Ruby Muir burst onto the international ultrarunning scene with her win at the 2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon. She missed returning to the race last year due to a stress fracture. Later in the year, Ruby tore a quad muscle in a fall. In the following interview, Ruby talks about her year of injuries, her path back to fitness, and how she’s feeling heading into Tarawera 2015.
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Ruby Muir Pre-2015 Tarawera Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Ruby Muir before the 2015 Tarawera Ultramarathon. How are you, Ruby?
Ruby Muir: Good.
iRunFar: I chatted with you two years ago when you had a great race here two years ago. Then you ran into some problems last year in terms of injury. What happened?
Muir: I’ve had a few injuries. The last time at Tarawera, I was recovering from a stress fracture. Just as I got back from that I had a pretty bad fall and tore a muscle in my quadriceps. Finally I’m back and ready to run now.
iRunFar: Back and ready to run. The stress fracture—was that foot, leg, hip?
Muir: My tibia, well maybe. I never got a proper diagnosis. It was pretty obvious.
iRunFar: So you took some time off from that to heal up, and then it was more of a traumatic type injury with the fall?
Muir: Yeah, it came out of the blue a bit more.
iRunFar: That hasn’t healed? You’re able to run again, but you’re running on 7/8 quad muscles?
Muir: I think so. We’re not totally sure. Once specialist thinks a bit of it’s attached maybe? I’m not paying for another ultrasound to find out. Most of it is definitely gone, but the other muscles are compensating pretty well.
iRunFar: You’ve worked your way back up slowly.
Muir: Yeah, I spent a lot of time I the gym over winter, and just after December I finally got out of the gym. By only running really smooth roads, I’ve picked my mileage back up to 120 to 140k which is much more than I was hoping to do this soon out of the gym. I’m actually really happy with that.
iRunFar: So you’ve had to change a little bit what you run and how you run, is that correct?
Muir: Yeah. It’s been quite fun for a change. I always love running on the trails, but actually road running is quite fun, too. I love getting into a rhythm, and I’m feeling quite strong. So this year I have some road goals which will be an interesting change.
iRunFar: How do you find your fitness coming into Tarawera? Are you thinking you’re pretty strong?
Muir: Well, I’ve had some really good training, but only for five weeks. If I could keep doing that for another five weeks, then I’d be feeling good. But the race is now, and my training went amazingly well considering. I think it will be fine.
iRunFar: You’ve got about seven times the training Núria [Picas] has. I think she has about five or six days so far. It’s kind of that time of year for people in the Northern Hemisphere, but for you…
Muir: A bit early in the season, but for us it’s sort of the end of the season.
iRunFar: Have you been able to race at all in the last year?
Muir: I did the Kepler [Challenge].
iRunFar: Which I presume you won again?
Muir: Yeah, in my personal worst time… out of the gym, but I was really happy with that because only two weeks or three weeks before that was when I had my MRI and they told me, “You can’t run on this. You should probably give up running totally.” I said, “Well, I actually am running. It’s not that good, but I can do it.” So I decided to enter the race just to… because this is an injury that’s not necessarily getting better, I was like, Well I’m going to have to live with this if I want to keep doing what I love. So I entered it in sort of that mindset. I guess I’ve retained quite a lot of my base, and my knee held up pretty well. So here I am at this one.
iRunFar: Here you are. And you find it’s actually come so your stride is balanced again?
Muir: I think strength-wise it’s balanced by running on the road. I used to get a lot of back pain because one side was a lot weaker. My good leg, my arch had been collapsing, and I still have problems with that. Coordination and range of motion is still not the same, so on the trails that can get a bit scary at times and stairs and things and leaping from rock to rock which is what I used to love.
iRunFar: Playing on the hillsides… so maybe coming down the stairs into Blue Lake, you’ll have to be a little more careful?
Muir: I’ll have to go down sideways down the main stairs, but…
iRunFar: Do you really?
Muir: Yeah, lately, but I’m not really working on that. I’ve just decided that this year I’m going to do road, and maybe a year later I might get back into it and find out it’s not as hard. I’m not sure. The risks are too high at the moment. If I fall wrong on it, it’s not good.
iRunFar: You feel alright given it’s 100k on less technical and steep trail?
Muir: Yeah, it’s not too technical, and I’ve got different strategy. I’m going to try and target those roads at the end for once.
iRunFar: Really? That’s the opposite of your approach in the past.
Muir: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I’ve just had to change my mindset.
iRunFar: You’re looking forward to it, I bet?
Muir: Yes, I am.
iRunFar: It must be more of a gift of running now that you’ve had a couple major injuries?
Muir: Yeah, especially with this knee. I was offered the opportunity of surgery initially when we thought the tear was further down the tendon. I was told the surgery would take a year. Initially you’re in a leg brace or even a wheelchair because it’s quite a serious surgery. I was weighing up… at that time I was sort of able to run 10k on a flat, easy road. I was like, Well, maybe I could cope with that for the rest of my life being able to get some therapeutic exercise. So I sort of accepted that. Then to get where I am now, it feels like a gift all over again.
iRunFar: Awesome. Two years ago when I was talking to you before and after your win at Tarawera, you were kind of off the radar and probably not so used to being in front of the camera. Now you’ve had a great film made about you—a 10-minute short. What was that like?
Muir: Aaron, who made it, is a really nice guy. I guess I knew him as a person and he asked me and I said yes for that reason. But it’s definitely his film. I’m not going out of my way to make this all about me. I let him tell the story he wanted to tell. I think it’s really beautiful. I have to watch it on mute because I’m too embarrassed about how awkward I am, but when I watch it on mute I realize he’s a really talented guy.
iRunFar: Best of luck out there, Ruby, this weekend. Have fun.
Muir: Cheers. Yeah, cool.