Breaking The Mental Barriers With Emily Stutesman

(Emily Stutesman finished 4th in the D2 girls race at the State Championships.-photo by John Hays)

Year: Junior
Where are you from and when did you begin running?
I am a native to Arizona and I actually found running a little later than some. In 7th grade I participated in cheer and then decided to do track in the spring and loved it! I started off in hurdles and decided I wanted to do the 800, too. It was a complete accident that I ended up in the mile (the longest distance for my middle school) and when I participated in it, I fell in love. I then made the choice to continue my running at the high school level where I have run cross country and track ever since.
What do you prefer: Long Runs or Workouts, and what is your favorite?
I love distance runs because I feel like it's a time where I can clear my head and just pay attention to everything around me. I used to struggle during long runs due to the length of time and being out on a course for so long, but now I look forward to the time to just run with no worries. I find it really relaxing just running out in the mornings when the sun is just beginning to rise along different paths.
Do you have a favorite pre-race routine or ritual you could describe for us?
I am a very routined person by nature so routines make sense to me. This may sound crazy, but I always have a Pb and J the day of my race. My freshman year, upperclassmen told me that Pb and Js are amazing for pre-race fuel. I tried it and felt like it worked really well so I continued the tradition and share it with the underclassmen now. Pasta is my night before the race meal. One of the rituals I began as a freshman and continue to do is pray. Praying before my races reminds me that I am not alone when the pain of racing hits.

Do you have a role-model from years past at Deer Valley? If so what was the most valuable lesson they taught you?
My role model was a senior named Amber Zehner during my freshman year. She showed me what it means to be a leader for a team and how to stay confident when life doesn't go as planned. Amber was injured and in a boot for the majority of the cross country season her senior year, but that didn't stop her from doing everything she could to help the team and recover herself. When I was coming back to running this year, I looked up to her and her dedication to the team as motivation for myself when difficulties struck.
You spent some time at Rosewood Center for Eating Disorders in Wickenburg. What was the most valuable thing you heard from the people over there?
The most valuable thing I could take from Rosewood would probably be that life doesn't always have a set course and things change and fluctuate, but no matter what happens there are people to support you and help you through the difficulties. The people I met there have changed my life in ways I can't describe, I am in contact with the people I was in treatment with and we always reach out to each other.
How has your attitude about food changed over the past year along with your eating habits?
I would say that my attitude has shifted completely. Food is not something I view as calories anymore, but something I view as fuel that allows me to live the life I want live. I follow this saying, "Food is fuel to live to run". I now understand more of how my body works and how caloric needs vary depending on the individual. Balance is something that has became very important to my life as I now understand that it's not just about eating "healthy foods", but nutrient dense foods and knowing that it's okay to eat sweets, too. Your Coach says you were a little disappointed in yourself finishing 4th at the State Meet. In retrospect, what kind of confidence does returning to fitness and placing so high at State, give you for the future?
(Right: Emily finished 4th at State in 19:11.-photo by John Hays)                
I went into this cross country season wanting to prove to myself that I can compete at a high level with a healthy body and mind. After finishing with not only a better place, but time as well at State, I was finally able prove to myself that I can return to an even better level than I was at before anorexia. My confidence has grown significantly and it gives me the hope of continuing to break through mental barriers and have a successful track season.
If you could go on a long-run with any professional athlete who would it be and why?
Emma Coburn because she has overcome incredible odds and supports a strong and healthy body for all athletes. She also grew up in a small town, but didn't let that stop her from achieving large goals and dreams.
Are you involved in any other activities at Deer Valley? If so which one(s)?
I am involved with NHS and Outreach. I plan to become involved with FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). I also participate in tutoring after school if teachers offer it. Outside of school, I am a 12 year Girl Scout working on my gold award, church youth leader, and I volunteer at the my local library.
How has the running community helped you? What do you hope to occur from sharing your story?
The entire running community has made me feel loved and it's amazing to feel supported by so many runners. I feel like it is really important for runners to support each other and one up about their own struggles. I hope that through sharing my story I am able to encourage others to share theirs and prove that you can overcome the odds and achieve the impossible.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you to my team, family, and Coach Zent for being there for me through all of the ups and downs.
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