Stephanie Bruce (née Rothstein) is a professional runner for Oiselle, HokaOneOne, and part of the supergroup NAZ Elite. Always in the mix in distance running events, Stephanie’s successes on the roads are matched by those off, as co-founder of Picky Bars and role model to mother-athletes everywhere.
as originally posted on the Ben and Steph blog
My glass is always half full. It’s how I perceive the world, my life, my running, my family. Sometimes it’s full of wine, sometimes full of crap, and sometimes full of crazy busy schedules but it’s always half full. Seeing our glass as half full as oppose to half empty allows us to make sense of the hard days, invest ourselves in many talents, and be open to life taking a different turn than we expect.
I took a break after the Olympic Trials, soul searched through the peaks of Flagstaff, traveled to Santa Barbara for a 10 year college roommate reunion, put on our 2nd annual Running Camp in Flagstaff, sketched out and confirmed my fall racing season, and threw a 1 year old birthday party for Hudson. It’s been hectic at times but so worth every adventure.
When I began my professional running career I had a narrow mind and tunnel vision, as is the case in most goal-oriented ways of life. We choose a path, hop on it, and hope to God it steers us in the right direction. Yet we sometimes fail to acknowledge we have the power to steer the course in different directions.
On most mornings around 5-5:15 a.m. Ben and I are awakened to the sounds of “lalala, nah nah, mom, I’m all done, come get me”, or the occasional loud thumping of Riley’s legs banging the crib. We’ve usually decided the night before who will get up with the kids based on who is working out that morning or who is less wrecked from the last few days of training. It’s a 50/50 load but with a guy like Ben in your corner it often feels 60/40 (Ben/me). Bottles are made, milk poured, diapers changed, toys thrown everywhere and it’s barely 5:30 a.m. I will usually sneak away while they are distracted, grind some dark roast coffee and hit power. That feeling is enough to wake up my senses. Some mornings my body is achey all over from a 14 mile workout day and squatting down to change diapers is especially taxing if we had a strength session at Hypo2 the day before. The boys have no idea the training we do so each morning is the same to them and they have the same needs and demands regardless of how tired we are. That’s parenting.
An hour or so later the other parent emerges from “freedom” a.k.a our bed. We all eat our respective breakfasts from cereal to oatmeal to Picky Bars and begin the task of getting dressed. I don’t need to go into too much detail but just wait until you experience undressing and dressing a 1-2 year old… We load up the car, drop the boys at daycare and the real fun begins: training.
Before I had kids my typical training load landed between 75-85 miles a week, with a few strength days, massage, chiro appointments and many free hours of the day usually spent watching movies. Granted every pro at some point goes through this phase and it’s probably a necessary part of the job. Now with a family to take care of and our coaching biz I don’t have too many wasteful hours of the day. I came to that lifestyle choice on my own and although busy and tiring at times it’s a life worth pursuing. It’s not inspirational to train full time while being a parent, it’s inspirational to keep pursuing your dreams even when the road gets bumpy. I’ve seen that on countless occasions. My good friend Lauren Fleshman was one of the most decorated US runners in history and battled injuries for years only to have a surgery, it not pan out and she retired on her own terms. She gives back to the sport that broke her heart so selflessly. That’s inspirational. Olympian middle distance star Brenda Martinez hosted a contest a few years back and selected highschool girls to mentor at her running camp teaching them positive body image and healthy habits in our sport. That’s inspirational. Oiselle runners Becki Spellman and Sarah Robinson a.k.a MAC work full time, raise their 2 year olds and qualified for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials and Becki recently won the Akron Marathon in 2:51. My teammate Matt Llano came out as a gay male pro distance runner 2 years ago and his story continues to inspire those that may fear being truthful about themselves. That’s inspirational. Lastly distance stud Gabe Grunewald recently had cancer return and she underwent another surgery and is fighting her way back to normal life and eventually training. That my friends is inspirational.
I have witnessed so much in our sport that I’m hopeful I can leave it better than I started. Whether than means sharing my story for those interested in following, sharing my training specifics, instilling positive body image and hammering the importance of loving your body, advocating for a clean sport and life time ban for dopers, or coaching others to their potential dreams. I love this sport as a competitor, a fan, a critic, a cheerer, and a boat rocker. My perspective on my own recovery has changed over the years. I used to believe after a run you had to come straight home, lie horizontally for 6 hours until your next run, and stay off your feet at all costs. I do still believe recovery is the key to your success and progress as a runner but time commitments and responsibilities change our “free time”. I have a few key principles that regardless of how much time you have in the day, these have stayed true in my life and helped optimize recovery.
My takeaways in my career pre and post kids have always been:
- Eat 30 minutes post run/workout. Something/anything get it in your mouth.
- Pre-hab before rehab. Make time for massages and chiro appointment while you’re healthy to stay healthy. Invest the time and money in yourself.
- Don’t compare yourself or your training to others. Dream those big scary goals but put in the work necessary and appropriate for you today.
That brings me to some exciting news that just launched. I partnered with PRO Compression earlier this year and for the first time ever they allowed me to design my own sock. You can now wear special edition “SB” Stephanie Bruce socks with my mantra “Dream Big” sewn across the foot. I hope they empower you to go after your Dream goals and do the work daily that allows you to get there.
So where are things now? I’ve been training for about 6 weeks with a very gradual build up in mileage in order to work on strengthening my inner core that still needs work post partum, acknowledge my life circumstance (having 2 young kids), and let my body adapt to the training before it becomes more agressive. I will be writing a special post coming in a few weeks on what core reatraining plan I’ve been on and my progress on diastasis recti. The first 6 weeks I built to around 50-60 miles a week and then began ramping up over the past month as my racing plans have solidified. I am not without hiccups along the way but devoting extra time daily to all the little things has been paying off.
As a sneak peak of what I’ve been up yo you can check on my training on Final Surge. A few highlights have been my last 3 long runs where I built up to 16, 17, and 18 miles. These runs are at 7000ft and were simply about time on your feet as I haven’t run this long since 2013 before my 2 sons were born. I’ve started these runs around 7:20/7:30 pace and worked my way down to the last few miles in the 6-6:15 range. A comfortable steady clip for me. I’ve have the pleasure of meeting up with Sally Kipyego, Kenyan Olympic silver medalist at 2012 Games for most of my long runs. She is prepping for NYC Marathon. Last week I had my first structured workout, a longer fartlek session in Camp Verde. The idea was to run the ons at half marathon down to 10k effort and the offs steady easy run pace. The workout was 4,3,2,1 x 3 with 2 min rest after the 4, 3 and 1 min rest after the 2,1. My ons were between 5:30 and 5:05 pace and offs 6:40-7 min totaling 8 miles in 48 minutes.
Training is coming together and I’m beginning to finally feel the fatigue of the accumulating mileage and workouts. It is a welcomed feeling. I’ve been practicing taking fluids during long runs and seeing how my body responds to the ingestion of a carb solution mid run and mid workout. I’m preparing to put in the work, to fight on the hard days, and to suffer once again. You could say I’m preparing for the 26.2 mile beast but when and where you’ll have to wait and see….. muhahaha!
Thanks for reading guys! You make this journey a fun one.