Ultra Runner in Hawai’i: Patrick Stover
Patrick Stover is no stranger to competitive running – he’s been entering and winning top honors in races since he was in high school. These days, he focuses on trails and ultras and loves competing. In 2017 he was the first runner from Hawai’i to cross the finish line at the Xterra Trail Run World Championship (and seventh overall), and also set a new course record at the notoriously brutal Peacock Challenge 55 mile ultra race (by the makers of the infamous HURT 100 miler). Here he talks with us about his life as a professional runner.
Runnerclick: Hi Patrick! thank you for taking the time out of your busy life to interview with us today. What do you find to be most rewarding as a runner?
Patrick Stover: When I first started to run, the satisfaction of achieving things you didn’t realize you could accomplish. But after that, when I became a runner I realized I was not the only one interested in it, and that brought on another level of satisfaction. You meet certain people you would otherwise not have crossed paths with because you enjoy doing the same thing. And it is rewarding to go places and see things that you didn’t think existed or think you would ever see. Example: Imi’s Temple in Hawaii. I can’t even tell you how to get there. That’s a place I would not have seen if I wasn’t a runner. Summit of Mauna Loa. Valleys of Waimanu. And people? Uncle Johnny, Joe Ironman, Bree Brown, My wife, Sara Stover. Billy Barnett.
RC: Can you tell us about your biggest running related challenge, and how you overcame/are overcoming it?PS: Injury. I have had only two major injuries. I was sidelined for 3 to 4 weeks with a stress fracture in my foot. And this year I hurt my glute. At first, it sucks because you are used to running in your free time. But you can’t. You go home and get frustrated. So you decide to do things like clean your closet and spend time with your nephews. I would take them to the park and play on the swing set with them. Practically, swim and stretch and do other things to stay fit and stay sane.
When I first started running, I got injured all the time. I learned to listen to my body and let my body heal, and then ease back in. That’s the smart way to train.
RC: What type of running is your specialty, and when and where is your next race?
PS: Distance racing. My specialty in high school was the 800 to 1 mile. Cross country? It was the 3 miler. Speed then… but now it is about endurance. And now trails are my specialty b/c most ultras are trail races. I do like the challenge of marathons and I race those for times. But ultras are harder. I race those as an endurance athlete. They take strength and endurance. Speed is fun every once in a while though! Next race? Black Canyons 100k in February in AZ. I am hoping to qualify for the Western States in this race because it is a Golden Ticket race. No matter what I hope to see how other high caliber runners race and see how much work I have to put in to be at their level. I am excited about a new type of terrain and a different field of athletes.
RC: In terms of beautiful scenery, what race/course is your favorite?
PS: This is my favorite because no one else is there when I run there. I feel alone and it’s peaceful running the lava field section between Waikoloa and Keholo. It’s lava rock and it’s not that exciting. But when I look up I see Mauna Kea, Haleakala, the ocean, the sky, the beaches, Hualalai, goats on the trails, past history, and the present and future. It’s hot but pretty!
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RC: Can you share the top three little things you do to prevent injuries?
PS: Top 3 things to prevent injury: 1) Stretch after I run. Stretching before is not a bad idea, but after is key! 2) Rest. Honor the recovery days and weeks. Listen to hurt muscles and rest. 3) Getting massages helped. It might not be necessary for everyone all the time. But after hard, long workouts, or when I feel something weird, I see Jesse Houlding. 4) I have to add this one – strength training. Do it so you can rely on those muscles as back up when your other muscles tire out. Do body weight exercises if you don’t like the gym, like me. These are preventative.
RC: Do you incorporate any type of cross-training into your fitness regime?
PS: I am going to start working on this again. I used to do bike rides and do body weight training. Although hikes are great for runners who are always on the road, I want to do cross training while avoiding the road.
RC: How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
PS: Normally I want to run. Back in the day, I wanted to go home from work and watch TV. Now I just make myself run right after work. Sometimes I bring my running gear to work and don’t let myself go home until I run! If I am really stuck, I ask a friend to run with me. When a friend is counting on you to show up, it’s motivating for both of you!
RC: What’s your favorite food before and after a run?
PS: Before – it used to be spaghetti but now it is burritos! Fats, protein, carbs, all the things you want. After – Saimen with kimchi and eggs. Something hot!
RC: What would you tell someone who is interested in becoming a runner?
PS: Find a running company/ local business that will help you find the right shoes and connect you with group runs and expert runners! And they will answer your questions about running and training too. This often develops into a running community. Here on the Big Island, we have the Big Island Running Company, and I have met a lot of people that made me less nervous about group runs when I first started. That’s how I found my running partners. Now I have 3 or 4 different groups around the community to run with depending on schedules and race goals!
RC: If fans or fellow runners would like to contact you or keep up with your career, where can they connect with you?
PS: I try to reply to people as fast as possible, depending on my work and training schedule. I post mostly on Instagram to give people a glance into my running experience. There’s so much I wish I could share that I can’t unless they run with me! You can find me on Facebook as Patrick Stover, or on Instagram @patstover88.