Heather Stephens

We posted a Oiselle challenge called “Where I Fly” the day before I left for Bruce Camp in Flagstaff, Arizona. The challenge is to run in a place where the minutes and miles fly by and share on social with the hashtag: #whereifly. I was headed to the perfect spot to share some runspiration. Flagstaff is home to single-track trails through aspen trees, wide-open dirt roads, and switch backs up the side of mountains.


Then there's Buffalo Park: a place where running heroes of the past and present put a stake in the ground. One of those behind the scenes spots where the hard work happens. A place between the singlets and spikes.


My heart felt filled up, my love for the run was strong, and I finished every run feeling refreshed and inspired to do something big. I’ve struggled with my running for the past four years after graduating from college. At first, I quit the sport altogether. If I wasn’t training for a big competition, then running didn’t feel worth it at all. Then I started back up again to counter balance my unhealthy partying lifestyle. I took that a little too far and so I stepped back again. I’ve spent the past two years running with an incredible group of women at Oiselle. Running for sanity, for stress relief, and for strength. Running in no particular direction, but running because it’s what I love to do. 


In that weekend at Bruce Camp, I found some magic on the trails in Flagstaff. At first, I thought it was the place itself, but after a week of reflection, I realized that the true inspiration came from the people I met. Steph Bruce’s story is one of the most popular female distance running stories of the year. Six months after giving birth to her second son, she ran 0.58 seconds under the 10k Olympic A Standard and qualified for the Olympic Trials. SIX MONTHS AFTER HAVING A BABY. 


Steph and her husband Ben (also an incredible professional runner) talked with us about how they made it happen. Thirty campers gathered around a bonfire on the final night of camp and we talked together about goal setting. Both Ben and Steph had run professionally for the last decade of their lives, but they hadn’t started as professional runners. They followed an idea in their minds that they could be great. They chased their curiosity and built success along the way. The motto of the weekend: “Dream big, but train where your feet are”. 


The idea resonated with me. Set goals or don't set goals for running. Run to achieve a time, a place, or a distance...sometimes. And other times, set a goal to run for freedom of movement and nothing more than that. I kept this idea in mind as I said goodbye to the other Bruce Campers. I left Flagstaff, a place where I fly, and I took this big and beautiful idea with me. 



September 09, 2016 — jbarnard

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