Megan James, PT DPT, USATF Level 2 Certified Coach
What is your background/qualifications that led you to coaching?
I am a physical therapist and have been working with runners since I began my career in 2014. I opened my own practice, Immersion PT, in 2019, and now work almost exclusively with runners. Having the background in physical therapy, and being a runner myself, coaching runners just happened naturally, and now it is a big part of my business.
Years of experience coaching? Years of experience running?
I have been running competitively since 10th grade (2005) and transitioned to road racing after graduating from college (2011). I have been coaching friends and family informally since I was in college (2007- 2011), and formally at the high school, open and masters’ levels since 2016.
Do you have a personal coach? Why/why not?
I do not have a personal running coach, which probably sounds a bit odd coming from someone who is a running coach. I need a lot of flexibility in my training, since I sometimes run workouts with the athletes I coach (adults and high schoolers), and I like to experiment with some workouts before prescribing them to my athletes. I also just really enjoy building training programs; I seek some input from my husband (also a runner) when I feel stuck.
What distances do you specialize in / PRs in those distances?
My favorite distance to train for is the marathon, though it’s not my favorite race distance – my marathon PR is from a solo time trial in 2020 (pandemic era!), 3:19:40. My favorite distance to race is the 15K – my PR in that is from the Stockade-athon in 2019, 59:37.
Do you program unique schedules for each athlete, or have pre-written programs for specific distances/time goals? How do you program around your athletes’ schedules?
The training plans I create are individualized to each athlete. There are certain workouts or progressions that I like to use in multiple cases, and there is certainly some overlap between athletes training for the same race; but since not all athletes are the same, I definitely don’t follow a “one size fits all” model.
I frame the program around the athlete’s preferences, such as “I like to take Monday off every week”, or “Friday is the best day for a long run.” I recognize schedules (and weather) change, so sometimes we go week by week and piece it together!
Do you specialize in coaching specific distances and/or surfaces?
Almost all of my athletes are road-runners, but they dabble in trail running too. I support getting on the trails for part of training, but I don’t coach athletes who are focused on trail racing. At the high school level, I coach distances from the 600m to 3000m on the track, and 3k to 5k in cross country. For adult runners, I generally coach runners working
ork with many new runners in the shorter distances too (as low as a mile).
Do you prescribe cross-training as a part of your training schedule?
I don’t specifically program cross-training. As runners, we get plenty of cardiovascular activity on our runs. I encourage activities like yoga, hiking and strength training as supplementary work, but without a strict focus on target heart rate or duration – just as a means to move differently, keep us strong and mobile, and have a change in scenery. If an athlete has a need for lower impact, I have them cycle or swim as a way of keeping the aerobic system working without the loading demands of running.
Do your athletes have the ability to contact you as needed? Or are check-ins planned on a weekly/monthly basis?
All of my athletes have unlimited access to me via email or text. I offer a more formal check-in every month or so, either in-person or virtually, where we reassess goals, address any little injuries cropping up, or run a workout together to make sure it’s as challenging as I intend it to be!
What is your first step when an athlete comes to you with pain or injury?
Monitor and communicate! Generally speaking, we can run through most injuries with some modifications rather than rest; if I suspect any bony-type injury, I shut them down right away. This is where my background as a physical therapist is really helpful, as I have a good idea of what is OK to run through, how to modify, and what route to take.
Do you offer free consultations to your prospective clients?
I set up a phone call with any interested athlete, and whatever amount of time that takes to have questions answered and get to know each other a bit is what it takes! I want to be sure that we are a good fit for each other before we both make a commitment.
What medium do you deliver your plans in
All of my programming is through Google Sheets. I post workouts a week at a time, and athletes type in their comments so I know where they are at. I also check on Strava if I am looking for more “data” from their run.
What is the address of your coaching website/best way to contact you?