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Do you want a FREE More Miles More Smiles T-Shirt? Follow us on Twitter @momilesmosmiles and send us photos of an epic running adventure this week using the #moremilemoresmiles Contest ends Sunday at 5 pm Central! If you have any questions please contact


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by Mark Spewak

Why I Run: Brandon's Blog

I decided for this blog to take the spin off as many others of our bloggers and write on why I run. I found this one almost hard to write. I really had to think about why I run. Why is it that I get up before the crack of day light on my summer break, or find my self on the track after a long day of school, most people go home after a day of school and relax or sleep in with their summer break, yet I'm out on the pavement on that grind everyday. Why? I wasn't sure until I thought what would I do if I didn't run? My whole life changed: my friends, my goals, my dreams, and probably my body physique.

 Running isn't just a hobby or a sport for me it's who I am, it's my passion, my love, my everything. Most of the time it's what gets me through a long day of school, knowing that I get to go out and do what I love with my best friends. It's how I connect with the world. As the great Steve Prefontaine said "Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, 'I've never seen anyone run like that before.' It's more than just a race, it's a style. It's doing something better than anyone else. It's being creative." People think I'm crazy for running for fun, but it's so much more than fun. It's a passion. There's just something about getting up and going for a run. It's being on the trails you know like the back of your hand, it's taking that deep breath in and getting that smell and taste of sweat that burns your nose and lungs, it’s the blistering hot days where sweat falls from your face like its rain from a cloud, it’s the runs that are so cold you can’t feel your feet and icicles form from your eyebrows and chin,  it’s logging the miles with your best friends as you fly through the miles with the best therapy session you could ever imagine, it's having your heart racing and legs burning to the point you aren’t sure if they are even still attached to your body, yet you wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. It's my sanctuary, my everything.

 I may miss out on many things kids my age get to enjoy for the simple fact of I have practice the next day or need to get in a run. People may make fun of my shorts or tell me running isn’t a sport, but ultimately when it comes down to it, I love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Being a runner is who I am and I love it. Running is great and all, but when you fall in love with it and it becomes your everything, then it’s something truly special, it becomes so much more than a simple jog in the park. Fall in love with running, I promise you won’t regret it, Happy running! :)



 *Brandon is an intern for the More Miles More Smiles Team*


by Mark Spewak

Tip of the Week: Group Running

Monday Tip!

This winter will mark my 9th year of distance running. Over my short tenure I have learned a lot about the sport from many different coaches, mentors, teammates, and fellow runners. The hardest part about running is sometimes finding your consistency and identity. Every week I will be putting together a different tip for any runner or walker. These tips are aimed for your casual to competitive runner/walker! Enjoy!


This week's tip is about the importance of running with a group!


Group Running: Find a group of people who share a similar schedule as yours is key to making your training easier. My suggestion would be to find people who are going to consistently run with you during the week and weekends. Also, finding runners who are going to keep a similar pace as you. Running alone can be quite daunting! Having someone there to train with you will keep you accountable and on schedule! 


How can I make this happen? Visit your local specialty running store in your city to find out about training groups and potential group runs! In certain cities there also track clubs that put on groups runs and training teams as well. Going to local races on the weekends will certainly increase your chances of finding people to run with. Meeting people at any of those places will be the golden key for expanding your training circle every other day of the week! These groups and organizations know their stuff. Utilize the resources they have for their communities.


Mark's Example: I have a group of people I run with who meet most mornings at 7 am. They keep me accountable for my training and enthusiastic about getting the miles in! It's not easy to do this sport alone. You have to remember we are doing this sport for a lot of different reasons. But if you aren't having fun running, you are doing something wrong! 



Please contact or comment below with any questions you may have. Happy running!


by Mark Spewak

Training by feel: Eric's Blog

As the number of training gadgets increase, and as they get increasingly more affordable, we’re becoming more connected to our gadgets and less connected to our running. On any given day, you might be getting through your run by being glued to the pace on your Garmin while your iPod is pumping Kid Rock into your head (I dunno. You like terrible music, I guess.), and your iPhone is posting details of your run to your Facebook account. Some coaches think that all of this distraction has made us lose sight of how we actually feel on our runs, meaning we’re not paying attention to whether we’re tired or not. This, in turn, has us blindly following training plans, and potentially hindering our own training.

These coaches think that it could be beneficial to throw away the training plan, leave the gadgets at home, and train by feel. I’m here to tell you that THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA. Let’s be honest, if I got up every morning and decided what I was going to run by how I felt, I’d go straight back to bed, and I LOVE running. Still you’re brain doesn’t want you to run a marathon; it wants you to sit on a bean bag chair and eat an entire bag of Oreos while watching a How I Met Your Mother marathon. That’s why your brain has evolved to kind of look like a bean bag chair. Honestly, it’s just science.

Look, do you really think we evolved so we could create things like pillow top mattresses and the internet because our brains want us to DO things?! Especially something like running, which we’ve made absolutely unnecessary with technological advancements? I’ll tell you – the answer is: nope, which is exactly why we need to get out there and do it. It’s good for your body and your brain. And, honestly, I’m all about raging against the machine; sometimes it’s a great idea to leave the Garmin and iPod at home and just slip on your shoes and go run.

I’m no coach, but as far as training advice is concerned, I’m not sold on training by feel. You should, however, always listen to your body. If you need an extra rest day, take it. If you’re feeling good, pick it up a bit. But you should almost always get out there and run, regardless of what your fat, lazy brain tells you to do, because we all know that more miles = more smiles.


*Eric is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*

by Mark Spewak

Nutrition Advice: Intern Brandon's Blog

Our bodies are like a well oiled machine, they can run for miles upon miles if taken care of and fueled correctly. If they aren’t fueled up properly then our bodies can break down and crash. As runners we all know that having a healthy diet is very important. Here are some tips to help you fuel your body correctly for the day.

  • Know your schedule: If you are a morning runner get something light in before you run, this can be something as simple as a glass of juice or a granola bar, after your run make sure you get a good breakfast in. Don’t try to hold out until lunch. If you are a mid day runner get in a breakfast with lots of carbs, for example oatmeal, bagels, or a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread. Have a lunch high in protein and feel free to snack in between meals on something light. If you are a night time runner be sure to get in a lunch full of carbs. Eat a light snack about 1-2 hours before you run. Dried fruits, nuts and vegetables are good examples.
  • Your plate should consist of about 55-65% carbs examples include fruits, whole grain breads, pasta and vegetables. 20-35% unsaturated fats for example olive oil, walnuts, avocados and fish. 10-35% lean protein for example lean protein such as chicken, sirloin, eggs and beans.  
  • Eat the colors of the rainbow. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. This can be covered among various fruits and vegetables. This will cover multiple different vitamins from all kinds of different foods.
  • Swap in whole grains instead of whites, whole grains have more protein, B vitamins and fiber.
  • Write down everything you eat for an entire week. Evaluate it at the end of the week to make sure you are getting in the necessary fruits, vegetables, protein and carbs. You can also use this to see if you snack too much or indulge in too many fatty snacks.
  • With that being said don’t be afraid to have a nice slice of cake, or cookies or indulge in some way. You are out there working hard you deserve a good treat, but be careful with how often you indulge in the more fatty snacks. Don’t let it become a habit to snack on fatty foods every day.
  • Recover properly after a long run or hard workout. Potassium will help prevent you from being sore the next day. Bananas and Greek yogurt are high in potassium. Try to get these in within the hour after you finish your run or workout.
  • Hydrate throughout the day, smaller sips consistently throughout the day will keep you better hydrated rather than gulping larger amounts shortly before you run. Juicy fruits will also help hydrate you for the day.
  • Maintain iron levels. Be sure not to skimp on getting you iron because it can lead to injuries.

By eating correctly it will greatly improve how you feel on runs as well as helping prevent injuries. If there is anything else I can do to help please feel free to let me know. Happy running!!




*Brandon is an intern for the More Miles More Smiles Team*

by Mark Spewak

Terri's Marathon: Congrats!

From all of us here at More Miles More Smiles, congratulations Terri Menghini on completing a Marathon in all 50 states! Terri is an avid distance runner in the St. Louis area. We couldn't be more proud of her. Check out of these awesome photos of her 50th state experience in Maui! 


We are proud of you :)



(Photos courtesy of Terri Menghini)

by Mark Spewak

Boston or Bust: Megan's Running Journey

It all started one beautiful Spring day back in high school out on the track.  The cross country coach pulled me to the side and said, "I want you to run for me in the Fall."
Me?!  I was shocked!  To me, running a mile seemed ridiculous!  Plus, I had only gone that far once, when we had to do it in grade school.  He must be out of his mind! 
But being a person who can't turn down a challenge, I asked him, what do I need to do?  He gave me some advice and I spent the rest of Spring and all of Summer building up mileage and getting ready to join the team in the Fall.
My life was changed forever.  I went from the drama-filled life of a cheerleader to the drama-free life of a cross country runner.
Coach's voice will always be in my head when I am doubting myself.  "Quit feeling sorry for yourself!"  He saw my potential and wouldn't accept anything less.  For that, I will be forever grateful!
All those miles logged back in high school made me realize:  You don't know what you are capable of until you push yourself out of your comfort zone!
Back then, my comfort zone was a lap around the track.  Today, I am working to qualify for Boston!
Marathon #1:  GO! St. Louis 2011.  I made it to Mile 18 then walked to the finish...just under 6 hours.
Marathon #2:  Rock 'n Roll St. Louis 2012.  I made it to Mile 23 then walked to the finish...just over 5 hours.
Marathon #3:  Rock 'n Roll St. Louis 2013.  I was determined to finish without walking this time!  I was successful...VERY successful!  I finished in under 4 hours!  
I shaved 1 hour and 15 mintues off my time from the year before!  For the first time since I got the idea, I felt it might happen!
My qualfying time for Boston is 3:35, and I won't stop pushing myself until I get there!
Whenever I lace up my shoes, I can't help but smile because each step gets me that much closer to Boston!
*Megan is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*
by Mark Spewak

Kyle's Running Perspective

As 2013 was drawing to a close, I looked back in my running log and found that I had run 4, 487 miles (86.2/week) this calendar year. This was the first year I had ever gone over 4, 000 and this was the first year that I was actually happy with the way I ran in a long time. But as 2014 was drawing nearer, I reflected not just on the successes of the past year, but also on the misery of the years prior. See, running hasn’t always been fun and games for me. In fact, at one point, I almost just quit the whole thing and left Missouri for a fresh start. 2009 (sophomore/junior year) was my first year of running (after quitting soccer) and it was probably the most fun I have ever had – mainly because of the success our track and cross country teams had. 2010 (junior/senior year) was a good year, too, but that was the year I first started to doubt myself.

Even though I ran at the sectional track meet and won the Paul Enke Invitational, I also had to stand by as the alternate on the eventual all-state 4x800 squad and finished 51 places worse than my junior year at the Cross Country State Meet. But 2011, the year that I would graduate from Ft. Zumwalt North high school and have one last shot at an all-state medal and a school record (my goals since my freshman year of track), as well as the year I would start college, turned about to be the worst year I had, and still have, ever experienced.

I could probably write a novel about the year 2011, but I will try to keep it brief without skipping too many details. It started with my declaration in November 2010 that I was going to work harder than I had ever worked that winter and was going to turn myself into, as my coach put it, an “Oxygen Monster” (a declaration that would lead to serious isolation and abandonment from my friends who had moved on from the sport). I was going to log 1, 000 miles in 15 weeks in hopes of improving my stamina, lung capacity, and heart strength in order to prepare myself for the track workouts that spring that would improve my speed. My goal for that track season was: either a school record in the 3200m run (9:31.52) or an all-state medal. Or both. Both would be nice, too.

I did accomplish that goal as I finished with 1, 002 miles, and that season I won my first 6 3200m races and entered the District race with a 9:42. I won that race and took third at the sectional meet which qualified me for the state meet.

Day 2 of the 2011 Class 4 State Track Meet currently ranks as a runaway #1 on the list of the most depressing days that I have ever had to endure. That afternoon in May, in perfect overcast, 75 degree weather, after finishing the fastest 8 laps I had ever run, I had no idea what place I had gotten and had completely forgotten what the school record was exactly, but later I would come to understand what had just happened:

9:31.87, 10th place. I had missed the school record by 0.35 seconds and my last shot at an all-state medal by less than 4 seconds (the young man who got 8th, a junior, had earned his third medal of the weekend). The top 8 in this race was the fastest top 8 in any state 3200m race since 1984. This was the first and only time that I have broken down and cried in public and not cared about what anyone thought. The devastation was real, unmanageable. The demon had said hello.

So that was the biggest failure, but couple that with a lonely and stressful summer preparing for the only college to which I had been seriously recruited – an expensive, D-III school in central Illinois – and I was not in the best state of mind heading into my first season of college cross country. And it showed. My coach ran me into the ground as he bumped me up to 80-100 miles a week immediately, running about 90% of it hard and about 75% of it by myself. I got a mild concussion in a cross country race and ran the two worst and most embarrassing races of my career at conference and regionals. The transition to this college, from which I would eventually transfer, was not helpful either and I struggled with a pretty bad bout of depression by year’s end. By the time 2012 had rolled around, I had very much contemplated quitting the sport altogether and moving far away to start all over somewhere else.

But I didn’t. And now here I am in the best shape of my life, running 105 miles a week like it’s nothing, running times of which I am extremely proud, and finishing workouts I never thought I could have finished. I’m here to tell you that you can improve your situation if you truly want to do so.

It all starts with a spark of motivation. The burnout you’ve been experiencing is only temporary, but you’ll need to make changes in your routine so that it doesn’t happen again. Personally, I made a complete change in scenery. I moved back to Missouri after finishing out my freshman year and made the decision to transfer to D-II Maryville University in Town and Country and just that gave me the motivation to work toward improvement. I found training partners on the team and started to develop camaraderie with these guys. I realized that the accountability was something I needed. Soon, I started to think about my strengths and what kinds of goals I could develop specifically to myself. I began to think about the 10k race and where I could go with that. I looked to the future – to the mileage I could work toward. I even started to look past college to marathons and ultra-marathons and that spark of motivation turned into a full on lightning bolt of drive and enthusiasm! It all starts by packing together the little snowball (a change of scenery, a training partner, a new race focus) and rolling it down the hill. Watch it gather steam and grow larger and larger until you can’t wait to lace up the shoes and get out the door!

Thank you for reading. I hope to have inspired you with my story. These are all true events. How sweet it is!



*Kyle Deeken is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*

by Mark Spewak

Brandon's Blog: You Have To Start Somewhere


Hello, I’m Brandon Chac, I am a senior at Francis Howell North high school and it excites me to announce I am a new intern at More Miles More Smiles! My running story goes a little like this: I have been running since I was in 7th grade, I started when my middle school started a Cross Country team. I absolutely hated running at the time, I was a big time baseball and basketball player and anytime we had to run I was always the slowest and dreaded having to run during practice. The only reason I joined cross country was because the coach was one of my best friend’s mom so I joined for the social aspect of the team with all my friends. My first year I was dreadfully bad, I remember faking injuries or hiding behind trees to avoid having to run at practice, I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. In middle school we ran a 2 mile race. I posted up a 20:56 as my first ever race. You wouldn’t think that after hiding from coach, faking injuries and running times like I did I would ever want to continue to run again and there was no way I would ever develop a passion for it, yet something sparked in me.

 One of my good friends ran high school cross country and he invited me to come watch one of his races. So the next Saturday I found myself up at Forest Park to watch him run at sectionals. While at the meet I watched a runner from the high school I would be attending in 2 years win the meet by flying colors, no push. It was simply incredible. Immediately something sparked, I wanted to be like him. After that the running nut took over in me. I started to  run on my own, train harder and harder, and even run when we didn’t have practice, the best part was I fell in love with it. I felt it was a part of me.

  Fast forward 5 years now and the running nut has just grown more and more. My times have drastically improved, by no means am I any super star runner now, but I’m happy with where I am at. I’ve been blessed to run at the state meet for cross country and I am on my way to run, next year, at the University of Central Missouri. Never would I have thought I would be running in college growing up, yet here I am. I always tell people it doesn’t matter if you are out there running 1 mile a day or running 100 mile weeks, as long as you’re off the couch and out there getting better, then you have won the battle. If you are laced up, out the door, then you are a runner and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you differently. I’m very excited to intern for More Miles More Smiles, I hope to inspire the running community. Keep tuned to More Miles More Smiles for more of my blogs to come and let me know if there is anything I can do to help you grow as a runner! Happy running!


*Brandon is an intern for the More Miles More Smiles Team!*

by Mark Spewak

Why I run: Eric's Blog

Sometimes I run because it’s beautiful out, and I want to feel the wind on my face and the sun on my skin. Sometimes I run because it’s raining, or freezing out, or it’s 5 a.m., and it makes me feel tough (and a little crazy…but the good kind of crazy.).

Sometimes I run because it’s the only thing that makes sense. Because it’s cheaper than therapy and all I need is one run by myself to clear my mind, or one run with a good friend to hash out my problems.

Sometimes I run so I can EAT ALL THE FOOD!Sometimes I run so I don’t feel guilty about being lazy for the entire rest of the day. Often these two reasons happen to land on the same day, also known as Sunday (Long Run Day).

Sometimes I run because it’s on my training schedule, and you don’t reach your goals by sleeping in. Sometimes I run because I promised you I’d meet you for a run. Sometimes I run to test myself; to see how far or fast I can go. To see what kind of weather I can endure. Sometimes I run to get that sore/exhausted/endorphin high feeling you only get after a tough workout. Sometimes I run because I’m racing.

Sometimes I run to explore new places. Sometimes I run because I’m going stir crazy. Sometimes I run because I’m being chased by a dog. Sometimes I run because I’m scared. Sometimes I run because I’m meeting friends and, no matter how awesome running alone is, running with friends is always better.

Sometimes I run to feel healthy. Sometimes I run to challenge myself. Sometimes I run to better myself. Sometimes I run to chase my goals. Sometimes I run just for me. But I always run because I love it!


*Eric Mellow is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*

by Mark Spewak