Success Stories

    Testimonial Picture of Pamela Moron (2)

    Pamela is a hard working mother of two young boys who has an infectious, energetic personality. She is brave and adventurous and one of Coach Sonja’s favorite clients to work with! Pamela also competes as a Triathlete so Coach Sonja merges her running workouts with her swimming and biking. The primary focus is on improving her running stride efficiency to help her develop more speed with less effort over time. Pamela began working with Coach Sonja in August of 2018. In just two short months they have accomplished quite a bit together including a shiny new 5k PR!

    “Hi Sonja! I want to share my happiness with you! After many, many months of running 5ks in 26-27:00, today I finally run under 26:00! I was pleasantly surprised because my last mile was not my slowest as it usually is. My heart rate was still high but I wanted that PR and was able to push through! I am so happy! Thank you again for your help and training plan. You are the best!”

    “Sonja…. I am so excited!!  I ran another PR today!!!! Never thought I could run sub 8:00/Mile pace in a race, but I did it today!!!! My official time was 24:19 for 5K. I’m so thankful for your advice and amazing training program!”

    Pamela Moron
    Testimonial Picture of Fran Durst Nachlas (2)

    Fran started working with Coach Sonja in May of 2018. Amidst frequent summer travel, a slight tendon issue and a VERY full schedule as a community charity leader, RN, Triathlete, and devoted wife and mother, Fran reached her goal on 9/9/18 of reaching a BQ at the Erie Marathon in 3:57. She bettered that time a month later at the Chicago Marathon running a 3:51:55. Coach Sonja will have her ready for a 3:45 or better in Boston 2019!

    “Huge thanks to my amazing coach Sonja Friend-Uhl, who believed in me even when I was letting doubt creep in…”

    Fran Durst Nachlas
    Testimonial Picture of Jennifer Sober (2)

    Since starting with Coach Sonja in 2016, Jennie has ran her first Marathon (and two more since!) and set personal bests at distances from 5k to the Marathon. Here are a couple of quotes from Jennie regarding her Confidence in Coach Sonja’s training and philosophy:

    Boston Marathon, 2018. Jennie amazingly set a PR on a day when many elites dropped out due to horrendous weather conditions. She ran 3:06 and placed top 10 in her 40-45 year female age group.

    “Coach Sonja thank you so much! It was your training plans (for running and strength) that got me to the start line for Boston healthy, fit, and strong. Thank you for your guidance and support right up to race day. I carried your words with me during the race.”

    New Haven Labor Day 5k, 2018 Jennie ran a new 5k PR of nearly 20 seconds in 18:19 and was the 2nd Female Overall and 1st Master Female!

    “Coach Sonja Friend-Uhl, this race is absolutely dedicated to YOU. I can’t thank you enough for your wisdom and guidance and the magic you work in my training cycles. You are a coaching genius and just a heck of a great woman, athlete, mother and human being. Thank you. It’s a pleasure and a joy to work with you.”


    Jennifer Sober
    “Never slowed down!! Best race I've had in a long time!!”

    Sara Medrano- Marathoner: “Sonja! Had an incredible race today (Chicago Marathon)!! I was aiming to do an 8:30 pace. I did exactly that. I felt strong the entire way. Never slowed down!! Best race I’ve had in a long time!! 🙂

    Sara Medrano
    Testimonial Picture of Gabriela Bitar (2)
    “Thanks so much for helping me improve Coach Sonja!”

    Gabriela is a member of The RW Need for Speed training group. She is a beginner and extremely hard worker!! She ran over a 6 minute personal best (that’s 51 seconds per mile better than her last race!) in the recent Gumbo Limbo 10k as compared to her previous 10k on the same course in December! Her response: “Thanks so much for helping me improve Coach Sonja!”

    Gabriela Bitar
    “Goes to show you how much you can accomplish when you combine hard work and desire with the right training program!”

    Marc Surgent is a middle school cross country and track athlete who has been working with Coach Sonja since November of 2016. He competes in everything from the long jump to the 200, 800 and Mile but his favorite events so far are the Mile and the 800m. Coach Sonja’s work with Marc has focused on pacing and adding more stamina to his training. It has paid off! Marc had his first meet of the season on 4/19. He ran a 45 second personal best in the Mile!! His time was 5:31. He also ran a personal best in the 200m by 2 seconds in a time of 27.22. Goes to show you how much you can accomplish when you combine hard work and desire with the right training program!

    Marc Surgent
    Testimonial Picture of Todd Clements (2)
    “I feel so privileged and lucky to have you for those 3 months!!! It has been the best 3 months of my running life. Again thank you for everything!!”

    Todd Clements came to Sonja hoping to improve on his 5k time and learn more about running training in general. By the end of his coaching program he decided he wanted to race a half marathon as well. He ran two and hit a personal best in the second! Here are Todd’s thoughts on Sonja’s Coaching:

    “What I learned from you in such a short amount of time is truly priceless. I feel very confident and stronger both emotionally and physically not just in my running but my everyday life! It’s like night in day. I have not felt the way I fell about running in such a long time. It is an amazing feeling!!! You got me thinking about other race distances as well. I basically only ran in the 5K’s which I will continue to do to get my time to sub 18. You also gave me the confidence in my training and running that I have signed up for a couple of 10K’s and half’s. I kept a trading log and going to follow on what you had me doing. I could not be more pleased and happier with what what I accomplished this season and I owe it all to you!

    You are an amazing person and coach!!!!

    I feel so privileged and lucky to have you for those 3 months!!! It has been the best 3 months of my running life. Again thank you for everything!!

    Todd Clements
    Testimonial Picture of Jennifer Sober (2)
    “PR in my 5k today!!! 18:45! First female and 2nd overall. It was a lot of work out there...I felt like I was just barely holding on. But I did it! Thank you for all you are doing for me!”

    Jennifer Sober is a Masters runner and mom of 4! She has been training with Coach Sonja using the Premier Private Coaching Plan since the Fall of 2016. So far Jennie has ran 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon personal bests in 2017 which is just amazing!

    Her response to her stellar Half Marathon performance:

    “COACH!!!!! I ran a 1:24:55! It was the race of a lifetime. I felt strong and fast and light and confident. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. Thank you so much for the training that got me here! I am overjoyed!”

    “PR in my 5k today!!! 18:45! First female and 2nd overall. It was a lot of work out there…I felt like I was just barely holding on. But I did it! Thank you for all you are doing for me!” -Jennie

    “Sonja, I did my 10k today and got 1st Overall Female and a new PR of 38:47! That’s over a minute faster than last year’s PR of 39:56. I didn’t know I could do it but all those training miles at 6:20 just kicked in. It was incredibly windy, too. Thank you so much for your guidance and support.”

    Update: She completed her FIRST full marathon today on 4/30/17 in a stellar time of 3:10 at the New Jersey Marathon! So proud of her!

    Jennifer Sober
    Testimonial Picture of Traci Schwartz Kozak (2)
    “You've helped me more than words can say! Thank you for believing in me Coach Sonja!”

    Traci Schwartz Kozak is a member of The Running Warrior’s “Need for Speed” training group that meets on Tuesday mornings. On April 1st, Traci ran over a 2:00 personal best in the 5k. Her response: “I still remember being ok with (just) finishing and being last. You’ve helped me more than words can say! Thank you for believing in me Coach Sonja!”

    Traci Schwartz Kozak
    Testimonial Picture of Sarah B. (2)
    “Vanderbilt school record of 4:42 in the mile”

    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.

    Sarah B.
    Senior Captain and member of Vanderbilt University's Cross Country and Track teams.
    Testimonial Picture of Nicole E. (2)
    “... my new Cross Country PR [is] 20:39”

    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.

    Nicole E.
    Testimonial Picture of Brittany K. (2)
    “... I dropped a 22:14 5k to a 19:58”

    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

    Brittany K.
    Testimonial Picture of MaryClare M. (2)
    “... at 40+ I was the most fit I had ever been”

    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!

    MaryClare M.
    “Sonja helped me hit a 50 mile PR”

    I met Sonja in 2012, I think? I hired her to coach me for an upcoming marathon. I was running the San Diego for the 3rd time, and my goal was 4:15. My previous marathons were, 4:45 and 4:40.

    I remember not having a clue about the caliber of athlete she was. She was so kind, humble and conscientious. She listened and suggested two track workouts for me to add to my marathon schedule. Then, I googled her name and was a bit in awe. I think that I reminded her how talented she was (HA!).

    I did not hit my goal of 4:15, but I hit my goal of 4:20 and I would never be the same. Gosh, I remember that Sonja really, really believed in me. . . ME. This had a huge impact on my lagging self esteem. The next thing that I remember she suggested was Magical Running by Bobby McGee. To date, this was one of the best books that I have read about running and positive affirmations. This greatly helped my running and this greatly helped my self esteem.

    Sonja became my track coach. She opened the world of track running to me – Because of her example, I coach a group of runners at the track. Sonja helped me hit a 50 mile PR, December 2015. I PR’d by 1 hour and 20 minutes! Sonja designed a core workout that changed my trail running. I have never worked this hard on my core.

    Currently, I am working under Sonja’s direction for a 100 mile race I have coming up in September. I consult with Sonja for my gym and core work. I cannot wait to hit the starting line and see what I can do.

    “Sonja is passionate about coaching and it shows...”

    vanderbiltSonja 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.

    Rhonda Riley
    Associate Head X-Country Coach, Track & Field Coach Vanderbilt University

    Florida_Atlantic_University_LogoThis 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!

    Alex M. Smolka
    Head Coach Track & Cross Country, Florida Atlantic University
    “... you've really made a difference for me”

    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 🙂

    Daniel P.
    16-year-old cross-country runner for West Broward HS
    “Your guidance made me achieve running goals...”

    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.

    Toni M.
    “I am truly honored to be a part of your team”

    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.

    Andrew R.
    Freshman PBA Cross-Country Team
    “... I knocked 7 minutes off my time”

    1:59:46 at the Country Music Half Marathon!!! Not only a PR for me but I also made the sub 2 hour goal! My previous PR was this past November and it was 2:07 on 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale. So, I knocked 7 minutes off my time. None of this would have been possible without your guidance. You gave me a plan that was challenging but so productive in making me a better run. I am truly grateful for you for that. I know I had to do the work but without you, I would have not known which direction to go in. I have already recommended you to several of my friends. Thank you so much, Sonja. Your positive, encouraging emails always were so helpful and I find you to be a very motivating coach.I will not hesitate at all to have you coach me again. You rock!

    “You're the BEST!”

    Sonja–I had a GREAT run!!! Finished in 2:57:09!!! I really thought my “reach” goal of 3:00:00 was so far fetched that I didn’t even tell anyone… And I even beat that!! Thank you so much for helping me EXCEED my expectations!! You’re the BEST!!! 😀

    “Thank you for coaching me”

    Well I did it thanks to you 3:08:50 KC Marathon. 5th overall female and 1st in my age group. Thank you for coaching me. I hope that you will continue to coach me. I am very excited very pleased that I am not that sore and extremely excited about the PR you are the best. Thank you again and I will be in touch!!!

    “I couldn't have done it without you!”

    Hi Sonja. I am VERY happy and excited about my time! Based on the calculations I DID break 2:00:00 for the HM. My time for the 13.1 should have been 1:59:25 w/ a pace of 9:07!!!! YAY- I am so happy! I felt I had run so much harder and was better prepared than at the Country Music marathon. The schedule you gave me keeps pushing me harder and harder ….but I know that’s what I have to do to get faster! Thanks so much for your help! I couldn’t have done it without you! I’m sure all of the 5K speed work this summer was a huge boost to my speed. I am amazed that I really did a HM in under 2 hrs!!
    Thanks again

    “I am proud to have you as my Coach!”

    I tell you so often I am afraid you will think I’m weird, but you are a beautiful person and have made my marathon training more productive and enjoyable. I am proud to have you as my Coach! You have touched my life in a special way that will not be forgotten. It is not just your amazing running ability, but more importantly, I appreciate you being trustworthy and honest. It creates a very secure environment for those around you.

    Melissa T.

    vanderbiltSonja 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.

    Alexa Rogers
    Varsity & Scholarship Athlete & All American, Vanderbilt X-Country & Track

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