Kristen Dieffenbach

Kristen Dieffenbach, Ph.D.

Morgantown, West Virginia

USAC Level 1 Power-Certified Coach/Instructor
USATF Level 2 Coach
Certified Consultant with the Association of Applied Sport Psychology
MS Physical Education, emphasis in sport psychology, University of North Carolina Greensboro
Ph.D. Exercise Science, emphasis in exercise and sport psychology University of North Carolina Greensboro
PCG Master Coach
Coaching Focus: Road, MTB, CX, Ultra Endurance, Juniors


As a performance enhancement consultant and sport psychology educator, I work with coach education, positive sport parenting education, and team and individual athletes from youth developmental through the collegiate and elite levels across a range of sports. I have coached at the high school, collegiate, masters, recreational, and elite levels. A former collegiate runner and cyclist at Boston University, I now compete in road, cyclocross, and mountain bike races, but my main emphasis is on endurance and ultra endurance endeavors, especially professional-level multi-day multi-discipline adventure racing.

Coaching philosophy

As a coach, I am committed to several key elements, regardless of the level of competition:
    • I believe very strongly in a holistic approach to life. Rarely can life be compartmentalized into neat separate elements. Along the same lines, the physical can not be separated from the psychological. I believe it is important to pay attention to and work with the interaction between life and sport.
    • Ultimately, I believe that sport should be fun, even at the most elite levels. How each of use defines fun will be different, so it is very important that both I and you have a clear idea of what it means to you.
    • Training is your journey and goals are your goals. It is my role as a coach to do all that I can to facilitate and support you in your efforts.
    • Coaching is a partnership relationship between coach and athlete. While it is my job to be the expert on the science and art of training, you are the expert on your body and life. Only when we communicate and collaborate clearly can we maximize your potential.
    • Again, clear and open communication is crucial. Trust and respect are also key elements for a successful coach-athlete relationship. As a coach, I strive to build and reinforce these things. I am always open to questions and always willing to discuss ideas.
    • Peak performance is not an all-or-nothing endeavor, nor is it a destination. Striving to be your best is a journey of personal challenges and triumphs. It is my role to help you see and prepare for these challenges.
    • Training is important. However, training alone will not help you improve. Carefully planned training will only bring about performance gains when it is coupled with proper recovery and life balance. In my coaching I emphasize recovery behaviors and quality training over quantity.
Overall, while numbers play an important role in the scientific monitoring of training, I balance my coaching through an understanding of people and a knowledge of how personal ideas and real life influence training.

Specialties and notable achievements
  • Assistant professor of athletic coaching education in the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences at West Virginia University
  • Certified Consultant (CC) with the Association of Applied Sport Psychology
  • Recognized on the USOC Registry of sport psychology service providers
  • Serves on the USAC Coaching Education Advisory Committee
  • Sport psychology editor for Performance Conditioning: Cycling
  • Participated in grants, projects, and consultations for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Cycling (USAC), United States Tennis Association (USTA), Carmichael Training Systems (CTS), and USA Water Polo
  • Written for applied publications such as Olympic Coach, Performance Conditioning: Cycling, VeloNews, Inside Triathlon, and Dirt Rag
  • Expert panelist/consultant for features in publications such as Runner's World, Backpacker, and Adventure Sports Magazine
  • Co-authored the book Bike Racing for Juniors: A Guide for Riders, Parents, and Coaches
Athlete testimonial

I've been mountain biking and mountain bike racing since I was 45, which was twenty years ago. When I started aiming for longer and harder races, I knew I would need someone to guide my training. Six years ago I set the goal to be the first woman over 60 to finish the Leadville 100 mountain bike race in under twelve hours (I'd previously done so at age 54 in 11:50:53). I was extremely fortunate to get hooked up with Kristen Dieffenbach and accomplished my goal at age 61 in 11:24:30. With Kristen's guidance I've had exceptional success at the races I've attended. She knows just how hard to push and when I need to back off to keep from getting injured. Kristen has guided my training with the use of a PowerTap to be sure I'm working appropriately. Kristen is an excellent coach, whom I am very lucky to have in my life. I now know that a 65-year-old woman can do six days of racing without being the least bit sore at the end. This tells me I can go faster the next time I do the race. With Kristen's guidance I will continue to grow as a mountain bike racer. I see no limits. I am personally grateful for the opportunity to work with such top-quality personnel. You have put together a winning formula. Thank you!  - Wendy Skean, CA

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