I am the first to admit that I get some amazing opportunities through this blog, and this afternoon was definitely up there among one of the coolest events I’ve been to. I was lucky enough to be among the first to find out about Nike’s new range of ‘zoom’ shoes at a secret Thames-side location.

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The afternoon started on a boat from North Greenwich, transporting us down the river to our first location. This was a riverside warehouse where we mingled with Nike’s speediest athletes, learnt about the latest range of ‘zoom’ shoes, learnt about the new Nike AW15 range and had our gait analysed before plucking our shoes from parachutes hanging from the ceiling. I know – it was as insane as it sounds.

Gait analysis hub with Nike experts on hand!

Gait analysis hub with Nike experts on hand!

Plucked myself a pair of Nike Zoom Elite 8 (along with my very own speed parachute!) from the air

Plucked myself a pair of Nike Zoom Elite 8 (along with my very own speed parachute!) from the air

You might have noticed Nike’s latest campaign #sofast, focussing on finding fast through a series of speed training and mile racing events. As part of finding fast, Nike have launched five new running shoes. Four are revamped versions of existing Nike models, alongside an entirely new running shoe.

Steve Cram interviewed some speedy Nike athletes about finding fast, including one of my fave runner babes Dina Asher-Smith!

Steve Cram interviewed some speedy Nike athletes about finding fast, including one of my fave runner babes Dina Asher-Smith!

First up, the well-loved Nike Pegasus. The latest version is the Zoom Pegasus 32 – tweaks are minimal, but it’s been made slightly lighter to promote speed.

Next, the next version of the Nike Vomero – the Zoom Vomero 10. The Vomero remains the premium neutral shoe, but has been made slightly softer in the mid-sole to forefoot to encourage a mid-foot strike.

There’s a new version of Nike’s classic high support shoe, the Structure. The latest model (Nike Zoom Structure 19) remains largely the same (it’s so popular with runners I can see why they wouldn’t want to meddle!) but it does have softer medial cushioning.

Perving on the new zoom range

Perving on the new zoom range

Next up, the Nike Zoom Elite 8. This is a lightweight tempo shoe with just an 8mm offset, designed for speed. It’s designed for mid-foot strikers with a neutral gait. This was how I measured up in my gait analysis so I’ve actually had the pleasure of road-testing this shoe, and it really complements my running style. It definitely encourages a mid-foot strike – I can feel the back of my legs working when running in these!

Finally, we had the pleasure of learning about an all new shoe, the Zoom Odyssey. This is a premium stability shoe (like the Vomero sits ‘on top’ of the Pegasus in the neutral category, this sits on top of the Structure in the stability category!) and is pretty much the Stability 19 on crack.

(The new models are explained in full over on Nike’s website!)

After learning all about the new models we took to the river again, speeding down to Greenwich foot tunnel on mother flippin’ speed boats! I’m quite frightened of speed boats, and wasn’t feeling entirely confident about embarking on this journey…

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Not keen, tbh.

Approaching our final destination...

Approaching our final destination…

Luckily the speed boat journey was awesome and not at all scary and we made it to Greenwich safe and sound for the final part of our journey! We completed a warm-up by the Cutty Sark with one of Nike’s top coaches and two of their speediest athletes, before racing a mile through the Greenwich foot tunnel! Unfortunately for me, the weekend before I broke my toe and so didn’t complete the mile race, but it was great to see everyone else going for it. I’ve also never actually been through the Greenwich foot tunnel, so that was ace too.

Racing through Greenwich foot tunnel

Racing through Greenwich foot tunnel

With some of the other ladies after they'd raced the mile

With some of the other ladies after they’d raced the mile

It was awesome to find out all about the new range of zoom shoes and to try out the Nike Zoom Elite 8! I raced the Nike Womens 10k in them and thought they were great, and I’ve seen some speedy sisters rocking them too.

Thanks to Nike for having me at their amazing event!

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As I’ve said before, I love a Nike race. They know how to do an event and, I think, they’re the best in the game at the moment. I’ve been training with my best bitches (Ride or Die crew) to take on the race and I was so excited to be joined by some of our mums and aunties too! I love that this is a race that everyone wants to run, regardless of experience, ability, size, shape and size, and so it was great to have some of the amazing women in our life sign up to join us.

Nike surprised us with our very own crew sign on the course - best thing ever! Wish I could have taken it home with me.

Nike surprised us with our very own crew sign on the course – best thing ever! Wish I could have taken it home with me.

Unfortunately, a week before race day I managed to break my toe (!) so I knew that it wasn’t going to be a speedy one for me. My best friend told me that she was running with her mum to keep her company at her first ever race, so I thought it would be nice to cruise along with them (/crash their mother/daughter experience).

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I raced in my new Nike Zoom Elite – a proper post on these awesome shoes soon!

I live about 5 minutes from Victoria Park and loved rolling out of bed an hour or so before the race and strolling round the corner. No early start for once! Everything at the race village was seamlessly organised; no queue to get in, 60 seconds queue at the bag check, no queue at the loos. Organising an event for 10,000 people (and 10,000 guests!) is no mean feat, so I was impressed by how hassle free everything was.

This year we were funnelled in to our corrals before doing the warm-up. We were positioned in the orange/yellow pen (the last one) and we were in there for 45 minutes before getting to cross the start line. I appreciate that this included the warm-up time, but it also included a whole lot of waiting around, which was a shame.

Tatum, Lisa and I. Waiting but still smiling,

Tatum, Lisa and I. Waiting but still smiling,

When we (finally) got over the start line we got off to a good start. We settled in to a solid, steady pace and Tatum and I were concerned that her mum (Lisa) may not be able to keep it up. Luckily for us, she completely proved us wrong.

Without sharing too much about Lisa, she has had quite the time of it over the past year or so (and longer, but particularly the last year) and she wanted to run the race to do something for her, to signify the end of a bad era and start moving onwards and upwards. She did absolutely brilliantly. The furthest she had run in training was 5km but you’d never have known. She didn’t stop once, and we were so proud to see her passing people who were walking. When she was struggling we reminded her that she’d had five children so she could pretty much withstand anything, and when that didn’t work we reminded her of the bloody marys she’d have at the post-race brunch we’d booked (!) which seemed to work best. Our last km was our fastest and she still had enough left in the tank for sprint finish. Crossing the line was a seriously proud (and emotional) moment.

Lisa after the race! Hugging her sister, Gail.

Lisa after the race! Hugging her sister, Gail.

This race experience sums up everything I love about Nike women’s races. It’s all about getting women of all ages, sizes and abilities together to achieve something. There’s no winners, no podium, no public results. With this race achievement is all relative, whether that’s achieving a top 5 place, a new PB or simply finishing the course without stopping, as Lisa proved. The Alex Monroe necklaces are such a gorgeous keepsake too!

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Thank you Nike for having me and my crew! I received my race place for free, but was not asked to blog about the race. All opinions and soppy stories are my own. 

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I raced my first mile in an underground car park in the company of some of the top athletes in the world. How often is it that you get to say something as cool as that?! 

  
Last week I headed down to Speakers Corner for the launch of Nike Milers, Nike’s new track running club taking place on Wednesday nights at Mile End Track. I used to love a bit of track running with Run Dem East and have been looking for a way to get back in to it, so I was quite excited to get back in to speed work. I know speed isn’t everything but I’ve lost a lot of pace in the last year or so and its getting me down, so it’s time to kick things up a gear and find my fast again. 

  
The event was hosted by Nike legends Steve Cram and Paula Radcliffe, who shared some of their wisdom with us. We also met some of Nike’s young athletes and watched them race a mile (they took it easy in 5:10 for the mile!) before taking part in our mile! 

  
I ran 7:01 for the mile – if I’d have known how close I was to sub 6 I’d have tried to push a little more! Although it isn’t terrible I know I’m capable of running a mile a whole lot faster, so I’ll be looking to bring that time down a lot over the next few months. 

  
You can sign up for Nike Milers over on the Nike events page. It’s free and open to all abilities! See you there? 

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I am really excited to be involved with Nike’s Women’s 10k Race Series this year. If you’ve run in, seen or heard about We Own The Night (Nike’s female only 10k for the past two years) you’ll know that Nike do races very well. This year, the race is even more exciting because it’s part of a global series of 10k or 15k races for women worldwide.

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If I’m honest with you, I normally don’t have time for female only events. I know that they have their place and that there are lots of women who feel more comfortable racing without men, which is all ace, but I personally feel that they can be more divisive and that proper equality is not going to result from labelling women doing sport as “womens sport”, rather than just “sport”. That said, I feel quite differently about Nike Women’s races.

WOTN has always felt different from other female specific events because it isn’t patronising, or sold as “one for the girls”. It welcomes and celebrates everyone – from top athletes to first timers – it’s non-competitive and it’s genuinely cool. It doesn’t pretend that you want a pink medal shaped like a crown and it doesn’t encourage you to run wearing a tutu. WOTN has always encouraged women to do their best and has interested people from all backgrounds and ability levels. I want to run it. My best friend wants to run it. My mum wants to run it. My best friends mum wants to run it. It’s cool.

This is what I love about Nike races the most. It’s the race I get to run with my friends. My non-running friends. It’s the only race that my non-running family and friends are ever interested in. This year Nike have asked us to run the race with our crew, and invited us (and ours crews) along to a special launch party. I took Lucy and Tatum, two of my friends who never normally run but have run WOTN both times. We had the best time.

We got drunk on too much prosecco…

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had our hair and make-up done by the professionals from MAC and Hershesons…

Can't take them anywhere

Can’t take them anywhere

You can't handle the sass

You can’t handle the sass

made the baddest Spotify playlist the world did ever see…

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and posed like B*Witched on the floor.

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Oh, we also signed up for the race.

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If you’d like to join our crew (“Ride or Die”) then you can! When you sign up, select “Ride or Die” as your crew and use password “gozo14”. It won’t oblige you to run with us, or even talk to us, but we would love it if you did!

I asked Tatum why she wanted to run Nike Women races when other races didn’t appeal to her. She said that, as someone who doesn’t run that often, the race is a challenging but not overwhelming distance, it’s well timed in the summer, it’s friendly, genuinely fun, not competitive, and that loads of other women run too.

I think that pretty much sums it up. It’s about sisterhood rather than anything else, and it’s about bringing your A-game, regardless of what level your A-game is at. Are you running? I’ll see you there!

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It’s around this time of year that you generally start feeling a bit groggy and look to all the changes you’ll make in the new year. I know there’s a collective eye rolling in January at the new gym goers but I think the new year is a perfect time to pick new goals and work towards them. The trick is to keep them going all year round. Attempting to establish a regular gym routine in January is fine, but no good if you do it every year and every year it’s fallen by the wayside by February.

I have partnered with John Lewis as part of a campaign to live a fit and healthy life year round. Given the timing, I have decided to do so by giving you my top tips to turn your new years resolutions in to your new lifestyle.

1. Keep it realistic. 

If you’re currently not exercising at all, don’t set yourself a goal of working out 6 days a week. If you want to train for a marathon or ultra, don’t go out and run 20+ miles on January 2nd. The key to forming a new habit is keeping it manageable. That way you won’t become overwhelmed and easily discouraged when things don’t work out instantly.

2. Don’t be discouraged easily 

There will always be set backs. Work might get busy, or there could be a whole load of events keeping you from your routine, or you may pick up a niggle in your knee. This will always happen. The key is not letting it stop you; keep focussed on your goals and remember that every step, no matter how small or infrequent, is a step in the right direction.

I can tend to be quite defeatist and can be very easily discouraged – I fall in to the “I’ve missed my hours planned run, no point doing 15 minutes instead” and “I ate one bad thing, so the whole day is ruined” camp and it’s a mindset I am really trying to change. One setback (or a series of them!) won’t stop you if you are otherwise consistent and dedicated. Stay positive.

3. Be prepared!

It can be particularly difficult to start and maintain any kind of exercise or healthy eating routine in winter because it’s so damn cold and miserable. The best way to tackle this is by being prepared for what winter throws at you; identify the challenges and pre-empt the ways they could prevent or discourage you from hitting your goals.

If you know the cold weather makes you crave stodgy or unhealthy food, stock up on filling, warming healthy alternatives. I like chunky soups and the odd options hot chocolate.

Personally, I can find the cold grey weather very discouraging and know that having good cold weather kit can encourage me to head out when I would rather stay inside. John Lewis very kindly offered me so kit to help me stick to my healthy lifestyle, and knowing that the cold weather can keep me stuck indoors I decided to opt for some winter kit to see me through until spring.

First up, a down jacket has been on my wish list for a little while now. I really feel the cold and need to wrap up warm for the journey from an after work run, pre-work class or weekend swimming session. I particularly like that this Patagonia one makes me look a bit like a spaceman! It’s soft and warm yet light and packs up pretty small, so is great for packing without feeling like you’re dragging loads around. I packed it for an after work run yesterday and was so happy to have it to wear home!

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My second choice was a piece of Nike hyperwarm kit, because I am obsessed with Nike hyperwarm! I am slowly building a collection and it’s my favourite. The fabrics are light and sweat wicked but they’re soft and fleecy on the inside, so feel really cosy.

Getting sassy with Dayve while taking this photo...

Getting sassy with Dayve while taking this photo…

I took this bad boy for a run yesterday, wearing it on its own with just a sports bra underneath, and felt warm but not too hot – the perfect balance for winter running! As well as being ridiculously soft this top has a seasonal nordic print, thumb holes and a gold Nike swoosh. Excellent.

all gold everything

all gold everything

4. Find support

I can’t recommend social media enough for those in need of support and motivation. Twitter is full of like minded fitness folks looking to chat running/swimming/cycling/lifting/climbing and the benefits of being part of a community (even a virtual one) cannot be understated.  Even better, join a local club or group. There are so many now that you should be able to find one to suit your ability level pretty easily, especially in London. For running I’d recommend Good Gym, Sweatshop’s Running Community, Nike+ Run Clubs and parkrun as great ways to engage with like minded people. Making new friends while getting fitter and healthier? A win-win.

In 2015 I plan to try and go back to Run Dem Crew. I used to adore going and made amazing friends for life (as someone who finds it incredibly difficult to make friends, this is a huge deal for me) and improved my running beyond what I ever thought I was capable of. If I’m honest, I stopped going because the numbers expanded rapidly and all those new people frightened me, but I miss it too much to stay away any longer. Time to be brave!

5. Keep it positive 

Aim for something positive rather than something negative. Don’t think in terms of “I need to lose weight”, “I need to stop being so slow at running” or “stop eating junk” – these will only reinforce negative messages in your head and this is just too depressing to maintain. Think in terms of self-improvement and hitting goals; that way you have positive thoughts to drive you when things get tougher or your motivation wavers!

My resolutions? Improve my swimming, get a new half marathon PB, get a new 10k PB, get back on a scary road bike (last time I rode one I fell off and broke my elbow – I need to move past that!).

So there, my top tips for turning your new years resolution in to a lifestyle change. Do you have any more you would add? Any goals for the new year?

John Lewis sent me free kit and asked me to write on the topic of maintaining healthy lifestyle. All opinions, thoughts and messages are my own. Thank you to John Lewis for the partnership opportunity! 

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