Fast #Motherrunners We Love: Stephanie Bruce

Stephanie Bruce
Stephanie winning the 2018 Rock n Roll Half in Arizona.

Since February is the month of L❤VE—and the Olympics—we are devoting our Mondays at Another Mother Runner to Top #Motherrunners we L❤VE. Although their training miles and splits are vastly different than ours, their perspectives—fitting it in, wanting the best from and for themselves—mimic every busy, ambitious female runner out there. 

For many mother runners, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce (Instagram; Twitter) is a hero as much for her unflinching ownership of her post-partum belly as for her fast times.

How fast? Three weeks ago, on her 34th birthday, she outkicked her competitor in the last 400 yards to win the Rock & Roll Arizona Half-Marathon in 1:12:31 (that’s 5:31-per-mile pace if you need a reason to faint).

“A pleasant surprise,” she says. More like: Happy Birthday!

Last year was pretty fast too: Steph represented the U.S. in the World Cross-Country Championships in Uganda, set a 10,000-meter personal record of 31:59, and ran her first New York City Marathon, coming in 10th place in a time of 2:31:44.

But as the mother of two and co-founder of Picky Bars herself has noted, “my abs are what everyone wants to talk about.”

Steph gave birth to her boys 15 months apart—in June 2014 and September 2015. She is tiny; they were huge. They left their mark, as it were. She had a bad tear, her pelvic floor was wrecked, she pooped her pants when she ran, and she had pronounced diastasis rectus (DR), or what she has described, unflinchingly, as “a lot of loose skin. Stretch marks. Dimples. … A bit of a pouch where all that loose skin is hanging out over my waistband. It’s a hot mess.”

You may remember the viral post-baby-belly photo she put on Instagram in 2016.It gained her much more widespread attention than her race times.

Steph sought help from Celeste Goodson, a physical therapist who specializes in helping post-partum women rebuild inner and outer core strength with a program called ReCORE (which Steph describes here).

[[Hear Steph talk about returning to Running Postpartum on the AMR Podcast.]]

“The culture I’m around, everyone has a six-pack,” says Steph, who runs for the Northern Arizona Elite Team in Flagstaff. “I run a TON, that’s why I’m thin, but I still have a loose belly. I’m still a real woman in a runner’s body.”

More importantly, Steph wants women who struggle with post-partum body issues to know they are not alone.

“Do you think someone’s going to laugh at you [for your belly]? If they do, they’re an a**hole.”

See? That’s why we L❤VE her. Here are more Steph fun facts.

Favorite non-running workout

[Much laughter.] “I don’t do anything else! I took one Barre class, and it kicked my ass.”

About that post-baby body

“You don’t have to ask permission to run in a sports bra and shorts if you want to. I hope women see me and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I have that stomach, too.’”

Training Philosophy

"My coach Ben Rosario has us do a lot of strength-based training: miles and volume. I’m not someone who responds to doing shorter, faster intervals. I do long sustained runs, tempo runs, and mile repeats with short rest. We do strength work two to four times a week with heavy weights. Like dead lifts and front squats with 40- to 80-lb weights. That has really contributed a lot to my staying injury-free and healthy."

Funniest thing your kid ever said about your running?

“Are you going to win?” [writer note: I'm not sure that's funny if you indeed may ACTUALLY win.]

Funny kid, part 2

“When I was going out at 8 pm to meet some friends, Riley asked, ‘Mommy going running?’ And I was like, ‘Nooooo. I’m going out for a glass of wine!’”

Red wine or white?


Big Race on 2018 Calendar

The London Marathon, in April.

Advice you’d give to your younger self

“It takes time. Everything: training, getting to the next level, accepting where you are in life. I am more confident as a 34-year-old than I was as a 25-year-old. You no longer care what people who are not influential in your life think of you. People are either on my team, on my side, or they’re not. Not everyone has to love you.”

Favorite finish line?

New York City Marathon. I was born in Manhattan. They have kids’ races the day before the marathon, and Riley was 3, old enough to do the 400. I ran it with him, and he crossed the same finish line that I would run the next day.”

Stephanie Bruce
Stars: They're just like us! They take selfies at Target!

How you motivate when you're not motivated to run:

“I’m super weird. I’m intrinsically motivated by running. I love it so much. I sat out for 2.5 years for babies. Whenever I feel like I’m going to complain, I think, ‘You get to run right now, so be thankful for that.’”

Thing you L❤VE most about running:

"In life, you don’t get to choose what gets thrown at you. You don’t get to choose where you suffer. I love that you can choose how much you suffer in running and racing."

Okay, but what do you say to runners who don’t want to suffer?

“It’s your time. Whether you’re a mom or you work 90 hours a week, running is your time to go after whatever motivates you. If it’s just getting out of the house, it’s your time to think. It makes you better at whatever you do. I’m 100% a better mom when I’m home because I get that time and space to train. Just having something in your life that is special like running gives your life balance and perspective.”

[[Hear Steph talk about returning to Running Postpartum on the AMR Podcast.]]

2 responses to “Fast #Motherrunners We Love: Stephanie Bruce

  1. Oh I just could not love this more! I love everything about Stephanie’s attitude as well as the presentation of it by Tish. This quotation says it all: “In life, you don’t get to choose what gets thrown at you. You don’t get to choose where you suffer. I love that you can choose how much you suffer in running and racing.”

  2. L❤️ved this! Thank you! I really do have that belly too! It was nice to see that even people who workout way more than me struggle with all that loose skin even YEARS postpartum! Thank you for sharing this!

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