Setting and Achieving Running Goals

How’s everyone doing on those 2016 running goals?

In case you’ve hit a plateau or are looking for a little extra motivation to stick with your plan, we have Coach Matt Thull with ThunderDome Running with us today to provide a few tips on setting appropriate goals and then laying out a plan to achieve them.

Whether you hope to PR, tackle a new distance or just make it through the year without getting sidelined with an injury, Coach Thull has tips to make this year your most successful yet!


How do you recommend runners go about setting goals for the upcoming year?
The nice part about goals are that they are INDIVIDUAL. That individuality is awesome because of the flexibility of setting several different kinds of challenging goals for a training/racing year. The goal can be completing your first race of a certain distance or simply running a new PR at a different race distance. All lead to having more fun, running faster and moving toward your BIG down the road running goals. The right mix of attainable short-term goals versus time goals is way more fun than saying running a certain time or bust is the entire goal of a full year of training.

Why is it important for runners to set goals?
The short- and long-term goals get you out of bed and out the door each day. The progress you see on a daily, weekly and monthly basis is hopefully the motivation and positive momentum that keeps fueling the ambition to put in the work. In my training, I have daily goals and keep track of them in a running log, and when my ambition or confidence are low, I look back at the SMALL goals I have knocked out and know all of the small daily goals are contributing to the big goal months down the road. If all you look at is the big goal way in the future, there are too many opportunities for excuses and missed training. If a goal is 8 months down the road, you feel like you might be “allowed” to take more days off. With the small/short-term goals you have direction and motivation every single day to not be complacent.

Let’s address some of the most common goals. What steps do you recommend runners take if they want to set a new PR in 2016?
Having a plan is huge because a carefully laid out plan/schedule leads to consistency/injury-free training and stacking weeks of training, whether it is training for a 5k or a marathon, is the key to success. That positive training progression leads to more motivation and fun and that all leads to faster training and racing. In 2016, runners might have an overall mileage goal, to run their first 5k or marathon or to run PR’s … but all of those goals have pockets of important planning leading up to them, and when you have those short- and long-term goals on paper and planned out, the goal has a better chance of happening.


Plan out the number of days you can dedicate to your goal based on your life schedule. Training should not be stressful so put in the work but do all you can to balance everything you do each day. I like to look at things in my running planning as I “NEED” 1 day per week that I can set aside that all important time, focus, and energy to do a hard workout or long run, no matter what, and from there I work things around that key training day.

What about successfully racing a new distance – how can runners achieve this goal?
Tier your goals into categories of feeling good, finishing and finally a good, better and best case scenario time goal. It is more fulfilling and less pressure packed if you can have 2-3 race goals and those goals are NOT 100% finish time based. So many times runners racing a new distance (many times the half marathon or marathon) base the sole measure of success on the finish time. There are so many weekly goals to accomplish and just getting to the race starting line is a victory and pretty cool. The list of progressing goals is way more fun than having everything hinge on a finish time. Part of goal setting is being realistic but still pushing yourself. It’s a tricky balance and may include having fun training, running a certain amount of miles/weeks leading up to a race, getting to the start line healthy, and finally the BONUS goal is running a solid time in the race.


Some runners plan on increasing their mileage this year. What’s the best way to do this without risking injury?
What works really well before increasing running DISTANCE or adding an extra day of running per week is to use that extra day/time you will eventually run by adding in a cross training activity/day. Swim, bike, elliptical, yoga … something that is low impact to get your body/legs used to that extra day of activity/volume. After a month of that extra day and extra time cross training, add in an extra day of running. On the extra day of running measure things by completed minutes at first instead of MILES so you don’t have to worry about running a certain pace or become tempted to run too fast.

Runners that spent 2015 on the injured list may want to just focus on running healthy. What tips do you have for staying healthy and injury free?
Running is way more than just putting on your shoes and going for a run. Nutrition, sleep, stress management, taking days off, cross training and yoga are sometimes forgotten pieces of training. What leads to success earlier in running does not guarantee injury-free running in the future. Every single training block is different from the previous one so runners should constantly be looking to add or remove pieces of their training – this leads to continued fast running and preventing injuries. In my training, I never ever had the SAME training block leading up to a peak race – even if that peak race was a PR. The next training block had a different bit of strength/cross training work or different focus on recovery in it.

Are there any basics that all runners should do to help them run their best this year?
As everyone gets a bit more seasoned each year, it is that much more important to include cross training and weights/core to your routine, even if that means “giving away” some running miles or time dedicated to running. Consistent, injury-free running leads to more fun and faster times compared to having all the visits to the doc or PT to fix nagging pains. Gain your confidence and momentum from the things you do well in training and racing, but it is also OK to focus on things you need to shore up. Workouts and races are meant at times to be learning tools and more beneficial to overall training than the finish time you run. If you are lining up at every single race to “race it” for a time and that is all, then you are missing out on valuable learning opportunities to give you the best chance to run your best time down the road.

How can working with a running coach help runners have a better chance at achieving their goals?
When you are training hard, you are so emotionally involved and driven that you might not be doing the right things at the proper times of training. I can look back at some of my running logs when I coached myself, when I was in really good shape, and wonder why I did some wild workouts. What makes runners great is their drive and ambition along with stubbornness – but so many times those qualities are what lead to overtraining or injury. If you have a running schedule with guidelines, short-term goals or themes for a training week, there is no question what you “should” be doing. Every single day has a purpose, and runners can see that down on paper and know what to do and why. Coaches typically run themselves, have coached a wide range of runners and have studied the sport/training – that’s a pretty awesome array of experience.

Any other comments/tips?
Good luck to everyone in 2016. Get those goals written down on paper and keep a running log/journal. That journal is one of the biggest motivators out there. If you do something great in your training/racing it is right there on paper to see, but if you are skipping runs or workouts that is down on paper, too. The accountability factor of a running log or having a coach are huge.

Thanks for chatting with us, Coach Thull! To learn more about ThunderDome Running, or to inquire about coaching services, visit

Up next, find out how a love of running helped a few local runners find love. Read it here on Friday! Until then …

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Let’s Get to Know … Aaron Pierce!

With a love of running that spans nearly 30 years, MKE runner Aaron Pierce got his first taste of racing when he was only 4 years old. Today, he still trains and races competitively and also shares his knowledge with the cross country team he helps coach.

Read on to learn more about his training, a killer key workout and what he’s learned by taking on the role of coach.

Deer Run Apr 2012

Age: 33
Years running: My first race was as a 4 year old, a lap around the warning track at County Stadium (part of the old Police and Fire Run). You could say I have been running ever since!
Favorite workout: My long hill loop at Kletzsch Park. Racing the trains that go next to the Interurban Trail and Oak Leaf Trail can be an interesting motivator.
Favorite gear: Knucklelights for dark running, and my homemade ‘screwshoes’ that allow for the best traction in wintertime (slotted hex head sheet metal screws work very well).
Favorite distance to race: 8k
Pre-race routine: Get to the race (without being in a hurry to get there), warm up (usually I like to get in a 2-mile jog before a race that is 10k or less), change shoes, drills, striders and go! I can’t say I have any things that are good luck charms that make me ‘ready to race’. You are either ready or you are not!
Favorite post-race treat: Eating everything in sight. This year during a longer cooldown after the Firecracker 4, I ate 6 massive cookies from the refreshment area; it was an amazing experience. Sometimes I will enjoy an ice cream sandwich as well.
● Last ever Grape Stomp winner (2007)
● Deer Run 10k winner (2012)
● Guardian Angel Run winner (2008, 2012, 2013)
● Striders Indoor 20k, 3rd place (2013)

Why did you start running and what’s kept you running throughout the years?
As I mentioned earlier, my first race and probably longer running experience was at age 4. I started running because my dad told me to. I didn’t run a ton when I was a little kid, but I was active and I think I did enough to balance out my Nintendo habit.

Police Fire Run 1987

Steady improvement has kept me running. When I was in high school, I was lucky to finish in the top half of a varsity race. I attended a small college and had an opportunity to run on the team so I did. I finished 3rd from last during the first meet of my freshman year. But I kept working at it, and in my junior season, I received the team’s Most Improved Runner award. In my senior season, I finished 19th in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference and was the team’s Most Valuable Runner. Interestingly enough, I had more improvement after college, setting 5k and 10k PR’s as late as 2012, nearly 9 years after my last collegiate race!

Being involved in coaching now, I consider all my runs/workouts/races to be continuing research for my coaching knowledge.

What does a typical training week look like for you?
Usually in the ‘off season’ I am around 45-55 fitness miles per week. At these points I try to fit in one ‘faster day’ and one ‘long day.’ When I am training for something, the mileage goes higher with every 4th week a little less intensity and miles. After a bit of base building, I will mix in some hills and track work and occasional two-a-days. I also like to mix in half mile “pickups” in my runs as a way to transition from base building to when I want to start to focus on faster workouts. My 5k and 10k PRs all came after training 70 mile weeks. In the past few years, I rarely go more than 7 days without an ‘off day.’ I have found that as the miles pile up, off days are pretty awesome.

Can you tell us about a workout you do that lets you know you’re ready to race?
I think it is good to vary the key workouts sometimes so you are not used to a same old routine. With that said, a fun workout is 6-8 x “Kletzsch Park Horseshoes” (about ½ mile). From the light pole that is just about across the street from the north driveway/parking area by the Pavilion and Little Free Library, run north on the grass along the Parkway, and then follow the trail that eventually goes up the long side of the hill. And then you walk easy down the front of the hill, jog back to the starting location and then do it again! If I can knock these out, while keeping the times steadily going faster, I know I am doing something right.

Along with your own training and racing, you also coach cross country. Why did you decide to start coaching? Can you tell us how your own experience helps you help your teams?
My coaching experience began while I was finishing my last semester in college (2004). I figured since I was still around the school, I might as well help the team out, and the head coach was welcoming in having me around. A lot of the knowledge that I shared with the runners was similar stuff that I learned the previous season (2003) when Matt Thull was an assistant with the team. Then I stuck around the next year, and the next year. . . and so on. I was an assistant with my college team for nine seasons. There were three different head coaches during my time there and they all asked me to return, which spoke of my positive impact with the team. We weren’t the biggest cross country team, but we had some great runners that I enjoyed working with. It meant a lot when during the off-season the runners would ask me to come by and run with them.

Now I am working with Head Coach Nicole Hengels at Dominican High School. It is my first season with the team and we are working on building up the program after Coach Nicole restarted cross country in 2014. We are having a blast so far! Lots of fun enthusiasm and improvement and the parents are involved as well. We are even hosting a Milwaukee Running Festival event on Thursday, September 24th, which will be a lot of fun! The best part of this is that I am a Dominican graduate and (obviously) former cross country team member.

DHS Girls JV Sept 2015

What have you learned through coaching? Has it benefitted your own running?
I could write a book about what I have learned coaching! I have found that coaching is more than just having a binder filled with workouts plans. A lot of it is the psychology of running and helping a runner focus on long-term goals, rather than (relatively) instant success. Also, as a coach, you need to provide a lot of encouragement, especially to younger runners.

What running goals are you looking to tackle in the next few years?
I am determined to knock out an 8k PR at some point!

What’s on your racing bucket list?
I really need to do Bellin Run one of these years.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races?
Guardian Angel Run! (3 miles) It’s a lot of fun to race around Whitefish Bay on Memorial Day, and the block party after the race has many different ways to refuel after running. Plus, male and female overall winners get their name engraved on a big trophy that stays at the school, so there is some incentive to run fast. There is also a kids race, so you can see the runners of the future scramble around the block.

Port Washington Fish Day 8k is a challenging course and can test your fitness. If you go out too fast, you will be pretty wrecked after the 2-mile mark.

I also try to do Al’s Run every year. I remember running it in the swarm of humanity down Wisconsin Ave in 1993 and I thought, “Wow, I gotta get faster if I want to get in front of all these people.”

I enjoy watching the Lakefront Marathon and I try to spectate at a few different points between Grafton and the Lakefront (I am the one that you might see on the course with my green/white ‘GO’ sign).

What makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
The running community is great; not many cities have so many events, groups, running stores, etc. Plus, we have a lot of trails and neat areas to run. Also, I think winter running is fun. Every day you can run with your footprints in the snow!

Samson Stomp 2007

Thanks for chatting with us, Aaron!

As Aaron mentioned, Dominican High School’s cross country team is hosting a Milwaukee Running Festival event tomorrow, Thursday, September 24th. If you’re free, come check it out – it should be a great time for runners of all abilities!

If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at if you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Let’s Get to Know . . . post.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Tackling the Mile: Training Tips and Racing Strategies

In our opinion, there aren’t nearly enough mile races. But it’s a distance every runner should race at least once. Even runners that usually stick to longer distances!

Below, Matt Thull from ThunderDome Running explains how racing the mile benefits long distance runners and provides training and racing tips!

What’s the allure of racing the mile? Why is this distance a great mix of speed and endurance?
Even though a mile race seems short to most distance runners, there are actually more running parts to the race than many runners think. I look at the mile as having three parts and knowing there are those different parts is how the endurance and speed combo comes into play. The length of time for the three parts is different for everyone. The first part is speed and getting out there fast when the gun goes off. Next is the middle of the race – the endurance part once you settle into your “fast” but controlled pace, which for most runners is a bit slower than the fast start. Last is the speed/sprint to the finish part of the race.

How should a person train for a mile race?
The luxury of training for this distance is that there are elements of mile race training already in most runners’ day-to-day training. For example, during long runs, runners get to a certain point where they are actually recruiting fast muscle fibers. If runners do pre- or post-run strides – or even fast-finish workouts – these can help with shorter distance racing. Those areas all produce faster mile race results – without necessarily training specifically for the distance.

Really not a lot needs to change for mile racing in training. A bigger focus is the warmup for the race. It’s crucial to include enough pre-race activity and stretching since there is no messing around once the gun goes off. Runners don’t have 2-3 miles to warmup during the race like they do during long distance races.

What is a good workout to include if a mile race is on your calendar?
When someone who is NOT a miler or short distance racer thinks about workouts, they should have safety nets in them related to the rest periods and fast work. For example, if a runner wants to test out some faster 400m or 200m intervals, make the workout continuous without any standing around rest. For example, run a 400m interval and then jog a short rest time. This helps prevent runners from going too fast. Or if there is a 3-4 mile continuous run, include a couple of 90 second surges spaced throughout the run. In that case, too, runners cannot get going too fast since there is no standing rest.

It seems like as the distances get shorter, the warmup becomes more important. What type of warmup do you recommend before a mile race?
Runners should finish with a faster warmup for a mile race. If you normally run two miles for a warmup, speed up during the second mile. It should be brisk. And the active warmup stretching and strides should easily be at least 15-20 minutes of focus, compared to what sometimes happens at 5k and 10k races where runners get caught standing around too long doing not a lot of warmup prep.

What about race strategy – how should a runner approach a mile race?
No matter what each individual’s pace or goal is in a mile, there have to be different pace parts and efforts. If you say you are going to race hard from the gun to the finish of a mile race, you miss out on the shorter focused parts that will result in a faster race.

What type of shoes do you recommend? Are regular shoes okay or should runners opt for lighter flats or trainers?
Most runners should NOT change up their regular training shoes to a lighter pair for a mile race unless they are used to a lighter workout or racing pair of shoes. Light racing flats work great but at the same time runners are moving much faster than they normally do so the extra cushion of a regular training shoe is safer. The best of both worlds are shoes that have extra cushion but are super light. Like the New Balance Fresh Foam, some of the Nike Lunar models or the HOKA shoes.

Why is it beneficial for even longer distance runners to consider racing the mile?
Too many times marathon and half marathon runners fall into the trap of running slower, more relaxed training mileage because they don’t think they are “fast.” Just having a fun mile race on the schedule can hopefully shift the focus and shake things up a bit to more stride/safe leg turnover work, faster finish long runs, or doing a proper warmup. All of which will also help the longer distance work.

Thanks for chatting with us, Coach Thull! If you’re interested in improving your speed, ThunderDome Running can help. Visit to learn more about coaching options.

If you’re ready to put your speed to the test, consider these upcoming events:

Best of luck!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Coach’s Advice: Take An End-Of-Season Break

Sometimes the most important thing you can do for your running is take some time off!

We recently chatted with Coach Matt Thull from ThunderDome Running, to find out if runners actually need a break after a goal race and the right way to take one. Plus, how to get started again after taking a few days or weeks off.

To get started, when we refer to taking a break, what exactly does that mean?
Most runners think of a break as easy running or just running every other day or just going gym or cross training stuff – that is not truly a break. The nice part about completing a big race or PR is that you have earned a step back/recharge period. So take your break so the next part of training can be even better.

During a break, you fully absorb your prior training, recover, and get to set new goals for the next block of training. The mental and physical toll leading up to a big race is huge – so before you get going on the next goal take five days off or take 14 days off – it is different for everyone. It is okay to train year round but just split up the training into different periods/training blocks/goals.

What are some of the consequences that can happen if a runner doesn’t take time off to recover between training cycles?
One of the big consequences of never taking a break is burning out or overtraining along with injury risks – which, in turn, lead to having to take off weeks to fully recover. Instead, take a mini break after a big race. I find that during the time off, you can always find a different activity (yoga, spin class) or a different stretch or exercise that you can incorporate into your next training period. When I was running 100-120 miles a week, I would set out to find a new activity, exercise, or some challenge that I would bring into the start of my new training. Those types of activities are sometimes hard to plug-in when you are going full speed ahead during normal training.

What’s a good amount of time to take off after a big race? Does this amount of time differ depending on the race distance?
It does depend on the race distance (more time for marathon and half marathon runners) and each individual runner, too. If a runner is training year round and has three different training cycles in their year, three different 7-10, 100 % day-off periods is typically a pretty safe routine to wrap up each season and to prepare for the next one.

If a runner is feeling good after a goal race, is a break necessary?
A runner might want to set up another race or two and ride out the training peak and wave of fast running they are on after a goal race. This happens a lot and leads to not only one PR but maybe two or three. A training break is then taken after you have exhausted those race options.

Both in my own training when I was running professionally on the US circuit and for my runners, I pose this simple question: “Do you want to PEAK right or run a PR for your next key race whenever that might be down the road”? If the answer is yes, then you need to take an end-of-season break. There are exceptions but the majority of runners fall into that category of needing an end-of-season break, however long that might be.

Sometimes when runners miss their race goal, they are tempted to keep training so they can make another attempt on their goal in a few weeks. What are your thoughts on this?
This is a situation where each runner’s past training and racing experience comes into play. Some marathon and half marathon runners can extend their training another two to four weeks and run a PR a month after when their PR or goal race might have been. Those make for awesome running stories and those examples happen a lot with the right planning. Each runner just needs to assess the “WHY” a race might not have gone to plan and decide if it was something that can be “FIXED” immediately and the season can be extended with another race or two.

Is it ever appropriate for a runner to keep training at the same intensity after a big race?
Many times a runner can run a marathon and then extend their season to include a fast 5k or 10k. Many times, if you watch you recovery closely after the marathon, you can run really well in the 5k/10k races and then take your end-of-season break.

When runners are ready to start training again after a break, what’s the best way to get back into it?
That first week back is always that time when you are antsy to get back out there and run fast because you are rested. When you start back running, use your usual routes that you like to run where you know the distances. Instead of being married to the GPS, you can allow yourself to just run by minutes and time instead of being worried about pace and distance. That allows for a very nice ease back into things. Most running injuries happen during the first month of dedicated training – so that caution of easy pace and not pushing too much too early, helps keep runners healthy that first month back building up mileage again.

Thanks for chatting with us, Matt! If you’re interested in learning more about coaching services through ThunderDome Running, you can connect here:




What’s next, you ask? Coming soon, we’ll feature more local runners and highlight a few upcoming races. You won’t want to miss any of it 😉

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

The Ultimate Gift for Every Runner on Your List

While you can’t give the gift of speed, you can gift the runner on your list with run coaching. Working with a coach makes running faster/stronger/better possible. For any runner, it’s the ultimate holiday gift!

Below, Matt Thull from ThunderDome Running, tells us what it’s like to work with a coach and why it’s beneficial for runners of all levels – from beginner to elite.

Let’s start off by talking a bit about what it’s like to work with a coach. What happens when a runner first comes to you for coaching and what are the different ways you might work with him or her?

I like to get a feel of what a typical training week looks like. What is their mileage, number of days running per week and any cross training (yoga, bike, swim). I also like to hear about why the interested runner runs . . . like what is their motivation, focus, or what their peak/goal race might be. With all of those factors in mind both the new runner and I can determine if we would be a good match/team. Some runners need a daily individualized training plan, some runners need an extra push with a one-on-one workout session with me, and others just need to “fix” their training the last month or two before a big race.

What does coaching provide that can’t be found in an online training plan or in a book?

Individual coaching provides immediate feedback (daily) so we won’t miss a training mistake a month down the road when it is too late. Each week is different in terms of how a runner’s life schedule fits with their training. Workouts, long runs, paces and races can and sometimes need to be adjusted. Books and generalized training plans don’t factor in individual runner’s needs like needing to take off for nagging pains, lack of motivation/ burnout, or missing runs due to work as well as how to try to make those up in a safe/smart way. A book plan or general plan tries to meet the needs of many runners, whereas a personalized running coach’s only goal is your “own” needs – so there are no generalities and your training schedule is unique.

One thing we’ve heard from some runners is that they aren’t fast enough to need a coach. Can you talk a bit about how coaching can benefit runners of all abilities and levels?

“Fast” runners need the same things as beginning runners and all runners in between. We all need accountability, a cheerleader, variety in workouts, expertise and some running psychological help, too. The weekly training elements of a sub 2:20 marathon runner are very similar to someone running a 5 hour marathon or a first time 5k runner.

Some runners seemed to be injured all the time – how can working with a coach help runners avoid injury and burnout?

Injury and burnout happen a lot of times when runners do the same series of workouts and are constantly comparing prior weeks or years of workout results. No single training build up is the same as prior training period – even if the prior training period produced a PR. Injuries don’t have to be a constant part of training if each training block is treated as its own unique training cycle.

What are some of the other benefits of working with a coach?

Many times I find out that the running IQ of my new runners and even veteran runners could use a boost. With that in mind, we not only work together on a challenging training plan but also offer pre-race/workout warm-up routines and other tips and tricks that can improve their training. If someone loves to race we work on NOT racing every single race at 100 percent all out as they still have a peak race in mind. Also every runner has strengths and weaknesses so individualizing workouts can both progress those strengths and shore up weak areas of training and racing. You can’t get that out of a general book or plan written to help millions.

What should runners look for in a running coach?

A running coach many times has a unique “philosophy” or maybe something that worked for them with their individual running. What runners should look for is a running coach that has an approach that has been proven through personal running experience, coaching experience (high school, college, professional levels) along with a background in “real life” coaching theory. By that I mean a coach knowledgeable in what has worked at the top levels of running and how that can be individualized and related to runners of all ages and abilities. Just because a runner has run a fast marathon themselves or has run 150 miles in a week does not necessarily make them a good coach.

Do you follow a coaching philosophy? 

My coaching approach builds the right amount of intensity/speed into having enough easy day/glue mileage running (a part of the week most runners go way too fast on). With the right weekly structure of training (hard/easy running), consistency, and an overall solid running IQ base, ThunderDome runners step to the line both fit and confident they will run their best effort on that day.

How did you get into coaching?

I have been running for 23+ years. Along the way I have been a sponge of every single shred of information Olympic coaches or runners have shared with me. I always say “if I had someone telling me this when I was in high school or first started running things might have been different.” So I try to bring that advice and teaching approach into coaching. Runners never know as much as they can or experience all they need themselves, so having a coach to help fill in those gaps will make the sport/activity more fun.

What coaching services are offered at ThunderDome?

The majority of the runners we coach are online via email. We coach runners all over the United States with our day-to-day training schedules. One of the most exciting areas that we specialize in is helping high school cross country and track runners train in the offseason and we now have several alumni of that program who are running at D1, D2, and D3 colleges. In the Milwaukee area, we also offer one-on-one coaching sessions – where we cover anything from running form to workout/race prep to personalized workout partners so our runners can hammer out that last key workout before a big race. Another area that has been very successful is training/coaching military personnel for their running test for basic training.

Anything else runners should know about run coaching?

Runners spend a decent amount of money on shoes, equipment, physical therapy visits, gels/bars, race entry/travel, etc. Why not invest in one of the most important parts of the training equation – coaching? A good training schedule can help you avoid physical therapy visits, doctor visits, and frustrating days/weeks off due to injuries or burnout.

Thanks for chatting with us, Matt! To learn more about ThunderDome Running, you can connect here:



Keep Running MKE: You’re doing great!

Let’s Get to Know . . . Matt Thull

Ever wonder what it’s like to get to the finish line first at one of Milwaukee’s premier races? Matt Thull knows. The six-time winner of Briggs and Al’s 8k race also has five, top 10 USA National Road Race finishes to his name and was a member of the USA World Half Marathon Team.

Read on to learn how he got started, what a typical day of training looks like and why he loves running in MKE.

Matt Thull run pic 2013

Matt Thull

Elite Runner/Owner of ThunderDome Running (personalized coaching and running plans)

Age: 38

Years Running: 24

Favorite Distance to Race: 15k and 10 miles

Significant Past Races:

  • Six-time overall winner of Briggs & Al’s 8k Run
  • Five Top 10 USA National Road Race finishes from 5k to 10 miles
  • Member of the USA World Half Marathon Team that raced the World Champs in Portugal

Favorite songs to get pumped up before a race:

  • Bulls on Parade – Rage Against the Machine
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls – Metallica

Favorite post-race treat: Soda

How did you get started with running?

My high school cross country coach came over to my house before my freshman year of high school to do a run and try to convince me to join the team. I had overslept and was still in bed when he got there. I got up to run with him and on that run he persuaded me to run cross country my freshman year of high school.

What’s kept you running all these years? 

Competing in races and traveling all over the US.

What does a typical training day look like for you?

When I am training for a key race build up, it is a morning run of 4-5 miles and a PM run of 10 miles.

What’s your favorite workout?

10 mile progression/cutdown pace run where you get faster each new mile until at the end it is close to an all-out effort.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races and what do you like about them?

Bacon Run 5k, Icebreaker race weekend every January

sm20130801_183730_img_0088Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?

Hart Park parkway area, Honey Creek Parkway and Hank Aaron Trail.

In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?

There’s a large number of members/clubs in our running community, great running store community support (Performance Running Outfitters), and a weekend group long run anywhere, anytime, and any distance if you look for it. You barely ever have to run alone.

Thanks for chatting with us, Matt!

If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at if you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Let’s Get to Know . . . post.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!