Serious Sisu: Stevie Kremer
We recently caught up with American mountain runner, ski mountaineer and Grade 2 teacher, Stevie Kremer. Stevie found her running legs after completing college and has won major mountain running events across the globe including the Marathon du Mont Blanc in France in 2013 and the Ultra Matterhorn 46km Sky race in Switzerland in 2014. Stevie is a Salomon Running athlete and a teacher of Grade 2 in Crested Butte, Colorado. She was recently featured on Salomon Running TV in a 4 min film called The Teacher.
Who’s Stevie Kremer? How did she go from a college girl who didn’t run to a trail running champion?
I'm originally from Connecticut. I went to Colorado College in Colorado Springs and started running as a way to keep healthy. When I finished college, I completed my first running goal - the Boulder Backroads Marathon. It was a fun experience. I enjoyed running for a purpose, but I never thought I would become competitive. In fact, I only became a competitive runner four years after I moved to Crested Butte, Colorado, a small mountain town in the middle of the state. I found my love for running on trails, as they are everywhere in this town of 3,000 people. Before long I was convinced to enter in a local trail race, and that's what got me started!
Your first ever trail race you were “dead last”. Some might have given up. What was it about the experience that encouraged you to run more?
I was dead last, but I was dead last with a great friend of mine. Despite the result, it was such an accomplishment to finish an 11-mile trail race through very challenging mountain terrain. I was so happy and excited (running creates endorphins!!). Also, a neighbor of mine, who has consequently become one of my best friends, asked if I wanted to start running with her. Now I had the perfect combination - a love of running on mountain trails, and a wonderful person to run with.
What does a typical week of training look like for you? Does it change before a big event?
I don't follow a specific training plan. Typically I wake up around 5am and go running for about an hour. In the winter, this would be a one hour ski up the mountain. I then go to School, where I teach until 4pm. After School, I head out for another hour or so of running, or skiing, depending on the season. I also try and do a speed work session once a week. Speed sessions are hard by myself. I prefer doing speed work with someone else, where we encourage each other. The day before a race I may only run for 45 minutes. Either way, I love getting my legs moving on a daily basis.
What percentage of your success, do you think, has been attributed to hard work and what percentage to natural talent? Or is there another element to it?
I think a lot of it comes down to hard work, to determination, but I do think a lot of my success comes down to my love of the sport and the mountains. Typically when you love something so much, you want to spend time doing it. The more time you spend doing it, the more time you have to improve.
What’s the best part of running? And what’s the worst?
The best part is the feeling you get when you are in the middle of the mountains, cruising down the trails with flowers slapping your legs. The worst part is the intervals. No question!
What’s one aspect of the whole process of mountain running that’s surprised you most? The gear required? The administration?
I haven't really become a gear person, because I love the simplicity of running. You just need a good sports bra and a good pair of shoes, Salomon Speedcross is what I run in.
The biggest thing that has surprised me is how my nerves can mess with my head! I never thought I could get so crazy about a silly race! The mental side is a lot more challenging that you would expect.
How do you deal with self-doubt?
I'm still working on it...BIG TIME! I now concentrate on doing my best on the day. I might finish 2nd, I might finish 5th, or I might finish 20th, but as long as I didn't give up, and I did my best, it's an accomplishment. There are so many unplanned elements that can happen on race day that are simply out of my control - that's the beauty of racing! It is also an important lesson that you can take in to your daily life.
What do you tell yourself when everything hurts, and you want to give up?
I tell myself that I can do anything for that amount of time! Whether I have 20 miles left to run or only 20 yards, I KNOW I can do it because I have done it before...you CAN do it...it's all about believing in yourself!
As a teacher, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your students?
Don't take things too seriously. They want to learn, but they also want to have fun, laugh and play. As adults, we need more of that.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from running?
Bad things can happen.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Speed work is the most important thing you can do to become a better runner.
What is something that you know now that you wish someone had told you when you started trail running?
There can be a lot of technical terrain.
What makes you wake up each morning?
The fresh air, mountains, friends, and family.
What are your “big goals” for the next ten years?
To continue running. To compete in new countries and mountain regions. To have a family that will run the last few feet with me when I reach the finish line.
Finally, who do you think has serious sisu?
The women in my family. My Mom - she is a wonder woman. My sister - she has twins and a baby girl and is raising them so well. My grandmothers - they are inspirational, still independent, playing Bridge and loving life!