Kasie Enman competing at the 2017 Mountain Running Championships in Italy. Photo: Richard Bolt
Almost two years ago, Kasie Enman hit the wall. The perpetual running machine stopped running.
After winning marathons, ultra races, a world trail running championship in 2011 and being a part of a U.S. North American cross-country championship team—plus winning a national snowshoe title—the former All-American at Middlebury College had to call timeout.
“I got sick and injured, and mentally and physically burned out in every way possible,” says Enman, 37. “I kind of shut down for a while.”
Training and running while working and raising one child was doable, but the stresses of a second child, an injury and the changes that come with getting older made her step off what she called her “straight path of running.” She halted training in the fall of 2015 and didn’t pick it up again until August of 2016.
“The combination of sleep deprivation and having two versus one (child), it was just a little bit harder to find that time to give yourself to recover and just get enough rest,” says Enman, who lives in Huntington, Vt. “I got progressively sort of run down and it all came to a head.”
In the past, whenever she had to slow things down because of injury or fatigue, she’d at least be able to cross train. Not this time.
“Because the energy fatigue was in the mix, I shut things down for a longer period,” she says.
Enman is back now and running well. In early August, she finished second in the long-course (32K/19.9 miles) competition of the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy, leading the U.S. women to a team silver. The week before she finished 13th to help the U.S. win a team gold in the short-course competition (6.5K/4 miles), making a strong push over the second half of the route to pick up valuable points.
Enman helped the U.S. women get silver at the World Mountain Running Championships in August. Photo: Nano Hobbs
But Enman’s journey back has come with a learning curve. Since returning from her self-imposed hiatus, she’s trying to figure out how to train efficiently without pushing her body past its limits or adding to her daily stress.
“You just have to get to know yourself in a different way,” she says. “What I could do in the past may not be the same as what I can do now. What training looks like has to be a little different.”
She’s listening to her body more. If she schedules a hard day but then doesn’t feel right, she cuts the workout short.
“There are so many variables in the mix that I don’t know that I’ve honed in on an exact training formula that works perfectly, aside from not being stupid,” she says, laughing. “Not forcing things. Trying to learn from all the mistakes I’ve probably made.”
So far, at least, it seems to be working.
At the World Mountain Running Championships Enman ran the 32K course—which featured 8,000 feet of climbs and descents—in 3:57:30, 45 seconds behind winner Silvia Rampazzo of Italy. Enman had the lead for about three hours and felt strong.
“I felt I was going out really easy, but I took the lead,” she recalls. “I was surprised because I felt I was going at a really comfortable pace.”
When Enman finished she thought she’d lost by quite a bit. When she realized how close it was, she wished she “could have found 45 seconds somewhere.”
Now Enman is looking forward to new challenges and goals. Her life remains busy, with a 7- and 4-year-old and multiple jobs she’s sought or created that allow her time with her family or to work from home. She and her husband produce maple syrup on their property. She also coaches a local running club, the Green Mountain Athletic Association, and is director of First Strides Vermont, a program for beginning women runners. The former full-time teacher also has a part-time contract to lead an outdoor-learning program at her daughter’s school.
“When people ask what I do for work, I say, ‘It’s complicated,’ ” she says.
But the part-time jobs give her the time she wants with her family and for training. Now, as she nears 40, she has a new goal: Return to her roots on the road, qualify for another Olympic Trials Marathon and see if she can set a marathon PR (her best is 2:37:14).
She’ll run the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8 and hopes to do others. She calls the marathon her “unfinished business.”
“I realize now I can go and explore fun trails in the mountains when I’m older and slower, but I can’t really go for a road marathon PR legitimately after the next couple of years,” Enman says. “I don’t want to walk away without trying for it. I’d have some regrets.”