Training for the Trials with HOKA Northern Arizona Elite

NAZ-Elite-InterviewWhat’s it like to train for one of the biggest races of your life, knowing that race will be the center of the running universe when it happens, the subject of intense speculation ahead of time, and will pit you against the fastest marathoners in the U.S., all of whom have prepared — like you — to run their absolute best race that day for the chance to represent their country later this summer?

Based on our experience training for just about any race, we imagine it would help if you had friends and teammates to train with — to help push you along and hold you accountable each day in your buildup.

Fortunately for the professional marathoners of HOKA Northern Arizona (NAZ) Elite, the Flagstaff, Arizona-based training group provides just that as they prepare for the chance to wear the U.S.A. jersey in August. To do so, they’ll need to finish top-three at the team Trials in Atlanta February 29.

To highlight their group dynamic, we asked the HOKA NAZ Elite athletes who will be competing to sit down and talk about the race, why it’s significant, and how they’re ensuring they have the best chance to make the team.

Enjoy this HOKA NAZ Elite “group interview,” where they’ll take turns asking each other about their training and their strategy for race day.

The Crew

HOKA-Steph Bruce Stephanie Bruce (Marathon Personal Best [PB]: 2:27:47)

HOKA-Scott Fauble Scott Fauble (Marathon PB: 2:09:09)

HOKA-Aliphine Tuliamuk Aliphine Tuliamuk (Marathon PB: 2:26:50)

HOKA-Scott Smith Scott Smith (Marathon PB: 2:11:14)

kt-head Kellyn Taylor (Marathon PB: 2:24:28)

HOKA-Sid Vaughn Sid Vaughn (Half-marathon PB: 1:03:30)

What is this race? Why is it a big deal?

HOKA-Scott Fauble I’m Scott Fauble, and I’m going be asking the first question to Steph Bruce. Steph, can you explain this race, and what it’s for? And how is it different than the other Trials race held in June?

HOKA-Steph Bruce Great question Scott. This is the Marathon Trials, and it is basically to determine the U.S. team for the marathon this summer. So in Atlanta, the top three finishers to cross the line make up our U.S. team in the marathon. This is held earlier than the U.S. Track & Field Trials because it is very difficult to run a marathon in June to make the team, and then come back and run another marathon in August. So, they like to have the marathon Trials a few months earlier than the Track & Field Trials. Atlanta got the Marathon Trials this year and it happens to fall on February 29th.

What has training been like?

HOKA-Steph Bruce Now I am going to be asking Scott Smith and Kellyn Taylor: what has your training been like? Are you approaching this marathon differently since it’s a hillier course? Does that change your training mentally, physically, and workout-wise?

kt-head Atlanta is a very hilly course. There’s not really a whole lot of flat on the course, so we’ve definitely been preparing with a lot of uphills and downhills, trying to avoid really flat surfaces unless we need just a little bit of relief. Outside of that, I think that everything has been pretty similar [to a normal marathon buildup] in regards to mileage and effort. Maybe a little more intense than some prior segments, but that’s the Trials for you.

HOKA-Scott Smith Yeah, I think we are approaching it a little differently in terms of not putting any sort of time expectation on the course or the race for a couple reasons. First, time is pretty irrelevant when you’re racing for place and it doesn’t really matter what your time is as long as you end up on that podium and you earn a spot on the U.S. team. Second, [this] has been different from some approaches in the past. For example: the last marathon we were in was Chicago, so we were doing a lot of very specific pacing since that’s a flat fast course to try and get very efficient at a certain pace that I wanted to sustain for 26.2 miles. Whereas in Atlanta, that’s really not the case, so a lot of the training hasn’t necessarily been being married to splits on the watch; it’s just been getting on, like Kellyn mentioned, difficult terrain, and learning how to run efficiently up and down hills versus running with a very certain pace.

What is your goal at the race?

kt-head The next question I have is for Aliphine and Scott Fauble. What are your goals, and do you have any predictions about this upcoming race?


HOKA-Scott Fauble My goal is to win the race and I predict that I will do it.

HOKA-Aliphine Tuliamuk My goal, I know it might sound lofty, but my goal is to make the U.S. team. I read an article about Scott [Fauble] & Ben [Rosario, HOKA NAZ Elite coach] the other day and I know you said your goal should be to win the race, not to just make the team, but I’m going to say to make the team. That means I am going to try to win, number one, and if I really fall short I definitely want to be in the top three. And my prediction? I think I’m going to do it, just like Scott said.

Which shoes do you use for training? Which will you use for racing?

HOKA-Aliphine Tuliamuk This one’s for Sid Vaughn and Stephanie Bruce. Are the shoes you’re training in different from the shoes you’ll be racing in and how so?


HOKA-Steph Bruce I do a lot of my easy and recovery runs in the Cliftons. We’re currently running in the Clifton 6. Then I do a lot of my workouts and races in the EVO Carbon Rocket, and I’ve been racing in them since about 2018. Just recently we’ve been trying out the Rocket X, and I’ve like them so far, so if things point towards that direction, I will most likely run the marathon in the Rocket X.

HOKA-Sid Vaughn Yeah, very similar to Steph: I train my easy runs in the Clifton 6 or the Bondi 6, and for workouts and races I’ve used the Carbon X in the past. But like Steph said, we just got the Rocket X and it has been my favorite flat so far, so I’ll probably be racing in that one.


Good luck to our HOKA NAZ Elite athletes racing in Atlanta on February 29! Follow @hokaoneone on Instagram and Twitter for updates on race day. It’s Time to Fly™.

Time to Be Seen and Heard with Logan Russell


“From a young age I struggled with body image. I was larger than a lot of my friends, and built differently, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but when the media is telling you something different, and telling you who you are, and what your worth means, and how your weight relates to that, that’s hard to get past. Part of finding myself was learning to love my body and love who I am as a person.”

Logan Russell started her blog to “inspire women to discover their personal style as a means of building self-confidence.” We sat down with Logan to discuss how she’s challenging the status quo.

HOKA: Tell us about yourself. 

Logan: My name is Logan Russell, I’m a body positive fashion blogger with a passion for fitness. My goal is to inspire women to embrace their bodies and celebrate themselves no matter their size, weight or what season of life they’re in. A big part of that is incorporating movement into our days as a form of self-care and cultivating confidence.

HOKA: What does running mean to you and what role does it play in your life?

Logan: Running started as a necessity in sports growing up, but as I got older it became my “me time.” Each run is an opportunity to challenge my body, celebrate my strengths, and work through any mental roadblocks. It’s an incredible release! I love how running serves my mental and physical health at the same time. When I’m really stressed or emotional, I know that I can lace up my shoes and work through it in a constructive way through movement. I always come out of a run a different person than when I entered it. That transformative power is pretty amazing!

HOKA: What does ‘Time to challenge the Status Quo’ mean to you? 

Logan: When it comes to my journey with fitness, especially running, ‘time to Challenge the Status Quo’ pretty much sums everything up. Because of my size, I never fit the beauty standard that society and media has impressed upon us. I was especially challenged on my abilities in athletics. How could I possibly be strong enough for this workout or have the endurance for this run at my weight? How could I think of myself as an athlete, when I don’t look like an athlete “should.” Despite the walls I knew would be in front of me and despite the doubts of others, I showed up. I continue to show up on the road, the mat, and at the gym to create space for myself and others who don’t fit the status quo.
‘Challenging the Status Quo’ is choosing to honor who you are and what serves you, to celebrate yourself and your body, no matter what challenges or intolerance you may face. It’s not letting others define who you are. It’s recognizing your worth goes far beyond size, weight and appearance. You are worthy of every joy in life, just as you are.


HOKA: What is your advice to anyone who might be facing adversity and wanting to challenge the status quo?

Logan: Facing any challenge, big or small, is never easy. There will be times when you’ll doubt yourself, when you might start to believe they’re right, and when you’re so exhausted or frustrated you’ll want to throw in the towel. Don’t give up. Know that every single time you show up and choose YOU, it’s a win. The journey will be messy and full of ups and downs, but the joy you find on the other end makes it worth every bit of blood, sweat and tears. You are worth the fight!

HOKA: Anything else you’d like to share?

Logan: It’s important that we continue to push for diversity in fitness and normalize the representation of women of all sizes. HOKA is doing an incredible job creating an inclusive community of athletes. I’m so grateful to be part of it! But while the industry has certainly made progress in the last year or so when it comes to size inclusivity, we still have a lot of work to do. This means more people need to stand up and share their story. If space isn’t being created for us, then we need to create it ourselves. That’s how we progress! I hope that my story can help inspire others to challenge the status quo and be part of the change.


To learn more about Logan Russell, watch the video below:

Time to Be Awesome with Sam Holness


“I’m a triathlete that just happens to have autism. And I’m going to be awesome.  

Most people don’t understand autism. If I can show people that someone with autism can be a successful triathlete, then it will motivate people.  

Autism is an advantage. I am very focused, and I’m not easily distracted.  

I want to show that people with autism can participate in sport. In fact, autism is a strength and athletes from any background can be great triathletes. All you need to do is get out there and get active. Don’t let your disability be a reason for not doing sport.  

I enjoy doing triathlons because it gives me confidence and improves my self-esteem.”


Learn more about Sam below:


Time to See it Our Way with RunGirl

Founded in 2010, RunGirl is a non-profit based in Tokyo City, Japan, consisting of a group of women from different backgrounds who all like to run. Created when its organizers realized there were no female-centric running events in the region, the group has grown to include multiple volunteer- and running-related events. Above all, their aim remains to empower women through running. The group consists of a group of driven women who, regardless of background, all like to run. We sat down with some members of RunGirl to learn more about how they’re challenging the status quo.

RunGirl-1HOKA: Tell us your names and where you’re from.
宇田川佳子(Yoshiko Udagawa, Tokyo)
柴田玲(Rei Shibata, Tokyo)
大原里絵(Rie Ohara, Chiba)

HOKA: Can you tell us about the “status quo” that you’re challenging?
“We want to keep shaping a new movement focused on runners. That movement isn’t shaped by the existing image of runners — the status quo of what a runner should look like or train for –and that doesn’t limit individual behaviors and dreams.”

HOKA: What was the reason for founding the women’s-only run group?
“RunGirl wasn’t born because we wanted to create an organization, but because we wanted to create a running competition that was fitting us. When we founded RunGirlNight in 2010, it was because we felt like there wasn’t any kind of female-oriented event and competition, so we just thought to make it by ourselves. Members who agreed with this idea (mainly friends and acquaintances from work who were interested in running) gathered, and RunGirl was born.”


HOKA: Was it a run group you founded first or an event?
“We gathered to create a women’s-centered event from scratch, but in order to do this and get support from the government and other companies we had to officialize the group in a corporation; so, we became a non-profit organization. But I soon felt that planning an event was not the only reason for us to be together.
A group of women with such unique personalities and experience in different working fields had all the assets to create a new movement in Japan. We decided to continue our activity by following our theme “‘enriching everyday life with the power of women running.'”

HOKA: How has that mission grown?
“Twitter was becoming really popular in 2010 and our volunteer members were posting there. Then we started getting messages, sponsorships, and more volunteers and participants. In that period there was also a general excitement of the women’s running boom in Japan.
Thanks to all these factors we could finally hold our first RunGirlNight about seven months after our formation. After that, people started to recognize us even more.”

HOKA: What’s your proudest result of having started the organization?
“We kept on holding our events without interruption for nine years.
Our RunGirlNight in particular was a competition like no other.
Many of our members were in their 30s so people were coming and going because of marriages, having children, etc., but we always managed to keep on moving forward without forgetting our original mission.”

HOKA: What is the “mission” of Run Girl?
“‘Enriching everyday life with the power of women running.’ We want to empower women to run in this society, and to change this society for the better.”

HOKA: You’ve shifted your focus from a run event to a partnership with Tokyo City. Can you tell us more about that partnership?
“There are other things that can be done as a runner apart from holding a race — this is why we decided to start two activities called ‘Clean’ and ‘Safety.”Clean’ entails picking up litter while running (aka “plogging”). ‘Safety’ involves protecting the city while running and using our presence on the run for crime prevention. The latter was done in consultation with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. We believe these two projects will make Tokyo a better place and increase the excitement for this summer.
Nine years ago, one of our key concepts was “a runner’s city is clean and safe” — we feel now that we are finally making this idea a concrete reality.”

HOKA: What’s your main message to fellow Japanese (or global) women?
“The beauty of running. All RunGirl’s members are women whose life has been changed by running.”

“Running is not a victory or a defeat, it’s something that gives you time to confront your mind and body, connect with people, encounter new sceneries, and draw out of you the power to pursue your goals.
In Japan, most people running are elderly, but we want to show the young the beauty of this sport and increase women runners throughout the country.”

“Running is a lifelong sport and I want to share its joy forever, and thanks to RunGirl we are doing this.”

HOKA: What would you say to a young girl to help them feel empowered?
“I would like to share what I have learned while launching RunGirlNight: the courage to challenge things or situations and do things that have never been done.
In the process of creating this event, I felt I’ve realized something that was never achieved before, and this was thanks to the experiences that each member had realized individually.
What I have personally learned from running, instead, is that I can keep on expanding my possibilities even after I get older by running faster and for longer distances.”

HOKA: Is night watch and neighborhood running still a big part of what you do?
“Well, night running is very common in Tokyo because routes are safer and during summer mornings it’s too hot to run. Indeed, one of the reasons why RunGirlNight was set up in the evening was also because it was a hot September.”

HOKA: Are there other groups that are part of RunGirl outside of Tokyo?
“RunGirl’s members all live in the Tokyo area, but we hold marathons in Nagoya and Osaka and helped in making Okinawa’s Marathon more female-friendly. We really work in different areas; this year, for example, we will support the Women’s Beginners Club at Saitama International Marathon.”

HOKA: What have you discovered to be the best part of running as a group?
“RunGirl members do not always run together but activities like ‘plogging’ have the merit to make something that doing alone would be difficult.”

HOKA: What does running give to you? What sensations do you experience when running?
宇田川― 心身ともに健康になり、自己肯定感と達成感が得られること。
柴田– 直接的には、爽快感。疲れるというよりはパワーチャージとか目覚めるような感覚。
大原― 得られるものは、健康!!美肌!!達成感!!
“Being healthy both mentally and physically, and to have a sense of strong affirmation and achievement. You work and raise a child, it’s a busy life, always doing two things at the same time: when you run, you can finally focus on just one thing and your sensibility gets sharpened.”

“In a literal sense, it’s refreshing. I feel like I am waking up instead of getting tired. In a more implicit sense, it gives life a certain accent. A sense of accomplishment. Connection with people.”

“Also, it makes you healthy and sense of self-accomplishment. When you run you can finally face yourself – it’s a precious personal time.”

HOKA: Is society’s perspective on women in sports like running all wrong? How so?
“As far as it concerns running, there are so many male runners and event organizers, it’s overwhelming. Though I think that overall the environment surrounding female runners has greatly improved over the last ten years.
It’s nice seeing that you can enjoy running in the same places with women and men of all ages, professionals or just regular citizens. However, you use your body while running and there are inevitable differences between women and men — accepting these differences will lead to a correct understanding of them.
This is why I think we need to create an environment made for specifically female runners.”

Learn more about RunGirl and how they’re challenging the status quo below:


Time to Break Free with Samantha Chan

“I started running when I was 12. The coach kept asking me to come back, but my grandmother and my mother kept asking me not to go, because it’s not the girls’ thing – you just stay home and do housework. I thought ‘no, someone appreciates my ability, why don’t you let me go?’ I think that it’s my own decision that I need to keep going and need to run. “

We sat down with Samantha Chan, a trail runner from Hong Kong, to discuss her upbringing, overcoming adversity, and breaking free from the status quo.

HOKA: Tell us about yourself.

Samantha: I am Samantha Chan from Hong Kong, and I am a trail runner. I grew up in a housing estate, like most of the kids in Hong Kong. Running came into my life when I was 13 years old; it brought me unlimited space and freedom in such a crowded environment. I was in love with it since I started.

HOKA: What does running mean to you and what role does it play in your life?

Samantha: At first, I found running very hard, but later on I was in love with running as it brought changes to my life. When I was young, I always thought that I was so ordinary and wouldn’t have any achievements. Running built up my confidence. If I trained hard, I would probably have good results. This taught me about trying hard and working hard to achieve objectives in my life.

HOKA: Has your relationship with running changed throughout your life? If so, how has it changed or evolved?

Samantha: In the earlier stage, I found confidence and learned how to work hard by running. As I became older, running helped me to relieve stress in life. Especially trail running: I love nature, and I always come home with a smile after training the whole day on the trails. I feel so relaxed and satisfied. I also travel to different countries for races; it feels like connecting with different places by my feet, and that’s a wonderful experience.


HOKA: What does ‘Time to Fly’ mean to you?

Samantha: ‘Time to Fly’ means trying harder than I’ve tried in my life to achieve a goal, and in the process, I make changes to attitude and actions. If I don’t change anything, I probably wouldn’t achieve bigger goals.

HOKA: What is your advice to anyone who might be facing adversity and wanting to challenge the status quo?

If you are facing adversity, ask yourself why you had the incentive to do something. Is it right? If so, then be confident and be brave, be stubborn and take the first step. You will receive a lot of help and encouragement when you pursue something right.

HOKA: Anything else you’d like to share?

Samantha: In my opinion, I’m the one who decides what I can and cannot. No one can tell me what I cannot do.
I wouldn’t let the word talent limit myself. Working hard is so important in life, and it might exceed what talent defines for you.


Learn more about Samantha Chan below: