Sharleen Stevens is a community builder. She routinely enhances the running experience for others and she is darn good at it too. Our store mission includes a line about being inclusive to ALL runners. As a group run organizer, community member and friend of the shop Sharleen has lived this mission. When I first wanted to tackle the SuFu Circuit I had real fears about the distance. I’m forever grateful for Sharleen’s skillful shepherding of my first tour and will always hold that run in the highest regard. That is just who Sharleen is. Not only does she take on great challenges and embrace all sorts of running distances, but she makes it fun for others around her. She builds up her community and makes running inclusive for everyone. Let's hear more from Shar in her own words.
What/who inspired you to start running?
I've always marched to the beat of my own drum, so I started and have continued running on my own. Once I moved here, I ran my first race with my sister. Ever since then we've had a few annual races we always meet up at and make a fun weekend of it.
When did you start running?
I started running in 7th grade track as a sprinter. I decided to pick up cross country my senior year to keep in shape, and it seemed to stick. I continued to run on my own throughout college as a stress reliever and attempt at keeping the additional pounds away. When I moved to Sioux Falls in 2006, it picked up immensely with the accessibility of the bike trail. Now I get out as much as possible and hit up all the trails that I can.
Where is your favorite place to run?
Honestly, I really love running in the Black Hills and the Superior Hiking Trail where you have endless miles of trail. But on a local level my top favorites for long miles are Good Earth and Newton Hills. I also really love Outdoor Campus for some easy trail miles.
What is your favorite weather to run in?
Fall!!! I absolutely love the color changes, the crunch of the leaves, and the crispness in the air. 50-60 degrees is my prime running weather.
Do you prefer group runs or solo runs?
I love a good group run and my core group of running besties. I host a group run with Sioux Falls Women Run, but for the most part I do prefer solo runs. It allows me to be alone with my thoughts, process things better, and concentrate on my form and hydration. When I run with others, I tend to forget to drink because we're too busy talking!
Have you experienced any dreaded injuries, and if so, how did you cope and persevere?
Aside from dealing with chronic knee pain for over 10 years, I've had a few tibial stress reactions. They typically occur in the spring time with an increase in miles and more pavement runs when the trails are too wet to run on. My last big one occurred in April 2017, just a few weeks away from my first 100 mile race, the Indiana Trail 100. I got the results just 19 days prior to the race. I told my Dr. that I will be standing at the start line regardless, so whatever I can do between now and then I will. So I aqua jogged and didn't run except for a 5 miler the day before we left to test out a new pack I wanted to use for the race. I kept a positive mindset and knew the hardest work had been put in already. This was just forced tapering. I showed up at the start line and finished with no signs of the stress reaction.
What’s your favorite post-run meal?
I'm usually shoving a bar and recovery drink in my face as soon as I finish to hold me over until I can make a meal. Lately I've been craving pizza rolls after my runs, but I prefer a larger meal with a good amount of protein. I just love food. Give me everything.
What are some barriers you have faced in your running journey?
For some reason I always have a great deal of anxiety getting out the door with a few season changes. If I'm leaving for a run from home during the fall months, it's really hard for me to leave while it's still light outside and there's more traffic from people heading home from work. I don't want people to see me run and I hate standing at traffic lights. I would much rather run in the dark. But in the springtime, when everyone seems to be more active, I fear running in the dark. It's so weird but it's a cycle I've dealt with for several years.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking about starting to run?
Be consistent. Be patient. The hardest thing to do is to not only to put on your shoes, but once they're on, you still have to get out the door. I was once fully dressed and had my shoes on, but after too much procrastination from actually stepping outside, I decided to change out of my running clothes and not run. Those are the things I regret. But I've never once regretted a run. Something is better than nothing. So just get out that door, be patient, and things will start clicking.
Describe your best “runner’s high” moment.
It was Superior 100 mile race in September, 2018. The first 20 miles were the worst. I felt off, my legs were heavy, I fell hard and smacked my face, my hamstring cramped and I fell backwards trying to hoist myself over a rock. After fighting negative thoughts, I took some deep breaths, slowed down, switched shoes, and concentrated on my pacers who were in the middle of driving to come pace me. I shifted my focus to them, not wanting to let them down, and things started clicking. I wasn't tripping anymore, the cramping was gone, fueling was on point, and I was feeling strong. Once my pacers were able to join me, the high never ended. I felt like I was flying and I never got sleepy during the overnight hours. Each one of my pacers were superb and I finished those 106 miles feeling like I could keep going.
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