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At her first trail race, Stevie Kremer walked most of the 11 miles and finished absolute last. Still, she caught the bug. She had been hiking trails, and running dirt roads for exercise, but, she says, “I started realizing, all these trails, you don’t have to hike, you can run.”
Within a few years, she was surprising herself with top race finishes. A second-place finish at the Golden Leaf Half Marathon in Aspen, Colorado, in 2008, was the first time it occurred to Kremer that she might have talent. She has since gone on to win Colorado’s Pikes Peak Marathon, Switzerland’s Sierre-Zinal 31K and various other competitive marathon-and-under mountain races in the Rockies and the Alps—including six of the last seven Golden Leafs.
Now 32, Kremer teaches second grade in the tiny mountain burg of Crested Butte, Colorado—the summers off mesh well with her racing schedule—and keeps a surprisingly laid-back training philosophy that boils down to spending time in the mountains, running (or skiing) the trails she loves.
[My students] think it’s really cool that I run. If I don’t win, I’m like the biggest loser. But if I win, they think I’m the coolest person ever.
I wake up early in the morning, go for an hour run or an hour ski, and then after school I’ll go for an hour run or an hour ski.
I haven’t ever actually had a training plan. Every day, I train—I go out into the mountains and run—but I’ve never had a coach, I’ve never said, “OK, at 8 o’clock on Tuesday I’m going to do intervals.”
Doing some sort of speed work once a week is beneficial. If I’m in a rush, I’ll just start sprinting for 20 seconds and doing that 10 times, on my trail run.
I could benefit from finding super-steep technical downhills and doing intervals down them. But that’s not what I want to do when I’m going out for my run. Right now I’m just trying to run the trails that I love. Come race day, though, I’m like, uh, I wish I had just practiced a couple more times on those downhills.
Trail running is my hobby. Yeah, I’ve gotten competitive and I’ve got commitments to certain companies, but it’s not a job. And I don’t want it to get to that point.
This article originally appeared in our June 2016 issue.