Nike Founder, Bill Bowerman, once said, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” These are the words that not only the swoosh brand lives by, but what hundreds of thousands of people look to each day. Whether that is for the motivation to simply leave the house each morning for the gym, or to finish the last kilometer on a personal best run, if anything the quote reveals the potential we hold in ourselves.
As Australia is plunged into a crisp winter, and as we stare into the rear-view mirror of three months of self-isolation, the craving for endorphin-pumping exercise has well and truly set in. When I received an email from the team at Nike offering an opportunity to experience just that, I jumped at the chance to be guided through two weeks of expert and personal training.
Led by Head Running Coach of Nike, Lydia O’Donnell, the following 14 days will see me whipped into a positive mindset and a strong body as I train toward my goal of a once-comfortable 5 kilometer run. Following a series of mobility, strength and speed sessions alongside Lydia, remotely, I invite you to follow along in what will hopefully include personal triumphs.
Goal: 5 kilometer run, non stop
Injuries: Strained and tight hips
Sneaker of choice: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37
Introduced in 1983 as “the shoe for every runner,” the Nike Pegasus has earned a reputation in the running community as a trusted, dependable training shoe. With a focus on fit, durability and support, particularly for longer runs, the next iteration ushers in a forefoot Zoom Air bag offering more energy return and with a react sole, promises hard-wearing capabilities – my running companion for the next two weeks.
day one, sunday – mobility
In a bid to ease into the week, day one was all about moving mindfully and meditating. I arrived back to Sydney following a long weekend of skiing – I was stiff and my muscles felt fatigued. Using the ‘Reach and Recharge’ workout on the Nike Training Club app, I used the opportunity to stretch, remaining kind to myself during exercises where my body needed rest, rather than added stress.
day two, Monday – Speed Run
It is safe to say I was not looking forward to the speed run. Normally, I like to cruise through my running, however in an effort to increase my fitness far quicker and learn how to recover my strength and breath without stopping, fartlek training was utilized. To do this, I was set the ‘One Hard, One Easy’ guided run on Nike Run Club. As the name suggests, one minute is at an easy pace and one minute is at a hard pace, repeated for 15 minutes.
Five minutes in and I was ready to give up, my legs were burning and I couldn’t find a comfortable change in pace. But as I focused on the coach speaking through my earphones, the following 10 rounds seemed to fly by as I found a rhythm. I walked away from the workout feeling surprisingly refreshed, but not completely exhausted.
day three, Tuesday – Strength
Despite being sore from the day before, today was a chance to load on that gain with strength and yoga. As Lydia reminded me, we spend much of our run on one leg, so stability and balance is crucial. As an ex-dancer, balance isn’t normally a struggle but with stiff legs, the ‘Yoga Ready’ and ‘Runners Strength and Balance’ exercises proved to be a challenge at times as it focused on smaller muscles I don’t use as often. Rounded out with dynamic stretching, it was an apt postlude to the day before.
day four, Wednesday – mobility
After two days of really working on my strength and power, I was looking forward to some ‘down time.’ Today I worked through a quick 15 minute mobility workout, ‘Opening Time’ on the Nike Training Club app. I chose to do this after a shower and in front of the television after a long day at the desk to unwind.
day five, Thursday – Speed run
It is safe to say I was not looking forward to this speed run, more specifically hill climbs. I dragged myself out of the house during my lunch break before the weather got cooler to the nearest hill. Today was focused on building speed through strength. The 21 minute ‘Runner Up’ guided run from the Nike Run Club app was used to time intervals and the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 sneakers supported my feet as I gritted through every stride. I won’t lie, I nearly gave up, but as they say: the view is so much sweeter from the top.
day six, friday – yoga
As an ex-yogi, the 35 minute ‘Ultimate Flow’ work out was a favorite of mine. In lieu of a beautiful studio, I set up my yoga mat in the living room, put my earphones in and worked at opening up my stance and lengthening my muscles – much needed following the day before. As anyone who has done yoga before will attest, it definitely isn’t easy, but the exercise will get your heart rate up without putting too much impact on the rest of the body.
day seven, SATURDAY – LONG RUN
I definitely had a big night on Friday which involved a few too many negronis. After a morning of feeling a little sorry for myself, I rehydrated and got out the door for a late-afternoon run as to not break away from the program. Today was focused on my first long run of the two weeks. The guided run today was aptly titled ‘Not Motivated’ with Headspace and with words of encouragement spoken through my earphones, I quickly found a comfortable rhythm.
It was during this run that I realized what each workout before it was set for. I felt stronger through my legs, I felt loose thanks to the mobility work and fartlek training assisted me in recognizing how to rest without stopping. I managed to run a solid 4.5 kilometres which is getting very close to my goal distance.
day eight, sunday – yoga
Today was meant for yoga, a chance to let the body rest and recover following a tough run. However, I was craving a little adventure and additional movement so instead I opted for a short hike in a nearby national park and post-walk stretch.
day nine, monday – speed run
I was far more confident going into today’s speed run. After just over one week into the program, I was feeling more energetic and more confident in my running. I looked to the 17 minute ‘Speed Run with Ellie Carpenter’ on the Nike Run Club app and having done the guided workout before, I knew what I was in for. But I can attest that I was increasingly more comfortable than 12 months ago when I had first tried it.
The purpose of this run is to vary the pace to build on power and speed. As I crossed the invisible finish line, I wish I had gone harder because I could have done the same run again.
DAY TEN, TUESDAY – STRENGTH + YOGA
As the rain poured outside, it was the perfect excuse to train inside. Today’s focus was on loading up the lower body following an intense run the day before. 20 minutes on the ‘Lower Body Strength Yoga’ workout and 25 minutes with the ‘Lower Body Build and Burn’ workout on the Nike Training App had me well and truly burning. The reason for this was to teach my body to adapt to stress, as you would while on a long run.
DAY ELEVEN, WEDNESDAY – MOBILITY
Normally, I wouldn’t train on consecutive days so as I creeped up towards the end of the two-week program, I was feeling quite fatigued. Luckily mobility was scheduled to assist in recovery. Using the 30 minute ‘Motion to Burn’ workout, I used the stretching to regenerate my muscles in time for another steady run come Thursday.
day twelve, thursday – TAPER RUN
The term ‘Taper Run’ is used to describe a run where you back off the kilometers and destress before a long or tough run – in my case, hitting the 5km mark later in the week. Without focusing on pace or distance, it is a chance to recover using the 25 minute ‘Stress Free Fun’ with Headspace on the Nike Run Club App. Due to gale force winds and rain, my run was anything but relaxing, in fact, it was the most challenging due to the conditions. I would however recommend the Headspace runs if you’re looking for a meaningful distraction on your next run.
The real challenge however was keeping my confidence intact for Saturday.
day thirteen, friday – yoga
Following the day before, I was craving a deep stretch and some light strength work. The 35 minute ‘Deep Restorative Yoga’ exercise felt easy through my arms and legs but still raised my heart rate to prepare for the day ahead.
DAY FOURTEEN, SATURDAY – LONG RUN
Today was the day to put the two weeks of training to the test. I will admit I had many nerves going into this run, “What happens if I don’t make it and have to tell the entire internet I failed?” Instead of using this mindset, I tried to shift it into motivation to start the run and carry through.
I unfortunately chose peak hour to run through the local park. Not only was I focusing on my pace, my breath and my endurance, but I was constantly side-stepping dogs, prams and toddlers on scooters. Read: hazardous. The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37s were perfect for such challenge, with the Air Zoom bag in the forefoot of the shoe supporting my feet as I balanced on the balls of my feet.
At the 3 kilometer mark I felt myself quite frankly, a little bored, so I took a route I had never run before to keep things interesting. I stopped briefly to stretch out a cramping hip (surprise, surprise). I continued on, gritted my teeth and ran through the imaginary 5km finish line. To really ensure there was nothing left in the tank, I picked up the pace and sprinted another 500 meters for good measure.
Let’s just say, training only works if the mind is willing to let anything happen – a change in route, weather, distance or pace, even the knock backs. And as for the hero shoe – the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 – it truly combines the best of both the Pegasus silhouette, Air Zoom bag and React foam for a supportive sneaker with ultimate versatility.