Intro by Sean Flanagan:“Coach,” as I know Raeleigh, trained me in 2021 for what I dubbed the Silver State 50/508, where I ran the Silver State 50 miler and biked the Silver State 508—but I’ll save that story for another race report. In my eyes, Raeleigh goes beyond what a coach can offer. In a way, she often seemed to know my body and mind better than I did. She once called me the morning before a long run (that she had scheduled) to tell me “not to run.”
Raeleigh introduced me to a new level of coaching, one where science, experience, and listening blended to form a bond between athlete and coach. I became more aware of my body, its needs, and how it functioned. Leading up to one of my trail races, Raeleigh and I met for coffee, where I presented her with one of my world-famous pace charts. It laid out, in extreme detail, what time I expected to arrive at each aid station, complete with “A,” “B,” and “C” goals. Surely, she would be impressed. I waited for the compliments, but instead she asked, “Where’s your nutrition chart?”
Along our journey of figuring out who this Flanagan guy was, Raeleigh asked me to get a “sweat test.” I knew I could sweat in a cold shower, but what I didn’t know—and found out after receiving the results of the sweat test—was that there was no electrolyte product on the market that could come even remotely close to replenishing my sodium loss during a race. My results even prompted a special phone call from the company that issued the test to make sure I had executed it correctly.
Raeleigh taught me about the importance of heart rate and cadence, even having me take a Heart Rate Variability Test every morning before stepping out of bed. She had conversations with my Endocrinologist to help dial in my thyroid medication when I had trouble staying within certain heart zones during training. I didn’t run that morning she told me not to, and later that day, I got sick. Raeleigh’s attention to her athletes’ training, lifestyle, stress levels—and the fact that she makes periodic phone calls just to “check in”—taught me that there is more to training. She taught me to respect my body and pay attention when it’s telling me to stop.
Read on and get to know Raeleigh a bit more—and maybe, one day, you too will know her as Coach.
Tell me about what you currently do for a living, and how long have you been at it? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I’m a full time endurance sports coach and head coach for Humango.ai, an AI supported endurance sports training app. I’m fortunate that I set my own schedule so I’m in a great position to manage my work and my training in a balanced way.
What do you like most about coaching and/or what are you most excited about right now?
Coaching is incredibly fulfilling because of how much you help people. And it’s not just about their training and event performance. It’s about leveraging athletes human spirit to bring the best out of any situation. That can be in their sport, but is often seen in their work, relationships and other passions in life. When you coach an athlete to life balance, they end up elevating their joy in many ways.
I’m most excited right now about the potential for aggregation of sports performance metrics, health metrics and human “nature” in a productive way that optimizes the science while still keeping the human at the center. Our industry is changing because of technology augmented science but we have to continue to keep the human front and center.
How would you describe your style of coaching? What makes your approach unique?
I’m an art V’s science coach. I use data to guide the future training dose, and art ( human nature, and subjective measures) to inform the adjustments to that. I don’t think my approach is so unique or unusual. There are a lot of incredible coaches out there who are similar in their approach, but what I add is a sports science degree, 30 years of racing, 10 years of coaching and a world championship experience which helps me understand my athletes and what I’m asking them to do. Every athlete is different but having personally experienced a lot of training and racing scenarios gives me huge empathy for my athletes and a deep understanding of what is required to achieve their goals.
When did you begin running/racing/triathlons? Why?
I started racing when I was 16. My mother’s boyfriend at the time was a triathlete and saw potential in me. I raced my first sprint triathlon race in 1988. I immediately fell in love with the challenge, the community and the mental benefits from competition and never looked back.
What motivates you? Is it the racing, the training, or…?
I am really driven by the idea of continuing to improve. Weather that be mentally, physically or spiritually through my training and racing. I like to be an example and roll model proving that age is just a number.
Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
I’ve won a world Championship in my age group at the 70.3 distance, but that was 6 years ago. I want to do that again in my current age group. (50 to 54). I’ve won my fair share of trail and road runs and I’d like to maintain that level of performance but my legs are getting tired (LOL) and I find I don’t recover as well as I used to.
What was the best training/competition advice you’ve received?
Consistency is key!!!!
What are your upcoming racing/adventure plans?
I’ll be racing a 70.3 in July in Oregon and adding the Lake Tahoe Xterra and Lake Tahoe Olympic race in August. I love the Big Blue races and am forever grateful we get to race so many quality races right here at home!
What led you to join DPMR?
A dear friend and athlete I was coaching at the time, Steve Buelna introduced me to DPMR several years ago and I’ve been a member ever since.
Favorite local trail?
Palisades to Alpine Valley along the PCT
Do you have a mental training technique, mantra, or similar that you rely on to combat the mentally trying times of a longer run?
I like to run a body scan while breathing in gold light and exhaling fatigue. It’s both a physical and mental practice that brings me back to center every time.
Recovery technique that you swear by?