Just one race away from completing all World Marathon Majors

Coach, Teacher, Athlete: What It Takes

November 30, 2018

My name is Nelly. I live in Italy where I work as a high school and college teacher of English. I am also a certified personal trainer (USA and ITA) and an athlete, so motivation and inspiration are my middle names. Making a positive difference in the lives of people is my primary objective.

I consider myself a long time student of running as a sport, and the biggest thing I have learned over the years is that no one has it all figured out. We are all different- what works for one will not work for another and what worked in the past may not be the best way to cross future finish lines. I believe that learning to love the process and ticking off small goals along the way is the best way to get to those monumental finish lines. As a coach, I want to help my athletes figure out what works for them, what we can work to improve, and how we can use their own experience moving forward. Taking the time to analyze and learn from my experiences over the years has turned me into a stronger more consistent runner. I’ve also become more efficient: as a full time working mom, that is important for my sanity and my family. This doesn’t mean I cannot still chase my goals, it just means I approach them in different ways.

My goal is to help people embrace the process, chase smart goals of all sizes, and enhance their success by drawing upon their own experience as well as things I have learned over the years.

I took up running late in life: I was 39 and I couldn’t even run one kilometer. I was in New York City one day and was amazed by the number of people running in Central Park- and they were all glowing. So I said to myself: “I could do that too”, and immediately bought my first pair of running shoes. That was August 2010. By November 2011 I had completed three half marathons in 1 hour and 45 minutes, followed by my very first full marathon: the TCS New York City Marathon in 2011, with a finish time of 3 hours and 58 minutes. I am now one marathon away from completing the Six Star Majors, with Tokyo being the last marathon to complete, and having run most of the others twice already. My times have continued to improve. At the Chicago Marathon, my most recent marathon, I earned a personal best time of 3 hours 18 minutes and 47 seconds. My half marathon and 10Ks have also improved drastically. Running is my cardio. Running has changed my life for the better. Running has taken me to amazing places all over the world (from Alaska to Japan and all over Europe), and allowed me to meet passionate people who are so keen on this sport. Running is life, it’s my drug, my daily fix. Running clears my mind and gives me the energy to take on the day.

Running has made me mentally and physically stronger. I fell in love with running to the point I wanted to learn all I could about this sport, so I decided to study and to learn how to be a running coach. I got certified both in Italy and in the US and I am so proud to help those who love this sport as I do.

 I have run 5 marathon majors (NY, Boston, and Chicago even twice) and I am so proud of what I have achieved so far and so pumped to see what’s in store for me next year when hopefully I’ll be running my last major, Tokyo.
Running a marathon to me is more than just running. It’s a metaphor of life. Running is what brings joy to my life every day, makes me feel so much more alive, is what keeps me sane and smiling, and what gives me a great sense of purpose. And running a marathon truly proves that impossible is nothing. When you run a marathon you are really pushing your limits, you are like a hero when you made it to cross that finish line even if that means lots of sweat in your hair and blisters on your feet, and nausea in your stomach.

Everyone has different reasons for wanting to run a marathon ( to get healthier, or in shape, to make a lifestyle change,  or feel accomplished) We all have different unique stories for running a 26.2 long journey. 

There really are few things more challenging than pushing yourself for such a long distance through a marathon. But the mental challenge exists throughout the months of training, and it’s really not about the destination, it’s about the journey. It’s a metaphor of life. Or at least it is to me. 


-Antonella "Nelly" Porcu

Follow Nelly on Instagram: @coachnellyruns1326

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