Why do you run? Inside each and every one of us there is something that keeps us yearning for progress in our lives. Each of us has a story that has brought us to this place, the present. For someone like Amanda Basham, her goal is to let her story be an inspiration to others who also look to follow their own dreams and conquer adversity big or small. Amanda gave me an in-depth interview on her story and I am very excited to share it with you.
Amanda is a 28 year old professional runner and endurance coach. She began her journey in the trail world a few years ago and instantly fell in love. She signed up for her first 50k and won. Less than a week later she was looking into doing her first 50 miler and placed 2nd at that race. Since then she has won a championship race and placed top 5 at the most prestigious 100 miler in the US.
What got you started in the beginning in running?
Amanda: So I actually got started with track and field back in Jr. high, in those days however I was just doing it because all of my friends were doing it and I really didn’t have too much interest in running and purposely tried to do as little running as possible. I also was very involved in tons of other sports, every other sport you can think of I was doing until my senior year of high school. It was that year that I stopped doing volleyball and started cross country. So if you rewind back to right after my freshman year of high school I developed a really bad eating disorder, it wasn’t really a slow process it sort of just showed up all of the sudden you know? I try and think back to those days as to why it happened or what was going on and it’s really hard because after that happened it’s like my brain was in such a fog I don’t remember half of high school. So back to my senior year, when I made the switch I walked into practice I had no clue what I was doing and I hadn’t ran distance really at all, had no watch, and I had a pair of walking shoes that I just bought and had no clue they were walking shoes from Payless Shoe Source. I come from a small town so that was like the only option to buy shoes at the time. So I started just following what the coach was telling me to do and as the season went on I became more and more interested in it to the point I was more focused on cross country than my eating disorder. The team was amazing and became some of my best friends and I ended up winning the district championship that year and it was the first time our women’s team had won in 14 years. I immediately switched to distance in track and won more events and went to state which inevitably got me into collegiate running. I only did that for 2 years because I actually really didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, but I was continuing to run on my own which led to longer and longer distances.
So how did you make the transition to trail running?
Amanda: Well I ended up getting injured after the 2013 Boston marathon which forced me to go on the trails as I was coming back from an injury. It was amazing. I lived in Portland at the time and it was pretty much like I never looked back, trails were all I wanted to do and I even trained on them for road races. It kind of just went from there and I noticed most of the trail races were ultras. I knew I could do a marathon and I could probably do a 50k so I started with that and it just kept getting longer and longer and the rest is history.
How has running helped you to conquer adversity?
Amanda: Well honestly when I started to run distance it was a very positive thing for me. I realized quickly I couldn’t do the thing I loved which was running if I was unhealthy and getting caught up in this eating disorder. I think that could be why I didn’t enjoy college level running as much, It was a new level of pressure and it felt different than when I got started and it really put me mentally in that place that I was when I was dealing with the disorder, so choosing to remove myself from that and pursue running on my own was a really good decision on my part.
At what stage did you realize you were on the right track with running?
Amanda: Well I would say there were a couple of stages. The first indicator to me was when I won district championship in high school because I was so new to the sport. I sort of knew at that point that I could potentially be really good at this if I dedicated my time to it. The 2nd thing that pointed the way for me was after college I got a job at the Nike headquarters and had been running trail for a short time and I was told about the Nike trail team. I knew the athlete manager so I approached this person and told them I know it sounded crazy but I wanted to join the trail team. I was sent a few races and told to do well at some of those and we could talk further from there. I did exactly that. I signed up, trained for the race, did well, and was offered a spot on the Nike team. At that point it all felt so weird I was like am I considered professional at this point? But it was one of those moments where it went beyond what I was used to and it was another spot that I was like yeah I am really on the right track.
How did you continue to push your career forward?
Amanda: Well I ran with Nike for 3 years and I knew I wanted to take it further so I moved to Colorado so I could train high altitude in the mountains and not be in an office everyday you know? But it got way better after that. When I moved I still ran with Nike for about a year and that was the year that was big for me, I got 4th at Western States and did well in other events and that is when Altra approached me and we did the whole deciding factor and I ended up going with Altra.
So how have things been for you running in recent times?
Amanda: So last year had a whole mess of things going on. Firstly I moved to Utah for a job I really ended up not liking, I was in a new place and just some family stuff I had going on and it was just a tough year all around. I felt as though I went backwards last year even though I really did my best to keep moving forward throughout everything. But this year I have a great job and my life stress has been very low and I wanted to come back from last year 10 fold. Especially after 2016 being such a great year I knew I had to come and do better. So I really focused on keeping my life stress low so I could train and work and enjoy things and do well and prove I wasn’t just a one hit wonder type of thing. So I went to Tarawera and placed 2nd, really was running for that first place spot but Kelly Wolf held me off. I have placed top 3 in 3 large races this year and I honestly couldn’t be happier with the way things are turning out, I just feel like it keeps getting better and better.
What are some goals you have for the near future?
Amanda: So I set A, B and C goals. A goals being hard to get and will take lots of work, so my A goal for this year I really want to podium at Western States, and by that I mean top 3 but that is definitely more short term, my long term goal is a bit different but I have an amazing job and it has taken me a long time to find a job that works well with my running and I don’t ever want to get to the point where I am just running. I feel more comfortable and continue to love running more when I have other things going on and it means I don’t have to win certain races to pay my rent, you know? It keeps it fun when I get to do it out of pure enjoyment and I can still perform at a high level while having my job. So I always want to keep it fun while I compete at the highest level I possibly can. I think that it is important for people to know that you can have things going on in life and still reach a competitive point in running, and more importantly I want people to know that hardship in life is not permanent. You can do amazing things even when it feels like you’re stuck or don’t know which direction to go, I just want to keep trying to be inspirational to those who need something to believe in.
If the world could only know 1 thing about you, what would you want them to know?
Amanda: This is a hard question… but, I think the easiest way to sum that question up would be the motto I live by which is tattooed on my leg and it says “Relentless forward progress” and I try to apply that saying to every aspect of my life.
Amanda Basham has huge plans for a massive year and has already done such big things. I am excited to see the endeavors she will choose to take and I hope we can all use her story as a lesson of inspiration when times are tough. Remember relentless forward progress through any adversity and trust the process.
I’d love to hear your stories of inspiring triumphs and victories! Please leave comments below and lets discuss!