Stephanie Violett Talks Western States 2018

Stephanie Violett finished Western States 2018 as 6th woman after a rocky spring of training. She was in 2nd until mile 80 when she unknowingly partially tore her VMO (one of four quad muscles). We caught up with her during post-race recovery to talk about the race and what's next! 


You tackled an extremely hard race early this spring which surprised you with its intensity and landed you in the hole with an Achilles issue. Can you walk us through that realization and recovery?
Ugh. Peru. It rocked my world, and not in a good way. Honestly much of it was due to poor preparation on my part. I sort of thought I could waltz in and “run” the 50 miles like no big deal. In US races I can totally do this, but not in South America races! Part of what appeals to runners and RDs in South America is making the most difficult course as possible. And Peru was no joke. The 80k (50 miles) can 12,000 ft of climbing and took me 13 hours. 13 hours!!! I’ve run longer races in much less time. The race also began at 2am and was hot as hell. I could have wrung out my shirt at 2am from sweat. And it only got hotter as the sun came up. And only 10 people finished. 

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But I digress. Every run is an opportunity, and I definitely took away some lessons (or I’m hoping anyway). I don’t regret racing, but it was a stark reminder that the body is not invincible. I had a really rocky spring because I just couldn’t get my body back in form. Hindsight I probably should have taken 3-4 weeks off post-race, but I didn’t know that at the time. 

My recovery and return to running was really slow. I did a lot of biking between March-June, with running interspersed. I took two full weeks off of running, but it didn’t really seem to help my Achilles heal. They are tricky buggers! What ultimately seemed to help it recover was Astym. I don’t think that’s the cure for all Achilles, but mine is a chronic itis and mostly nerve inflammation. They just needed to learn to calm the f$% down. 

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Any particular meditations or videos helpful in your recovery?
I did the 5-Minute Resets a lot. Particularly for the feet and calves. They were really helpful for me to move through the range of motion. It didn’t always feel great, particularly on my feet, but I think the videos were really helpful!

You knew you’d run WS100 if you were healthy regardless of the buildup. How were you feeling mentally and physically as you came into race?
Race week, I felt totally ready. I was a little nervous in the months prior because I was running a lot less than previous years. Once you get to race week there’s no use in second guessing your training. I was able to shrug off the imperfect build up and go into race week confident. And I actually felt really good physically! I had a sense of calm the night before the race, which is always a good sign.

What’s the word you’d use to describe the day right now?
Decent.

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WS100 2018 Highest High?
Feeling amazing literally the entire day. I nailed my nutrition and managed the heat really well. My race was perfect for 80 miles. Most of the photos of me I’m smiling. I truly felt that great!

WS100 Lowest Low?
I (partially) tore my VMO around mile 80, and really suffered the last 20 miles. I couldn’t run down hill, and watched as runner after runner passed me. It was really a bummer because the rest of me felt amazing. I went from 2nd to 6th in this stretch. It’s really hard to accept defeat after running 80 miles really well, only to have people continue to pass me over the last section. It’s sort of equivalent to being passed in the last mile of a marathon, or being out-sprinted at the finish of a track race. But, I was happy that I still held on for a decent finish. I’ll be back again next year!

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Biggest surprise?
How great I felt off less training. I think it’s easy to compare ourselves to what others are doing, or even what we’ve done in the past. But, more is not always better! There was only ONE week leading up to WS that I was able to run 6 days in a row. I had some big runs for sure, but nothing near the mileage I’ve done in the past. And during the race I felt amazing! It was great positive reinforcement that I don’t need to go crazy with training. In this case less was definitely more!

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Your next big event is in late August (UTMB), what will you do between now and then to prepare?
I need to heal my quad first. Right now I can do much but hop around on crutches with #tinytim (the name for my injury). I’m feeling better each day, so it’s keeping me positive. I can swim…..so there’s that. I just need to get my butt to the pool  Once I’m more mobile I’ll start hiking with my poles to prepare for the steep terrain in Chamonix. I head over on July 23rd, so not too long from now. Yay croissants!

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