Nike recently re-branded their running app to Nike+ Running Club. I’ve had the Nike Running app for some time, but it seemed to lack any stickiness to get me to use it consistently. I didn't love the experience when using the app, but with the relaunch of the app, I decided to give it another shot.
The previous iteration of the app had a coach feature that would tell you when to run and how far to run. The updated version of the app has really taken this quite a few steps forward. Now when you start the “My Coach” feature, the app asks you a number of qualifying questions to determine a baseline of where to start. You can choose the duration (4, 8, or 12 weeks) and experience (beginner, intermediate, experienced) level for yourself. I chose an 8-week plan for a beginner. I’ve been running some, but not far and not consistently.
I’ve been wanting to run a half-marathon for a while so I decided to start using the coach and a bit more will-power to get there.
It’s now been five weeks since I started the coaching program and I am loving the experience. Okay, not necessarily the running parts where I’m being pushed to my max and I can’t breathe (like yesterday's run), but the app itself is a much better experience.
There’s a companion app called Nike+ Training Club (NTC) which integrates with the running app and the "my coach" feature. For example, for me, week 4 was a heavy running week. Week 5 was a bit lighter on the running (I had one longer run and 2 sprint workouts), in addition to multiple NTC workouts. For those, I go to "my coach" and tap “NTC Workout”. It opens the companion app where I can tap to download the workout and start sweating.
The NTC app gives me bodyweight workouts (no additional equipment required although there are weight workouts available in the app) and lets me know how long the workout will take, the intensity level, and the experience level of the workout. It then guides me through every exercise, showing me videos along the way (this is helpful when there's a movement I've never done), with a time and audio guide telling me when to do what. There’s usually some stretching included in the cool down which is a great addition. I'm terrible about remembering to stretch regularly and it's caused a few injuries in the past. Having the stretches built in to my workouts a few times a week is good step towards improving my flexibility and encouraging me to stretch more often.
I’ve been running and doing NTC workouts for 5 weeks now. When I started this process I could barely run a mile without stopping. I would be gasping for air at the end of that mile (usually at a slower pace like 9-10 minutes per mile) and generally hating my life.
Yesterday, I ran 5 miles in 52 minutes. Not a blistering pace by any means, but I allowed myself to walk when I was having trouble breathing, cramping, or my legs were feeling overly weak. I kept a decent pace and felt great. Last week the plan had me do some sprints and I went to play basketball for the first time in a few weeks and I had no trouble running the entire time I was on the court. I'm not sure I've ever been able to run with this much ease.
When I started this journey 5 weeks ago I weighed in at 185 pounds.
5 weeks later I weigh 180 pounds.
It’s worth noting that I did nothing to change my diet during the first 5 weeks. I rarely eat breakfast and sometimes skip lunch, but my dinners were not healthy and definitely not portion controlled. I also ate dessert. In fact, my diet was pretty terrible in every aspect.
For the next 3 weeks (although the plan technically ends with a 6.5 mile run at the beginning of week 9) I’ll be strictly monitoring my diet. I’ll be only eating when I’m hungry and ensuring I’m taking in mostly meat and vegetables with minimal carbs and sugar. That will mean lots of eggs, steamed veggies, nuts, lean meat, water, and protein shakes.
In fact yesterday consisted of two scrambled eggs and water for breakfast, cold black coffee mixed with french vanilla protein powder (4g sugar + 48 g protein + caffeine) for a mid-morning snack/lunch, and grilled chicken with mashed potatoes for dinner (I burned over 700 calories, I earned some carbs). When I view eating as more about providing fuel for my body than satisfying cravings for burgers, pizza, and ice cream I'm going to get the results I want quicker.
I’m fully aware that the last 3 weeks of my coaching plan will be a bit more intensive with longer runs and more difficult NTC workouts. Paired with a better diet, I'm expecting to see much better results than the first half of my running plan.
As it stands right now, I fully intend to restart the "my coach" feature after these 8 (or 9) weeks are complete. I’ll be working on running longer distances and whittling my pace down. I’d love to be able to run a half marathon at a 7-8 minute/mile pace, but I’ve got a long way to go before then.
In the mean time, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Nike's apps. The are not for every one, but I’ve found it immensely helpful to track my workouts and stay motivated from start to finish. I’m seeing physical results without any dietary restraints and I’m able to run further and longer without stopping.
I've found that the most important part is sticking with it no matter what. One day last week I had a 2-mile run to complete, but the sun was about to set. My wife and I were in charge of hosting a baby shower the next day and we needed to do some grocery shopping in addition to a long list of cleaning and prep work. To knock both things out at once, I ran the 2-miles from our house to the grocery store and told my wife to meet me there in 15 minutes. It worked perfectly. I didn't necessarily feel like I had time to squeeze in a run among our long to-do list, but I made it happen anyway.
If you download the apps and starting using them, add me as a friend! Search using my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org and we can encourage each other through the app and motivate each other!