Debbie Voiles

DebGravxHello, and welcome to Run Tampa! I am the founder and director, and I hope to meet you soon.

I am an RRCA Certified Running Coach with a serious passion for running and runners. Some of my most treasured experiences occurred while running alone through the woods, others, while sharing conversation with a clutch of my Run Tampa friends at a group run, and still others while racing on city streets with thousands of other runners.

Over the years, I have run well over 200 races, 5k’s thru 50k’s, urban adventure races, triathlons, mud/obstacle races, road and trail. I even rode in a 72-mile bike race, once. Actually, it was a 60-mile race, but a friend and I missed a turn and went 6 miles out of our way; so we did 72. Yeah, that’s what happens when I get to talking with my friends.

My favorite distance will always be the half. I still think we need a better name for that. Half just sounds less than whole, hardly an appropriate name. Half just doesn’t sound appropriate for the effort expended to run 13.1 miles.

Email Debbie here.

Register for Newsletter and Group Run InviteI often hear runners say, “I’m only doing 5 miles today,” or “I’m only doing the half.” That drives me crazy. My rule is that the word “only” should never be used in the same sentence with any number of miles. And, by the way, the rule applies to the word ‘just,’ too, as in “I’m just doing five miles this morning.” I always tell the speaker, think about it, while you were doing only five miles, most people didn’t even get off the couch.

Mojo for Running LogoIn 2009, I created because there was no website with a comprehensive, interactive running calendar, and today, in 2014, it is still the only one with a complete listing of road races. Since I love to write and used to teach photography when I was a high school teacher, it has been great fun.

Not long after starting the Run Tampa site, I became a certified running coach, wrote my book After Your First 5k, and started a podcast, Mojo for Running, available on iTunes, and a second website, this one geared toward a worldwide audience, The Mojo Running community now includes members from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, and Canada. In fact, the podcast has been downloaded in 87 countries. 

I started running in the late ’70s, and served on the original board of Team Tampa Triathletes in the early ’80s, the first triathlon club in Tampa. I did many triathlons for a year or so, then took a 25-year hiatus from triathlons while I raised my family, taught English and journalism, and coached swimming, at local public schools. I continued to run and race the whole time, but only a few races each year. Ben inherited my love of swimming, and Wendy inherited my passion for running. In fact, she did her first ultra before I did my first ultra. I should add that my husband actually became a runner even before I did, running in the first Gasparilla Distance Classic, but he now devotes his time to cycling.

As much as I love to run, I enjoy helping others achieve their running goals even more. My coaching, now, is all online via Mojo for Running. My Mojo for Running podcast on iTunes has listeners around the world, with thousands of downloads for each episode, and it’s incredibly satisfying when they email me to report their accomplishments. It has been downloaded in 87 countries!

My coaching philosophy is to educate my runners about why we do what we do. Every runner should have at least a basic understanding of the running principles that should be the core of any program. When they do, they are more likely to make wise training and racing decisions. As a result, they run better and experience fewer injuries.

In August of 2013, I launched a second podcast, the Beginner Runner Village podcast, also on iTunes and aimed specifically at the beginner runner. It differs from other Couch to 5k programs in that it is a 6 month program rather than a two month program, because I believe true beginners – people not currently running at all – need 6 months to build up to a 5k. I do offer a more advanced 5k program, though, for people already able to do some running.

BoltRunAs much as we enjoy running faster or farther, setting PR’s, and exploring new adventures, remaining healthy is even more important. Of all long term goals, we should all share one universal goal, that of staying healthy and able to run for the rest of our lives.

I look at running as much more than exercise. I think it’s fascinating to carefully plan a training regimen, then modify as needed based on performance and response, apply periodization, and incorporate cross training.

I am a HUGE proponent of cross training, but I think many people don’t reap the potential benefits because they lump all cross training together, treat it the same, and do it at the wrong time.

All cross training should be seen as in one of three groups. Essentially, what I mean is that activities such as biking, spinning, elliptical, skating, swimming belong in one group. They are all similar to running in that they are rhythmical repetitive exercises that can be either aerobic or anaerobic.

The other main group would include strength training, yoga, Pilates, etc., and walking is essential cross training for beginners.

Anyway, most people, I think, do not get the possible benefits from cross training, and that’s something I encourage my runners to do. When cross training is incorporated appropriately, it goes a long way towards preventing injury, providing all around fitness, and making every runner faster.

Running is not my only passion, as you can see, writing is right up there as well. I have published over 200 blog posts/articles, some of which have been published on 20 other websites, and a book titled After Your First 5k.

I also have a passion for education, English, journalism, parenting, healthy living, games of all kinds, and Mother Nature. I taught high school English and journalism, advised yearbooks at three schools and coached swimming at two high schools.

Register for Newsletter and Group Run InviteRunning coaching is the marriage of my love of people, teaching background, and passion for running.

If you have any questions or if you are interested in any of my programs, please email me at