It's one of the most innate, natural things that we do as human beings. Putting one foot in front of the other. So how can it be hacked? Can running evolve? It has in my life.
Until the last couple of years or so, I was really quite set in my ways as a runner. I began running cross country and track in grade school, around eight or nine years old. I carried on as part of teams into early high school (along with swimming, soccer, and rugby), but running soon became a solo activity for me, and solely about staying fit. I didn't care so much about distance or pace, and I didn't really want company. Quite honestly, running was about beating the scale or fitting into a smaller size - not that I consciously thought about it that way at the time, but looking back, that seems to be what it was all about. This continued through university and for years beyond. Running five or six days a week. Running on Christmas Morning, New Year's Day. Through the freezing cold. Just me, against the elements and my self image. Like a running hermit. Not pushing myself to improve or to get to any specific goal other than a number that I wanted to be defined by. I was just pushing myself around. I arrived at a point where I didn't enjoy it, and I wasn't really seeing results anymore. This was of course because almost ALL I was doing was running, and of course I know better now. Cross training is the only way. (Studying functional anatomy and becoming a certified pilates instructor has taught me that.) Don't get me wrong - this is all better than not moving at all. But I wasn't doing things the right way or for the right reasons. Or eating properly, but that's a story for another day.
About eight years ago, I made some changes. I scaled way back on the running, and started lifting more weights, doing more high intensity interval training, pilates and some yoga. (Yes, I changed my eating habits as well.) Everything improved. I felt stronger. I felt like an athlete again. I put on more muscle, and yes....I did lose weight too. But more importantly, I felt empowered. I looked forward to my workouts. After a while, I started to miss running in my life, so I slowly started to integrate it back in to my regime. But I wanted to do things differently than before.
At that time, I had started to work out on a regular basis with a group of media types through Nike. Considering that I generally trained on my own (or kept to myself), it was a pleasant change to start having a regular crew to sweat it out with. I really began to look forward to our regular Nike Training Club (NTC) sessions, and when I could I joined in on runs with them or The Food Runners. It's weird at first to run with a group after running by myself for so long, but I grew to love it. The other thing that I started to think about that I hadn't really before, was distance and pace. It was extremely odd that I had run for so many years and never considered the concept of pace or different types of runs. Look, I have no desire at the point to run a marathon, but perhaps it is time to push myself to go further, either literally or metaphorically. Running with the Nike crews helped me improve as a runner. The other great innovation I gained from training with Nike was learning about the Nike+ Run Club App. It allowed me to track the pace and distance of my runs, plus check in on how my friends are doing whether I was running with a group or solo. There is a bit of a fun and addictive quality to it, for me at least. We are the generation that tracks pretty much everything digitally, right? To prove that point, here some of the info that Nike has gleaned from Nike + users so far:
Runners in over 250 countries use the Nike+ Run Club.
Over 450 million hours of running has been logged globally via the app.
2.5 billion miles have been logged to date globally via the app.
Average distance of a run is 5.6km.
Tuesday is the most popular day for running globally.
Weekend runs are 26% longer than weekday runs.
Pretty rad, right? So the point is - I've evolved. Just as we all should, in many aspects of our lives. And as great as it was, the Nike + Running App has evolved as well. I had the opportunity to test out its brand shiny newness with a group of both new and familiar sweaty faces as we geared up for a new Monday night N+RC media group and got a tour of the revamped features of the app, plus tested out some brilliant new gear. (I am going to go right out there and tell you that despite having never run in anything like them before, I absolutely loved the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33s. Super cushy, responsive, and fast.) For those of you training for a specific goal, the personalized coaching plans are like having the ultimate running partner with you all the time. AND....should you be all about the AppleWatch (I have yet to try one, it's on my list) instead of bringing your iPhone with you on your run, good news! The AppleWatch's "built in accelerometer (!) provides runner access to all of the in-run app metrics and experience so you can leave your iPhone at home."
Our coaches, Mark, KC and Michelle took us on an about 5.5 km run that included warm-ups and laps aimed at improving speed. Considering I almost never aim for any serious speed (except back in my track days) I was pretty impressed by what I achieved. (I glanced at the app at one point and was running well under a 4:00 pace. Not too shabby.)
Here's what you need to know about the upgrades to the new Nike + Run Club App, available on both IOS and Android:
- Personalized coaching and plans for athletes’ specific goals, adapts to their schedule and performance. Every program in the app responds to performance and athletes, continually getting better the more you use it.
- Training plans are designed for athletes to get started, get fitter, get faster and/or train for a specific distance (5k, 10k, half & full marathon).
- The new Nike+ feed in the app connects Nike’s global running community by enabling runners around the world to cheer each other on and train together virtually. New hashtag challenges inspire friendly competition and global community challenges.
- Personalized photo sharing with over 30 custom stickers let you celebrate and share your running activity.
- Weekly featured playlists help power athletes through every run, from long runs to recovery runs.
Social, adaptive, built to help you succeed. Pretty impressive evolution. Kind of like having your running crew in your pocket. Even if you're running alone, you're not.
You can download the Nike+Running App here. Enjoy!