Alicia Peterson | 5 Summer Races, Postpartum and “THE RUT"

When did you start Training with Wright Training?

Since the gym opened in Victor in January 2020.

How long have you been on a running-specific program?

I have followed a more specific running plan since I returned to sports after my second child in April 2021.

How long have you been a runner?

I had run off and on since middle school when I ran the 100m hurdles. However, I had never run anything longer than three miles before I ran my first 10k about a year out of college in 2008. I got into shorter-distance triathlons while doing my emergency medicine residency in Phoenix since there was a big culture of triathlon training down there. I ran a marathon with my sister in 2017 pre-kids; that was the first time I ever took running seriously. Since moving to the mountains, I have fallen in love with trail running, and it has been my motivation to run more consistently for the past year and a half.

You decided to do five running races in 5 months. Can you tell us about your lineup?

Overall, this is the most I have ever raced in a season (meaning more than one race), but I tried to make my race schedule manageable to avoid overtraining and burnout. I ran a trail half marathon in June, a shorter 11km trail race end of July, a very intense 26km trail race in early September, a road marathon in early October, and finishing off the season with another trail half marathon in early November. Looking back, I crammed too much into the end of the season. However, I wanted to try a variety of race settings this year to feel out what my strengths were and what excited me the most.

You are a mother of 2 and an ER doc; how do you make time to train?

It has sort of become something that’s just a part of my life. It is very hard to motivate yourself to do something every day. I make it happen if it “just is” and has to happen. If you have something that needs to be done, give it to the busiest person. They know how to make things happen and are the best at time management. It’s also about finding something you are passionate about because you will do it. Sometimes it means sacrificing some sleep. Everyone has excuses, but we can make time for the most important things. It takes some deep self-reflection at times to know what that is. 

How has strength training helped your outdoor performance?

Strength training has helped me recover faster after big efforts in the outdoors and after races. It has also significantly helped my resistance to impact with downhill running and strengthing my core to help avoid back pain with prolonged downhill running. 

Do you feel it was hard to come back after pregnancy?

It showed me what I was capable of, while the world tries to say postpartum women need so much recovery time and have to ease back in slowly over a year. This may be an unpopular opinion, but if you have kept up with strength training and exercise during your pregnancy, you can get back to the level you were at pre-pregnancy much faster than others say. This takes consistency and dedication. If you are consistent, you don't need motivation which is often lacking in pregnancy.

Your overall balance and well-being- It made me feel like a whole person and that I still had my own body. Being pregnant and becoming a mom can be all-consuming, but if you take the time to focus on yourself and your health, you can be that much better of a mom. It also teaches our children healthy habits and that mom's well-being is a priority. 

What have you learned through your journey of running, training, and having kids!?

Women’s bodies are amazing and are capable of so much. I feel like I have a mom power now with endurance sports. I have become so much mentally tougher to endure through more than I thought capable.

With all the races, miles, and vertical you did.  How did you feel afterward?  

The biggest race I trained for this summer was The Rut 26km race in Big Sky, MT. This race is the most physically demanding race I have ever done. It was 7,800 feet of elevation gain over an 18-mile course. For training, I ran between 4,000-9,000 feet of vert every week for several months. The uphill is one thing, but you always need to be physically ready for all that descent. This is where strength training comes into play for making you recover faster from all the impact and also prevent injury, which is so common in trail running. Road runners can get away from minimal strength training even though it's not recommended. However, trail runners must have robust strength training consistently if they want healthy, prolonged training and racing. 

Have you ever tried to do that many races/ miles in that amount of time?

I had run a road marathon, but 18 miles with 7,800 feet of vert at altitude is VERY different than 26.2 miles of pounding the flat pavement at sea level. While both are hard, they require very different training. Flat running does not translate to mountain running but building a good aerobic engine in the mountains can definitely help you run a marathon. You do lose some of your faster stride with long slogs up hills, but this can be overcome by tweaking your training to run some flat, fast intervals. 

Do you feel good about your performance with the difficulty of competing in that many races?

I don’t think I truly understood the complexity of training for different kinds of running races. I just thought, “oh, if I can run a trail half in June, I can train up to a trail 26km in September, and if I can run 18 miles in the mountains, I can run a marathon on the roads a month later”. I’ve learned a lot about run training and the types of training you need for the various terrain and lengths this year. It has been super fun to learn and experiment. I have also learned a lot about myself and my own fitness and what type of racing suits my strengths. Spoiler: I feel I can perform the best for trail races that last between 2-3 hours. 

This is all such great insight Alicia; thank you for sharing your thoughts and reflection.  Great Job out there!

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