5 Questions With: Rebecca Gentry for The Speed Project

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Last week, over 150 runners made the incredible trek from from Santa Monica to Las Vegas on foot for the third annual The Speed Project. They left the Santa Monica pier at 5am on Friday March 10th and in relay form, raced to the world famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. Rebecca Gentry was one of those athletes who flew all the way from London just to be a part of the journey. She was one of only two women in the winning team so I wanted to chat with her about her experience and what it was like to be a part of such an epic undertaking.

1) For those who aren’t familiar with The Speed Project, can you share with us what that is?

Aside from insanity, it’s a 340 mile relay race starting from Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles ending under the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign in Vegas! Is crosses the Mojave desert and involves continued running through day and night with the support of a crew in an RV. Each team member runs more or less an equal distance, and you high 5 your team mate to make the exchange between yourselves. It’s all about strategic, fast running though varied terrain battling sleep deprivation and hunger!!! 

2) Why did you want to partake in this event? Was it your first experience?

It was my first time racing TSP. I was asked to join the Original team by one of the co-founders Blue Benadum. Blue and I met just over a year ago in Berlin through our mutual work with Nike+ Run Club. I’d followed his journey of the event in 2016 and when he asked me to join the team I knew it would be an incredible challenge and experience for myself as well as an insane way to work hard amongst a great team who were heading out to break records. Furthermore being a runner from London, I thought it would be quite amusing to be cruising through the desert in very high, dry heat – when do you get handed an opportunity like that and turn it down?!

3) What was the hardest part of the journey?

My first leg was actually the hardest. The pressure of being on the team defending the title, and ideally breaking the record, was mammoth. The nerves got the better of my and dealing with a decent incline and LA heat beating down on me as I pushed on the edge of the freeway I felt the pain. I was convinced I was going to let everyone down, but pushed on as hard as I could trying to silence the demons, and was pleasantly surprised when i checked my pace once on the RV! I changed my mindset immediately after that and positively reinforced my mind  with reassurance that I had trained very hard for this and I was doing the best I could. 

4) In addition to running in The Speed Project, you are also the Nike+ Run Club Coach in London, you work as a fitness instructor at Equinox and you are also a fitness model. Do you find that there’s a real supportive women’s fitness community out there?

Massively. In London the awareness of Women’s running has grown exponentially over the past couple of years. I feel that women are becoming stronger and more fierce within the industry. We are busy people and work hard to incorporate fitness into our daily lives for aesthetic reason and health reasons combined. 

At NRC I see groups of women coming to the sessions together. They support one another by making the runs their social time together, they have it in the diaries and they rely on each other to show up. It’s that sense of community and friendship which encourages the progression and growth of each runner. 

In my Equinox treadmill sessions I see majority women attending my classes and they’re always asking my advice of how to stay strong and fit along with how to run faster. There’s certainly an understanding that you needn’t be a) male or b) whippet thin to be a fast successful runner.  Everyone woman pushing the boundary inspires so many more to do the same which is just awesome. 

5) What is the next goal that you are setting for yourself?

Haha well my coach – Blue – would be happy to read that I’ve secured myself a marathon bib for May this year as I’m determined to break 3 hours. As yet I’m still seeing where I could race (I’ve love a bib for Copenhagen) but aside from that, I’m waiting to see what crazy race pops up in my world and I’m sure I’ll be on the start line!!! 

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Get Out Here

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We all need a little motivation to stay active when winter rolls around. My motivation for the past two years: friends. There’s no better motivator than a buddy to get you out the door when it’s cold.

Thanks to Nike’s winter series and all the amazing friends I’ve made by attending the Nike Run Club and their NTC classes, I can now keep on top of my fitness even during winter.

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Photo credit: Nathalia Allen

Last year, Nike organized a bunch of outdoor events leading up to the beginning of winter and this year, they’ve upped the ante with the launch of the Nike.com‘s online shop in Canada. Not only do they now ship to Canada but you can even design your very own custom pair of NikeiD shoes right here in Toronto. Furthermore, they also provide 1 on 1 coaching with some of Toronto’s best running and fitness trainers.

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Photo credit: Nathalia Allen & Tyler Hayward

Their new #GETOUTHERE events have been the perfect mix of running and high energy training.

That said, when I can’t train as a group, I’ve been getting back into the N+TC app, who’s workouts are constantly evolving. I love that I have so many different styles of workouts, workout lengths, etc. to choose from. Right now, I’m really digging Betina Gozo’s Fresh Hit 14min workout on the app. The drop squat and lateral jumps are some of the moves that she’ll make you do.

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Angelica Bengtsson’s Abs and Arms Workout is also one of my current favorites. I like that I can use a park bench as a prop for some dips!

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If you would like to obtain more info or would like to sign up for some of the classes offered by Nike, go here.

Photos by: @Offner unless otherwise indicated.

What I’m wearing: Nike Therma-Sphere Max Women’s Training Jacket (get it here), Nike Pro Hyperwarm Limitless Tights (get them here), Nike Pro Hyperwarm Limitless Hoodie (get it here), Nike Air Zoom Fit Agility 2 (get them here).

Running in New Terrain

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Keeping a running routine while traveling isn’t always easy. To be quite honest, I’m always a little intimidated when I arrive in a city I’ve never been to. It’s hard to sometimes know where are the best places to run and to keep your training game on point, especially when trying to clock a lot of miles. So I enlisted the help of the Nike+ Run Club‘s coach in Toronto Rejean Chiasson who shared his tips for running while on the road.

Rejean’s Top 5 running tips when training in a new location and unknown terrain:

One of the amazing things about running is that it allows you to explore new cities, locations and unknown areas. I’m always looking for new areas to explore both in the city and along my travels so I wanted to share my top five running tips when running in a new location.

Plan your route. The Nike+ Running App is a great tool to help you create new routes as you embark on a new running adventure. It also helps you track your KMs clocked and pace as you tackle the route.

Find a local Nike+ Run Club to join. Running with a community gives you the motivation and helps you push your boundaries. Not to mention, the Coaches and Pacers know the city, so you’re likely in for a treat in exploring some of the best routes.

Try Something new. Running in a new city is a great excuse to do something new. Push your boundaries, run on the beach, plan your route around tourist must-see’s or end your run at a must-try city hotspot.

Dress appropriately. When running in new cities or areas, often times we don’t plan accordingly. One of the biggest distractions when running is not dressing properly. Remember to pay attention to the terrain you’re running on and wear the proper shoes (i.e. if you’re on a trail, don’t forget to wear your trail shoes). At the same time, it’s just as important to pay attention to the weather, you don’t want to over or under dress. Remember, it’s best to dress like it’s 10 degrees warmer when running.

Enjoy the route! Don’t forget to take in the views, scenery and all that the new route has to offer.

Road to Nike Women’s 15k – Week 6

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Photo credit: Jess Baumung

Week recap:

This week started with a short post-race run on Monday morning with the #betterforit ladies. We also had the privilege of spending time once again with holistic nutritionist Miranda Malisani, who gave us some amazing recipe ideas and nutrition tips for the last couple of weeks we have left of training. I took a much needed day off on Tuesday and went for an 8k run with the NRC on Wednesday night followed by an early morning NTC workout on Thursday. This weekend, our amazing pacer Paulina offered to come pace a few of us for a long run at the NRC on Saturday morning. It was so neat to finally run a long distance with the girls. There’s no greater feeling than the feeling improvement. Lately I’ve been feeling improvement not only on my pace but also on my running form and breathing, which is super motivating! That said, I still have some work to do if I want to keep up the same pace past 10km. Thanks again Paulina!!

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How I’m feeling:

After a harder week 5, I’m back in topnotch shape this week! I took the proper amount of rest time on Tuesday and Friday to really push the workouts that I’ve been doing. My knee did hurt a bit during the long run on Saturday morning but overall I’m feeling a lot better. I also feel like I have a lot of energy this week. I’m making sure that I’m getting as much sleep as possible. I’ve realized that if I get a solid 8hrs of sleep a night, I usually perform a whole lot better.

What I’ve learned:

The importance of having a morning of run routine. This week the coach for the Nike Run Club in Toronto, the super rad Rejean Chiasson, gave us a handful of tips as we prepare for the 15k race. The one thing he did emphasize that really stuck with me was having a morning of run routine. I’m not an early riser and I can’t usually eat or drink much when I wake up super early. That said, when you’re gearing up to run 1-1.5 hrs, you need to hydrate and fuel your body properly before heading out on the run. I’ve been testing out what my body wants or requires in the morning before running or even before doing a morning NTC workout. I realized that the best thing for me to do is to a) eat half to a whole banana b) drink 1-2 cups of water c) have 1-2 spoonfuls of peanut butter or half a PERFECT BAR (my favorite pre & post-run snack, made in San Diego!). This has become the winning combination before any of my intense early morning workouts. I try to have this combo at least 1hr before running (Rejean even suggests waking up several hours before the run to make sure you eliminate the fluids and don’t have the food stuck in your stomach while running). Realistically I know that I won’t be able to wake up several hours in advance to hydrate and eat. So I try to hydrate as much as I can the day prior and also a little before, during and lot’s after the run. I really think that’s what saved me last week during the super humid & hot Sporting Life 10k run. All of our bodies are different so I highly recommend like Rejean said, trying to figure out your morning of routine a couple of weeks before the race!

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Eat good snacks. Speaking of snacking, having the chance to speak to a nutritionist on more than one occasion during this journey has really helped me figure out what type of snacks that I want to eat before and after a run. Because we don’t always have time to make homemade snacks right after a run, Miranda Malisani introduced us to a handful of yummy and healthy alternatives that we could find in local grocery stores. Some are my favorites are pictured below: The Chia Pod from The Chia Co. (didn’t know this but Kelly Slater is also a fan!),  Ipanema Valley Banana Brownies (an all-fruit brownie) , Amazing Grass Green Superfood (the perfect addition to smoothies) and Flow water (naturally alkaline spring water from right here in Ontario).

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 What are some of your favorite pre & post-run snacks?

Next week on the blog, don’t miss my next #5QuestionsWith interview with Miranda Malisani. She will be giving some last minute nutrition tips as the Nike Women’s 15k race approaches plus will be talking about what first got her interested in nutrition. It will go live on the blog next Sunday.

Only a few more training weeks to go!!! Have a great week 7 everyone!!

Road to Nike Women’s 15k – Week 3

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Week recap:

Rainy and cold week in Toronto but grateful to have so much support around me right now to keep me focused and running regardless of what mother nature throws at us. The week started with a rainy 5k with the #betterforit girls on Monday morning. I also did two NTC workouts on Tuesday night and Thursday morning. They’ve become a good break for me during the week, while still allowing me to be active. Wednesday night, I ran the fastest 5k in my life thus far and accomplished a new PB (personal best, as they call them in the running world)! I took the day off on Friday and kicked off the weekend strong with my second ever 15k run on Saturday morning. I didn’t think I would run that distance again before the race but I really outdid myself yesterday. Not only did I beat my fastest 5k time, I also clocked my fastest 10k and 15k time. It’s so awesome to see progression!

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How I’m feeling:

I’m so hungry all the time! I’ve seen an increase in my appetite since I’ve been working out 6 days a week. Not going to lie, some days I’ve been tempted to eat more sweets, but I’ve tried my hardest to eat organic, natural and healthy all the time. I was also a little fatigued this week. I noticed that I was falling asleep super early every night and also incredibly tired after yesterday’s 15k. My only issue so far: bruised toenails. Sounds gross I know… A little scary but hopefully they’ll get better soon!

What I learned:

-this week I learned a whole lot on nutrition thanks to holistic nutritionist Miranda Malisani‘s presentation at NRC on Wednesday night. She gave us a great presentation on pre & post-run snacks as well as nutrition tips for meals & hydration in the weeks leading up to the 15k as well as healthy food recipe ideas. I loved her post-run meal suggestions: vegetable quinoa, wild rice spaghetti with kale & goat cheese as well as these super yummy looking banana date buckwheat pancakes below. She also had a handful of snack suggestions such as homemade chia seed pudding, spirulina parfait, smoothies, etc. I was happy to see that most of what I’ve been eating thus far on this training journey has been good for me but it’s always great to get extra tips & inspiration for meals & snacks. A big thanks to Miranda for the amazing goodie bag she gifted us, stoked to try out these natural health products!

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-running with a group or a buddy has really the best way to push myself. Though I’ve been doing a lot of training on my own, I’ve realized these past two weeks that my fastest times and longest distances have come from running with others. Though I ran most of the winter by myself, joining the NRC crew was a game changer. They really motivated me to get out each Wednesday even when it was cold out. Now that the temperatures are getting warmer and that the NRC is offering different types of running training every night of the week (get more info here), it’s a great way to pick up speed or distance. This past week, I ran my fastest 5k thanks to an amazing pacer and ran another 15k thanks to Offner!

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Thrilled to also share with you today DJ FeelGoodSmalls‘ second motivational mix leading up to the Nike Women 15k. Entitled Momentum, this new mix is sure to keep you going strong for the next two weeks. Read about the mix & download it here. You can also stream it on Soundcloud here.

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Another busy week of training up ahead! I’m very excited because this Tuesday, I get to train and interview members of the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team as part of my journey towards the race. Stay tuned for a recap of this special training day and also a #5QuestionsWith interview with one of the players coming on the blog next week!

Road to Nike Women’s 15k – Week 1

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Week recap:

My week started slow as I was out of the country and on vacation for a few days. Though I didn’t do much running in Miami, I did do a lot of swimming and also wake surfed, which was a really good workout in itself. Because of my travels, I unfortunately missed my first run with the #betterforit ladies training group last Monday morning. The weather in Toronto this past week has been less than inspirational for running, with it being so cold and rainy. It did get better as of Friday, so I kicked my runs into high gear by going for a speed run on Friday evening, running 7k and accomplishing my fastest ever 5k under 26mins!  Not going to lie, the special doorstep delivery I got from NRC on Friday night was a good weekend motivation! I also ran another 5k on Saturday and 11k on this beautiful Sunday in SHORTS!! Wohoo!

How I’m feeling:

I don’t know if it was the change in weather between Miami and Toronto or just the fact that most of the week was cold and damp, I felt like I was battling some sort cold or virus. I’ve been doing everything in my power – getting sleep, getting my vitamins, drinking lot’s of fluids and eating healthy, to make sure that I don’t get sick. Otherwise, I don’t have any noticeable aches and pains this week.

What I learned:

Good socks are a necessity! I’ve been testing out these cool new socks from Stable 26, that were designed specifically for running. They help with stability and comfort in your shoes while also enhancing function in the lower leg, including knees and ankles. One thing I’ve noticed, is that they don’t give me blisters. Most of the socks I’ve been wearing when I run, tend to rub on my toes and the palm of my feet, giving me blisters if I run for a while, but these ones don’t. I also definitely feel very comfortable in them and feel like the little silicone pads they’ve added keep my feet from slipping around in my shoes. Now I just need to get a few more pairs for training!

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Incorporating juices and getting lot’s of hydration is really important. I tend to not drink very much before I run, especially if I’m going for a shorter distance and especially if I run not too long after I wake up in the morning. I realized though that I should probably drink a bit during and a lot after my run. This week, I got a doorstep delivery from CEDAR Juice, and after learning what I did from Ashley through my 5 Questions With interview (read it here, if you haven’t already!), I’m realizing that I should make sure to drink a lot more, and strategically, in order to give me body all the proper nutrients before, during and after the run. It will help with endurance, recuperation and energy overall.

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My body craves lot’s of protein after runs. For the first time ever last week, before I left for Miami, my boyfriend challenged me to run 15k with him. It was both our first time ever running that distance and I have to say it wasn’t that easy. What I also realized is that after a long run, my body craves SO MUCH protein. I’m not a huge fan of eggs, but it seems to be one of the only things my body wants after a longer run. My go-to post-run meal has been the Nonna’s Frittata at the Drake Hotel, it’s the yummiest and always makes me feel so good!

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Looking for some extra motivation for your upcoming training week? The super talented DJ FeelGoodSmalls, is releasing a series of motivational mixes for runners and gym go’ers leading up to the Nike Women 15k race in June. Her first instalment entitled The Start-Up, has just been released. Read about her inspiration behind the mix and get a free download here. Her 45-minute mix is also available to stream on Soundcloud here. Stay tuned for 4 other mixes coming soon!

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Have a great training week everyone!
xo