Running can be… a lot. Even more so when your shoes don’t feel right, you’re by yourself, or maybe don’t have all the essentials. So, we talked to Brooke Torres (she/her), founder and CEO of Hilma, who knows all about the above probs. “I started Hilma because the running shoe I wanted didn’t exist,” she says. “As I scaled from running 5ks to ultramarathons, I could never find a shoe that really worked for me. I realized that there were a ton of women I knew with the same issue, struggling with shoe selection. Part of the problem is because many of the running shoes on the market are crafted for men. But that’s not all of it. No brand before Hilma was considering that there’s a need for a more personalized fit—that feet aren’t the same, including from one woman to another. It’s why you might find that a shoe that feels amazing on your friend feels terrible on you. With Hilma, our fit model is almost like bra sizing. It considers shape, volume, and length of foot. We are entirely focused on creating high performance, super comfortable running shoes for all women.”

After sprinting to their site, take a look at Brooke’s tips and tricks on running outdoors, solo, and in a new location. 🏃‍♀️

You’re clearly a running expert. Can you give us some advice for running outdoors?
Running (outdoors or in) is so much about this intersection of what feels good for you and what your goals are. Your goals could be anything (or nothing!), from finding joy in running, to running a very specific race, to recovering from an injury. There are so many more variables in running that you can play with than running gets credit for.

My best advice is to try out those different variables if you aren’t sure what works for you. With outdoor running, you can explore new routes, or, you can have your predictable loops that you know. You can run trails, tracks, sidewalks. You can run intervals or longer, slower, and steadier and plenty in between. You can listen to music or podcasts. Run solo or with a group. You can run-walk. Some of the running community has historically stigmatized walking, but honestly, run-walk is a party, and more people should try it. Listening to your body throughout any activity—paying attention to any pains or exhaustion is always a good idea, but even more so when conditions are more extreme, like high heat.

Speaking of running solo, what are some safety tips we should keep in mind?
It’s unfortunate that there’s another layer of safety consideration we think about as women. Something I also like to keep in mind is that, as far as risks go, running solo can be statistically a very safe pursuit. Safer, for instance, than being in a car. Also on the positives, running solo can be empowering. I love going out to run with friends, or co-workers or my partner, but if no one is around or immediately available, I’ll happily go by myself. This is very much about what makes you comfortable, and what makes you comfortable will both depend on your experiences and likely how remote you are. Personally, it took me some time of being out solo to feel comfortable with it, particularly on longer solo trail runs or hikes. Listening to your gut when something doesn’t feel right, and not being overly committed to a plan are two things I’d always recommend.

What about if we’re running in a remote or new location?
The more remote you’re going, the more prepared you want to be. A walk or run where you can stop for water or a snack at the store if needed requires less consideration than if you go on a trail run somewhere remote. In new cities, the local running store can be a great resource for routes to check out.

For remote running, walking, hiking:

  • Always run with your phone and make sure that it’s fully charged.
  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
  • Run with what you think you’ll need, and, if more remote, increase the amount accordingly to pad it a bit. (Ex: If you think you need one snack, bring a second just in case.)
  • Things like rain shells, emergency blankets, or headlamps are also things to consider depending on your plans, the weather, and the area.
  • Turn back if something doesn’t feel right.
  • If you’re going to spend significant time running, walking, or hiking in remote areas, particularly mountainous areas, it’s worth the investment of time to read more about preparedness and safety. There are lots of great books on the topic.
  • Recently, I started running with a Garmin inReach when remote or off cell-service. After breaking my foot on a trail and spending more time in an area with extremely varied weather, it was something I wanted to add for safety in case of emergency for myself or someone I came across.

What other things should we bring with us on walks and runs?
Finding a good sports bra is essential for many people. My best recommendation is to try on several from different brands, with different styles, and see which one feels best. Bodies are different, so what works on you will depend on the way it’s constructed and it’s match to your body. Personally, I love Janji’s sports bras. If you’re carrying enough that you need a pack or a bag, you’ve got options! I like running vests over waist belts. I find them more comfortable. I run with an Ultimate Direction pack (either a hydration vest, or a larger backpack for bigger running or hiking days).