Review: Endure Strong Coaching

Disclaimer: I received coaching from Endure Strong as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.

Since becoming a BibRave Pro in December 2017, I have had the opportunity to try some cool products and awesome races, but the Endure Strong coaching was unlike anything I had tried through BibRave before.

What made Endure Strong different? Well first of all, Endure Strong provided me with the opportunity to receive coaching/training plans from Olympian Jared Ward at the fraction of the price of other olympic coaching option. 😱 Second, it was more than coaching- it was a team. More on this later! 

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Why Endure Strong?

Those of you that are long time readers of this website or follow me on Instagram know I have had no shortage of injuries 😅 My last one occurred during my first marathon (the Chicago Marathon last October 2018). I was able to finish the marathon with some walking and stretching, but ended up with a hip/IT band injury that lasted until January 2019.  I then took a slow and cautious return to running, but was also busy with school, so I was not running much in early 2019:

-January: 14 miles

-February: 32 miles

-March: 73 miles

-April: 54.5 miles

I was signed up for a few late spring and summer races, as well as the Chicago Marathon in the fall and realized at the end of April that I needed to get my act together quickly with running. I am very competitive by nature and motivated, but I’ve always thrived from an “extra kick in the butt” from a coach or mentor.  When the opportunity to have a training plan/coach for my summer half marathon occurred I took it! I wanted to get back into serious training post-injury and go after some PRs, so the opportunity to train with Endure Strong was very timely. Thank you BibRave! 🙂

I started my new training plan at the beginning of May 2019 and decided to use it for the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 21, 2019. I have been wanting to be on a team/have a coach, but as a future Registered Dietitian, undergoing a career change and on a strict budget, a coach has been out of the question. Until now. Endure Strong gave me the guidance of a coach and the support of a team (through the online community) at a fraction of the price. It costs only $39.99/month (it was comped for me as I noted in my disclaimer) and there are no contracts or commitments. If it’s not for you, you can stop after your month is up, but I can guarantee you will want to keep training with Jared Ward and the team! 🙂

How does Endure Strong work?

Once you are signed up you have access to a variety of training plans from 5k-marathon. You pick a training plan based on your ability level and the coaching staff is happy to help! I chose the Advanced Half Marathon training plan that peaked at 55 mpw. I picked this plan because while my mileage had been low, I was previously a pretty competitive runner and had some big goals for my half marathon, so I thought it was an appropriate choice.

Once you chose the training plan that suits you and program which date the race is on the training plan is added to your training calendar which is accessible online or via the Final Surge iPhone app. I am often on my phone (lol), so i appreciated the convenience  of being able to look at my training on my phone versus a computer.

I also signed up for text message alerts about my workouts, which was nice. Each day at 6 am my workout was sent to me via text message as a reminder. I chose it to be at 6 am, but you could chose anytime that you want. I think the default time was 12 am.

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The workouts were assigned based on your pace ranges, which are programmed based on a recent race. See my training paces that I used on the plan below. These are just estimates, but helped me fine tune my training.

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Then, we also had biweekly coaching calls with Jared Ward where we could ask him anything we wanted during the call or ahead of time via e-mail by e-mailing the team manager Andrew. I was definitely a little starstruck the first coaching call 😛 Finally, we had access to a plethora of training videos from weight lifting to nutrition to previous coaching call questions. I found the training videos to be useful and watched many of them during my half marathon training. We also had a team group and chat that was accessible on the Final Surge app. It was fun to talk to each other about the ups and downs of training.

My experience with Endure Strong

I initially chose the intermediate half marathon training plan that peaked at 45 mpw, but in early June I realized the plan was not challenging enough for me. I chose intermediate because my mileage had been so low prior to May because of my injury and school, but from an experience standpoint I’m more of an advanced runner. I decided to change to the advanced plan that peaked at 55 mpw. I also made this decision since a sub 1:30 half marathon was my goal and I felt like I need some tougher workouts to meet that goal. This may not have been the smartest idea looking back, BUT it worked out fine and the change was easy- I deleted the intermediate plan from my Final Surge calendar and added the advanced plan.

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On the advanced plan I was supposed to run 2 hard workouts (Tuesday/Thursday) and then my long run was supposed to be at 8:05 pace or faster. The workouts were usually a tempo run or fartlek one day and intervals the other day. The long run was the biggest adjustment for me as I was used to taking my long runs around 8:20 pace. But this quicker long run pace has paid off big time for me- as I write that this post I’m now well into Chicago Marathon training and all my long runs have been in the low-mid 7s except for the long run I did after a race.

I will be honest, I skipped several of the hard workouts. I did the prescribed mileage and peaked at 57 mpw, but I probably averaged one hard workout a week, not two. The hot weather took a toll on me and caused me to change some hard workouts to easy runs. I felt like I was wimping out on some days…but it may have been a little aggressive for me to attempt the advanced plan anyway. Prior to Endure Strong I was running 5-15 mpw and no hard workouts, so this was a huge jump!  Regardless, things worked out well for me. And the daily workout reminders really held me accountable! On the workouts I did run, I saw dramatic improvement in my running as the 2.5 months on the Endure Strong training plan progressed. I had some set-backs initially as I was battling humidity and getting used to running hard workouts again, but then it become apparent to me that a sub 1:30 half marathon would be realistic. Also, it was really reassuring to be able to talk to my Endure Strong teammates about good and bad workouts, as well as battling the crazy hot weather this early-mid summer in the group chat.

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My PR going into Rock N Roll was a 1:34. I ran that 1:34 in 2018 while sick and on 25 mpw, so I knew no matter what I’d PR at Rock N Roll, but it was just a matter of by how much! After the last few weeks of workouts my fitness indicated closer to a 1:27-1:28, so that became my (somewhat secret) goal.  I continued to tell people my goal was a PR and ideally a 1:30, but really I want that 1:27-1:28. But then the heat wave rolled in during race week and Chicago was blanketed with 95-100 degree temperatures. 😦 The heat broke a little for Saturday morning’s race, but it was still humid and awful out. Any of you who know me know that I am am stubborn when it comes to running. I should have adjusted my race goal. But I did not…And until nearly mile 10 I maintained a 6:47 pace which would have earned me a 1:28:55. I ended up succumbing to the heat and just trying to hang on the remaining 5k. I ran a 1:32:11, so my pace fell off a lot, but that is still a PR! You can read more about the race here if you are interested. Regardless, I credit Endure Strong to me earning this PR and just becoming a stronger runner this summer! My training with Endure Strong really built a strong base for me going into the Chicago Marathon training and helped me earn a PR in the half, even if it was not what I wanted.

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Do I recommend Endure Strong?

I absolutely recommend Endure Strong! You get elite level coaching and training plans for a fraction of the price ($39.99/ month)! Nearly everyone on the team has earned a PR on their most recent race because the training works. Plus, everyone is super nice! My training plan has ended, but I still talk to a lot of the Endure Strong teammates 🙂 And where else can you get running advice and a call from an Olympian 2 times a month?

If you have any other questions about Endure Strong please do not hesitate to reach out to me! It made a huge difference in my training year this year! 🙂

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I’m an Ambassador?!

Guess what?! I’m a 2018 BibRave Pro! What the what?!😱 I’m still in disbelief that someone besides my mom, sister, and husband think I’m cool enough to promote running! Cue the the tears of joy… 😛 So, what exactly is a BibRave Pro and what is Bibrave?!

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I’m glad you asked! Until this fall, I was wondering the same thing… I kept seeing people using the #BibRavePro and #bibchat on my Instagram for their training runs and races while decked out in orange Bibrave gear and assumed it was a running clothing brand or something…but then I did some research and saw it was a website dedicated to race reviews. I also reached out to one of my favorite running bloggers who is a second year BibRave Pro: Connie at Constantly and asked her what it was all about. She highly recommended the Bibrave website, told me about the product review and free race opportunities AND encouraged me to apply to be a BibRavePro! I am still shocked I was chosen! 🙂

Bibrave reminds of the website Rate My Teachers , but that might be the teacher in me making the comparison. 👩🏼‍🏫🤓 On Bibrave, you rate the races you’ve run based on a variety of factors such as course scenery, aid stations, difficulty, and swag. It is similar to the concept of Rate My Teachers where you look at reviews to decide if you want to switch to a different teacher for next semester or write an awesome review for a good one (which, P.S.,  is much appreciated coming from a fellow teacher :P). On Bibrave, you might look at reviews when deciding if you want to shell out the big bucks for a new race or you might write a review to share your experiences during a race, either positive or negative to help out fellow runners. It is a really cool concept!

I cannot wait to have all of you join me in 2018 to review races (from 5k and beyond), products, and to form an awesome running community of  runners all over the United States and world! 🙂 Please follow along on my BibRavePro journey here, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Also, check out my discounts page for some race and product discounts. 🙂 Finally, please let me know if you have any questions about this blog or about being a BibRavePro- I’d be happy to help out!

Fit Friday #1: Fitbit Flex review

Good evening friends! Today I am reviewing the FItbit Flex, which I received as a present from my mom. This product review and the options expressed in it are solely my own and are not influenced by a third party. Even though I run or exercise most days of the week, I feel like all I do after working out is sit. That kind of negates the benefits of working out. Having a way to track my daily steps will hopefully influence me to walk more places and live an active lifestyle outside of working out.

The Fitbit Flex comes with a USB charger, a receiver that you plug into your computer, the Fitbit itself, a small wrist band, and a large wrist band. I have the pink Fitbit Flex.

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To use the Fitbit, you make a profile on the Fitbit website and you link it with your Fitbit. I also recommend getting the smartphone app. You can set your daily goal of steps, distance, calories burned, and active minutes. You can also track your sleep with the app. It tracks how long you sleep, when your are awake during the night, and when you are restless during the night. You can even use the Fitbit as your alarm in the morning. It will vibrate on your wrist to wake you up.

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You can also set weight, body fat, and BMI goals and manually track them. There is also a food tracker, but I have not used it. I do not like tracking my food intake. I used MyFitness Pal in the past, when I was a DI college runner. It is a good idea, especially for weight loss, but for some people, such as athletes, it can cause them to become a tad obsessive. Am I eating enough? Too much? Am I getting enough protein? ETC.. I fell into the latter category during college so now I do not track what I eat.

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I just try to eat healthy most of the time and only when I am hungry. I have no idea how many calories I eat per day to be honest. Not tracking my food intake is working well for me as I have not gained or lost weight since I graduated from college last May!

Here is my day in steps so far today. I did a 25 minute cross training workout on the elliptical at resistance 14 as well as 10 minutes of yoga using the Yoga Studio app. I also walked around a lot today because I went to the Field Museum with my boyfriend’s family and ran various errands:

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Pros:

  • The Fitbit Flex is waterproof. I wore it in the shower today and that did not ruin it!
  • You can also sleep in the Fitbit. You never have to take it off if you don’t want to.
  • The small wrist band is small enough for people like me with child sized wrists 🙂
  • The Fitbit is not bulky and isn’t ugly. It’s not the cutest bracelet, but oh well.
  • You can see your progress toward your step, distance, or calorie goal by tapping the Fitbit. Each red dot represents 1/6 of your progress and 6 red dots mean your reached your goal. The Fitbit vibrates when this happens.
  • Very long battery life. The manual says it should last at least 5 days. I got mine 2 days ago and the battery is still  full!
  • You can participate in challenges with your friends or people online who have Fitbits. Perfect for competitive people such as myself. 😛
  • Motivating emails when you reach your goals that you can share with social media:

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Cons:

  • What constitutes an active minute? Not all my minutes on the elliptical today were considered active minutes, but resistance 14 is no joke…
  • Not sure how accurate the restless and awake minutes are in the sleep tracker.
  • You cannot manually add exercises such as weight lifting, yoga, elliptical, swimming, biking, etc. You can only add running, walking, or hiking exercises.
  • Not sure how accurate the calorie burning measurement. is

Overall opinion:

I recommend the FitBit Flex for anyone.  I wish you could manually track more exercise types, but it does the trick for those of us who want to be more active during the day. This may be just the tool you need to park the car further away, take the stairs, walk more places, and be more mindful of time spent sitting during the day. Whether you are a runner, daily exerciser, or coach potatoes the Fitbit can motivate you to take more steps during the day. Every single one of us can benefit from a more active lifestyle! 🙂

Do any of you have the Fitbit Flex or another Fitbit? What do you think about it?