Junior runner sets sights on nationals

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Junior Stephenie Spencer began running back in elementary school. First as a short distance runner, she progressed and when she hit sophomore year of high school she and made the transition to a long distance runner.

Spencer had dabbled her fair share in all sorts of different sports such as soccer, wrestling and skiing. However, none of them made her want to be as competitive as running did.

“When I began running I found something I was really good at,” Spencer said. “In other sports I was decent, but I really loved the competitiveness. It was also a huge stress release from everything I had.”

Spencer has set up some goals for herself this year that include aiming for podium at conference, training herself to attain a school record before she graduates, as well as her number one goal this season which is to place in the top 100 at nationals this year.

“Last year at nationals, I was thinking too strategically and it messed up my performance overall,” Spencer said. “My races so far have showed me that it is going to be a big challenge, but I believe that I can do it.”

Spencer believes there is no real pressure to attain goals such as breaking the school records this season.

“I’m still a junior and most people’s top performances are when they’re a senior,” Spencer said. “Even when I am a senior, I don’t think that the pressure will be bad. My coaches and the people around me are more about positive pressure in the sense that they want me to break these records, but they would never be disappointed if I didn’t.”

With Spencer wanting to achieve such goals, she took the summer off from work to really dedicate herself to becoming the best possible athlete.

“Summer is so important to long distance runners,” Spencer said. “I even took work off this summer and focused all my time into looking at my nutrition and working out even more.”

Spencer spent the summer working with a nutritionist to help her achieve the best possible diet as well as making more time to work with her coaches.

“My coaches are so important because they can push me through the mental block that comes with training so hard,” Spencer said. “I can make my body do all the physical things it needs to, but sometimes I need that person with me to tell me to go harder or to just provide encouragement.”

One of Spencer’s greatest challenges this season has been managing school and her sport. This past year Spencer has declared a double major and is now taking 18 credits of upper division classes while training harder than ever.

“The toughest part is not being there with my teammates,” Spencer said. “I remember last year after practice we all got dinner at the UC together and it was our time to be together. Living off campus and having to get myself to delegate my time has been very difficult.”

Spencer’s plans regarding running after graduating college depends upon her future career path as well as options.

“I have a really hard time thinking about not running on a team after college,” Spencer said “I think that my post-college running life depends on what opportunities present themselves after I graduate as well as grad school.”

Spencer acknowledged how the Portland and Seattle areas have many running clubs that she would love to be a part of. Regardless of what her future looks like, Spencer’s love for running has grown more and more over the years.

“Running is a big part of who I am,” Spencer said. “You’ll probably be able to catch me running around.”


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