Need some motivation for the day? Meet one of the most accomplished runners in Charity Miles history, Heidi Stewart! We recently had the opportunity to speak to the ultramarathoner and fitness guru.
Heidi’s story begins in 2006, a year after her parents untimely deaths due to a pair of preventable diseases. “I weighed 270 pounds. I was always someone who was overweight, as long as I can remember. I never really thought that I would ever be someone who was thin, and in shape. After losing both my parents I knew I had to do something.”
Over the course of the next few years Heidi turned to walking and hiking, eventually joining a local gym. “It started out as just losing weight and somewhere along the line it became a totally different journey. Once I lost 130 pounds I realized I wanted to help other people who felt lost, unhealthy and completely discouraged like I used to feel.” Heidi’s fitness journey continued once she obtained multiple certifications through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She began working part-time as a personal trainer, ultimately transitioning into full time work as a trainer and nutritionist based out of Oxnard, California two years after initially building her business.
Heidi’s impressive list of qualifications includes being a Certified Personal Trainer, a Fitness Nutrition Specialist, a Pre-Post Natal Fitness and Nutrition Instructor, a Senior Fitness Instructor and a Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist in The Biomechanics Method. “I realized over the years that people tend to end up with the same injuries to their feet, knees, back, hips, shoulders, and other areas of the body caused mostly by sitting all day and made worse by exercising improperly. As a fully Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist in The Biomechanics Method I am able to help my clients not only prevent injury, but also rehab old injuries that may be preventing them from reaching their health and fitness goals.”
Nowadays Heidi holds the prestigious title of “ultramarathoner” (an ultra marathon is any marathon longer than 26.2 miles) after having completed over 20 ultra marathons! “I started with short 25k's and half marathon trail runs and quickly moved up to 50k's to 50 milers, 100Ks and all the way up to 100 miles. In 2017 I ran my first 100 mile race, San Diego 100. I finished in 26 hours and 25 minutes, and landed as the fifth female overall. I have since had two podium finishes.”
Although largely experienced in all running terrains she is particularly fond of trail running. “My true love is trail running. When I am on the trails, I am free. There is no better place to be. The mental strength that is required is one of my favorite parts. There is nothing better than overcoming that voice in your head that says, “I Can't”. It carries over to all aspects of life.”
Heidi’s relationship with running hasn’t always been a positive one, though. “I lost 130 pounds without running a single mile. I use to say the words, “I hate running. I am not a runner…I just don't have the body for it.” Excuses, fears. So I didn't run, I would hike and climb mountains but I had this constant need to continue to challenge myself. To do things that scare me, so five years ago I became a runner and it changed my life…I didn't think I could do it, it always seemed so hard to me. I knew I had to overcome this fear. I started with a 5k, then half marathons. I raced half marathons for a couple years, and got relatively fast with my best time a 1:49. Then I started training for distance, and worked my way up to several full marathons on the road including running the LA marathon twice with a 4:10.”
Heidi began using Charity Miles in April 2017. “I have logged almost 2,200 miles in my first year. An average run for me is about a 10K on the road, or 25K on the trails. I also use the app whenever I take my dog for a walk.” In regard to charity she routinely runs for the Special Olympics. “Sometimes I skip around to different charities, but most of my miles I run for the Special Olympics. I also like the World Food Organization as well as Back on My Feet”. When asked why she likes Charity miles opposed to other apps available to her she proclaimed “I like Charity Miles because it is always accurate, even when I ran my hundred mile race it logged every single mile!”
These days you can find Heidi training for her second 100 mile race, the Chimera 100 Mile taking place this upcoming November in the Cleveland National Forest! After 20 ultra-marathons you may wonder what motivates Heidi to keep on going. “I do these crazy distances to show my clients that anything is possible. I never dreamed I could run at all. I used to weigh 270 pounds, and would struggle to walk a mile. Now my body can do amazing feats! I run these races not only to become a stronger, better human, but to show my clients that anything is truly possible if you really want it. You just have to be willing to put in the work, the body is capable; it is the mind you have to convince.” What an inspiration!
You can contact Heidi at Info@heidistewartfitness.com
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