Fuel for the Run, Fuel for Life

Runners often talk about proper “fuel” for a run.  Usually it refers to the nutrition your body needs to provide energy and stamina to carry you through the long run.  Last week, though, a thought occurred to me and has stuck with me ever since.  “Fuel” is not limited to the nutrition you put in your body.  A runner is also fueled by his or her thoughts, whether positive or negative, throughout the long run.

This concept started during a message at a women’s program at church titled “A Joy-Filled Life.”  The main point of the message was my joy is determined by my thought life.


I’ve known all along that my thoughts, whether positive or negative, are a big part of my success as a runner and a coach.  Somewhere through my mediation on this topic, I started thinking of positive thoughts as “fuel” for my well being.

With this concept tucked in the back of my mind, I lead our first training team long run on Saturday.  As I was driving home from the run, I did my usual “after action” review of the morning.  Team MeLiza has thirty-six members this season, 21 are team members I have coached during previous seasons.  Some of them have been with me at least four seasons.

Over the course of time, I have seen a lot of growth and determination in my team. Saturday was no different.  I saw team members who had struggled to stay on pace, stay right with the front of the group throughout the entire run.  One runner in particular reinforced the thoughts as fuel concept on which I had been dwelling.  Christi shared later she was working on her “inner voice.”  Instead of worrying about how much further, how much longer, or that she can’t, she fueled her thoughts with “I AM strong.  I AM a runner.” The change was noticeable in Christi’s long run performance and I would venture to say it was because of those positive thoughts.


The importance of thinking positively is not limited to long runs and workouts.  It can impact a person throughout every day life.  The battle for positive thoughts is a struggle I have known nearly all my life.  Negative thoughts almost always come the easiest to me.  If I don’t guard my heart and my mind, I can sink into a thought cesspool and it can be hard to get out.  Every day, I have to make the choice to find and focus on the good, even when things get ugly.

The same thing happens on a long run.  It’s easy to fall into the negative thoughts that come with stretching yourself.  When a run gets ugly, find the good.  It could be the teammate next to you, the nature surrounding you, or simply your ability to be on the trail when there are many that can not.  Don’t let negative thoughts disrupt your run.  Choose thoughts of excellence to fuel for your run, as well as your life.

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10 Things a New Runner Needs for Summer Training

When I returned to running, I was a relatively new single mom on a very low income.   My funds were very limited at the time, but I knew I needed to get healthy and running was my method of choice.  With the Fall Half Marathon and No Boundaries (basically a couch to 5k) starting within the next few weeks, I thought I would share some the necessities a new runner needs:

  1. Running shoes:  Take the time and go to a running store to get fitted.  I recommend Fleet Feet for my St. Louis area friends.  Running stores typically have a money back guarantee and will let you exchange the running shoes until you get a pair that work for you.
  2. Moisture-wicking socks:  Before I started running, I had never heard the phrase “cotton is rotten.”  If anything, in my humble family, cotton fabrics were encouraged.  Cotton is not suitable for performance clothing.  Cotton will hold sweat against your skin, which when combined with the repetitive motion of running, can cause blisters and/or chafing.  I started with and still love Balega No Show socks.  I also find good results with Feetures Light Cushion No Show.  Splurge for at least 2 pairs of good running socks.
  3. Mositure-wicking running shorts:  Again, avoid cotton fabrics to prevent chafe and irritation.  Even on my tight budget, I splurged for high quality compression shorts like these from Brooks.  I selected compression shorts due to my size and the amount of chub rub I might have.  I was afraid regular shorts would ride up between my legs.  For the budget conscious among us, Target carries the Champion brand and offers a great selection of moderately priced moisture-wicking workout gear.  Since my financial status has improved, the only running shorts/skirts I wear are SparkleTech Skirts.  Over the years, I tried many brands of running skirts/skorts and these were the only ones with shorts that stay put.  While not price friendly for the budget conscious, these skirts are all hand made in the USA by a great mom and pop company located in Florida.
  4. For the girls: a moisture-wicking, high impact sports bra:  Visit a local running store or specialty bra shop to be properly fitted.  Do not skimp on this product.  Trust me.  Splurge for at least 2 of these and NEVER put them in the dryer. My favorite is the Maia.  Excellent support without the unflattering uni-boob.  For the guys:  prevent chafing and wearing a bloody number 11 on the front of your tech shirt during your long run, Nip Guards.  In a pinch, band aids would work as well.
  5. Moisture-wicking shirts:  For running in temps of 50 degrees or higher, I prefer a singlet (tank) or sleeveless shirt.  You might be cold before you start running, but trust me, you’ll warm up quick.
  6. Hat or visor:  I wear a visor for nearly every run.  It keeps sweat and sun out of my eyes, and in case of rain, it takes care of that, too.  Moisture-wicking would be good here, too, but you could probably make due without the technical fabrics in a pinch.
  7. Hydration system:  I prefer the customizing options of the Amphipod brand.  Mine came with two 10 ounce bottles and a pocket large enough to fit my Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport.  I can add more bottles and bottle holders as necessary for the season and the run distance.
  8. Timing device:  Early on, I couldn’t afford a fancy GPS watch.  Before I would head out for a run, I would visit Map My Run to plan my route.  I would know ahead of time how far I needed to run out and back to get my scheduled mileage.  For interval timing, the Gym Boss Interval Time is a great cost effective option.  Since I started, GPS watches have become more affordable.  Garmin is my preferred brand.  It is a solid performer.  You can often find great deals on these devices online at Walmart or Amazon.
  9. Road ID:  Be safe on the run.  If something happens to you on the run and you need help, let your Road ID speak for you.
  10. A great attitude and determination to never give up.  Your attitude can make all the difference on every run.  When things are challenging, focus on what is going right with your run.  Always focus on putting on foot in front of the other, even if you have to slow down or take an extra walk break, keep moving forward.  Your attitude and determination can make the difference in enjoying your run. 

As you set out on your new running adventure, I hope this list helps you be a little be prepared

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Q&A with David: What My Husband Thinks About Me Running

I was inspired by T-Rex Runner and her recent post about what her husband thinks about her running and I figured this was a good way to reintroduce myself to blogging.  I’m just going to tell you upfront, my husband apparently doesn’t know the running side of me very well.  Not surprising, though.  He usually sleeps through my long runs and, well, I’ve really struggled this year to get my weekday runs completed.  Anyway, here’s the Q&A with David:

What do I eat before a run?  A breakfast sandwich with an egg, cheese spread stuff (he means Laughing Cow spread), on sandwich thins.  He’s partially right.  I do love a good breakfast sandwich, but before I run, I don’t take that kind of time.  When I’m in a hurry, I like peanut butter crackers, if the kids haven’t ate them all.  Most of the time, it’s a toasted bagel thin or sandwich thin with peanut butter.  In a pinch, it’s a banana and a handful of almonds.

How far do I run every day?  Very far and very hard.  Seriously, he knows that lately I haven’t done every run I should.  But you know what, that’s ok.  I don’t have a race on my calendar right now (wait, what?), so my training plan has been non-existent.    

What kind of running shoes do I wear?  I think it really depends. You’ve gone through a couple.  You always get fitted at Fleet Feet.  Well, he’s partially right.  I always get fitted at Fleet Feet, if for only one reason, they guarantee the shoes they sell.  They will work with you and put you in as many pairs as needed until they find the right one for you.  Even if you’ve bought a pair, taken it out for several runs and it still doesn’t work, they will replace it for you.  Awesome service all the time.

My current shoe, I really should say the only shoe that ever has worked for me, is the Brooks Ariel.  Besides the Ariel, I’ve tried 3 different types of shoes since I returned to running: Brooks Beast (it shouldn’t count, though.  That’s just the men’s version of the Ariel.  They didn’t have the size and width in stock the first time I went to accommodate my big feet.), New Balance 860, and Hoka One One Conquest (this is the Conquest 2).  While all are great shoes, Brooks Ariel is what works for me.

How many times a week do I do a different work out other than running?  You will typically float around different exercises, like planks or push up challenges.  You’ll cycle through things like that.  Again, he is partially right.  There are a lot of exercises that are good for runners.  I try to mix these into my routine whenever I can.  What he left out is the classes for runners I try to take at Fleet Feet as our family and my work commitments allow.  My favorites are Functional Strength for Runners and Hip Strength and Mobility.  I like to throw in yoga practice at least once a week (the yoga classes at Fleet Feet are called “Mat Science”) to work on flexibility.  Typically, I practice at home using YogaAmy.net .  Amy was my first yoga instructor and I just adore her.  I find her Yin videos to be what I need for restoration and flexibility.

What is my favorite race? I think it really depends.  I think you like getting pampered at the Disney races, but you don’t like getting up so early or paying the price.  The most fun I’ve seen you have at a race is one where you run in circles all day.  HE GOT THIS ONE RIGHT!  I love runDisney races and believe every runner should do at least one race at Walt Disney World and one at Disneyland.  These races are why I started running.  While I love running at Disney, it’s become more about the people I know and love,  and fun with them, than the race itself.  That’s I’ve decided to go on a runDisney hiatus.  The majority of my runDisney friends have started branching out in other directions for races and I’ve been able to meet and hang out with them in other locations.  So much fun!  As for “running around in circles,” when I was working toward qualifying for Marathon Maniacs, I did a 12 hour ultra in Arkansas, the week after the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon (another FANTASTIC race, by the way).  The Sunset 6/12/24 Hour is put on by the Saline County Striders and is done at Sunset Lake outside of Little Rock, Arkansas.  The trail around the lake is just over 1 mile long.  I ran around that lake 31 times and had so much fun.  David was there for most of it, except when he went to Wal-Mart and Chick-fil-A to bring me back lunch.

Why do you think I run?  For your health and bragging rights.  He’s pretty much on target here, too.  I come from a family where morbid obesity is the norm.   I really don’t want to continue that path.  As for “bragging rights,” I’ve always been the type that liked a challenge and to be able to say I did something few others have been able to do.

What injuries have I had from running?  Heat exhaustion, dehydration, moodiness, blisters, sore throat from complaining to your husband…. Don’t mind him… he started pouting.  Training for a marathon takes a lot of time.  It’s part of the reason why I don’t have a marathon on the calendar, nor do I do many marathons.  A 18 miles training run will take up a good portion of my day with the run, cool down, hydration, and post-run nap.  Training for a half is much easier to fit into our family life, but we’ve both been working a lot of hours lately.

Do you like going to my races? Yeah, sometimes.  That one is Arkansas, I got to check out the sporting goods section of a different Wal-Mart so that was kind of cool.  Simple answer?  No, he doesn’t like going to my races.  Most start too early for his taste.

Does my running make you want to run?  Not really.  I see some of the black toenails and blisters… David used to run regularly and did well at marathons.  It’s just not something he sees as “fun.”  Then again, sometimes running isn’t fun for me, either.  I just know I feel better when I do it.

Disneyland 2010

What have you learned from having a wife who runs?  Patience.  Not really sure exactly what he meant here.  Maybe he’s had to learn to be patient with me because sometimes I am away from the house running.

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Beyond My Belief

Last night, I was asked to participate in a word association game.  For this, I was to hold onto the first word or phrase that popped in my head when presented with the word.  Why don’t you do the same?

Ready?  Here’s the word:  “Surrender.”

It’s likely your response was “give up,” “give in,” “lose,” or something similar.  Admittedly, “lose” was the second word that popped up in my mind, but that wasn’t the instruction.  The instruction was to hold onto the first word or phrase.  When it came to my mind, it didn’t make sense, though.

My answer?  “Selfless.”

Strange, right?  It’s why my mind almost immediately jumped to another answer.  It just didn’t make sense at the time.   As the night progressed, it all came together.

I was participating in a small group study at my church, and typically, I facilitate a small group of my own. For a variety of reasons, no one was present from my group, so I joined another for the study. At first, I was a little discouraged about no one from my group being there. Had I done something wrong? Maybe I shouldn’t be leading? Either way, I shrugged it off and stayed with another group and I’m so glad I did.

As we went around the table with introductions, I gave some basics, how long I’ve been at the church, how long I’ve been a believer, and about all the “running” I’ve done from God over the last 20-something years. I’ve lived a life alternating between worldly and “christian.” I’ve sinned and destroyed my testimony in more ways than I can count. I deal often with guilt from those behaviors, but I have come to realize those are simply attacks when I get started on the right path. I’m resting more confidently in the saving grace provided by the death of my Savior, Jesus, on the cross. His blood covers all sin, no matter how horrible I believe my sins have been.

About a year ago, I committed myself to reading the Bible cover to cover. A Christian for nearly three decades, I should have done it years ago, but regardless, I’m doing it now. As I started that journey, something a former Bible study said to me years ago popped into my head.

When I was nearly high school graduation, I had already made up my mind on my path. I was leaving for boot camp three days after I graduated. I was going to make my own way, follow my own path. A month or two before I left, I was stopped in the hallway at church by Lori to tell me God had laid it on her heart that I was going to make a big impact on the world.


I didn’t know what to say. A little freaked out, I don’t really remember how I responded. I just remember walking away. I shook it off and shoved it out of my mind. I had not been prepared for what she told me.

As this year of scripture reading has continued, I have been feeling more and more like those words Lori spoke to me all those years ago were true. I am feeling more confident there is something more I should be doing. I’ve worshipped, I’ve prayed, I’ve broken down and sobbed. Last night, I realized I am to surrender my “self” to whatever the next step God gives me.

Get it? Surrender my selfselfless.

We were posed another question: “Has there been a time in your life when God asked you to surrender something?” As another shared, the word “belief” popped into my mind, which led to the title of this blog and my introduction in the small group. I referred to myself as “running” from God’s will for so many years, now, I’m “running beyond my belief.”

I started this blog about a year ago, focused totally on my running and coaching experiences. When I returned to running, I broke belief barriers of my own, as well as what others thought I could accomplish. Now I guide and encourage others to break their own belief barriers on what they believe they can do. Now I think opening up this blog might be the next thing for me to surrender.

That said, I intend to continue to post about running and coaching experiences, but I will begin sharing other things leading me “beyond my belief.” I hope you’ll join me on this journey.


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FFTT Final Week

I got a little behind…  ahem… 5 weeks… posting about our training but my team keeps me honest.  During our final group run today, they started asking

“HEY!  What about all the pictures we stopped for?”

Well, I have a little downtime post run waiting for the yellow jackets to be eradicated, so I’ll use this time wisely.

The first run, when I couldn’t be with you.  😥  Queeny Park


From our first run together at Tower Grove Park (6 miles)Tower Grove Park

From Fenton City Park (7 miles)

Fenton City Park

A few of us after an 8 miler at Carondolet Park

Carondolet Park

GRAD RUN (12 miles)

First Stop:  Cathedral Basillica

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Keiner Plaza Facing the rear of the Old Court House20140920_082719 20140920_082721 20140920_082724

Drury Inn & Suites… (funny side note:  last session, we stopped for a pic here and a woman was sitting at the table having breakfast.  She got up and posed behind us in the window.  This time, the woman having breakfast ducked down under the table!)20140920_083012

We made it!  The Gateway to the West!  The St. Louis Arch!20140920_083439

Our fearless leader… Coach sCary.  The things he does for us!




What?  Now we have to head back?


The sun had come out and was bearing down on us by this point, we were a little beat, and not as smiley!


But we finished and lived to run again!

From today’s run, the last 3 miles of RnR St. Louis Half Marathon Course (6 miles – total).

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I’m so proud of these ladies & gents!  I’ve had such fun running with them this season!  I can’t wait to celebrate their race with them next week.

P.S.  A good portion of this group ran the Mo Cowbell last weekend, either instead of RnR or in addition too.

Some of them gathered for this picture prior to the race.

This makes me happy!

This pic just makes me happy!  In it are several first time Half Marathoners, 2 brand spankin’ new Half Fanatics, and several that will be HFs after next weekend.

Happy running!


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FFTT Week 6

Happy Friday!

I saw quite a few of you out at the “Run with Meb” event. Wasn’t he just amazing? So humble and funny!

A couple of things I took away from Meb at this event:

  • Blisters – Meb called himself “Mister Blister.” He said blisters are a common occurrence for runners (I’m sure you’ve already figured that out). He recommends using products to prevent blisters. For him, it’s Vaseline. 🙂
  • Pre-Run Fuel – Meb said if it is at least an hour before he runs, he eats a bagel with almond butter and honey. If it is within the hour, he will eat a banana.
  • Post-Run Fuel – Meb is very focused on his overall health and nutrition. He said he avoids desserts and similar items like ice cream. He makes sure he eats lots of servings of fruits for energy. Meb said that he had dinner at the White House not too long ago and didn’t even try the dessert.
  • On looking back in the final mile of the Boston Marathon – Meb told of his emotions and thoughts when he was coming down the final stretch at Boston. If you’ve seen the video, he continued to look over his shoulder, gauging the distance of his closest competitor. He said he wanted to make sure he did the best he could for Boston and didn’t want any surprises. He was encouraged by shouts of “U.S.A! U.S.A!” throughout the race and even was thinking that to himself in the final stretch. (I’ll admit it, I was tearing up.) He said after he finished Boston 2013, he stayed and cheered for other finishers, leaving not long before the bombs went off at the finish line. He said he thought for a year what he could do to “give back” to Boston and the running community. I would say his win did it!
  • Tips for beginners: You already made the toughest decision. I’m very proud of you. Now be patient. Be patient in life and in training.


OK… on to our run this weekend…

We’ve been through the heat this week but is looks like Mother Nature is giving us a reprieve… YAY! Accuweather is showing temps in the mid 60s during our run tomorrow. I CANNOT WAIT! I love running in this area and the temps are a bonus! Do not overdress! Short sleeves or a singlet will still be perfect for this weather once we get going.

We will mostly be on Greenway Trails but we still need to be aware of trail etiquette. We are a large group, so please limit our group to 2 across. We will have a couple of street crossings. We will cross together. If you’re leading the group and you come to the street we need to cross, hold up so we can cross together. A driver is more likely to see a large group than a single runner.

This is a 4 mile out & back. Please make sure you have enough water, hydration, and nutrition with you to carry you through. For nutrition, you should be figuring out what works for you. I typically try to “fuel” either through Sport Beans, Shot Blocks, or other chews, every 45 minutes during the run. When I hit 10 miles, I start craving something more substantial. Peanut butter crackers seem to work in that instance. That seems to be the “magic formula” for me. Now is the time for you to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and get your routine in place for race day. You don’t want to try anything new before or during race day.

Finally, we are moving to our final interval 3:1 for this week’s run.  You should have already been running this interval during this week, so this should be a piece of cake for you!

Please send me a quick note and let me know what your goal race is. I want to plan ahead for who I can support at each race.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Happy running!


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FFTT Week 5

I hope you are having a great day!  This week has been hectic and I haven’t been able to get my runs in like I normally do.  When my schedule gets out of whack, I get feel out of whack, too.

Once I leave the office tonight, I’ll focus on getting a little bit of normalcy for myself and make sure I get my run in tonight. I know once I lace up my running shoes and head out for a run, I know I’ll feel better.  It’s the “getting out the door” part that is often the challenge.  If I make sure to schedule time for myself, I know I’ll feel better and more “aligned” than out of whack.

This week, we’re with everyone’s favorite park.  You’ve done the route before so you have an idea of what to expect.  You should know by now, I have my own way of coaching my team, so if you had a challenging run the last time, put that out of your mind.  Every day and run is a new run with different challenges and variables.  We will focus on a steady, controlled pace throughout the run and getting over the hills.  If you choose to run any half marathon in St. Louis, you need this week’s run.  This run will make you stronger and more ready to tackle race day.
The basics for this week:

  • Bring water, frozen bottle, and nutrition.  No fluids = no run.
  • Moisture wicking hat or visor.
  • Bring a positive attitude.
  • This is our final week at a 2:30/1 interval.

Now, I have had some ask what our run pace is supposed to be.  I typically do not share that information.  The goal of our Saturday long runs are to focus on getting through the run at a conversational pace.  You should be able to speak in a complete phrases/sentences without huffing and puffing in the process.

One of the reasons I bring this up now is because our pace is going to be a little different as we conquer our favorite park.  As we head up each hill, the focus will be on keeping effort, not pace, the same.  

The other reason I bring this up is that I want you all to enjoy our runs together.  What we do is a lifestyle choice.  We don’t have to get up before the crack of dawn to head out for miles of sweat and feeling uncomfortable.  We choose to do this for our own reasons.  I don’t want you to feel like it’s a chore.

One of my favorite running bloggers, Danielle aka T-Rex Runner, has a great blog this week in Women’s Running.  Danielle is a Marathon Maniac I’ve had the pleasure to meet at a few races.  She is returning from a substantial medical procedure that has caused her reevaluate her definition of a good run or a bad run.

While nearly all of you are first timers, it applies to you as well.  One of my goals is for you to define your runs by how you feel during and after the run.  Not by the numbers on your Garmin, Map My Run app, or any other gadget.  You are so much more than the numbers you put on your feet.  It is just a component of who you are as a runner and what you can be.

T-Rex Runner: Gaining Perspective

I hope I’ve covered everything for you this week and have your feeling confident and prepared for our run together.  Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

I look forward to seeing you Saturday morning!

Happy running!


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