Meet Kelly Dues
Kelly Dues is an avid runner and triathlete, a multi-time age group triathlon nationals qualifier/competitor, an age group podium frequenter, and Ironman Triathlon finisher. Kelly has competed in countless races at distances 5k-marathon; sprint through full Iron triathlons. She coaches a wide range of athletes through general fitness, marathon PRs, 70.3 PRs, and first time full Ironman finishes. Kelly is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Ironman Certified Triathlon Coach, U.S. Masters Swim Coach, and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She lives in Chicago with her supportive and loving wife.
I wasn’t a born athlete. Some rare folks are, but most of us have a journey ahead to discover our athletic potential. It’s in each of us: the full capacity of our muscles and bones and heart. First, it takes finding your movement, the kind that awakens the possibility of an untapped strength lying within us. For me, this discovery happened quite by accident.
I started running when I was 12 years old, tagging along behind my mother on evenings as she ran through our near south-suburban Chicago community; eventually earning a spot on the Jr. High Track team thanks to a coach that gave me a chance despite my quite questionable abilities at the other track disciplines. I found my niche in track, proof outward appearances are never the way to judge: my awkward limbs found their way, and a hidden strength started to come to surface. Having grown up withdrawn, painfully shy, and consistently bullied, it felt amazing to be part of something; to finally belong.
A love of running started then, though I wouldn’t join any teams after this. After my early teen years running became an isolated sport for me, something to drag me out of bed as I spent much of those years and my early 20s struggling with depression. I still often felt an outsider struggling to fit in. By college my depression had turned severe: running very literally saved my life.
Running continued to be a solo sport for me for many years, a judgement free zone and often the only place I felt safe and confident. I ran my first in 2007 on a whim, an impulsive sign up with friends, and trained myself, finishing on record-setting high temperature day for the race in Chicago. Years later I’d fall into triathlon the same way: a challenge from a friend leading to a lifelong passion. At first I barely swam as I was intimidated by the open water, a fear that lasted for the first years of triathlon, though my new love for the sport pushed me through. With each finish line I felt stronger, training myself for my first 70.3 distance; discovering a competitive spirit that I had shied away from my whole life. After my first nationals qualification I found an amazing coach and welcomed my first 2nd overall finish at a race, the continual top age group podium finishes that I regularly achieve today, and my first Ironman finish.
How the Past Changed Me
Though it’s been many years now since my initial timid start line I’ll never forget these beginnings: they are as much a part of me as an athlete as any recognition I now receive. In those last moments as I head through a finish chute, my heart pounding in my ears with the cheering crowd, I don’t feel the weight of my past: a bullied child turned anxious adult. I forget the stress of spending early adulthood putting myself though graduate and certification programs, struggling between paychecks. Instead I embrace those struggles, and the otherness of having navigating much of my life as a closeted queer woman. I learned my strength was always there, no matter what the world saw in me, or what I perceived the world to see. Inner strength could be manifested outwardly through fitness. For me, this was running and now triathlon, but this is different for each of us.
Movement continues to keep me in balance today. My past experiences allow me to bring new athletes into the sport with both passion and compassion as I recognize what finding my movement did for me. I understand finding fitness balance in our lives requires work, and for some of us, that work involves not only creating time and space, but finding that space to be a safe one. I am passionate about creating a fitness community that is welcome, judgement free, and full of inspiration, understanding, and centered on thoughtful and committed coaching. I know I come from a place of privilege and keep my heart and mind always open, working to build others up. My career experience allows me to guide athletes whom have sensory differences and/or on the autism spectrum, and my life and coaching experiences help me welcome LGBTQIA individuals, BIPOC athletes, athletes with depression and/or anxiety, and anyone who doesn’t feel like they have a place in the world of fitness. I am here to open that door.
As a full time behavior analyst with a passion for fitness I am well-versed in finding hours in the day to complete things even when it seems like that time isn’t available. Structure, routine, and finding what drives you: this is my job. Your job is to come with an open heart and mind, and a desire to make a fitness change in your life, whether that be completing your first or personal best marathon or triathlon, finding a lasting and impactful fitness routine, or calling yourself an Ironman.
You may drive the car, but I make sure you always have a clear map, direction when you feel lost, an extra boost of power when you feel like giving up, and a way to navigate through any barriers that have held you back in the past. Let me help guide your fitness journey.