaped the benefits of her instruction. I am proud of my personal accomplishment. Instead of saying "I could never run that many miles" I am saying "yea lets do that". Now it is other people who say to me "I could never do what you do" and I have to laugh. I love the runner that I have become. I owe a great deal to Shannon McGinn. I am a better runner because of her. To this, she will say "I'm not doing the running for you Maria. It's all you".
- Maria Marquette, NJ, 2013
(See Maria's Guest Blogger Report from her first 24 hour race here)
I think Shannon was an incredible trainer! She listened and really helped work around my issues, needs, and schedule. She helped motivate and push me without ever pushing to hard or expecting more than I could give. Shannon was an excellent trainer. Her workout schedule helped me reach my goal for my first 5k with ease! She helped me realize that I could get back to my "pre cancer self" not only did I lose almost all of my steroid weight just from working out, my self imagine increased, energy increased, and overall health increased! I recommend Shannon to anyone who is looking for a motivational, hard working, and amazing trainer!!
- Sheralyn Beck, AR, 2013
I hired Shannon McGinn in preparation for running a marathon in October of 2013 with a goal of breaking five hours. I had a past of slow marathons. Each race was preempted by injuries and post scripted with weeks of recovery as I limped around.
Her teaching and support has taken me from that injured and under prepared runner to a marathoner that set two PR's three weeks apart. It bears repeating: THREE WEEKS APART! I literally cut 34 minutes from my marathon time.
Shannon's insight into running is well researched and professional. Her attention to detail and the individualization of the plan made me feel as if I was qualifying for the Olympics instead of trying to break five hours in the marathon. During my months of training I was injured, sick and tired, trying to balance my life and my running. She accounted for all of those challenges and with unwavering dedication, saw me through to achieving my goal.
She isn't just a running coach, she is a teacher, a mentor, a friend, someone that will change your life for the better through the running experience.
For four consecutive years, I had qualified for the Western States Endurance 100 Mile Run. This year however, a string of poor race results meant that I was running out of time to get a qualifying race done. I finally acknowledged to myself that I needed help; I knew my training wasn't going well and that I was struggling to motivate myself.
I reached out to Shannon, and almost immediately I felt my enthusiasm start to return. Together, we picked out a 50 mile race that was 8 weeks away that I needed to finish in under 11 hours in order to get my qualifier. Shannon put together an aggressive training plan - given where I was at, and the time frame we had, it needed to be aggressive. Shannon's plan was also flexible and allowed for 'life' to get in the way - she would make adjustments as needed. The plan was also designed specifically with the race we had chosen in mind. Everyday, I would provide feedback and would receive emails in return offering additional feedback and suggestions or just motivation.
Shannon's coaching though, is so much more than a simple "training plan", she offers guidance in everything from race day planning and pacing strategies, nutrition advice, and fueling and hydration strategies, all of which plays a huge part in the lead up to an important race.
The bottom line though, is that with Shannon's advice and mentoring, and by working hard to follow her plan, I ended up finishing the race with 24 minutes to spare, and a 12 minute personal best for 50 miles - qualifying for the 5th straight year for Western States. I am delighted with how well the coaching worked for me, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend Shannon to anyone who asked.
One year ago I was just finishing up my last round of chemo, I was pushing 280 and my first attempt at a treadmill lasted all of 10 mins, at a pace of 30 min mile.. I was given a THIRD chance at life, and decided I needed to do something with it. So- I got on a healthy eating regime, and started to walk. That moved into a desire to run a 5k. So in April I ran/walked my first 5k. It wasn't pretty-but I finished. That was when the most awesome thing happened... Shannon McGinn entered my training world!
I was apprehensive at first- so many miles between us. And, what could a trainer do for me that I wasn't already doing...I couldn't be so wrong! We chatted via email nearly daily. And week after week I hit new personal bests...Time and distance. In my mind moving from an hour long 5K to a 40 min 5K seemed out of reach, but that was my personal goal...We shattered that!
Now for most people a 35 minute 5K is...so what? But in 3 short months,I nearly cut my time in 1/2. She gave me hope-and belief in myself...That #1-having (had) cancer isn't gonna slow me down..and #2- I can do more than I think I can.
I'm on a running journey now - and though we are hundreds of miles away - I will enlist her help again, as I start my next leg - a 10K. I can thank her enough! And would gladly recommend her no matter where you are on your running journey.Thank-you Shannon!
- Jody Larsen, TX, 2013
Shannon has been instrumental in my progress as a runner. She is the best running coach I have ever had, and also the only one I have never met in person. Her training plans have always made perfect sense to me, and have been formulated based on my current needs and ability.
Shannon has a remarkable work ethic. When you are training with her, you'll get the most out of it if you show up ready to work. The work is hard, but it pays off if you stick with it. She'll go the entire way with you, and if you're ready to go too, the results will be amazing.
She is very responsive and encouraging, while remaining realistic. She is also creative and can handle just about any training scenario that might arise. Working with Shannon has been nothing but positive: I can put the steering wheel in her hands and leave the thinking to her, and at the same time she's always very objective and open to questions and ideas. I would recommend her again and again.
- Wendy Turner, NJ, 2013
Shannon got me through my first 50. That to me is 'enough said'. For the more curious, I'll provide more information. I had tried and failed previously at a 50 miler before. Though I had completed other shorter ultras, the Potawatomie Trail 50 was seemingly out of my reach. I, like many others are not particularly built for running (is anyone?), but since my first attempt at the run I had fought with recurring injuries that precluded me from even attempting it again. Once I had gotten through those injuries I had decided that I wanted to finish that 50 but I didn't feel I was prepared to do it alone.
Shannon was recommended to me via a mutual friend, it was probably the best recommendation I have ever received and certainly the best recommendation regarding running. Shannon's methods are solid and her attitude and energy are infectious. On bad running days, I looked forward to her correspondence and it inevitably cheered me up and set me straight for the next day with a renewed sense of purpose and reaffirmed goals.
Her coaching style is not too prescriptive, nor invasive, she worked WITH me to adjust my workouts constantly and provided great guidance and a fair amount of behavior adjustment. I cannot recommend Shannon enough. I think that anyone thinking of getting a coach should and I believe Shannon is a fantastic candidate for that job.