Ostrander sticks to these ten tips.
Ostrander sticks to these ten tips. (Dave Lauridsen)

How Runner Allie Ostrander Fights Burnout

Ten pro tips for reaching—and maintaining—peak performance

Ostrander sticks to these ten tips.
Dan Roe

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Runner Allie Ostrander is a chameleon. The 20-year-old Boise State University standout is a cross-country tactician in the fall, an aggressive steeplechaser during track season, and a sure-footed trail runner in summer. This July, she won Alaska’s infamous Mount Marathon race, a roughly 3.1-mile trail run where competitors scramble up about 3,000 feet before hurtling back down. She notched the second-fastest women’s time ever—and did it just one month after winning the NCAA title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Ostrander also finished eighth last year in the 5,000 meters at the Olympic Trials.

We asked her how she manages to perform at her peak year-round in a sport plagued by burnout. She sticks to these ten tips.

  1. Blaze your own trails. “Comparing myself to others is pretty detrimental to my own training, and it’s never really done me much good. I try to stay off FloTrack, LetsRun, all those websites.”
  2. Snack well. “I always have a really big snack before bed. It’s almost like a fourth meal, around 9 or 9:30 p.m. Otherwise I’ll wake up hungry in the middle of the night. I don’t usually eat much before I go run in the morning, so that snack carries me over.”
  3. Get creative with your training. “I’ve moved some of my mileage to the underwater treadmill—between 18 and 19 miles per week.”
  4. Ramp up gradually. “Before I start any training block, I build up really slowly and make sure that my body can handle it. Mainly for injury prevention, but it’s also mental: I want to know that when I do eventually jump into a workout, it’ll build my confidence instead of tearing me down.”
  5. Maintain perspective. “A lot of athletes, myself included, judge their selfworth based on how well they’re performing. It’s hard to remember that you’re still a valuable person whether you’re competing or not. Your sport isn’t who you are, it’s just a part of what you do.”
  6. Rest and recharge. “I am a sleep fiend. I have a really incredible capacity to sleep. I have slept 15 hours consecutively, and I’m generally in bed by 10:30.”
  7. Take recovery seriously. “On my easy days, I slow down and really let myself recover. That’s usually somewhere around a 7-to-7.5- minute-mile pace. If I want to have consistent training, I need to hold myself back from doing too much.”
  8. Get the right nutrients. “My coaches require my team and me to get our blood tested and to supplement accordingly. So I take liquid iron every day, usually right after I run. Your body typically absorbs liquid iron more easily than a pill, so it’s fast-acting.”
  9. Cross-train. “Twice a week I train in the gym. I do light weights, focusing on hips, hamstrings, quads, and calves. I’m trying to make sure that all my stabilizer muscles are strong.”
  10. Appreciate the moment. “It’s important for me to think back to all the times when I was injured and would’ve given anything to be able to run. It helps me appreciate the times when I can consistently perform and enjoy the whole process.”