OnTrack Stories: Dennis Olechna

 Dennis (third from right) with OnTrack team

Dennis (third from right) with OnTrack team

As part of my preparation for the 2014 Vermont City Marathon this past May, I enrolled in a ten-week training class in January sponsored by RunVermont appropriately called “Marathon 101.” The course instructor/coach was Ms. Kim Loeffler. In a word, Ms. Loeffler was simply superb.

An accomplished professional triathlete, Ms. Loeffler was an outstanding instructor, inspiring coach, and superior source of knowledge about distance running, sports nutrition, human physiology, and sports psychology. The training, as expected, was grueling and challenging. Ms. Loeffler, however, was with each of her students every step along this journey. She created a full training schedule that took all of us from the depths of the frigid Vermont winter to the starting line on Memorial Day weekend. She introduced us to the benefits of cross-training and strengthening our core, all the while ensuring we fully understood the need for proper nutrition, good footwear, and, of course, rest. She was particularly adept at fashioning the training for those of us that required deviations from our schedule due to injury and other setbacks. Ms. Loeffler spent considerable time with us outside the classroom, participating in the occasional group runs and communicating with us via e-mail when we had questions, needed advice, and not the least, encouragement. This clearly underscored her dedication, compassion, and deft didactic touch.

Training for and running a marathon gives one the opportunity to learn much about oneself. We challenged our physical limitations, overcame our psychological trepidation and doubt, and in the end, became stronger individuals. Ms. Loeffler is very much responsible for affording her students the opportunity to not just complete the race but to realize our potential as human beings. The course allowed us to meet and speak with other accomplished marathoners, nutritionists, physical therapists, and even the race Director.

Ms. Loeffler adeptly crafted a marvelous curriculum and the course certainly delivered everything we could have wanted – and needed. It should be noted that every student who stayed the course and the training completed the marathon. As a footnote, I had also registered in April to run the Chicago Marathon in October. To ensure my success in that endeavor, I also engaged Ms. Loeffler’s services to guide me though the training. Her guidance, drive, positive attitude, and friendship were again a winning combination that propelled me across the finish line among the other 40,000 runners who completed the race.

It has been an immense pleasure to get to know Ms. Loeffler and leverage her formidable abilities and knowledge of the human body and spirit in the pursuit of my own personal and athletic goals. Any successes I have enjoyed in these endeavors are, in no small measure, due to her.

  –Dennis Olechna