Kimberle Smith Austin 5 Straight Years of Running
Each month we meet so many different types of runners who are beyond awesome. Especially exciting are those known as the run streakers. I have a running joke of my longest run streak is 6 days. Each time I think about putting together a run streak, life tends to win every time or I’ll usually procrastinate until the very last minute and end up not running. As we dive deeper into this magazine I continue to meet runners that are a true inspiration, showing so much determination and focus on getting their daily runs in no matter what. This month, Mid Strike has the pleasure of speaking with Kimberle Smith Austin, a native of California with a current run streak, last we checked of ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE (1,825) DAYS IN A ROW of at least 1 mile every day. Her run streak is definitely humbling me.
MSM: Not sure where to start as all I can really say is wow. We’ve seen streaks of 1000 days and a few hundred days here and there but one that spans five whole years is amazing. Let’s go back to before day one. Back in 2014 what was your run journey like prior to the run streak?
Kimberle: I was an avid runner and would usually run four-to-five days a week…I thought people who ran every day were insane. I also said why would someone want to run every day and how did they do it? It just didn’t make sense to me until it became my world. Although I run every day, I don’t run hard every day. I train like I coach and believe it is important to mix up your workouts and treat your body well. With that in mind, some days I go all out, and some days are easy runs. This was a huge change for me because when I was a young runner, I believed I had to go hard every day but over time on the pavement, advanced training, and working with clients, I learned how to get more with less. I am a huge fan of run slow to run fast. This methodology has helped me make major gains in my training, but it has also kept me on the pavement day after day without any injuries.
MSM: As you were already a runner prior to starting the run streak, do you feel already having that runner’s mindset helped prepare you for this streak journey going on five years?
Kimberle: No, it didn’t because I was a casual runner and it was a part of my workout regimen. I believe there’s a difference between running being a part of your workout and a person who actually identifies themselves as a runner. I always saw myself as an athlete who runs but that changed when I recognized that people saw me as a runner. I began to really embrace that identity when I became a pacer and then, run ambassador for lululemon. It was at that time that I really started to focus on my capabilities as a runner. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a triathlete, hiker and martial artist (3rd black belt) but running is a part of my core and a big part of who I am. It always has been, and I think I just needed to accept that title for myself. So, to answer your question, it wasn’t initially the runner’s mindset, my mindset has always been one of fighter, an athlete, and one that committed to the end.
MSM: Normally some folks that are on a run streak tend to have months that are slightly above normal. Correct me if I am wrong but did I see 517 total miles for the month of May?
Kimberle: Yes, that is correct. I ran 517 miles that month and felt like I could have done more. I started the month with eight miles on the 1st and 10 on May 2nd and decided to follow the days of the month to finish out the month. This decision came as a result of my desire to support the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice. As you know, 2020 was not a normal year. For the last eight years I have hosted the Memorial Day 5K, 10K & Kids 1K Run, and this year, it just wasn’t possible because of the shutdowns. Since this race has become a tradition for many in my community, I made the decision to make it a virtual race.
“There were many days I didn’t want to do it but I did it anyway, which is what I define as the difference between being interested and being committed. When you are interested, you do it when it’s convenient. But when you are committed, you do it no matter what – come hook or crook. It is a non-negotiable”.
Kimberle Smith Austin
MSM: For our readers I feel like I HAVE TO put those May numbers up, 12 days looked like this…20 miles, 21 miles, 22 miles, 23 miles, 24 miles, 25 miles, 26 miles, 27 miles, 28 miles, 29 miles, 30 miles and then the final 31 miles. How??? And how many run sneakers did you go through on this streak?
Kimberle: How you ask? One day at a time. When I made the decision to run the days of the month, the last 12 days kind of scared me and I asked myself “can I?” Although I didn’t have the answer, I was willing to give it a try. I knew Day 1 – 20 would be doable because I have done back-to-back long distances before, but could I do twelve (12) 20+ milers in a row? My mind recalled the previous events and reminded me of previous victories. I thought back to my training for my first 50K and 50-mile ultramarathons, I would run 20+ milers on both Saturday and Sunday to prepare for the event. In addition, I ran three marathons within 14 days in which I drove from Oregon to Nevada to Colorado, two marathons back-to-back across the country (Idaho to Hawaii), and oh the long training for my Ironman’s, but somehow, I saw this differently.
In terms of sneakers, I have a large collection of shoes and I rotate my shoes daily to ensure both my feet and the shoes get the rest and support needed. With that, I actually didn’t have to buy any additional shoes to support this effort.
MSM: You’ve essentially been running heavy mileage. Honestly, I have to say the amount of amazement I’m showing as I am writing this is awesome. How have you managed to keep your body strong, withstanding the pounding each day?
Kimberle: I am passionate about nutrition which for me is plant-based nutrition and powerful supplementation. I suffered from arthritis from childhood and it has been my mission to keep it at bay so I can enjoy life at the next level. About 25 years ago, I decided to pursue the path of nutrition and fitness and within five years, I started earning my certification in nutrition, personal training, running and martial arts. During the early years of this process, I decided my first client would be ME. As a college professor and naturally inquisitive person, I began doing my research and learned several things that led me to where I am today. I learned key things about nutrition that taught me that when you give your body the nutrition that it needs, it will heal itself and operate at its peak. This concept intrigued me so much that I went on a mission.
MSM: Essentially it seems that you’ve been able to pop right into a marathon ease if one came around. How many have you run during this run streak?
Kimberle: I have run several marathons, but I haven’t done a good job of keeping up with the numbers. I just keep moving my feet with the goal of finishing the race. As a pacer, I have crossed many finish lines across the US. In fact, in late 2016 after only running two marathons, I made a crazy decision that I wanted to run all 50 states by my 50th birthday which was October 1st, but COVID happened and stopped me in my tracks. Despite the break, I am committed to continuing my journey to 50 once the world opens back up. In the meantime, I’ll just keep on running.
MSM: Marathon training isn’t for the faint of heart, you’re either dialed in or just going through the motions as a runner where on race day some will just feel their way through it. You seem to be able to dial it up a notch. Was this something that you were always able to do prior to 2014 or has the run streak helped you to lock into that next threshold mentally?
Kimberle: I have been a runner since I was 9 years old. However, I would only run a few days a week and never ever over three to five miles. In 2011, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and was forced to stop running to recover and allow my body to heal after my surgery. During that time, I was forced to walk and started training a group of women to walk, which I knew once I was cleared to run, I would take the willing on the pavement with me. I launched my company Made2BFit and one of my first programs was my group running program “WalkRunRace.” My mission was to take people from the seat to the street.
MSM: I like to say that with running, or anything fitness, life has a tendency to creep up and destroy all the plans a person may have in place. How have you managed to navigate this streak through life’s unpredictabilities?
Kimberle: Things will always happen but when I made the decision, I was committed to the end. In [another] recent interview, I was asked how I could maintain this for so long. My answer is simple: I made the commitment to just one mile a day and 99% of the time I did more but I knew I was only committed to one. With that in mind, if life is happening around me, I could steal away for as long as 12 minutes if I wanted to do an easy run or six minutes if I was on my A-game. Now that I’ve framed it up that way, could you do it? Could you set aside 6-12 minutes each day for you. For your physical health and mental health? Absolutely. What I found is that one mile was a warm-up and would get me pumped up to do more. This is how I’ve run almost 15,000 miles in the last 5 years.
There were many days I didn’t want to do it but I did it anyway which is what I define as the difference between being interested and being committed. When you are interested, you do it when it’s convenient. But when you are committed, you do it no matter what – come hook or crook. It is a non-negotiable.
To give you a little insight on what I mean by that, there were times when I ran one mile in heels, a dress, or had to jump on the treadmill at 11:45 pm at night (my rule was I had to get my miles in before midnight and 11:45 qualified). Interestingly enough, many of those 11:45 pm runs wouldn’t end until 1:00 am in the morning because the run started feeling good and I kept going.
“My inspiration comes from my faith and from those that I am entrusted to serve. I am inspired every day from the word of God. I love connecting with the word and learning about his plan and purpose for my life”.
Kimberle Smith Austin
MSM: Having such a streak must have an understanding from those you love. The support system is a must, without it I’m sure it would be a struggle. How have family and friends been supportive?
Kimberle: My family has been very supportive of me. Initially, they didn’t understand what I was doing but they watched my pattern of consistency and eventually began to support my journey. I remember my teenage son telling me on many occasions that I didn’t have to run because he said it was my choice. He had a great point, but I always told him that my commitment to my word was more important than how I felt at the moment. My commitment to my word has kept me marching forward day after day. This streak has been more than a physical thing, it has been mental, and it has allowed me to teach my son lessons about the power of a decision, dedication, discipline, determination and life in general. When I started this five years ago, I had no idea how this would transform my life and those around me.
MSM: What’s been the hardest day that you’ve faced on this streak?
Kimberle: Most of my days are filled to the brim and my time is thin because I am running (literally) two businesses, teaching at the university, actively volunteering, and involved in my local community. As you might imagine, every day is truly a struggle. However, I made a decision a long time ago to put my health on the top of the list and with that in mind, my time on the pavement is for me. I have learned to embrace and do the hard things. I decided to begin the streak because it was hard, not because it was easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. After five years on the pavement day after day, it has become easier, but it only became that way because I embraced the HARD.
MSM: You’re not only a runner but you’re also a health and life coach, certified nutritionist, run coach and a personal trainer. You’re very well balanced and versed when it comes to everything fitness. One thing I feel that is very overlooked as a runner for us is proper nutrition. We can be as athletic as possible, yet our insides can essentially look like trash. One of my favorite sayings is visceral fat is a killer, something that is overlooked. What advice would you give to us runners that can run well but don’t follow that up with a good diet?
Kimberle: I’m going to be a little cliche and say, “We are what we eat,” if you want to be fitter, faster and stronger, you have to eat the things that will allow you to become just that. I used to eat any and everything that passed my lips. However, in my late 20’s, I started exploring how food made me feel and how it impacted my body which is when I sought out more education and began my certification process. At that time, I started cutting out a lot of things from my diet and creating a new norm. It was challenging at first because I still craved all of the fatty, greasy foods and junk. I ate that way for what seemed like forever. I have always been an athlete and believed I could eat anything I wanted. True, not true.
I wanted more for my health and body and I noticed that I had performed better when I ate clean and stayed hydrated. This led me to explore becoming a vegetarian then eventually completely plant based. I read an article and did an enormous amount of research that led me to this decision. I want to be able to work out and experience the shortest recovery with the least amount of pain and this plant-based diet has allowed me to do so. My inflammation levels are low to non-existent and plants process differently through your body than meat. When I discovered this years ago, I went all in and there is no turning back. To be honest, I do miss chicken from time to time but not enough to sacrifice what I experience today.
Nutrition is everything. If you can find a good diet to support your lifestyle and top it off with quality supplementation that provides you with key nutrients for the things that we miss in our everyday diet like probiotics, vitamin d, magnesium, potassium, electrolytes and a host of other key herbs, you will be able to run forever.
MSM: I’m sure you are an inspiration to many but where does Kimberle Smith get her inspiration from?
Kimberle: My inspiration comes from my faith and from those that I am entrusted to serve. I am inspired every day from the word of God. I love connecting with the word and learning about his plan and purpose for my life.
MSM: You’ve done so much during this run streak: three marathons in 14 days, a BQ (qualifying for the Boston Marathon) with a 13-minute cushion, along with helping many others on their journeys. Do you ever take a step back to take everything in with your accomplishments?
Kimberle: Why yes, I do. I am an achievement-focused person and every time I reach a new height; I stand in awe because of what the mind and body is capable of. I’m grateful because God gives me the strength to endure and finish the race. The race being anything that has come before me in this lifetime. There are many days that I still say “WOW, I did that.” I say that because many of the things that I have accomplished were not goals of mine just some short years ago but what I have discovered about myself is that once I achieve success, it becomes addictive and I want to see what else I could do. I remember thinking a marathon was a stretch and an Ironman was unachievable, and a 50 miler was not even in my thoughts. Yet, I stand having accomplished all of that and so much more. I truly believe “Anything is Possible” and if that is the case, I’m willing to go for it.
MSM: One of your biggest challenges came over eight years ago as a cancer survivor. What were some of your thoughts when you were diagnosed? Being a person that’s into fitness was the mindset already there to fight it head-on? Being a cancer survivor is this something you’ve carried into your current lifestyle, to live every moment to the fullest and attack your goals and achieve them?
Kimberle: I remember the day I received the diagnosis; I totally didn’t expect to hear the words that came from the doctor’s mouth, “You have cancer.” I hesitated, paused, and took probably one of the biggest breathes ever. Despite what he said, I knew I would be a survivor and that cancer would not be the death of me. I have survived so many things in my life and I believed this cancer diagnosis would be no different. God’s word told me that “I am a conqueror” and that he had a plan and purpose for my life. With that I marched forward and continued. Better yet, I watched him “expand my territory” and fill me up so I could be a beacon of light in the world around me.
“I am a very achievement focused person and every time I reach a new height; I stand in awe because of what the mind and body is capable of. I’m grateful because God gives me the strength to endure and finish the race”.
Kimberle Smith Austin
MSM: What are some of the things you are able to keep yourself accountable each day?
Kimberle: My word is my bond. I have been tempted by many to skip the run but like I told most of them, it was a simple commitment I made to myself that I want to keep. I changed my mindset from I have to do it to I GET TO DO IT. It is a privilege. I say this because so many can’t because of physical limitations, or many have tried and didn’t continue for whatever reason. The thought that “I can” keeps me accountable and I want to create a legacy of health and success within my community and I believe the best way to do it is by my example. #walkthewalk
MSM: Do you see this run streak coming to an end anytime soon? I feel like you have to keep it going as long as possible, especially after five years.
Kimberle: I am going to keep going until I can’t go anymore. It is a huge part of my life now and I couldn’t imagine not taking that daily journey.
MSM: What can our readers look forward to from coach Kimberle Smith Austin?
Kimberle: I’m so glad that you asked that. I have a mission to help at least 1 million people Get Up, Get Active and Get Moving through a project I started in 2014 called “The Mile Experiment”. This is when this whole thing started. I put on a “One Mile A Day” challenge to help our corporate and community-based partners stay healthy during the holiday season. The challenge ran from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day and we encouraged people to walk, run, hike, and even swim to give the “MOVEMENT” in. At the onset of the challenge, walking a mile a day doesn’t sound like an overwhelming goal — and for somebody who is just starting out on their journey to physical fitness, it’s an easy, achievable minimum to shoot for. However, I found the first year to be challenging. It wasn’t because the distance was challenging, it was because of the lack of planning when I would put in the work.
Planning is essential in every aspect of life. However, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Every day, I knew it was on the agenda, but I didn’t make it a priority and therefore it became a tedious task and something that created frustration. With that in mind, my only desire was to get it over and done with. New Year’s Day couldn’t come soon enough and when it did, I was so done! I completed the challenge with no desire to do it again.
Well, Thanksgiving 2015 was coming around the corner and I looked at my planning calendar and there it was: The Mile Experiment. Instead of dread, there was a bit of excitement that I felt. This year, I was determined to do things differently so that I enjoyed the challenge and grew in the process. Wow! What a difference “one decision” can make. My mind-shift allowed me to finish the challenge well, so well that I have continued “The Mile Experiment” and at this time I have been running for over five years every single day. During this time, my life has changed. One mile a day has improved our mental and physical health and showed us that anything is possible.
Since I have experienced life at the next level, I decided to reach out and invite others to join me on my journey. The Mile Experiment has brought together people from all over the world committing to their health and wellness to take them to places that they never thought possible. I love helping people experience life at the next level and I want to invite all of the readers to join me on the journey and join the movement – one mile at a time. You can see more at strava.com/clubs/themileexperiement
MSM: Normally I’d ask if there are any last words that folks would like to share but in this case I think we could all use a ‘Real Talk Tuesday’ kind of finish. With that being said I will leave the floor to you.
Kimberle: Life is short and I am passionate about enjoying every moment of it. In doing so, I live by one of my mantras – Walk with Purpose, Run with Heart, and Race to the FINISH! No matter where you are in life, set your mind and heart on living life on purpose and FINISH STRONG!
- Coach Kimberle
- Made2BFit Running
- Kimberle Smith Austin Facebook
- Kimberle Smith Austin Instagram
- Made2Inspire Podcast
- Millions of Possibilities