By Carolyn Mather
Stephanie Bruce enters Bolder Boulder today (Monday, May 27) and the New York Mini 10K next week riding the best run of success of her ten-year career as a professional runner, and she’s in fantastic shape. The last time Bruce ran Bolder Boulder was in 2017 and she took eighth place in 34:35. Bruce was not scheduled to race the BB 10K, but wanted to do so and got in at the last minute. Today she finished in 34:40.
Bruce graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara where she was a two-time All American, a multiple-time conference Champion in cross-country and track, and was the Big West Athlete of the year in 2006. She holds the school record for 10,000 meters at 33:23.33. Her professional running career began ten years ago and at age 35, she is reaching the pinnacle of her career.
I had the privilege of spending some time with Steph the night before she won her second national title at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon and I saw her win her first national title at the USATF national 10K championship last July. Steph runs at all distances and on all surfaces. She told me she does not train for any specific surface but mixes it up all the time to give her a variety of venues. The past six months she has raced from the marathon to cross-country to indoor and outdoor track to the roads. In mixing it up she made her second world team and went to Denmark to place first American at world cross in Denmark.
Steph believes that if she gets the most out of herself in a race then she is a winner. She has improved continually over this past year setting PR’s at all distances and types of races. Being 35, she sees every race as an opportunity to improve and promote running. Steph is one of the most down-to-earth runners I have ever met. She is married to professional runner Ben Bruce and has two boys, Riley and Hudson, ages three and four to take the focus off of herself and give her “Mom strength.” She travels to many races and wants to focus on her boys as much as possible when home as every trip takes her away from her children.
Steph sees her improvement as a building process over the past ten years and she credits much of her success to her HOKA NAZ Elite team, her coach Ben Rosario, her husband, and the support that Hoka gave her throughout her pregnancies and continues to do. Her team’s motto is to train hard and race fearlessly. They push each other and three of the ladies, Steph, Aliphine Tuliamuk and Kellyn Taylor are definitely 2020 Olympic contenders. Each race they run is a stepping stone to 2020, as they train and live in Flagstaff at 7000 feet.
Steph has gained a great deal of self-confidence in recent years as she totally believes in her training. She had struggled with her confidence but has learned that the sooner you stop worrying about numbers, the better off you are. If you need to take a day or two off with a little niggle, it is much more productive than taking months off to recover from a niggle-induced injury. She definitely backs off with aches and pains. As a result she remains remarkably injury free. With her national 10K title she felt she finally belonged. After her win and PR in Pittsburgh, she told me she did not feel well during the race and if she could set a PR and win feeling badly, then she could really get it done when she had a good day. I watched her graciously talk with fans and share her love of our sport. She wears her stretch marks with pride and is an excellent role model for moms everywhere.
Stacking training blocks on top of each other has led to her consistency and since Aliphine Tuliamuk joined the team in January of 2018, Steph has upped her game. She has learned to see the big picture and give her best in training and racing. She and Aliphine raise the bar for each other and are close friends even when competing against each other. She has learned that no one can dominate all of the time but you try to be the best on the day. And Steph has PR’d at every distance since Aliphine joined the team.
Steph emphasized several times that recovery is more important than training. Since running is her job, she knows a sleep routine is essential and she and Ben are in bed by 9pm every night so she can get a minimum of eight hours sleep. She sacrifices a movie or television show to get her rest. Steph has celiac disease and has to watch every aspect of her nutritional intake. Actually her disease got her started on her Picky Bar company which she founded with Lauren Fleshman and Lauren’s husband. She takes B12 and iron but otherwise gets her nutrition from great smoothies made with gluten-free ingredients of the highest quality and lots of veggies and fruits. Before a race or workout, she drinks black coffee, has a Picky bar or two, perhaps some peanut butter and a bowl of white rice. She travels with her food supplies so she does not encounter any unpleasant digestive issues. After a hard workout she has some drink and food within 30 minutes, uses rollers to knead tightness out of her muscles, then she tries to get a nap and use her Normaltec boots on the highest setting, then she takes a warm bath with epsom salts. She gets weekly massages and has a chiropractic visit. She makes sure her easy runs are at a pace where she can carry on a full conversation. She uses gels, Gatorade, and water every 5K on long runs. She long ago realized that you do nothing new before a race or when traveling and you eat just like you do in training.
Steph has a full schedule ahead after the two 10Ks. She plans to do a 10,000 on the track and run a fall marathon. I think Steph has moved up on my list of serious contenders for 2020. She says this will be her final chance as she would like to have more children, work on her company, and continue coaching and mentoring upcoming athletes. At 35 Steph has put it all together.
Categories: Athlete Profiles