About Alison Marie


​I'm a NASM certified personal trainer, UESCA certified running coach, PhD engineer, teacher, self-proclaimed running nerd, and creator of the Women's Running Academy.

I help female runners train with purpose, respect, and understanding of their bodies, using basic principles of physics and physiology and a strong dose of compassion, so that they can finally ditch the cycle of injury and burn out, make real sustainable progress toward their goals, and rediscover their joy with running.

This mission is very personal to me because that woman endlessly searching for the perfect workout and the answers to ever growing list of questions about my changing body, getting overwhelmed and then defeated, beginning to accept (what I now know is untrue) that “maybe running just isn't for me anymore” was me not all that long ago.

The things that worked before, didn't seem to work anymore. The little aches and pains from my running past turned into bigger aches and pain, sidelining injuries, and the need to always wear black shorts to events if you know what I mean (more on this later).

I spent $$ on courses, books, and programs. I spent years studying, testing, and working closely with other experts in their respective areas of health, fitness, and movement science. I've made it my life's work to cut through the BS and get down to the simplest form of what actually works AND in a way that I (you) can consistently do it.

I’m a scientist.

I provide programs and advice that are backed in science and logic….and what actually works! I use the foundations of physics and physiology to look at the whole body as it works together to help you get out of that cycle of chasing one problem only to create another.

I’m a teacher.

I teach you to truly understand what your body is telling you and learn its language. So that you have the tools and build the trust needed to step INTO your body (not tune out) and your power.

I’m a coach.

(And a whole-ass human) I coach with compassion and understanding for how training integrates with life as a woman (and for many of my athletes, a mother).

Running, the way we know it, is a uniquely human experience.

I love getting to nerd out on the biomechanics of this stuff. I’m a self-proclaimed running nerd with a super power for taking complex ideas, connecting the dots, and putting it together in a way that is easy to understand.

And to be human is the deepest most complex experience there is.

I also know that what you can’t see, your physiology, can play a huge role in your experience.

I want to teach you to breathe, slow down, move intentionally, and step INTO your body (not tune out) and your power. To help you understand what your body is telling you, to learn its language, and support its needs.

My Story

My passion for fitness began at a young age with a love of running (thanks Mom), but I took the long road back here career wise….

My other loves, for science and solving puzzles, led me first to pursue my doctorate in Chemical Engineering (for those of you that don’t know what ChemE is, think of it as a cross between chemistry, physics, math, economics and whatever you need to make it as efficient as possible). 

During that time is where my love of running flourished (potentially into an obsession). 

A group of friends and I decided to run our first half marathon together. "Sure, I’ll try a half, but I'll draw the line at a full.” Famous last words, right?

I ran the half, and then another, then another and before I knew it, I caught the bug. I needed to try a full.  At that point it was only still a mild obsession.

After my first full and a few beers, pleasantly surprised by my performance, I asked my significant other at the time if he thought I could qualify for Boston. I “only” had to shave 20 minutes off my time, after all.

Well, long story short…

...I think THAT’s where my real obsession began because… that dude LAUGHED AT ME!

It. was. on. after that! I read every book on running science I could find; I hired a coach and less than 3 months later I got my first BQ!

It safe to say I became obsessed - even joked about quitting grad school to become a running coach right then, but I settled for being the running guru among my friends, writing dozens of programs (everything from just getting started, to running a marathon at a new PR, and going for that coveted BQ).

I LOVED it! I got to nerd out engineering style on something I’d loved for a lot longer than immunology and fluid mechanics.

Though my PhD isn’t directly related to physical fitness, that time of my life definitely fostered my love of data, my scientific approach to all things, and a propensity for all things efficient.

Now, I get to nerd out writing your programs to be the most efficient and effective possible. Win, win! 

Fast forward a bit to 2 hours after defending my dissertation, I was sitting in a pre-planning session for my first year of teaching full time. My data driven methods paired with my love and passion for science lead my students to unprecedented success.

...then I became a mom, and ​everything changed!


On the outside, it appeared I had "bounced back" (I hate the term, but you know what I mean), I was a certified personal trainer so of course I had it all together when it came to my health and fitness, right? WRONG!

 I was still occasionally peeing while running, jumping, and sneezing - and just living with it.

 I had terrible back and hip pain if I wasn’t regularly seeing a chiropractor - the chiropractor helped the symptoms but didn't fix the underlying problem.

 My shoulders and neck constantly hurt - massages barely helped.

 Finally, I decided something had to give.

 I had been getting back into racing more seriously. My husband and I were running a race competing on a team for his work. We had a goal of being the fastest male and female on his company team (spoiler alert, he hit his goal, I did not).


It was all going great until the downhills. I could not run downhill without completely peeing myself. And it wasn’t just a little drop, I’m talking soaked pants (good thing they were black - I’d made that mistake before). So, there I was running the flats and the uphills (passing people left and right) and walking downhills only to get passed by all of them and then some. 

It was so F-ing frustrating. 

At the end of that race, after asking my husband if he could tell my black shorts were soaked in pee (thankfully no), I vowed to call a pelvic floor physical therapist on Monday.

I started with my pelvic floor physical therapy the very next week. Of course, I LOVED nerding out with her on it and was inspired to learn more. More women needed to know this stuff! So, I dropped everything in my coaching business and studied to become a Pregnancy and Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist.

To say that sent me down a rabbit hole of continuing education and completely changed the way I coach all women, not just moms, would be an understatement!

I love getting into the nitty gritty of form, positions, muscle actions, running biomechanics, etc. 


I also know that what you can’t see, your physiology, can play a huge role in your experience.

Unfortunately, like everything else above, I had to learn that the hard way.

During my pregnancy with our third child, our baby girl Charlotte, we found out she had trisomy 13 (an extra copy of the 13th chromosome) that ultimately resulted in some additional complications (a hole in her heart and a missing gallbladder/spleen).  We fought for fair care; we didn’t accept their initial “incompatible with life” diagnosis.

She was born full term at 39 weeks and thrived for 6 days until succumbing to an awful infection.

Click here to read more of Charlotte’s story and the Compatible with Life 5k that carries on her legacy.

From finding out her diagnosis and fighting to learn as much about it and the opportunities for care.

To getting closer to her due date and being ready to fight for her life with her at any moment.

To actually doing so for the 6 days she was here.

To the devastating eventual loss of her life.

It was A LOT.

I’m a problem solver, a doer, I never stopped. I lived “up” and never came “down” until my body forced me to. My nervous system ended up so dysregulated it affected my whole body. 

I started to notice I couldn’t breathe. Trying to breathe through my nose, especially at night in bed, made me feel panicky and anxious.

My easy pace began to slow dramatically. Some days to keep it feeling easy I was running nearly 3 minutes per mile slower than my normal easy pace. Not my pre-pregnancy easy pace either, this was slower than just a few months prior (earlier postpartum).

My hair started falling out in clumps when I washed it.

Despite strength training 3 days per week, I very noticeably lost quite a bit of muscle. I stayed the same weight, but the changes in body composition were very clear. I was getting weaker with training NOT stronger. It turns out, my body had stopped producing testosterone.

I had to stop running completely for a few months, do some intensive work on my nervous system regulation and go on hormone replacement therapy.

You can read the full story here of how stress impacted my running here.

I’m now living proof and a cautionary tale of the compounding stress I’ve talked about as a coach for years! 


What does this have to do with YOU?

Life stuff outside of your training matters. You can’t outrun it, but you can train with respect to it.

All my coaching and educational resources now consider the fact that social and environmental factors influence your physiology, which affects your breathing, movement, aerobic capacity/efficiency, and recovery.

We integrate some basic principles of breath, rest, recovery, nervous system regulation and intentionally progressive overload with your training to respect your humanness.

AND we have real conversations about how the social environment we live in puts a lot of pressure on us to do and produce. Calling out the patriarchy for pushing this narrative that we are always needing to do and produce, that we need to earn rest and the time to do the things that light us up.

Running, the way we know, it is a uniquely human experience.

And to be human is the deepest most complex experience there is.

Inspired by my struggles through motherhood.

For ALL women.

The thing is, purposeful training is important for all runners but became much more necessary and impossible to ignore for me after having babies.

Looking back on it, pregnancy revealed the invisible ink.

Younger, pre-childbirth me, could run as much as I wanted with very little aches and pains. What little aches and pains I did have seemed to be well taken care of by yoga, my lame attempts at strength training (clamshells and standing on one foot doing bicep curls in the name of stability). NSAIDs and ice baths took to the edge off when needed.


As it turns out, I had some significant deficits in strength and some extreme imbalances in my hip range of motion/strength. Everyone has imbalances to one degree or another. Some are predisposed due to body shape and genetics, others from repetitive motions of daily life.

Oftentimes they are written in invisible ink.

They don’t cause problems/symptoms/pain until there is a stress on your system. That stress could be an increased volume or intensity in training.

For me that stress was pregnancy!

Sure, pregnancy itself creates some of the muscle imbalances on its own with the changes to your posture, core, and load down on the pelvic floor, but it also often uncovers the existing imbalances.

This is part of why I look at pregnancy and early postpartum as an OPPORTUNITY to become a better runner. It reveals all the little things that maybe weren’t a problem but likely had been preventing you from performing at your fullest potential.

Pregnancy reveals the invisible ink and Postpartum gives you the opportunity to slow down and work the foundations so that you can become a better athlete overall.




Here’s the thing, you don’t have to wait until symptoms to work the foundations and purposefully strength train!

…and purposeful strength training for running is more than clamshells and standing on one leg in the name of stability.

First of all, that was boring AF.

Second, it helped to a point (because before that I was doing next to nothing) but quickly plateaued in progress.

It didn’t matter much then because I was young and resilient. The little niggles were easy to ignore.

>>Strength IS stability<< 

Now, three kids and almost two decades later, strength training has transformed my running experience. I look at that twenty something runner I was and know I could smoke her!

My strength training now includes:

Heavy weights with a focus on training movements instead of muscles with a focus on my 5 Skills for an Efficient Running Stride.

For example, training to be able to organize your center of mass over your stance leg (load).

Once we can load, we can train propulsion and power. (Side note, that's not just going through the motions to sweat with some HIIT circuit for runners. We need to move with purpose!)


What makes me the expert?

I’ve been a runner for over 30 years and a professional in the industry for over a decade. AND I firmly believe my earlier life careers (engineering and teaching) have really shaped the way I look at all this stuff.

My PhD is in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology.

When asked what a chemical engineer does, my answer was always “make things more efficient.” That’s exactly what I do now with running - look at the details WITH the big picture to get the best possible result.

This experience also taught me to read, understand, and critique research, a skill that is now necessary for working on the cutting edge of movement science.

AND…while there I joked about wanting to quit and “just be a running coach.” (It took me a few more years to fully see the light).

I taught undergraduate fluid mechanics and kinetics at Georgia Tech and secondary science in Metro Atlanta for 5 years after.

Going from teaching college level engineering classes to teaching middle school science sharpened my skill of taking complex ideas, connecting the dots, and putting it together in a way that is easy to understand. If I can get 100 12-year-olds to understand, explain, and predict the fluid mechanics of complex weather phenomena, I’ve got you here!

After having my first son, I knew that there was something missing with my running, went down the rabbit hole of certification and continuing education to help my own body, every step along the way saying, “why don’t we teach more people this,” “I wish I hand know this sooner,” and “I NEED to be a running coach and share this information.”

  • National Academy of SportS Medicine Certified Personal Trainer
  • United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy Certified Running Coach
  • Pregnancy and Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist
  • Empowered Performance Program (where I am now a teacher)
  • Countless other continuing education, books, research papers, workshops, etc.

My Coaching Philosophy


Running, the way we do it, is a uniquely human movement. (big print)

I love nerding out on all the nitty-gritty of form, positions, muscle actions, running biomechanics, etc. 

And to be human is the deepest most complex experience there is. (big print)

Running and the training that supports it do not exist in a vacuum. We love, we lose, we stress and worry, we fill our days with work, sitting, and screens. What you can’t see, your physiology, can play a huge role in your experience.

I want to teach you to breathe, slow down, move intentionally, and step INTO your body (not tune out) and your power. To help you understand what your body is telling you, to learn its language, and support its needs.

The Three Pillars of My Coaching Approach


Uncover how your whole body works together instead of chasing individual pains/issues.

Learn how your physiology impacts your performance and recovery (you are human, not a robot).


Strength train with intention and the demands of running in mind.

Practice with the 5 essential skills for an efficient running stride.

Integrate streamlined running programming.


Build through progressive overload with supportive rest/recovery.

Break big goals down into small achievable steps.

Continue to the learn more about your body in the process.

I love working with runners who are:

✓ Curious, with a problem solving mentality. They want to learn the why and be a part of the process.

✓ Willing to adopt a longevity mindset. They for sure have that competitive streak but understand that progress takes time and strategy (and rest).

My coaching is not for runners who:

X Don’t really care to learn the why or to be a part of the process.

Unwilling to give up the no pain, no gain, rest days are for the weak mentality.

4 Random Facts About Me:

I’m originally from Massachusetts but moved south for grad school and stayed because I can more easily run outside year-round here. “Wicked” and “y’all” are both a major part of my vocabulary.


While we were still a family of 3, we lived in a RV and traveled for 2 years (my husband travels for work), before settling just outside Greenville, South Carolina. We chose our current hometown and neighborhood partly because of its proximity to good running trails.


I’ve never DNF a race but I did DNS my first planned marathon because I had an ovarian cyst burst the week before. That was really painful!


My nostrils are significantly asymmetric (completely different shapes and sizes). I recently discovered an up the nose photo angle from when I was 3 years old that shows it’s been that way for longer than I thought. Now I’m down another rabbit hole about how that contributes to some of the asymmetric patterns in my body.

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