Training Series | Nike Go LA 10k Training Journey
It’s no secret my love affair with Los Angeles has been slow-start at best. Without the rush and constant energy of NYC and a group of friends that became family, I’ve had a lot more time on my hands which has forced my focus inwards; setting my own schedule, re-learning my motivators, stressors, needs, and entering a new phase of life in a new city. Within that space, I’ve finally taken the time to get back to athletics and training my body, something I’ve been wanting to do for years — to be able to feel the potential and power in knowing my physical boundaries and pushing them, knowing, as a woman, my body can do anything I ask it to.
Enter Nike’s Go LA 10k training journey. Over a period of five weeks, under the guidance of Nike running head coach Blue Benedum, a group of women who became a team of athletes met once a week for in-person workouts. Outfitted in the latest Epic React Flynkit, the rest of our training was up to us to complete using the Nike Running+ app. Old injuries resurfaced, I spent almost every night for a month submerged in a hot Epsom salt soak pondering the limits of womankind, wondering if I could actually fall in love with a mercurial exotic fish man à la Shape of Water, and whether or not we needed to renovate the bathroom before finally dragging myself to bed.
After five weeks of training with the idea of Coach Blue’s “relentless forward progress” concept in mind, I hit a goal I had never thought I would reach, let alone set in the first place. I was also reminded of the kindred nature of women and how it feels to be part of a new team.
Here’s a look at the 5-week program.
Group run: Culver City Stairs switchback path
Takeaway: Patience. Things were feeling good, I hopped into my usual “fast” paced jog, which I normally keep up for a block or two at most… because I normally don't run. I was at the front of the pack, could see the coach, and then I saw stars. Pacing, finding your stride, figuring out what kind of runner you are and having the patience to build your foundation is something I definitely forgot about. Not wanting to be the girl who barfed on the first group run, I slowed down, took control of my breathing and used some of that yoga training to regroup.
Group run: Santa Monica beach run + strides
Take away: Don’t try and skateboard with your pup after a training session, especially if your dog is afraid of skateboards. Sprinting and speed have always been my zone, but after an intense workout where I pushed myself, good ideas turned into a sprained ankle.
Group run: Speed run + ankle injury
Takeaway: Accountability. It was an easy and tempting option not to take myself across LA to Nike’s Culver City office since I knew I couldn’t actually participate in the group workout. However, part of the commitment I made for this series is accountability. I showed up, did some warmup, cheered on the team and learned slow strengthening exercises from coach Blue before customizing some sweet team apparel with Nike and Lot Stock and Barrel.
Group run: Missed this one.
Takeaway: Self-care. It’s one thing to sit on the couch with a face mask and glass of wine after a long day at work, but really tuning in and listening to what’s happening in your body and mind is key. Sometimes it only takes a moment, a few deep conscious breaths, and other times a full meditation session. The only week I missed, I was working nights on a production and was so exhausted I didn’t train or pay attention to my body all week.
Group shakeout run pre-race
Takeaway: Teamwork. The shakeout was an easy 2 mile run before an epic lunch at John + Vinny’s. Full transparency: after 2 + weeks of not training on my own and resting my ankle, I was planning on not running the race but decided the morning of the shakeout to test my ankle. Green light from the little guy meant it was a go, but it was sharing pre-race tips, anxieties and questions with the rest of the team and coach Blue, that gave me the confidence to show up.
While the 4am wakeup call and 7:30am race time may have meant my body wasn't fully awake, running this 10k was one of the best experiences. I made a goal of about an hour, set an easier pace than I would have because I could feel my ankle acting up, and found myself running to Kendrick in a 9 minute mile. Keeping pace with teammates and hearing coach Blue’s voice on the loudspeaker nearing the finish line felt good, better than competing with everyone on the freeway, better than competing with the voice inside my head because I felt supported. The best part was experiencing a running community that I had never really felt a part of. There is something to be said about the energy of 8000 athletes, of every level, lining up to “Choose Go”, and doing it together. After the whole team completed the race, regrouped and rehydrated we were treated to a much-needed brunch and massage at Exhale Spa in Santa Monica.
The most important lesson I have finally learned, even after years of basketball and supplementary training, is the importance and direct relationship of balance and maintenance to improvement and performance. Mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.