If you asked Ben Kassel just 6-months ago if he could run a 2:38 marathon he would have said you were crazy. He only started running a few years ago with the intention of losing weight. He weighed 300 lbs and didn’t enjoy running until he did his first race. “Most of the reason I run is for the competitive nature of it,” says Kassel. He hasn’t stopped racing ever since with recent PRs of 2:38:34 at Jack and Jill’s Marathon (4th overall) last month, a 16:43 5k at NC USATF Champs and a 1:17:15 at The Scream Half Marathon. 

I am amazed at how fast I am progressing. The program Jay is putting together for me is helping me reach new heights. One of the things I love about Jay, and how he is different than coaches I have had in the past, is he is ready and willing to support my unique running schedule.

Jay has been all in from the start, and I thank him for that. I know my schedule can be very difficult for a coach to plan around. But obviously he is doing a great job, I have dropped 20 minutes off my marathon time, and 45 seconds off my 5k. Jay always gives me feedback and asks which races I have upcoming and which races I really want to hammer. He gets me well prepared for it on race day, and all the runs he programs are manageable within my schedule. He looks at area’s I need to improve upon and we target those specific area’s to round out my running. I hope we can continue to work together for a long time and I look forward to reaching my new goal of running in the 2:20’s for a full marathon. I am actually shocked how well this program is working.

Ben’s big takeaways for success:
  1. Find the right coach and trust in their methods, run the workouts the best you can and don’t skip the easy runs
  2. Nutrition is just as important as running
  3. Strength training in the gym is key
  4. Stretch/roll/massage
  5. Staying healthy and consistent training is key
  6. Plenty of sleep

To connect with Ben’s coach Jay Bawcom, visit his coaching profile page on the VDOT Marketplace.