“Things are going to be uncomfortable in life. You’re going to have uncomfortable runs, uncomfortable races, uncomfortable conversations with family and friends, or standing up to your boss if you feel like you deserve a raise. All things like that, I think are just giving you a little more courage and a little more pep in your step to really stand up for what you believe in and push through those hard days and know that you’re going to see light at the end of the tunnel.”
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Thrilled to welcome Stephanie Bruce of Hoka Northern Arizona Elite to the show this week. The 35-year-old mom of two young boys is a 2:29 marathoner, co-founder of Picky Bars, online running coach, and oh yeah, reigning national 10K champion on the roads.
In this episode, we discussed what she’s focused on from a training and racing standpoint right now, why she thinks it’s important to get out of your comfort zone when it comes to racing, and the changes coach Ben Rosario has made to her training in the past several years that have contributed to her recent success. We also talked about the marathon and her biggest limiters in that event, what it will take to make the 2020 Olympic marathon team in Atlanta, who she looks up to in the sport, where she gets her grittiness from, how to cultivate it in your own life, and a whole lot more.
“You have to look at it like a business. What do you want the culture of your team to be? Focus on that and make sure that the people you’re working with are bought into what you’re doing. Because I’m telling you right now, you could raise Bill Bowerman from the dead and he could write your schedule, but if you don’t have the people that you’re working with believing in you, and believing in each other, and believing in what they’re doing, it’s not going to work.”
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It was a blast to sit down with Ben Rosario, the founder and head coach of HOKA Northern Arizona Elite, for this week’s episode of the podcast.
The 38-year-old Rosario, who started the team in 2014, has had a long and varied career in the running industry. As an athlete, he ran for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, qualified for two U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, and finished second at the U.S. Marathon Championships in 2005. He moved back to his hometown of St. Louis that earlier that year, where he first worked as the special events director for that city’s marathon, and then went on to co-found Big River Running Company. After selling his share of the business in early 2012 and moving to Flagstaff shortly thereafter, Rosario worked as the marketing director for McMillan Running and also did some work as an elite athlete coordinator and race director back in his hometown of St. Louis. Through it all, Rosario has coached other runners at all levels, leading him to his current role with HOKA NAZ Elite, “a professional sports team whose mission is to recruit, develop and produce distance runners to compete at the very highest level of international athletics.”
We covered a lot of bases over the course of this conversation: Rosario’s career path, and the route he took to get where he is today; how he got into coaching and the influence different coaches have had on his own development as an athlete, coach, and person; what race weekend looks like for him when he’s got athletes competing; the origins of NAZ Elite and how he sees the group evolving in the coming years; how he measures his team’s impact beyond race results; what NAZ Elite is doing to make themselves relatable to average runners; the benefits of group training for all levels of runners; the importance of rest and recovery after a marathon and what that looks like for his athletes; how he furthers his own education as a coach and his advice for young coaches; what’s exciting him about the sport right now, and a lot more.