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How this fitness guru turns her running routine into a total ritual


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Raise your hand if you have pumped yourself up for an early run, laid out your *fave* sweat-wicking outfit the night before, and promptly slept through your alarm the next morning. Ahem, common problem.

Wondering how serious runners always seem to lace up and go for it? So were we—so as part of our new running series with ASICS, we asked one to find out. And amazingly, Chicago-based runner and certified trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp Holly Keskey-Koester actually has some totally relatable advice.

“Running is not a natural thing for me,” the fit pro says. “Starting is the hardest part. Eventually, you get better and your goals get bigger—small changes to your runs can equal major shifts to your capabilities.”

Turns out, the key to running any distance is all about fine-tuning your mental game. “Mindset is everything. I try to keep in mind that it’ll get easier,” says Keskey-Koester, who has been running since 2013. “Your breath calms, your muscles relax, and you fall into your groove. Start slow and you’ll get there. It’s truly only a race against yourself.”

“Start slow and you’ll get there. It’s truly only a race against yourself.”

Keskey-Koester has cemented a high-energy routine that works for her packed schedule and even added long-distance race training to the mix—the one constant is a pair of totally game shoes. Her pick for all the support when packing on mileage? Cumulus 20s from ASICS.

“Generally, distance shoes or shoes for special arch needs tend to be clunky and heavy, and I didn’t feel that at all,” she says.  “They’re incredibly supportive, specifically in the heel, and lightweight.” Lace up your running shoes and score Keskey-Koester’s get-going advice below.

Scroll down for her hype-routine tips—and the fast-tempo tunes she counts on for every run.

Holly Keskey-Koester ASICS

What does your weekly running schedule look like?

I run four days a week at Barry’s Bootcamp, which is mixed with heavy strength-training work. As a way to kill some of the extra time and to learn a new city, I started running [outside]. I’d get lost, jump on public transit to learn the system, and head home.

If I’m training for a race, I follow a program, adding miles every week. If I’m running for the sweat or fun, I don’t put as many limitations on myself. I like to run in the mornings before the paths and streets get busy.

What does your a.m. running hype routine consist of?

  • Get dressed ASAP.
  • When running that early, I eat a small piece of fruit and have a giant cup of coffee.
  • Pop in a piece of gum.
  • My playlist is everything! I’m a hip-hop and pop girl. If it doesn’t make me want to dance, then it doesn’t make the cut. And the second I’m out the door, my music is on.
  • I walk to my starting point to loosen my legs.
  • Do lunges to open my hips and forward folds to stretch my back and hamstrings.
  • Take off!

Holly Keskey-Koester ASICS

Do you have a running uniform?

I wear a baseball cap, sunglasses, high-waisted leggings for support, a sports bra, and a tank or top I can remove once I’m warm. For races, I wear shorts instead of leggings (weather permitting) without sunglasses (unless it’s a triathlon). I always have my waist belt to hold my energy chews, phone, keys, gum, lip balm, cash, and ID.

What are your favorite hydration techniques?

I hydrate a bit before my run with cold H2O and during my run by stopping at water fountains throughout the city. I have a big hydration session post-run. If it’s a long run or it’s extremely warm, I use NUUN tablets to help with my sodium and electrolyte levels.

Holly Keskey-Koester ASICS

What role does music play for your runs?

In the beginning, I listened to audiobooks to keep my mind off of the intensity of the runs. Now, I make killer playlists to keep me motivated (check out the one, below). It’s a way for me to wake up, sweat, clear my head, and enjoy a bit of nature in the concrete jungle. I always plan about three epic songs for the end of a run and put them strategically in my playlist.

In partnership with ASICS

Photos: Eric Clarke for Well+Good

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