It’s possibly the most-listened-to podcast produced in the Harrisburg area.
The stats are impressive: 8.4 million total downloads, including 100,000 monthly downloads to a worldwide audience, and a banner 10th anniversary this month. In podcast years, that makes Marathon Training Academy the old man on the block.
“When we first started, we didn’t know how it would be received,” said Angie Spencer. “We figured there would be an appetite, but we’ve been blown away.”
Her partner, at Marathon Training Academy and in life, is her husband Trevor. From a home base of Carlisle, the couple records three monthly podcasts, offering marathon training and running advice, plus interviews with health and fitness experts, authors and runners. Guests run the gamut, from elite athletes like Shalane Flanagan, Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi to trailblazing novice runners like the Philadelphia area’s Gene Dykes—who recently became the fastest marathoner over the age of 70.
Running advice and stories, it turns out, are perfect for podcasts.
“No matter how famous or accomplished, most runners have gone through struggles that are very relatable,” Trevor said. “They’ve questioned why they’re putting themselves through suffering, they’ve had breakthroughs that are amazing, and it’s all inspiring.”
And they tend to be great podcast guests.
“Most people in the running community are humble and caring, approachable and down to earth,” Trevor said.
Angie and Trevor, married for 16 years, are as authentic and real as their guests. In fact, tune into any one of their 300 podcasts, and you’ll quickly realize that, like many couples, they are opposites.
Angie, a certified running coach, is organized and disciplined. Morning runs are her jam, and she offers much of the podcast’s practical training advice. Trevor, a self-proclaimed couch potato, doesn’t always stick to his training plans. He’s the comedian or color commentator playing off Angie’s straight man podcast role.
“A lot of people relate to my story because they aspire to run marathons but don’t necessarily stay on top of their training,” Trevor said. “But Angie is really faithful with her running, and some people relate to her.”
One thing they have in common is that they both discovered long-distance running later in life. Angie, hoping to lose weight after having the couple’s second of three sons, ran her first marathon (26.2 miles) in 2008 but was plagued by injuries.
She was determined to learn how to train properly and succeed. She earned her USA Track and Field Level 1 and Road Runners Club of America Level 2 coaching certifications. And the couple realized there weren’t many resources, especially podcasts, to help the ever-increasing number of everyday runners attempting marathon runs.
So, they started one, launching Marathon Training Academy as a part-time venture.
“I started running about the same time of our early episodes, so I was sharing my evolution as a runner,” said Trevor. “Angie would debrief me, and my lack of training was the topic of a lot of episodes—confessions of a lazy runner training for a marathon.”
The message, and their on-air chemistry, resounded with listeners.
“The podcast is what built the MTA community,” Trevor said.
Change Your Life
During the first four years, sponsors came on board then Angie began accepting coaching clients. MTA grew from the Spencers’ side hustle to their primary, full-time source of income for the past six years. Today, Angie is joined by a team of 10 coaches who provide one-on-one coaching to several hundred runners of all abilities, from first-time marathoners to seasoned runners attempting PRs (personal records).
Their previous careers? Trevor was a pastor, and Angie worked as a registered nurse.
Throughout the podcast’s evolution, Trevor has finished 25 half marathons and 17 marathons—“something I’d never thought I’d say,” he adds. He’s headed to the Jerusalem Marathon this month.
Angie recently completed a longtime bucket-list goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. And when she crossed the finish line at Hawaii’s Revel Kulia Marathon in January, she also finished first in her age group and notched a PR. That brings her total number of marathons completed to 58.
Speaking of states, Trevor is from California while Angie hails from Montana. At the time of their podcast launch, they lived in Missouri.
“We were doing the business full-time and realized we could live anywhere with an internet connection,” said Angie, whose sisters and mother were living in Pennsylvania.
“We did some exploratory visiting, and people kept telling us, if they could live anywhere in Pennsylvania, it would be the Harrisburg area,” Trevor said.
They made the move in 2017 and chose Carlisle for its “great schools, great hills and the Appalachian Trail,” Trevor said.
Since their move, Angie’s mother and one sister relocated to Carlisle, too.
The Spencers record the podcast in their home studio—which can take up to 20 hours per episode—while their sons (ages 15,13 and 9) are in school. They have also taken the show on the road, even podcasting throughout three cross-country family trips. In the summer of 2018, the family logged more than 10,000 miles from Carlisle to Alaska, and back, doing numerous marathons and races along the way.
“The ‘pinch me moment’ is getting to meet listeners everywhere we’ve gone, because you realize you’re making a difference in people’s lives,” Angie said.
During every podcast, the Spencers remind listeners of their tagline, “Run a marathon and change your life.”
Angie admits it may sound corny, but insists the process of running 26.2 miles provides valuable life lessons.
“It spills over into other areas of life,” she said. “People tell us how running a marathon gave them the resilience needed to get through tough times, a job loss, relationships. The mentality of listening to your body, developing a long term love affair with running—I try to model that in my own life, how running helps me be a better person, a better wife and better mother. Running adds to your life.”
Advice, for the long run.
For more information on Marathon Training Academy, visit marathontrainingacademy.com. You can find the MTA podcast on their website and podcast platforms, including iTunes.