What’s Your Workout: Kari Sturtevant

Posted on Sep 14, 2015

Posted in: What's Your Workout

Exercise is Not An Indulgence For This Small Business Owner and First Time Mom

Kari Sturtevant does not consider exercise to be “me-time” but rather an essential part of her daily life.  She schedules it into her day just like an important meeting or time with patients.  As a first-time mom and sole owner of Peak Performance Physical Therapy, time management is foremost in her mind.  Since opening the doors in 2001, Kari has grown her business from a solo practice to one with 4 physical therapists and a second location at Lake Park Swim and Fitness.  Throughout the course of the day she juggles multiple responsibilities, both professionally and personally.  It is more challenging to find time for running but she makes it work.  “Because I am self-employed I have the luxury of creating a schedule that works for me.”

Kari has always loved running.  Growing up in Menasha, WI she used to race the neighborhood boys on bikes while she was on foot.  She ran track in high school and then later at Marquette University where she graduated with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy.  Other sports, like cycling and rowing, made appearances in her life but running is her real passion.  In 2007 she ramped up her training to race competitively, the culmination of which was the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 2010.  She finished 17th in her age group and 157th overall out of 5400 female runners, with a personal record of 1:41.23.  The photo finish and bib still hang in her office.

Shortly thereafter she set her sights on a new goal: having a baby.  It was not an easy journey for Kari and, after struggling with infertility, she finally gave birth to healthy boy in February 2014.  Since becoming a mom her fitness goals have changed.  Now she aims to maintain mileage and overall fitness. “Before having a baby I made more excuses to skip running but now I don’t.  He is pleasant and happy in the stroller and he might not be if we stayed at home.  Really, it is a preservation of my mental health as much as my physical health.”

The Workout

 Kari runs 3-5 miles three times per week and occasionally ups the mileage to 6-7.  She is a creature of habit and she sticks to one of three running routes, either 3, 4 or 5 miles respectively.  She knows if she pushes herself too hard then she will end up with an injury.  She suffers from an ongoing hamstring injury and pushing a stroller can wreak havoc on her back.  She quips, “Thank goodness I am a physical therapist!”

Strength training is also part of her exercise routine.  She lifts weights at the downtown YMCA two times per week, focusing on muscle groups that need work like her neck and back.  She typically creates a circuit of 6 exercises with a few therapy exercises thrown in for good measure.  She also includes 10 minutes of core work even though it is not her favorite thing.  “I focus on core work more than I would like to.”

Besides scheduled exercise, Kari enjoys getting outside as much as possible.  She lives close to downtown and will walk or bike to many errands.  In the summertime she grows a robust vegetable and perennial garden and on nice days she spends time weeding and maintaining it as much as she can.

The Diet

Kari does not believe in fad diets, cleanses or eliminating whole food groups.  She strives to maintain a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and meat.  She loves breakfast and, if she had more time she would make pancakes, french toast or waffles.  Alas big breakfasts are not practical when there is a hungry toddler afoot.  Nowadays she eats homemade granola bars, oatmeal or fruit and yogurt.

At the office she likes to snack on dried fruit, nuts, yogurt, granola bars or cheese and crackers.  She tries to stash healthy snacks because if there is junk food lying around she will eat it.  Lunch typically consists of leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.

Being a single mom makes dinner the most challenging meal to prepare.  Typically Kari will crank out a few big meals during the weekend and save them for busy weeknights.  With the arrival of cooler temperatures she has been craving hearty dishes such as bolognese, chili, braised beef with chipotle peppers, and pork chops in the crockpot.  Soups are also a favorite because they are easy to make, portable and freezable.  She recently prepared carrot soup using fresh carrots from her garden and black bean soup.

The Gear

Running shoes are Kari’s weakness.  “I specialize in patients with running injuries so I sample lots of different shoes.”  Currently she loves the Asics GT 2000 and the Brooks Pure Cadence running shoe. She hasn’t found a winter running shoe that she loves but Saucony makes a pair that comes close.  They are knobbier on the bottom and have better grip on icy sidewalks and roads.

For clothing Kari is partial to Craft gear.  However, she has trouble finding running tights that fit her properly.  “I have super long legs and I couldn’t find a pair that fit properly.  Finally I gave up looking and bought longer socks instead.”  Her sports bras come exclusively from Moving Comfort.

Kari brings her son along on her runs.  Her stroller is a Bob Ironman which she loves because the wheel does not pivot.  It goes straight.  “It is great for running but not so good for dodging crowds at the Farmer’s Market.  It is the Cadillac version but I figured that I have enough barriers to running and I didn’t want a crappy stroller to be one of them.”

The Playlist

 Surprisingly, Kari does not listen to music when she runs, partly because she cannot find earphones that fit her ears and partly because she prefers to listen to nature.  She describes feeling claustrophobic when listening to music while on a run.  “I do a good job of cheering myself on in my head. Negative thoughts don’t go through my head.”  Running is her quiet time, where she can zone out and leave all the noise of daily life behind.
Kari Sturtevant

What’s Your Workout