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5 Questions With Brian Rosetti: Founder of the Run SMART Project and the VDOT O2 Marketplace

As part of the evolution of this blog, I want to interview and connect with as many coaches as possible, to gain their perspective and to hear about their coaching journey. One of the cool things about this sport, from a coach's or an

athlete's perspective, is that everyone has a fully unique journey full of twists and turns. It's never a straight linear progression, but one with accelerations and slowdowns, setbacks and triumphs.

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Rosetti, an accomplished runner and founder of the Run SMART Project and VDOT O2. The Run SMART Project is an online coaching platform that provides private coaching services to all runners of all levels who are looking to get faster. Run SMART bases it's philosophy in the methodology of Dr. Jack Daniels, a world-famous coach and exercise physiologist, who has worked with numerous Olympians and legends of our sport.

Full disclosure, Brian has been instrumental in getting my coaching career off the ground. Without the help of the him, the Run SMART Project, and the VDOT O2 platform, I definitely wouldn't have been nearly as successful as I've been thus far. With the VDOT O2 platform Brian is giving young coaches an opportunity to help runners all over the world.

Enough rambling from me though, without further ado, I present 5 Questions with Brian Rosetti!

You're the founder of The Run SMART Project and VDOT O2, which have helped thousands of runners hit a personal best, what was the inspiration behind starting these two businesses?

The Run SMART Project was inspired by my competitive days training and racing for ZAP Fitness. My coach (Pete Rea) was a big inspiration in terms of pursuing a coaching career. The business model initially was inspired by other post-collegiate athletes I met and learning about their coaching influences. I set out to create a network of coaches who could collectively transfer their unique perspective to younger athletes.

Naturally, we worked with a lot of recreational athletes too and when Jack got involved we started to evolve more into a technology/coaching platform (VDOT O2). That’s been our focus ever since. I was a cofounder of a few tech startups in NYC after I left ZAP, so lucky for me, I got to combine my two passions when we started building the app.

You've worked closely with Dr. Jack Daniels (referred to as the “World’s Best Running Coach,” by Runner’s World) for a long time. What has that experience been like?

I’m inspired everyday by his energy and passion for helping others. He’s spent his entire career, not only researching, but finding ways to transfer that data/knowledge in a palatable way to help as many people as possible. It got to the point where Jack was literally spending most of his days faxing and mailing VDOT tables and training programs to other coaches. Then he wrote the book and has continued to fine tune it ever since. The key is how many coaches he’s influenced and how in turn that has helped positively impact countless runners. The VDOT O2 app is essentially an extension of his work and mission and he continues to help us scale this technology to improve fitness levels across the world.

At age 86, how can you not be inspired by his energy?!? The other day he ran/walked about 6 miles, cycled for 30 minutes, mowed his lawn, then worked with me for a few hours on a new adjustment to his formulas and age-graded tables! Recently, he’s done more research to devise a new formula for walkers (stay tuned). Last year we traveled together to India and he gave talks and interviews inspiring Indians to take up running. We were just down South consulting with a Special Forces group and Jack wrote a program to help prepare members for their Ruck tests. His impact really is immeasurable at this point and it will live on long into the future.

What's one tip you'd give to young aspiring coaches out there?

I would say your own experience is just one piece of the puzzle. Don’t let that dictate how you coach your athletes. Learn about basic principles of training first and never stop learning and exploring different approaches. Also, you can be a great coach in terms of how you individualize training and you can also be a great motivator, but when it comes to developing a great relationship think about good customer service. Not just in regards to a coaching business but this relates to any coach. How attentive and responsive are you to your athletes and how well do you communicate with them?

What is your go-to workout to prescribe to an athlete preparing for the marathon?

This could really apply to any type of distance event training but I like the workouts where you have athletes start with repeats at Threshold followed by a set of Reps. It seems to elicit big boosts in fitness. You have to be careful not to overdo it anytime you focus on speed after you’re fatigued but the benefits are huge if you do it right. Otherwise, longer continuous runs where you’re mixing in Threshold work between Marathon pace are great. Changing gears and speeding up in the middle of a long M-pace session sort of creates that feeling late in the marathon and helps you practice for the race well without overtraining.

In as few words as possible, what is your coaching philosophy?

Individualize training based on the athlete’s situation (lifestyle, family, work, training environment, etc.), not just their athletic history and goals. Thanks to Brian Rosetti for the interview, and thanks to all of you for reading!

Want more information about the VDOT O2 app? Visit:

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