20 years ago, Nicole George found herself on the start line of the KeriKeri Half Marathon. Armed with minimal training under her belt and a level of naivety around what was ahead of her, she managed to find her way to the BBQ and beers at the finish line and proceeded to spend the next 3 days in a state of shuffle. Sitting hurt and walking the stairs stung. She swore she would never do a running event again.

Sure enough the following year, there she was. A little more training under her belt, feeling ready to run again. There was something about the positive atmosphere of the event; that collective and individual feeling of achievement that drew her back to the start line. And many start lines in the proceeding years.

Fast forward to Jan 2023 and now, instead of a BBQ and beers as her reward for running, Nicole’s running won her a trip for two to Rarotonga thanks to her participation in the ASICS 2x5 Habit.

Nicole George, Winner of the 2x5 Habit Trip to Rarotonga

We loved getting the opportunity to sit down with our winner and learn more about her motivation to move and how the 2x5 Habit helped her to her best year in running over the last 20 years.

Sourcing Inspiration From Others

Nicole has a number of personal motivations to move. She describes herself as being self-conscious about having a healthy appearance and running is at the top of the list when it comes to helping with those feelings. Not only does a run tick the exercise box, but it encourages her to establish other healthy habits around it. She finds her commitment to better nutrition and hydration elevated when running regularly. It's a win-win!

Aside from healthy habits as her personal motivation, it becomes clear that other people are what inspires Nicole the most.

From her husband Anthony who is her running partner in crime, to close friend, Maryanne, who is constantly entering new events despite suffering a stroke a few years ago. Sources of motivation are all around Nicole. And it’s not just those close to her.

After participating in many events over the past 20 years, she continues to be amazed at the collective spirit and individual stories of people that turn up to events in all corners of the globe. She cites her participation alongside Anthony and her then 17-year-old son, Wiremu, in the 2019 Great Wall Half Marathon in China as being a real highlight of her running journey to date. Meeting other Kiwi runners (and international runners), from those at the front of the pack to the last across the line, Nicole has loved and taken onboard all of their different personal motivations and stories to help feed her desire to keep running and moving. No matter the circumstances.

The Importance Of Commitment

Despite being armed with some good internal and external motivators to feed her enthusiasm for running, Nicole says it’s still not always easy to lace up the runners and head out the door. It’s too wet, too hot, I’m too tired, too busy, my watch isn’t charged, my husband can’t make this run, I’ll leave it until tomorrow are common chats the anti-running birdy on the shoulder has with her. But she finds that commitment is the number one trait she relies on to get going. Whether that be her relying on a commitment to an event, commitment to laying out her running gear the night before, or commitment to her friends. This level of accountability ensures she keeps going (and always feels better as a result).

How the 2x5 Habit Raised Her Level

Nicole George and William Waiirua

While reasonably content with running her three or four events a year, Nicole found that she would work out in waves. She would run more in the lead-up and then much less post-event. This would mean that every time she had to start turning the legs over again it would take a period of time to get the lungs, legs, and motivation back on track. After signing up for the ASICS 2x5 Habit, she immediately extended her trusty route from 3.2km to 5.12km and made the commitment to herself to run it twice a week without fail. After establishing this new rhythm she found herself in better physical shape and mentally she was more motivated. So much so, that she decided to gradually increase her distance – culminating in Nicole completing her very first full marathon in Hawaii in December 2022. Not only was this a personal triumph for her and husband Ant, it was done with a nod to her late Aunty and Uncle who had competed in the same event exactly 40 years prior.

Looking back at the 666km Nicole ran in 2022, she’s rightly proud of her achievements but in her typically selfless manner, she’s already on the front foot getting her local community on board so she can share in the collective sense of achievement with her friends in 2023.

Nicole’s Tips & Tricks for Running

1. Start small and build. If it’s 100s of metres or 1-2km. The only thing that matters is your commitment to lacing up the shoes

2. Make it fun and reward yourself. For Nicole that might be a nice cuppa tea, or marking a big ‘X’ on her calendar to indicate she’s achieved what she set out to do.

3. Bring some mates along for the ride. There’s nothing better than a shared commitment.

4. Be open about your journey and inquisitive about other journeys. Inspiration is all around you

5. Make the commitment to something, whether it be an event or the 2x5 Habit. Locking yourself in gives you the extra accountability that can be the difference between progression and regression.

Nicole George, Winner of the 2x5 Habit Trip to Rarotonga

Running Go-To’s

Morning, lunchtime, evening runner?
I’m a morning runner. I prefer to hit the road early before our little town of Russell wakes up.

Favourite post-run snack / meal?
Any protein shakes & bars to help recover.

Outside of your shoes, what’s one running essential you can’t go without? My GPS running watch - for something to prove I did it.

Best pieces of running advice you’ve ever received?
From three sisters I run often with, and who have given me great advice over the years, is to place a small amount of sheep wool teased out around your toes before heading out the door on long runs. The lanolin in the wool prevents friction and blisters from forming. It gives a strange sensation but works.

Nicole George out for a run

Running Solo or Running in a group?
I do a lot of my training runs with my husband but during events, we are both focused on time and pacing ourselves (and he tends to leave me behind) so I prefer to run solo.

Music, Podcast, or your own thoughts? What are they?
I don't listen to anything during a run and have never bothered with setting up playlists for running. Most of the time it’s still dark when I'm training so I like to be aware of my surroundings and my own thoughts at the time.

In 3 words how would you describe yourself as a runner?
Fun but focused.

Favourite running route in NZ?
Opua to Paihia track (nice and close to home) - an off-road track through bush, boardwalk, and along the water's edge.

Running distance a week?
About 15kms on average according to Runkeeper. Doesn't seem like much at all.

I run because….
It gives me a sense of achievement.

Where does your mind tend to wander while running?
I find myself thinking about all sorts. From dreaming up new ideas or projects to what's for dinner tonight. It’s a great time to do some quality processing and problem-solving.

What’s your #1 way of maintaining a sound mind?

Favourite ASICS shoe?
GT-2000 is my fave - they’re really light and so comfortable.

Interested in learning more about running? Visit our Knowledge Base where you’ll find resources on an array of topics for runners - from how to get started and mapping out a training plan, to discovering how to pick the right running shoes for you.