About Us

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what is grit?

Grit, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.” Angela Duckworth, a renowned psychology researcher, refines this definition to “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

We at Grit Coaching intimately understand grit. We’ve witnessed it in our competitors and peers – those you admire for their unwavering spirit.

Grit is the resilience of aqua-jogging for hours in a pool when your achilles throbs too much to walk, and the Olympic trials loom just ten months away. It’s pushing yourself to do one more hill sprint with a concrete bucket on a Sunday morning, targeting your weakness. It’s the commitment to “stay ready” for training during a pandemic, even when races are off the calendar. After all, it’s never just about the race, is it? It’s about consistently choosing fitness and wellness amidst life’s chaos. It’s about tying your shoes for a run, whether in summer’s heat or winter’s chill, understanding that today’s discomfort paves the way for tomorrow’s joy.

It’s about facing defeat, failing a workout, or enduring an injury, and then evolving from those experiences – learning, healing, adapting, to return even stronger.

Above all, grit is enjoying the journey, loving the grind, and never doubting its value. It’s about celebrating the privilege of having a healthy body and a resilient mind.

Our Vision

Our vision at Grit Coaching is to provide access to the highest quality of individualized coaching and training, meticulously created for each athlete’s goals. We believe in the integrity of our work, refusing to rely on generic methods. Instead, we are dedicated to providing personalized support guided by our lived athletic experience and learned sports science knowledge, ensuring that every client receives the best guidance we can provide.

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide accessible, high quality, science-guided, custom training and coaching guidance to support athletes in reaching their goals.

Our Commitment to Excellence

We understand that excellence in coaching requires more than just knowledge and experience; it demands a connection with each athlete’s journey. We’re dedicated to providing a coaching experience that is a comprehensive partnership.

We Understand Your Athletic Aspirations

At Grit Coaching, our deep understanding of the athlete's journey comes from our own athletic experiences. We've been where you are – facing the same challenges, striving for the same goals. This intuition drives our commitment to provide training that resonates with your aspirations and addresses your unique gaps.

WE PROVIDE HOLISTIC TRAINING

Our coaching goes beyond standard bare-bones training plans. We offer a holistic, customized approach that integrates physical preparation with mental skills training, nutritional advice, and injury prevention strategies. When your needs exceed our scope of practice, we are able to refer you to experts in these areas. By considering every aspect of your lifestyle and goals, we develop a complete plan uniquely created just for YOU!

We Have Unparalleled Expertise

The backbone of Grit Coaching is our unique blend of real-world elite athletic accomplishments and advanced academic knowledge. With our founders' experiences in the Olympics and top-tier OCR, paired with their master's level education in sports science, we are equipped to create scientifically grounded, experience-informed training programs.

GRIT is everything I want from a coaching service. The level of education and professionalism is beyond expectation, and the specificity of their programs based on the athletes needs is remarkable. I have complete trust in the work Jess and Faye do.

Emma Cook-Clarke 2021 Spartan North American Champion, Dream Team Athlete, and Elite Mountain Runner

These ladies taught me that being strong doesn't mean you sacrifice speed - just the opposite. I felt more explosive than ever during run workouts, went two whole seasons without even a hint of an injury, and even competed at some strength-based events like Dekafit "Heavy" that previously would have felt way out of my league.

Lindsay Webster GOAT OCR Racer and Top All-Around Endurance Athlete

I was able to workout my entire pregnancy- even participating in a variety of races (ultra, spartan, hyrox and deka world championships). This kept me healthy and sane during the ever changing process! Jess and Faye always asked for doctors restrictions/recommendations before creating any programming. Their support continues to exceed my expectations. If you’re looking to grow as an athlete and feel more successful- look no further!! Thank you Jess and Faye!

Rachel Casasanta OCR/Hybrid Athlete and MOM!

Our coaches

Coach Jess in 'GRIT' athletic attire confidently poses with crossed arms.

Jess O'Connell

Jess competed as a professional runner for seven years where she excelled as a 5000m specialist with a personal best of 15:06.66, competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics and achieving multiple Canadian national records and titles. With a deep academic background in Exercise Physiology and a passion for coaching and inspiring young athletes, Jess brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to her role at Grit Coaching and beyond.

Coach Faye in 'GRIT' athletic attire confidently poses with crossed arms.

Faye Stenning

Faye’s athletic journey spans from achieving “All Canadian” cross-country status and competing in the 2008 Olympic trials for the 5000m to excelling in obstacle course racing (OCR), including joining the Spartan Pro Team and earning a bronze at the Spartan World Championships. Her transition from running to OCR showcases her adaptability and dedication, making her a source of inspiration within the OCR community and embodying the “work hard, play hard” ethos in every aspect of her life.

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Jess O'Connell

Coach Jess in 'GRIT' athletic attire confidently poses with crossed arms.

Though Jess spent much of her free time growing up competing in Irish dancing, once she hit the track, she never looked back! As a specialist in the 5000m, she boasts a personal best time of an impressive 15:06.66. Her accomplishments include competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 5000m and formerly holding the Canadian national records for the indoor 3000m and 2 mile races. Jess’s career is further highlighted by being a 15-time Canadian national team member across track and field, cross country, and road running, a four-time National Champion, a Pan Am Games silver medalist, an NCAA Division I All-American, and achieving a personal bests of 32:22 in the 10km (road race) and 4:30 in the mile.

Jess has always been “nerdy” about her training, which shows through in her impressive academic background. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Calgary. As a CSEP-CEP (Clinical Exercise Physiologist) with a High-Performance specialization, Jess holds the highest level of certification available in Canada. Jess also holds NCCP Performance Coach certification for endurance events. She applies her vast athletic experience and educational background to her role in Grit Coaching, and also serves as the distance track and cross country coach at the University of Calgary. 

Jess’s commitment to sport extends beyond her personal achievements, as she actively works to inspire and uplift the next generation of athletes. She has passionately volunteered for Fast and Female, an organization dedicated to empowering girls and young women to remain active and engaged in sports, and has served as the athlete representative on the board of Athletics Alberta, the provincial governing body for track and field. Jess believes that balance, health, and FUN are essential for longevity in sport, and she loves sharing her love of running with others.

FAYE STENNING

Coach Faye in 'GRIT' athletic attire confidently poses with crossed arms.

Faye’s journey in athletics is marked by dedication and impressive achievements. Throughout her high school and university years, she was deeply engaged in running, competing for the University of Calgary’s track and cross-country teams. Her standout moments include earning the “All Canadian” cross-country status and participating in the 2008 Olympic trials for the 5000m. After obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, Faye embarked on a career as a personal trainer, where her passion for fitness and a healthy lifestyle became a source of inspiration for her diverse range of clients.

Transitioning from competitive running, Faye soon discovered her next athletic passion: obstacle course racing (OCR). Her strong foundation in running and strength training quickly propelled her to success in the OCR world. Faye’s talents were recognized in 2016 when she joined the Spartan Pro Team, and her athletic ability was furthered with a bronze medal at the Spartan World Championships.

Continuing to compete among the elite, Faye has consistently demonstrated her skill and tenacity in OCR. She has secured two 4th place finishes at both the Spartan North Americans and the Spartan World Championship. Her record of Spartan podium finishes over the past decade showcases her enduring excellence in the sport.

Beyond the thrill of competition, it’s the OCR community that deeply resonates with Faye. The opportunity to travel, share her passion for fitness and adventure, and connect with an array of positive, inspiring individuals fuels her year after year. Faye embodies the essence of the “work hard, play hard” ethos, living it to the fullest in both her professional and personal life.