Host: Dr. Matt Minard
Guest: Coach Claire Bathrolic, The Planted Runner

Episode Summary

Dr. Matt Minard, the owner of Learn 2 Run, is a Physical Therapist who enjoys both the physical and mental benefits of running. He is passionate about helping others run safely.

In today’s episode, Dr. Minard speaks with The Planted Runner, Coach Claire Bartholic.

If you prefer to watch this episode, you can!

Season 1, Episode 13 Interview: Coach Claire Bartholic from The Planted Runner

Video Transcript

The transcript has been edited for readability, conciseness, and clarity.

Dr. Matt Minard 0:00

I have to say, I’m the only voice that has been on the show so far. And I never thought that I liked my voice. I get compliments, “I love your voice. You’ve got a voice for radio. You’ve got the look for TV and the voice for radio. I love your voice.”

Do you ever get compliments on your voice?

Coach Claire 0:21

Well, thanks, Matt. Yes, I actually do all the time.

I left the show that I used to be on for many years. And one of the people on this staff said, “I will miss your mesmerizing voice” and I was just like, “oh, that’s the sweetest thing ever.” So yeah, I love hearing that. You could say it again if you want to. I love it.

Dr. Matt Minard 0:45

I feel like nobody grows up being like, “I love my voice.” I feel like most people don’t like their voices. Did you ever have a thought either way about your voice back in the day?

Coach Claire 0:55

I did like theater as a kid. I was voted most likely to perform on Broadway. But I didn’t do anything like that for a living. You know, I did debate and speech and stuff like that. So I’ve always used my voice, but I never really thought about the quality of it until I started podcasting. So yeah, it’s been fun.

Dr. Matt Minard 1:37

So we’re gonna get this started. I want to hear about your about you; you have so much experience to offer. I just want to start things off with your running story. You’re “why.” What got you into running?

Coach Claire 1:53

Okay, so we could go way, way back. My dad was a runner. Just a casual runner. He would run three miles every other day before breakfast. He never raced. He never trained, per se. But he was always active in running.

I was not interested at all when he was doing that. But he did an outward bound trip one year. I was 14 years old. And I thought that was the coolest thing. He went on this trip and went hiking and kayaking and camping and I’m an outdoorsy person. And I thought that was super cool. But my dad said that you have to run; they have a half marathon at the end of this.

So I trained all summer. I had my Walkman with the Top Gun soundtrack. And I trained. My dad taught me how to do it. At the end of that trip, that half marathon, I beat all the boys. I beat all the girls, but I beat all the boys, too. And I was just like, wow, that’s really amazing.

And then in high school, I tried out for the track team. I raced exactly one race and I came in dead last. I quit immediately. I’m like, This is not for me. I’m never going to do it again.

Then I did a half marathon in my 20s to get over a breakup and I left running again.

And so I didn’t really find running until my high school reunion was about to come up. And I’m like, well, I want to get into good shape and look good for the reunion. So I used running to do that.

And I hated every step. I ran for a year. And I didn’t like it at all, because it was a means to an end. But by the time the reunion came around, something had switched in me. I said, “well, I’m going to keep running.”

I ran the same half marathon that I did in my 20s and did quite a bit better. So I was happy with that.

And then a friend of mine on Facebook was running the Boston Marathon. And I was like, well, if she can run the Boston Marathon, I can run the Boston Marathon. I had no idea you actually have to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I just thought, go run a marathon.

So I figured that out. And I decided to run my first marathon. I did not qualify for the very first one. But I did for my second. The rest is history.

My first marathon was a 4:02 And my final marathon was 2:58 at age 42.

So yes, I definitely had a really great progression. I became a coach along the way. Running has absolutely transformed my life.

Dr. Matt Minard 4:38

Did you ever have a love-hate that eventually turned into love?

I started running for weight loss initially. A lot of us start with the physical. But I think, and you tell me your thoughts, what keeps me coming back is the mental. Just that feeling after a run that you get. The clarity that you get. What keeps me running is my mental health.

What keeps you running? What is your drive?

Coach Claire 5:10

Well, it’s still love-hate, I will tell you that. I’m not the type of person that loves every second of my runs. I mean, I wish I was. I’m not.

I started like so many people start, for weight loss. And it changes somewhere along the way.

So that’s why I really embrace the runners that come to the sport for weight loss. Yes, they might have what some people consider superficial goals, but running transforms you and people aren’t prepared for that.

They’re just like, “oh, I’m just going to do this as my cardio.” And they have no idea what the mental benefits are going to be.

So absolutely, I’m not the same without my run. It’s unlike anything else.

I’ve been active in a lot of things and there’s something really special about running that you just don’t get anywhere else.

Dr. Matt Minard 6:04

Yeah, I’m with you. I always say I don’t care about your reason. Whatever your reason for running or starting, I don’t care. I just want to help you to do it safer and faster.

Because like you said, I don’t think many people go into running like, I’m gonna start this and I’m gonna love it. We all kind of fall on the same path where we love what it does for us.

And if there’s anyone out there that says they love every minute of it, they’re a liar. There’s no way. There’s no way that you can love every single second of running. But there is something to be said for progression in life.

Green and growing or brown and dying is like my thing. I always have to have something that I’m going towards, a certification, a goal, a personal best, a physical best.

For so many people that join, for them to do something for the first time ever, is super empowering. They never thought I could even run a mile. Now they’re running two miles and running three miles.

Things kind of like bleed over into everyday life. People that maybe don’t have the confidence or the mindset. “I can’t do that, I can’t do this,” without actually trying it. And then in the running, they’re breaking some of these barriers. They’re doing things that they didn’t think they could do.

They might try something different in their job or relationships or whatever. Objects in motion stay in motion.

Tell me about “The Planted Runner,” what’s the story behind it?

Coach Claire 8:03

So The Planted Runner essentially started when I was just falling in love with running. I had started it just for fun. People told me that I should start a blog. So I did. And it was really more about my journey.

So the planted part is because I am plant-based. I went plant-based before I started running. And now I teach people how to do that.

I’m a certified sports nutrition specialist. And going plant-based healthily can be tricky sometimes. So I help people through that.

But mostly the main thing that I focused on is fueling before, during, and after your run. And that has definitely become a specialty of mine.

But it’s not just eating more plants. I think we all can agree most people need to eat more plants. Being planted is also about being grounded. And so you’re running into the movement and being planted as being grounded.

I love the play on words that the two make together. But it means that you’re ready for growth. It means you’re ready to transform. That’s what the planted runner is all about.

Whether it’s my website, my coaching, or my podcast, you’re ready for growth. You’re ready to do something different and try something you’ve never done before.

The way that I do that is through three principles. First of all, it’s your running and physical training, strength training. All of the physical parts.

The next part is your nutrition.

And then the last part is mental strength or your mindset. I think a lot of people know that they’re supposed to be training their bodies and they forget to train their minds. There are ways to train your mind.

I love looking at the research and finding things that have worked for athletes. Or finding that work in psychology and applying it to running.

Dr. Matt Minard 10:01

I love it! If you had to prioritize one of those three pillars, what do you think is the most important?

Coach Claire 10:09

I think it’s a three-legged stool. I really do. If your mind is super strong, but your body doesn’t work. You’re obviously not going to break any records. If your nutrition is not on point, you’re leaving time on the table, for sure. And you’re certainly setting yourself up for injury. And if you’re eating well and you’re training well, but you haven’t trained your mind not to give up when it’s hard, you’re gonna give up.

I don’t think you can prioritize one over the other. You got to nail all three if being your best is your goal.

Dr. Matt Minard 10:46

Yeah, I know, for me, if I don’t have the mental, everything’s shot. Like, I didn’t realize growing up how much of a mental aspect there is to everything. It isn’t until you remove yourself and try to do things that you did when you’re in a different environment… where you have that like, drive at all times. I don’t even have to think about it.

But then like, as you get older, certain life things happen. You have to like, change what moves you. What drives you. And unlocking that voice in the back of your head. I think it’s not a weakness. It’s like, we all think that we’re the only people that have that voice that’s telling us negative things. We all have that. It’s just some people are better at overcoming it or shushing it up, or finding strategies to move on.

For me, it’s amazing how much perception is in our minds. The whole, “I have to run three miles today” vs. “I get to run three miles today.”

We take so much for granted. And that is something that I have to keep up with.

And I’m so like, driven by other people. I’ve been working for the last couple of years to drive for myself, which is not as easy. But like, if I would run and dedicate it to my dad, my friend, or someone that’s dealing with something, I would channel all that energy into a drive. And then any barrier that comes up, you just push right through it.

Do you have like a certain mantra or saying that you’ll say to yourself? Like, are you nice to yourself on a long run? Some people are like, “Come on! What’s wrong with you?!”

Are you sweet to yourself? What’s going through your head when the mile starts clocking in and you’re starting to feel tired?

Coach Claire 12:25

I actually am really nice to myself in such a way that it’s bad. I talk about this technique called “name your negative.” And so if you have a negative voice, give it a name.

Mine is called Nancy. You flush her out as detailed as possible. So negative Nancy. Nancy is this sweet southern grandma. She loves me so much. And she says to me, “you don’t have to run so fast. You can stop now. Your family will still love you if you quit. Why don’t you take it easy, honey?”

So that’s the kind of voice that I have in my head. But now I know that Nancy is always going to be on the bus, but she’s not going to drive.

So when she shows up, I can say, “Oh, hi, Nancy.” And I can separate those voices as somebody else. And I can recognize that oh, that’s just Nancy. I’ll listen to her. But then I will say bye-bye. Get in the back of the bus.

So that’s one of the mental techniques that I use. I give my negative voice a name to kind of separate it from who I really am. Because who I am is the person that wants to get to the finish line the fastest. But Nancy doesn’t want me to.

Dr. Matt Minard 13:44

I love that. Do you have any other names, any other mantras, or other people?

Coach Claire 13:48

No other people. I use a ton of mantras. And my view is the more mantras the better. You need a quiver of them. And the more arrows in your quiver the better.

It really depends on where I am mentally which mantra makes sense. So you want to come up with these ahead of time. So one of them I use is “just this mile.” I say this mile over and over and over again. And that gets me to focus on the one mile that I’m running, not the 26.2 miles that I have to go.

Another one that I use I took from my kid’s kindergarten teacher. When she wanted the kids to pay attention, she would say “hocus pocus everybody focus.” And so I say that in my head to kind of give myself a smile. And if my mind is wandering, and I want to really focus on what I’m doing, I’ll say “hocus pocus, everybody focus.”

So I have a lot of them. I always encourage athletes to not use mine unless they resonate with you. Come up with your own that are meaningful to you. That are important to you because then they’ll work a lot better.

Dr. Matt Minard 14:55

Yeah, it’s like if someone thinks that they’re corny, they have never used them. They don’t know their power. And like, in the moment, it’s so powerful.

Now we’re just hanging out, it’s nice to hear. But when you’re like struggling, and you have those thoughts, those things help so much.

For a year before the pandemic, I coached at Orange Theory. So I was on the microphone. And it was so interesting to, like, spout out different cues for mechanics.

I learned a lot of like, my like vocabulary… how I talk to try to influence movement. But also just like, what motivates people. What drives people. And how you could say one thing and one person is super driven. The other person’s like, yeah, that’s not for me.

But those things do help. Like they do work. Like when you’re in that moment. And then the after, for me, it’s always thinking about the after.

No, I don’t want to do this hour run. But that feeling after I get it every time, I’m like, that’s why I do this. Why don’t I do this more often? And just forgetting about that, like work part in the middle. That always helps too.

Coach Claire 16:05

Running is the ultimate exercise in delayed gratification. It doesn’t really usually feel that great when you’re doing it. Sure you have those runs every once in a while that are all flowy and happy and peace, love, rainbows.

But most of the time, you don’t feel good until you’re done. So that’s something that we have to have patience for and delay the gratification.

Dr. Matt Minard 16:29

I love that. I feel like I want a Nancy in my life at all times. But not all the time. They’re so sweet and kind and loving. I feel like when I picture myself, I’m like a Nancy. I’m so kind and sweet to people. But they don’t always need that. Sometimes they need a little more oomph.

Coach Claire 16:45

Well, some people really are motivated by the negative too. False positivity does not work at all. And so if you are trying to say nice things like, you can do it. I’m strong. I’m fast or whatever. For some people, that just doesn’t work.

They are more motivated by the negative. And that’s a hard road to go to. But some people do trash talk themselves. And it is effective. But I would say use that with caution. Because that can make you quit too.

But experiment with it. You don’t have to say all the nice things to get you to motivate yourself. Try being a little mean to yourself, especially if you’re always nice to yourself. Try the opposite of what you’re doing now. Especially if you’re at a plateau or if whatever you’re doing isn’t working. Try something else.

Dr. Matt Minard 17:39

Yeah, that’s something that I’m learning because I’m such an all-or-nothing kind of person. Switch on, switch off.

My life is more of a dimmer. Some days I might respond better to negative talk. Some days I don’t want that.

And that’s what’s fun, about working with people. Everybody’s different and finding what drives people individually.

And it’s funny you say that about the talking trash. There was this one coach, at Orange Theory that was intense. She was like this little thing, but she would berate people. And it was amazing. Some people were like, she’s the best ever. I’ll never do anybody else. It was amazing. And other people like I can’t operate under that environment, it was too much stress. Too much pressure.

What do you like to do? Like, what do you find is most common that motivates your clients? Like what is it that usually pushes people with their why to why they do what they do with running?

Coach Claire 18:33

Everybody is different. So I can’t say that there is one thing that motivates this person over that person.

I tend to work with older runners. Mostly, people in their 40s and 50s are probably the main segment of people that I work with. And when you’re at that stage in life, you’ve been married, usually. You might have kids already, but they’re a little bit older. And finally, you’re doing something for yourself.

When people who find running later in life have some wins, or they start getting better, they build this incredible confidence in themselves. Which is just amazing. They get a little taste of “wow, like I couldn’t run a mile and now I’m running a marathon.” And “do you think I could run it faster?”

It’s like just this huge confidence builder. So people are willing to put in the work because they see some results, which is all brand new for people who have never been athletic.

They weren’t the Jackson in high school. They’re finding running later in life because it’s simple. They just go out the door and go for a run. It’s not like they have to buy an expensive bike or get a ski pass or whatever. It’s a hobby that’s really accessible. And so most people can just go and do it.

Then they figure out that this is totally transforming everything. And once they get a taste of- whether it’s racing or something else, but once they get a taste of some kind of success. They are just like, “wow, I want to see what I can do next.”

And it builds on itself. If racing is your goal, it’s a great way to get motivated; push yourself to new limits. But you don’t have to race. There are ways to be motivated and get in super, super great shape without actually going through a race.

But I find for a lot of people, they kind of get addicted to the PRs, which can be good or bad. But it really is a motivating factor to see what they can do, now that their lives are more, you know, for themselves.

Dr. Matt Minard 20:36

Yeah. Speaking of PRs, tell us your transfer. What was it? Was it time? Energy? Is there any secret formula? What got you to improve so much?

Coach Claire 20:47

The thing is that I really became a student of the marathon. And so the first one I followed some generic training plan online. It wasn’t anything special.

But then I wanted to get better and better and better at it. So I read everything I could. I learned all about the types of training. I learned about recovery days. I learned about what kind of speed work, what kind of long run.

I really became a student of learning. What does it take to run a faster marathon? And so it wasn’t just training my body to do it, it was figuring out that puzzle. I just went down the rabbit hole with all of that.

So learning all the right things to do is super, super important. And then it was just knocking off time. My first jump was like 26 minutes. And my second jump was like, I don’t know, 11 minutes. And then progressively my jumps were smaller and smaller.

But then when I got to about- I think it was 3:11 at Chicago, I was just like, I’m at 311! Oh my God. Could I actually go sub-three? And that’s when I started training to hit sub-three. I didn’t get it for four more marathons.

But it was starting to get the mental belief like, I really can do this. I really can do this. So that was a super important part of it.

I would say the other factors that really propelled my success is… number one strength training. I’m a huge proponent of that; I always have strength trained throughout my running career twice a week, at least.

Super, super, super important. I cannot stress that enough. It is just as important as your running.

And finding your tribe. So finding your tribe is I think, really, really important. Whether it’s in person or whether it’s online. You totally can do this online if you don’t have a running group in your area.

I live in Asheville, North Carolina, which has a huge running scene. And I just decided, “hey, I’m gonna join this group.” And I saw women my age… just total badasses. And I’m like, I can be like them.

I got inspired by women who were really just doing amazing things that were my age. And I was like, wait a second. If they’re doing it, I can do it.

So I highly, highly, highly recommend finding some people in your life that can push you.

And can pull you back, too. Not just push. You need to know if you’re training too hard, too. You definitely don’t want to go down that road. But we’re just more powerful in a group than we are alone.

Your spouse is sick of hearing you talk about running. So stop blathering on about your 400-meter splits to your spouse. Go find some running buddies that want to hear every detail.

Dr. Matt Minard 23:39

Yeah, I like that. That’s gonna save some marriages too.

I’ve always like, I’m so extroverted. And I do know different running groups around here. I am like, “how do I incorporate this into my training?”

Like I do need that want to run with people. But I’m like, all this negative stuff. Like, what if it’s not the right distance or the pace? How do you balance? Will you do a little bit of both? Will you train with a group like a run club and on your own. Or how do you usually balance that?

Coach Claire 24:08

Well, first of all, you need to find out what kind of run they’re doing. So there should be a group run that’s just easy-paced. Hopefully, it’s an out and back so nobody’s left behind. So you all meet someplace. You go as far as you want, and then come back whenever you want.

And so schedule that for your easy run. That’s a pretty no-brainer. And as far as speed days, it really depends on what you’re training for.

If you’re training for the marathon, and you have a track group, and they’re going to be doing some kind of intervals on, let’s say Tuesday at the track.

That will probably fit into your marathon training, even if it’s not exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. If you’re 12-, 16-, 20- weeks away from your marathon, and you go run some random 400-meter workout that the group is running, that is okay.

It doesn’t have to be perfectly fit your schedule. You do want to get more specific, the closer you are to your race. You don’t want to be running, I don’t know, 200-meter repeats two weeks before your marathon or something like that.

But for the most part, you can be a little flexible. And being with the group provides so many more rewards than sticking religiously to your training schedule.

There are ways to incorporate it with a little flexibility. So if the group run is going to be too short, well show up an hour early. And then get your run in and then finish your run together. Or stay later and finish your run.

Whatever it’s going to be, there are ways to incorporate a group run. If you live in a city that has any kind of group get-together, just call them up and ask. Introduce yourself. Explain what you’re training for. And just see if you’re gonna fit in. I promise you, you will find a group that you’ll fit in.

Dr. Matt Minard 25:50

I love that. The further away from the race, the more flexible you can be with it. I love that because sometimes in the beginning, it’s just hard to get started.

Getting that momentum and being around other people and a group of people that’s all going towards the same thing… that is super, super motivating.

You’ve been running for a long time, what would you say is one thing that’s gotten easier as you’ve gotten older. And what’s gotten harder as you’ve gotten older?

Coach Claire 26:19

Easier is running is definitely a habit for me. I’m not training for any races right now. But running is just something that is a part of my life. I don’t complain about it.

Unless it’s raining. I don’t like running in the rain.

But it’s just like I’m going out for a run. End of story. There’s no mental arguing back and forth. The motivation is it’s just there, it’s automatic. So that’s definitely gotten easier.

If things have gotten harder. I don’t know because I stopped competing in marathons. Because number one I got pretty burned out. I was gunning for this dream pie-in-the-sky climb Mount Everest goal. Which I finally nabbed. And I was just like, in the last 5k of the marathon, “if you get the sub-three, you never have to run a marathon again.”

And I haven’t. That’s my negative voice talking.

And because I know how hard it takes to train at that level. And I don’t really have any interest in trying to shave off a minute or two minutes, or whatever it would be. That’s just not interesting to me.

I look for new goals and new ways to like challenge my mind. So I wouldn’t say that necessarily things have gotten harder as I’ve gotten older.

But I know that with my athletes, we definitely do need to look at recovery differently. In the last couple of marathons that I was running, you know, at one point, I was up to 90 miles a week: two speed days, long runs… I was doing some crazy stuff.

I still wasn’t getting my goal.

And so the next round, I was just going to dial it back, I dropped mileage. I dropped down to one-speed day a week instead of two.

And when I kind of eased up on the gas pedal a little bit, everything changed. In the end, it came. I think I was trying too hard.

But I also wasn’t recovering. I wasn’t able to do- I was struggling. And when you’re at that volume, or even if you’re not at that volume… when you hit a certain point, and you’re just banging your head against the wall… it’s time to see if easing up is going to make a difference.

And that’s what did it for me. And I think a lot of masters runners come up to this at some point. Especially if they’ve been running and training for a long time. They realize that they can’t train like they’re 20 years old anymore. They need to tweak and do something different.

And it doesn’t mean you can’t be the best you can be. It doesn’t mean you can’t be competitive, you totally can. But you just need to kind of tweak your training to allow for more recovery and just smarter training.

Dr. Matt Minard 28:58

Yeah, I like that. It seems like the mind, as you get older… the mind can get sharper.

But our body, we’ve got the same body. It’s amazing that we have the capability of healing. But at the end of the day, a 50-year-old car- it’s still a great car. It’s an amazing car, but it’s 50 years old.

So we have to like just remember that and the tissues and yeah. I think it’s kind of dialing back and the hardest thing for a lot of us. I think is “less is more.”

Like school, the more I study the better I’m gonna do. Well not always. Sometimes you can overdo it. Same with movement.

And having the confidence to pull back and know that’s the right thing. Like I’m sure when you first were like I’m gonna dial back. It’s like, “man, I feel like I’m doing something wrong.”

It’s like sometimes the hardest thing to do. To do nothing but it’s healing. Would you say it takes you longer to recover? Like do you have any go-tos for recovery? Do you like ice baths? Do you like massage guns? Do you personally have any favorite recovery modalities?

Coach Claire 29:57

I am definitely anti-ice and I’m anti-anything cold. I don’t like cold.

And I guess there’s science on both sides. But the stuff that I have seen is, really, ice slows everything down.

Ice takes away swelling. And actually, inflammation is what we need for an acute injury. That’s our method of healing. We actually do want inflammation.

So I don’t think that ice is an appropriate treatment for a lot of things. Maybe for like an acute injury, like an ankle sprain or something. And ice can help in certain situations.

I don’t think it’s a great idea for overuse or for just plain old recovery.

Now, that being said, if it makes you feel good, you do you. I have a hot tub. And that was the best investment ever. I love heat therapy and being in water. So that is my favorite thing.

I love my foam roller, love getting good foam roll.

As far as anything beyond that, I used to occasionally get massages. I don’t really indulge in those anymore, too much. I mean, they’re great. I think they’re wonderful. But I’m usually too impatient to schedule those things.

I just do a foam roll, and I’m done with it. And for me, that’s really it as far as like tools and stuff like that.

Big proponent of sleep as much as possible. I’m usually in bed at 9pm. And I’m an early bird, I wake up at four or five in the morning.

I think sleep is your number one thing. It can be harder to get as you age. So you just really need to prioritize it. I think really, that is the number one thing.

Eating enough is super important, which is tough for people who get into running for weight loss. They don’t actually eat enough to support the kind of training that they’re doing.

Especially if they’re plant-based or mostly plant-based. Because it’s hard to get enough calories in if you’re trying to be super, super healthy.

And you’re eating all this stuff with tons of fiber, that’s going to fill you up a lot.

And you end up accidentally undereating, which can lead to all sorts of trouble with your running and injuries and low performance.

Make sure you’re eating enough. Make sure you’re sleeping enough. Make sure that you’re chilling out and relaxing. Try to destress as much as possible.

All the good stuff that you’ve heard a million times. It’s boring. It’s not really sexy stuff. But it’s true.

Dr. Matt Minard 32:15

That’s so true. It’s not sexy, but it’s what’s important. And that’s with wisdom.

I think you get to a point where you don’t care what people think if you just try what works for you. But yeah, it’s true. Like rest, sleep, recovery.

Like, your body’s amazing. When you’re not stressing, it’s adapting. It’s healing. It’s amazing how that works.

Have you had any time in physical therapy? Have you ever been a patient? Any injuries that you’ve had over the years?

Coach Claire 32:39

The only times I’ve been a patient- I’ve got a couple of friends who are physical therapists here in town. And so I’ve been their guinea pig for a few things.

But I’ve never been a patient because of an injury. So I was running all those crazy miles and running all those crazy marathons and zero injury. I had no injuries.

The only injury I would say was I did run and twist my ankle. So I had an ankle injury. But no overuse injuries at all. Which is kind of miraculous.

I would say that it mostly is because of strength training. Strength training is absolutely- I can’t say it enough how important it is.

That being said, don’t overdo it. You can overdo strength training and that will compromise your running, for sure.

Make sure it’s supporting your running, not superimposing you’re running. But if you can stay strong and balanced, it goes a long way to preventing injuries.

I would say maybe it’s luck. Maybe it’s genetics. Maybe it’s training. Whatever it is, I was lucky enough to not really have any significant injuries. Knock on wood.

Dr. Matt Minard 33:43

So would you say strength training, definitely, you feel like was a big help with that something that you can change. You can’t change genetics. You can’t change some of the stuff. But you feel like that was very attributed to you being healthy?

Coach Claire 33:56

Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, I do have a stereotypically good running form. So I’ve had my gait analyzed. And I run in an efficient way that I’ve never trained myself.

I do all the standard drills and all the stuff you’re supposed to do. But there’s just a natural way that I run that I’m sure has something to do with that.

But again, yeah, that’s not something that I have any control over really.

But I would say I do have control over the strength training.

And I would rest when I needed a rest. I would not just push, push, push, push.

Don’t get me wrong. When it’s time to go fast and work hard, I would work super hard. But I would also take my recovery seriously. And if I was not feeling the five-mile run I was supposed to do that day, I would either rest or cut it short.

So I know that doing run after run after run just because it’s on your schedule is not a great idea. You really do need to rest when you’re just not feeling it. And your training will usually be better for that.

Dr. Matt Minard 35:03

Probably a lot of your coaching is just giving people permission to take the day off or to rest. Like people who like need permission.

Coach Claire 35:15

Yes, I will. And now that you say that, the hardest thing about my coaching… The hardest lesson that I teach is not even taking the rest days. Most people are okay with taking the rest days.

It’s slowing down your easy runs. I was running a sub-three marathon. That is 6:47 per mile pace for 26.2 miles.

Do you know how fast my easy runs were? They were 9:30- to 10-minute miles. I mean, three minutes slower than my marathon pace. Very, very slow compared to how fast I could run the marathon.

I take my easy runs super, super, super easy.

The minute-per-mile formula doesn’t work for everybody. If your normal run pace is, let’s say if 11 minutes per mile. I’m not saying you have to run a 14-minute mile for your easy pace.

The extremes equation gets a little skewed. But you know, the point is you’re taking your easy runs super, super, super, super easy. Way slower than you think.

And that allows you to run your hard days much faster than if you spent the whole time just running with this medium-pace zone that people tend to get stuck in.

The gray zone, they just get stuck in it. It feels like a real run. Like well, okay, if you want to be a medium-paced runner all the time, then you can stay there.

If you want to be fast, you have to learn to be slow.

Dr. Matt Minard 36:41

Yeah, that’s so true. Do you have people… like how do you coach that? Do you say do a heart rate zone? Do you give them a certain breathing… like what are your cues? If I’m your client and I want to get that speed, what would you tell me of how to [reach] that speed?

Coach Claire 36:57

I don’t love heart rate, because everybody’s so individual.

So for example, I am somebody [with] a low resting heart rate. My heart rate while exercising happens to be pretty high.

So when I’m running a marathon, it’s 175 beats per minute. Which is what most people do at a 5k.

So that’s just me and other people. Your age is a factor. The weather is a factor. How much caffeine you drank is a factor.

So heart rate is too variable for me to use it. I definitely look at it. I can tell if you’re running your easy pace, and your heartbeat is 180 beats per minute… I know that’s not easy.

So it’s kind of a stop-gap.

But other tests that I like for easy… go for run and close your mouth. If you can nose-breathe for a few minutes, that’s definitely an easy pace. I’m not saying you have to nose-breathe the entire time. Although some people do and they love it. That’s a different story.

Another test is the classic talk test. So you should be able to run an easy pace and have a conversation as easily as you are walking.

So if you’re out for a run with your friend and you’re having an entire conversation just like you and I are having right now, that is an easy run. If you’re by yourself, you should be able to sing along with your music or argue with the podcast you’re listening to. You should be able to talk very, very comfortably.

If you can’t, you can only say a few sentences. And then you \start huffing and puffing, rhat’s not an easy pace.

Dr. Matt Minard 38:33

Yeah, I love to talk test. That’s what I always use.

I talked about three different gears: gear one, gear two, and gear three.

And like gear one, it’s like you should be able to hold a conversation. And gear two, even get a few words out. Gear three, you can’t talk.

You don’t have to talk, but ask yourself, “could I hold a conversation at this pace?” I like that one a lot. I think that one really hits home a lot with people.

A couple more things before we get in are a little quick “this or that.” Tell me, how do you keep running as your passion and your business? Like, how do you do it all?

You said you got burnt out from training and racing back in the day. Is there anything that you find different about running now or the joys. Tell me how you balance that.

Coach Claire 39:23

So now I run just for me. Not like I didn’t before but, like, there is no performance goal.

I don’t put any pressure on myself. I don’t care how fast I run. I just go out for a run, whether it’s three miles, whether it’s five miles. I rarely do more than five miles these days.

I’m just doing it for my sanity. I’m going to get sunshine in my eyeballs for my circadian rhythms. I’m doing it for my mental health. Get some fresh air.

It really just is more of a practice for me. It’s not about performance. Of course, for health, too. But I think health is actually the side benefit of everything else.

What I’m trying to do now is get a little bit into strength work. See what I can do there because it’s fun.

As I said, I have always kind of done strengths but never as its own thing. It’s more as a side thing. And so it’d be fun to see if I can get some big guns. The skinny little vegan getting some guns.

I’m just having fun with it, just doing it for fitness. I really get more joy and passion helping others do this.

Running has absolutely transformed my life. And I want to preach it from the mountaintops. Helping others get those big goals is so rewarding. And so fulfilling.

Doing it for myself. I’m helping one person. Now I’m helping 1000s.

I work with people individually. So I’ve literally coached hundreds of people. But with the podcast and with the things that are coming in the future, I hope to expand that even further.

Yes, it’s just like I dove deep and fell down the rabbit hole for my own running. Now I’m doing that with my coaching, my business, my podcast. I have a book coming out, you know, all of these things I just so excited about.

Like, yes, it’s work. And it’s definitely work. But it’s something that is just like I can’t wait to wake up and work on this every day.

Dr. Matt Minard 41:33

I love that feeling and that there’s nothing better. And I feel for people that don’t have that to do something as a job that you don’t truly enjoy. I know there are a lot of people that have to do that.

It’s hard work, but it’s not work. It’s that whole, that feeling that I get from just helping somebody else accomplish or feeling useful, beneficial to them.

I love that. There’s no better feeling.

Tell us a little bit about the stuff in the future. Tell me about your new podcast and tell me about your book and all the things! I want to hear.

Coach Claire 42:05

I was lucky enough to be the host of the Run to the Top podcast for two and a half years.

That’s one of the OG podcasts. Been around for over a decade. One of the top running podcasts in the world.

And so I was the host of that, but it was not my own show. It was great to interview Olympians, race directors of major marathons, running researchers, writers… I got to cut my teeth on that.

And now I finally have gone out on my own and can do it 100% my way.

So the Planted Runner podcast actually came out mid-August. And to my delight, was the number-one running podcast in the United States in the first week. I’m super, super thrilled with that.

Those charts are kind of funny. it’s gone up and down since, but has been in the top 10 the whole time. Which is just more than I could ever imagine. I’m super thankful to everyone who’s listened.

So that show is a mix of interviews and coaching shows with a goal to make you a better runner, while you’re listening to the episode. So listen to it while you’re running is the goal.

And my book, which is also The Planted Runner, is coming out in February. And that is everything I teach in book form. So it’s about how to be a better runner fueled by plants. And how to work on your mindset… all of that.

So it’s really just the basics of how to learn to run from a very beginner all the way up 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon. How to fuel your running. And how to get your mind set. So you can do really hard things.

Lots of stuff over at If anybody is interested, I’ve got a free fueling guide for runners called the ultimate fueling guide for runners. And you can get that at

Dr. Matt Minard 44:04

I love it. I saw I was amazed because I saw how you had transformed, all the backstory. But it’s always amazing when you can see somebody pull a good amount of people with you.

And it’s funny like, I feel like it gets to that point where I was with corporate healthcare for 10 years. And it was great. But then it gets to a point where you want to do things your way. You want to be creative. You want to build your own brand.

And that’s what I did almost six months ago now. And so it’s all new and it’s exciting.

Good for you. I love that.

Coach Claire 44:36

Yeah, good for you, Matt.

Dr. Matt Minard 44:38

Yeah, it was big.

I like your format of like, like 15 minutes or so give or take. How do you come up with your ideas for podcasts? What do you do?

Coach Claire 44:48

Well, what I do is basically go from questions people asked me on Instagram or direct message. Or my clients or the athletes that I coach, I talk to them. And when they have a question, I think, oh, well, that’s a great idea for a podcast.

So right now I’m really focusing on the absolute basics: pacing, fueling, how to fuel a marathon… that kind of thing. It’s marathon season right now. So lots of questions from marathoners.

I’ve also just started doing interviews, too. So I interview people who I’m curious about, who can answer questions that I have. I’m learning still throughout this whole process. And I love to bring the listener along.

But really anything focused on running, nutrition and mindset. So I like to start with some kind of story, get people hooked in with some kind of interesting story.

And then my goal is to basically teach three things every episode. So you are going to come away at the end of that episode having learned three specific things that are just going to make you a better runner.

Dr. Matt Minard 45:55

I love it. You’re ready for 10 quick, rapid-fire “this or that” questions?

Coach Claire 46:00

Yeah, totally.

Dr. Matt Minard 46:02

All right. So it’s which would you prefer: running five miles on a treadmill or outdoors?

Coach Claire 46:09


Dr. Matt Minard 46:10

I should have known that. That was easy. Run a half marathon on trails or on the road?

Coach Claire 46:17


Dr. Matt Minard 46:17

Do you run with music or without music?

Coach Claire 46:21


Dr. Matt Minard 46:22

Okay, good phew. I feel like the people that could do without are crazy.

Do you listen to podcast or music when you run?

Coach Claire 46:30

Music for fast running, podcasts for slow running.

Dr. Matt Minard 46:33

Yeah, I’m the same. Do you prefer running solo or in a group?

Coach Claire 46:38

Solo for the most part.

Dr. Matt Minard 46:41

Speed work or base training, which do you prefer?

Coach Claire 46:45

Base training.

Dr. Matt Minard 46:48

Foam roller or massage gun? I should have put hot tub on here. But if you had to pick: a foam roller or massage gun, which you would use?

Coach Claire 46:56

Foam roller.

Dr. Matt Minard 46:57

Caffeine or no caffeine.

Coach Claire 47:00


Dr. Matt Minard 47:01

Yeah. Who doesn’t? My parents don’t do it.

Minimal shoe or a cushion shoe?

Coach Claire 47:08

Can I say both? I have lots and lots and lots of shoes. Way too many. It’s a problem.

And I have some of everything. For the most part, I’ll do a little bit of cushion. But I have three or four minimalist shoes too.

Dr. Matt Minard 47:26

I gotcha. When you’re going out, what makes you… is it the distance? Is it how you feel? The color? What makes you pick one shoe over another?

Coach Claire 47:33

I pick the shoe for the run. So different shoes for speed work. Different shoes for trails. Different shoes for long run. Different shoes for tempo.

Dr. Matt Minard 47:45

Do you match your outfits with your shoes?

Coach Claire 47:47

I usually have pretty tame outfits and pretty crazy shoes. So they usually don’t match. I usually don’t care.

But every once in a while, yes.

Dr. Matt Minard 47:57

The last one is, do you prefer recording voice or video content? What do you like doing better?

Coach Claire 48:03

I definitely prefer voice. So podcasts, audio. But I am going to get into more video stuff coming soon, for sure.

Dr. Matt Minard 48:12

Yeah, it’s such a learning curve. Like I went from patient interaction to then learning how to coach on a microphone where people aren’t responding.

And then like, how to interview versus like talking when nobody’s listening, responding. They’re all so different.

And like video versus voice. I like the challenge because I think we should be able to get our message out by different media formats to really make a true impact.

So I like the challenge of everything because I do. I think it’s different. I think some people respond better to one versus the other.

And I’ve learned that, you can never make everybody happy no matter what you do. And just that’s something that’s been good for me to learn is just, there are some people out there… they’re just miserable. And I feel bad. But people can be mean. 99% of people are so nice and it’s rewarding. But we all know there are those instances.

Coach Claire 49:09

Well, that’s a sign that you make it. When you get a negative comment when somebody says you’re giving bad advice. Or this is dumb. That means you’ve made it.

Dr. Matt Minard 49:19

Yeah, just kind of brush it off.

This has been wonderful. Tell us, how else can we find you?

Coach Claire 49:30

I am “theplantedrunner” everywhere. So the @plantedrunner at Instagram. I share tips every day on how to be a better runner.

Like I said That’s how you can get the free fueling guide.

I’m also doing a free marathon series where I take you through what you need to be doing every week for 12 weeks before your marathon. And that’s

Dr. Matt Minard 49:55

Awesome and I was recently 30 minutes ago-an hour ago on your show. So you can hear me at her show. We did a nice little podcast swap.

It was so nice having you on the show. You’re the first guest and I’m honored it was your voice. We’ve got a good thing going.

Thanks again for your time and your expertise.

Coach Claire 50:11

Absolutely. Matt. You’re a natural interviewer. This was great. I hope you do more of them. This is super fun.

Dr. Matt Minard 50:18
Thank you. I appreciate it. I’ll talk to you soon.

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