The Western States 100 is just a couple of days away with an incredibly deep field on both the Women’s and Men’s side. I caught up with Altra Elite Team member Amanda Basham who is one of the favorites on the women’s side to win the whole dang thing, and bring the iconic Cougar back to her home in Logan Utah. It’s gonna be a burner this year, no doubt, with plenty of surprises in the cards on both the Women’s and Men’s sides, but at the end of the day I’ve got my money on Amanda. She’s fit, she’s confident, and this being her 3rd appearance at WS, she’s smart.
@tommy_rivs: Alright, just a few days away from Western States. I know you’ve got more important things to think about, so we’ll keep this short. So, 4th in 2016, DNF due to injury last year… Give us a quick rundown of your thoughts, predictions, and goals for WS this year?
@amanda_basham: My 4th in 2016 was unexpected. I surprised myself and ran really smart, which I’m not very good at with 100 milers. Last year my DNF did not come as a surprise. I started that race thinking I’d be really lucky to make it to Robinson Flat, and I didn’t even make it that far before my ankle had shooting pain. This year, I have the physical fitness to place top 3, but as we all know this race isn’t all about who the fastest person is. This race requires patience and strategy, and patience is definitely not my strong suit. My A goal is to win, like a lot of the women that will be out there. My B goal is top 3 and C goal is top 10. There are probably 10 women who could win depending on how the day goes, which is why this race is so awesome. I realize that my A goal is a bit of a stretch, but it’s possible. I believe that’s exactly how an A goal should be. You have to set the bar high or you’ll never reach your potential. What’s the point in having a goal unless you know it’s achievable?
@tommy_rivs: Dang, you nailed it. “This race isn’t all about who the fastest person is. This race requires patience and strategy…” That is perfect. Just knowing that first hand, and remembering that on Saturday gives you an advantage over so many others who will be out there as well. Sounds like a solid plan in my mind.
Alright, so how do you think your fitness and preparation compare this year with the last two years?
@amanda_basham: My fitness was solid in 2016, but it was more about playing in the mountains rather than a strategic training plan. I was being coached by Jason Koop at the time so I definitely had a plan, but I didn’t follow it to the T. However, I was living in Colorado Springs with 14er access out my front door. It was an amazing year for training, but I had less experience then. My fitness last year was awful. I had to do everything I could to convince myself just to get outside to run. I had too much life stress going on so I was constantly busy and tired.
This year I’ve trained really well. I’ve definitely had ups and downs but that’s just life, especially when you work full time while attempting to be a professional athlete. Stress has been relatively low all year and training has been fun. I’m not sure if my fitness is better than in 2016, but it’s at least just as good. What is better is my attitude, which makes a big difference in my performance. I tend to have pity parties for myself when I’m really stressed but I think those will be at a minimum this year ;).
@tommy_rivs: Yes, exactly. Stress. I think you’re onto something here that so many athletes fail to recognize and address and just doing that can be an absolute game changer. Successful training plans are a delicate balance between stress and rest. It isn’t any more complicated than that, but so many of us fail to take into account the types of stresses that aren’t purely physical. The ones that just come from life. Our bodies don’t have the ability to differentiate between types of stresses. Stress is just stress – whether physical, emotional, psychological – and the chemical and hormonal cascade that takes place within our bodies is the same as well. You’ve hit on something huge here.
Ok, so you’ve had an incredible year of racing so far. If you had to break it down to one thing, what do you think the biggest difference has been?
@amanda_basham: Thank you! Every race I’ve done so far has been fun. Like I mentioned, the low life stress has been the biggest factor. Low stress makes running enjoyable, which keeps me motivated and makes me train better.
@tommy_rivs: That’s perfect. Having fun and low stress.
Can you tell us, one other thing that you learned about yourself or your training that you wish you knew a year ago?
@amanda_basham: I’m a very competitive person, but what I’ve learned is that there is a balance between being competitive and enjoying the experience. I believe that in order to win a competitive race like Western States you have to believe you’re capable of winning, but at the same time winning can’t be the only option. I’ve had several races, especially 100 milers, where I go to be competitive and if that’s not in the cards that day then the pity party starts. This year I have enjoyed every race and running experience I’ve had, even if I didn’t achieve the goal I set out to achieve. As cliche as it is, all you can do is run your best race and everything will work out.
@tommy_rivs: That’s awesome Amanda, thank you.
Wow, this has been pretty great. Some seriously good stuff in there guys…
Sometimes things are cliche because they’re simple but also true and it just takes us so long to actually implement. I don’t think anybody could have said it better than Amanda did. Have an A goal, and a B goal, and a C goal. Be flexible and allow yourself to reach your own potential on that day. Stay balanced. Take stress into consideration and try to minimize non-productive stress from our lives. Prepare well, realize it’s going to be an all day fight, stick to the plan, and have fun.
Sounds like a solid approach to tackling WS 100, but also just some pretty good words to live by.
All the best to Amanda and the rest of #TeamAltra, as well as the other racers and crews that will be burning up the trails into Auburn on Saturday. #seeyouinsquaw #wser #altraruns #zerolimits #embracethespace
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