Big River Personal Coaching

Jim Helton

Jim Helton headshotJim has been a runner for 45 years, starting on a 440 yard cinder track back in the day, running countless 5k,10k and half marathons, and earning a Boston Qualifying 3:22 marathon at age 50. Jim came to Big River upon retiring from a career in education. He spent 17 years in northern Illinois teaching/coaching Track and Cross Country, where teams produced numerous “personal bests,” state championships and all-state runners. After moving to southern Illinois, he finished up his career in education as a principal for eight years and then as a district superintendent for nine years.

A family man, Jim has been married for 34 years and has three “running” children and two grandchildren (who run for play!). He currently calls Waterloo, Illinois home and has had the opportunity to attend every Track and Field Olympic Trials since 1988, a tradition shared with his children. Jim works at the Big River South City store, supports the participants of START 6.2 as a coach and is excited about working with clients of all fitness levels achieve their goals through Big River Personal Coaching.

Jim can provide training plans and one on one personal coaching sessions. Jim earned the following coaching certifications: USA Track and Field, Level 1 and Level 2 (Endurance).


Ellen Sanders

Ellen SandersAfter graduating from Lindenwood University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, I began my career as a personal trainer at small gyms and corporate fitness centers. I started training with runners more than 3 years ago and continue to greatly enjoy working with them. I have worked with a wide variety of runners and have really found my passion in running. With my help, my runners achieved goals such as surpassing their personal records, recovering from injuries, and completing their first races. I love joining them on their journey to their race. While there can be some challenges, I am there to support them through their hardships and celebrate their victories. I excel at connecting with my clients to learn all of their struggles while maintaining a focus on a healthy lifestyle.

I starting running in high school, but didn’t start racing until 2010 when I finished my first half marathon. Since then I have been hooked. I have run everything from a 5K to a full marathon and enjoyed every moment. My races have taken me all over the country and led to some amazing experiences. At first I focused on the race, but as time went by I realized the training is equally important. I have achieved many of my personal goals and helping my clients achieve their goals rewards me in the same way.

Ellen can provide training plans, one on one personal coaching sessions and strength training sessions.

Bryan Traughber

Bryan Traughber1993 – The year I found my passion for running. During my freshman year of high school, I decided to join the De Smet Jesuit High School track and field team. I initially intended to only run one high school season in preparation for wrestling, but quickly found myself enjoying the challenge of running. What started out as a 12 week commitment to the track and field team ended up as a 4 year high school career. I steadily improved over the course of 4 years of high school and ended up being a varsity runner during my last two seasons. While I was never the fastest runner on the team, it quickly became an important part of my life. I enjoyed the challenge and the constant pursuit of a new personal best. I ran occasionally while attending Truman State University but I took a break from serious training. I returned to the world of distance running in 2001 when I was hired as a teacher and coach at my alma mater, De Smet Jesuit High School. For the last 15 years, I have had the honor to coach Cross Country and Track & Field. The relationships I build with the athletes year after year drive my passion for running.

Over the last two years, I have had the privilege to work with the Big River Training Team and thoroughly enjoyed coaching dozens of Training Team members. My experience as a runner, both in high school and over the last 15 years of road racing, enable me to help Big River’s Training Team excel. Throughout my running career, I have completed numerous 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons and eight marathons with my time ranging from 4:25 in my first ever marathon to my current PR, 3:11. I plan to apply the extensive knowledge and experience I have learned from my own racing to my work as a coach. I am thoroughly committed to helping my clients meet their running goals.

Bryan can provide training plans.