As I'm sure you are all well aware, Alyssa and I are a few weeks into training for the Nike Women’s 15k in June alongside our team, the Rainbow Run Club! It’s been such a fun and inspiring journey so far, and seeing everyone come together every week to sweat it out has been the most wonderful experience. There really is strength in numbers, and we’re both so thankful for all the fun activities and training exercises that Nike has put together for us, and for the incredible group of women on our team. Since we’ve been at it for a few weeks, we figured it was time for an update (accompanied by a very pink, rainbow-filled photo shoot of course!). Alyssa and I each have had very different experiences with running, so we thought it might be helpful if we both shared a bit about where we’re coming from, and what has been working for us so far.
This past week, our third week of training, was the most difficult for me so far. I had a stressful week that took it’s toll on me emotionally, and unfortunately I saw that carry over into my training as well. I felt drained and defeated, my motivation was lacking, and my energy levels just weren’t where I needed them to be. This all made it really hard to fit in those extra runs and training sessions and push myself in the way that I need to, which of course is frustrating in itself. Training for the 15k is a challenge for me, and because it’s outside of my comfort zone and an entirely new experience, I’m learning that it’s incredibly important to stay positive and motivated throughout this journey. It can be so hard to get caught up in that negative spiral when it feels like your body just isn’t performing in the way that you need it to - not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally - but you can’t be too hard on yourself, just taking it one day at a time.
Though I was really hoping to push myself with distance this week, it ended up being more about increasing and maintaining my speed on the shorter runs. The group runs really help me to do that and have become essential in my weekly training routine, and this week I’m planning on running the 8k option on Wednesday night to push myself a little more outside my comfort zone and increase my distance. I’ve mentioned it in previous weeks, but I really do feel as though so much of this is psychological, and it’s so important to have your head in the right place. The outside classes - whether they’re NTC, ballet-inspired, pilates or otherwise - have also become an important way to balance out my week and challenge myself in different ways while building up my overall strength.
I've been focused on eating a more balanced diet, incorporating more fresh and whole foods into my meals and cutting out sugar and dairy as much as possible. That means a lot more meal planning on a weekly basis, and setting aside the time to cook at home and get creative in the kitchen. I have a number of recipes that are go-tos, but I’ve also been trying to expand my repertoire and try out new options, which I've really been enjoying. I always find it hardest when I’m the busiest and don’t have time to do a proper grocery shop or cook a meal at home, and snacking can be my downfall during those times, so that’s what I’ve been especially set on.
I’ve always found running really natural, and I often feel like I can run forever at the same pace, so for me this two months of training is more about speed, strength, and motivation. I know I can run 15km, but how fast can I run it, and can I complete the race (and all the training that comes with it beforehand) without injuring myself or burning out?
To work on my strength-related weaknesses, I’ve been doing a lot of fun cross training like NTC (the app is amazing), and workouts at amazing studios around the city with my Classpass, like Big Hit Studio's Kickboxing, and ballet at The Extension Room.
My biggest adjustment though has been my nutrition. I’ve been a vegetarian my entire life, and a vegan off an on over the past six years, but I’ve never really truly mastered feeding myself properly. My sugar and empty-calorie filled diet has really been taking a toll on me since I started working out almost daily, and it became clear that I needed to make some changes.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve started taking vitamins, adding Vega coconut almond protein powder to my morning smoothies, and really taking into account what nutrients I’m ingesting on a daily basis. I'm also working really hard on being properly hydrated at all times, which means fun flavoured water like Ghost Pee is one of my new favourite things. The change in my energy level has been drastic, and I’m looking forward to sharing my favourite recipes and power snack suggestions soon!
As far as motivation goes, I always find that the more tumultuous my emotions, the better I run. For me, exercise has always been so therapeutic, the only thing that calms my mind, and I’m always channeling my emotions into power when I work out. To take things up a notch, I always listen to music- it helps me stay focused and direct my feelings from the day into pushing myself even harder and faster.
Just a heads up: we already have an ultimate workout playlist to share in the works!
Photos: Jason Matos