Thursday, November 8, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

Glowing and ready to rave run
Berlin's Brandenburg gate for the warm-up
Berlin has a bit of a rep as a party city, so while I may be in town for a fitness focused "36 hour Sports Experience" courtesy of Nike, they made sure we didn't miss out on the vibes by welcoming us last night with a rave run from Bradenburg Gate, weaving through the trees of Tiergarten long after sun down to our dinner venue. The route was lit by fluoro spotlights and glowsticks- it was really rather trippy. Boomboxes tied to tricycles rode beside us, blasting out techno tunes to keep us moving and even occasionally prompting a morph from run to dance, how could you not? If you ever thought running was boring or monotonous then a rave run will soon change your mind. You could create your own by running after dark, armed with glowsticks and house music on your iPod,  I know I will be.

There was an added frisson to all this excitement because we were joined by Paula Radcliffe. At Brandenburg Gate, the women's marathon world record holder led us all in a warm-up and motivational talk before we set out for our rave run through the park. Radcliffe is still recovering from the foot surgery which forced her to pull out of running at the London Olympics this summer. She's still confined to jogging in the sea near her Monaco home so a rave run was out of the question. However, Paula was there to join us for a delicious sushi dinner and preview of Nike's brand new Flyknit One+ style which is launching for Spring/ Summer.

Beautiful- the Flyknit One+
Nike have brought me, and a group of fellow European press, to Berlin to inspire us. As someone who  vividly remembers watching Paula set her marathon world record of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds at the London Marathon in 2003, it doesn't get more inspiring that getting to meet and chat to the woman who threw assumptions about what may or may not be possible for girls to achieve out of the window. And all just by putting her head down and running faster and longer than any female before her. Almost a decade later, no athlete has come close to Paula's achievement.

Me and Paula- just amazing
Given that London is such a special place for Paula, the city where she ran her record, it is hard to imagine what a wrench it must have been to forgo the chance the chance to compete in an Olympic marathon on home turf. Last night, she explained that "I know I wouldn't maybe have won but I would've loved the chance to run and do it", a sentiment which sums the sportmanship which she has always displayed. It's clear that Radcliffe's main motivation has always been a love of running, the fact of her being supremely talented a happy coincidence . She recalls the aftermath of a doctor's appointment in 1994 when she had been told that may never be able to run, let alone compete, again on her injured foot,"I remember my Dad saying 'millions of people don't run and they get through life' and I was thinking 'But I'm not millions of people'".  To think that 18 years later, it is that same foot injury which Paula has just received more treatment for is a pretty inspiring thing, to be that determined to stick at what you love in the face of that initial prognosis.

I very often hear girls saying that exercise isn't for them because of the sweating and general lack of glamour involved. When exercise is your career I suppose it could become rather difficult to find excuses to get dressed up. Paula proves that there are so many ways that you can use those rituals you might usually reserve for "dressing up" to improve your sporting performance. "I always have to wear a nail varnish when I race with a name that sounds fast" she tells me, "one year, I remember being in the MAC shop before the New York marathon and I had to call my friend to decide whether Fluid or Jet Flash sounded faster". Similarly, whereas we might have lucky shoes for big meetings or special lingerie for first dates, Paula is superstitious about her kit, "You get about five uniforms for the racing year, but if I race well in one then I stick with that for every other race". She is lucky too that the career of a sporting star involves plenty of opportunities for serious dressing up. "You spend a lot of time in tracksuits so it's nice to dress up. My wardrobe is kind of divided between Nike kit and evening dresses and not much in-between" which really doesn't sound so bad, does it?

There's little more inspiring than the chance to speak to your hero, but Paula also had some practical advice for getting your running to work for you, and don't forget, there's always the rave run...


1. Join a run club, it's unlikely everyone will be having an off day so if you need motivation you'll find it

2. Set intermediate goals to take you up to your main goal so that you're feeling good on the way and realise what you're achieving all the time.

3. Don't feel like you have to do something, find what you enjoy- whether that's running on a track or doing hills. It's your running"

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