Courtesy of Nike

On October 2, 2022, the Nike Melbourne Marathon will return to regular programming after the lauded race event was disrupted for two years. As Australia’s largest running festival, the event features a 5km and 10km course as well as the 21km half marathon and full 42km marathon.

In lockdown last year I discovered a love (and need) for running when many forms of exercise weren’t available. Inspired by this – and with gentle encouragement by Nike – I’ve embarked on a 12-week training plan with Nike Running Head Coach Lydia O’Donnell (aka my virtual hype queen) to achieve a bucket list running goal, the half marathon. In a bid for accountability and reflection, I invite you to follow along as I candidly document the trials and triumphs of training each week for the next three months.

To train I will be wearing the new Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 sneakers, a personal favourite for myself and many other runners while I will be continually supported with the ultra-comfortable Nike Dri-FIT Alpha Women’s Sports Bra.

Nike Women’s Air Zoom Pegasus 39 Road Running Shoes, $180. SHOP NOW

Week 1 – Starting Slow

I must preface that I am not a patient person, and this week was all about starting slow. My very first workout of the program started with a 15-minute recovery run before, for the first time in a long time, I woke at 6am for a speed run from the Nike guided run ‘Triple 7s’. It was hard and I had convinced myself that running hard was the recipe for success. Two days later a recovery run followed and I was reminded (again) the important of “time on feet”. For the uninitiated, the aim is to run slow for the majority of training. Without a high heart rate to focus on, I found myself battling with boredom as I ran at what felt like a sluggish pace. Be it thanks to my role in a fast-paced newsroom or indeed, my lack of patience, it was a lesson in enjoying the sights along the way – including all the breathtaking sunsets. When I embarked on an 8km run at the end of the week, I was thankful for starting slow.

Week 2 – Balance

Finding time to exercise at the best of times is difficult. Add in a goal and a deadline (in my case the Nike Melbourne Marathon in October) and running almost becomes overwhelming. When I entered this program, I had another personal (and in hindsight unrealistic) goal of completing every single run. I ran in the dark and the cold, in the pouring rain for Tempo Tuesday and in between meetings on Thursday. It was a particularly busy week as I had planned to travel on the weekend and was forced to mentally organise when and where I could run 10km. I had it all planned until priorities changed. I learnt that any movement is beneficial, opting for team sport instead, with motivation to try again next week.

Week 3 – Trust

I often find myself excitedly (perhaps more anxiously) counting down the weeks until race day. It’s usually something along the lines of, “you’re already a quarter of the way through, are you getting better?”. While I struggle with trusting in the training – I’m notorious at overthinking – this week I reaped the benefits of my labour. I skipped by 15-minute recovery run on Monday for a rest day and instead looked to my speed run for the week titled ‘Out Strong Back Fast’ the day after. I enjoy these tempo runs as they’re challenging but short and push the pace without feeling exhausted later. This week also marked the first time I’d run 10km in almost 12 months. 2021-me had trained for eight weeks just to achieve that mileage and here I was, attempting it in my third week. I slept well, fuelled properly and while it felt very slow compared to what I had achieved in the past, I covered the ground with energy to spare. What’s that about trust?

Week 4 – Taking Time to Recover

Before I embarked on this half marathon and in a bid to set my expectations appropriately, I watched YouTube vlogs and scrolled through Reddit for candid recollections of other training experience. What I found however was that so many people sugar coated the hard days. Well, I’m here to tell you this week was hard. Coach Lydia warned I’d have a few hard workouts ahead of me and if anything, it taught me the importance of recovery. I managed to smash through a hill workout – with just about everyone watching on as I huffed and puffed along a busy stretch of road. For my 45-minute recovery run I adopted a run-walk rhythm when my legs felt heavy and my heart rate would spike and, without stopping I finished my 12.8 km long run on Sunday. It was a big week and without the extra steps of warming up, cooling down, foam rolling and a massage gun (something that has been drilled into me since my early sporting days) I may not have gotten out of bed this morning. Something tells me it will be even more important in the weeks ahead.

Tune in every week for updates.