This post is sponsored by Zappos.
Nothing worth having comes easy.
I am not a natural runner, I have to work really, really hard. I think my ‘natural’ pace would settle around a 10 min mile, not the 8min mile that I’m hoping to one day run a marathon at.
Over the weekend in Boston, Zoe and I had dinner with a lovely group of fellow bloggers & instagrammers – all of whom were absolute speedsters. They talked about how hard they’d worked to cut their marathon times down to earn their BQs, many of them have cut close to an hour from their first marathon to their 2017 BQ. Ashley (who is a super Ironman Mom and so smiley & positive) cut down from a 3.58 to a 3.21, and was gunning for a 3.12 last week in Boston (although due to illness and heat things didn’t pan out that way). Jenna has now run Boston three times as a working mum of 3. Jamie only started running in her thirties and although it took her a couple of attempts, she’s now run Boston twice (and a total of 20 marathons). Kindal has knocked nearly an hour off her time, going from a 4.12 to a 3.16 whilst racing ironman/triathlon races too. And Jodie, who first ran Boston in 2013 (the year of the bombing) vowed to come back every year since which keeps her motivated to run an annual BQ.
I was impressed with all of their dedication and hard work.
Is it just me, but I still think a sub 4 is fast!? I’m going to keep telling myself that it is anyway after last Monday’s 3.59 finish.
I had to give my all to run that pace that weekend, and fight right until the final seconds to earn a sub 4. I was disappointed to have missed my 3.4X goal but it seems like most people were out by 10-15 mins due to the heat.
Being in Boston both inspired me and freaked me out. If people are able to cut down their time by an hour, have I already achieved my own improvement (I ran a 4.54.59 in 2012 and my 3.49 PB still stands from 2014). Part of me is fearful that I won’t ever be able to effortlessly run sub 8 min miles.
However even if that’s true, as long as I can run them working my ass off, then I’ll take it.
As we ran along the streets from Hopkinton I kept repeating ‘I know I can’, and ‘today is a good day for a PR’. To me, positivity is key to training and life. (Interestingly it’s apparently also a fundamental brand philosophy at Brooks whose clothes and shoes I’m wearing in all these photos)
She believed she could, so she did.
Sometimes I get down on myself when people don’t seem to put in the training and then easily run a 3.40 marathon, or they show up at a half and run sub 1.50. The people that have never seen a 2.17 half finish, for whom it all seems to come so easy. Then I remind myself that pushing myself and working towards my lofty goals are part of what makes me love running. It’s a competition that is only with myself.
And that to some people, maybe my race times are fast.
It’s all relative.
Don’t be discouraged.
As Katherine Switzer said in an interview over the Boston weekend, every day that starts with a run is starting on a win that no-one can take away from you. I’m happier, healthier and more relaxed on days that I run – even a tough workout.
I know I’ve knocked 5mins off my half marathon PB, become a stronger runner, and a more determined person in the last 6 months. Whilst it can be discouraging that I was 10 mins off my PB in Boston, I know I was in shape to run a faster race.
And running a very, very comfortable 4.22 in London on Sunday was really encouraging. I smiled from start to finish and it was the exact reassurance I needed that I am fit, healthy and well trained. Running two marathons in 6 days proved that.
I’ve run more than ever during this training cycle, listened to my coach, and grown so much. I’ve leaned that my body can deal with a higher mileage volume, and that easy miles really do mean easy miles.
But I’ve also established that for the next marathon I train for I want to make strength training and regular stretching classes a higher priority. I felt physically fit but I didn’t feel as strong as I did during my Berlin and Chicago training cycles. I need to find studios in Henley to workout at (and hopefully make some more fitness friends in the area!)
Sure I want to run a BQ, whether thats in Tokyo 2018, Berlin 2018(?), or at race in 10 years time (where I will at least have a slower qualifying time)…I will get that Boston Qualifier one day.
While I was in Boston, I went to a training session by Shalane Flanagan, who asked us how many of us train in multiple pairs of shoes. Most of us shook our heads, thinking that was the right answer. Shalane believes that changing between a variety of shoes allows her to stay healthy, each one is different and provides a different stimulus. From racing flats, a more cushioned stability shoe, to a light neutral shoe – enter the Brooks Pure Flow 6 that I chose as part of this collaboration with Zappos and Brooks.
They are a neutral shoe with a 4mm drop and only weigh 7.5oz, and have received RAVE reviews on the Zappos website. Almost every review had 5 stars for both overall use and comfort.
They aren’t as lightweight as a traditional racing flat, and still provide a decent amount of support and cushioning – they’re like the perfect mix. They’re so squidgy with a really cushioned tongue (apparently this was an issue with the 4s and 5s versions of these – so they’ve listened to the feedback!).
After suffering from some toe blisters during the Boston marathon, I’m also very grateful for the wider toebox, and the DNA LT cushioning in the midsole – this adapts to your feet and stride which offers flexibility and spring in every step.
Speaking of the Zappos site – I had some issues with having a different shipping address and billing address – and since I’m useless at everything technical I called their customer service team and they were so friendly! They sorted everything right there and then, and my kit arrived a couple of days later with free shipping within the US! Winning. Everything I ordered fit perfectly, but if it doesn’t then they offer 365 days returns. They don’t currently ship to the UK but Brits this is one that you could send to a friend or order online to your hotel for a future holiday (which is what I always do when I go to the US, hotels must get so annoyed with me!)
I’ve been wearing this outfit not only for pre-marathon shake out runs in Boston, but I’ve worn it since running both marathons on my tired body as it’s soft, comfortable and doesn’t look out of place outside of the gym/running trail environment. I’ve worn Brooks shoes for a long, long time and loved them (what did you think of the Brooks Boston/London launch shoes?) but haven’t tried much of their clothing before.
Just like their trainers, I’ve found their clothing to be high quality and high performance. The heather fabric is soft so it won’t chafe on your long runs but it’s also acceptable to wear in your local cafe, supermarket or lecture (just me?!).
Right now I’m alternating between googling Best BQ races and scrolling for new kit on Zappos to motivate me to get into the gym and to some yoga classes this summer.