Salomon athlete and professional trail runner Stevie Kremer might not strike you as a force to be reckoned with on the trail. Her youthful smile, freckles, giddy nature and spunky demeanor are completely heartwarming – until she laces up.

When she hits the dirt, she’s gone.

“I thought I was a lover of running,” she said. “But I really think I’m a lover of trail running.”

We spent a stormy afternoon with Kremer chatting about running, her life, the place she calls home, but mostly chasing her around her local trails. Her philosophy is simple: Just have fun.

A naturally gifted athlete, Kremer started running to stay in shape during her college years. After entering a few races, and a marathon that she called the hardest thing she’s ever done, she got the bug. But it took some discovery along the way.

“I was never a runner,” she said outside a coffee house in Crested Butte, Colorado, a postcard-perfect mountain town shrouded by the Rocky Mountains, and her home for the last 10 years. “I was horrible at (high school) soccer. I was on junior varsity until my senior year, because seniors weren’t allowed on JV.”

After high school, she moved from Connecticut to the alpine paradise of Colorado where she m she quickly fell in love with the trails.

“It’s the changing terrain,” she said. “No two days of trail running are the same.”

As the miles added up, Kremer took a teaching position in Italy in 2012, and regularly entered trail races all over Europe. Then, she regularly began winning.

Over the next several years she would take first place in trail and steep uphill mountain races from Aspen, Colorado, to Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Japan, France and Greece.

Today, as a professional athlete competing on a global scale, her itinerary is demanding. Making friends in the worldwide trail community, she still finds herself a small town girl. To Kremer, it’s vital to keep an equilibrium: a personal life and a life as an elite athlete.

“I had to find this balance,” she said. “How I could train and be fast, but also have a life. I think I found that perfect balance where I wake up at five (a.m.) and go for an hour run then I do my work. Then around 5 (p.m.) I might go for another run and then I’m done by 6:30 or 7, so I can go grab a beer with friends or I can go home and have dinner with my husband. I’m in bed by 9:30. It’s very important for me to have all those elements of my life.”

And that’s important to maintain in a quaint small town. In Crested Butte, everyone seems to know everyone.

“I’m not a city person,” she said. “I like having a P.O. Box. I like waving to everybody. No matter where I go, I recognize people. It’s a big family that you are a part of living here.”

Today, Kremer enjoys her training. It’s not her job, although she is a sponsored athlete, it’s her passion. And that, she says, is how you excel at something.

“So, I make sure to keep my runs fun,” she said. “I find trails that I haven’t done before or I find my favorite trails and I might do them three or four times a week. It’s all about the enjoyment. If you enjoy something, you’re going to do better at it.”

She keeps them exciting too. On a late summer day on Crested Butte’s Lower Lupine Loop, thunder rolled overhead, lightning followed. Kremer admitted that was one thing she didn’t like.

“Was that lightning,” she asked, doubling her pace.

No two runs are the same. Kremer was serious about the lightning, but her smile never faded. Later it was dinner with friends and plans for the weekend.

And there it is. That’s her big message: Keep it fun. You can be an accomplished runner, an accomplished anything – and still have a life.

“There are lots of moms out there,” she said. “They have jobs, they have two kids and they are out there running and competing and doing well.

Once you get that runner’s high, it’s hard to get ride of it. Go see the mountains,” she said. “See the wildflowers. You can do it. An hour a day.”