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Hidden Gems: Meet Kelly Lutz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Lutz.

Hi Kelly, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’ve been interested in math and fitness for pretty much as long as I can remember. I’ve always excelled at and enjoyed math classes the most in school and have played sports throughout my life. Knowing this, it makes sense that now I am a data scientist and a running coach (and soon to be strength training coach). But I didn’t always know what to do with my two passions. I graduated from undergrad with a BS in mathematics in 2012, then graduated from grad school with an MS in mathematics in 2014. After all those years in school, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I worked odd jobs at gyms and coffee shops until landing a job in finance… which wasn’t for me. I moved into the corporate world as a pension benefits analyst for a couple years until I heard about a data science bootcamp at Galvanize. Using logic to write code that solves problems? Sign me up!

With the help of my parents, I attended the three month bootcamp in 2018 and landed a data scientist job shortly after. I’m currently at the same company on a different team as a data scientist! So… how did I get into coaching runners? I’ve been running (seriously) since I signed up for my first half marathon in 2009 and then walked onto our D1 cross country team. Once I moved out to Colorado, I got into trail running and completed my first 50k in 2017. In 2020, I decided to get back into running with the intent of running another 50k in 2021. Once COVID hit, most of my running events were canceled, and I saw one of my friends, Juliet Hammer, pivot her climbing coaching business completely online with the help of her business coach, who I also followed on Instagram. Seeing Juliet’s success with combining strength training with climbing coaching made me think maybe I would like to coach runners and eventually add in strength training.

Around the same time that I started researching running coach certifications, Juliet’s business coach started a 12-week online course for new business owners – focusing on how to expand your business using social media. I signed up shortly after completing my first coaching certification (UESCA’s running coach certification).

It was the best decision I’ve made so far. With her help, I was able to start my business, get my ultrarunning coaching certification, market myself on social media, gain a following and launch my 1:1 coaching program (and sold it out). So far, I’ve had the pleasure of working with 11 amazing women with goals ranging from getting back into running to running their first 50k. My mission is to help women reach their running goals, dream big and realize they can do more than they think, whether that’s starting to run consistently or completing their 50th 50k.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Nothing is ever a smooth road! One of my biggest struggles has been figuring out what I truly want to do with my life. With passions for problem solving/coding and fitness, it’s been hard finding a way to combine the two. My current situation is the best solution for this so far, in that I work as a data scientist full time and coach on the side, but my ultimate goal is to transition into coaching full time one day with my business as my primary income. One of my qualms with that is wondering if I’ll miss programming daily. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to swap it so that I coach full time and do some data science on the side!

The entire past year has been a struggle as well with COVID. I’m lucky enough that I can work fully remotely for my full-time and coaching job, but I’ve found it hard to separate work and my personal life, set boundaries with when I’m available, and not get sick of always being in my house. As much as I love not having a commute, I miss seeing my coworkers, going on coffee walks, and just getting out of the house. At the end of a work-day full of staring at a screen, it can be hard for me to switch into coaching mode, which also involves starting at a screen and zoom meetings. I always feel motivated after talking to my athletes though! Seeing how hard they work and getting to know them makes coaching so worth it.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I recently started a new business that focuses on coaching female runners, specifically ultramarathoners! And ultramarathon, for anyone who doesn’t know, is any race distance above a marathon (26.2 miles), with the most common distances as 50k, 50 mile, 100k and 100 mile. I’ve been working with women since January and have four athletes with their FIRST 50k this month (I’m so proud of them). Currently, I offer 1:1 coaching or customized training plans, but a couple new offers are in the works! I’ve been studying to become a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) so that I can offer strength training plans for runners as well – that will come later this year!

My next program that I’m working on is a training program for beginner runners or runners coming back from a long hiatus that doesn’t necessarily end in a race. As someone who took over a year off from running between my last 50k and deciding to build a base for another 50k, I know how hard and discouraging it can be to start and continue running again. I want to make a program and community that will help those who want to get into running have a better chance of sticking with it (and a better chance of not hating running!).

I’m also passionate about helping runners ditch their perfectionist ideals when it comes to training. I’m 100% a Type A perfectionist, and it showed when I ran in college! I never missed a training day and often felt like I needed to do more. Now that I’m older and have much more going on in my life (hello stress!), I’ve really had to embrace the fact that training won’t always happen the way that it’s written and that sometimes just doing something, even if it means cutting a run or workout short, is better than doing nothing. Consistency matters more than perfection.

What matters most to you? Why?
What matters most to me is connecting with others and helping them see their potential. Women are (still) severely underrepresented in ultramarathon races, though the number of women participating has been climbing in recent years. I think that many women don’t think they’re capable of tackling a race that long, partially because they don’t see as many other women doing it. I hope to motivate women to dream bigger and to sign up for hard things if they want to! There’s also nothing like the sense of accomplishment and badass-ness that comes from completing an ultra. It’s a truly special experience that I want to share with everyone open to it. Similarly, once I’m officially certified in strength training, I want to help women see how strong they are and help them get into lifting.

With both of these goals, I think it’s important to have a community that supports what you’re doing, and that’s why connecting with others matters to me. With my business, I want to create a space where women feel supported and motivated to reach for their goals.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Vail Recreation District

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