Susan L.

I began working with Nicole Armbrust shortly after the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials. After running the trials with a severely damaged hamstring, I realized that my best running years were behind me. I was forced to consider retiring from running to focus solely on coaching.

However, I quickly realized that I couldn’t simply give up my passion. I still wanted to be a runner for life, and I wanted to continue to serve as a positive example for others. By working to remain fit and somewhat fast at the age of 49 and moving into my 50s, I hope to remind other women that age is simply a number, and that absolutely anything can be achieved when you believe in yourself.

Feeling broken and frustrated, yet intent on running again, I reached out to Nicole last February (2012) asking for her help. Nicole embodies the perfect balance of knowledge and enthusiasm. Her encouragement, paired with her vast running knowledge–from form and injuries to the best strength program to target my specific muscle imbalances–gave me the hope and motivation I needed to continue running. Though I didn’t necessarily intend to run again competitively when I met Nicole, I did hope to inspire other women (and men) to believe that they can be healthy, run strong, and live young at any age.

For five months, Nicole met with me twice per week and dedicated her lunch hour to helping me recover. She developed a specialized plan for me and—after all of our hard work and dedication—I was able to run again, injury-free! When I had recovered and began running consistently, we cut back our meeting to once per week for PIT CHECKS.

By August, I had entered the AFC Half Marathon. I finished the race strong as the first Master Runner in 1:24, without any pain. At that moment I realized that, thanks to Nicole, I can and WILL be a strong runner for life. She gave me the tools, the time, and the support I needed to turn the corner!

I decided then that I didn’t want my last FAST marathon to be the 2012 Olympic Trials, where my time was slower than I had wanted due to an injury. I have had an amazing running career and I know that I will finish strong. I am not going to listen to an injury that begs me to give up. I want to decide for MYSELF when to take off my running shoes.

By October, I was running a 1:22 half marathon, and I won the Girlfriends Half Marathon in Vancouver, Washington. At that time, I was also training for the PF Chang’s Marathon, to be held in January of 2013. Nicole consistently offered her support and guidance, helping me to improve my running imbalances and prevent further injury. With her coaching, I was able to achieve 2nd place in the Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon (1:22) in December, and 2nd place in the Inaugural Local Hot Chocolate run! During training for these races, I began to hit the same paces I had before my hamstring injury several years earlier, back in 2010.

Along with directly benefiting me, Nicole’s expertise and positive encouragement was passed on to many of the runner that I coach. She even offered a few informative seminars on running form and injury prevention to my team!

My Dream Goal has been to win the local PF Chang’s marathon. Unfortunately, my hopes were thwarted by a calf injury the week before in the Houston Half marathon training run. However, I still made my best effort in the PF Chang’s Marathon and finished 6th overall, despite an uncooperative calf.

This past year has been a time of taking back charge of my destiny, rather than allowing circumstances beyond my control to define me. I could have easily used my injury as an excuse to give up running, but with Nicole at my side I have a constant reminder than injuries can be repaired and that anything is possible.

In all honesty, I was disappointed with the results of the PF Chang’s marathon, primarily because I wanted to show Nicole what a difference she had made for me. I wanted everyone else to realize what a strong runner they can be, at any age, if they perform the right types of exercises and check their progress with frequent PIT STOPS.

Though I did not win my Dream race, I don’t feel defeated. A year ago, I would not to have expected to even participate in the marathon, let alone run competitively and finish 6th in spite of an injury. Having Nicole’s support has helped me remain strong over the past year, and I anticipate that having her at my side as I train for future events will help me run stronger and with more resilience to injury.

I feel so blessed to have such a knowledgeable woman in my life–one whom I trust and respect enough to send my own athletes to.

Keep on Believing,
Susan Loken

Susan Loken
Certified Running Coach & Personal Trainer
Owner: BTB Coaching
Website: www.believetrainbecome.com
Phone: 480-558-6655

“Believe in yourself, Train to succeed, Become your dream!” SL