Running To Recovery: 5 Questions With Ellie Greenwood

Ellie Greenwood is at home on the trails. Photo: Ryan Mayo | Clif Bar

The 34-year-old ultrarunner is looking to bounce back after a couple tough injuries. 

With first place finishes at Chuckanut 50K, American River 50 Mile Endurance Run, White River 50 Mile Endurance Run, Ultra Race of Champions 100K and JFK 50 Mile among others, as well as a record-setting first-place finish at Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, Ellie Greenwood was on fire in 2012. But 2013 hasn’t been as kind to the 34-year old Vancouver resident. Plagued by injuries, first a stress fracture in her fibula and now pain in her tibialis posterior, Greenwood has raced just twice in 2013, but with impressive results. She won the inaugural Telluride Mountain Run Vertical Hill Climb and was first female at the Moray Marathon in Scotland. We caught up with Greenwood to hear about her road to recovery and what she’s discovered about balance.

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You went from a jammed packed racing schedule in 2012 to limited racing and running this year. Yet, you seem incredibly upbeat about it—what’s your secret?

I was used to running 15-20 hours a week, so it was important to find something else constructive to do with my time. I bought a road bike—it’s fun and completely different from what I’m used to. I’ve become a cyclist with my other injured running friends! I also haven’t had to go it alone, you just can’t. I’ve met with a sports medicine doctor and other professionals, so I have a direction for my treatment and people helping me. It also helps that my sponsors have been really supportive and stuck with me while I recover. They know I would much rather be running!

Besides cycling what have you been doing for recovery?

This has been a good opportunity to do useful things that will help my running. Sometimes it’s hard to make time for all the other things you know you should be doing, and this has been my chance. I met with a personal trainer who helped me with run specific weight training, added pool running to the mix, now get massages with regularity and go to physical therapy. At physical therapy, I focus on learning the reasons for the exercises and look at them as part of my training, not just something to help with an injury.

How do you find balance between work and training?

To me, it’s really a question of how you like to spend your free time, and I like to focus on work and fitness. I make priorities and have quite a routine. It’s relatively easy to fit in running—I like to mix road and trail—so I can run from anywhere.

You are known for being strong at distance events. What’s your secret?

I train for distance, but a certain amount of the reason is that it suits me. You have to be tough and problem solve along the way. If you can keep going as other people drop off, that helps. I just like running. With longer distances, you warm up as you go, which is what I prefer. The idea of having to warm up for shorter races isn’t something I’m used to. I also like mixing road and trail running. As trail ultras are getting more competitive, road racing helps me develop my speed and be faster on the trails.

What comeback races do you have planned?

I don’t have any specific events selected yet, but I really enjoy classic races, events that have been around a long time and have a good story behind them. I’ve realized that my competitive years are limited. I’m not going to do a race just because it has a prize purse. I want to choose meaningful events and try races I haven’t done. But, Comrades Marathon in South Africa is my favorite (Greenwood took second place at the race in 2012), and I would do it every year if I could!

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