Nicole Tully had a strong college running career at Villanova University. In addition to working as a full time Marketing professional, she pursued a professional running career after graduation. She was injured in 2012 and had foot surgery. She considered retiring from her running career. HOKA ONE ONE sent her shoes, and supported her comeback with a sponsorship. Check out this video of Nicole as she pursues her goal of qualifying for the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.

Check Out Nicole's Top 5 Running Tips

Whether you’ve signed up for your first 5k, an annual marathon, or a world-class race, you’ll benefit from the advice of professional runner Nicole Tully. Tully, who trains with coach Frank Gagliano and the New Jersey-New York Track Club and is sponsored by HOKA ONE ONE, won the 5k at the USA Track & Field Championships, securing a spot on Team USA at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in August. Although Tully’s been an elite runner since winning high-school state titles in Florida, that national championship win was only her second 5k on the track. Clearly, this woman knows how to race. She sat down to share these five essential tips for runners of all abilities.

1. Train with a plan. Find a coach or an online training plan. Without a proper training approach to training, you won’t be prepared for race day. Enlisting expert advice will deliver the right workouts for your fitness and experience level, alleviate stress, and help you avoid overtraining.

2. Identify your goals. Do you want to simply finish, or do you want to set a personal record and win your age group? Choose an achievable goal and then pick a race date that gives you enough time to train and improve towards that goal.

3. Practice consistency. Getting out the door regularly to run means you will automatically see a payoff in your running, says Tully. “It’s the easiest way to see a return on your investment. Put in that time!”

4. Remember to cross train. Train only with running, and you’ll risk injury. Tully includes regular strength and endurance cross-training into her running regimen. She counts cross training miles in her weekly mileage total of 60 to 70 per week. Even if you’re only running ten miles per week, activities like weightlifting, core-strengthening, and low-impact cross-training (think cycling, swimming and yoga) will help improve your overall fitness and performance as a runner.

“I have a history of injury, so I had to find a training method that allowed me to maintain my fitness but not overdo it,” says Tully. “For me that means cutting back on running miles.”

5. Balance training with life. Tully credits having a full-time job with keeping her sane and grounded. “It’s way too easy to overthink running,” says Tully. By developing a realistic training plan that fits into your daily life, you can toe the line with confidence on race day—and avoid neglecting priorities like family and friends.

Ultimately, for Tully, the key to showing up on race day is a positive and relaxed attitude. “Hyping up a race in my head gets me nowhere,” she says. “Now I trust the training I’ve been doing six to seven days a week and always try to smile right before the guns goes off. A race will go well if you have fun, so don’t forget to enjoy the day.”

Nicole's Shoe of Choice: CLIFTON 2