Smutty Fitness: Gearing up for the Nike Women's 15km race
Over the last 9 weeks, I have been leading a group of incredible women towards the goal of the Nike Women’s 15km race in Toronto (click here to see a preview of the course). Although these women had never met prior to our first training run, it became evident very quickly that they all had many things in common. Many doubted their ability to be a runner and they all struggled with scheduling their training around their busy lives including running businesses and families. Through the miles pounded on the pavement, bonds were created and with each other’s support all of these amazing athletes realized their potential, pushed to achieve their potential and learned how to challenge their potential so that in the days, weeks and months to come they continue to find ways to grow not only as women, but as runners.
I am headed off this week to compete in the race and I am bringing my client, friend, and fellow Nike Run Club (NRC) participant Emira, with me. I am sure she is a lot like many of the other runners challenging themselves come June 14 so I wanted to share her story with you in hopes of inspiring others to find something that forces them out of their comfort zone.
You can follow our journey over the weekend here.
Hayley: What drew you to the Nike Women's 15km race in Toronto and why did you decide to challenge yourself to committing to this distance?
Emira: I felt like I'd topped out at 10km being my max distance, and it wasn't enough of a challenge to really motivate me to train hard for another 10km. I could have tried to do a 10km faster I suppose, but I liked the increased distance and the fact that it isn't a half marathon. With my schedule doing a half seemed a bit too ambitious. I also love the idea of a women's run, and of marking the changes in my professional life -- selling part of my business and transitioning into a new role -- by really challenging myself with a physical goal. I have a tendency -- as you know all too well -- to stay in my head, so getting out and running with people, and alone, has been a great way to get me out of my head and away from my desk as I contemplate some new directions with my career.
Hayley: How far was your longest run prior to training for this race?
Emira: 10km for a race, and I’d probably run 12km before.
Hayley: When joining the NRC team here in Vancouver, what were your goals and what did you hope to gain through our 9 week training program?
Emira: I really wanted to see if I could become a better runner, which for me meant increasing my speed but also my ability to do longer runs. I'm really hoping that after this run, I can do regular runs of a 12-15km length on weekends and not feel like that's a huge stretch but actually something I enjoy. I also really hoped to find some new running buddies and ways to challenge myself/mix up my running workouts and both have definitely happened. I love the little community we've built of amazing women, who also happen to run.
Hayley: You're a busy mother, an entrepreneur as well as a very active member in your community. How do you fill it all in? And what has been your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Emira: I have to say I don't think I could keep up the training schedule all year round and it has definitely taken some buy-in from my partner so that I can be off training more than I would normally be. That said, I've found that fitting in shorter runs, like hill training or intervals, during my lunch hour on days when I'm working from home has been really great and often leads to me having a very productive day, despite having taken an hour out to run. One of the challenges I didn't see coming was how hungry I would be! I've needed to do a better job of meal planning, and stocking up on good snacks so that I can keep up with my appetite if I'm out at meetings or at my desk. The other way I've fit it in has been to actually sit down and schedule my runs into my calendar, always looking ahead about two weeks. That way I actually do prioritize them, and then schedule work and meetings to work with my training. Having a training plan that I can plan for has definitely helped with that.
Hayley: What sacrifices have you had to make in order to stay focused and on track with your training?
Emira: Mostly time has been the challenge. I get so much out of my runs and really love them (for the most part) that it doesn't feel like a huge sacrifice, but it is definitely eating up time. I'm glad that I have some friends who run as otherwise I feel like I wouldn't really be staying connected to friends, as a lot of that "spare time" is being used for run training right now.
Hayley: What have you learned about yourself throughout this journey?
Emira: You know I think the biggest thing I've learned about myself is what running has taught me from the very beginning. You helped me learn how to run many years ago and prior to that I told myself this story that I was not a runner. Anytime anyone mentioned "going for a run" I'd just flash back to being one of the last kids on the field gasping to finish a run in PE class and write off the idea of ever enjoying running. I got over that self-designed story of "not being a runner" years ago when you trained me for my first 10km, but with this run there's been other self-talk that has threatened to sabotage me. Fears for some of our training runs that I'll not be able to meet the challenge, or worries that I wasn't going to be able to do the distance have all occupied my thoughts at one point or another in this journey and so far -- knock on wood -- I've always come out the other side of them wondering why I wasted so much energy telling myself I was going to fail. It's cheesy as hell, but it's been a good reminder that the stories we tell ourselves aren't always true.
Hayley: What is your expectation of yourself come race day?
Emira: Well I'm really hoping to finish. And to do you proud. I want to be able to come home to Vancouver happy that I trained as hard as I could, and then ran the best race I could run and then share that achievement -- whatever it may be -- with my family.
Hayley: What advice can you offer to other women who may be searching for a way to challenge themselves but unsure how to fit it into their already busy lives?
Emira: Well the two secrets to my success have definitely been making time -- like literally making time and putting it in my calendar -- and accountability of the running group. Those have been golden. I'd say the other piece has been being realistic about what I could achieve. Like I said, 15km felt achievable right now. At some points in the last few years that would not have been true, and at some time in the future I'll challenge myself with more.