Alicia Shay- Emotional Stress is Powerfully Destructive in Your Body

As runners, we know we’re passionate about our sport and our community.

We offer great support for one another, but sometimes it can be hard to accept that support ourselves.

How many of us ignore pain because we don’t want to be seen as weak?

I know I’m guilty of constantly trying to be “the strong one”, and that’s why I brought on Alicia Shay as my guest today.

She’s a professional long-distance runner and coach, and she has first-hand experience with the effects pain and grief can have on our entire body.

When her husband Ryan Shay suddenly and unexpectedly died in the middle of his marathon run, Alicia turned to running as a way to avoid and ignore her physical and emotional pain.

These tough times took a toll on her body and her emotional well-being, and it took 4 years for her to be able to run professionally again. We all like to think of ourselves as the exception, as stronger than the next, but none of us are the exception.

Each of us deserve to be in the best health possible, and that means listening to our bodies.

We can’t avoid acknowledging the stress and the pain of what we’re going through.


To help us recognize that, here are some of the topics we’ll discuss today:

  • What it’s like to be a professional long-distance runner
  • How to overcome injuries and make running fun again
  • How to stay strong by acknowledging your weaknesses
  • The danger of emotional and physical stress on your body
  • A glimpse into the Run Smart project and Jack Daniels
  • What it’s like to live and run in Flagstaff, AZ

Questions Alicia is asked:

3:56 How did you get into running after rodeos?

6:20 Did horseback riding effect your running in any way?

8:07 What do you have to say about the running community?

9:35 What’s your experience as a professional long-distance running?

12:35 How did your injuries suck all the fun out of running?

13:55 Did your injuries help you be a better coach?

16:00 How did your friends and fellow runners help your healing process?

17:55 Was it hard to go from running to coaching?

20:00 What is your story of Ryan Shay?

27:00 How did grief interrupt your healthy training process?

31:20 Can you give some advice to other runners going through trauma?

33:55 Why is over-training so dangerous?

37:12 Did grief change your feelings toward running?

39:04 What gave you strength during recovery?

42:09 When did you start working with Jack Daniels?

44:01 What is the Run Smart project?

46:59 How did your develop your own coaching program?

48:22 What are your new running retreats?

51:05 Why are these retreats so beneficial for runners?

55:00 The Final Kick Round!

Quotes by Alicia:

“I’m still running and racing, and now coaching.”

“It’s not just about you doing your best, it’s about this collective entity. And you’re a better version of yourself when you’re in that kind of environment.”

“I think I was trying to be tough about it and not really talk about it or whine or be weak, and I don’t think I really expressed to the people around me how bad I felt, so all they saw was this decline without knowing why.”

“Coaching is 50% helping people work toward their goals, but it’s also 50% connecting with people…and being their fan.”

“I did it partly because I didn’t know what else to do…Running was the one thing that was constant and familiar…but when I started using it to run my emotions away, that became very detrimental.”

“It’s good and important to let other people into your life that really have the ability to give you strength.”

“Physical stress can really take a toll, but emotional stress is the impact of physical stress times 100…it can be so powerfully destructive in your body.”

“If I learned one thing from Ryan’s loss it’s that life is very precious and very fleeting, and you have to make the most of the opportunity, and the relationships, and the time that you’re given.”

The real story behind the passing of Ryan Shay in the marathon Click To Tweet

Take a Listen on Your Next Run

Want more awesome interviews and advice? Subscribe to our iTunes channel


Mammoth Track Club

Lauren Fleshman

Alicia Shay Coaching & Nutrition

Alicia on Facebook

Run Smart with Jack Daniels

Alex Hutchinson Blog

We really hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Run to the Top.

The best way you can show your support of the show is to share this podcast with your family and friends and share it on your Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media channel you use.

If more people who know about the podcast and download the episodes, it means I can reach out to and get through to the top running influencers, to bring them on and share their advice, which hopefully makes the show even more enjoyable for you!

Thank you to our sponsors for supporting Run to the Top

Enter to win a FREE 6-Pack of Perfect Amino from BodyHealth


Use coupon code TINA for 10% off at


Have a running friend who would love this? Share it...

Connect with Jeff Gaudette on Google+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Adding new comments is only available for RunnersConnect Insider members.

Already a member? Login here Want to become an Insider for free?.Register here