Last week I was invited by Nike Running UK to have a 1:1 training session with Team GB 100m sprinter Adam Gemili. I was slightly worried about the other 21,000 metres I need to run for my upcoming half marathon in Verona, but a bit of speed training is always a welcome addition to my otherwise jogging-heavy training plan.
I showed up at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre not really knowing what to expect. The track was covered in snow and when I asked where to meet the Nike team the receptionist showed me to “the filming production team”. (At this point I kicked myself for not putting on more BB cream and waterproof mascara.)
After meeting the wonderful photographer and media agency team we got down to work. Hard work. I had to put on a bunch of the new season Nike gear and stand around looking serious. Now, I’m usually a big fan of the “anger run” when you need to get some feelings out while running, but trying not to smile when a camera is in your face and you’re going to spend the day training with an Olympian is near impossible.
The photographer was there to document my #makeitcount day for Nike’s social media channels so we walked through a few activities that told the story. The first hour went like this: “tie up my left shoe” “move your ponytail out of the way” “stretch here” “stretch there” “stretch here again” “tie up your shoe again” “lean on this” and “move your ponytail out of the way again, again, again”. Don’t worry I smized as much as possible.
When Adam showed up (fresh from his real athlete morning training session) we moved down to the indoor track and got straight to work. Lots of dynamic stretching to warm up and then we moved into explosive work. I jumped into the sandpit a bunch of times, did some step-kick-change moves for 60 metres, and worked on starting a run from lying down backwards. I learned a lot about sprinting and how much harder it is than my normal running. Here’s what I took away from the session (in very non-professional athlete language):
- You have to get low and look down. Rather than looking at the horizon (or finish line) you keep looking down at the track less than 1m in front of you. This is hard.
- Your arms and legs have to pump really hard in sync. It’s harder than it sounds.
- Rather than running with your heels “kicking” up behind you in a circle you bring your heel straight up and then in front of your other leg (like making a big D). I felt like I was trotting along the track when doing this in slow motion, but when going full out it does make sense and give you more power.
- Your butt matters. When I normally run I can get away with using my legs, but with the explosive power of sprinting you need your butt to push you. Mine hurt a lot the next day.
So while I’m not quite ready to compete in any track and field events, I’m happy with incorporating what I’ve learned into my everyday running.
After training we piled into taxis and headed to the Niketown London store and got down to business designing some shoes. Both Adam and I picked our favs and used Nike iD to customize them to be as bright as possible. Oh, Adam went for the sensible option? So just me then?
I of course did some shopping and picked up some running gear for myself and Alex and after some sushi and smoothies headed home and said goodbye to the wonderful team at Nike Running. All in all it was a great day and such a treat to be so spoiled. Keep an eye out on the Nike Running UK Facebook page for more updates and opportunities to take part in similar #makeitcount events.
And just in case I got a bit too confident the internet commenters are always there to bring you back to earth. Who is she?!? Who cares. LOL.