Nike+ Run Club Coach Rebecca Gentry chats about winning the Third Space Elevation Challenge and how running has gone from being a pre-commute obsession to a full time career.

 

When did you realise your addiction to fitness was serious?
I worked in PR for six years commuting between London and Brighton, getting up with the sun to fit in a HIIT session and a run along the seafront or the South Downs before the train ride up. Running gave me a sense of freedom and time to relax and destress. Eventually I realised my passion for sport far outweighed my passion for PR. A career change was on the cards.

How easy was it to swap a desk job for trainers?
It is the most rewarding job I have ever had. I was lucky to be taken on board as a Nike + Training Club trainer pretty soon after qualifying as a personal trainer and then moved into the running side of things within the brand. I now lead Nike+ Run Club sessions in London and travel with the role.

Why did you do the Elevation Challenge?
It was a random challenge that came my way. It’s not normally something I would do as I quite often get fearful of pushing myself in anything other than running. So when I was asked if wanted to do it I agreed quickly and got into the chamber within 24 hours so I couldn’t overthink the elements. As well as the fitness challenge it was a personal mental challenge too.

What was the hardest element of the Challenge?
The assault / air bike. It’s a dual motion machine meaning your legs and arms have to work together on push and pull to make you progress. The feeling of wanting to let one of the extremities do all the work is overwhelming!

How has it helped in your training?
It gave me an immediate buzz but also a confidence in my capability. It’s not often I push myself to a new level in different disciplines other than running so knowing I had the strength and cardiovascular power to succeed has enabled me to be more open with my training.

What was it like, doing the exercises whilst being deprived of oxygen?
It was a fine line between listening to your body versus trying to defeat your ego. I think I had an advantage having done some Hypoxic training a few years ago and also run at altitude in a couple of ultra marathons in Europe. I knew the weird feeling you get when pushing yourself at height and the confusion you feel when you think you’re running fast, for example, but the speed shows a speed you wouldn’t normally associate with hard. The ability to take on board enough oxygen is laboured too, so people often people panic and therefore struggle even more to breath properly: this was another thing I knew I had to keep under control, but in the moment it can be very tough.

How does it compare to working out at high altitude?
It was harder than running at high altitude as you can take your pace down to a speed you feel OK at and not worry too much. In this challenge situation you battle with your ego, so you push as long as you can in that very uncomfortable zone. The air was less fresh too, so the longer I was in the chamber the harder and less rewarding it felt to suck in each breath.

You received Third Space membership as part of the Elevation Challenge prize: How are you enjoying it? Are you training for anything in particular?
I’m loving having a pool to swim in and some more functional equipment such as the sledge and battle ropes. I am always training to be ready for any run that comes my way – be it 5km or 100km. Currently keeping my total body strength up is super important so I am loving the weights room and the amazing chilled area to warm up and cool down and stretch ensures I go there and treat my body with respect.
As crazy as it sounds I will be back in the Elevation room as I believe it is a fabulous way to take training one step further and switch things up without leaving central London. The intense oxygenation of the body during the challenge reflected well with me. I felt very energised the next day even though I had exhausted myself!