Rhythm on the run: beat of the pavement

Inside the life of running addict and coach Stacy Middlebrook

Rhythm is defined as a "strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound." You can find a rhythm in your breath while on the yoga mat, in the small plié pulses at the dance barre, and in the sound of your feet hitting the pavement on a run. Running is how Stacy Middlebrook feels her beat. She’s a San Diego high school teacher who has coached Girls Cross Country and Track and Field for 19 years. Each year her Cross Country team blazes a trail wearing custom Stelari tanks. Stacy loves to run (and we mean LOVES). But was it always her passion? We caught up with Stacy to learn how she came to find her rhythm on the run.


(Moisture wicking Stelari tanks power the team on their run)

Do you remember how you felt when you first starting running versus now

In high school, I ran Track and Field and Cross Country and then also ran Track in college at UC Santa Barbara. Mostly, I was a hurdler and a jumper. I really don't feel like I was a runner back in those days, because I was doing other things while running.

When I got into my 20s, I couldn't hurdle or jump to stay in shape, so I grabbed my headphones and went for a jog one day. Instantly, I was hooked. I loved the wind in my hair and how I could look at scenery. With my sprinter background, I always tried to run fast and increase my distance each time I went out. A run down the street turned into a run down a bunch of blocks to loops that got longer and longer each time. 

As the year 2000 approached, I decided I wanted to do a marathon. I found a training program online that was way too difficult… so was the marathon. I gave up around mile 19 and walked quite a bit - coming in at 4:11. That was the end of my “marathon-ing” for a while and I stuck to shorter, faster distances.

In 2004, a friend asked me to train with her for another marathon. I was in such good running shape that I said "yes". I found a MUCH better program online and trained really well. This time, I ran a 3:30…a touch better. 

I was absolutely in love with running! I began to run every day, touring neighborhoods and seeing what hills I could discover in my area and in city or two away. I craved running and loved the way it made my legs, arms, heart and head feel. 

Now it’s 2015. I haven't done a marathon in 5 years (I like to stick to half-marathons) and I still feel the exact same way. A good day is a day that I get to run! When I have a day off, the first plan I make is where and when I am running!


Do you have a philosophy about racing

For the last 5 years, I have competed in between three and six half-marathons a year. I take them seriously. I know that many racers simply run long distance races just to complete them and get the medal, but I'm not one of those people. I pay my entry fee, so I'll train to run as fast I can. I've signed up for many races and used them as an excuse to travel. My family comes to my races, no matter how far away there are held. Races are a part of my life and they make me who I am.

I'm a big believer in putting in the work (mainly because I love the "work") and racing the results of my training. I aim to improve every year a race is held. Or at least equal the time as I get older.


What are your 3 tips to prepare for a race

  1. Train: with distance runs, tempo runs and intervals
  2. Have a plan! Know what you want your mile splits to be and run that time. Even if you feel good, don't go faster than your planned time.
  3. Race your plan! In the later miles, it gets really hard and that's when the brain needs to take over.


 A good day is a day that I get to run!


Do you prefer long or short distance runs more

I prefer mixing it up. Some days, I only have time for a short run and that will suffice. Other days, I'll reach a point in my run and decide I've had enough. Other days, I'll just see how far I can go! When I'm following a training plan, I absolutely stick to the plan unless I am injured. I like it all.


What is your approach to coaching

I aim to pass on my love of running. We always have an objective for the day, no matter if it is a hard day or a recovery day. I always want my athletes to know what they need to get out of the workout that day. Sometimes I'm hard on my girls, but I also show that I care about them. It seems to work pretty well!


The rhythm of physical movement excites the rhythm within of our spirit. Just a Stacy’s love for the run has excited her love of exploring and coaching. 


If you are interested in private label Stelari gear for your studio or team, let us know. Send us an email at hello@stelari.com.

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