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MEET The Coach


            Samantha Merkel discovered her passion for running after her middle school P.E. teacher convinced her to join the cross-country team. Since then, she's pursued the sport through competition at the high school, collegiate, and post-collegiate levels. With over a decade of experience under her belt, she's dropped her half marathon PR by 20 minutes, 5k PR by more than ten minutes and her mile time by more than two minutes.

            While she loves competing, her greatest passion in the sport has always been mentoring and encouraging new runners. The greatest highs from running have come from seeing her teammates achieve their dreams. Samantha is a certified USATF Level 1 coach and has coached runners through the Next Step Half/Full Marathon program through the Howard County Striders. She is pursuing Personal Trainer certification through the American College of Sports Medicine in order to meet a runner's needs on the road and in the weight room.

            When she isn't researching training philosophies or keeping up with the pro running circuit, Samantha enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband and two young children, hosting friends for game nights, engaging in theological study, and a freshly brewed cup of coffee. 

Coaching Philosophy

Samantha's coaching philosophy is defined by focusing on finding joy in training, training at an appropriate level for the runner's experience and desire, injury prevention, and favors development of endurance as a primary goal in the beginning of each training cycle. Samantha believes that the stress of training should be balanced with other life stresses to maintain mental and physical well-being, so workload recommendations will consider a client's current nutrition, sleep schedule, work stress levels, and other contributing factors. Running should fit into your life, not dominate it! Samantha takes all feedback seriously and believes that open communication between the athlete and coach is key to staying healthy, meeting an athlete's goals, and enjoying the process. 

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