A trail chat with Steph Auston

The BTU team pinned down Steph Auston for some trail chat and this was not an easy feat! Steph has her eyes set on representing Australia in the 2020 Olympics for the coveted marathon, working close to full-time as a physiotherapist and has already started the year with a 1st Female and 2nd overall placing at The 2 Bays Trail 56km event! We were able to catch Steph for a few moments between her busy schedule to get to know her better.

Steph Auston 2 Bays Ultra

What is your favourite race and course? “6 foot track is a favourite as it’s a runnable hilly race and suits me! It also has so much history and I like point to point races!” Steph! You forgot to mention that you came in first female at The 6 Foot Track Trail Marathon (45km) in 2018 in a blistering time of 3hr 57m.

Steph’s road running credentials are amazing to say the least. In 2017, she placed in the top 10 Australian women at the Gold Coast Marathon with a 2hr 49min 02s. But what attracted her to the trails? “When I moved to the Sapphire Coast for work I was a road runner but always liked to run on trails in training.. I didn’t know it was a thing that you could race! However the group I run with on the Sapphire Coast were all training for this thing called UTA..I didn’t want to miss out so I signed up and UTA22 was my first ever trail race and I had the most amazing experience and haven’t looked back! It was the hardest but most enjoyable event I had ever done..I certainly remember the stairs and hearing the crowd pulling me to the top!”  Um, Steph just wondering if this was 2016 when you came first female at UTA Pace 22??

Now that we have established that Steph is both a trail and road speedster, what tips does she have for people transitioning from road to trail? “I still do both and I like to think I’m a runner regardless of the terrain! But those looking to transition I would say don’t worry about pace or distance just worry about time on feet! 1hr is still an hour! And find some buddies to explore your local trails with!”

With ultra-distances, the chance of injury unfortunately tends to rise, something you’re no stranger to. How do you bounce back from injury and do you find yourself incorporating different things into your training to prevent them? “I had my first ever major injury in 2018 when I got a high grade stress fracture in my heel bone in August. I was devastated as I couldn’t go race in UTMB or the sky running world champs but I knew it was a comma not a full stop for my running! So I focused on what I could do whilst in the boot (swim, water run, bike, gym) and then adding lots of walking during my first weeks out of the boot. And I stayed as positive as I could and I thought of the big picture of 2019! I am now only 5months post injury and running better than before I got hurt! I have continued gym and mountain biking which I find both enjoyable and great training!
I rest better than before (better sleep) and make sure I get good nutrition (calcium and protein) after each session!”

Is there any specific training you do Steph to prepare you for trail running events as opposed to road running? “I love hills and also like to stay fast so I like to do lots of hard down hill running- toughens the legs and good for turnover!”

Stephanie Auston Brisbane Trail Ultra 60 km Race Ambassador

Nutrition is very personal but we are keen to find out how elites stay energised and fast. What is your race nutrition plan Steph? “I try and start eating within the first 10km (just a bite of a cliff bar) and then try and finish it over the next 10km (a bit every k) and then try have a caffeine gel at 2hrs and then repeat at 2.5hr mark until I can’t stomach any more!”

Let’s delve in a bit further and find out about Steph’s specific daily nutrition plan. “I try and always have good options available especially at work…my main session is always first so when I get back and before work I always try and have a good breakfast! I love frozen fruit at the moment so that and yogurt is a staple breakfast! I also love chia pods so that’s a good combo- lunch is similar or a wrap and then dinner is anything from salad and meat or pasta etc I eat most things! I am quite plain and simple so don’t like spicy food but otherwise anything with colour and nutrient dense is good. I struggle with my iron so I try eat red meat a few times a week but love my veggies.”

What kit do you run in? any shout outs to particular sponsors? “I am so very fortunate to be sponsored by Salomon and Suunto!! 🙂 I run with a Suunto 9, plan to use the new womens specific salomon 8L pack for this event and love the sense lab shoes to race in.”

With such a busy schedule, how do you balance your training, work and personal commitments? “It’s tricky as I work almost full time as a physio at the local hospital in rehab which I really enjoy but does make squeezing everything in hard! But I love it so I make it work. I always get up early and my first session of the day is the most important so once its done and I get to work at 8am I switch to physio brain. I work in a great workplace and have a great group of physios and health workers so its quite a positive environment. Its also quite physical- always walking and exercising people which I quite like. I then use running and riding to socialise in the arvo as most of my friends are runners (and I am getting my workmates into it too!) So once a week I do a MTB with a group from work and running and then do 3 or 4 runs an arvo with other people…My partner James loves camping so we try and integrate lots of adventures and weekends away to camp and run. But most nights once I get home its nice just to veg out watch some TV and just chill.”

Steph has recently smashed out an amazing race at the 2 Bays Trail Run. What else is on the horizon for 2019? “It’s a busy year but I have only planned to July to see how things go! I am heading to Tarewara for my first ever 100k..My focus is then 6 Foot Track, then UTA 50k before Brisbane Trail Ultra 60 in July! I also have some fun races including Crackenback 50k, Alpine Ascent 50k, Buffalo Stampede and the Oxfam 100 in the mix too…i like to race. I don’t think you can peak in every race but using them as an excuse to run round new places!”

The BTU team thank Steph for taking time out to chat to us and we are very much looking forward to seeing her smash her goals in 2019 and beyond. Happy Trails.

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