13.1 Q&A with Stephanie D. (8/11/17)

Stephanie D., “Run Strong Run”
Meet Stephanie. She has gone from couch potato to running a marathon to running marathons in back-to-back days. Steph’s passion for running and commitment to helping others is quite evident. She has been a pacer in numerous races and her blog has helped countless others. She is an outstanding runner to follow on Twitter. She was nice enough to take time out of her busy day to answer Runspirational’s 13.1 questions. Her journey has been incredible and her answers reflect her passion for living a healthy life. Check her answers out below. I know you will enjoy them as I much I as did. Thank you so much Stephanie. Keep being so Runspirational!

Background
Stephanie, also known as Run Strong Run, has not always been a runner.  Her favorite phrase, in fact, used to be, “This body doesn’t run.” That was until March 2011, when everything changed.  As she stood on the sidelines of her first road race and saw all of the hundreds of runners run past her, she thought, “Why not me?”  Over the course of the next year, she went from zero to 26.2!  Since then she has continued to run and has now completed a total of 15 full marathons.  She blogs about her highs and lows in running, nutrition, and life in general on her blog, runstrongrun.com.

SOCIAL MEDIA
Twitter:
@runstrongrun          Instagram: @runstrongrun 
Facebook:  Run Strong Run     Pinterest:  @runstrongrun
Blog:  RunStrongRun.com

1 – What got you to go from couch potato to marathon runner?
What first got me off of the couch was a Christmas present. It was Christmas 2009 and my family had purchased a Wii Fit.  Remember those things?  Well, I stepped on it and saw my weight in big bold letters on the TV screen.  In that moment, I knew something had to change.  I began slowly by walking and doing light strength training.  By March 2011, I had lost about 40 pounds by exercising and making smarter food choices.  After watching some friends run in a marathon, I felt so inspired that I thought, “Why not me?  Why can’t I be a runner?” I headed out for my first run on March 27, 2011 and was able to make it only a few blocks.  I kept at it and on March 4, 2012, I crossed the finish line of my first full marathon!  The feeling was so exhilarating that I was hooked!

2 – What is the next big race you are signed up for and what are your race goals?
My next big race is the California International Marathon in December.  My goal is always to PR, but right now I have some other things in the work that’s putting a damper on big running plans. 🙂

3 – What other big races are you training for this year?
Besides the California International Marathon, I am also planning on doing both Rock n Roll Denver and Healdsburg Wine Country half marathon in October.  I’ll be real honest and say that I haven’t been following a focus training plan.

4 – What is the top area of your training that you want to improve upon currently?
One area that needs to improve in my training is speed work.  I’ve been a runner now for over 6 years and I’ve done less that a handful of speed work sessions.  Yikes!  I kind of don’t know where to start and I feel as though I need a coach or group to walk me through the speed work.

5 – What is the most challenging part of training for you?
The most challenging part of training for me is time.  As a full time teacher, wife, and mother, my time is precious.  When I have an 8+ mile training run on the schedule during the workweek, it becomes very difficult to fit it in with kids’ sports events, making dinner, homework help, etc.

6 – What is your favorite running distance and why?
I really enjoy the full marathon because I love the pain.  I love that it pushes your body past what once felt impossible.

7 – What inspires you to run?
Looking back at pictures of me from 2009, inspires me to run.  I never want to be that woman again.  It’s not just about the weight either.  It’s about my overall healthy outlook on life, on myself, and on others. I am now much more confident in who I am and running helps to give me that confidence.

8 – What has been your proudest running accomplishment?
My proudest running accomplishment, besides crossing my very first full marathon finish line in 2012, was earning my title as marathon maniac in 2016.  There are several ways to become a marathon maniac, but I earned my title by running two marathons in one weekend.  I ran the Western Pacific Marathon in Fremont on April 30th, 2016.  The next day, I ran the Pony Express Marathon in Sacramento on May 1st, 2016.  Surprisingly, my finish times for the two marathons were only 10 minutes apart!  It was an exhilarating weekend and one that I’ll never forget!

9 – You’ve lost over 50 lbs and have kept it off for over seven and a half years. How have you done it?
Conscious decisions.  I have to consciously eat and consciously exercise.  When I mindlessly eat and don’t exercise, not only do my clothes fit differently, but I also feel sluggish and gross.  My goal is not to be skinny.  My goal is to be healthy.  When I exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, I have a ton more energy! (Side note: I’ve been a vegetarian for the last 5 years.  This helps me to rethink meals.  Instead of meat being my main dish, I have to think of plant-based options.)

10 – What have been some of your favorite races that you have run?
No matter how many races I run (and I’ve run a lot), nothing seems to compare to my first marathon experience.  I ran the Lala Marathon on March 4, 2012, in Mexico.  It was my favorite race not because of the course or the swag.  No, it was my favorite race because I had so many friends, students, and co-workers who came out in support of me, I had proven that I was capable of something I once thought was impossible, and it was ran in one of my favorite locations (besides my home in California), Mexico!

11 – You have been a pacer in a lot of races, what is your favorite thing about being a pacer?
My absolute favorite thing about being a pacer is being able to meet and encourage other runners.  During my first pacing event in 2016, I met a woman by the name of Alandrea, known as Mrs.MotherRunner on Instagram and Twitter.  Alandrea and I became friends and now she’s a pacer too!

12 – What is the best advice you can give to a new runner?
To the new runner, I encourage them to go to a running specialty store to be fitted for the proper shoe.  My local running store is Fleet Feet.  At a running specialty store, they’ll be able to determine your stride and strike to then place you in the proper shoe.  Don’t just go out and buy your friend’s same running shoe just because it works for them.  What works for one person, won’t always work for everyone else.

13 – What are your favorite running clothes/gear/tech that you like to use?
Ooo, so many great running gadgets! Some of my favorites include ProCompression socks, Garmin Fitness watches (I own the Garmin Forerunner 235), SPIbelts to hold your phone, Momentum Jewelry Wraps for inspiration, and Nike Dri Fit shorts. I have several gear discount codes posted on my blog under the discount tab, so be sure to check that out!

Bonus Question – You like to arm wrestle. How did you get into it and why do you like to do it?
No, I do not like to arm wrestle.  I LOVE to arm wrestle!  It all started in 5th grade when the PE teacher introduced us to the sport.  I knew I had something special when no girl nor guy could beat me!  Arm wrestling just became my thing.  While I lived in Mexico, I arm wrestled everywhere we went!  I even found myself at a Lucha Libre practice… twice!  Now that I’m a mom, I don’t arm wrestle as often, but if given the opportunity, I’d gladly arm wrestle just about anybody! 🙂