HOKA Athlete Rory Linkletter is newly out of college and already creating buzz in the professional world. Born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Rory moved to the United States to attend Brigham Young University and helped lead his team to podium finishes at the 2017 and 2018 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Since graduating earlier this year and joining HOKA Northern Arizona Elite, Rory has continued to thrive in the 10,000m, but has accepted the challenge of newer— and longer — goals.
We sat down with Rory to learn about his upcoming marathon debut at Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
HOKA: You’re known for your performance in the 10,000m event. Why have you decided to try the marathon?
LINKLETTER: I decided to move up to the marathon for two reasons. The firstis pure intrigue. The marathon has always excited me and I believe it is the pinnacle of the sport of running. Second, I believe I can do well in the event.
HOKA: Why did you choose Toronto Waterfront Marathon as your debut race at this distance?
LINKLETTER:I chose Toronto because I wanted to run a fall marathon for the sake of my spring track season. Also, running my debut on Canadian soil meant a lot to me! My mother was born in Toronto so it just feels right!
HOKA: What are you most excited about at this new distance? Is there anything that scares you about it?
LINKLETTER: The distance is scary because I know I have a long road of preparation ahead. I’m also uncertain about how my body will handle running hard for over two hours! I am excited to challenge myself both physically and mentally. I feel like I have a unique ability to suffer and persevere.
HOKA: Which shoes have you chosen for the race?
LINKLETTER: I will be testing out the Carbon X and EVO Carbon Rocket this fall. I’m learning how my body reacts to each before I make the final call for the race.
HOKA: Tell us a little more about your goals.
LINKLETTER: My goal for Toronto is to conquer my mind and body for 26.2 miles and not give in to the race. If I debut with a solidrace and avoid disaster I think I will have a strong and long career under Coach Ben Rosario at this distance! In the future I’d like to run in a couple of the Abbott World Marathon Majors to experience the best of the best.
I had trained all summer for the 50K World Championships on September 1. I got myself into extremely good shape, but wasn’t able to race due to getting ill just beforehand. Frustrated, I started thinking about what I could do with my fitness and, after a few discussions with my coach and agent, we came up with the plan to target a fast race at Berlin Marathon on September 28.
This workout was really my test session for Berlin. I only wanted to commit to the race (and flying all the way back to Europe for the second time in a month) if I knew I was ready to run well. With just two weeks until race day, I decided to try to run a half marathon at goal race pace. I’d originally planned to go do this at the Philadelphia Half, but it was just too much travel in the month to squeeze it in. So, being a control freak, I decided to do the run in the one place that I knew would be 100% accurate: around the 400m track just down the street from my house.
HOKA: What did the pre-workout warmup look like? Did it follow your typical routine?
ANDREWS: I try to practice everything in training that I’ll do on race day, so my warm-up for this run was very similar to what I’d do for the marathon: about 2K of easy jogging, some light drills, a few strides, and then about 200 meters at race pace. The only thing notable about this warmup was that I’d just gotten back from Europe and was a bit jet-lagged (and nervous for this session), so I woke up around 4:00am and started the warmup around 5:00am under a giant full moon. Lovely to have the track empty just for me (and the bunnies), though!
HOKA: What shoes did you use?
ANDREWS: I used the Carbon X for this run. As I mentioned above, when I have an important workout, I want to practice everything I’ll do on race day and that includes getting used to running in my race shoes. The Carbon X just feels fast and perfect for the marathon. It was love at first step for me and the Carbon X, so it’s definitely my go-to racer for anything long and on the roads.
HOKA: Did you have any mantras you used during this work out?
ANDREWS: The one word I tried to focus on was “relax”. I knew that with the short warm-up and feeling a bit rusty going into this one that the first few kilometers might be slower than I’d want to average and might not feel fantastic, but I also knew that if I could just stay relaxed and let my body warm up and get used to running the pace, I’d find my rhythm. This is basically exactly what happened as I started off a bit slower for the first 3K or so and then found myself clicking off 1K splits of 3:08-3:10 for basically the rest of the run.
HOKA: Did you go through any rough patches? How did you push through them?
ANDREWS: Honestly, beyond the start, not really. The point of this run wasn’t to go to the well, but simply to prove to myself that I could at least handle going through half-marathon in around 67 minutes. I guess, mentally, it required more fortitude just because I’d put a lot of pressure on myself and this was a real “do-or-die” type session. I knew that if I ran well, it meant I’d go to Berlin. And I also knew that if I couldn’t, it would mean shutting things down and that I wasn’t able to salvage anything from the huge amount of work I’d put in building up to 50K Worlds. I basically had spent the last week thinking about this exact run, even more specifically, about the last 10km or so of this run, and so getting to that point was both a moment of anxiety and also a moment of relief: Okay, here it is; let’s see what we’ve got.
HOKA: Tell us about your nutrition during this workout.
ANDREWS: Again, practice makes perfect, so I did the same thing I would in the first half of a marathon. I took 2 Maurten gels (1 about 15 minutes before starting and 1 at 30 minutes) and then I drank Nuun (a small amount as it was cool) every 5K.
HOKA: How often did you change directions? Why?
ANDREWS: I switched directions every 5km. Mostly just to give my body a break from make 100+ left turns. The 5Ks made it easy to compartmentalize each quarter of the workout as well
HOKA: How does this set you up for Berlin? What are your goals going into this race?
ANDREWS: It sets me up about as well as I could have hoped for. I had originally hoped to run 67:30 in this session, so to be able to run a fairly relaxed 66:34 makes me really excited to see what I can do in Berlin. People go there to run fast and I know of at least one other runner (Jameson Mora, another HOKA athlete), who is hoping to go out at about 67:30 and negative split to run under the US Olympic A Standard (2:15:00). I’m really long overdue for a marathon PR (my PR is from 2016) and I’ve gotten myself super fit a few times over the last few years but have either had bad luck in races, gotten injured, or been training for longer races and unable to reach my potential over 26.2 miles. This is the first time that I feel 100% healthy and really fit going into a marathon in a while. I can’t wait.
In 2003 I ran my first marathon at the urging of a family member who suggested that training for and running a marathon had the potential to change my life. I wasn’t sure how running that far could do anything to improve my life, but I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I hit register and signed up for my first marathon! What I didn’t know at that moment was: that one decision would ultimately alter my life course so much so that I now look at my life in two distinct sections – life before I became a marathoner and life after.
When I crossed the finish line of that first marathon I changed from a girl who doubted herself at every turn to a woman who knew that she could do anything she set her mind to. I left that race not only a marathoner, but as someone who believed that self-limiting thoughts were what was likely holding me back from achieving what I wanted in life. If I could learn to flip thoughts such as why me? to why not me? I could transform my mind. If I could control more of what was going on in my head then I could learn to run my body and my life the way I wanted.
It’s been almost 16 years since that first marathon and my love of the 26.2 mile distance has held steadfast. While that first 26.2 mile adventure was hard, it wasn’t impossible like I had previously thought. If I could run a marathon, what else could I do that I thought I wasn’t capable of?
Before the soreness had even left my legs I found myself online, searching for other upcoming marathons. Less than a month after my first marathon I ran my second marathon, besting my time from the first marathon by over 6 minutes. While some would argue that you can’t get the best out of yourself in the marathon distance when you run more than one in a training cycle, I would disagree. There is not a universal definition of what it means to get the best out of yourself. It took me years and many miles to realize that, while some can find their best selves in the pursuit of a time on the clock, I am not my best self when I have a singular goal that is focused on a finish time. Does that mean I don’t love pushing myself and chasing numbers? No. It just means that in my life, the numbers on the clock aren’t the end-all be-all. Like an onion, my goals have layers.
Running more than one marathon each training cycle is part of what I enjoy most when it comes to marathons! Marathons are parties to me, cooler than the ones I didn’t get invited to in high school, and more fun than the ones I probably shouldn’t have gone to as many in college. They are the best of what I love about the running community, squeezed into one day. Forty one of the best days of my life started or ended by running 26.2 miles.
This fall I plan to run three marathons! Marathon #42, Berlin Marathon, is where I will earn my 5th star on my quest for the Abbott World Marathon Majors 6 Star Medal. Four weeks later Marathon #43 will be Marine Corps Marathon, the race that changed my life back in 2003. It will be my 11th time running Marine Corps Marathon and I will be running in honor of my grandfather, a Marine Corps Veteran. A week after that Marathon #44 will be an extra-special one, as l will be running to raise funds for an amazing charity that helps change the lives of children by building their confidence, increasing their motivation and giving them tools to help them be active for the rest of their lives. Three separate races, each a goal in and of itself, each also a part of a larger goal of successfully finishing three marathons in one training cycle, happy, healthy and injury free.
It might not make sense to some, to run multiple marathons that close together, but it makes perfect sense to me! Running has taught me that it’s okay to be who I am, to do what makes me happy and to not worry about what others think in the process. I love that quote “what someone else thinks of you is none of your business.” When I free myself from worrying about the judgement of others, I am fully able to be who I am meant to be.
Marathoning wasn’t something I ever thought I’d fall in love with. Yet here I am, almost two decades after watching my first marathon and declaring that I would never run one, chasing my amazing by running running multiple marathons a year. The feeling I get when I cross the finish line is what keeps me motivated to get after it year after year!
Shop the all new HOKA Rincon here and follow Dorothy’s running journey here.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.