SPOTLIGHT: MELISSA CANCIO- Motivation, Mindset, and Marathon Training

Spotlight: Melissa Cancio

Blog: Plane and Cheesy

Socials: @melissacancio

Degree Track: Masters of Business Administration

Super excited to welcome Melissa on as a Spotlight in the Generation Ziz community! As always, our spotlights are young professionals who are absolutely killing the game in some way or form, are relatable, and whose story can inspire anyone that visits this page.

Originally from Miami, Florida, Melissa shares her love for travel, food and everything in between! Keeping up with her adventures on Instagram and through her blog Plane and Cheesy, I have also followed Melissa on her journey as she continues to train for a half and full marathon. Yes… all during a pandemic too. How? Let’s find out.

Originally signing up for the 2020 Naperville Women’s Half Marathon and the Chicago Marathon, her journey actually began in December of 2019. One of her friends had wanted to run a full marathon before turning 30, so she hopped on the same wagon and made it her goal too! Did she have any idea what she was getting into? Not really. She never really considered herself a “runner,” but always loved the feeling of escape. Deep diving into all the research, she connected with people who already ran such distances, and went ALL IN.

Since she started pre-pandemic, she went into marathon-mode in December 2019. She started off with 3-mile runs and progressed from there. She used a plan to make things easier, but now uses an app to track what she wants to do and her progress. Make sure to check out her marathon training post here if you are looking for some inspiration around your training plan!

If you’re thinking how one could possibly keep up with the motivation to run during a pandemic, I asked the same! Melissa was on a MISSION. Especially since she started training in 2019, her first race was scheduled for April of 2020 and she wanted to complete the races before her quarter life crisis at 25 (same girl!)

The Naperville Women’s Half Marathon was obviously cancelled, but she still didn’t let that stop her. She even flew home to be with her family in South Florida and still ran 3-4 times a week (even waking up around 4:00 AM to do her long runs on the weekend).

“It is ok to lose energy because we don’t run on 100% every hour of the day. Take hours, days or weeks off, but never lose sight of the goal you set for yourself.”

Fully committed to this goal, Melissa also incorporated other healthy lifestyle changes and changed her own habits. She lost almost 40 pounds by the end of her first semester in grad school. Joining Orange Theory, Melissa said it was the best experience she could’ve gotten. As someone who didn’t know what to do in a gym and always feeling intimidated, she took advantage and worked out five to six times a week, fell in love with the staff, and the progress she saw in her journey. Need inspo for healthy lifestyle changes? She’s got your back in this post!

Although life paused for Melissa around July, through it all she has still decided to complete this goal in 2021, and I find her motivation and dedication so inspiring! She has picked training back up now in preparation for the 2021 Naperville Women’s Half Marathon in April. Go Melissa!

What would be your advice to anyone starting their running journey? 

I would do a little research before signing your life away like I did. I didn’t really know anything about running that type of long distance, so if you’re just starting out, make it a point to start with 5k’s, 10k’s, fun runs. 

  • Don’t overwork yourself, running is actually a lot of work/training. Rain or shine or snow, I’ll run!
  • Look for a training plan or app that helps you keep track. To run/workout, I use the Nike Run Club or Runkeeper. It also keeps track of how many miles you’ve put into your shoes. For a marathon plan, I have a few PDF’s I can share or Run with Hal has been recently helpful! It’ll calculate the plan to how much weight you want to lose, what you want to run, when you want to complete it and it’s all FREE!
  • Choose to maintain your eating habits and drink lots of water! They say drinking ounces more than half your body weight is the goal. 
  • If you’re serious, prioritize your runs. Take a friend, ask someone to bike, roller blade, skateboard, scooter, etc with you! There’s not a lot of runners out there, but there will always be those people who want to be active. 
  • Have fun with it!! It has been my escape for a while now, so I definitely recommend it if you just want some fresh air or a way to stay active.

What are some ways you recommend to stay positive during a difficult time?

“To stay positive is a mindset. One thing that has helped me so much is that every time I think or speak or type, I make it a positive note before I speak, send or publish to anyone/anything. If you do it for a few days, you’ll get the hang of it. 

I started with Twitter. Every time I went to write something, if it wasn’t positive, I didn’t post it. Sounds cliche to think, but it helped me a lot. Another thing I love to do is write reminders of what you like about yourself. I would spend about half an hour at the beginning of the year and write small phrases or quotes in my calendar throughout the year to keep me grounded. It’s truly the little things in life!”

Who inspires you?

A Melissa Cancio Original!

“Honestly, my mom inspires me to be a better friend, sister, cousin, and just all around person. She has instilled in me to be prudent in everything I do and I truly work myself towards that. I also love being personable and catching up with friends, because I see her do it all the time. She’s my number one cheerleader, the person I call about five times a day just to talk about life, and my absolute best friend.” 

If there is something else Melissa can’t live without, it’s definitely CHOCOLATE! An addiction? More of a necessity (same girl, same). She also has quite an impressive sock collection… over 200 pairs with different designs! I can’t even be sure I would be able to keep them together at that point!

Make sure to follow Melissa’s blog, and keep up with her adventures on Instagram too! As I will also be training for a half marathon this year, I’m definitely inspired to have fun with it this year and can’t wait until I cross the finish. Thank you Melissa for sharing your story, we are supporting you all the way!!


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