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Go Beyond: Make 2020 Your Fastest Year Yet

Best way to learn? Learn from the best. Discover how our top athletes plan to take their training to the next level this year, how they set their running goals, and get the inside track on how they prepare mentally and physically.


New year, new you? Maybe. Or maybe you’d be better taking a step back and thinking about what you really want to accomplish. Hoping to log a new PB? Run your first marathon? Maybe you’d like to just stick to an activity schedule? 


Work smarter, not harder by taking a more measured approach and chipping away at a clearly defined goal by building up and developing your training sessions gradually. 


Most experts agree that setting clear and realistic goals is critical if you want to improve. And not just in sporting environments. Having goals to work towards on can trigger new behavior, and help you find new focus and a more productive mindset. All essential when committing to a dedicated program over a specific period of time.


Having a clear idea of where you want to your goals to take you can help you find the motivation and discipline you need to put in the work to get there. 


But don’t take our word for it. Get the lowdown on how some of our Olympic athletes, Ironman record-breakers, trail-running champions, and up-and-coming stars plan to attack 2020. Find out what they want to achieve, how they plan to do it, and their tips on how to go beyond.  



Chari Hawkins, Team USA Heptathlete 



What are your goals for next year?

This year I don’t want to just qualify for the Olympics. I want to compete there. I want to succeed. I want to bring home a medal. In 2020, I’m going beyond everything I’ve ever done, by believing in my ability to be one of the best in the world. 


How will you mentally prepare?

The biggest realization I’ve had is how much of an effect increasing my own expectations of myself can have. Raising my game to the next level is impossible unless I know that there are many more levels still to go. I remember when my goal was to win my small school’s conference championship. Then I wanted to qualify for Nationals. Then to make a team, then medal at USAs. All of the goals I truly believed I could do, I did. 


When I practice, I always try my best to visualize myself in my race, feeling the feelings. This allows me to “compete” at practice, but also allows me to relax and strategize better in competition. Mental training has been such an enormous part of my growth as an athlete. 


Chari's Favorite for Speed: The Cloudflash
"I love the lightness of the Cloudflash. I love that it has an aggressive sole, but still provides so much cushioning and support. It's perfect for sprint intervals."


Chris Thompson, British Olympian  



What are your goals for next year? 

Next year there are some big events to aim at. The World Half Marathon Championships in March, Olympics and European Track Championships.


How will you mentally prepare for these goals?

For me, mental and physical preparation go hand in hand. You build confidence and strength through consistent training and creating a platform that leaves no stone unturned. You can't win races until the day itself but you can prepare to win in the days/weeks/months leading in. By taking each day and training session bit by bit you slowly build a culture within that can cope with the challenge ahead. 


Learning to micromanage your body and mind teaches you to take this approach right to the finish line. Feeling confident and allowing your mind to relax, your body will create a form of race meditation that gives me the right balance of pushing my body to its max while making smart racing decisions. It's a way for me to 'let go' of myself and remove barriers. 


What do you do to become faster and able to run longer? 

Building training by increasing volume and intensity over time. I will do a lot of speed play sessions which will help progress my physiology. They involve various repetitions over various lengths and speeds which over time build strength and a faster and longer runner. 


What is your secret to push yourself to go the distance? 

My determination to never give up and keep coming back for more. You only find out how much you want something when you realize you may loose it. I'm a stubborn person and this goes into my running. While my passion still burns to run fast I'll keep fighting to the end.  


Chris's Favorite: The Cloudflow
"The Cloudflow has the perfect balance for faster lightweight running and longer stability-requiring runs. It's not often you come across a shoe that can do both and enables you to have the right components for every aspect of my runs."


Nicola Spirig, Swiss Olympic Champion  



How will you mentally prepare for your goals next year? 

Mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation. I am already focusing on the Olympics in Tokyo, watching videos of the course and discussing tactics with my coach. We’re planning how to get there, and how to deliver the best performance on the day.


In each training session, I have the Olympics in mind, I know exactly for what part of the race the session is for. I try to prepare for every way the race could go and know how to react in each situation. This way, I am always motivated in training sessions.


What do you do to become faster and able to run longer? What is your secret to push yourself to go the distance? 

I use my big goal, the Olympics, to motivate me every day in training. I know to race with the best I need to be switched on and give my best in each training session. Some days I might be tired, but I will still do my best and know it will help me to run faster the next day and make me stronger. I try to only have good and great days, no bad days. 


Nicola's Favorite: The Cloudrush
"I love this shoe as it is very light and flexible, but still has all it needs to perform at the highest level."


Tim Don, Ironman Record Breaker 



What are your goals for next year? How will you mentally prepare for these goals?

For me 2020 is about being in the fight for the podium in every race I do. I am looking for a solid winter to build on my good 2019 season and use this year's success to help mentally prepare for the 2020 season.


Are there limits (speed/distances) that you want to break? How are you preparing for this?

For me, it's about pushing my body all the way looking for that high of going all out and leaving it on the race course. If that leads to super-fast times then so be it, but I will be controlling what I can control and that's me and my team!


What do you do to become faster and able to run longer? What is your secret to push yourself to go the distance? 

The secret to going faster and longer is there is no secret. Hard work, good coaching and planning with my training and racing. Having the confidence in my coaching team and my own ability to know my body and mind to push when its needed and also just as important when to back off and rest, it's a balance.


Tim's Favorite: The Cloudflow
"I love the original Cloudflow and now we have the new generation Cloudflow too. It’s just awesome. For speed and endurance, it’s my go-to shoe 100%."


Rachel Cliff, Marathon Record Holder 



What are your goals for next year? How will you mentally prepare for these goals?

My major goal for 2020 is to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Becoming an Olympian has been a goal of mine since I was a little kid and it’s scary to be chasing something I’ve wanted so badly and for so long. My plan over the coming months is to focus on the day to day details, trusting in the plan, and being the best I can at every run and practice.


Are there limits (speed/distances) that you want to break? How are you preparing for this?

One big goal I have is to break 70 minutes for the half marathon. It’s a big barrier and something that would be special to do. We’ve boosted my running mileage over the past few months and I have just returned from a period at altitude training camp. Hopefully this will allow me to reach a new level of fitness. 


What do you do to become faster and able to run longer?

My best advice is to try and not reinvent the wheel. Work with someone you can trust and follow that plan - it takes a lot of the mental stress off of you. But also, try to be aware of what has or hasn’t worked in the past.


What is your secret to push yourself to go the distance? 

Being in the moment and trying to not focus on anything other than myself. Easier said than done sometimes but I seem to run best when I do this. 



Katie Schide, Trail Running Champion



What are your goals for next year? How will you mentally prepare for these goals? 

My goal for next year is to keep exploring new mountains and new places. I want to continue taking care of myself and making good decisions about my training (and resting) so I can stay healthy and able to keep running around outside. Mentally, the most important thing is to listen to myself and my own body so I can be confident I'm doing the right things for me. 


Are there limits (speed/distances) that you want to break? How are you preparing for this?

I'm working on improving my speed on more runnable terrain. I love big climbs and descents in the mountains, but I think I have some room to improve in speedier, flat portions of ultraraces. I'm training with a track club this winter and incorporating more road running into my training. It's fun to change it up a bit while the trails are covered in snow!


What is your secret to push yourself to go the distance?

My secret is coffee... lots of it.


Katie's Favorite: The Cloudflow
"I love the Cloudflow. The new Cloudflow is even better than the first - hard to believe it’s possible but it's true!"


Germain Grangier, Elite Trail Runner



What are your goals for next year? How will you mentally prepare for these goals?

Next year will be focused on being better than last year! A few ultras and a cool project between mountains and running. Currently I am taking every day as a chance to be better in terms of training. I'll try to do less but do it better this year.


What is your secret to push yourself to go the distance?

Ultra running is an all-around sport.  You need to be fast but also slow on any terrain while still being economic and smart. Running in the rain or in the heat, during the day or through the night. I try to improve my versatility everyday by challenging myself.


Germain's Favorite: The Cloudflow
"I love the Cloudflow for a good mix between lightness, comfort and accuracy."


Peter Rea, On Zap Endurance Coach 



What are your goals for the team next year? 

Our 2020 On ZAP Endurance Team Goals are the following five key goals: 

1. Healthy years for all on the team. Nothing is more important.  

2. To have each athlete PR in their primary distances   

3. To place multiple ZAP athletes on senior US Teams   

4. Multiple athletes in the top 10 at the Olympic Trials   

5. Have an athlete make the US Olympic Team.


How do you suggest they mentally prepare for the new year?

Our team prepares through our regular meetings. We review what we’ve done, what's on for the next training cycle and how it fits into the overall goal of peak performance on race day.

There are no real secrets here. We train very hard pushing boundaries each training block, but we also plan rest to allow that hard work be manifested. We are also training on courses which will replicate the 2020 Olympic Trials to allow the team to "feel" the Atlanta course. 


It’s no secret that marathon training requires long days with long miles, how does a coach keep an athlete motivated?

Our staff reminds the team that running for a living is a gift, a unique opportunity afforded to very few individuals - and they need to appreciate and be passionate for each and every day here in this sport. We also like to remind the team that running is simple and should be joyful and childlike. Remember and embrace this and you'll be excited to go out the door every day.

Providing daily and weekly feedback keeps athletes energized when they know we have their best interests at heart. We tend to stick to the "when in doubt go aerobic" platform - most athletes tend to get fried with too much high-end anaerobic work. Solid relaxed conversation paced aerobic running is the bread and butter of marathon prep and keeps athletes flowing and light. 


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