Chasing your marathon PR with Mireille Sine

Sometimes goals are achieved, and other times we miss the mark.

At the start line of the 2018 San Francisco Marathon, I felt completely prepared to crush my goal. I PRed by six minutes and felt an even greater sense of accomplishment knowing I had done so on one of the toughest courses on the West Coast.

Following a new PR and high confidence from the San Francisco Marathon, I had high ambitions going into my home course— the 2019 Los Angeles Marathon. The race was off to a great start but by mile 18, the wheels started to fall off. As I got slower, even taking walk breaks in between strides, I could feel my goal of getting a PR slipping away. It was hard not to feel disappointed, but a marathon is never easy. I ended up finishing in the same time I ran San Francisco. It was back to the drawing board.

 

As a fellow runner or sports enthusiasts, it is likely that you’ve experienced both of these scenarios in your own way. Today, I am going to take you through my goal setting process with some strategies you can incorporate into your own routine. For me, goal setting usually comes in four steps:


1.  Visualize/Make a plan

Now I know this may sound like old news, but there is a reason why “visualization” keeps popping up in any self-improvement or training space. That’s because it works! When I say visualize, I mean mentally and physically. I often refer to one of my favorite quotes: “you can’t be what you can’t see.” First you must see the goal in your mind. Once you see it, then you are able to write or draw it out on paper. How do you feel when you see yourself achieving the goal? What steps do you need to get there? The more detailed you are, the lower the chances of getting distracted. Before every training cycle, I like to see in my mind’s eye what I want that cycle to look like. When I am out on a run, I often visualize myself crossing the finish line and that feeling of achievement is incredibly motivating. I always plan out my weekly workouts. Then I make sure to write down my run mileage or gym classes in my planner.

Photo credit: Erik Valiente
Photo credit: Erik Valiente

2. (Realistically) Show up

Once the planning stages are done, it’s time to get to work. A big part of goal chasing is showing up for yourself. That doesn’t just mean getting the miles in, but showing up for yourself can also look like eating healthier foods and getting better rest, both of which will be conducive to your goals success. At this stage, you also want to figure out what works and what doesn’t for you. Are you a morning runner or an evening runner? What other obligations on your calendar do you need to take into consideration? It is important to be realistic about your answers to these questions. For example, don’t tell yourself you’re going to wake up at 5AM for a run when you know you enjoy sleeping in. This will only lead to frustration. It is also very easy to get tunnel vision when in pursuit of your goals. When I am training for a marathon, it can easily become the only thing I care about. But I remember that life is about balance and taking care of responsibilities is another way I can show up for myself.

3. Support Others

One great way to keep the fire lit on your goals is to support others in pursuit of their own. This can be someone who is training for the same race as you or that good life-long friend who has finally started their business venture/dream job/travel plans, etc. The importance of community is something I have experienced time and time again throughout my running journey. Thanks to social media, it has only gotten easier to send an encouraging message or an inspiring comment to someone you know or even a stranger. Not to mention, it is a great accountability tool should you choose to use it as such. Training can be tough, but having that community to lean on during the hard moments or to celebrate the small victories can make all the difference. I am so lucky to be a part of BlacklistLA and the Los Angeles running community because it feels like one big family. Need advice or recommendations? There is bound to be someone who has been in your shoes. Forgot your gels? There’s always someone willing to spare one.

Photo credit: Erik Valiente
Photo credit: Erik Valiente

4. Test and reassess

After months of visualization, showing up, and supporting others, it’s time to go after that goal. When I am at the start line, I like to go back to my original visualization: the feeling of crossing that finish line. It’s true what they say: anything can happen on race day. But with enough preparation, I believe we all possess the ability to get through the highest highs and lowest lows on race day. This is the “test” portion. Following race day, I find it extremely valuable to to reflect back on the race and the training cycle.Often times it is with my fellow run club members or coach. This adds another level of honesty and accountability to how training and the race went. It’s always great to see ourselves from the perspective of others who witnessed us putting the work in. Soon enough, it’ll be time to do it all over again.

I’m gearing up for a 50k training cycle this summer and a marathon cycle in the fall where I will be working towards setting a PR. I hope you can follow along through my Instagram (@mireille.sine) and share your running journeys with me as well! In our success and failures, one thing we must always keep in mind is that joy comes from the pursuit. Now, go out there and chase your amazing!

Shop the all new Clifton 6 here.

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Breaking out of plateaus the positive way with Michael Fang

Are you the motivated runner who wants to do it all? Beat a personal best, qualify for Boston, win the local beer mile or finish a marathon in high-waisted jean shorts? These are all great goals (especially the last one), but what happens when you get stuck? What if you get an injury, experience burnout or get too busy? In this blog post, I will walk you through my running journey and some lessons I’ve picked up along the way for breaking through a running plateau.

Photo credit: Hans Meckler
Photo credit: Hans Meckler
  1. Find your reason why, then focus on the process.

I love running today, but as a kid the concept always held a special place in my heart— dread. I was last in class to finish my 5th grade mile test with a time of 13:45.

Fast forward to my first year in graduate school at Caltech. After weeks of spending 80 or more hours in the lab, I hit the gym to look for an outlet. When I saw the treadmills, I knew exactly what I wanted to do— go sub six in the mile. I had found my reason to run. For the next month, I kept coming back to the gym to chase that goal. Eventually I clocked in 5:58 mile on the track but was left with that feeling of “now what” yet again. I went for distance next.

When we are faced with this feeling of “now what,” it is because we are in a results driven mindset. But if we instead focus on the why and the process, then we start approaching things a little differently. For graduate school, my “why” is to learn more about the world and the process is developing good scientific habits. For running, think about what brought you to running in the first place and develop a process to reinforce that reason. I run because I want to see how fast and long my body can go. My process is working on habits that make me a better runner over the long term.

2. Prepare for the worst scenarios and celebrate the best outcomes.

As I began running longer distances and steeper terrain, the risk of injury increased rapidly. Eventually, a stress fracture in my metatarsal sprung up during a run. The sharp pain shot up my foot and with disappointment, I had to walk four miles back home. I was not prepared to handle a big injury just five months into training. With just six weeks to go before my first big race, navigating that injury remains my toughest plateau. So how did I get through it?

I took a deep dive into the world of aqua jogging and cycling. I practiced patience and knew that for every day I rested, my stress fracture would heal just a little bit more. I had the suspicion that I was healed up a month later, when I managed to run very slowly on grass without pain. I ran less than a mile that day, but I continues to ease into longer distances that week. By the end, I did a 18 mile “test run” to see if I was ready. I ended up finishing that race, my first 50k, well aware that I would have to drop if the pain came back. Fortunately, the pain never resurfaced and I celebrated with my first ultra marathon finish. I will never forget that a little twinge here or there should be treated with the utmost care. If you prepare yourself to handle these early signs of injury (the worst scenario), then more likely than not, you’ll find that you just needed an extra rest day or two (the best outcome).

Photo credit: Hans Meckler
Photo credit: Hans Meckler

3. Love the sport, draw inspiration from others and show your support.

During my injury, I was looking for other ways to be involved in the running community. I stumbled across this upcoming local race called the Angeles Crest 100. I reached out for volunteering to see what the hype was about. The aid station I worked was at mile 34, a distance that surpassed my own goals, yet was only a third of the way to the finish. From the first athlete to the last, I was greeted with smiles and thanks for helping. On that day, I was inspired by the positivity and learned what the sport was really about. The next day, I signed up to run in the following year. I was so inspired, that I had overlooked the fact that I was still injured when I signed up.

4. It’s all about the long term, so moderation is key.

A couple months after the injury and 50k I finished my first 50 miler, and my first 100k soon after. Angeles Crest was my “A” race, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready. Somehow I thought that doing a separate 100 mile course beforehand would prepare me well. I had also figured I would get that A race done one way or another, so why not sign up for the Tahoe 200, which was a month later? Before long, I was signed up for the San Diego 100 in June, Angeles Crest 100 in August, and the Tahoe 200 in September. Needless to say, I was a bit overbooked.

Thankfully, a voice of reason stepped in shortly after: my coach, HOKA Athlete David Roche. He fully supported my goals but warned me of burnout and impaired long term development. Per his advice, I opted out of the 200, but even then he was completely right. San Diego 100 took a lot out of me. It took me a month to recover and feel like myself again. At that point, I only had a month to properly train for the Angeles Crest 100. After finishing my second 100, I struggled to maintain a positive relationship with running for a few months. When I signed up for these races, I wasn’t thinking long term about what I would be doing afterwards. I was still thinking about results, not the process. Had I also practiced moderation, I would not have burnt out. I would have been a faster and healthier runner.

michael-fang-3
Photo credit: Hans Meckler

5.  Set yourself up for success.

Have a favorite coffee, stretch, pump up song or warm up routine? Do it everyday and you’ll be finishing runs effortlessly. It can be harder to maintain a routine when life throws a wrench in your plans, so let’s embrace the fact that we humans are lazy. Yes, I said it! We are all lazy, but some of us have figured out how to take advantage of that fact. Feeling too tired to get out of bed? Put your phone next to the coffee machine, which was preset to start brewing first thing in the morning. Don’t feel like getting out the door and running? Put your coffee in a thermos and take it outside for a nice walk. Either the weather will be really nice, and you’ll want to run, or the weather will be freezing cold, and you’ll want to start running to warm up! The point is, the magic doesn’t happen on its own, it’s up to you to make it happen.

6. Run with your friends/community.

About half of all runners choose to run alone, which is great for clearing your head and running at your own pace. But for those who have never run with a group or friends before, give it a shot to see how you like it! For me, being a part of communities such as BlacklistLA and Some Work All Play (Roche’s coaching group) have taught me that we’re all in this together, going through the same ups and the same downs. Sharing the running experience with others can help you stay motivated and focused. Running doesn’t have to be an individual sport!

7. Slow is good for the soul!

Never have too much ego to slow down on your runs when you need it. Sometimes, your body just needs a mental and physical reset. By taking your run slow (which is slower than you think), you can stick with your routine without accumulating too much stress. That’s a win-win if you ask me.

These lessons have been invaluable for me when going from 0 to 100 miles to in between. Now, I’ve come full circle and turned my focus to the sub six mile over the marathon distance.

As part of my routine, my frequent go-to shoe is the speedy Hupana EM. The shoe provides a comfy and responsive feel that gives me that extra pep in my step, for easy days and workouts alike.

M_HupanaEM_BWHT_2

Road shoes to success: A HOKA marathoner’s top three picks

HOKA Athlete Kellyn Taylor does it all— she’s a mom, a professional athlete and is training to become a firefighter. If that wasn’t already impressive, her 2:24:28 Personal Best at Grandma’s Marathon ranked her as the seventh fastest American woman in marathon history.

As an elite marathoner who is constantly on the go, Kellyn values function and versatility above all else when choosing a road shoe. She has demonstrated that you can train and race like a pro with three go-to models for marathon training.

Kellyn_CRHILLS

Here’s a breakdown of Kellyn’s HOKA closet of marathon shoes and how she chooses the right road shoe to tackle her day and her running goals.

The Clifton: Jack of all trades

“I have worn the Clifton as my primary trainer since signing with the company back in 2015! These shoes have taken me through easy runs, long runs, workouts and even a couple of races. The Clifton is the perfect combination of cushion and stability. When I can only take one pair of shoes on a trip the Clifton is my go-to.”

W_Clifton6_BASY_2

Preorder the Clifton 6 here.

The Cavu: Function and fashion

“Rather new to the HOKA lineup but quick to win my heart. The Cavu is a sleek looking shoe that is equally as functional as it is good looking. The Clifton used to be my only easy run trainer but the Cavu has earned a few days a week. It has a nice fit and an effortless feel to it. The Cavu is my go to casual shoe that pairs as a responsive trainer. Most press conferences, airports and day to day happenings will find me wearing this shoe.”

W_Cavu2_LMVB_2

 

Learn more about the Cavu 2 here.

The Tracer: Time to go fast

“I have ran six of my seven marathons in the Tracer. It looks like a racer and feels like one too. When the Tracer is on my feet I know that it’s time to go fast! The Tracer is my go-to shoe for all road workouts and all of my races. We have been through a lot— a sixth place at the marathon trials all the way to a 2:24 marathon, making it my best marathon shoe!”

W_Tracer2_VBWI_2

Check out Kellyn’s best marathon shoe, the Tracer 2, here.

 

Bold, innovative & breaking records: The creation of the Carbon X

On May 4th, one of HOKA’s most innovative shoes was unveiled in a way that challenged limits. The Carbon X was showcased by HOKA athletes from around the world in attempt to conquer a 100K course in Folsom, CA. The goal was simple — to break a World Record. After nearly five hours of running at a 5:48 per mile pace, Jim Walmsley did just that, walking away with the World Record for the 50 mile distance en route to finishing the 100K.

After years of development by the HOKA Design, Product and Innovation teams, the Carbon X had finally made its debut. We sat down with Director of Design Dr. Matthew Head, and Senior Product Innovation Manager Thibaut Poupard to learn more about how the Carbon X came to life and how this ultra running shoe can help inspire athletes of all types to reach for their personal best.

matt-and-thibautHOKA: What makes this the perfect shoe for breaking the 100K world record?

HEAD: No shoe is perfect for breaking records or can guarantee that! It comes down to a huge combination of factors that aren’t under our control: the wearer, their training, conditions etc.

This shoe has, however, been carefully engineered for moving fast over long distances; perfect for the 100k attempt. It has that classic HOKA cushioning for feeling fresh when the miles add up. It’s also inherently stable, so as the run wears on and you fatigue you have to worry less about your form. Then lastly the Carbon Fiber plate ensures the Carbon X has our best execution of the rocker yet, meaning you can move smoothly through the gait cycle whatever the mile. The result is an ultra running shoe that makes you feel like you want to move fast when you step in and fast as your run progresses.

jim-pcxHOKA: What differentiates this ultra running shoe from our previous carbon plate model, the EVO Carbon Rocket?

POUPARD: The EVO Carbon Rocket was designed to target shorter distances than the Carbon X. The concepts and construction are similar, but there are clear differences. The Carbon X has a greater amount of cushioning, and a more pronounced heel to toe drop— 5mm vs. 1mm. Ultimately, the Carbon X is a shoe designed to empower athletes of all levels to perform at their best, enabling them to roll smoothly and efficiently.

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HOKA: What aspect of this design are you most proud of?

HEAD: I’m proud of the whole package and what we’ve done as a team. It’s a classic HOKA product, made for everyone; we focused on the problem of moving fast over long distances and this is the result. If I had to pick something, the reaction people give when putting the shoe on for the first time and going for a jog has been really satisfying so far.

HOKA: Why will original HOKA fans loves this shoe?

HEAD: This is unmistakably a HOKA product — a great rocker, endless cushioning and inherent stability, all in a fast package. So, for a HOKA fan it’s just another extension of our experience and another difficult choice to make!

 

HOKA: Why is now the right time for HOKA to release the Carbon X?

POUPARD: After years of perfecting the Carbon X, it finally felt ready. In addition, the goals of the shoe aligned with the aspirations of the HOKA brand and our athletes. By setting the 100K Record challenge with Project Carbon X, we could inspire runners to push their own limits in whatever distance they pursue. It started with trail running. We are now we are inspiring people in the same way on the road. It is in our DNA.

HOKA: What testing went into perfecting this shoe? Who tested it, and in what conditions? How did that feedback help develop the Carbon X as we see it?

POUPARD: The Carbon X has been extensively tested by HOKA Athletes, everyday runners and in labs to ensure it reaches the standard HOKA has set with previous styles. We’ve produced many iterations over many years and tested them all to ensure that we’ve delivered the right balance of attributes.

HOKA: Who was the Carbon X made for?

POUPARD: The Carbon X was made for all runners who are willing to make their heart beat faster in the pursuit of speed!

Shop the shoe that HOKA Athlete Jim Walmsley broke the 50 Mile World Record in here.

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