On an unseasonably warm winter’s day we’re picked up and taken to Palm Beach in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, home of Home and Away and for the next two days, Australia’s best up and coming athletes. Sitting on the banks of the stunning Pittwater, we make our way into the house that will be the base for Australia’s first Nike Zoom Camp.
Zoom Camp gives up and coming athletes a chance to learn from Australian running legends and also explore the innovation that goes in to making Nike the powerhouse it is in the world of running shoes and apparel from Nike’s running technology specialists (EKIN’s) themselves.
Hosted by Nike and Australian running legend, Steve Moneghetti, Nike Coach and City2Surf 2018 champion Ben St Lawrence, Olympian Linden Hall, and Kiwi pro-runner Lydia O’Donnell, the day ahead was going to be a mix of innovation, coaching, nutrition and recovery to give us a taste of what lay ahead for the athletes taking part in Zoom Camp over the weekend.
Moneghetti makes the point during his introduction that unlike other sporting codes like football, rugby etc, running lacks a good support network for athletes coming through. Where other sports have coaching academies etc, running doesn’t and it’s amazing to hear that even though all of the athletes arriving at Zoom Camp are at rep level, almost all of them don’t know each other.
This is something that Zoom Camp aims to address, bringing the athletes together, and inspiring them on their journey through race season.
First up is a session with Nike EKIN Sam Strutt who provides insight into the technology that underpins the Pegasus 35’s, Pegasus Turbos and Vaporfly’s. As Strutt explains, EKIN is Nike backwards and represents how Nike techs go about their work, starting at the end the working back, developing technology and insight to bring the end goal to life. It’s through this approach that Nike innovations such as the new Zoom X foam, Nikes most responsive foam to date, have materialised.
Next stop is across the water at The Basin for a running session with the Nike coaches and athletes. Each coach gives us warm-up tips and exercises, from high knees to lunges, and they ensure we’re well warmed up before we have our own running technique analysed. From video analysis, technique advice and expert insight, individual coaching from the likes of Steve Moneghetti and Lydia O’Donnell gives us plenty to think about as we prepare for a taste of one of the courses Ben St Lawrence has set for the athletes over the weekend. The scenery around the Basin is spectacular with sea views and the occasional wallaby but the incredibly steep hill we start on is a reminder of the purpose of the camp and the calibre of the athletes attending.
The final part of Zoom Camp is split into two sessions, a nutrition session with Linden Hall and recovery session with Lydia O’Donnell. Hall, with a masters degree in dietetics, offers advice on her own nutrition program as well as what’s trending among her fellow competitors and gives a great insight into what fuels athletes at an elite level. Alongside the natural proteins and carbohydrates, there are a few surprises, chocolate milk anyone? With so much information available on nutrition, Hall is an incredible resource for Zoom Camp athletes to assist them with their own programs.
Nike coach O’Donnell offers her expert advice on post-run recovery and injury prevention with stretches and foam roller exercises to help keep the athletes in race conditions for the upcoming season. A New Zealand representative with an extensive history in coaching, O’Donnell, like Hall has a wealth of knowledge to help the up and coming Zoom Camp athletes.
After just a taste of Nike’s Zoom Camp, one thing is clear, this immersive experience is something unique that will provide inspiration to all the athletes attending. As Steve Moneghetti mentioned, running hasn’t had anything like ‘Zoom Camp’ in Australia before and providing up-and-coming athletes with an opportunity to bond while being coached by Australia’s running elite is sure to bring positive results in the future. All the while being supported by the innovations of Nike.
The good news for Australian running is that Zoom Camp will be back again next year. With Nike always looking for the best ways to connect the brand, with their enviable heritage in running, and their running innovations to up and coming athletes, and to best serve the athletes needs, the intention is to host Zoom Camp 2019.