Native Women Running with Verna Volker

Verna Volkner is an ultra runner and a Diné woman from New Mexico, who currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Diné is what the Navajo People call themselves in their own language, which means “The People”. Upon introduction, the traditional way a Diné person introduces themselves is naming their clans.  This tells you where they’re from and who their family is. Verna’s clans are Tódích’íi’nii (Bitterwater) nishlíi, Hashtl’ishnii (Mud People) bashishchiin,  Ta’neeszahnii (Tangle) dashicheii, and Tó’ áheedlíinii (Water Flows Together) dashinalí. These identities express Verna’s background and her quest to bring forth the Native People into the world of running.  

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Verna created a social media group through Instagram called, Native Women Running (NWR).  This group was created out of her great frustration at the lack of Native representation. Verna never saw anyone who looked like her in the running world, which was upsetting because running is such a sacred experience for many Native runners.  Running is a celebration of connection to the land – the drumming of the feet hitting the earth, the prayers that are breathed in and out of the lungs, the power of the legs pushing forward, giving you the ability to make one more stride.  Running invites you to observe the beauty of the land that you pass through – the sage brush, the trees, the grass.  Running invites you to be in communication with our four-legged cousins – the birds of the air, and the insects that fly or crawl. When we run, we feel and experience it all. 

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In 2009, Verna started running. As a mother of three children, she started running to lose weight and to help engage a healthier lifestyle. It was tough and it was hard – even simply running a mile wasn’t easy.  But as hard as the beginning was, it pushed her forward and showed her that she can do something she never thought she could do: she could run. Slowly that mile became two and she began to recognize something else – someone else. As the miles increased so did her awareness of herself. She found a passion; she found a new journey.  

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NWR represents a group of strong resilient Native runners. It’s a rare gift when a social media group somehow feels like a family, but this is exactly what Verna created.  The space she holds and brings forth is one of beauty, strength, pain, and resiliency. Women share personal stories of joy and affliction. They share adoration of the land on which they run on.  Inspiration moves throughout the group, they encourage each other, they push each other. But more importantly they support one another.  

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A passion that is especially uplifted by this group is advocacy and awareness of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW).  The numbers of stolen sisters are staggering – our women and girls are being taken from us at an alarming rate.  Native women are murdered at a rate of 10 times higher than other ethnicities and it’s the third leading cause of death for beloved family members.  The majority of these murders are committed by non-Native people. Due to the lack of communication between state, local, federal, and tribal law enforcement, it’s difficult to begin the investigation process.  We can’t begin to tell you about the violence that our women face. And it’s not just on the Reservations, it’s down the street –  in urban neighborhoods, and in suburban homes. What’s also staggering is that 84% of Native/Indigenous women will experience violence in their lifetime.  Violence against Native Women is everywhere. Verna and NWR raise a voice for the voiceless.  May 5th is the international day to honor our MMIW and dsVerna created a virtual run to honor our missing and murdered sisters.  It was powerful to witness the vast number of supporters, who wore red and came together to honor our women and children.  

Through NWR, Verna expresses her greatest hope: to create more visibility for Native runners. And not just one runner, but all runners.  To learn more about NWR, visit their website, www.nativewomenrunning.com and follow them on social media, Instagram and Facebook, @nativewomenrunning.   

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Verna is featured wearing the Bondi 7.

Photography and blog content provided by Jaylyn Gough.

Choosing the Right Shoe for your New Year’s Resolution

New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep. Like any commitment, following through means taking the steps necessary to set yourself up for success. 

Part of that is having the right gear and finding the right fit.

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Whether you’ve decided to train for a marathon or just want to get outside more, the wrong running shoes or apparel can make it that much more difficult to keep up with a new good habit.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, here’s a little HOKA advice on how to to gear up for the new you:

The right shoes for running a marathon

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If you’re committed to training for and running a marathon this year, look into carbon-plated running shoes.

Made with a cutting-edge carbon fiber plate between the midsole and outsole, this emerging running shoe design technology combines superior cushioning and stability with minimal energy loss. That’s what makes these cutting edge running shoes perfect for those looking to extend their endurance over the course of the year.

HOKA has been in the carbon-plated running shoe game since 2019, and is celebrating the first day of the new year with the new Carbon X 2, available January 1st. 

The right shoes and apparel for getting outside more

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Choosing the right gear for spending more time outdoors depends on what you mean by “getting outside more.”

If your goal is to go for regular walks or runs around the neighborhood this January, look into a trail running shoe. Trail running shoes are sturdy and durable, built with grippy rubber outsoles for a stable ride. Even if you’re not planning on hitting up a trail, added traction features offered by trail running shoes make them a good option for running in rain, snow and ice.

If “going outside” means exploring nature in all its rugged glory, then you might need something a bit more impervious to the elements than trail running shoes with breathable mesh uppers designed more to avoid water logging than keep your feet dry over prolonged stretches. Trail running shoes with GORE-TEX uppers will protect your feet from the elements, perfect for day hikes. For more difficult, technical terrain or overnight trips, try a full hiking boot for added stability.

And if you’re an accomplished trail runner or hiking enthusiast looking to raise your game in the new year with the most advanced gear available, check out the TenNine trail running shoe and TenNine Hike GORE-TEX boot. 

SHOP HOKA TRAIL SHOES

The right shoes for cross-training

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Cross-training shoes should be versatile. They need to be great for most types of exercise, and wearable before and after a workout.

A lightweight, breathable running shoe is perfect for cross-training. Since they’re not meant for intense, long-distance running, these shoes can cut down on the foam while still providing superior cushioning. Add a breathable, snug-fitting upper, and you’ve got the perfect shoe for any kind of workout.

A perfect example is the Hupana Flow. Built with an engineered knit upper for breathability and a springy, responsive rubberized foam outsole, it’s a running shoe that works for just about anything. Combine that with some training apparel, and you’re set.

SHOP HOKA TRAINING & GYM SHOES

The right shoes for relaxing self-care

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Not every resolution needs to be about pushing yourself harder. It’s just as important to give your body and mind a rest.

Start with your feet. If you’re a runner, ensuring your feet get the proper time to rest and recover is crucial. And if you’re not, there’s nothing better than wearing something comfortable.

Try on a pair of recovery sandals. The ORA recovery slide is built to aid the post-race recovery of overworked feet, whether you’ve just run an ultra marathon or not. It’s a slide with a HOKA max-cushion midsole.

SHOP HOKA RECOVERY SHOES

Tackling a New Year’s resolution can be hard, even if you have the right tools for the job. But as long as you stick to actionable goals and keep a positive mindset, you’ll get yours done. You can do it.

Good luck and Happy New Year. It’s Time To Fly™

How Carbon-Plated Running Shoes Took the Running World by Storm

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You’ve probably heard of carbon fiber, the ultra-lightweight yet ultra-firm material used to make high-performance bike frames and Formula One cars. 

For the past handful of years, this revolutionary material has quietly been changing the game in a similar fashion for running shoes.

HOKA has been part of the carbon fiber revolution since the beginning, developing the Carbon Rocket – one of the earliest carbon fiber plated running shoes ever used in races. (The original Carbon Rocket never went on sale to consumers, but a later version of it – the Evo Carbon Rocket – was widely available.)

Many associate carbon-plated running shoes with professional marathoners and ultra distance runners, but the technology benefits runners of all levels of experience. Whether you’re a seasoned competitor looking to shave milliseconds off a personal best or a newer runner looking to start off on the right foot, carbon-plated running shoes have plenty to offer.

Joining the carbon revolution

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A carbon-plated running shoe is basically a sandwich, with carbon fiber plates and placed between the midsole and the outsole. Of course, perfecting the design isn’t as simple as just wedging carbon fiber into an existing shoe.

Released in 2019, the Carbon Rocket was HOKA’s first carbon-plated running shoe, and its primary structure consisted of a soft foam midsole and a grippy, rubberized foam outsole.

The addition of a carbon fiber plate to this winning formula for maximum cushion performance was designed to stiffen the shoe, giving runners a more stable, propulsive, efficient ride, and helped the foam layers compress and expand more quickly to return more energy with each stride.

The Carbon Rocket was a strong first step into carbon plated shoe design, contributing stability and minimal energy loss in a package that delivered speed and distance performance while maintaining a low total weight.

Runners noticed the difference immediately, both mile-by-mile and over the course of full marathons.

From design breakthrough to breaking records

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Because running shoes with carbon plating are designed to combine a stable base, increased energy return and a springier feel, runners noticed a more marked difference in performance over the course of longer runs.

As the initial Carbon Rocket design provided real-world road testing for the newest evolution in distance running shoes, HOKA’s approach to integrating carbon fiber quickly took a new leap forward. Our next carbon-plated shoe, the Carbon X, featured more foam cushion than the initial Rocket, with a redesigned carbon plate and a new, lightweight upper, designed to get the absolute most energy return out of every footstrike.

We built it specifically for the purpose of breaking a world record: the fastest 50-mile run. Mission accomplished, with plenty of help from Jim Walmsley’s incredible endurance. But it was also a shoe designed to help propel every athlete forward – whatever their speed, whatever their goals. All of HOKA’s carbon fiber-plated shoes are designed to produce top performances by elite athletes while allowing the rest of us to experience their unique ride. 

Carbon-plated performance goes near-weightless

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The next evolutionary stage in carbon-plated running shoe design was to squeeze every performance advantage possible out of a shoe designed for a broader range of running events than just the ultra marathon.

Enter the HOKA Rocket X.

With a midsole made of new EVA foam – the lightest we’ve ever made – the Rocket X combined a breathable mesh upper and grippy rubber outsole with a super thin, redesigned 1mm carbon plate.

Weighing in at just over 7oz, the Rocket X is the lightest running shoe in the HOKA lineup, while also delivering the propulsive launch of a carbon-plated shoe. The result is designed to be as beneficial on the track as it is on the road, and a perfect starting point for runners of all experience levels looking for a taste of what carbon fiber can do.

The future of carbon-plated running shoes

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While the Rocket X contributes lightweight responsiveness as an everyday running shoe or middle distance performer, it’s not meant to replace the Carbon X for endurance runs.

The next step in bridging that gap is the Carbon X 2.

Built from the ground up for long-distance runs, the X 2 shaves weight from the Carbon X model with a lightweight mesh upper, featuring a streamlined tongue and redesigned collar for a snug fit. The midsole is also made of softer, lighter foam designed for more energy return, paired with the original Carbon X’s rubberized outsole. The carbon fiber plate itself is also placed lower to the ground to give the Carbon X 2 an even softer feel.

Preorder a pair in advance of their January 1st release. 

Are carbon plated running shoes right for me?

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As with any design innovation that results in rewritten record books, carbon fiber-plated running shoes have drawn their share of debate and controversy among the upper echelons of the running world.

Do they offer an unfair advantage? Is it okay for a new generation of athletes equipped with carbon fiber-plated running shoes to threaten long-standing records that were broken without that technology?

We’ll let the relevant governing bodies decide.

In the meantime, rest assured that heated debate among elite athletes obscures the bigger picture for a majority of runners: since feeling good while running is a good thing, carbon fiber-plated running shoes should be available for anybody.

Give them a try, see how they feel, and find out what a more propulsive ride does for your speed, endurance and, most importantly, confidence.

Take the leap. It’s Time to Fly™.

Reclaiming Trails with Joy By L. Renee Blount

When I’m out hiking, I recognize I’m quite visible at times. My goal is to always reclaim a trail through visibility and my joy— a push against only thinking about the summit. Instead, it’s about the joy of the journey. My presence, words, and visuals are meant to be a visual and textual representation of what being a hiker can be.

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A hike is simply walking in nature. It often feels way less accessible to many who are new to it. But the truth is you are likely not new at all. In fact, you are already an experienced urban hiker. You understand the sidewalk trails and urban landscapes. When I define hiking in those terms, it is what it should be— much more accessible as an activity. 

Don’t think for one second you are not capable or qualified.  I encourage you to embrace taking back the term. When I explain hiking in this, I find more people, especially folks of color, feel more at ease in joining me.

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I’m a climber first. I started hiking out of necessity to get the climbing areas that can be often be deeply nestled in. Prior to climbing, I never viewed what I was doing as hiking, which means I was dissociating my nature experience rather than claiming it.  And then I spent a few summers out West and hiked constantly. There are days when I want & need the intense push as an athlete & adventure photographer. But then there are days I where I use hiking as a restorative exercise.  I’m inspired by seeing rad landscapes and microclimates. I do it to make my soul smile. I even dance on my water breaks.

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I tend to go to heavily-used trails if I’m solo for safety. I now live in the Bay Area full-time, and this is one of my favorite hikes up on Mt. Tamalpais on ancestral Ohlone lands. The Dipsea Matt Davis Trail, a well-trafficked loop, that I begin near Pantoll Campground. Hike through a forest and it opens up to a seascape where you can see where the Pacific meets the San Francisco Bay. It’s a beautiful trail run, hike, or photo adventure. If you’re super adventurous, hike all the way to the bottom and grab fresh oysters at Stinson Beach at the Parkside Cafe. Bring your camera. Bring your joy.

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I want this to be an invitation for you to reclaim your local trail or even sidewalk. Hike anywhere. Hike your city. It’s just a walk in nature for the soul.

About L:

Featured on a recent cover of Outside Magazine, L (short for Lanisha) is a climber, photographer, athlete, and innovation strategist. 

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Lanisha is featured wearing the Tennine Hike GTX.

Running to Get Your Mind Right with Sophia Short

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I’m Sophia Short – I work as a social media strategist during the day and write and teach yoga on the side.

I started running at a pretty early age – I’m about a year younger than my older brother and he took an interest in running in elementary school so of course I followed suit. Throughout high school, I ran on my school’s cross-country team (hey, it was a sport you didn’t have to try out for!) and completed a marathon my senior year of high school. When my freshman year of college hit, I had a pretty big swing of depression and as a result took a break from running for over a year (more on mental health later!). I started running consistently again when I began working full time and didn’t want to take the subway home every day from work in New York. From there, I moved to LA and the weather is pretty great to get out for runs in the mornings, so running is once again a piece of my life.

SSUphill1000I run about three mornings a week around my neighborhood in Los Angeles (it’s horrifying I do claim to be a morning person) and take walks after work a couple of nights too in my HOKAs. I like running in particular because it can slow down my mind especially when life is busy. With so much going on just in a regular day, all of your thoughts – especially creative ones – can feel like they’re orbiting around in random directions in your brain. Going on a run forces my thoughts to line up, so they enter my mind one at a time. I also enjoy running because I can’t really look at my phone (I’ve face planted a couple of times as result from trying) and that’s pretty rare for me working and side hustling in social media.

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Besides helping sort through creative ideas and settle my mind, a run does a lot to boost my mental health. As someone who has a history of anxiety and depression, having a toolkit of things that help me feel my best is important to me. Exercise is a big tool for me, and having movement be part of my morning routine helps start the day on a clearer note. If I’m feeling anxious, a repetitive activity like walking or running can help settle my mind, but if I’m feeling down, something more high intensity can help give me a jolt. I love my Clifton for runs and the Bondi for walking or a HIIT workout. I do want to note that exercise is a tool, and won’t fix everything, but it has helped for me.

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Running sometimes gets the label of not being fun. Since I’m usually not running for time, something that I’ve started doing is taking photos on my run of things I find interesting. Sometimes this is the sunrise and other times it’s something quirky like a hand painted Stranger Things trashcan in the neighborhood. I think running (or walking) can give you a greater appreciation for where you live.

Sophia is featured wearing the Clifton 7.