It’s not often you get invited to an event, taking place in an underground car park but last week, I attended the launch of the Nike Milers. The location was fantastic – in a super-car only, car park – hidden away underneath Hyde Park, in central London. They had mapped out a mile long course, weaving around the cars; boosted by bright, coloured lights and loud, booming music. The whole evening was hosted by none other than, Steve Cram and Paula Radcliffe – so as you can imagine – it was a running geek’s heaven! The guests were specifically invited from all different commodities but with the one passion, bringing everyone together – running!
The mile is such an significant distance, yet not everyone knows what time they are capable of clocking, so it was a unique experience, to allow all the guests to record their first ever personal best. Even for me, as a longer distance athlete, the mile is pivotal. I log miles, plenty of them… But in my diary, I note down every mile split as a gauge to make sure I’m not going either too fast or too slow – giving me an indication of pace and speed. It’s a huge reference marker in my training diary to compare, week on week.
The night involved a quick Q&A with myself, sandwiched between two athletics legends – which was slightly daunting but I enjoyed the experience nonetheless. Unfortunately due to my injury, I couldn’t take part in the mile but was lead cheerleader for the evening. The elite athletes all completed their mile around the car park course, in order to give an insight to what speed really looks like (although they jogged around at tempo pace, as they are currently in peak training for the forthcoming summer track season!!). It was then the guests turn to see how fast they could go!
The whole initiative is a brilliant idea. People love running but when they hear the word ‘track’ – a look of horror fills their face. The general public are more than happy to take part in their local park run or local 5k road race but I would struggle to find a participant, willing to take part in a track race! The athletics track is seen to be elite – for people who take running seriously – but it shouldn’t be. The track should be open and welcoming to people, of all ages and abilities and so I hope this Nike Milers Club, really embraces that and encourages people to the world of track! Obviously, not all miles have to be clocked on the track – that’s the beauty of running but it would be nice to see more people enthused by those wonderful 8 lanes!
Back in Dundee at my local club, we had two marathon, fun runners who were constantly out training on the roads and feared they would be ‘too slow for track sessions with a group’ but eventually, they took the plunge and joined us. Even though they were ‘bringing up the rear of the group’ (their words, not mine!!’ – they absolutely loved it. It was something different and they enjoyed the varying distances, speeds and recoveries. The track made them feel quick and they were becoming faster each week. Amazingly, they managed to knock minutes off their marathon PBs and were thrilled! It makes a huge difference being part of a team or group – everyone wants the same outcome, to run faster than they’ve ever done before!
Track is important. The mile is crucial… But being part of something is bigger than anything.