Find Your Strong Project: Week 8 Spotlight

Week 8 of the Find Your Strong Project asked the community to share a picture of our running food/fuel. Melissa K. was one of the first out of the gate and she joined us for a Q&A below:

Real food, real fuel!

Did Picky Bars pay you to post that picture? Be honest.
Nope – they don’t know I posted it, but maybe I should let them know, haaa!

We’ll just have to take your word on that. What activity did that bar fuel?
Don’t take my word for it, get you some! This bar got me out the door for my long run (as it usually does). My stomach is picky (go figure), but these are the perfect size for grab and go fuel that doesn’t upset my stomach. The couple hundred calories gets me off to a good start, and the all natural good stuff has never jacked me up, even with the splash of caffeine in them.

"June 2011 was my first 5k – the Phillip Rivers 5k. I was hoping for a 32 minute finish and ended up with 29:15 and was hooked!"

Is it the hazelnut or mocha that does the trick for you?
Mocha madness, baby!!! It’s the perfect blend with the hazelnut, but since I’m the only highly caffeinated crazy in my house, it ensures my stash won’t mysteriously disappear like it does when we stock up on Lauren’s Mega Nuts.

How actively do you keep tabs on your nutrition?
As I add mileage, keeping tabs on my nutrition is vital. Hydration is key, which I learned the hard way (you can read about my tragic lesson here) and I am the.biggest.cheerleader for Nuun - I keep 2-3 bottles at my desk throughout the day and make sure they have all been consumed and refilled before heading home, then make sure they have been consumed before I head back into work the next day. As far as nutrition itself, I don’t really keep tabs, per se, but my biggest challenge is not letting myself get lost in the busyness of the day and forget to eat. That’s harder to do these days as it seems like I’m always hungry. I typically grab a shake on my way out the door in the morning (protein + coffee, are you seeing a theme here?), have healthy snacks within reach at the office, and lunch and dinner are usually pretty clean eats (lots of lean meats, greens, and whole grain carbs). Bottom line, I eat when I’m hungry. That’s about how ‘actively’ I track my nutrition.

"Gladiator Rock n Run was this past April. After a string of injuries and bronchitis, this was my first muddy venture!"

How do you fuel up before a race?
Lots of Nuun in the days leading up to a race and probably heavier on the carbs the day or two before race day. Otherwise I’ve learned to stick with the norm and not freak my body out. My brain does enough of that on its own.

Your first full is in October. Has your diet changed while preparing for the big 26.2?
My first full is in October?!?! YIKES!!!  I’m seven weeks into my training plan and yes, diet has definitely changed. I originally started running for the sake of dropping some body fat, but with training, that is secondary. Other than my scheduled rest/free days, food is fuel. I save the white carbs (bagels and such) for my long runs on the weekends, but love brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain pastas without the guilt. I’ve also incorporated more greens and fibrous foods to avoid any GI – ahem – irregularities that used to show up at the worst times. I still love being a social eater so I don’t go crazy, but I’ve learned to pick the place so I have options that will work for me and to give myself enough flexibility so I don’t feel like I’ve failed on an off day.

"This was at my second half, where I took 13:10 (2:26 finish) off my first, and I'm hoping to crack 2:15 in the next few months before my full!"

Are you racing the marathon with any friends?
Oh yeah, just me and 650 or so of my closest girlfriends :) Back in January, I signed up to do the virtual Nike Women’s Half. I found out that the largest team running together would be guaranteed a spot in October’s race. I had bronchitis, so ran it on the ‘mill just in case this Facebook group of ladies worked out to be the biggest group. Hello, 1000+ women later, I’m in! It has turned into an amazing community of runners, supporters, and cheerleaders for one another regardless of experience, age, or pace. I’ve met a number of Team Victorious women at races and can’t wait to run with them in October along with some fellow Tough Chiks.

Have any marathon resources been especially helpful during your training?
I am so grateful to have a social media support system! No one in my immediate circle of life is a runner, so I’ve learned a ton by following various blogs, twitter chats, and finally ventured outside of my comfort zone to try running with a group. In addition to the Team Victorious collective wisdom, I recently got involved with Moms Run This Town (MRTT) that has a half marathon/marathon training group as well. Since I’m going solo with my day to day training, I’m using a cross between Train Like a Mother (Finish It) and Higdon’s Novice 2 plan and trying to incorporate some cross training with the Nike training apps.

The prize for week 8 was your choice of Saucony trail, track or road shoes. Have you chosen a model?
Hello, I won something?!?! I’m a dork, so I just emailed the peeps at Saucony with hopes they will hook this girl up. Hands down, Kinvara 3 or Ride 5 are the two I have been drooling over. Although after my marathon, I would like to give trail running a go to change things up, so the Peregrine 2 is looking kinda good these days.

Thanks to Melissa for her time, and congratulations to all of the week 8 winners! You can find all other submissions at

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