Cincinnati's Fuel the Sole running tours blend HIIT training, community, and appetizers

Three difficulty levels of custom running routes take you through Cincy's urban basin and end at a bar or cafe

click to enlarge Fuel the Sole co-owners Whitney Mueller (left) and Grace Goldman - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Fuel the Sole co-owners Whitney Mueller (left) and Grace Goldman

The constant grind of a 9-to-5 job lumped in with the obligations attached to friends and family — or “life,” as some might call it — can wear anyone down to the point where proper exercise is pushed off the schedule. As such, you can lose the balance between managing day-to-day responsibilities and staying healthy.

Coworkers turned co-owners Grace Goldman and Whitney Mueller have come together to help the go-getters of the Queen City strike a better balance with Fuel the Sole, a running club meets HIIT training session meets tour group experience through Cincinnati’s urban basin.

“We want people to try and find that balance in their lives,” Mueller says. “This is supposed to be a social thing. It’s supposed to be fun. We’re really trying to make it where we don’t feel intimidating. We want it to be a thing where everybody can feel comfortable coming on a tour with us.”

A product of both the duo’s personal training and knowledge of Cincinnati history, Fuel the Sole brings locals together to run custom routes around the city; each is led by Goldman and Mueller. It’s meant to juxtapose exercise with fun, light-hearted commentary on local history. At the finish line, participants always end at one of the city’s cafés, bars or restaurants and each training session includes a free appetizer and Fuel the Sole-branded koozie.

To accommodate different comfort and exercise levels, Fuel the Sole offers three runs/routes: The Social, The Feat and The Triumph. The Social is a 3-mile “hard walk” tailor-made for aspiring runners (or even walkers) confident in their place in the cardio hierarchy. Though the route changes every two weeks, the current one winds through the streets of Mount Adams, then through Eden Park before ending at the cozy Bow Tie Café. 

The Feat is a step above The Social in terms of difficultly — it’s a 3-mile “easy run.” Right now, the run snakes through downtown, starting at Fountain Square and ending at The Blind Pig. 

“We want to be inviting to all levels of exercise,” Goldman says. “We do have the walk, the light and the hard run. We want to make sure that whoever we’re with that we can modify for them and make variations for them. We want to make sure they’re able to do everything with all of us.”

Fuel the Sole challenges its frequent exercisers to eventually work their way up to the 5-mile “hard run,” aka The Triumph. The run, which starts and ends at Rhinegeist, treks through Washington Park, The Banks and Sawyer Point, while hitting other landmarks along the way. 

Both The Feat and The Triumph, in addition to the miles of running, challenge members to participate in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — additional cardiovascular exercises geared to keep heart rates up and burn fat. Goldman and Mueller, through their experience as personal trainers at Cincinnati’s Beacon Orthopedics, are well-versed in crafting HIITs for all stamina and exercise levels, allowing everyone involved to feel the burn without feeling overwhelmed.

“We want to incorporate working out and really show how it should be a part of your life,” Goldman says. “We want to help (people) kick start their life and have fun.”

The two-hour experience consists of 45-to-75 minutes of exercise, saving the latter portion of the time allotted for participants to clink glasses at the café or bar with koozies in hand. All three routes cost $29 per individual, and private group runs are $288, which can include a maximum of 12 people. Those interested can book their tours online through Fuel the Sole’s website.

Breaking away from routine, Fuel the Sole is partnering with Women of Cincy Collective, a self-described “social enterprise dedicated to celebrating and empowering incredible local women,” to have a joint happy hour at one of Cincinnati’s women-owned bars after a custom run and exercise on June 26. Additionally, Fuel the Sole is joining forces with Fifty West Brewing Company on May 19 and June 9 to lead HIITs and volleyball competitions at the brewery’s Production Works’ sand volleyball courts.

Goldman and Mueller also have other summer partnerships pinned to the calendar with Urbana Café, OTR Bagelry and Kenwood Cyclebar.

To sign up to run with Fuel the Sole or for more information, visit

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