Q&A with Ultra Runner Tracy Wollschlager

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New Balance and RootsRated have teamed up to profile runners making a difference in their communities. We asked each of our runners a series of questions to learn a little more about what running means to them, where they like to run and what are some of their running goals.

Tracy Wollschlager routinely posts finishing times that would impress just about any runner – she’s even won two marathons. But the Seattle-based mother of two admits she doesn’t look at her watch very often. Instead, she runs to stay in shape and for the mental boost that comes via an invigorating eight or 10 miles on the trails in and around Seattle.

You moved with your family to Seattle from Michigan about two years ago. How do you like it on the West Coast?
I just cannot get over how much people work out here. People do all these things – triathlon, mountain biking, road biking – and I feel like I am just a runner! But people here are so friendly. In Michigan I didn’t do anything for injury prevention or with natural remedies. Out here, everyone told me to get a foam roller, and to take these vitamins for this and these vitamins for that. People are much more holistic out here. I had never done that before, but I’m learning all of it. I even have a naturopath doctor.

Where do you like to run around Seattle?
Paradise Valley is one area I like. It’s very close by, and you don’t have to walk any of it, which I like – that’s the marathon runner in me! You can do a run in an hour and be done. I also like Lord Hill, and the Redmond Watershed, which is definitely runnable, not a major mountain. I do that one quite a bit. I also like Cougar Mountain. There was a series there this summer, and I ran three races there. But it’s a 45-minute drive.

Wollschlager loves running at Cougar Mountain.
Wollschlager loves running at Cougar Mountain. Ratha Grimes

You ran the Chuckanut 50k in March and finished as the eighth female overall. Can you describe that experience?
One guy I run with is a very low-key person too, and he signed up for the Chuckanut, and I said, “OK, I’ll pull the trigger too, and we’ll do it together.” We didn’t really even train for it, and that was the nice thing. It was like, we’ll just show up and run. It was definitely an experience -- beautiful and it was very hilly. There were times that I knew I could walk, but then I’d think, why would I walk – it will just take me longer! The last 10k, I was thinking, just get me through this. But I’m glad I did it, and if I did another one, I would definitely do it with somebody again.

Even without a strict training regimen, what does your weekly running routine look like?
I do a sprint workout at least once and sometimes twice a week. Other days, I run eight to 10 miles, usually with somebody else, and if I’m feeling good, I’ll do my one workout where I just run and I look at my watch, so those days are like my tempo runs. And I also am focused on not getting injured. I see people who get hurt and are out for so long and that frightens me, so I try to do yoga and exercises at home to prevent that.

Do you follow any special diet as a runner?
I eat to run, so I eat a lot to be able to run well. In the morning, I have a banana and yogurt, or oats and some healthy cereal. I honestly love fruits and vegetables, and I’m not a big meat eater. I was partially vegetarian for a while, but I’m not opposed to eating fish. I also have a sweet tooth – I definitely have candy and eat ice cream with my kids. And living here in Seattle, I now have a coffee after my run.

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