4 Steps to Getting Through the Grind

Long runs and long workouts tend to scare people. It can feel intimidating looking down the barrel of a double digit run or mulit-mile repeats. We’re distance runners, we love this stuff, but large quantities of miles (especially faster miles) still intimidate us.

Running and that mental component, can’t escape the mind games. Our bodies are apt to surprise us and prove our limit-setting minds wrong…BUT it’s a matter of pushing past the mind crap (doubts/fears/discomfort) before we can be ‘pleasantly’ surprised.
skulls on a track
The best thing about running into new territory, be it your longest run, the most number of long intervals, or the most volume of hard running, they’re all scariest before you do them. Once you’ve conquered the best you’ve proven you’re capable of it and you get a new frame of reference.

Example: You’re afraid of running 10 miles because you’ve never run that far. You then run 10 miles and flash forward a few weeks and 10 miles doesn’t scare you at all. But 14 miles does…sooo, you run 14 miles and the cycle continues.

See how DOING something takes the fear out of it. Let’s up the ante.

You can run 10 miles but now you’re supposed to run them hard. EEK!!! New challenge. Time to fight through it:

4 Steps to Get Through the Grind

1) Relax: the first part is you gotta stop building the run or workout up into epic proportions. Say with me, “it’s just a workout (or race), all I can is my best, so that’s the goal.” Deflate some of that pressure and take the power away from the workout…give yourself the power by realizing that you’re going to give it your all and THAT is all that can be expected. Times are there for guidance and motivation to push…but you can’t let them put so much pressure on you that you implode.
running in circles
2) Start: easy peasy, right? Funny how fear sort of get muted the second the gun sounds and you just START freaking running. It has a way of shutting your brain down for a bit or at least taking it down a few notches.

3) Segments: your runner-brain gets overloaded thinking about the WHOLE run (26.2 miles…holy crap!!!) so you break everything down into smaller segments. Think of it like a meal with a zillion courses if you have to. Get through the plate, the miles, the quarter mile, the repeat.

4) Fight and Lie: running isn’t easy and training is painful. You break it down into itty bitty ‘plates’ but even each bite is still hard. (can I push this metaphor any further?) You need to just cycle through the above three steps on repeat…relax, roll, be confident, be smooth…start, click the watch on that next interval and go, make it until you hear the magic Garmin beep of another mile and keep going…segment, make it 100 meters more, run until you pass that guy, stick like GLUE behind the person in front of you and don’t think how far the finish line is in front of you.

Doing all of the above is really a series of lies. The good lies that you use to ‘trick’ your limit-setting brain into proving itself wrong. Your body CAN keep going, you just have to fight like h*ll long enough to show yourself you can do it.

The cool thing is once you get through the grind you’ve just re-calibrated what’s ‘suuuper scary’. Whatever you just did won’t scare you so much next time…

…but don’t rest too easily, Runners, because that just means later the ante will be upped. That’s okay, because you know the drill. ;)
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“The Big Three: Talent vs. Work Ethic vs. Mental Toughness- Which matters the most?”

“Effective Mental Strategy: Race better by out-thinking your brain”

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1) What’s the longest you’ve run?
2) What’s your favorite long repeats workout?
3) How do you get through the grind?

Heat Kills

I live in California so even though June 21st is ‘officially’ the first day of summer, I’ve been running in a hot box for weeks already. Never fail, during some of my summer runs I always get that Bush song, “Speed kills…” stuck in my head but I swap out the word to “heat kills”. #truth

Running when the brutal sun is scorching you isn’t my favorite thing. But until we find that perfect seasonless runner utopia we must deal. For those runners in humid states, good lordy I’ve spent some time running in those conditions and had to come back and wrench out my running shorts and sports bra, easily a couple cups of sweat there! haha.
melting runners

So here’s my running summer warning and tip round-up:

* Beat the Heat: If you can, it seems like a no-brainer to try and get up and go run before the sun and temps are up, or wait until the later evening.
* Acclimate: Here is where you SHOULD actually force your runner butt to run in the heat. If you’re going to be racing under sweltering conditions you NEED to start getting your body used to running in the same conditions. The first runs, and especially hard workouts, are going to not feel all too pleasant. But eventually your body will start to adjust…you do NOT want the first time you go out and run in hot/humid/both conditions to be on race day when you’ve been doing all of your training at 5am to beat the heat. It’ll be like a body slam sucker-punch on race day.
* Hydrate…they hydrate some more: I’ve done some posts HERE and HERE all about hydration. But this needs to be BEATEN into your HEAD here. Hydrate religiously throughout the entire day!! You should be peeing darn near clear, by the time you feel thirsty you’re mildly dehydrated. Also make sure to get those electrolytes replenished as well.
* GI Issues: It’s no coincidence that your tummy may become more upset when the temps rise. I did a post HERE explaining just how much dehydration can be the root cause of lots of running GI disasters. So another reason to stay hydrated…ooor, just go poop your pants…your choice.
ice cream personality test
Now let’s talk about doing hard workouts and races in the summer scorchers:

* Easy Does It: We already know that going out too fast can be the kiss of death. Doing that in the heat is like putting yourself through Dante’s extra levels of h*ll. You might feel okay at the start but it’ll come slap you hard in the body/face/legs later. This is where you should be running for EFFORT and not times…the heat and humidity are two big factors that slow down times. So adjust your paces accordingly and the power of negative splitting is much friendlier than the brutal kick your butt punishment of going out too fast.
* H2O Cool: If you’re at the track, bring extra water to douse your head and body between reps. Obviously keep some to take sips on, but getting that body temp down the hose-to-head method works well too.
* Seek Shade: Ahhh-duh. If you can find shadier trails to do tempo or fartlek runs on then it’s a no-brainer (vs. an uncovered track). But I also wanted to add this one in here meaning that if you’re doing a track meet and are doubling/tripling/etc. get you butt in the shade as much as possible. No need to have extra energy zapped out of you lingering in the sun unnecessarily.

Whew…and after that, just dream of ice cream and guzzling the entire river once you’ve finished the run. ;)

1) What’s one of your summer running tips?
2) How bad are you tan lines?
I could blind you from 10 miles away. ;)

Monday Running Motivation: Starting Line

Moments before the gun. All other runners slip away, left one.

runner starting line art

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More posts on MOTIVATION
Another post on Starting Line Confidence and How to Build Yours

Talk about one cute chicker from the weekend!! This super fast runnerchick was the top female and 5th overall in just her first 5k!! Can you say natural born runnerchick?! At least her Ezzere Get Chicking Tee gave them a warning…keep on smoking those runnerboys. ;)

ezzere get chicking tee running
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1) What’s usually one of the last things you do RIGHT before the gun goes off?

Runners Breaking Fences: Accomplish more when you free yourself

Our minds are experts in construction. They will build up fences quicker than nobody’s business. It’s actually a survival method, the brain ‘thinks’ it’s looking after our best interest, keeping us safe by setting limits.

The problem is that this survival method is archaic and antiquated, most of the fence-building is stopping us from pushing ourselves in work or running rather than stopping us from trekking too far from our caves, getting lost, and gobbled up by a dinosaur. ;)
running mental fence
In breaking down your fences you are freeing yourself. Because on the other side, THAT is where you can push yourself to your best. The other problem with fences is that they stop you from even dreaming, or imaging that something epic is ‘out there’ that YOU could possible accomplish THAT! Fences keep you safe, in a comfort zone, they also suck because they rob you of really feeling and experiencing.

We can easily relate this to running in a few ways:

1) Goals: if your goals aren’t big enough to scare you a bit, they should be bigger. That said, you should know that working towards something BIG is HARD. That’s the point, that’s what makes an accomplishment fulfilling though. Just don’t be fooled into thinking there won’t be times where you want to stop…that’s where true self-motivation and dedication is tested.

2) Going in over your head: everyone needs to be in the position of going in over their head, a few times, and get comfortable with the fact that, “Yea, I might bonk” because, “Yea, I might not bonk and break through to a new level.” There are times in races where you need to not look at the clock/watch/split and just race, get swept up in the faster group…this can be in workouts too.

Confidence is a funny thing for a runner, and the watch can do wonders for it but it can also sabotage you if you ‘think’ about it too much. Example: “Holy crap!!! We’re running XXX pace, I can’t hold this…what am I doing running with these people, I don’t belong here?!!” This runner can either be intimidated by the splits or check in with themselves and realize they were actually feeling fine until they freaked themselves out. They might blow up later, but they may not, they may have their best workout yet. Either way though, sometimes you need to just stick your neck out there, break the fence.

Important to note that, duh, you shouldn’t always go on some kamikaze mission in workouts and races. I mean, a 7 minute miler shouldn’t go workout with the 4 minute miler group…let’s be sane here. The point is that for the most part, runners DO need a little push every now and again to break through to the next level. Surrounding yourself by some faster people is a great way to do that.
dream bigger ezzere
3) Mental ‘fences’ pain signals: for runners the vast majority of fence building is stationed around hard workouts and races. Your brain wants to STOP pretty much the second you start…haha. Steve Magness wrote a really great post all about the brain, willpower, emotions, and how that relates to a runner’s mental toughness. It’s a long read but incredibly interesting, worth it, and touches on quite a few different points, tackling it from multiple angles.

He talks a lot about willpower and how fatigue is actually an emotional response rather than a physical one. Really interesting because when you think you’re ‘tired’ it’s really only your brain reacting, worrying that you’re GOING to be too tired later to finish and shouldn’t continue. He goes on with lots of ways a runner’s willpower and mental toughness to combat the pain signals from the brain are affected. Things that make us more easily swayed to stop rather than push.

Proper recovery like nutrition and sleep are two factors…another reason to think of your training in the big picture sense. But another big mental toughness inhibitor is stress. He phrases it more as using your willpower reserves up on less important matters, but the explanation is that your brain can really only handle so much. The more taxed your brain is going into a workout or race, the less it will perform. Read as: the weaker it goes into the race, the more likely you are to cave to its complaints to relent, slow down, or stop.

Go read his full article HERE because really, there’s so many interesting points that make you think. A runner’s mental toughness is something most all of us are fixated on because it’s not finite, it’s kind of like an intangible that’s hard to explain with science. But Magness is actually able to show how science is closing in on giving us some cool explanations and theories.

The bottom line is: Runners, scr*w those fences. Start breaking them down and in doing so you’ll find that’s where the truly epic sh*t lies.

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More posts on MOTIVATION
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Neuromuscular Training For Runners: Quick feet box taps

Everyone wants to run faster, right? Part of getting faster is of course doing the shorter repeats; one must build that explosive power of course. BUT, there’s another part to getting faster and it’s training your BRAIN and nervous system to respond at a quicker rate.

A runner can’t utilize that explosive power to run faster without the nerve and synapse networks first being created to ‘tell’ your foot to move faster off the ground. Isn’t science and the brain cool?

The neuromuscular part of training isn’t something every runner is aware of, but if you’re not addressing it you can run all the 200′s in the world and not really be tapping into your full potential. I’ve written a few articles about the neuromuscular training and how it relates to runners:

* The Multi-Level Approach to Getting Faster
* Work on Getting Faster in Tri-Fecta Form

One of the exercises I mention are ‘Quick Feet Box Taps’. I got an email from someone who wasn’t quite sure if they were doing them right so I decided to make a little video.

You can also find it on my Instagram page. Start with a set of 15-30 seconds and see how many taps you can get. REMEMBER it’s QUALITY over quantity. If you’re getting slopping you’re going to start reinforcing bad habits and that will defeat the purpose. Work up to two sets and do the 3 times a week…preferably as part of your dynamic warm-up routine before workouts or immediately following the workout. It can be fun to watch yourself improve with more taps every week…you know us runners and that competitive spirit. ;) But again, quality over quantity…so if you have to start slow that’s what you need to do!

What, you love my shirt too?! Well, thanks…it’s my Ezzere Runner Face Tee! :)

Happy Saturday my runner friends. Get those feet firing off the ground, coupling neuromuscular training and speedwork, and watch your PR’s get faster! :)

Taper Troubles: Peaking right to run your best race

For runners, finding that perfect taper and method to peak right sure can be difficult! Which sounds kinda crazy because taking the taper at face value, one could think, “Well, I just need to cut back. I’ve done all the work, so let’s just coast on until race day and wind up with fresh as daisy legs!”

WRONG. Any runner can tell you tapering is a bit of a beast. Sometimes your legs do feel an extra bounce, other times they start feeling like dead weights and you start to freak out, “What the heck, why am I trucking bricks?!”
find your own trail
Some runners even build a little superstition around it, “The worse my legs feel on the warm-up the better they feel in the race.’ Not going to lie, I’ve experienced that one and can back the logic.

So let’s talk taper. We’ll even start from the most basic of basics up.

What is a taper? Training is done in phases, working backwards from the date of your big race. The closer you draw to your race, the more the goal of workouts shift from ‘building fitness’ to ‘sharpening’ and ‘honing’. A week before your race you’re not going to be able to increase fitness anymore, that work’s been done, so it’s a matter of maintaining fitness and then reducing the volume so your legs feel fresh come race day. [Tapering can be done anywhere from 1-3 weeks before your race, depending on distance and all that good stuff.]

Logistics: Runners who are tapering will cut their overall miles back, the volume of workouts decrease, and you’ll see workouts like 200′s, 400′s, or for marathoners, maybe a few longer repeats (ie: miles) at race pace. Just getting the wheels turning.
running in circles
Common Mistakes:

1) Not decreasing enough: If you’ve been training at 110 miles per week and your ‘taper’ is cutting down to 100 miles per week that’s really not going to leave you feeling all that fresh, right? Same goes with pushing your ‘taper’ workouts too much; grinding out your best 6xmile four days before your race day isn’t doing you any favors.

2) Decreasing too much: So the runners who think, oh I’ll just go from 110 miles down to 20 and I’ll feel GOLDEN! Wrong-zo. The body has a crazy way of adapting to us crazy runners and doing what we do. Dramatic shifts, the body doesn’t like that at all. Go too far from one extreme to the other and your body will be like, “wtf is going on?!” In the case of the runner above, they’ll actually be feeling sluggish because their body is used to much more stress. It actually NEEDS more miles to feel better. Crazy, huh? But kinda cool too.

Bottom line: There’s no perfect amount for everyone, it comes back to what works for you and your race distance. But a nice rule is that when tapering your mileage should be reduced by 20-25% of your average training volume.

3) Pre-Race Day Off: Many runners like to take the day before their race completely off. I would like to argue that, they should instead take the day TWO days prior to their race off. Why? Sometimes your legs will feel stale after a complete rest day, it’s better to do a short shake-out run and strides the day before to ‘bust out the rust and creaks.’ You still get a day off, but going into the race you’re not ‘creaky’. This is also why if you’re running a night race, lots of runners like to do a short (10-15min) shake-out run that morning.

4) No Speed-work: Taper logic might seem like you shouldn’t do anything hard…go into the whole week totally fresh and rested. Refer back to number 2 and realize that once your body has become accustomed to a certain degree of work (ie: stress) it needs the stimulus. Going 4-plus days without any faster turn-over will leave your legs feeling sluggish and slow. For races 10k and below, a good workout to do three days before your race is 8x200m with 200meter recovery. Any way you slice it, you still want some ‘sharp’ quality sessions leading up to your race.

Tapering is a tricky science, that’s why I firmly believe runners should have a coach they trust to do the sciencey planning stuff. Then the runner isn’t left ‘thinking’ all this out. Planning and wondering “is this workout right? Is this what I should do?” can get in the way of your workouts, and it can be liberating to give that ‘stress’ to someone else who KNOWS their stuff.

That way, runners can just turn their brain off and stick to what they love to do…run. Hey, running the workouts are hard enough, no reason to add more thinking than necessary to the mix. ;)

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More posts on RACE TIPS

More posts on PRE-RACE CONFIDENCE

Make sure you’re looking GOOD doing all that training…Ezzere’s got your back there! :)
ezzere peacock runner tee

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Lessons From the Track: Running your best takes more than left turns

Now my younger brother’s first love is rugby, second is football, but for the three weeks between seasons he decided to do track! Wahoo…I was stoked!! I’m also in awe of the fact that he doesn’t do any speed-work and then just blitzes those 400′s and 200′s like they’re nothing.
wesley track sprinting
The mystery is solved as to where all of the fast twitch muscle fiber genes in the family went. Clearly all were saved and concentrated into the youngest Chock sibling. Oh and I guess he stole my coordination genes too. ;)

Granted he’s got the competitiveness of a Chock, so he’ll gut out a race and pay the price after to hit those marks. But the truth is that last 100 of a 400 isn’t fun for anybody, no matter if you’ve trained or not…BLECH…talk about booty lock.

Checking out those high school meets has been fun, observing just as much so, and here are a few tips I’d pass on if teenagers actually cared to listen to us old folks:

* Warm-up and Recovery: set yourself up to run your best, not warming up before a race is setting yourself up for both injury and running below your maximum potential. Cold muscles no likey sprinting. The same for after your race, do all you can to recover so you can come back stronger. That includes a cool-down and refueling within 30 minutes of finishing.

* Drafting and Tangents: it was windy at the track meet and those are days where you really want to draft. Leading expends more mental energy and on windy days it expends a heck of a lot more physical energy to lead. If you can, tuck in behind somebody until you’re really to surge past them. When you DO make your move, try to make it on a straight away…running the tangents on a race course is the same idea, don’t run more than your race distance or your competitors are.
run to beat you
* When You Pass, You PASS: racing is mental like that, when you make a move and pass someone you want to be passing them for good. Conserve energy and then blow by that sucker! Don’t ‘weakly’ pass them because then they can just tuck in behind you and let you do the work. You want to BLOW by them and try to mentally break them. Make them think, “Dang, they’re feeling much stronger than me, I can’t keep up.” Even if you feel like crap, it’s a race, you should feel tired, but your competitors don’t have to know you’re tired as heck and clinging on until the finish line. Break them and leave them in your dust.

* Cling-on: sorry, no sci-fi reference, but this speaks to those getting passed. Read above. You can’t get in the mind of your competitors and chances are they’re working, tired, and hurting too. If they pass you, rally the troops and try to stay with them. Don’t let THEM mentally break you. See, it works two ways like that. ;)

The last thing I’ll add, while I like to joke that I have not a single fast twitch muscle in my body (I’ve never been biopsied, but I’ll say I probably only do have one!) DON’T use that as an excuse to avoid speed-work. It’s incredible how much you can manipulate and overcome your natural predisposition in terms of speedster versus endurance maven. You’d be surprised that, yes, even ye of one speed can get some wheels on themselves and wind up with really strong kicks.

The thing is you just have to train those muscles! For speed you need to build power (hills, sprints, plyo’s) and all that good stuff is plenty of fodder for another post!

Get out there and kick some butt…embrace the booty lock too! ;)
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Have you checked out my Ezzere Running Tees yet?? Mosey over, folks!!

Send MAJOR cheers to one awesome Kim @ Day with KT this rockstar runnerchick and mom is out to kill it at her 50 mile race this Saturday!! WAHOOOO!!!

Sunday Morning Running Motivation: #Mebstrong

Really, need I say more?
boston marathon Meb Keflezighi

#run #mebstrong

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More Running Motivation HERE
peacock running shirt ezzere
WEAR your motivation and be reminded of your goals with an Ezzere Running Tee!

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Runners Rocking Old School: Training tools guide you but they’re not Gods

Sometimes a runner just needs to rock it old school style and get back to basics. Look beyond the Garmins, the heart-rate monitors, the target zones, the iPod/iPhone widgets, connect this, upload that, FitBit, BodyBug, BodPodWod, run-a-shoe-whiz…you get the picture.

The tech world is awesome, it’s always providing us runners new ways to trick our run. But even the most pimped out of sports watches won’t do a thing if the legs aren’t there. Same goes for running shoes that seem straight out of NASA.
old school watch
All the new running gadgets are training tools. Tools, nothing more. A tool is there to provide feedback, help guide you along. Certainly tools can be powerful ways to improve your training but a tool is not a God. Your Garmin is not, wait for it, a God.

Your running watch or shoes can’t distinguish perceived effort. It can’t make the adjustment for effort vs. time. Black and white numbers don’t tell you the full story, sometimes they lie. Running into the eye of a hurricane during 400 meter repeats, your watch can’t portray how HARD that XX:XX was.

In the end: EFFORT trumps TIME.

Work ethic will trump the newest, lightest shoe. A spike alone won’t race to a PR, I’m sorry.

Take advantage of these amazing, mind-blowing training tools. Having a virtual training log or place to report your mileage and workouts to is great, it can act as motivation and incentive for people to go OUT and run. In that regard it’s wonderful to have a community of runners cheering you on and kindly kicking your butt out the door.

ezzere peacock shirt

Workout hard, recover hard. ;)


[Napping in my Ezzere Peacock Runner Tee, you can BUY YOURS HERE! ]

Garmins and watches can also turn into mental nightmares if you get TOO hung up on the numbers and overly competitive. Quick rules:

* Easy Days: Keep them easy. Don’t race your d**n Garmin.
* Hard Days: Effort is ultimately the God, not the time. You know what hard feels like, you know what quasi-hard feels like, and if you know the goal for the day’s workout then the equation is simple. Go hard.
* Community Danger: The bad things with everyone knowing your workouts and weekly milage is getting competitive for the sake of just being competitive. So ask yourself these questions: 1) Do they award medals to people in training or is it on race day? 2) Are you doing XX miles and such-and-such workout because it’s in YOUR RUNNING’S best interest, or because you want to just brag you did XX miles.

So use all these tools, Runners, they’re out there, they can certainly provide some excellent feedback in planning your training. But ultimately you still need to listen to your body.

At the end of the day, sometimes you just gotta rock it old school.

Boston Marathon 2014 in a Word: Epic

If you’re a runner and you’re not still reeling after the Boston Marathon maybe check your pulse. Epic.

Sorry my International friends, but as an American, seeing Meb Keflezighi take the title and bring Boston back is spine-tingly. Scroll through some of the pictures that have been shared of him crossing the line, the poignant olive wreath placed upon his head, medal around his neck, eyes moist. Raw emotion. An image captures so much more than thousands and thousands of word could ever portray. I’ll only waste an effort with two: #meb #epic

Meb Keflezighi

Photo Credit: tdurden6 Click image for Source


Along with all other runners I’ve devoured the race coverage with the insatiable appetite of, well, a runner. There’s no OD’ing on Boston Marathon coverage thankfully. HERE and HERE are two really great articles, though there are myriads. Having not been there, I can only get my fix vicariously but will share some of my thoughts:

A Tale of Two Leaders

Both Meb and Shalane Flanagan in the women’s race took the lead from the gun. People can argue until they’re blue in the face over whether this is the kiss of death move or not. Meb held on until the end, unfortunately for all her American supporters Shalane did not.

However, regardless, both runners prove this: they were HUNGRY. Tenacious. Willing to put it ALL out there. Shalane quoted HERE, “I literally ran as hard as I could…I feel pretty ill right now…I’m proud of how I ran.” Rightfully she’s probably pissed she didn’t win but she’s NOT left with lingering questions over whether or not she put it all out there on the course. She crossed the line, 3-minute PR, physically ill later her body proving as such, no questions in her mind. She’s also sure as hell going to be back. Quoted from Competitor, “I will be back here until I win it,” Flanagan affirms.

Meb was just as hell-bound to win, but surprised he was left to lead most of the race. Marathons can be tactical just as much a test of fitness. He knew he didn’t boast of the fastest PR going into the race but he proved today he was the smartest racer.

Loved this quote found HERE from him;”I knew it was a loaded field. I didn’t have a 2:04, 2:05 PR, but guess what? I have the Boston Marathon title.”

To Hell With Age and Doubters

Meb is just about to turn 40. People were shocked and amazed when he won the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon and he’s now older. He runs in Sketchers. Sorta enough said. There’s a lot changing in the world of running sponsorships and contracts which is a whole different matter…but the point is Meb had doubters.

Everyone has doubters, but he also had supporters and trust in himself. So he ran in Sketchers, put in the work, and just stepped away the Boston Marathon Champ. “I was delighted to have 99.9 percent of my career fulfilled, but today – 110 percent,” he’s quoted HERE.

Shalane has still got plenty of years. She makes it quite clear she’s still just as hungry for the Boston Marathon title. Her fans are only going to be cheering louder and louder.

Everyone, us mortal runners of the world, should take a cue from both harriers. Both of them are confident as hell…they are humans so do have moments of doubt like the rest of us…but they tell those doubts and their doubters to suck it.

Then they step to the line as fierce competitors, and go.