All Categories


Latest Tweets

Joe Shea's Running Story

Running is a lifetime sport. Whether you are running collegiality or running to stay in shape, there is a place for you! This month we sat down with long time St. Louis area runner, Joe Shea! He shares his running story below! Enjoy! 


MS: Your crew has a nickname for you. What is it?

JS: The Bull.  Given after I went out and ran 20M and finished strong one day…after not running any long runs for over 4 months.  Somebody said to look at me because I was running like a bull.  Name stuck


MS: You are very loyal to Big River Running Co. in St. Louis. How has their store impacted your running and life?

JS: Started in probably the 2nd or 3rd year that Big River was in existence.  I was looking at the race calendar and saw a bunch of races in South St. Louis (where I grew up) at parks where I ran as a kid or played soccer or baseball.  Tilles Park, Frances Park, MacMile.  Then found the store was at Devonshire and Macklind – next to where a bike shop used to be that I got my first Schwinn from when I was 6 years old.

On doing some races, discovered the one owner was a fellow SLUH alumnus, Ben.  So now I liked the store on 2 fronts – promoting South St. Louis and SLUH boy. 

I had bought shoes from other places in St. Louis, and while they were never not nice, they definitely were not as welcoming, upbeat, and all-inclusive as BRR.  And, they KNEW their shoes.  The discount they gave White Team members early on helped also.  You were always made to feel welcome at the store and their events.  And their events were always fun.

I did a training team for Lewis and Clark, met a few people who with me would start the Wolf Pack, met more Big River employees – Matt, Hamel (another SLUH boy), and all were universally friendly, fun to be around, and supportive of the running community at large. 

So, why give my business to strangers or corporations, it became much easier to be loyal to friendly people who support you.  Haven’t bought a pair of shoes from anywhere since I started with BRR, again, in their 2nd or 3rd year of business. 


MS: What's your proudest running accomplishment

JS: Tough question -4:40.4 mile as sophomore in High school is up there, as are 3 varsity cross country letters

-Probably would have to be qualifying for Boston Marathon for 55 year-old division. I did my fastest marathon as a 39 year old (3:35) and was able to keep same speed until I qualified as 54 year old (3:37).  The qualifying time is a great accomplishment as well as keeping constant speed for 15 years.


MS: Do you have any future running goals?

JS: I told my wife I’m retired from marathoning, but that 3:55 for 60 year old to qualify for Boston looks real juicy.  And since I was in the finish area when the bombs went off in 2013, I’d like to return and run again.  Guess I’m semi-retired…future goal is to re-qualify. But longer, fuzzier goal is to still be running when I’m 60, 65, 70, and running well. 


Rapid fire!

MS: Favorite post race food?

JS: Donuts


MS: Funniest thing to happen to you on a run?

JS: Probably when I was running in New York city, from hotel to Central Park.  Got lost, I mean lost on the way back to the hotel.  And the streets were numbered, so it was hard to do.  But I got all turned around, and in those days had no cell phone, no GPS watch, and no money on me.  I laughed at how I zoned out and wasn’t paying attention to where I was, where I went, and where I was going.


Short shorts or long shorts?

JS: Long, my thighs are too meaty for split


Do you drink Stag beer before or after your run?

JS: I have done both Hate to have that aluminum can taste in my mouth during a run, so will vote for after


MS: What got you into running?

JS: I always ran as a kid.  Soccer, baseball, anything.  Went out for cross-country and won my first race as a freshman.  Hooked for life at that point.


MS: Did you play sports growing up?

JS: We spent all our time outside.  Organized I played soccer, baseball, a little basketball.  But in our free time we played everything: baseball, softball, kickball, touch football in the alley behind the house, bottlecaps, fuzzball, Indian ball, wiffleball.  Anything with a ball, outside. 


MS: Did you ever think running would be a life time pursuit?

JS: No, I graduated high school and then promptly took about 20 years off.  But, I do now believe it!


MS: How many miles a week do you run?

JS: A typical week is 20-30.  Usually 5-6 days a week.  Marathon training will push to 50/week, although will kick that up higher for next marathon.


MS: What's your inspiration to get out the door?

JS: I like to eat.  The more I run the more I can eat.  Plus, I want to stay active, in life, in general.  Running is my fountain of youth.


by Mark Spewak

Dating a Runner!

Here are our top reasons for dating a runner!


-You buy into a really healthy spouse. We have a better chance of hitting a personal record than having triple bypass surgery!

-Our stamina is second to none in this day and age! We bring an unbelievable amount of energy anywhere we go! We’ll always keep you dancing on your feet!

-We keep the pantry and refrigerator full with good food! Skipping a valuable meal is as extreme to us as missing a run!

-We deal with pain and sacrifice on a daily basis. A true runner understands a positive attitude is far greater than a negative one. Dating a runner will be a positive and motivating experience that you can benefit greatly from!

-We understand the importance of dedication and commitment! We have the experience of working hard at our sport and that generally translates into our relationships too!

-We wear very little clothing when we run… WE LOVE IT and so will you!

-We are morning people. Runners run before the sun comes up. That means we’ll always have coffee and pancakes waiting for you when you decide to wake up!

-A true runner body is always in great shape. Our abs didn’t come easy. We’ll happily share them with you!

-We don’t require much for a date! We are always willing to do something outdoors, be adventurous, and spoil ourselves post run to drinks and sweet goods!

-We can inspire your pursuit of a happy healthy lifestyle!  Runners are very encouraging people. You will definitely be motivated and focused on your own goals!

-In the summertime we always have a perfect tan! Your friends will be jealous of how awesome your significant other looks without trying!

-We hardly ever wear clothes around the house. We’ll always be your eye candy!

-Running high not only will put us in a great mood but will keep you happy too! You’ll hear almost a million awesome compliments daily after our great runs!

-If we have children they’ll always have a positive role model to look up to! No greater feeling than seeing a family with in shape parents!

-We will believe as much in you as we do in our training! You won’t be dissatisfied!


What did we miss? Comment below with your reasons!


by Mark Spewak

Coach Crowe's Training Advice

Before I write another workout post I wanted to discuss training theory in general, this is going to require some science and physiology, but bear with me I will keep it simple.   So we need to look at the energy requirements of the various events here is the latest findings courtesy of Coach Scott Christensen:

The basic energetics of a race will follow this line; the anaerobic system starts first carrying the athlete until the aerobic system becomes functional.  The aerobic system provides the energy throughout the race until it becomes time to kick, and the athlete uses whatever anaerobic reserve is left.  It is important to know what the limiting factors are for each event we are training for.

 In the 800 the anaerobic energy demands are higher; more is needed to cover the gap until the aerobic system can take over.  The anaerobic system is used earlier in the race, and then again at the end to maintain pace and to kick. The winner of this event is the athlete who slows down the least.  The limiting factors in this race are a rapid buildup of muscle acidity and waste material, causing fatigue and pain, signaling the brain to begin shutting the athlete down.  Muscle fiber recruitment will be a steady mix of slow and fast twitch, glycogen depletion is minimal, and there is little mechanical damage to muscles from the race.

 The 1500 has similarities to the 800 but as we can see from the chart the aerobic energy system plays a greater role, and consequently we will see more even pacing.  The limiting factors in this race are once again a buildup of acidity and waste material.  There is less anaerobic energy used at the beginning with more in reserve for the final kick.

 The 5K and 10K energy demands are met aerobically, with the anaerobic system activated at the start, and again when fatigue sets in or at the time to kick.  The limiting factors are a gradual rise of acidity and waste products, peaking at the end of the race when the athlete dips into their anaerobic reserve.  Temperature and glycogen depletion become factors especially in the 10K, loss of focus and concentration can add to the feelings of fatigue.  Muscle recruitment is still a mix, but mainly moving from slow twitch into fast twitch towards the end of the race. 

Although not listed on the chart you can guess the ½ marathon and marathon are aerobically run.  Because the anaerobic system only comes into play at the beginning of the race, buildup of acidity and waste products are not a factor in these races.  Limiting factors for these races are, rise in temperature, glycogen depletion, and mechanical damage.  The length of the races causes micro tears in the muscles leading to the mechanical damage.

Before devising a training plan it is important to understand the demands of your event, and areas you as the athlete are deficient in (aerobic or anaerobic).  This can be achieved by running time trials or a race. Each individual is unique, a different mix of chemicals and muscle fibers.  One of my early coaches liked to say we are all a laboratory of one.  Without understanding individual needs for the event the athlete is competing in, we miss out on stimuli and adaptations needed for improvement.

I hope that you take the workouts I post, experiment with them, then utilize the ones that work in your training program.  I promise to give a workout in my next post.



Scott Christensen,

Steve Magness,

Tom Schwartz,


*Coach Crowe is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles Team!*

by Mark Spewak

Ellie's Running Story

I know I'm supposed to be talking about my running journey, but I need to preface my journey in the most cliche manner, with a quote that has always inspired me to keep working.  "Rowing is a sport for dreamers. As long as you put in the work, you can own the dream.  When the work stops, the dream disappears.” (Jim Dietz, USA Olympic gold medalist and coach).  I've really found that this applies to any goal, small or large that one wants to accomplish in life.

My journey really begins at birth (when else?).  Like many babies, surprisingly, I was born with a heart murmur, which doctors agreed must be monitored.   By the time I was four, I had developed 3 holes in my heart, or more technically, atrioventriclar septal defect, which required open-heart surgery to repair.  The year was 1988, so you can imagine how frightening this was for my parents. The surgery went smoothly, and I made it to kindergarten.  Throughout my childhood, I was active, participating in multiple sports. It wasn't until sixth grade when I started experiencing fainting spells that doctors realized scar tissue from my surgery was interfering with the signal for my heart to beat properly.  Again, in technical terms, I developed complete heart block.  In normal people terms, I had the "lub" but not the "dub" of my heartbeat, a lot of the time. 

So, I needed a pacemaker at the ripe old age of 12.   I was determined to stay involved in sports, but scared to fully participate, worried something may go wrong again. The adults around me were fearful too.  I was a decent hitter in softball, but when I would get to 3rd base, someone had to pinch run for me (in case there was a collision at home).  It was a big scene, every game:  The coach would ask the ump to stop the pitch.  Someone would dash to throw on a helmet.  I would be waved in, patted on the back.  To solve my humiliation issue, I quit the team.  I became a scared, non-aggressive player in everything.  

I watched as my peers increased their sporting skills, and I didn't make the cuts for any team in high school.  Excellent way to start high school, eh?   Cross country, thankfully, didn't have cuts, so sophomore year I "participated" on this team.  It's still embarrassing to admit that I walk-jogged through cross country meets.  It was humiliating, even for my parents.   To keep me motivated, my coaches and peers would say "Hey, someone has to come in last, right?" Every race, I would tell myself, "Just keep running, no matter how bad you feel." But inevitably, about a quarter mile in (if that), the anxiety would set in.  I would feel my legs tense up, my arms clinch.  My heart would race.  My stomach would turn. My head would feel woozy.  And I just couldn't do it.  

This continued into college.  Instead of running, I tried rowing.  It's a beautiful sport, and I lasted three years!  But, of course, I was the rower no one wanted in their boat.  And let's be honest, I loved college....I was an off/on rower, full-time social extraordinaire.  But truly, I was so discouraged over my horrible lack of ability that I didn't put in the work.   Those feelings - the legs and arms tightening up, the nausea, the heart racing.... I just couldn't move past it.  By senior year, my pacemaker battery change was imminent, so I had my excuse to quit the team.  (As a side, I hate the phrase "no regrets".  I do have regrets.  But, I believe in making amends with myself, too.)

After grad school, I decided to give being an athlete one more try.  I LOVE sports, how could I not participate?  I signed up my then boyfriend, now husband, Ryan and me up for a 5K.  I ran the first mile without stopping (miraculously).  The run took me just over 40 minutes!  A starting point.  That summer, I moved to St. Louis to live with Ryan, and fully committed to my running journey ...and to Ryan of course.

Around 2009, finishing a 5K without walking was my first goal.  Ryan was traveling a lot, and I knew very few people outside of work in St. Louis, so I started showing up at the Monday night group runs at Big River Running Company.  Holy smokes, talk about full exposure therapy!  Running, in public, in a GROUP?  But it worked.  I eventually became a 5K fanatic and FINALLY finished a 5K without walking.  I knew then that I had turned corner.  I took the plunge in 2010, and signed up for the Go! St. Louis half marathon.  I put in the work, I owned the dream.  

Now, I am working on my speed.  I have had a few hiccups.  After a few half marathons at a 12:30/mile pace, extreme post-race nausea, no luck at speedwork with Big River and no improvement, I mentioned to my cardiologist that I was probably going to begin taking anxiety medication.  He had a different idea, and put me through a stress test.  I learned that, for who knows how long, my pacemaker settings were off.  Can you believe it? Many of my perceived symptoms of anxiety were a direct result of my pacemaker not adjusting properly during exercise.  The doctor joked about how I must have felt pretty ill when I ran. Doc, so you're telling me it's not normal to puke after long-distance runs? Needless to say, the quick correction to my pacemaker settings left me feeling like I could run like the wind!  I left the office that day and ran my first 40-minute 4-miler!  

These days, I still do struggle a bit, but I have confidence that's it's in my head, and not my heart.  I reached my ultimate goal of finishing my first and second full marathons.   More importantly, I have made the best friends through running.  I can't imagine my life without the people of Big River Running Company.   They are so incredibly motivating.  I may not be a Shalane, or even a Heidi (BRRC), but I'll never stop putting in the work and owning the dream.



*Ellie Wilhelm is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team.*

by Mark Spewak

Courtney Baxter: Running Story

This month we feature Courtney Baxter who is a passionate runner/triathlete in the St. Louis running community. Courtney has competed in a combined number of 42 races in her young career. We are glad to be able to share her incredible story. 


MS: Were you an athlete growing up?

CB: I grew up riding horses, playing basketball, and playing baseball.  I am a total nerd.  I quit organized sports in high school to be in the marching band. I still ran for fitness all through high school and college. In grad school some of my classmates were training for the Nashville Half Marathon and I couldn't be left behind!!


MS: Not only do you run but you race a lot of triathlons as well. What got you into that sport?

CB: I wanted a friend to race a half marathon with me and he kept refusing. He finally got tired of me asking and said if I could finish an Olympic triathlon with him, (6 weeks away) then he would run with me. 6 weeks later I ran my first triathlon. I had never worn a wet suit before and only rode my new road bike twice before race day. I've been hooked ever since and now my friend runs marathons with me!


MS: Do you associate yourself more as a runner, swimmer or biker?

CB: I remember in my early triathlon days, someone asked me how comfortable I was biking on open roads. My response was, "I am a runner on a bike." Over the years I have come to view each sport as an individual piece.  I have brushed up on cycling and swimming technique and I am becoming more of a true swimmer. I even look forward to my long bike rides every Saturday morning. At the end of the day though, I will always be 99% runner at heart.


MS: What’s your best piece of advice for anyone considering doing a triathlon?

CB:  Don't worry about fancy equipment or expensive gadgets. Put in some training time and get out there and race! Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing a new race or new distance!!


MS: What do you consider to be your proudest moment so far in your young career?

CB: It’s a close tie between finishing my first 70.3 Ironman and winning as an overall woman in a small 5k this past winter.


MS: You have been known to enjoy working out in the early hours of the morning. Give us a few of your tricks on beating your alarm clock and getting your workout in?

CB: I equate training in the morning to quitting smoking. You have to trial and error 7 - 10 times before you find what works for you. I started out just getting up an hour early for a couple weeks. Sometimes I would just sit and watch TV but it got me in the habit. Then I started meeting my coach in early on Monday mornings, it got my week started right. I also found the consistency of working out most mornings made it easier to stick with it.


MS: As a member and current president-elect of the St. Louis Triathlon Club, what has been truly the greatest thing you have taken away from it all?

CB: St Louis Triathlon Club and Big River Running have played huge parts in my life over the last 4 years. When I moved back to St Louis after leaving for 8 years, I had a hard time meeting new people. I started with Big River Tuesday Night speed work and was lucky enough to meet some awesome ladies there. (Love me some Katie and Stephanie!!) From there Katie got me into St Louis Triathlon Club and I continued to run with Big River. The athletes of these AMAZING groups are now like family to me.

The most important thing I have learned from my experiences is to share the love. It doesn't matter if you are a new athlete fresh off the couch or the number one marathoner at Boston, you have great experiences to share and others have so much to offer you.  Of course I have my closest friends, but I try my best to befriend everyone. You are no better than anyone else and no one is too good for you. You never know when you will cross paths again.


Rapid Fire!

 MS: Do you have any pets?

CB: I have a 9 year old English Setter named Guinness. Of course he loves to run too!


MS: Are you a coffee addict?

CB: LOVE COFFEE!! I now limit myself to one cup in the AM (sometimes before a work out) and one cup later in the day!


MS: Favorite pump up song while you work out?

CB: Huh? People workout to music?


MS: Are you a fan of Taylor Swift?

CB: *Stares at my feet* I love Taylor.


MS: Thank you Courtney!



by Mark Spewak

Facebook Photo Contest!

Hey all,

We are doing another AWESOME contest! This time we are using Facebook. It's simple, upload your most epic race photo to our Facebook wall and have a chance of winning a FREE More Miles More Smiles shirt and wristband! We are also looking for very creative captions as well. The contest ends Friday April 18th at 5 pm (central)

Begin! :)


Here is an example:

"Without ice cream there would be darkness and chaos." -Don Kardong 

by Mark Spewak

Living An Embodied Life

I spent a great deal of my life chasing shadows. I believed that happiness was around the corner, whether that be with another post-grad degree under my belt, a specific career trajectory, or after losing (fill in the blank) pounds. That’s not to say I haven’t lived a good life. I am incredibly grateful for the wonderful opportunities and people who have graced me, and continue to do so. I have lived many years, made up of many happy moments, but there has always been this unspeakable, unidentifiable malaise that lingered at the edge of my experience. It visited me during quiet nights, and drawn out days. I am a seeker by nature, wandering down paths of academic, spiritual, and relational enlightenment. And yet, all of my studies, relationships, meditations, were never able to address the very real, and very fractured relationship I had with my body. Sure, I was able to come to a cognitive understanding of the complex psycho-social underpinnings of my development, relational breaks, and the harmful messages sent to us by a commercial culture that cares not for our well-being, but seeks to control and manipulate us in deceitful ways by playing to our base insecurities. Armed with an arsenal of philosophical, psychological, and sociological wisdom, why was I still unable to live fully and freely in the world? Why wasn’t I able to slay the dragons in my mind that were fed by negative messages and unrealistic expectations? Why was I embarrassed to wear short sleeves in public? Why did I hate looking at myself in the mirror? The older I got, the more I cursed my body. It was something apart from me, something to be contained and disciplined. I viewed exercise as a means to an end, and not an end in itself. I now realize that the dysfunction, and inability to fill in those dark spaces, was due to the fact that I was not living a fully embodied life.

I was given the gift of running in 2012, when I committed to doing a 5k to raise money for a counseling/advocacy center that I used to work at. It seemed impossible, but I was determined. In the early days, I ran at night, in the shadows of south city, embarrassed to be seen. I worked out in the gym, my body fully covered with clothing not suited to the humid, hot environment. I wrestled with my inabilities instead of focusing on my abilities. I kept at it, but the darkness of insecurity and self-loathing continued to linger on the edges. It wasn’t until I made a resolution in 2013 that I significantly opened up to the possibilities that running (and life) had to offer. It was a simple resolution: come to a place of radical self-acceptance. I had no idea where this journey would take me, what monsters awaited in the darkness, or what gifts would appear when I was thirsty for sustenance. Running had my feet on the ground and moving in the right direction, but it wasn’t until I discovered, and plugged into, the power of mindfulness that I was able to really make the connections that created a massive consciousness shift. I learned to live in the present. Instead of wishing I were faster, thinner, stronger, I worked on loving my body for what it is, and is capable of, today.  When you’re running, that’s all you have: your body, the moment, the present, and the road in front of you. Growth comes from living all of those moments fully, pushing your body, and opening your mind to unlimited possibilities. In this, we become part of an expansive universe.

Over the course of my first half marathon training, I added yoga into my weekly training routine. It offers a deeper, meditative yin to the white, hot, burning energy of the running yang. It taught me to focus more deeply on the interconnectedness of my body. Channeling this into my running, I began to pay attention to the feeling of blood pumping, the rhythm of my breath, the feeling of my heart expanding in my chest, the physical shifts that occur during a small tweak to running form, the opening of new spaces by engaging parts of the body previously ignored, and experiencing the feeling of cool rivers running through hot muscles.

What is so radical about all of this is that I have been liberated in the process. The dark corners of my being have been exposed, cleaned out, and filled with the light of gratitude and transcendental joy. I compassionate with the monsters, when they rear their heads, speaking in voices that are all too familiar and hurtful. I soothe them instead of feeding them and fighting them. I no longer hide my body. I move fully and freely in the world, without apology. Sure, my body has changed some, but not as much as my spirit. I am mending the fractures that run deep. I am reconnecting with a profound sense of joy that was lost to me long ago, and am rediscovering the unfettered wonder of childhood dreaming.

I run to survive. I run to live. I run to connect with my deepest sense of self, and am better able to connect with others in an authentic way. It has given me the hope to dream big. When I started running, I couldn’t run for a minute. I recently ran my fourth half marathon, meeting my personal goals along the way. I turn 40 this year, with marathon dreams on the horizon. I love the anticipation and energy of big races and the quiet, meditativeness of running on a cold winter night in the city, inhaling the misty breath of melting snow. I will never be the fastest or the strongest. I may never even finish in the top half, and that’s okay. I run for myself. It has given me the gift of a life fully lived, pushing boundaries, and expanding horizons. No matter where you are on your journey, these gifts are available to you. Carpe Diem.


*Katherine Annemarie is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team*


by Mark Spewak

Coach Crowe's Workout of the Week

Among the many training techniques in a coach’s arsenal, one of the most effective is Fartlek.  Fartlek is a Swedish word meaning “Speed play” and is a loosely structured form of interval training.  Fartlek evolved from Sweden in the 1940’s and Swedish Olympic coach Gosta Holmer was the first to write about it.  In its purest form fartlek has no set distances and allows athletes to choose faster tempo and recovery periods themselves.  An example might be sprinting between telephone poles on a stretch of road.

The unstructured aspect is a little disconcerting for younger and novice runners, who seem to find fixed workouts more appealing.  In my quest to develop a training program for the younger runner, I discovered a fartlek system utilized by Australian Olympic marathoner Steve Moneghetti.  Moneghetti’s workout named the “Mono Fartlek” in his honor works like this:


2 X 90 seconds hard (10K pace) with 90 seconds of steady running (not jogging) between.

4 X 60 seconds hard, 60 seconds steady between.

4 X 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds steady.

4 X 15 seconds hard, 15 second steady. (Gerwick, 2004)


“Mono Fartlek” can be added to by repeating it over as many miles as desired.


I found this fartlek to be too demanding and mentally intimidating to my runners, but I liked the structure of the fartlek.  Through trial and errorI adapted the workout to what I call the “Mondo Fartlek”.  The workout is laid out like this:


90 seconds hard (approximately 10K pace), 90 seconds steady running.

60 seconds hard (approximately 5K pace), 60 seconds steady running.

30 seconds sprint, 30 seconds steady running.


This I call one block, after one block the athletes run as many blocks needed to run three to four miles. A recovery jog can be placed in between blocks if needed. 


The beauty of fartlek is it incorporates a variety paces throughout the workout and it can be run over a mixture of terrains.  By slowing the steady portion of the fartlek the run can be adjusted to the ability of the athlete.

Fartlek is an important training tool and if you are not utilizing it I encourage you to do so and you may want to try one of the examples I have given you.


Thanks for reading.


Gerweck, J.  January/February 2004 Running Times Magazine article “Running Recipes for Speed on the Go”


*Coach Crowe is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team. He also is a life long distance runner and high school/college Cross Country and Track and Field coach!*

by Mark Spewak

Tony's Running Story

When I was in grade school, I was chasing girls...well a girl. There was this girl whom I liked that was pretty good at this thing called “running.” Everyday in PE class I would challenge her saying that I would beat her in this event or that event. She destroyed me in anything running related that we did in class.

I participated in cross country when I was in 7th grade. Thinking that I was faster than my classmates, I ended up finishing almost dead last at the one meet that we had. My thought was that I wasn’t good at running but I just sound like I was good at it. Eventually it was proven that I wasn’t the best at it and even started to realize it myself. Maybe I just needed to challenge myself more to become better. My parents owned a restaurant when I was younger and I would help out after school or over the weekend. The problem was that I would have either walk or run to get from my home to the restaurant (or vice versa). I didn’t enjoy walking back then, unless there was a girl walking with me, so I decided to run. Eventually I started to challenge myself to see how fast I could get from one place to the other.

In high school, I ran 3 years of cross country and 4 years of track. Most people did not know that I was a sprinter my freshman year of track. This was due to the distance coach saying that the distance guys are going to run 5 miles for their first track practice. My mind was blow thinking “I can’t run 5 miles!” and decided to do sprints instead. Towards the end of the season I ran a couple of 800s and realized that I was better at longer distances than the shorter ones. This is when I got converted to distance and began running cross country my next year.

Senior year of high school rolled around and the team travels to Joplin every year for the Southern Stampede, a bigger meet and faster course. The morning of the race, I was not a happy camper. I didn’t sleep very well, I couldn’t eat breakfast at the hotel, and I felt sore all over my body. I ended up getting a huge PR(Personal Record) at this meet! It was almost a 2 minute PR and I was super pumped about it. I didn’t even realize I did until my coach congratulated me. Hearing it just brought up some memories of me running the same race 2 years ago. I ate 3 sausage biscuits a couple hours before the race. I’m sure you can guess what happened after that…

After high school, I wanted to run at Truman State University, the college I attended. When visiting Truman, I talked to the coach, and the coach said something to me that I was baffled by, “Anyone can run a 2 minute PR at that course (referring to Southern Stampede).” Long story short, I didn’t end up running for Truman, but I continued running and was known as “The guy who runs on campus” which I only did half of my freshman year! Ended up running a marathon my sophomore year because one of my running buddies wanted to run one.

Senior year of college, I decided to run a fast 5k. A buddy and I went to Emporia State University to run one of the last outdoor meets in May. I personally picked this race because I knew that some of the Truman guys will be there and I wanted to race them. When I toed the line, I didn’t see any Truman guys on the line with me, but I did see the Truman coach sitting on a bench right next to the 200m mark. Every lap I came around, I saw the coach was sitting there watching, maybe waiting, but I could tell that he was not happy. After crossing the 2 mile mark, I didn’t see him anymore. In my mind, I smiled thinking that he was mad about the situation, that I was running a great race, and decided to leave without seeing the end.

My story is a little different from many others because I wasn’t able to run for a team in college and yet I was still able to run a minute faster than I did when I was in high school. No one told me that I had to run or was forced to run. I did it because I enjoyed it and I had goals that I wanted to hit. After all of those words that you just read, hopefully it gave you some motivation.


*Tony is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team.*



by Mark Spewak

More Miles More Smiles Commercial

Thank you Jake Meier for putting together the first ever More Miles More Smiles commercial! We would like all of you to send in a 10 sec video clip with your phone answering the question: Why do you run? Send the video to and we will make a video montage of all of your running answers.


by Mark Spewak