HOKA WOMEN WHO FLY - THE PROS

Melanie Mitchell | February 27, 2019

HOKA ONE ONE - WOMEN WHO FLY: THE PROS

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | MARCH 2019



HOKA ONE ONE: WOMEN WHO FLY - THE PROS

Running and any sport can shape who we are, how we define ourselves.  Women warriors are all around us, before us, and yet to be us.

From Katherine Switzer taking a bold step at the Boston Marathon to take a stance on women not being allowed to compete, to trail blazers like Jasmin Paris breaking the ultra-distance record in the Spine Race while breastfeeding along the way, women are continuing to take their own stance in their chosen sport. 

To celebrate International Women’s Day and all women athletes who are working hard every day, some of the inspiring women athletes at HOKA One One tell us about the defining moments of their careers in sport and life and what is it that makes them fly.  

"I FLY because I CAN and I won't stop." - Kellyn Taylor

ARIZONA: KELLYN TAYLOR

Kellyn Taylor is a runner for HOKA ONE ONE® Northern Arizona Elite group and soon-to-be firefighter.  Add to that mix she is also a mother and you have a trifecta of superwoman skills in one strong package.  Kellyn has run distances between 10k and marathon with a 26.2 PR of 2:24:28.  

She attributes her motivation to run is ‘to show my daughter, and myself, that with hard work you can do anything. My daughter is my biggest motivator. With every success and failure, I try to teach her to stay humble and never give up. I want to instill in her a good work ethic and a relentless belief that anything is possible.’  

You can follow Kellyn’s training logs at the NAZElite group’s training page

JackRabbit: Hi Kellyn. As a member of the Northern Arizona Elite group, tell us what it’s like to be part of such a supportive environment when running can be sometimes be seen as such a solitary sport.

Kellyn Taylor: The best part of being on a team is having others to push you and you them. There is a sense of accountability when being a part of such a talented group. We all want to succeed and when you see your teammates succeeding it helps to elevate you to accomplish more.

Running is an individual sport. It is about seeing how good you can be but its also about seeing how good you and all of those around you can be. It is fun to have a group that is constantly raising the bar and pushing one another.

JR: You’re quoted as saying, ‘figure out what you want, and pursue it relentlessly.’ How have you determined what your athletic and life goals are and what’s your focus for the present and the future?

KT: I go hard at the things that I want. I think that if something is important to you then you will do whatever it takes to get it. My running goals are to see how good I can be. I know I still have more in the tank so I'm still fighting to find out what my capacity is. I hope that that journey of discovery shows me faster times, world teams and ultimately, the olympics.

In life, I aspire to become a full time firefighter. I am fully certified and just impatiently waiting. I struggle having to put one goal on hold for the other. In my dream world I would be running and working full time as a firefighter. I feel so fortunate to have found not one but two things that I am fiercely passionate about. I could be standing at a starting line or pulling a dummy out of a burning building, the feeling is the same...excitement, nervousness and determination.

In my eyes that is the perfect combination and I want my life to revolve around those three things. I'm not sure what my timeline is at the moment but you can be certain that there will be running and firefighting.

JR: Many of us, yourself included, use running as a form of therapy - a place to recharge and refocus. As a pro runner, how do you manage to ‘get into the zone’ when your training is focused on such high level performance? 

KT: Just like any job we have good days and bad ones. This is my job, so regardless of how I feel I'm going to get out there and get my work done. I'm too stubborn to let a workout beat me.

Sometimes the workouts just flow. Those are the easy days. The hard days are the ones that build you. Those are the days that you draw on in the last 6 miles of a marathon or when you think you have nothing left but find that extra gear somewhere deep inside. I love the 'flow' days but I live for those hard days. I don't know if I would call it being "in the zone' but every time I go to get a workout done I have one goal and that is to do my job well. 

JR: What are your go-to HOKA running shoes?

KT: I have been a HOKA Clifton faithful since 2015. I do almost all of my runs in them. 

JR: As female athlete, mother and future firefighter, what or who is it that makes you FLY?

KT: The opportunity that I have makes me FLY. I am so lucky to be able to do all of the amazing things I have done. Without the opportunity none of that would be possible. I FLY because I CAN and I won't stop.

CALIFORNIA: Magda Boulet

Magda Boulet is marathon Olympian turned ultra-runner, competing in the 2008 Olympics and taking first place at the unparalleled Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in 2015.  

As a mother she has continued to compete at a world class level, proving to herself and us all, that hard work, carving out time to train, and commitment to the process leads to results. 

Follow all of Magda's running adventures on Instagram.

JackRabbit: Hi Magda.Tell us about your path from marathon to ultra-running?  Was it a natural progression and how did you make the switch from road to trail? 

Magda Boulet:  After almost two decades on the roads, I knew it was time to change things up a bit.  I’d spent over 10 years maximizing my Marathon ability, and I just naturally started to dream of adventuring and challenging myself elsewhere. I’ve always been interested in running long races.  One of the main reasons I raced the Marathon was because it was the longest event in the Olympics.

I turned my attention to ultra trail races because it really seemed like fun to me and a new challenge. I love running on trails. It’s where I spend most of my time running independent of what surface I races. There are some amazing races where I live, and one race that got my attention to give trail racing a try was the Western States Endurance Run.  I paced a friend back in 2014 and I was hooked. Just everything about ultra and trail running appealed to me. And 4 years into it, I’m really enjoying it.

JR: Running when you’ve entered motherhood is a whole different ball game on so many levels. You stated that becoming a parent highlighted what we are all acutely aware of, ‘time does not come to you!’  Endurance training takes time and every hour has to count; there’s only 24 in the day.  Share with us how you structure your training seasons and any tips you can share with women wanting to take on the longer trail distances?

MB:  The reality is that ultrarunning doesn’t exactly have seasons.  There’s pretty much always an awesome race going on that I want to do, and it’s a constant act of balancing recovery from one big race in time to train sufficiently for another one.

Having a full time corporate job, training to be the best I can be for ultra running, and spending time with my family all take a certain amount of time, and you’re right, there are only so many hours in the day. I have friends and people I coach who are in the same situation, and we all have to do the same things.  I wish there was a trick or a strategy I could tell people about that gives me all the time in the world to do everything, but the fact of the matter is that you have to get up very early in the morning, work through lunch, and spend very little time doing nothing at all. That part is tough, because we all need to just shut off and spend time doing nothing. You can’t be in “on” mode all the time or you’ll explode…

Two things that are incredibly important to me in regards to my family is eating dinner together, and spending time on the trails with my son Owen on the weekend.  I feel much better when I can make those two things happen.

For training, I usually do a pretty long run on Saturday or Sunday, and then I follow the run with some hilly hiking just to spend more time on my feet. While Owen can’t run with me just yet, we’ll meet up after my run and hike together, and it’s a great way to spend time together and time outdoors all at once.

JR: When you’re out on the trail, where does your mind tend to wander? 

MB: Sometimes, it’s something pressing that I need to deal with at work or find some solution for.  Running is great for those types of things. Almost all problems have clearer solutions after a run than they did before. But the rest of the time, I simply look forward to connecting with nature, clear my mind and dream about the races I’m looking forward to doing and all the places around the world I want to take my family to.

JR: What are your race goals for 2019?

MBHong Kong 9 Dragons 50miler/50k back to back (Feb 2 &3). This race was a big challenge with over 8000meter worth of vert in 2 days. Very scenic and beautiful and filled with stairs, steps and steep stones. It was epic.

Modesto Marathon (March 31). I’m going to try to run the Olympic Trials Marathon B standard at the end of March.  The trials are a special event, and I’d really like to be part of it again this time.

Lake Sonoma 50M (April 13). I love this race, not only because it’s local, but because it’s one of the most competitive 50 milers in the USA.

Ultra Trail Lavarado 120k (June 28). This will be my big UTWT event this year.  I hear the trails in the Dolomites are spectacular and I’m really looking forward to this one.

Leadville 100M (August 17). Doing the Transrockies run a few times got me really thinking about running Leadville.  I think this course suits me really well, and it’s historically been very competitive.

JR: What are you go-to HOKA faves? 

MB: HOKA Clifton: I do most of my running in the Clifton.  They fit my foot really well, are light, and have an incredible amount of cushioning. Even though they are road shoes, they actually perform relatively well on most of the groomed trails I run on in the East Bay and on Mt. Tam.

HOKA Speedgoat: When I’m running more technical trails, especially in the Sierra’s, Rocky’s or in Europe, I really like the Speedgoat. It’s really secure and the Vibram outsole gives me all the grip I need.

HOKA Cavu: My go to shoe for speed and tempo session.  I’ve been using the Cavu in my marathon training build up, and it’s a great transition from the Clifton for faster road running. You can really feel the road, but it still has that cushiony HOKA feel that I love so much.

JR: As a female athlete, who or what makes you FLY? 

MB:  I love running.  I love training. I love competing and flying all over the world to tackle different types of courses and different types challenges.  But the “who” that really makes me fly is my son, Owen. I think the biggest thing for me is that I can use my running as an example to him. 

He sees me train everyday, he sees the sacrifices I make, and he sees how sometimes it all pays off when I accomplish whatever running goal I've set for myself. He sees my enjoy the process. He sees that if you work hard toward a goal, you can achieve it.

I also use running as an example to him of how to push through the low points when things aren't going well, because there will always be points in life where things aren't going to go well.  Especially now that he's helping crew for me, he sees how difficult it can get out there, and he'll also see how I can keep on going and turn things around for myself when it's just me and the trail. As importantly he sees me fail and he watches me get up and try over and over again.

COLORADO: Megan Roche

Megan Roche is a medical student and trail runner, having won some challenging 50k including the 2016 Tampala Headlands 50k and mountain trail races.  She comments, ‘Running mixes what I love about the mundane routine of daily training with the life-affirming moments of trail racing and I hope to do it forever.’ We can’t argue with that. 

We checked in with Megan to see what motivates her and ask her take on the growing number of women ultra-runners who are breaking trail records.

Her husband, David Roche, is also a HOKA teammate, athlete and coach.  You can follow Megan on Instagram to get a glimpse into her life trail running in Colorado and beyond.

JackRabbit: Hi Megan, Tell us what drew you to the sport of trail running and what has been your path to success in the sport?

Megan Roche: I grew up with a love for the outdoors and adventure. I went to college to play field hockey, then took a fifth year to run track, and finally realized that I could combine my love of the outdoors, running, and field hockey agility through trail running. Although I love all trail races, I appreciate races that focus on speed and fast running and try to incorporate strength and speed in my training.

JR: Women trail runners are rocking it right now. How are you seeing the the growth of women in the sport and how can we all encourage more women to take on the trails?

MR: It's so amazing to see the the growth of women's trail running and the encouraging communities that form in different areas. Many group runs are "no drop" meaning that they are likely a safe space for female runners to try trail running without having to worry about staying on a specific pace.

There's also a variety of trail race options with the chance to try shorter, less technical races as an introduction to the sport.

JR: You experienced mono back in 2015 and had to take three months off training. Sometimes good can come from facing adversity. What did you learn about yourself and your passion for running during that time.  And how are you feeling now?!

MR: I learned that running is something that should never be taken for granted. It was powerful to return to health and to be able to appreciate all the little aspects of being able to run, including the things that feel mundane. It's easier to return from adversity with a pure love of the sport--a love that is not dependent on race results or performance.

JR: What would be your dream race?

MR: Lake Sonoma 50 mile is one race that I've dreamed about running. It's a fast and beautiful course with lots of strong female competition. 

JR: What are your go-to HOKA training and race shoes?

MR: I train in a combination of the HOKA Tracer (for speedwork) and the Hoka Clifton 5 (for recovery days and long runs). For trails I will either wear the Clifton 5s or the Challenger ATR 5s depending on the terrain. It's been fun to be a part of Hoka for a few years and see the evolution of the shoes and colorways.

JR: As a female endurance athlete forging a career in medicine, what or who makes you FLY?

MR: I FLY for a love of the process. For the daily joy that comes from giving my all, facing adversity, and developing community. Medicine and running both involve a lot of adversity so I have the chance to experience plenty of daily joy in that process.

CALIFORNIA: STEPHANIE BRUCE

Stephanie Bruce is a pro runner and self confessed nerd, mom and lover of movies and popcorn.  She races marathons and like Kellyn is also a member of the Northern Arizona Elite group. Fast.  In 2:29:35 to be precise.

Stephanie lives by the mantra that only you can define what showing up means to you and how hard you want to work.  She believes in setting goals high enough to resist complacency.

You can follow Stephanie’s trianing logs at the NAZElite group’s training page

JackRabbit: Hi Stephanie. As marathon runner and coach, you’ve commented that running is ‘a gift’ and a place where you can allow your mind to wander. Share with us your thoughts on the role running has played in your life on a personal and professional level. 

Stephanie Bruce: My father passed away while I was on a run, when I was 18.

Before that moment running was a chore, a task. I had to get up early to make it to cross country practice. I disliked the feeling of pain in a race or a workout. Then my mind shifted after my dad died. Running became this gift and opportunity in my life to see how far I could push myself and excel at something that required discipline and self belief. It has transformed how I view hard things in life and how I hope to raise my boys to chase their dreams and aspire for a life that they wake up everyday loving what they do.

JR: Now as a coach, what have you brought from your athletic journey over to your career a a mentor, coach, and empowerer of the next generation of athletes? 

SB: As a coach I now understand that no matter the level someone is at, they love and care about their running just as much as I do with it being my job. I think understanding that perspective helps me tailor training programs better based on my athletes' life demands and time and resource restraints. I've also had a very long career that hopefully can show someone that if you keep perspective and stay in it long enough eventually you'll reach your destination. 

JR: You write about women’s nutrition and an athlete’s long-term physical health and using food as fuel and something to be enjoyed, not feared.  Share with us your thoughts on how nutrition and performance go hand in hand for the female athlete.

SB: Food is meant to be a source of fuel for your body training or not. Food should also be fun and relaxed and I've adapted an approach to my diet that anything can be eaten in moderation. I don't believe in giving up dessert because you're body craves it and it's healthy to feed your cravings.

Often when we restrict ourselves from certain foods we tend to label those as "bad" or off limits and I think that can spiral a negative attitude towards nutrition. I eat french fries, chocolate, and drink wine. Not everyday but if I'm craving it I have it. I believe this approach has led to my longevity in the sport.

JR: What are your favorite, tried and tested go-to HOKA shoes?

SB: HOKA EVO Carbon Rocket is my favorite for workouts and racing. I ran the NYC Marathon and CIM in 2018 in the Carbon Rockets. I love to train in the HOKA Cliftons for all my easy runs and long runs. 

JR: In 2018 you gave it all you had at the NYC Marathon - your excellent race report is a great read. What’s are you planning to add to your race card for 2019?

SB: I'm racing World Cross Country Champs March 30th, the US Half Champs May 5th, and then a summer of track. I am planning a fall marathon TBA.

JR: As a female athlete and now coach, what is it that makes you FLY? 

SB: All the support of the people around me, including my husband Ben, my sons Riley and Hudson, and my coach, teammates, and agent. Having these people in my corner makes me get up everyday with purpose and motivation. 

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