Earlier this month Brenda Martinez competed in the Women’s 800m at the Track and Field World Championships in London. Having won the Bronze medal in that event at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow and competed at the highest levels in the years since, Brenda was a definite threat for the final. However, track and field is full of highs and lows, as Brenda can attest. Last summer she was a clear favorite for the US Olympic team in the 800m, but she was tripped in the last 200m of the final at the US Olympic Trials and did not qualify. In spite of the disappointment and the physical pain, Brenda doubled back and qualified for the Olympics in the 1500m, which is not her strongest event. This year, there was no dramatic collision in the 800m final at the US National Championships, and Brenda qualified for Worlds in her preferred event. Once in London though, Brenda did not look her usual self and barely managed to squeak through the opening heats and into the semi-finals. Unfazed, Brenda took out her semi-final race and looked as if she was well on her way to the final until the last 100m where strong finishes by Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui left her just 0.12 seconds short of making the final.
That result certainly isn’t the end for Brenda though. Her ability to turn hardships into success is one of her defining characteristics as an athlete and a human being, so you can bet that we’ll see her continue to tear up the track in the years to come. In the meantime, Brenda will carry that drive into other aspects of her life. For the past five years Brenda has hosted an all-expenses paid, high altitude training camp in Big Bear that gives underprivileged high school girls from Southern California the chance to learn different strategies for training, racing, and life in general. The camp has become a key way for her to give back to the running community and support girls who are facing trials similar to those that she faced growing up.
With so many things to give herself to, we are honored that Brenda took the time to answer some questions about her recent experience at Worlds, her training regiment, and her advice to aspiring runners.
How was your World Championships experience?
My championships were not what I hoped for. I felt like I was definitely tested with my mental strength, but there will always be positives that I can take away and learn from.
What were your plans going into Worlds?
My plans were to race to win each round. This doesn’t necessarily mean I will, but it gives me the best shot to qualify through the rounds. Getting through the rounds is probably the hardest part since the pressure is on to make the finals. I gave my best, but it was not good enough to make the final.
When you’re at home in Big Bear, where do you like to run and what do you like about training there?
One of my favorite spots to train in Big Bear Lake is the Alpine Bike Path that runs alongside the lake. The view is beautiful.
Do you have a favorite workout? Is there a specific shoe(s) that you wear for workouts?
One of my favorite workouts is mile repeats because it is one of my toughest and most beneficial. My go to flats for workouts are the RC1600s, which have been discontinued. I have a stockpile of shoes to last me for a bit, but I am also transitioning into the Hanzo racing flats.
What is your favorite shoe for daily training?
The training shoes I use for most of my daily runs and the bulk of my mileage are the Fresh Foam 1080s. They can take the miles and feel so good on my feet.
What are your favorite shoes for racing?
My racing shoes for road races are the RC 5000s*. They are perfect for the roads and very form fitting to my feet. My favorite spikes are the MD 800s, which are the right amount of aggressiveness I need for my event.
*The New Balance RC 5000 has been discontinued as well.
Do you have a favorite track that you like to race on?
My favorite track that I love to race on has to be Monaco [for the] Diamond League. It’s a fast track, and the fans’ energy is amazing.
What do you do when you aren’t training?
When I’m not out training, I am actually still recovering. I will get therapy, use Normatec, do Epsom salt hot baths, get cryotherapy and sleep. When I’m not recovering I’m home with my family, walking our dogs and/ or trying out restaurants in town.
Is there any advice you can share with someone who is just getting started as a middle distance athlete?
Have a plan and be consistent. Paying attention to details and the little things matter in the grand scheme of things.
What was the best, or one of the best, pieces of advice that you have received from your coach, Joe Vigil?
Coach Vigil has taught me so much and will always give me good advice, but one that has stuck is, “be a positive light for others, and what you earn in your life you must give back.” I try to do this everyday and find ways not only to be a better athlete but a better person.
Thank you for everything that you do Brenda! We appreciate you taking the time to talk with us.
Will has been running competitively since high school, and is currently running with the HOKA Aggies, a post-collegiate club here on the central coast of California. With a preference for the humorous and the verbose, he enjoys playing the wordsmith almost as much as his daily runs.