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?!).
Long sleeve hooded top – Ombre streaker racer top (very flattering in my opinion!) – Black Capri leggings
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.
Charlie- you should try Abingdon marathon. Bit of a boring course but flat and perfect for a BQ. My boyfriend BQ’d there in October but doesn’t want to use it!
Doesn’t want to use it!! (insert crying emoji!) I’d never thought to do a small race like that but it’s not far from home – not putting BQ pressure on myself this Summer due to wedding but might look into it for next year, thanks!
He is really fast- ( ran a sub 5k in. 16:22 yesterday) but he is not fussed about marathons! He wanted to do a proper one to see what time he could do and managed 2:54. He doesn’t enjoy training for then he said even though he can do it! You are right when you say you are a fast runner! Plus you’ve made so much progress. I would love to run. 1:50 Half!
You have made so much progress, especially if you’ve already cut your time by an hour. I’m no runner but I think the other exercise should help. And I’d love to run a 1:50 half – when I did my first 10km I had HM runners lap me! It was so demotivating but I realised that I was at the beginning of my running journey and they were a lot further down the line that I was.
YESSS. It is all so very relative. Youve come so flipping far. You want more.
I adore that. xo
I do want more!! 🙂 Thanks Carla xx
Awesome time Charlie! I’m not a natural runner either – I keep plugging away though, haha. Lovely blog post x
love this post. thanks, charlie
A number of my NYC friends have found smaller races to be better for BQs versus NYCM and other large races. They do those for the fun but choose another race to use for BQ. Also, I’m so glad you are loving Brooks. I’ve fallen head over heels with the gear since partnering with them and find everything to be such high quality!
Honestly the motivation I needed to hear today and something I often struggle with! I started running in late 2015 and since then have run 2 marathons and am now coming back from injury. Perhaps too much too soon! But I’m generally surrounded by other runners who are incredibly fast. It can be discouraging and easy to think that speed comes so easily to them! Love reading posts like these and going to keep working towards that BQ one day.
I think the smaller races are key for earning a BQ and having a great coach. MY BQ happened at my hometown marathon, and it was my first marathon race that did not include a challenge series (I did Goofy and Dopey at WDW first and second)
This seems to be the recurring theme – time to investigate some smaller local races! Congrats on your BQ!
To be honest I think sub 4 is a fast time to the average person on the street, but to seasoned runners it’s not particularly fast. Joining a running club and competing in local leagues, x country races, regular parkruns will make you faster. Having an online coach and doing big city marathons looks flash and is probably great for blogs, instagram etc, but to run faster you need to put in the graft. Doing smaller races & doing club sessions week in week out (rather than running on a treadmill at home), although not as glamorous is what will make you faster.
Thanks Jo, I think you’re right about the big city marathons and joining a club – think I’ll have to join the one in the next door town as Henley is just a fun group. Fingers crossed we’ll get a parkrun here soon. However I do think I put the graft in, but you’re right, I do need to up the work. This was a little brutal to read but actually probably what I needed to hear. 🙂 x
I agree with the comments about big city marathons. They aren’t the place to run your best times. There are small marathons every week in the UK. I got my sub 4 earlier this year on an 8 lap course. Low stress getting there as well and I was home in just over an hour of finishing.
I fouand this a really interesting post because I thought you were one of those lucky fast people. Maybe I am normal after all! It is nice to think that everyone has to work at their running and it isn’t just me. So……how did you get so fast? if I carry on at my current improvement rate I will be 80 before I get there!
It’s definitely all relative! Last March I ran a 2:23 half marathon and when a friend was disappointed to have missed 1:30 I did a massive internal eye roll – I (wrongly) felt like she should just be grateful to be so fast!
This year though, I’ve made a lot of progress and was disappointed to just miss out on my 1:47 goal – a time that seemed super fast to me a year ago! It made me realise that no matter how fast you get, you’ll always want to get better (which is a good thing!).
To an elite runner my times would seem super slow, but for someone just starting out they might seem fast. I guess your goals change as you do, and so long as you’re working hard, making progress & enjoying it then it’s all good!
Sorry for the rambling reply – really enjoyed this blog post 🙂
Wow Kirsty you have sped up so much! Congratulations!!! I know what you mean in terms of always wanting to get better. Hope you reach your 1.47 goal xx
Do you have any advice on what running shoes are good for tempo runs/speed work? (for someone with a slight pronation)
Any advice appreciated!
Will do some investigating 🙂
I loved this post Charlie! It’s so important that stories like this are shared and to acknowledge how hard won pace can be. I’m not a naturally fast runner either (and definitely think sub-4 is fast!), but you’ve really inspired me to pick the pace up for my next marathon x
I enjoyed this post Charlie! Running doesn’t come natural to me either, and I’d love to improve my 4:18 PB (and have been disappointed with my times at Paris and London this year). I’d love to read more about your experience training with a coach, as it’s something I’m interested in looking into for an autumn marathon.
Sure Meg happy to share that!
I think 2 marathons in week is a fantastic achievement! Something not too many people could do. Disappointment refocuses the mind and shows what’s really required to achieve your goals. Something I’ve been working through too. I agree with some of the other comments. Running with others is really helpful. At my running club, I run so much faster and push so much harder, than when I run on my own.
It’s totally all relative. I always feel slow – never strong but all my non-running friends think I’m fast. I’m also convinced if I was lighter I’d be faster…obviously that’s not an issue for you! 🙂