After talking to Brett Gotcher last month, James Sullivan has been having a chat with another of Greg McMillan’s recruits. Step forward sub 2:30 elite marathon runner Stephanie Rothstein

Stephanie Rothstein is an elite distance runner from New York City who specialises in the marathon. At the 2011 Houston Marathon she made her breakthrough, covering the distance in 2:29:35. Rothstein is based in Flagstaff, Arizona where she is a member of the McMillan Elite and is trained by Greg McMillan.

Stephanie Rothstein running sub 2:30 for the first time

James: Thank you for taking the time to talk to The Running Review. So to begin, what is your earliest memory of competing in athletics? How did you get involved in the sport to begin with?

Stephanie: Earliest memory is running the mile in PE in 8th grade and beating the majority of the boys. That’s when I knew I had to give this a try. I began running when I was 4 or 5 and my dad would time me running laps around a cemetery, rather strange I realize. He always encouraged me to believe in myself.  

James: Who was your sporting idol growing up?

Stephanie: Rocky Balboa

James: When did you realise that the marathon distance would be your future in the sport?

Stephanie: I ran my first half marathon in 2008 a few months out of college and I ran a respectable time of 1:13.19. It felt controlled and I was even a bit under-trained for the event so I knew the marathon was going to be my future.

James: At the 2011 Houston Marathon you ran a time of 2:29:35, bettering your personal best by over 10 minutes. Can you describe that experience?

Stephanie: The experience is almost impossible to put into words. The feeling of crossing the finish line was a culmination of the last 2 years of struggle, fight, risks, and a leap of faith. My personal best before didn’t mean anything to me since I ran it when I was struggling to find out what was wrong. Houston was the new body that I always believed was in there.

James: What are your goals for the coming year?

Stephanie: My goals are to keep building the momentum I had beginning last April and get competitive in other areas outside the marathon. We plan on working on my speed in track races and improve upon my weaknesses.

James: What do you feel is your potential over the marathon? By how much can you improve your current personal best over the coming years? Have you a specific target?

Stephanie: I feel my potential is just barely getting reached. Houston went so well and because of how I ran the race I already feel a 2:28 was in me on the day. With another year of consistency under my belt I’d hope to be ready for a 2:26 effort at the Trials. Ultimately I have big goals and want to make the Olympic Team, win a major marathon and run under 2:20.

James: How has being diagnosed with celiac disease affected your nutrition? Has this condition forced you to alter the way you train?

Stephanie: The diagnosis has dramatically changed my life. I have felt better than I have in years and I have answers to all the unknown questions I was facing. As far as my nutrition it just takes a bit more planning and research to know what foods are safe to eat and how to maximize my energy intake. My training has been improved since the diagnosis because I am absorbing more nutrients from my food and no longer suffer from under-recovery.

James: What would an average week of training be like, specifically in terms of key sessions and total mileage?

Stephanie: I average anywhere from 80 to 100 miles a week depending on what time of the year it is. We typically have 3 hard days a week with 2 being workouts and the 3rd our long run. During marathon season the long runs are key workouts every other week.

James: What are your favourite and least favourite training sessions?

Stephanie: My favorite sessions are long grinding intervals where you begin to think you can’t finish and do another but you always manage to. My least favorite are fartleks and hills where time is irrelevant because I very much like to judge effort and fitness off times.

James: Do you do any cross training and if so what type, how often and why?

Stephanie: I have a history of cross training built into my body because of the years of setbacks/injury I dealt with. During these times I would ride the stationary bike, aqua jog, and use the elliptical. I’d aim to get the same effort cross training as I would if I were running.

James: What are your views on Planned Marathon Pace runs for club and recreational runners? How long should these be and how many should be undertaken in a training program? Do you do any and how do they help?

Stephanie: I think these pace runs are great for any runner of any ability because it gives a target goal and something to guide the workout. The length and amount depend on the runner’s experience with running and should be tailored according to their history in the sport. Getting up to 8-10 miles at goal pace would be a great marker for a beginner runner and perhaps up to 16 miles for a more experienced runner.

James: Away from athletics what are your biggest interests?

Stephanie: I love movies, too much at times. I also enjoy spending my recovery time with my boyfriend Ben and the girls I train with. There’s nothing like a girl’s coffee date and a burger and fries after a hard workout. The other part of my time goes towards my energy bar company Picky Bars, which is a gluten and dairy free bar that my friend Lauren and I created.

James: That’s great Stephanie. Thank you for your time and best of luck during 2011.

Stephanie: No problem.

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