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Stacey Armijo Finds Balance - Freeplay

Stacey Armijo has mastered the art of balancing being a wife, mother of 2, co-owner of three Dailey Method studios, and a distance runner. Recently Armijo set a personal record at the Shamrock’n Half Marathon and then placed first overall at Run Rocklin’s Half Marathon a few weeks later. Armijo discussed her training, goals and her upcoming race in Boston with Freeplay magazine.

Freeplay: When and who inspired you to begin your running journey?
Armijo: I played field hockey at University of North Carolina and won 3 national championships. After college I still wanted to compete and I enjoyed being outside. I started casually running and decided to sign up for my first marathon, Big Sur Marathon, soon after college. I enjoyed the discipline it took to train for the marathon and loved the adrenaline rush during and after the race. I was hooked on running ever since!

Freeplay: As a mother of two, a business woman (co-owner of three Dailey Method studios), and a marathon runner, what motivates you each day to strive to succeed in each of these aspects of your life? And what advice would you give, based on your personal experience, to women with the same balancing struggles, whether they are competitive runners, or more recreational?
Armijo: Making exercise a priority is the key for me. I wake up early every day in order to run. My favorite part of the day is before the sun rises! I also think it is important to make it a family priority and gain the support of your significant other is essential. It can be a balancing act, but we know it makes us happy when we exercise. My advice would be to gain support from other friends and/or family and ask them keep you accountable. It is also very helpful to find a running group or partner to run with. Signing up for a race, even if you are recreational runner, will help motivate you to stay committed and accountable!

Freeplay: You began taking classes at The Dailey Method and got hooked, what made you decide to become part of The Dailey Method full-time and how is this form of exercise beneficial to endurance athletes?
Armijo: Yes, I started taking classes in SF to cross train with my running. I got hooked and saw not only my body change, but also my strength and flexibility! When we decided to move to Rocklin I knew I could not go without The Dailey Method so decided to open my own studio. I also work full time in sales so I decided to partner up with Sandra Lemos in order for us to meet the demands of our students and open two more studios! I didn’t realize the impact of cross training 6 years ago, and I am so happy I found TDM! It does wonders for core strength; the class targets the abdominals, thighs and glutes, which are huge muscle groups for endurance athletes. The class is also up beat, faced paced, and every class varies in some way….which is a perfect fit for all athletes who want to keep moving and stimulated!

Freeplay: What is your strategy for choosing races during the year to compete in?
Armijo: I recently realized my potential as a fast runner so I never had a strategy for picking races. I have always enjoyed finding local races and a variety of distances. After my second son Elliott was born I focused on trail running and competed in Way Too Cool. I really enjoyed the trails but once I qualified for Boston based on my 3rd marathon in San Francisco, I decided to sign up. It has always been on my bucket list and figured no better time to run Boston than this year. To train for Boston, I found several local races every few months to help improve my speed!

Freeplay: Shamrock’n Half Marathon was a great success for you, you not only came in top 10 but, you also earned a personal record! In terms of training, did you do anything different leading up to this particular race?
Armijo: Yes, I focused on speed work. I found a program online and stayed committed. I ran a local half marathon last year and finished in 1:26 with no speed work at all. I knew I could improve if I added in speed and kept up with my core work 3-4 times a week at TDM. Shamrock’n is flat and I did my best to stay on pace. I visualized myself achieving a PR and it happened!

Freeplay: You have a great race ahead of you, the Boston Marathon. Following your success with Shamrock’n, what has been your training leading up to Boston? How have you juggled being a mother of two, full-time business woman and preparing for this amazing race?
Armijo: Honestly, I just want to enjoy the race and take it all in! Two week after Shamrock’n, I ran Run Rocklin’s half marathon and finished first overall. It was an awesome feeling to not only finish in first place, but to be a women and win! I have been tapering over the last few weeks. I have juggled quite a bit over the last few months, but it helps to have the support of family and friends. I’ve comprised some pillow time, but it is the sacrifices you have to make in order to get long runs in to prepare for a marathon!

Freeplay: With many reflecting on last year’s events at the Boston Marathon, what are your thoughts and emotions going into Boston this year?
Armijo: It was tragic event and the Boston community really came together and stayed strong. I know this will be a very special event to all those who were directly affected by this event. This year’s race will be unlike any other, past or future, because the city has been so resilient. I have always wanted to run Boston, but I know there are many people who will be there at the starting line, or finish line, who have been impacted by last year’s events in more ways than one.

Freeplay: Ironman Lake Tahoe is this September. It has been said that you and your husband will be competing in it, is this true? If so, it would be obvious that you two enjoy competing together, are you great training partners? Do you rely on each other during races that you compete together in for pace or simply love and support?
Armijo: We have never trained together. Adam has always preferred mountain Bike Riding but it has been one of his life goals to compete in an Ironman. He turned 40 and asked me to join him and train together for Ironman Lake Tahoe. It is not going to be easy, but we are looking forward to it. We probably won’t stick together in the race, but knowing we have put the hours in and trained for the race together will be amazing! I am relying on him to keep me motivated in the pool and on the bike. I’m not the best swimmer so looking forward to improving in another sport.

Freeplay: In preparation for Ironman Lake Tahoe, what is your training strategy following Boston?
Armijo: I will take a few weeks off running but will be ready to jump in the pool soon after Boston! I will follow a training program my husband found in preparation for the Ironman. I most likely will do my workouts in the morning and Adam will train after work. I am going to ask my friend, Jenny Hitchings, who is also a running coach, to devise a running plan for me. I want to keep up with my speed and endurance even though I am training for two other sports so I think Jenny can help me with this! I’ve never had a coach before but I am going to give it a shot! Honestly, I think the hardest part for me will be once I’m home after work and the workouts! I want to have enough energy in order to stay active and spend quality time with the kids as I know I will be exhausted. Let’s just say I will be making a lot of crock-pot dinners over the next few months!

Freeplay: It is obvious that you strive to inspire a healthy lifestyle, balanced with business and family. What do you want to share with women, whether just starting their journey in a healthy lifestyle through exercise, or already balancing a similar lifestyle as yours?
Armijo: I really don’t know any different. I was raised this way. My parents were very active and I was always competing against my brother and sister. I enjoyed the friendly competition and active life style and I want the same things for my kids. I think it’s easy for us moms to think we don’t have “time” to exercise, but little do know it makes a world of difference in how we feel about ourselves and how we treat others if we do make the time. I think the hardest part is getting started. However, once you make the shift by setting goals and priorities and ask for support, it doesn’t seem as hard to balance a healthy lifestyle with business and family.

Freeplay: What advice do you have for other endurance athletes who are working towards their goals? Crushing goals?
Armijo: I used to think I didn’t need a complete rest day and some of my workouts suffered from it. I think your body needs a day off in order to get stronger and faster. If I don’t feel it and lack motivation, I now accept it as a sign for a rest day. By doing so, it’s easier to come back stronger the next day and push even more. Sticking to a plan and surrounding yourself with people who can positively impact your lifestyle as well as challenge you is crucial to achieving…and crushing goals!

Interview by: Stephanie Buckner