The runner dishes on why recovery is just as important as hard workouts and how she prepped to compete in the NYC Marathon this year.
Photo: Stephanie Bruce
Elite marathoner Stephanie Bruce is a busy lady. Professional runner, business woman, wife, and mom to her three- and four-year-old sons, Bruce might seem like a superhuman on paper. But just like everyone else, Bruce gets intimidated by hard workouts and needs plenty of recovery time to keep up with her intense training schedule.
“I was very fortunate this training block to partner up with BedGear,” she says. “It changed the game for me in terms of sleeping, because as a marathon runner and a mom, I need to wake up with energy every day. I need to get [the boys] breakfast and get them out the door.”
This is 34. This is delayed bedtimes, early wake ups. This is @bbjamin15 and I getting in 22 miles (with @kellyn_taylor) this morning before I take off for Chicago for the @fleetfeetchicago Breaking Through the Wall event tomorrow afternoon. This is missing my family on all the business trips and races. This is what I wake up everyday for. This life.
BedGear, which customizes bedding like mattresses and pillows, played an integral role in her recovery, the Hoka One One runner explains. “Some people are side sleepers, some people are back sleepers, some people prefer different temperatures," she says. You get fitted for your running shoes—why not get fitted for your bedding?
Boy, does she need all the rest she can get. Between throwing down big workouts and balancing everyday mom life with husband, Ben Bruce, Stephanie is a vocal advocate for body acceptance of all shapes and sizes in the running community.
When returning to the running world after having her kids, Bruce encountered some criticism of her post-baby body. After giving birth to her sons, she has some extra skin on her stomach, which sparked some confusion—and unnecessary criticism—from online followers who weren't familiar with common changes a woman's body experiences during and after pregnancy. “There’s so much talk about body image but people aren’t talking about what our bodies do for us.”
The hashtag that gets under her skin? #Strongnotskinny. “I would love to see a shift to ‘What my body does,’ regardless of weight. A lot of runners are lean and that’s what happens when you run 120 miles a week,” she explains. “I want the girls in high school to see [lean body types] and not want to be that thin, but to aspire to train as hard as they can. If their body leans out in a healthy way then that’s great, but if it doesn’t, then that’s great, too.”
Bruce’s body can do a lot. Like, a whole lot. The power-mom won the U.S. 10 km Championships at the Peachtree Road Race in Georgia this past spring. This win–and her recent other accolades–is a reflection of years of hard work to return to the sport. Perhaps most refreshing, she isn’t hung up on her old pre-mom training style or race times.
22 miles this am with a 4 mile push at the end @ marathon effort: 5:48, 5:47, 5:43, 5:42. 107 miles last week 8 hours of IKEA assembly with @jenrosario13. Getting a swift kick in the pants reminder of what marathon training feels like again Let’s get to it @nycmarathon! #timetofly #keepittight #nazelite #7000ft @naz_elite @hokaoneone @procompression @pickybars
“It took me so long to get back to the level where I pushed myself physically,” she reflects. “Those first two years were survival mode and getting some training in without hurting myself. After I got over that hump of not getting hurt, [I wanted to see] how far and how much can I run.”
Just like any new-ish mom restarting a fitness routine, Bruce needed time to familiarize herself with her new body. “I would tell moms to take their time and not compare their old selves to their post-baby selves,” she says. “You’re a different human physically and emotionally and whatever you accomplish after having a baby is amazing in itself.”
And while Bruce hunkers down before race day, she’ll be focusing on her “why.” Recently she’s posting to her Insta-feeds about her mantra of “grit.” She took some major takeaways from the book Grit: Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.
“Duckworth defined grit as resisting complacency. For me, [that translated to] why I’m chasing these goals and getting all these miles in,” she shares. “The reason is simple: it’s pursuing for the sake of pursuing and seeing how good I can be. This is the one avenue in my life that I can control, what I put into running is what I get out.”
In that case, we have a feeling she'll be getting a lot out of the marathon this Sunday.
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