Last month, Nike hosted coaches and members of the media from all over the world for the iconic Prefontaine, or “Pre,” Classic at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon Nike called the weekend of glamping “Zoom Camp,” which was all about showcasing the magic of Hayward Field; the history of Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike; the legacy of Steve Prefontaine, one of the most influential American track athletes of the 20th century; and the ability for every runner to “
find your fast” through guided workouts and drills over the course of two days. It all culminated in a one-mile race around the track. Nike fully immersed us into the great pride behind their brand in its hometown, where one employee stated “we were founded on a handshake.” From preview of the hottest new gear, to intimate stories of some of Nike’s star athletes, to witnessing records fall over a night and day of Pre Classic action at Hayward Field—18-year-0ld Alexa Efraimson smashed Mary Cain’s 1,500-meter American junior record, finishing seventh in 4:03.39!—the entire Zoom Camp experience left more than 20 attendees in awe of the magic of the running culture surrounding the greatest track and field in the country. Here are 14 things—reminders, if you will–about running that Zoom Camp handed to me over two days in Oregon. Photos: John Jefferson
I had never gone glamping, until I was invited to this Zoom Camp for media at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. While it would be near impossible for my friends and me to replicate exactly this amazing sea of “condo tents” (as I called them), it was a two-day reminder to sometimes get lost in the woods and enjoy the quiet sounds of nothing but air.
DIY: Instead of booking a hotel stay at your next race, dig into some camping options in the area. Concerned about sleep comfort before running? Blow-up mattresses work great!
I was very much reminded of the importance of speed work during my marathon training. I hadn’t “officially” incorporated any of it into training for years, and clearly it made a difference when I ran a BQ race in January. At camp, the coaches had everyone alternate between strides, pick-ups and 400m/800m laps around the track to gauge where our current fitness was at. It was so fun—there are few things that beat the adrenaline rush of leaning into the curve of a track while running.
DIY: Don’t shy away from days that call for “tempo” or “interval” or “speed” work on your training calendar. These will help with leg turnover and race-day pursuit of your PR. However, if you’re new to any type of speed work, take it slowly and work with a friend or coach who knows your running style.
I ran fast in the new Zoom Air Pegasus 32, released last month. I raced in the upcoming Zoom Streak, which blasted me to a sub-6 mile. I tested out the Zoom Air Vomero 10 on a training run. The Zoom Air technology was a newer experience for me, but the low-profile cushioning of each shoe helped me fall in love with running fast again.
DIY: Don’t shy away from trying new shoes. If you have used the same model for years but have problems with injuries, consider testing out a new pair on a short run just to see how it feels. Always consult with an expert who can analyze your gait and help you decide which type works for you.
Give your straight-line running a rest for 1 or 2 days a week and hit the stadium for some stairs and midfield drills. For us at Zoom Camp, this meant 30 minutes of hard work: 10 minutes of stair variations between hopping, running and skipping to the top, 10 minutes of drills on the field (think: mountain climbers), and 10 minutes of just seeing how many sets of stadiums you could do. Whew!
DIY: Without breaking through any locks or hopping any (ok, maybe a few) fences, find a nearby school and give stadiums a go. If you’ve never done them, go slowly and cut the number of stairs in half instead of blasting all the way to the top.
I often get sucked into my own tunnel-vision world of training when I have a big goal race in mind. However, having a rah-rah moment at the end, standing close together with 20 other sweaty members of the media, I couldn’t help but feel almost refreshed from that moment of camaraderie and congratulating the person next to you.
DIY: Running groups are great for this. Having a fellow runner tap you on the back or offer a high-five after a hard workout has benefits I almost had forgotten.
If you’re like me, I discontinued regular massages because I just can’t afford a good one all the time. But after getting some hardcore kinks worked out at camp, I was reminded that shelling out a few extra $20’s for a good rubdown is totally worth it, especially after a hard race. I’ve since made an appointment to get one after my next big run.
DIY: If you’re like me and still can’t afford the whole thing, check out Groupon for quick deals on massages! Thirty minutes of ow-relaxation is better than nothing! (For nicer massages, I love going to Massage Heights, a chain with many facilities around the country.)
Running isn’t all about the daily grind with your favorite pair of shoes—it’s also about working hard so you’re able to enjoy and appreciate moments of splurge. For me, it was a glass of wine and a very large plate of chicken and mashed potatoes after a handful of travel hours to Portland, Ore.
DIY: Order an extra side dish or drink at dinner, and think of it as nothing more than fuel for tomorrow’s run.
This will always be true for me: Foam rolling is still a regular part of my post-run routine. I was thankful to learn a few extra tidbits about maximizing my time on the roller.
DIY: Sit with the roller underneath you (as shown) and roll slowly where you peel a good release. Do this in small pieces on your hamstrings, quads and calves instead of one big roll over the entire area. Take your time! Here’s a full lowdown on where to roll out.
The morning of our media mile race, each coach led their team through a series of stretches and activation techniques to warm our muscles before four laps around the track. The lunge stretch opened our hip flexors and stretched our any lingering kinks from the speed work we did the day before.
DIY: Try this stretch at home with your arms down to get used to opening your hip flexors, which can become tight from sitting. I like to hold for 30 seconds on each side. Another option are these 5 stretches.
Ed note: I’m totally competitive, and it comes out in full force when I step onto a track. For me, racing four laps places me back in high school, when my whole life outside of homework and classes was running. And let me tell you—albeit in front of an empty stadium and just a handful of Nike people, I still felt that same rush rounding the final turn toward the home stretch.
DIY: For me, it’s racing. For you, the joy of running might be found somewhere else. If you’ve lost some of your run-zest and need to replenish, seek out that one thing that gets you going about our sport and make it accessible, even if one day a week.
Coach Joe Holder, a Nike coach and founder of
Ocho System, led team Nike Oregon Project through a day of grueling (and fun!) speed work that prepared us for the main event: a mile race. Thanks to his support and expert tips, as well as providing me with a quick snack three minutes before racing, I felt more confident in my natural abilities to run a fast mile. The team and his leadership definitely reminded me of the importance of partner in running. Bonus: Team “OP” won the mile!
DIY: I don’t normally work with a coach on a daily basis, but I do have many runner friends who keep me in check via phone, text and in-person runs for added motivation. Join a club and find someone who is your pace!
After running our team victory lap around the track, we re-grouped for a photo around the statue of the famous Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike and coach to the late Steve Prefontaine. If I were to choose the most incredible part of my weekend, it would be the energy and spirit that still exists around these running icons and still feels present at Hayward Field. Even if every runner at the camp, every spectator at the Pre Classic or every person in Eugene doesn’t know who Bowerman was, there’s still an immense feeling of respect toward the fact that he does have a legacy in this place.
DIY: Watch “Without Limits,” starring Billy Crudup as Pre and Donald Sutherland as Bowerman. I guarantee his fourth-place finish at the 1972 Munich Olympics will give you chills at least once.