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Runner Interview: Steph Harrap (@anygivenrunday)

Runner Interview: Steph Harrap


  • Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Finlayson arm race
Finlayson arm race

When and why did you start running?

I would say I’ve always been a “runner” ever since I was in Elementary school, but I use that term loosely (with finger air quotes) because I ran track and cross country because I was told to, not necessarily because it was my sport of choice! I think I truly started running in 2008 when I was motivated by a friend to run my first half marathon. After that I continued to run for the next few years when there was a race on my calendar, and slowly the races became more frequent and closer together and I was running consistently year round. I don’t know what it was that made me flip the switch and really fall in love with running, to be honest, I don’t even know when it happened! But one day, I realized that this sport, the punishment of other sports, is actually my jam and I think I’m in love!

Describe your ideal race (let us know if it’s real or fictional, and describe details including the location, climate, terrain and duration)

My ideal race would be exploring a location I’ve never been before since I like not knowing where I’m going (I know that’s weird 😉 ). It would be in the red rocks and canyons of Utah, Arizona or Nevada and would involve winding switchbacks, mountain bike terrain and of course a few epic climbs to some amazing view points. And since my favourite types of races are ones where you are conquering an iconic piece of trail like the PCT or circumnavigating a mountain or canyon, my ideal distance would probably be 50+ km…and of course conditions would be perfect for shorts and a tank 😉 Please tell me this exists?! LOL!

Panorama Ridge - photo credit @TheHilaryAnn
Panorama Ridge – photo credit @TheHilaryAnn

Tell us about your favourite trail

I have to pick??? That’s so tough since in Vancouver we are spoiled for choice with the North Shore mountains as well as Squamish and Whistler at our doorsteps! I think for me my favourite trails are less about the terrain itself and more about the people I share it with and the views we catch at the top. So for those two reasons I’d have to say the trail leading up to Panorama Ridge in Garibaldi Park in the summer, and the snow covered trails of Cypress and Seymour in the winter.

…in Vancouver we are spoiled for choice with the North Shore mountains as well as Squamish and Whistler at our doorsteps

What has been your biggest running / adventure challenge to date?

My biggest running adventure/challenge to date was running my first 50miler this past summer with my running buddy Nat. We ran the Siskiyou Out and Back in Ashland Oregon, which extends 25miles out and back (go figure) along the PCT. Prior to this race the furthest we’d both ran was 55km at sea-level, so the jump to 80km at 7000ft of elevation was definitely a challenge! But it was such an amazing experience and to tackle it together and cross the line hand in hand will always stand out as one of my favourite running memories.

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Steph Harrap
Steph Harrap

Tell us about your greatest running fail, we’ve all had – or will have – them at some point!

Ugh, yes I definitely have! But I think my biggest fail came on one of my last races of 2016, the Finlayson Arm 50k in Victoria, BC. It came at the end of a long summer of racing and was one of those races that you sign up for so early you almost forget it’s on the calendar! Needless to say I was not mentally prepared for the race, and went into it with only one goal: finishing in the top 5 females with my run bud Nat. However, in the first 10k we took a wrong turn and ended up adding 5km and 1 hour to the course, and we found ourselves playing catch up from the back of the pack. As the race went on my mental game started to crumble, I started to lose control over my mind and I started to question why I was even out there. By 40’ish km I was having a total melt down and ended up having to call my husband for a pep talk…it wasn’t pretty. I did end up finishing, but it was the hardest day I’ve ever had out on a course and was a HUGE eye-opener about the importance of mental training going into a race! {Hard} lesson learned.

Steph enjoying the trails - photo credit @TheHilaryAnn
Steph enjoying the trails – photo credit @TheHilaryAnn

What is your approach to training? Do you follow a particular training plan?

I ALWAYS follow a plan, I think it’s one of the most important tools to have as a runner…if you fail to plan you plan to fail, right?! For me, I’m really strict about not increasing my mileage or time on my feet by more than 10-20% per week and I think having it written down with a plan helps prevent that from happening. I make my own plans and I don’t always follow it to the T, I’ll swap days or workouts around based on how I’m feeling or my schedule; but I almost always stick to the weekly plan itself.

What advice would you give to a new trail runner?

Join a group or find some friends to go with! For one it’s way safer than going out alone, for 2 they will introduce you to new trails and places to run, and for 3 it’s way more fun! Most of the people I run with now I met on social media, so don’t be afraid to send some messages out to local runners in your community and ask to join them for a run…trail runners are really nice I promise 😉

Sisikyou 50 miler
Sisikyou 50 miler

What is your favourite bit of running kit, and why?

Oh man that’s hard, but I would say it has to be my Ultimate Direction hydration pack. I’ve had it for 2 years now and it’s served me well! It fits way more than it looks, it doesn’t chafe and it’s sized for females so it fits well and is really comfortable. Definitely worth investing in.

– Read our review of the Ultimate Direction Hydration Pack for Women HERE –

What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?

This year for me is about 2 things: speed and adventure! The first half of the year I’m focusing more on speed on the road with a marathon coming up May 7 and I’m gunning for that PB! The second half of the year it’s all about adventure and exploring new trails. I’d like to tackle the full length of the Howe Sound Crest Trail outside of Vancouver as well as circumnavigate Mount Hood. The only trail race I have on the calendar is Finlayson Arm 50k in September…I’m going back for my redemption 😉

Most of the people I run with now I met on social media, so don’t be afraid to send some messages out to local runners in your community and ask to join them for a run…trail runners are really nice I promise 😉

Ridge running on Mount Brunswick, British Columbia
Ridge running on Mount Brunswick, British Columbia – photo credit @TheHilaryAnn

Whats your favourite running/adventure book, and which songs keep you going when things get tough?

I have two favourite running books, the first is How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald because it helped me so much with my mental training. My second is Marathon Women by Kathrine Switzer because her story of paving the way for women in running is so inspiring and powerful. And as far as songs, I don’t ever listen to music when I run so I can’t say I have any.

Finally, What do you get up to when you’re not running or adventuring?

I love to travel, I love to eat, especially baked goods (i cant help it!) and I love craft beer. So I’m either planning my next trip with my husband, baking or at a bakery eating all the things, with friends checking out a new restaurant, or riding my bike to a brewery for drinks or to fill up my growler. Oh yeah, and I work too! I work as a physiotherapist in 2 private clinics in Vancouver.

Steph Harrap
Steph Harrap

Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed Steph, good luck with your upcoming marathon in May, we hope you smash that PB, oh and don’t forget to nail the Finlayson Arm 50k whilst you’re at it!
Happy Trails!

Social media links:



Mentioned in this Interview and recommended by Steph:

 

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Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
Hey, I'm Alastair. I started Trail & Kale as a way to share the mental & physical benefits that trail running and nature had given me. Trail & Kale has since grown to become a thriving blog and community that inspires people to trail run, hike, adventure more, and live a healthy plant-based lifestyle.
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