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How Two Trainers Overcame Their Self-Doubt to Run Their First Half Marathon

Glancing at their résumés, you'd wonder how trainers and Brave Body Project founders Lindsey Clayton and Amber Rees could possibly be nervous about running 13.1 miles—after all, as Barry's Bootcamp instructors, spending time sprinting on a treadmill is part of their job. But as Lindsey and Amber share their story from registration (with a surprise twist) to running the race, you'll see that even the fittest, strongest, and most inspirational trainers have their self-doubt, too. Here, read how the women conquered their intimidation and totally crushed it at the Shape Women's Half Marathon 2017. 

Signing Up 

Lindsey: I've always had marathon fever—the spirit around races and the running community—but I never personally felt like I was a runner. I've done a few 5Ks and smaller races, and I run on the treadmill, but I never felt like I was good enough to be a real runner. But I was sitting on the couch next to Amber and it just hit me. I was like "I'm going to do it. I'm going to sign up for the Shape Half." Then I thought about how Amber would have some serious FOMO if I did this without her. That's why I got the idea to sign us BOTH up and surprise her. A half marathon is out of her wheelhouse, too, but I took a risk, thinking she's either going to kill me and not do it and the whole thing will be a bust, or we'll do it together and maybe come out on the other side learning a lot from it. (Watch Amber's speechless reaction below.)


Hey #ShapeSquad, Amber and Lindsey of @bravebodyproject here! We're two best friends and certified trainers on a mission to help others feel strong, be BOLD, and find the brave within. We're taking over the @shape #MyPersonalBest challenge this month, and in honor of #AprilFoolsDay, what better way to kick things off than with a fitness surprise from @lindseyclayton23 to @amber_rees! Spoiler alert: it involves running the Shape Women's Half Marathon on April 30th! We're really excited but a little scared to run the event. We work out on the reg, but this mileage is definitely something new for us! We've teamed up with SHAPE to share every step of our humbling journey from 0.0 to 13.1 miles. We'll be sharing our favorite run tips and talking about race day fears (trainers aren't superhuman!) all month long. More importantly, we want to hear from YOU! Share your advice, ask us your top training questions, and show us your running selfies using the hashtags #TeamBBP and #ShapeSquad! 3, 2, 1...Go!

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Amber: I was shocked. My first reaction was that it was a joke. My second thought was "absolutely not." But then my third feeling was, "well, she's my best friend and I'm obviously not going to say no." Then I remembered our experience at the Shape Half last year—we went together to cheer on a client of Lindsey's who was running the race after recovering from an ACL tear—and I felt surrounded by female empowerment. The sense of community and the idea of having a squad of people rooting for you was so strong, and thinking about being a part of that this year got me excited to do it. 

Lindsey: I know. I remember being there last year thinking "this is so inspiring, but I don't know if I could ever do this myself," which is funny because even as a trainer I have that kind of self-doubt. But the more we started to run outside throughout the last year, the more I realized that if you like to run, you're a runner. You don't have to be fast. There is no fast or slow. But of course, we struggled with getting over the feeling like because we're trainers we have to be the fastest or the best. This is partly why Brave Body Project is so important to us. We want women to know that we all have those fears and thoughts and we're willing to put them out there in an open forum. "I'm scared. I'm an athlete, but that doesn't mean I'm good at everything I do."


Hey #ShapeSquad! @amber_rees and @lindseyclayton23 of @bravebodyproject here! We're a few weeks away from the @shapehalf Women's Half Marathon and we're taking our recovery just as seriously as our mileage. We've both suffered through some serious sports injuries in the past so we know how important it is to give our bodies time to heal after training. We have a few things we do each week to keep our legs healthy and happy: 1. We get weekly physical therapy treatments at @nycustompt. They have the best physical therapists and running specialists in the city and they've been an integral part of our race prep. 2. We can't live without our @ntrecovery boots. These things are literally like a big hug for your leg. The boots use compressed air to massage limbs and speed up the recovery process. We've noticed a huge difference in our recovery time since using them! 3. We always stretch and foam roll after our runs. Taking the time to cool down helps us reconnect with our bodies, reflect on our performance, and thank our bodies for the work they did. Do you guys have a favorite recovery tool or stretch? Share with us in the comments below and make sure to share your run selfies with the hashtags #TeamBBP and #ShapeSquad!

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Amber: I think it's the idea that we're showing people we aren't superhuman. We're OK with not being the fastest, and so should you. We want the BBP community to feel relatable. It's acknowledging that I like pizza and happy hour, but I also like to drink smoothies and work out. There's a balance with everything for us, too. 

Lindsey: We're normal women like everyone else. Sometimes I have abs and sometimes I don't, and sometimes I'm fast and sometimes I'm not. That doesn't make me any less athletic or fit. It doesn't make me love or hate myself more in some way.


Lindsey: We knew we needed a training plan, so we worked with the people at Custom Performance, a running and performance center, who hooked us up with a training plan. As trainers ourselves, we still need trainers. We know how to run, but we wanted to do our best and do it injury- and pain-free, so we created a calendar for not just training but recovery time as well. We tried to train together whenever we could, but if our schedules didn't match up, we sometimes had to train separately. When we did run together, it made all the difference. If I feel like walking, but Amber's running next to me, it makes me say "OK, I’m not going to walk."


Hey #ShapeSquad, Amber and Lindsey of @bravebodyproject here! We have a little over 3 weeks to go before race day and we're in full-blown training mode. . Our program has us logging 1-2 long runs weekly. We're used to running shorter distances and faster paces, but we've spent most of our time running on treadmills--and that just hasn't been cutting it for us once the mileage started to increase. Our strategy is: treadmill = speed and intervals; outdoors = endurance and long miles. (You want to do mix of both types of runs when training for a race.) . So we've been exploring the outdoor running routes around our apartment in NYC...and we've been finding all sorts of cool new neighborhood spots to try when we aren't dripping sweat. We're new to this whole running buddy thing and we're working on finding our #TeamBBP rhythm. Do you guys talk while you run? Listen to music? Listen to your breath? @lindseyclayton23 is team sexy pace + a little chatting here and there, but @amber_rees is all about music and speed. How do you stay focused and inspired on your long runs? Share your tips and tricks with us and snap your running selfies using the hashtags #TeamBBP and #ShapeSquad!

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Amber: We always made sure to do our long runs together. That's when the mental strength kicks in, and that's when we really needed the support of each other. That's why we promised to run the race side by side and pace each other through the whole thing. 

Lindsey: By mid-April, I was feeling really strong and fast, but Amber was having a setback. 

Amber: I've always been a lot faster when it comes to treadmill runs—Lindsey will admit that—but somehow in the middle of our month of training, Lindsey just excelled and had some really great fast runs. All of a sudden it was me trying to keep up with her, and I was dealing with pain in my knees, and halfway through a run I would literally want to cry because I just couldn't catch up. I felt frustrated. My body just wouldn't move—it wouldn't get faster. I felt like the more I was running, the worse I was getting. 

Lindsey: I was feeling great, and I think running outdoors allowed me to pay more attention to and fix more form, which helped. I started to think "maybe I can actually do this." I know Amber was struggling mid-month, and she rebounded by the end of April just before race day, but even if she hadn't it. didn't matter. We didn't care if we finished in two and a half hours because we were stopping to take selfies. And if we crushed it, that's cool, too. Whatever happens, we were going to do it together. The week before the race we were both feeling good after our longest run yet—11 miles, and I said, "If I can run 11 miles, I can run 13."

Amber: I was feeling excited to just be surrounded by the energy...and for the bagel at the finish line. 

Race Day

Lindsey: I was so nervous on the morning of the race. It felt surreal that all the hard work had finally led up to this moment and this morning. Even just moments before we started I was like "Wait! We're about to run a half marathon?!" There's something really special about the Shape Half though—there was no pushing to get around each other. There was no feeling of aggressive competition. If you bumped into someone or passed someone it was more like 'Hey girl, cute sneakers!' I felt like we were all in it together. The first loop was smooth and we were moving quickly, but the second is loop around Central Park is where it got tough. I noticed Amber was struggling a little, but focusing on helping her actually made any of my discomfort subside. 


OMG DID WE JUST RUN A HALF MARATHON?!?!? Hey #ShapeSquad it's @amber_rees and @lindseyclayton23 of @bravebodyproject here!! We just crossed the finish line of the Shape Women's Half Marathon and we're so proud of each other and everyone who was Brave enough to tackle the 13.1 miles today. It was so inspiring to see women of every shape, size, age, and ethnicity all working together towards the same goal. You could feel the strength and the power radiating from every woman with each step we took together. We want to thank everyone for cheering us on this month. Today proved that #WomenRunTheWorld and we are always stronger together. Until next time #TeamBBP and #ShapeSquad! Be strong. Be inspired. Be BRAVE.

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Amber: I woke up an hour before my alarm that day with major nerves, but they calmed down once we got to the park with all these other strong, powerful women, with one collective goal—to run 13.1 miles together. Originally, I thought my Personal Best challenge would be to train hard, run the race, and become physically stronger every day. That's not how the story unfolded, but by the end of the race, I had a new realization. My "Personal Best" was accepting that I'm not the best, the strongest, or the fastest...and that's okay. I learned that I can accept that just fighting to finish is enough. In the end, I felt so loved and supported from the start to the finish. Women would yell "You got this!" or "Stay strong ladies." I wanted to send that love right back, so immediately after we finished the race we headed to the sidelines to cheer on all the other women to fight to finish it. 

Lindsey: This experience was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done, but the best part about my Personal Best challenge, was every week I reached a new personal best. Every week I hit a mileage I never had before. I ran longer or faster than I had before. And I showed myself that I can run a half marathon. I am a runner. 


Personal Best: The tools and inspo you need to crush your goals (whatever they are!) all year long. Join our Personal Best Facebook Group for 24/7 squad support and share your wins—big and small—on social using #mypersonalbest.


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