I recently spent 15 minutes with Kristen Beiza. Kristen's Instagram profile says she is a "runner and weightlifter in pursuit of her next challenge." But, as I learned, she is much more! She recently ran the 2022 Chicago Marathon --- her first marathon -- where she not only finished but qualified for the Boston Marathon. Professionally, she is an Executive at Bank America and lives in the Charlotte area with her family.
In this conversation, we focus on how she does it all! From raising a family, working a high-stakes corporate career, weightlifting, and still finding time to run.
My apologies to all of you! I recorded the audio of this conversation, but not the video. Please enjoy!
I'm a North Carolina native and live in Charlotte the Charlotte area. They do call Charlotte, the bank and capital of the South. So naturally I work at a corporate office at one of the banks downtown. Just a little bit about my myself, my family. I have one son who's 17 have been married for 19 years. Feel like working out is my life but hobby wise, he would probably say I'm really good at spending money so shopping, traveling, and I do like to cook so thoroughly enjoy that and that kind of comes along with you know, keeping up with the nutrition part of working out. And as far as you know, my history with sports, I was really big into Fastpitch softball and swimming in my youth but then after motherhood came along, I didn't prioritize fitness, like many others, and it wasn't really until the end of 2019 Even before the pandemic that I got back into the gym. I hired a weightlifting coach spent two years focused on strength training. And I seen a lot of progress in you know the composition in my body and really liked what I was seeing but what I didn't have was the competitiveness, I missed the team aspect of it. And so my husband's a runner, and I joined him at a 5k and actually won. And so I had a lot of fitness that was built up because of, you know, the weightlifting. And so that was what challenged me you know, so last year of quarter for the fourth quarters when I actually started running. And so, you know, I set a goal for myself. I turned 40 in two weeks. And so my goal was to be fit at 40 and here I am a marathoner right before my 40th birthday.
George Parker 1:49
That's amazing. Yeah, I can tell you're in banking when you set the fourth quarter so that's funny right there. Yeah, yeah. Um, okay, so you did your first 5k call it this time last year, and then you went from there to training for a marathon. What made you decide to go from a 5k to 42k?
Yeah, so I had that goal in my head that I wanted to go big or nothing and that's just kind of always how I have been. I knew it was going to be feasible. Just going into you know, a little bit of the training and I think it was, again, the fitness that I had built through strength training, that it wasn't so much of a big transition to run because I had done a lot of cardio in mixed in and in CrossFit and things like that, and so I was fit before but Fitness Through running is definitely just different. But that was what started it.
George Parker 2:48
Definitely. Can you say more about your routines? Because I think one of the My sense is that you you work a lot like you said a corporate job at a bank, which is probably very demanding. You also have a teenager which is gotta be a handful as well. As a teenager that is probably a senior in high school. So there's a lot of things that are happening. You're married. I think I heard a dog in the back. You have a lot of things going on. When it comes to your fitness journey, whether it be running or weightlifting, how do you how do you do it? How do you how do you fit it all into a 24 hour day?
Well, you know, I am a very routine and schedule driven person. I mean, honestly, we went to Disney World a few years ago and everything from every ride we were going to ride to the hour was planned out and that's just me, that's the way I've always been. I plan my days with purpose, what I what I want to accomplish, what you know, and then again, I set boundaries for myself and the things that I want to do and accomplish. And then you know, I mean at 530 in the morning I'm up I am starting my runs at that point, by 730 I'm bathing on my way to the office, then in the evenings come come back. And that's where I do the strength training. So it's it's double sessions. It's runs in the morning and then in the evening. It's it's generally about two to four days a week to minimum but I tried to get in you know, to upper bodies and to lower bodies per week.
George Parker 4:19
Awesome. So, if we go to your morning so you're getting up at 530 in the morning, do your runs are you doing indoors outdoors, mixture of both? How do you turn that how do you normally especially in the winter because you were in training in the winter?
Yeah, so great question. Last winter, I was all outdoors and it was very cold. So I didn't you know brave it out but this year we actually bought a peloton. And so I do a mixed unit training. I tried to do all my marathon training especially within the last 12 weeks outdoors, just because I think there's more benefit in that. But absolutely, I do use the peloton, you know, one two times a week, you know, just to make it easier for myself in my schedule. Yeah,
George Parker 5:06
that's awesome. I would love to hear more about the strength training part of it. One of the things that I think a lot of our runners or runners in general could do more of is strength training. And my sense is your background was actually really great for that and you brought that into your training. Could you share more about some of the things that you found were helpful in your to complement your running you'd run in the morning and you strength in the evening? What type of things that do you think you're the closest thing to an expert we've spoken to before so what type of different strength sessions do you think are helpful to runners if someone wanted to add two times a week for instance to start?
Yeah, if it was gonna be two times a week even one I would say there's probably two things I would work on core and it's you know, it's not set up some in you know, things like that. It's more like full body core so we're talking, you know, planks is one. We're also talking about, you know, the dumbbell side lifts and also, you know, just general core that you're going to get through like backs back barbell squats. And then for legs, it's really going to be single single leg. So RDL single leg, you know, the back squats are good, Bulgarian split squats are good because they're again, it's working on single leg. I find that myself included. A lot of runners have imbalances, and the imbalances can really be offset by doing single legs, as opposed to you know, the double leg.
George Parker 6:45
Yeah. I'll share your story from my own personal experience for what it's worth is last year I was going through a training cycle, and I was just having a lot of pain in my ankle. And so I went to a physical therapist who was recommended by he's the guy who works for the Atlanta Track Club. And when I went to go see him while I went to someone in the neighborhood first and they were like, you know, saying, Oh, I have low arches there. Give me a bunch of exercises to work. On my arches and I went to this guy, and he didn't even look at my ankle. He was trying to find out what might be causing that. And the thing he discovered for me was that I wasn't activating my glutes enough I was instead using hamstrings and I'm gonna start using calves as opposed to using the strong glute muscle. And it just had happen over time. And so he started having me do a lot of the things you mentioned the RDLs, the split squats, etc. To learn how to activate my glutes. And it was it was like night and day because it was this huge big, but muscle that I hadn't been using in a while because I was relying upon other weaker muscles comparatively for the running motion. And so having that basis, that's outstanding.
Absolutely. You know, I mean little things like hip ridges or hip thrusts, all of that will definitely impact the glute area. I mean, it's such a big injury prevention tool that we can, you know, put in our little toolbox to help us you know, I mean, most people are extremely sore after a marathon and I have to say, you know, everybody's like, you're not going to be able to walk upstairs. I really felt fine after the marathon. You know, there were there were things here and there that, you know, I could tell I ran 26 points, you don't get me wrong, but it wasn't like I was sore going upstairs was not a problem. And I think that all of that I would attribute to strength training.
George Parker 8:42
That's great. Let's talk more about the marathon. So you ran the Chicago Marathon. Maybe what made you choose that one? Was it just timing time a year? Maybe there was a bank up in Chicago that you went to?
Oh, well, it is the Bank of America. The action as I said, Yeah, actually I was guaranteed a spot into the race because of the employer.
George Parker 9:05
That's awesome. That's great. Okay, so what was that experience? Like Tell me about your travel up there? You know, how you manage it with work all those types of things?
Yeah, so I mean, work definitely not a problem. They get off especially because it's their events. So they were extremely excited that I was participating. And actually did you know a little bit of a standoff party so that was nice. I'm not a fan of training in cold weather. I don't like it at all. I would prefer beat it. So I when we arrived there, it was raining. It was freezing. It was windy. I mentally was kind of depressed. But the next day it was so much better. You know, it was so cold, but it wasn't raining and it was sunshine. The weather was absolutely amazing. And coming into it, I had a great training cycle. Very consistent. I averaged about 5055 miles a week, which is a lot for a first time marathoners. I had a great coach from forward motion which is a local company for the cycle. And really focused on not only the strength training we've talked about, but really the nutrition and not just food but supplements to support the goals. That Paragon being one of those. I felt like it gave me great recovery again and focus on the runs that I had. I did end up under goal at the end. So I came in at 331 for my marathon time. Not only was it under my goal, but also a Boston qualifying time. So that was pretty exciting to be my first
George Parker 10:46
congratulations on that. I mean people work so hard and long to go get that and even though it may seem like you just got to your first time I think all your background in fitness and weightlifting and just all the cardio at all counts. And so that was all part of the journey and it just kind of manifested there in that day. So that's awesome.
Absolutely. Yeah. Thank you, George.
George Parker 11:08
You. You mentioned nutrition. I love to hear more about just in general, how you approach nutrition, I guess kind of during the day because I think a lot of our runners do. We work corporate jobs where it's nine to five you're away from the kids you come back home there's a lot of things going on. How do you approach kind of your nutrition throughout the day to fuel yourself for workouts as well as you know, they have the energy to eat well.
It's probably not gonna surprise you that everything's very planned.
George Parker 11:42
Yeah, that's why I had to ask I was like I gotta learn more about the
routine. Yeah, so I'm definitely a meal prepper every weekend it is planning for the entire week and that's, you know, breakfast, lunch and dinner and not just for myself but my family. It doesn't make it challenging. I actually am pescetarian so I don't eat any red meat or pork it's just pretty much seafood and more vegetarian options, Tim pay and Satan things like that. So I actually ended up cooking two to three meals for my family because we all eat very differently. But I do meal prep on the weekends. I also track macros very, very much into tracking macros. I've done that since I started weightlifting about two years ago. And I'm always looking to challenge myself in this area because I find that especially because of the calories that you burn running that you definitely have to eat enough and have the caloric input to support and fuel your body. And so that's an area that I'm continuing to work on is to ensure that I have the right micronutrients, that caloric intake to support strong recovery and performance. Yeah,
George Parker 12:50
I love to hear more about your meal prep. So you said that you start on Sundays. What does it look like? Do you cook? Is it like one meal that you cook? It's the same for all five days, do you? I'd love to hear more about actually, if you're giving advice to someone who wanted to meal prep for the first time what would you suggest
my meal prep looks very different. I'm just not a person that can make something on Sunday and eat it four days later. So that's not me. My meal prep looks like I use my fitness pal. So it's the app that you track your macros so I plan out everything I'm going to eat even snacks so that I know how many calories are fueling my body with what the macro breakdown is and I go ahead and start preparing them like packaging things up. So if it is you know if I'm taking some you know crackers to eat with cheese and I'm I'm weighing my partners and I know what portion size I'm taking. So that's done every week for lunches that way you know I'm at work and you know kids just grab it in the morning and take it with me. Breakfast I normally just eat the same things every day. So that's not really that hard for me and, and generally for breakfast it's going to be either either overnight oats with protein and then regular oatmeal with protein. And so you know, obviously a banana we have we have to have those as runners right. So that's kind of what it looks like for me and then for afternoons generally I will make like if I'm going to do sweet potatoes has been there all cooked at you know on Sundays so I don't have to wait for an hour and a half for a sweet potato to roast. So it's kind of like that. It's sweet. It's prepping for the week. But you know, again, I'm not one of these that gets out five different containers and puts everything in there. So it's my meal prep looks very different. And, you know, everybody has their own way to do things. Yeah,
George Parker 14:41
no, that's great. I think with a little bit of effort there's a lot of things that you can go do, which is is pretty cool to hear. Well, maybe the last question for you and then I'll flip it over to see if you have any questions for me. Overall, what was your takeaway from running a marathon? Is this something that that you enjoy doing is is something that was was not as fun as as maybe it could have been? How will be your entire training experience as well as race day?
Actually, I'm one that likes a lot of training. I like training more than the races and most people are the opposite like race day is just that you know that spark that gets them started. I enjoy the consistency I enjoy the good sweat, the the gratification that you get after a run. So you know I mean, I think that I definitely am more excited to continue training. I'm actually in a training cycle right now for the Houston Marathon. We were so it was really close to do back to back with Chicago and I realized that so you know my goals and expectations that race are gonna be a little bit different. But it was it was a choice that my husband made he that was the race he wanted because he grew up there and he did that race 20 years ago, so he'd like to be on that one. So I am going and we'll see what happens.
George Parker 16:06
Well, best wishes with running that the Houston Marathon. That's all I have for my end. Is there anything that that should have asked that I didn't ask for any questions that you had for me?
You know, to be honest, George, I mean, the first thing I would say is is thanks for reaching out to me about you know, the Paragon vitamins and supplements. I mean, I am a supplement junkie. So if it exists, I have probably tried it read about it extensively. And I'm sure I know exactly what's being put in my body. And I did that when you reached out to ensure that it was something I really wanted to commit to. I found that the vitamins and minerals that and the real energy that you guys are using in your products. It was very appealing to me it's clean, it's vegan, honestly, it's affordable as well. Right? So even if we didn't have this partnership and and my friends, you know the runners that are in my community and masterful like it's affordable to them. The probiotic I would say is absolutely amazing. Like many female runners I do I do supplement with iron separately. Yes. If you're ever taking iron, you know, it can really mess with your GI tract. Yes, the probiotic has been incredible. And so I would just say that I fully support the product and appreciate again, you reaching out to me.
George Parker 17:25
That's great. Yeah, it's great. To hear Yeah, with your with the avoiding red meat in your particular diet. I know that can be hard iron sometimes because I can even sense for me that when I'm feeling very fatigued, usually for me, all eat iron out of red meat and that really helps a lot. Um, but I also have an iron supplement as well that I'll take every now and then but yeah, you have to be careful with it for sure. But that's cool. Have you seen because when I when I started the products almost five years ago now I was a runner, but I was also a chemist in my former life and so I had sat down one day when I was approaching 40. And I was taking a bunch of different supplements and I was trying to simplify it because I was thinking almost 12 different bottles and I said wouldn't it be great if I could just design something that would work for me as a runner. And so I had sat down and made the formula out of the lab and I couldn't bring it to life. And I made 48 bottles just so I had a two year supply. But then I put it on Amazon one day, and that was four years ago now and we've sold over 3 million vitamins the 1000s of runners in all 50 states and now we're starting to be carried of running stores. And the best part about though is talking with with runners like you and hearing their stories because I learned something every time meal prep is something that I had to get much better at. And so I was hoping one of my good friends is into into powerlifting. And so he's very big into meal prep and he's been helping me with their long time. And so I was hoping you might have some tips there as well. So you did not disappoint. So thank you.
Awesome was definitely it's good to talk with you.