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After coming out as nonbinary on National Transgender Day of Visibility this year, Nikki Hiltz, one of the country’s fastest 1500-meter competitors, had a jam-packed summer: They ran in the finals of the Olympic Trials, raised more than $40,000 for the Trevor Project through the Pride 5K, and just placed second in 4:26 at the Sir Walter Miler in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“If this season has taught me anything it’s that I’m going to be able to perform at my best when I feel safe,” Hiltz wrote on Instagram recently. “When everyone can show up as themselves, we can all perform at our best—and something tells me this isn’t unique to just me and my running.”
Performing their best includes prioritizing mental health as well as physical health and hitting key workouts, like this one. Called the K workout, it mimics the 1500-meter race, Hiltz’s specialty. About 10 days out from a competition, Hiltz likes to make sure they hit the last K at 2:40 or under. Before the 2019 world championships, they made sure that each 200 meters got progressively faster during the workout, and the last K at the championships was essentially just as they had practiced. “I’m not a workout artist at all—I race better than I work out,” they say. “Add in fans, adrenaline of competition, and this makes me believe in myself.”
Their Essential Workout
Who: Nikki Hiltz, 26
What: The K(ilometer) Workout
- 3 x one K (kilometer) at 3:15 to 3:20 pace with a 200-meter jog between
- Four minutes rest
- 2 x 150 meters (strides)
- Three minutes rest
- One “really hard” K (for Hiltz, about one minute faster than the previous Ks)
- 90 seconds rest
- Finish with a fast 500 meters
Why: “That’s where I gain confidence. I know that going into the race, anything that’s thrown my way, I can handle.”