Sonja Friend-Uhl is invaluable to our team. She is a role model for all of us. Because of her success as a healthy, smart, kind, and balanced runner, we can relate to her as we strive to emulate her way of living. Though she is soft spoken and extremely humble, she has a powerful presence and her words of advice are eagerly received by our team. Furthermore, she is extremely knowledgeable about how runners think and what they need mentally and physically to be the best athletes they can be.
Sonja is irreplaceable as a first hand testimonial for the girls on our team to listen to and strive to be more like. By taking one look at her you can literally see how solid and strong she is as an athlete. We trust her because she looks like a healthy athlete. We trust her because her knowledge encompasses characteristics specific to our sport. We trust her because she has both a lifetime of experience and a lifetime of success behind her. She has been incredibly approachable about a variety of topics that not every person has the capacity to address. It would be of great value for her to continue her involvement with us.
Out of anyone who has spoken to our team, Sonja has been the greatest example of someone who places necessary importance on the idea of being a strong runner. After she spoke with us, it was immediately apparent that she had an impact on our habits as everyone became aware of the importance of staying healthy as a team, both mentally and physically. She is an amazing athlete and an even better example for each of us, and an invaluable component and asset to us as a whole.
I think Sonja was incredibly helpful! She is easy to respect because of her credentials and level of detailed knowledge she can share with us. Her perspective on nutrition as a runner makes her advice very applicable to us. She’s accomplished so much which helps everyone take her advice to heart. She’s so strong and I believe this is crucial in the direction our team should take. Her experience is something everyone respects and can take something from.
This letter is written as a recommendation for Sonja Friend-Uhl. I have known Sonja for 12 years. I can honestly say that I can’t name more than a hand full of coaches I respect as much as I respect her. She has the ability and qualifications to coach beginner to advanced, from youth to master. Sonja’s experience, caring, knowledge, passion, dedication, humility and love for the sport make her an unbelievably great coach.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if a runner (no matter his or her age or ability) follows one of Sonja’s designed running program they will see great improvement and new PR’s!
Sonja is truly an example of someone who defines the word coach. She is the perfect combination of someone who will push you, and still be warm and approachable in any situation. She works with the whole person-mentally, emotionally and physically. Sonja’s professionalism, extensive knowledge and enthusiastic commitment to her work and ultimately her clients provide the perfect scenario for success. Vanderbilt’s cross country and track program has been elevated to a higher level due to Sonja’s connection with our distance runners, the wealth of knowledge she has with nutrition, and providing a new way for our team to visualize races. Sonja is passionate about coaching and it shows through the energy and dedication she brings to every individual she works with. We are blessed to have Sonja as a leader and role model for our team.
At 33 with some encouragement from a friend I began running, I was also a pack a day smoker and carried extra weight. My first half marathon at the age of 36, as a smoker took 2:17. After several years of being a non-smoker my best half marathon, at the age of 41, took 1:31.
With some work on my part, and help of others, I was able to achieve some of my best running after being a runner for 8 years.
5:47 Mile July 20, 2012 (was working with [Sonja])
Sonja has coached me through different fitness needs over the past few years. I found myself running 5 to 7 days a week, and slowly putting pounds back on after settling into routines and habits. It also seemed that my running was at a plateau.
Sonja has been able to help me reach very measured, and specific nutrition goals. I felt that I could trust the plan and coaching I was given from Sonja as someone who “walks the walk.” The benefits of focusing on my nutrition with Sonja had better results than I had expected.
My workouts were beginning to feel easier, and my speed was continuing to improve. I felt lighter in general, and at 40+ I was the most fit I had ever been.
At a local level and races out of town I was starting to earn age group placing or master’s division wins.
I had a better understanding about fueling and nutrition before or after a run. Sonja gave me suggestions on products that would help with pre and post running recovery. The support that I’ve received has been mostly online or over the phone, I am not a local client. Sonja has always been prompt to respond to a question, or at my request, over the phone.
I believe if you “show up” and are specific with your needs and goals, Sonja will deliver and uphold her side of the work!
To me, Sonja is a friend, coach, mentor, and inspiration. Not only is Sonja extremely knowledgeable in her field, always searching for new ways to achieve optimum performance in running, but she is a living example of how putting her training to work can achieve amazing results. With the master’s world record in the mile and countless other accolades under her belt, Sonja keeps striving for personal excellence and expects the same from her clients, whether that means reaching your goal weight or breaking 4:45 in the mile.
In the time that I’ve known Sonja, she has helped me push myself to places I didn’t believe I could go. With the right training and encouragement, I was able to run the Vanderbilt school record of 4:42 in the mile, and qualify for NCAA regionals, as well as PR over a minute in my 5 and 6k times, leading my team to nationals two years in a row. Through all of this, Sonja has remained one of the best and loyal friends I have ever had. She has truly made it her mission to make a difference in the lives of others, and she certainly has in mine.
I started running my freshman year in high school and in both cross country and track I had pretty successful seasons. In cross country I had a PR of 21:37 and in track my mile time was 6:00 and my 3200 time was 12:47. My sophomore year started out okay but after a few meets I wasn’t making the progress my coaches and I had expected. That is when I started receiving help from Coach Sonja and my running began to get a little better and showed improvement. This Fall I ran my new Cross Country PR of 20:39.
Sonja has completely changed running for me. She took me on as a coaching client even though I had been off running for 6 months due to injury. Within only 3 months under her direction, I dropped a 22:14 5k to a 19:58. Her knowledge of running is evident in her training plans. Sonja has customized countless workout variations to keep me engaged in my training and excited about every run. As a fellow mom, she has worked with me to adapt and adjust my workouts around family priorities. One of the qualities I value most in Sonja is her infectious positivity and her sincere encouragement. She has believed in me and given me the confidence to believe in myself. I have learned so much about running from Sonja, and continue to accomplish my goals thanks to her coaching.
Old 10k PR from Sept 2012 – 44:40… New 10k PR from March 2015 – 43:05
Old 5k PR from April 2013 – 20:31…New 5k PR from Oct 2014 – 19:58
Marathon PR from Nov 2011 Philadelphia Marathon – 3:28.42
Half Marathon PR from Nov 2013 Nashville Half Marathon – 1:33.48
Thanks for all the help in the past two years that you’ve trained me. It has all been worth it, and you’ve really made a difference for me when it comes to winning first or second. Thanks again for everything 🙂
I just wanted to thank you Sonja for your inspiration and instruction over the past few years. Your guidance made me achieve running goals I had struggled with and had just about given up on! Breaking 22 in the 5k will remain one of the best days in my life. Your example made my daughter believe a woman can be a successful athlete at a world class level and still be a mom and businesswoman. I wish you and your beautiful family happiness and health in your new home.
I just wanted to say thank you for giving me a chance and believing in my ability to run in college. Without your trust and belief in me I would not be running anymore. Running is my passion and I am truly honored to be a part of your team. God bless in Tennessee and I can’t wait to show you what I’m made of at the meets to come and Regionals.