Kristen Brace is a Massage Therapist, but her passion is running. Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Kristen and ask her a few questions about her trail running. Kristen competes at a level that most of us could not even contemplate, she is a talented athlete, and it was fantastic to hear first hand about her experience.
How did you first get into trail running?
I had always run on the road, then a friend took me into the bush for a run. We ran for 2hrs and it felt like only 30mins – that is when I loved it!
How long have you been doing it?
I’ve been running from when my daughter was around 1, so 9 years. I haven’t stopped since that first trail run.
What are you about to do in the USA?
I am one of the lucky ones competing in the Western States 100 Ultra Marathon, on 23rd June 2018. This race is the the original ‘100 Miler’ (161.3klms!). It is the ‘Granddaddy’ of them all! Entry is via a lottery process. There were 4,900 entries, they drew out 260 entries and I won! This event is held in California from Squaw Valley to Auburn. Part of the course involves running through canyons that will be over 40 degrees – that will be tough! The event needs to be completed in under 30 hrs to have ‘officially’ completed the event. You are then awarded with a belt buckle. Here is the Elevation Profile of the event.
How many times a week do you train and for how long? How far do you run each training session?
If I could I would run everyday – but I need to have a training plan to avoid injury. If I am just running with no events coming up, I would run three times a week. That would normally be two 10km runs, and one 20km run. If I have an event coming up I try to do a 20km, 30km, 50km and a 10km in a week (in that order) with a gym & a yoga session in between.
What distance racing is your favourite? What was your first race?
I do love a 50km run, but in my head I would prefer the 100km as I feel I am still learning about this event. I haven’t mastered it properly. But that probably is what keeps me going! 100km is currently my favourite event.
The first race I competed in was a half marathon in Sydney 2009. My first 100km event was the Northface 100 at Katoomba in 2012. In total I have completed 6 x 100km events, numerous 50km events and I have my first 100 miler coming up.
What was your favourite race and why?
I do love the Northface (which is now called the UTA) because it is a spectacular course, awesome atmosphere and it is in our backyard! I recently did the Larapinta Trail, in the McDonald Ranges, Alice Springs, with friends over 4 days which was an amazing event, challenging in many ways and a great way to see the best of Australia.
What preparation do you have leading up to a race?
Leading up to an event I do a 16 week build, with a two week taper and I usually have a week up my sleeve to allow for injury, illness etc. Weeks 8-12 I will hit 100km plus per week then it will start coming down in distance but I maintain the intensity.
What food do you find works for you leading up to a race?
I always try to eat well, to fuel my body before and after training. During an event I eat lots of bananas, nutbar/sports bars (that I make myself) and I wear a running pack which has the capacity to carry approximately 2ltrs of fluid. I usually have an electrolyte drink a carbohydrate drink (perpetuem) and water. At aid stations I will drink juice or soft drink to get the extra glucose for energy. As I am currently training for a 160km event I am trialling eating more ‘solid’ food like peanut butter or vegemite sandwiches. This is working well at the moment to provide me with extra energy for the longer events. After an event I try to get a good protein supplement in straight away. I always go well prepared with a shake. I also try to eat whatever they have at the finish line to help with recovery. It certainly makes you feel a lot better!
Footwear? What do you find works better for you?
I run in Brooks Caldera for the trail runs. Brooks Pure Flow for the road. I find they suit me so I stick to these…
Injuries – what are the common injuries, have you had any?
I have only had overuse injury in my glute and hamstring previously. At the moment I am nursing an achilles niggle. Jude Holroyd at The Healthy Body Company, Jordan Springs is currently treating me for this and I need to be smarter about my training load so it doesn’t get worse while I am preparing for this event.
How do you feel when you are running?? Or do you find that you enjoy the feeling once you are finished?
I feel happy, free, meditative. I love the feeling when I am finished as well – it’s a massive achievement and secretly I love the muscle burn, its very satisfying! Running is my ‘control-alt-delete’!
Massage – how long have you been doing it?
I have been massaging for 9 yrs. I had my daughter at home, I was always interested in it and thought it would be good to get into it once she started school. I thought it would take me a few years to get rolling, but I have been busy ever since I started!