Trying To Qualify For The Boston Marathon Changed My Life

I'm really struggling to explain just how much I've changed over the past 11 months. When I decided to try to run a 3 hour and 35 minute marathon, shaving over 25 minutes off of my marathon time, I really didn't think I could do it. I knew in the back of my mind that it would be funny to watch me try, so I grabbed my GoPro and told you all that despite the fact that I didn't think I could do it, I was going to try anyways.

My blog, vlog, and pocast have taught me how cathartic and liberating it is to share what I'm going through when life or a goal feels especially intimidating or tough. Opening up reminds me that I'm not alone. And going into BQ or Bust, I felt frustrated that no one seemed to share the same experience I did when it came to running stronger. It didn't seem like any of the other incredibly inspiring running creators saw it as an impossible goal. It was just a hard but doable one. So I wanted to share everything I went through, without curating the experience, and vlogging felt like the only way to do it. 

Because I was on camera, I couldn't sit and decide what parts I was going to share. It was a constant stream of in the moment talks to the camera. You came with me to see the breakthroughs and the millions of set backs. Or the day I learned that running faster and stronger hurts like hell.

We all talk about how life gets in the way of our training and goal chasing, but with the vlog, you got a first hand look at what I experience with my grief and how it affects my day to day life. Life is hard. And sometimes it's a real struggle to find the balance between taking time for ourselves and pushing through. It's a balance I struggle to find, but I feel like I'm getting better at trusting how I feel and allowing myself not try to change it. 

But the most surprising thing I learned was how quickly the six months flew by. It was easy to want to pull back or tell myself I would push extra hard tomorrow instead of really focusing on giving everything I had that day. In the beginning, BQ or Bust felt like a waiting game. I was just suffering through the motions until I got to race day. I hadn't yet learned that I was in control.

Then Dr. Bob asked me to try removing "have to run" from my vocabulary and replacing it with "get to run". So I did. And then he asked me to make the conscious decision not to suffer or panic when I saw a workout I didn't think I could do. But instead, to just try and see what happens. So I did, and everything changed. 

The final few weeks flew by and before I knew it, I was crossing the starting line of the Chicago Marathon and fighting my final battle with doubt and self imposed limits.

Immediately after the race, I was on cloud 9. Running a 3 hour 41 minute marathon was a mental and physical win. I proved to myself that I wasn't a quitter and that when sh*t hits the fan, I can trust my mental will, strength, and resilience. But I still didn't BQ. And it's hard to admit it, but I was dreading the training to try to do it again during the 2017 London Marathon.

People always say don't run a marathon until you've forgotten how painful your last one was. I hadn't. I crossed the finish line of Chicago, drank a Goose Island Beer, felt high on life, and then announced I was going to run London. And then the next morning I woke up to an email that I had got in via the ballot. 

And before I could even chase a BQ in London, I had to endure a truly painful (but equally incredible) NYC Marathon.

And after NYC, I didn't want to run another marathon. I felt like I had to. And I let that attitude hold me back.

Everything we do comes down to our attitude. Why are you doing what you're doing? Because you have to? Because you want to? Both? Because you don't know what else to do? 

With running and even life, it's easy to get frustrated and down on yourself in the first few weeks or months. Everything feels forced, difficult, and impossible. For those of you who have ran before, you get frustrated that you aren't where you used to be. But if you can change your attitude and figure out how to enjoy the process, anything is possible.

Today, we're just about 4 weeks away from the London Marathon. I'm in the absolute best shape of my life and my mental game could not be stronger. Last week's New York City Half Marathon was the boost in confidence I needed to realize that I have this BQ if I'm brave enough to make it happen. I have insurance policies that aren't serving me (See episode 29 of the Run, Selfie, Repeat podcast) and I need to woman up and do everything I can every single day from now until London to get myself across that finish line strong as hell. 

For me, I race my best when I trust everything I've done and go out with gratitude. Because running isn't something I do because I have to. I run because I love it. I started running to take back my life. I kept running because it helps me grieve my loss and redefine my own strength every single day. Running has given me a new life path and it's helped me realize that what I've been through or the mistakes and failures I've endured along the way aren't things to be ashamed about. They're just apart of my story.

With four weeks to go, I want to give everything I can. That means more than just running what my coach Josh puts in my training plan. That means doing my Physical Therapist Mike's exercises and putting in the mental work Dr. Bob has prescribed. Visualizing. Getting more than enough rest. Putting myself first. Owning my strength. Not just trusting the process, but trusting that I am in control. That I can do hard things and that I can have fun pushing myself to that place of pain and discomfort that scares the hell out of me. 

When I started this entire ordeal to try to qualify for Boston, I underestimated myself. I constantly defined what I was and wasn't capable of doing, how strong I was, and I soon realized that I was letting my own insecurities stand in the way of the strongest version of myself. Before the #SportsBraSquad, I thought I would have to lose 20 pounds before I could run anything below a 3 hour and 45 minute marathon. I looked in the mirror and didn't see a body capable of running a BQ. 

But my body was never holding me back, I was. I was the one telling myself that I wasn't good enough, strong enough, or driven enough. I was the one telling myself that I wasn't an athlete. And with the gift of no regrets, no excuses, all that changed. 

There's something liberating about doing everything you can and leaving your heart out on the course. Because failure and quitting is always an option, but when you know you did everything you could, you realize that failure isn't black and white. Patience is the name of this game and I'm just really grateful that I watched Beyonce's Lemonade and felt inspired to chase this BQ in the first place. 

I've worked too damn hard to phone it in now. BQ or Bust has changed my life. I can't even imagine what's going to go down in the next four weeks.

Seat belts on, it's going to be a crazy ride. 

Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.

8 Comments

Kelly Roberts

My name is Kelly Roberts and I am a 25 year old New York City resident. My story made headlines when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the NYC Half Marathon. My blog, www.RunSelfieRepeat.com is bursting with humor and personal stories that lend an insight into the world of running and lead you to believe that just about anyone, regardless of their fitness level, can and should fall in love with running. Though currently an avid runner, I never would have predicted I would run marathons. I was the kid who used to hide in the bushes or play dead to get out of running the mile in school. I HATED running. But running has given me a purpose. It’s shown me that I really am limitless. In the two years since I started running, I’ve run multiple half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks, and two full marathons. My mission is to inspire others to find the courage to say yes to themselves all the while making them laugh hysterically because laughing is the solution to everything.

This Isn't An Unflattering Photo: This Is Me Running Strong As Hell

For years I've been encouraging women to post their unflattering race day photos. The down shots where gravity pulls our "problem areas" in a less than flattering direction. Or the photos where we're making the pain face, struggling to continue fighting towards our personal bests. To share the good, the bad, and the ugly. But I've made a huge mistake.

These photos of us aren't unflattering. They're real. They're raw. They're vulnerable. And they're perfect.

This weekend, I ran the New York City Half Marathon and I skipped up to the starting line with one of my bad ass friends Jess beside me, ready to show myself what I'm capable of. I've spent eleven months of my life relentlessly working towards getting stronger and faster both mentally and physically. I set a goal in April 2016 to take my marathon time from 3 hours and 59 minutes down to 3 hours and 35 minutes so that I could qualify for the Boston Marathon. Last year, that goal was terrifying, overwhelming, intimidating, and impossible. Today, it's happening.

But through the past eleven months of relentless battles up and down self doubt mountain, the way I look, perceive, and think about myself and my body has changed. I'm constantly fighting to silence the little voice in the back on my mind (OK, sometimes it's really loud), that tells me what I am and am not capable of doing. 

Run a half marathon maintaining a 7 minute 48 second pace? HELL NO. I can't do that. That's not only impossible, that's f*cking insane. Girls my size don't run 1 hour 42 minute half marathons. Our goals are supposed to be to survive until we make it to the finish line.

But it happened.

I want to share a photo that my friend Julia captured around mile 10 of the half marathon.

Six months ago, this picture would have induced a tidal wave of insecurity and frustration. I would look at it, feel my stomach drop, and get frustrated that despite the fact that I run a billion miles a week, workout like fiend, and eat really healthy food, I still look like this. So I'd post this photo to Instagram explaining why it's important we share our unflattering photos because they show the real picture.

TODAY? F*ck that. This isn't an unflattering photo. This is a picture of me, getting support from my incredible friends at November Project, dropping 7 minute 48 second miles, for 13.1 miles. This is me at my absolute personal best.

Right now, this picture does nothing but make me feel like a badass because I can see myself stepping outside of my comfort zone. 

It's painful.  And addictive. And difficult. And amazing. And it isn't pretty, it's beautiful. 

We are so much more than our stomach rolls and cellulite, so why the hell do we allow ourselves to let them define our strength? If we want to redefine what strength looks like, we have to change the way we talk about it. 

Remember, strength doesn't look a certain way, it feels a certain way.

No more talk of unflattering photos, just us kicking ass and taking names. 

Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.

11 Comments

Kelly Roberts

My name is Kelly Roberts and I am a 25 year old New York City resident. My story made headlines when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the NYC Half Marathon. My blog, www.RunSelfieRepeat.com is bursting with humor and personal stories that lend an insight into the world of running and lead you to believe that just about anyone, regardless of their fitness level, can and should fall in love with running. Though currently an avid runner, I never would have predicted I would run marathons. I was the kid who used to hide in the bushes or play dead to get out of running the mile in school. I HATED running. But running has given me a purpose. It’s shown me that I really am limitless. In the two years since I started running, I’ve run multiple half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks, and two full marathons. My mission is to inspire others to find the courage to say yes to themselves all the while making them laugh hysterically because laughing is the solution to everything.

Mid Run Panic

If there is one thing I've learned from the past year I've spent working to shave 35 minutes off of my marathon time in an attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon, it's that there is no one way to describe the pain train. 

In the beginning, it was totally shocking. I had NO IDEA that stepping that far outside of my comfort zone would be ridden with so much pain and doubt. But after months and months of hard work and thousands of teeny tiny wins, I learned how to make the conscious decision not to suffer (a feat in and of itself). The secret to getting faster and running stronger lays in your attitude. WHO KNEW!?!

And with time, along with my new physical strength, I discovered that I'd developed resilience and mental toughness as well. Instead of feeling terrified and intimidated about my goal and subsequent workouts, I started feeling confident and capable! Where I once approached everything with a, "There's no way in hell I can do this" attitude, I found myself saying, "I don't know if I can do this, but I'm excited to see what happens". I know, it sounds insane. Ludicrous. Impossible. Far fetched even!

Only, it's not. 

Running down a goal requires time, patience, tenacity, and perseverance but if you keep fighting, you'll discover that those pre-defined limits you once placed on yourself were holding you back the entire time.

BUT HERE'S A CURVEBALL!

Even after you cross that "self confidence bridge" as Dr. Bob calls it, you'll still have to fight because there's about 100,000 bridges to go.

Introducing, panic bridge! 

Today, I had a 4 mile progression run. 

1 mile warm up. 1 mile at 8:00 minutes/mile. 2 miles at 7:40 minutes/mile. 1 mile at 7 minutes/mile. 1 mile cool down.

I wasn't panicked. Or scared. Just ready to bang it out with one of my favorite people to run with, Caitlyn. I asked Caitlyn if she wanted to run with me because I love to talk about life and the running industry with her and I knew I could chase her down if I fell apart.

And good thing she came because I totally fell apart.

The best way I can describe what happened during the last two miles of my progression is kind of like a small panic attack. 

Now, I've experienced three serious panic attacks in my life and while what I experienced on my run wasn't an actual panic attack, that is exactly how it felt.

The first 3 miles were great and we were ahead of pace. We were having fun, chatting about life, laughing, and crushing our workout. Then, about halfway through the second 7 minute 40 second mile, I started to feel like I couldn't take in enough breath. Then I felt my vision narrow and my effort level went from 60% to 100%. I felt nauseous and started dry heaving. 

Caitlyn, being the amazing partner in crime that she is, kept helping me along. Encouraging me every step of the way.

I wanted to tell her to go on without me so I could stop running and catch my breath, but I knew I wasn't actually having a panic attack, I was just having a bad two miles.

Honestly, it's hard to explain what happened because even though I was panicked and winded, I knew that if I could just focus on my breath and form, and on moving towards Caitlyn, the panic would recede. But one or two minutes later, the panick would return  and the start again. 

I remember last year when this mid run panic happened to me for the first time, I didn't know what was happening and it totally freaked me out. It was so much more than just pain and discomfort, it was an overwhelming sense of I can't breath, I can't do this, and something is seriously wrong. It was terrifying and overwhelming and it was the first time I found myself fighting the urge to quit and forget my goal to BQ.

I don't know what kept me going, but I remember Josh explaining to me that when it happens, I need to figure out how to stay calm because even though it feels like I'm going to die, I need to relax because I'm not going to die. (That sounds dramatic but mid run panic can feel really scary.)

And just a disclaimer, mid run panic isn't something I experience every time I have a hard workout. I've noticed that on the days when my stress level is particularly high, it sometimes creeps into my workout. Today was one of those days. It's not fun and it always turns an already difficult workout into an impossible one, regardless of how hard I try to push through it. BUT, pushing through it is always the best option. 

On the one hand, I'm grateful that it happened because this was the first time I was able to really understand what was happening as it was happening; and trust that I could catch my breath and work through it, even though I knew that the panic wasn't going to end immediately. But on the other hand, I'm embarrassed that it happened in front of Caitlyn.

I don't think that anyone should ever feel ashamed to hold someone back, but  honestly, I was totally embarrassed that I couldn't push through the workout and have it be picture perfect. I was embarrassed that I couldn't keep up and that I almost quit. BUT, that being said, I know that there's nothing to feel embarrassed about. All runners know what it's like to have a tough day. It's ok to feel embarrassed, it's just not ok to let your embarrassment hold you back from trying again. And had Caitlyn not have been there, I probably would have stopped.

#BadAssLady gang for life.

Today was a tough workout but hey, I fought through. And now I know that if something goes wrong during the London Marathon, I know I can work through mid run panic. So that's a win. 

Not every day is going to be a perfect day. It's perfectly fine to feel a little disappointed in yourself or even embarrassed. It means you're human. Just brush yourself off, celebrate the win, and move on.

Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.

1 Comment

Kelly Roberts

My name is Kelly Roberts and I am a 25 year old New York City resident. My story made headlines when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the NYC Half Marathon. My blog, www.RunSelfieRepeat.com is bursting with humor and personal stories that lend an insight into the world of running and lead you to believe that just about anyone, regardless of their fitness level, can and should fall in love with running. Though currently an avid runner, I never would have predicted I would run marathons. I was the kid who used to hide in the bushes or play dead to get out of running the mile in school. I HATED running. But running has given me a purpose. It’s shown me that I really am limitless. In the two years since I started running, I’ve run multiple half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks, and two full marathons. My mission is to inspire others to find the courage to say yes to themselves all the while making them laugh hysterically because laughing is the solution to everything.

The Bench That Gave Me Hope

When my younger brother Scott passed away, I struggled to find the motivation to do anything. I was entering into my second year of college but I felt like I was constantly moving through a thick fog. I experienced everything so intensely yet I struggled to simply get out of bed. I felt like a walking zombie.

I avoided running into people I knew because they'd either heard that my brother passed away and wanted to tell me how sorry they were or I'd run into someone and have to answer their enthusiastic, "How was your summer!?!" with, "My brother died. So not the best. How about you?"  

Despite how hopeless I felt every moment of every day, there was something that used to bring me an ounce of happiness that I never thought I'd experience again. 

Disneyland.

IMG_4905.JPG

 It sounds trivial, but I used to grab a book or my journal and go to Disneyland by myself on the days that I felt especially grief stricken and devastated. Sometimes I'd bring a friend if I felt like I wanted company but I'd sit on the same bench and watch families stroll by laughing and enjoying their time together at the happiest place on earth. 

It wasn't until this past Monday morning, when I was on my way up to Disneyland to be with a woman I call my other Mom and my best friend, that I remembered the time I spent on my bench. This trip to Disneyland has been bittersweet because it was a last minute trip together before this woman who I call my other Mom starts chemotherapy for cancer. Something that was only just discovered a few days ago. 

Cancer is a difficult one. Having lost my brother, I refuse to grieve because we haven't lost her. She's still here. And it's easy to want to give in to the fear and sadness but why waste the time we have anticipating an outcome that hasn't happened? We're fighters. We've been through a hell of a lot together and I know that what will happen, already has.

We're here. We're happy. We're all together. 

Life is meant to be lived to the fullest, whatever that means to you each day. Sometimes that means getting out of bed and sitting on a bench crying until you can't cry anymore. Sometimes that means picking up and going on an adventure of a lifetime. As long as you're doing everything you possibly can with the people you love in the time you have, that's all that matters. 

Life is hard. Don't waste a single minute. Be sad. Be happy. Be grateful. Don't just survive, thrive. 

Fuck you cancer, you don't know who you're messing with. 

Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.  

2 Comments

Kelly Roberts

My name is Kelly Roberts and I am a 25 year old New York City resident. My story made headlines when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the NYC Half Marathon. My blog, www.RunSelfieRepeat.com is bursting with humor and personal stories that lend an insight into the world of running and lead you to believe that just about anyone, regardless of their fitness level, can and should fall in love with running. Though currently an avid runner, I never would have predicted I would run marathons. I was the kid who used to hide in the bushes or play dead to get out of running the mile in school. I HATED running. But running has given me a purpose. It’s shown me that I really am limitless. In the two years since I started running, I’ve run multiple half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks, and two full marathons. My mission is to inspire others to find the courage to say yes to themselves all the while making them laugh hysterically because laughing is the solution to everything.

Shame On You Running Community

Every few weeks or months, a runner gets busted for cheating during a race. The internet grabs their pitch forks and torches and proceeds to tear the runner who made the unjustifiable decision to cheat from limb to limb. 

Yesterday, I started following a thread in a group I belong to about a runner who went out of her way to cheat and then cover her tracks during a half marathon in Florida. Now, the runner in question wasn't your average middle pack runner. This is a woman who took second place and cheated another runner out of a podium finish. It's unfortunate. It's disappointing. And it was negligent. 

I'm not defending this runner's actions but I need to draw a huge circle around the disparaging comments that are running rampant in the comment sections of articles, Facebook groups, and on the runner in question's Instagram account before it was made private. 

These witch hunts pop up every few weeks. A runner cheats, gets caught, and the running community tears them apart not just for their decision to cheat, but for anything and everything from their professional life to their ethnicity.

And it's gross. 

Should a cheater be punished and forced to live with the consequences? Absolutely. Should they be ridiculed for everything they've ever done in their life? 

I don't think so.

When they go low, we go high. 

I don't believe in online witch hunts. I don't support the schadenfreude that surrounds these witch hunts. No good comes from slamming a runner or the team that they run with. 

And if you don't agree, watch this. 

Be better running community. 

I'm not saying forgive and forget. I'm saying fight the urge to jump on the bandwagon and bully someone into a shame induced coma.

And if you still disagree and truly believe that your opinion should be heard, find the runner's email and reach out to them. 

7 Comments

Kelly Roberts

My name is Kelly Roberts and I am a 25 year old New York City resident. My story made headlines when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the NYC Half Marathon. My blog, www.RunSelfieRepeat.com is bursting with humor and personal stories that lend an insight into the world of running and lead you to believe that just about anyone, regardless of their fitness level, can and should fall in love with running. Though currently an avid runner, I never would have predicted I would run marathons. I was the kid who used to hide in the bushes or play dead to get out of running the mile in school. I HATED running. But running has given me a purpose. It’s shown me that I really am limitless. In the two years since I started running, I’ve run multiple half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks, and two full marathons. My mission is to inspire others to find the courage to say yes to themselves all the while making them laugh hysterically because laughing is the solution to everything.

Introducing the Run, Selfie, Repeat Podcast

IT'S HERE! It's finally here! Exciting news podcast lovers, because the Run, Selfie, Repeat podcast is officially live! What is a podcast? GREAT QUESTION, it's this audio feed that is super complicated to figure out how to put onto the internet and then distribute to multiple different apps and feeds. BUT, so far, it is going to live here in the "Podcast" section of Run, Selfie, Repeat, iTunes, and Google Play.

Now, what can you expect from this Podcast? WELL, you can expect weekly talks with author, runner, funny lady, and Run, Selfie, Repeat creator Kelly Roberts (that's me) about life, liberty, and the pursuit of our happiest, strongest and most vulnerable selves. 

Sounds like fun, right? Well, in case you can't tell, I'm really excited about this launch. Being able to talk about the things I write about brings the vulnerability to a whole new level that I'm really excited to explore with all of you.

Episode 1 - Leap of Faith

Episode 2 - Self Confidence

So, do me a favor and go subscribe, give it a listen, and then give it a 5 star review on iTunes or Google Play.

Exciting times! 

7 Comments

Kelly Roberts

My name is Kelly Roberts and I am a 25 year old New York City resident. My story made headlines when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the NYC Half Marathon. My blog, www.RunSelfieRepeat.com is bursting with humor and personal stories that lend an insight into the world of running and lead you to believe that just about anyone, regardless of their fitness level, can and should fall in love with running. Though currently an avid runner, I never would have predicted I would run marathons. I was the kid who used to hide in the bushes or play dead to get out of running the mile in school. I HATED running. But running has given me a purpose. It’s shown me that I really am limitless. In the two years since I started running, I’ve run multiple half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks, and two full marathons. My mission is to inspire others to find the courage to say yes to themselves all the while making them laugh hysterically because laughing is the solution to everything.

Coach Josh's Tips On Embracing Hill Repeats

by Coach Josh Maio (AKA Coach Squatch)

Hills glorious hills … you avoid them whenever possible, you dread them when you look at the elevation charts of races, and they are the bane of your existence.  I bet most of you just threw up in your mouth a little just thinking of your “favorite” hill just now.

I know, it’s disgusting.  

As part Sasquatch, my long-given nickname, hills are part of our natural habitat and we love them, but it wasn’t always the case.  I too had a major aversion to hills for a long time, but eventually came to see the light of the truth--

No matter how much you hate them, hills will make you a better, stronger, and healthier runner.

It sounds ridiculous and there's no way to sugar coat it but I assure you, embracing the hill helps. Don’t believe me? Here’s why..

hill repeats

Reason #1 - Hills are incredible for building leg strength and endurance, not to mention the fact that they work your stabilizing muscles and are amazing at keeping your legs healthy and strong during training.  I mean, who doesn’t want strong legs?  Not everyone likes going to the gym to do squats and the like, so why wouldn't you do more hill work? Truthfully though, hills will keep you healthy throughout training.

hill repeats

Reason #2 - Hills are a close second to long runs when it comes to training your mind for a half-marathon or marathon.  You have to love hating them. They can be difficult and sometimes, they just might break you. But they can also be a place where you can gain a psychological edge over the other runners on the course.  

I was a longtime hill hater until one day it just clicked when I realized just how much other people hated them. So I decided that hills would be the thing where I would try to excel while others crumbled.  If you train hard on hills, they become your friends and turns out, they're the great equalizer come race day!! Furthermore, what goes up must come down and those downhills give your legs and lungs the opportunity to recover a bit whilst maintaining your pace.  

Train your mind for this work and it will serve you well for any race you look to take on.

Mindsets for Mastery (Say these things to yourself whenever you feel the urge to crawl into the fetal position mid repetition like Kelly does...):

Kelly LOVES hill repeats.

Kelly LOVES hill repeats.

  • The faster I get to the top and get it done the sooner it is over.”

  • I REFUSE to let the course beat me.”

  • My personal favorite,“This is where I will pass the most people and intimidate the pack.” Hill Shaming is a thing … don’t be #hillshamed, do the hill shaming.

  • And if those don’t work, just do what my team, Gotham City Runners, does, and just blame me. Scream out, “I HATE YOU, COACH SQUATCH!!” … doesn’t always help though, just tends to be a waste of oxygen.

hill repeats

Reason #3 - We all want to look effortless when we run, just like a gazelle, and hill work is a good way to get us there.  Hills are a natural way to improve your form as your body is forced to run on the mid to forefoot, maintaining good posture as you climb, driving your knees, using your arms/hands to help with pace. By focusing on all of these different mechanical pieces and working on the efficiency of your form you will be that much stronger of a runner than the runners who avoid hills.

So what are some of the things you can focus on to help improve your hill shaming prowess? Here are some tips from Coach Josh/Squatch for the next time you are hill running.  Test drive some of these and you'll see EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

(You’ll be surprised how well they actually do work.)

  1. Pushing Is Better Than Pulling: A simple way to think of this is which is easier: pushing or pulling someone on a bike up the hill?  Pushing is ALWAYS easier.  Adjust your posture so you are driving up the hill, leaning into it a little (think Olympic Ski Jumper), and feel your foot strike, which should be roughly mid to forefoot.  Another little trick to this is tilting your head down so your eyes train on a spot on the ground roughly 10-feet in front of you that way you have that additional 10-11 pounds of weight moving forward rather than dragging behind you.

  2. Focus On Your Arms: When your legs start to fail, your arms will see you through.  It’s an interesting mental trick to focus solely on your arm swing instead of being hung up on your fatiguing legs.  Really hone in on what your arms are doing and how you are swinging them and your legs will just keep doing their job.  What should you focus on exactly?  Relax your shoulders and arms, your hands and wrists should graze your hips as they swing, and keep the elbow angle at about 90-degrees. Key in on your forearms swinging from parallel to the ground to perpendicular and your biomechanics will keep your legs on task.  

  3. Drive Your Knees:  The flatter the stride is the harder the climb will be.  Drive your knees and enjoy the equal and opposite reaction as they propel you up the hill!!  Also, not to go back to them again, but your arms will help with this as well.  The harder you pump them, the more drive your legs will have.

  4. Fast Hands = Fast Feet: The faster you pump those arms, the faster your feet will move, and the quicker the turnover, which means the sooner it’s over!  Also, quick, short strides equates to greater uphill running efficiency, which means you’ll be able to run faster longer.  

  5. Speed Up Your Breathing BEFORE You Even Get Working: Try speeding up your breathing rate before you even start fully climbing so when the work starts you aren't fighting for air when your body needs the oxygen.  There is nothing worse than being a quarter of the way up a hill and already feeling like you need to lay down and roll back to the bottom, because you are completely gassed.  Speed up your breathing and, despite how goofy you will feel for a few moments, once the uphill work begins you won’t have to deal with that big gasp for air that inevitably comes about a third of the way up and completely throws off your rhythm.

  6. Work BEYOND the Crest: One of the most common mistakes in working hills is taking your foot off the gas before you even hit the top.  It’s common to let up when you realize that relief is coming at the apex and you are so close, but what really happens is you actually slow down too soon, kill your pace, make yourself work harder getting to the top and after it, and spend the next quarter mile trying to get your breathing settled and finding your running rhythm all over again.  DO NOT LET UP until you’re about 50-100m AFTER the crest that way you maintain your pace and rhythm you fought to achieve while starting to recover when the terrain flattens out and/or declines. Another place where focusing and using your arms come in handy.  I thought we were talking about RUNNING though?

hill repeats

LOVE what others HATE: This is one near and dear to Coach Squatch ... Hills are most often where people back off, fold, give up, or let themselves fade in a race. They are feared like nothing else and unjustly blamed for bad races, etc.  This is exactly why I love them.  There is something so satisfying listening to people gripe about hills being a problem and personally revelling in them.  Yes, this is usually followed by, “you’re nuts,” or “insane,” or something to that effect, but we’re runners, isn’t that who we are anyway?  This is the good kind of crazy and enjoy the hill shaming.  


This is Coach Josh telling me to stop feeling sorry for myself and start having fun. What a guy.

Coach Josh Maio is head coach and co-founder of Gotham City Runners. He's also the man who listens and makes Kelly laugh when she cries about how hard it is to try to qualify for the Boston Marathon. He's basically a saint. For more info on Saint Coach Josh Maio, you can contact him by clicking here.

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Kelly Roberts

My name is Kelly Roberts and I am a 25 year old New York City resident. My story made headlines when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the NYC Half Marathon. My blog, www.RunSelfieRepeat.com is bursting with humor and personal stories that lend an insight into the world of running and lead you to believe that just about anyone, regardless of their fitness level, can and should fall in love with running. Though currently an avid runner, I never would have predicted I would run marathons. I was the kid who used to hide in the bushes or play dead to get out of running the mile in school. I HATED running. But running has given me a purpose. It’s shown me that I really am limitless. In the two years since I started running, I’ve run multiple half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks, and two full marathons. My mission is to inspire others to find the courage to say yes to themselves all the while making them laugh hysterically because laughing is the solution to everything.

Start This Month. We Dare You To #WinWithOne

Photo by Banga Studios

The hardest part is getting started. Getting out the door. Saying, "I'm never going to stick with this but screw it, I'm going to try anyways." 

It's easy to make running or getting active seem as simple as:

  1. Find and register for a race.
  2. Train for said race.
  3. Cross the finish line.

It's not that easy. Just figuring out how to get started and then stay motivated is the hardest part. It's difficult, that just knowing that quitting is inevitable stops a hell of a lot of people from getting to step 1. 

Look, I know how intimidating and overwhelming getting active can be for those of us who didn't play sports growing up or who actively avoided being active. It's the story of my life. I still to this day find it hard to believe that I enjoy running because I literally spent the vast majority of my life president of the "I f*cking hate running club".

After decades dreading anything physically active, I had grown to accept the fact that I would never enjoy being active. That working out was the thing I would suffer through for the rest of my life only so that I could try to lose weight.

Turns out, that's not the case. Learning to enjoy being active or running isn't impossible. It's just really, really hard.

There have been two times in my life where I was so overwhelmed with what I was trying to do that I actually didn't know how to take the first few steps. 

1. When I was adopting a healthy lifestyle change to lose weight.

and 2. When I started running. 

Both felt so impossible that I would try, fail, and quit multiple times. With my weight loss, it took 6 months of trying for a week and then quitting when I felt like I was a lost cause before I totally committed. The hardest part was convincing myself that the hard work was worth it.

And with running, there's a reason I ran both my first half marathon and marathon incredibly undertrained. It's because I'd get a month in and feel devastated when it wouldn't get easier, and stop running for a few days or weeks. I'd go out for a 6 mile run and end up crying on a street corner a mile or two from home overwhelmed and frustrated. I'd spend the long walk home convincing myself that running just wasn't for me.

(I'm embarrassed to admit this but just two weeks ago, I had a melt down and had to walk the final mile home sobbing. I was so frustrated that I was struggling so much that I was ready to call off training for my BQ attempt during this year's London Marathon.)

The point is, sometimes just getting started or getting started again can stop you from even trying.

If you're having a hard time getting motivated or finding the strength to fight through those first few really tough weeks, use a daily goal. Everything clicked for me when I stopped focusing on my end goal. Whenever I'd compare where I was at to where I wanted to be, I'd feel defeated and overwhelmed. I felt like I'd never get to the finish line so I started focusing on what I could achieve each individual day. Whenever I want to cut a run or workout short and do more the next day, I tell myself to do what I can today. So what if I'm tired, I can't control tomorrow. I can only control today.

So don't lose sleep over what you think you are and aren't capable of accomplishing. Set a huge goal that feels impossible, develop a plan to work towards it, and then take it one day at a time.

This year, Oiselle and the bad ass force of woman known as Stephanie Bruce are helping you kick ass and take names with #WheelsUp17. They're breaking the year into monthly challenges and February's challenge is #WinWithOne, where you vow to make one change that you will implement every single day for the month of February. It resonated pretty deeply with me because my hardest challenge has always been finding the courage to take the first step and then stick with it.

So this month, my goal is to find the fun in my workouts every single day. AND, this isn't a daily commitment but a weekly one, I am going to go to at least 3 barre classes a week. I avoid them because I feel embarrassed by how weak I am in class. I feel like every other word that comes out of the instructor's mouths is "Don't give up Kelly" or "You're doing it wrong Kelly" because I'm either struggling to complete what we're supposed to be doing or I'm doing it incorrectly. BUT, I know I won't get stronger and prevent injuries if I let my embarrassment get the best of me. EVERYONE has to start somewhere and despite the fact that I'm the only new person in class who gets called out every 5 seconds, it's because the instructor wants me to succeed. So I vow to go. And I vow to have fun doing it damnit.

Remember, January is over. We're now an entire month into 2017. Don't let the year slip away because you couldn't find the motivation to take the first few steps. Use this month to develop new habits. 

How do you plan to #WinWithOne? Maybe it's to do at least one 60 second plank a day for all of February (I'll join you on that one). Or maybe you'll throw in a run streak and run or walk at least 1 mile a day for every single day in February. Let @Oiselle and I know by putting your vow to #WinWithOne on Twitter or Instagram

Me after every single run. #RunselfieRepeat #sportsbrasquad #flystyle #runningishard

A video posted by Kelly Roberts (@kellykkroberts) on

This sh*t is hard. You're not alone. We're all struggling together to make tomorrow a lot stronger. 

3 Comments

Kelly Roberts

My name is Kelly Roberts and I am a 25 year old New York City resident. My story made headlines when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the NYC Half Marathon. My blog, www.RunSelfieRepeat.com is bursting with humor and personal stories that lend an insight into the world of running and lead you to believe that just about anyone, regardless of their fitness level, can and should fall in love with running. Though currently an avid runner, I never would have predicted I would run marathons. I was the kid who used to hide in the bushes or play dead to get out of running the mile in school. I HATED running. But running has given me a purpose. It’s shown me that I really am limitless. In the two years since I started running, I’ve run multiple half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks, and two full marathons. My mission is to inspire others to find the courage to say yes to themselves all the while making them laugh hysterically because laughing is the solution to everything.