Can a Pair of Sneakers Make You Faster? These Did – M & S
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Can a Pair of Sneakers Make You Faster? These Did

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I know that running scares a lot of people. Running fast, well, that scares just about everyone—myself included. So when Nike approached me with the idea of a six-week training program ending with a 10K run, I had to pause. 6.22 miles isn't new territory for me, but setting a speed goal—that intimidated me. Even with the newest, fastest gear at my disposal, my lofty aspirations of running at a pace under eight-minute miles seemed mostly unachievable. But I laced up my react sneakers and started logging (ever-faster) miles despite my misgivings.

A little backstory: I'm not new to running. I started logging miles as early as middle school. I was a soccer player, then a volleyball player, and eventually a sub-par track athlete too. My fastest mile time was 6:43, which is not a record, but it's nothing to laugh at either. But sometime around my sophomore year of high school, a switch flipped.

Plagued by a few seasons of verbally abusive, belittling coaches critiquing my every move, I stopped being the same confident athlete. The minute I heard loud voices on the sidelines, my breath would lift from my lungs into my throat and suddenly I couldn't breathe. I would wheeze as I desperately tried to take a breath, and when I was pulled off the field, I finally had an excuse. It wasn't my fault that I had failed—I couldn't breathe. I know that's not a glamorous or inspiring introduction to running. In fact, it's an unusual route to getting where I am today. By the end of high school, I gave up everything. I stopped running, and I even stopped playing sports.

It wasn't until late in college that I discovered a different kind of running: the slow jog. As a rattled college student, slowly meandering my way through the hills of Berkeley offered a mental respite from the anxiety of the classroom. I could trip my way down the tree-lined streets, eyeing which craftsman house would one day be mine, meditating on the conversations I had with my roommates. Running was no longer about speed. It wasn't about winning or losing—it was all about mental clarity and peace.

Meet my race day shoes. Available in sizes 5 to 12. 
For anyone who considers pink their color. Available in sizes 5 to 12. 
Meet the coolest take on running sneakers. Available in sizes 5 to 12. 
If you prefer leggings, these are great for warmer weather. Available in size 3X. 
The right running ensemble starts with a bra that fits. Available in sizes XS to L. 
If you're running somewhere warm, be sure to wear sunscreen or keep covered. Available in size M. 
The perfect color for spring. Available in sizes X to 3X
Make sure you're armed with gear that fits the weather. Available in size 2X. 
High-waisted leggings are great for any exercise. Available in sizes XS to XL. 
These leggings are so comfortable. Available in sizes 1X to 3X. 
These shorts are so comfy. Available in sizes XS to XL. 
Breathability is key. Available in sizes 1X to 3X. 
Sleek leggings are great for sprint days. Available in sizes XS to M. 
It doesn't get more basic than this. Available in sizes XS to L. 
This bra is great if you need additional support. Available in sizes S to XL. 
Ideal if you love a little color.  Available in sizes XS to XL.  Now you're all set to run your first race too.

My love for relaxed running continued post-college. One of my favorite activities in New York is a Sunday night run along the river (not that I do it all that often, but when I do, it was really beautiful). But having lived here for more than four years, I was in need of a challenge. When Nike approached me about running the race (and putting the new Reacts to the test), I set my ambitions high. Over the last years, I've run consistently, but I have never taken care to push myself outside of my comfort zone speed-wise. Having experienced the more unpleasant side of competition (not to mention the nausea and pain that comes with running really, really hard), I was in no rush to well, rush.

But thanks to the gentle coaxing of Nike running coach Jes Woods, I decided to go for it and to start speeding up. Before our first training session, we all sat down to set our goals, and I put sub-eight pace down to paper. Then we headed out and got to work. While speeding up is a mental battle in many ways, I noticed immediately how much the right pair of sneakers can make a difference. I was used to jogging in highly supportive, heavy shoes, but the React is different. The lightweight flyknit upper and super-reactive foam actually left me feeling speedy, and my timed runs backed that up. Not to brag, but I recorded a 6:30 mile at one point, so I was doing something right.

By the time race day arrived, I'd done all the training (and carbo-loading) I was going to, and so with the firing of a gun, I and 8000 other racers set off, running on a freeway in L.A. that was closed specifically for the event. I won't lie—after training through the NYC winter, running in sunny—and hilly—Los Angeles was tough. By mile five, I was convinced I would either faint or throw up, but with my goal in mind, I played mental chess, counting down the tenths of a mile left, convincing myself to keep jogging at whatever pace I could handle. I felt that familiar shift in my breath, listening as the air left my lungs and became drawn out and raspy in my throat, but I kept running. Tomato-faced, I crossed the finish line, having kept a pace of eight minutes per mile exactly. I'm taking it. As I slowly cooled down after the race, I felt my breath slowly come back, and I knew that this was a competition I was proud of.

If you're ready to start running, shop gear below inspired by my own race day.

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