Today’s guest is a fellow Altra Red Team member as well as a member of the crew over at Becoming Ultra.
She has run quite a few ultra-distance races, highlighted by a first female finish at Cloudsplitter 100 miler.
I am looking forward to trying to keep up with Stephanie Dannenberg today.
Never An “Off” Season
Stephanie Dannenberg grew up playing sports while mostly focusing on soccer and tennis.
Her athletic career continued throughout college while playing at an NCAA Division III school.
Once in graduate school, Stephanie continued to stay active by occasionally running and also playing club soccer.
It was while playing soccer that Stephanie tore her meniscus for the second time.
The injury forced Stephanie to take a break from all the activities she enjoyed to give her body time to heal.
This forced break was the first time in her life that she had a prolonged “off” season from sports.
Between recovering and working long hours at her first job, Stephanie was sedentary and anxious to resume an active lifestyle again.
Trial and Error
At the time Stephanie was given the all-clear to resume activities she came across a flyer for a local 5k race.
Running was perfect for Stephanie because she was able to do it anytime and anywhere.
With minimal training, Stephanie ran the 5k and surprised herself by placing among about 2,000 participants.
The excitement of her result spurred her to continue running more and try longer distances.
In the beginning, Stephanie had no idea how to train properly.
Insufficient training for her first half marathon left Stephanie the, “sorest she had ever been in her life.”
The physical pain wasn’t enough to deter her from signing up for her first marathon shortly after finishing the half.
In preparing for her first marathon, Stephanie still had no real idea what a proper training plan consisted of.
Once crossing the finish line of her first full, Stephanie began to research the ins and outs of training.
During her first few years running marathons, Stephanie could not have imagined wanting to run further.
One of Stephanie’s favorite marathons was the Blue Ridge Marathon in Virginia.
This race took place on trails and the elevation profile was challenging.
This particular marathon also offered a double marathon as an option to participants.
Stephanie was intrigued at the thought of doing an ultra and decided to take the plunge.
Stephanie didn’t take long to go all-in on ultra-distance races.
While training for the double marathon, she also ran her first two 50k races, one which ended up being in blizzard conditions.
Stephanie found that she really excelled in the longer distances.
Her Ironman finish was proof of that when she felt as though she could have kept going after crossing the finish line.
After completing the Ironman, Stephanie knew she was capable of so much more.
Stephanie competed in the XTERRA World Championships less than 2 months after her Ironman finish.
While Stephanie loved triathlons, running kept drawing her back.
Fear Of Injury
Stephanie is no stranger to injury, as mentioned previously.
Her most recent injury was a torn tendon that occurred while running on trails.
During her recovery, Stephanie took 3 months off of running and began to incorporate more crosstraining and strength.
Her patience during recovery helped Stephanie to return to running stronger than ever.
She recently completed a 100-mile race and was the first female overall.
The challenging and technical course put doubts in Stephanie’s mind as to what she could do post-injury.
The unexpected outcome gave Stephanie the confidence that she could do things she never thought were possible.
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