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Turning Her Life Around with Running

By Jennifer Ward, 10/25/21, 2:30PM EDT

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OCT 27, 2021

This article is presented by AdvoCare Spark®.

Stephanie Smith, 36, has been using Spark® energy drink for 14 years. It was a key part, in fact, of her journey to health.

The Colonial Heights, VA resident got into running when she realized she'd become overweight. "I started by walking up and down a two-block sidewalk near my house—about an hour a day. After a few months of that, I was encouraged to add some running. I would set little goals like the next light post. I’d run for short bursts and then walk to catch my breath," she recalls.

Her sister then encouraged her to sign up for a 10K. "She said we were going to run the entire thing even if our pace was slow." Smith's goal was to do the Princess Half Marathon that ran through Disney World down Main Street and through Cinderella’s Castle, which had a minimum pace requirement of 16 minutes per mile. "That was my driving force to run," she says. "My only goal was to get a PR in fun!" she adds, which of course she did.

This past August, Smith completed the Virtual Race Across Tennessee with one day to spare: "The race was very much a mental struggle this year. I had to find a way to balance a minimum of 5.22 miles a day with a 40-hour workweek and a family. There were many late nights of trudging on my treadmill while binge-watching Netflix. Spark helped me wake up to get my day going and keep me powering through those miles. I made sure to switch out my shoes when I started feeling twinges of pain. I also made sure to get adequate stretching in to keep myself in tip-top shape,” she shares. “I spent about half of the race behind in miles; however, I never let myself get beyond 20 miles behind. My weekends were spent playing catchup. Trust when I say, I’m thankful that the 642.9 miles are done!"

We spoke to Smith—mom of two teenagers and a rescue dog—to find out more about her running journey and how she uses AdvoCare Spark® in her training.

What type of runner are you?

"No matter your pace, if you're running, you’re a runner. I do run-walk intervals, and I run because I enjoy it. I don’t run for PR’s, I make it my goal to cross the finish line having had a good time!"

What do you love about running?

"I love that I can challenge myself. I set the goal for new distances I haven’t done—it's a way to feel accomplished. I love being able to shut my brain off and just move. I’ve done crazy things like running my first full marathon in a monsoon rain for the first 14 miles and lived to tell the tale. Things I would have never even imagined."

"Hands down one of my favorite things about running is the community of people that I have gotten to know. I’ve done some of the craziest things because people encouraged and empowered me to do them. We like to call them enablers and instigators. As much as I joke about them peer pressuring me into doing things like running a marathon, I love them forever because they not only showed me I could but they also pushed me along the entire way!"

What habits did you change to turn your life around?

"I started out around 240 lbs. I started by ditching soda and drinking Spark instead, which has 20 vitamins, minerals, and nutrients while being sugar-free and low in calories. It also has caffeine, which helped me get moving more often.

It was the spring of 2015 where I decided to start working on my nutrition. I used AdvoCare’s 24-Day Jumpstart® to start figuring this out, then began to learn what I needed to eat to fuel my body. I signed up for my first half marathon in April of 2016, 80 pounds less than where I'd started. I cried at the finish line because I couldn’t believe I’d finished. After that race, I started strength training, and eventually got down to around 120 pounds–I'd lost half my body weight. Since then, I’ve put on more muscle and reached a point where I have the freedom to eat moderately and maintain my weight; it's all about balance. There is no finish line in getting healthy."

How does Spark® fit into your training and nutrition plan?

"Spark has been part of my day every single day for the last 7 years without fail. I’ll never forget the first Spark I had back in 2014. My oldest child had soccer practice that day, and normally I’d end up sitting in the car during practice because I was an exhausted mom of two. This day was different. Spark gave me a nice burst of energy and I got out of my car and did laps around the soccer field while my kid practiced. Seriously, the trajectory of my life changed that moment. I ditched the high sugar/calorie sodas I was drinking and replaced it with Spark. This was what got the ball rolling to get healthy. That substitution alone made me feel better and helped me to begin losing weight because of the difference in calories."

How and when do you use Spark®?

"Without fail, every morning when I wake up, I drink a Spark. I jump on my spin bike and then do 40 minutes of strength training. Spark gives me the pick me up I need to get fired up and moving in the morning. Then in the 2-3 p.m. lull of the afternoon, I mix another Spark to get me through the rest of my workday and to have me ready for whatever evening activities we have going on. I have the energy to add in an evening run as well."

AdvoCare Spark® is the Official Energy Drink of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series

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