Karen Bertasso: Coach Interview Questionnaire

1. What is your background/qualifications that led you to coaching?

I ran for my HS and college teams and haven’t stopped yet, still competing at a high level. I have done a lot of research on my own via books, seminars, conferences, podcasts and talking to other masters in the sport. I have been fortunate enough to have had incredible running coaches throughout my life. In high school (Scotia-Glenville) I ran during the years of some super speedsters (Raymond brothers, King sisters, and Rachel Oaks). I think the coaches knew a thing or two. In college, my coach was great and kept things fun, which prevented burnout. I’ve worked with Dick Vincent in the past, who is awesome (fun as well no burnout!), Michael Chavez, who has a science-based approach like myself and an amazing running resume himself (debuting in 2:16) and 3-time Olympian Jen Rhines the past 4 years. I have my USATF Level 1 Coaching Certificate, I also come from an educational background. I am an orthopedic PA with two master’s degrees, medical sciences and physician assistant studies; therefore, I’ve studied a lot of biochemistry, anatomy and physiology. It’s fun to apply it into training cycles. I am also a prior assistant soccer coach at the collegiate level.

2. Years of experience coaching?

4-5 years as a running coach

3. Do you have a personal coach, why or why not?

Yes. For accountability, to bounce ideas off and for a training schedule. They can see a bigger picture looking in from the outside. Also, they may give you a workout you wouldn’t think you could do then when you nail it, you’re almost shocked and super excited!

4. What distances do you specialize in/PRs in those distances?

All distances, all paces/levels.

5. Do you program unique schedules for each athlete, or have pre-written programs for specific distances/time goals. How do you program around your athlete’s schedules?

 Every plan is individualized, and it has to be! I have medical residents, law students, parents working full time, people who work weekends, etc., all on different schedules. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and I focus on that. One person may need more MGP  (marathon goal pace) work but has plenty of speed and vice versa. Also, I look at age and their recovery. Some runners do better on a 10 day cycle while others can be on a 7 day plan. It really is about each individual athlete, their schedule, goals and what will work best for him or her.

6. Do you specialize in coaching specific distances and or surfaces? i.e. road or trail?

I coach any surface or distance that a client is interested in racing. I have experience coaching everyone from high school track students to runners training for ultramarathons.

7. Do you prescribe cross-training as a part of your training schedule?

It’s based on the athlete. I have some who love the bike, so of course we’ll use that! I’m not going to not incorporate something they like doing into their schedule. It should be fun!

8. Do your athletes have the ability to contact you as needed? Or are check-ins planned on a weekly/monthly basis?

Weekly-biweekly check ins on the weekend. I do my best to respond to email questions about an upcoming workout or a sudden change in an athlete’s schedule due to unfortunate circumstances during the week.

9. What is your first step when an athlete comes to you with a pain/niggle/or injury?

With my medical and running background I have been able to solve most problems immediately, but unfortunately there are times when we need to step back, take a break and get additional treatment. I will try to work with the runner to try to determine what the problem is and always err on the side of safety.

10. Do you offer free consultations to your prospective clients?


11. What is the address of your coaching website?


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