In 2018, internationally renowned trail runner Stevie Kremer vanished from the racing scene. Now a mom, partner, and middle-school counselor, she’s back to winning big-name races—most recently, the 2021 Pikes Peak Marathon—but as a totally new athlete. The difference? A hard-won sense of balance.
A few years ago, hot off wins in some of the world’s biggest trail races, Kremer started IVF treatments—which kicked off one of the hardest periods of her life. After several taxing rounds of treatment, Kremer welcomed her first child, Hans, into the world. But not long after, she found herself navigating a heartbreaking divorce and the emotional aftermath of a miscarriage. Plus, with a baby to look after, “It was harder to train than I thought it would be,” she says. “I wasn’t able to run on trails as much as I wanted to.” Amid all the upheaval, she was forced to reexamine her relationship to training and competing and find a way to make it work without losing her love of the sport. Here, she shares her hard-earned tips for training on a busy schedule, prioritizing connection, and having fun at any cost.
1. Know Your Priorities
Kremer always knew she wanted to have kids. So when the arrival of her first put racing on the back burner, she embraced it. Now that racing is back on the table, she says, it’s critical to keep her priorities top of mind—and remember that no one can do it all.
“For me, I have learned that it’s OK to leave a plate in the sink for half-hour to go play with my kid,” Kremer says. “And if running or exercising is a priority, realize it’s OK to leave your kids with someone for 30 or 40 minutes so you can get that run in.”
2. Put in Higher Quality Workouts
With less time on her hands, Kremer is vigilant about putting in high-intensity workouts.
“I realized I don’t need to run 2 or 3 hours a day, and that my one-hour run is sufficient to make me feel good.” She says. “If I have an hour, I do intervals because they’re so good for you. If I have an hour and a half on the weekends, I’ll do a trail and just run as fast as I can.”
3. Rethink Your Training Schedule
If Stevie Kremer decides to run 8 miles, she’s going to run 8 miles. That said, she doesn’t necessarily run all 8 in a row. After all, training can be time-consuming, and it can be tough to find a solid hour-long block of time. That’s OK, Kremer says. If she only gets through six miles in the morning, she finds those other two miles later in the day.
4. Make Time to Relax
Kremer says she actually prefers splitting up her bigger mileage days. She’s able to squeeze in the shorter morning workout before her son wakes up, and a shorter evening workout leaves her time to grab beers with friends.
When she’s not in the mood for alcohol, she opts for a non-alcoholic brew from Athletic Brewing Company (favorite: the light, refreshing Upside Dawn Golden Ale). “The taste is awesome,” she says. “And it’s definitely a thirst quencher.”
5. Find (and Embrace) Your Support System
A strong sense of community, Kremer says, has been critical to her success. Staying connected with her family and friends helps her maintain balance and avoid the self-isolation that’s all too common among athletes in individual sports.
“Initially, I felt guilty asking for help. I had a great support system but the issue was me not taking that support,” she says. “I’ve since realized that my kid is going to be OK playing with someone else for an hour. And that I’m a better mom when my head is clear. Asking a friend to play with him for an hour so I can get my run in—it’s healthier for both of us.”
6. Don’t Play the Comparison Game
“It’s easy to look at the ‘professional’ runners,” Kremer says—the athletes who have a spouse to watch the kids and the sponsorship checks to replace the 9-to-5. Sure, she says, maybe if running was her full-time gig, she could be faster.
But, she reminds herself, “That’s not the life I want. I love my job. I love the balance of my life.” If you catch yourself lusting after the lives of the pros, she cautions, check in with yourself. Realize that everyone has different paths and responsibilities—it’s impossible to compare your achievements to anyone else’s.
7. Keep it Fun
To avoid succumbing to pressure and burnout, Kramer is meticulous about finding ways to keep running fun. “I always say that if you’re trying to get into running, you should sign up for a race, even if it’s a 5k. Find one with a good afterparty or fun aid stations or music,” she says. And if you’re an old trouper who’s stuck in the grind? “Switch it up,” she says. If you’re running on roads, try trails, or vice versa. If you’re plateauing, try incorporating speed or interval workouts. Plan a fun run with friends, or tag a summit with a six-pack in the vest (or Athletic Brewing’s Run Wild IPA for a non-alcoholic celebratory fizz).
After all, if running isn’t paying the bills, there’s only one reason to do it: the fun.
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