My sister-in-law gave me a daily calendar of all my instagram photos for Christmas. On Monday, it was a picture of one of my favorite places in New York City: the McCarren Park track. I remember taking it while I was injured last fall, and was missing running so much I went to the track to sit and watch the runners do their thing. And then I took the photo:
There’s something about simply being around the running community that’s infectious. Never have I met such a supportive, kind, and fun-loving group of people. I’ve made so many wonderful friendships — people who’ve not only run miles and drank beer with me, but pushed me to become stronger and more resilient, on and off the roads.
And they’re not just my running buds… they’re family. And the amount of posts I’ve read about Boston reminds me how writing and blogging is such a special way to not only offload emotions, but engage and support one another. And for every personal post I’ve read, the sadness and frustration tends to stem from this: “someone attacked my family.”
But just when the tragedy on Monday meant to ruin the running community, it only created an even stronger bond. Because you can’t break the running family. We’re too strong for that.
My heart goes out to all runners, and any & everyone affected by what happened in Boston. All my strength & love,
Is this real life?
Peak training is finally over, and now it’s time to taper. I know a lot of people tend to go “crazy” during taper-time, but let’s be honest: I can’t freakin wait. This past week I was undeniably tired – my body simply needs rest if it’s going to be able to run REAL fast at Eugene. (And after all this…I better.) Here’s the quick recap of my last highish mileage week that had a litttttle cutback:
Tuesday: 5 miles, strides
Wednesday: 7 miles
Thursday: 10 miles, strength
Saturday: 13 miles (5 at MGP)
Sunday: 5 miles, strength
week total= 40 miles
My last long run was definitely bittersweet. I thought back to how so many of my Friday nights were ”do laundry, drink a ton of water, get to bed early” so I could wake up and run upwards of 21 miles and proceed to shower, eat, sleep, repeat (minus showering) for the rest of the weekend. I did that for 13 weeks. Crazy town.
I wanted to go 15 or 16 miles on Saturday, but I felt like I was running mile 23 of a marathon the whole time. My legs felt like dead weights, so once I hit 13 miles I told myself to end it early. My body was telling me it’s time to taper.
Which leads me back to…TAPERING. This is what I’m really going to focus on:
Sleep. I don’t sleep enough. It’s bad. So I’m going to try my hardest to get 8 hours a night. In bed by 11, no computer or phone.
Drink. Nuun and water all day ere’day.
Eat Well. I eat pretty well, but I’m really going to focus on only eating what’ll fuel my body and make me feel good. I’m also looking forward to eating less (aka, like a normal person) since my insatiable hunger is (hopefully) a thing of the past.
No (or little…) alcohol. I’ve barely had any alcohol these past four months (who am I?), yet this past week, I’m preeeettty sure I drank every night. It finally felt like spring, it was my bday week, and I missed my friends. Naturally, my tolerance level no longer really exists, so I gotta stay away from the booze if I want to be a functioning human being for these next two weeks. Then after the race I can build that tolerance back up and become a quasi-alcoholic.
Foam roll. Hurts so good. Must foam roll to make these legs feel like normal.
Yoga. This is mainly to keep my head sane as the countdown continues.
Get super pumped! Time to get excited!! Read running blogs. And books. Stream the Boston Marathon. And think of race-day scenarios and strategies and all the wonderful people I’ll be seeing so soon. AHHHHH IT’S SO CLOSE!
When people ask “what is your 10-year plan” I usually pretend to throw something at them and respond that I haven’t even figured out my 10-minute plan. (Whatsfordinner?)
I have a hard time visualizing what it is I’ll actually be doing in the future, even in an ideal world! Reason being – what’s actually ideal now may not be what I hope for however many years down the road, and being too goal oriented can blind me from better opportunities I didn’t even know existed.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just making excuses because my 10-year plan is something I can barely answer.
But I’m trying to figure it out, for FUN. I’ve been taking the time to envision myself at 35 and where I want to be, and some things I’ve accomplished along the way. I have no idea if my vision is ambitious or conservative, unrealistic or attainable. But…here’s what I kinda came up with (yikes):
-Live in San Fran, the Pacific NW, or somewhere on the West Coast
-Work for Greatist (however that would look) and be managing a bunch of people in a certain department
-Have two published books
-Write regularly on my blog and have an engaged community of people readers. (This was a typo but I actually like the phrase “people readers” so I’m keeping it)
-Teach yoga and be able to do all the fancy poses
-Be running regularly, and have run a sub 3:20 marathon
-Have traveled back to Africa, and to India, Japan, and South America. Done some sort of health/community development/micro-finance work.
-Maybe be married or at least live with S.O.
-Masters in public/global health (maybe?)
-Be playing shows on the semi-regular and have recorded an album
So, if I want to do alllll of these things in 10 years, the important part is to think about the steps I need to act on nowish to get there. AKA I should probably relearn guitar, begin saving for travel funds, and start walking to California.
Welp, that’s all I got for now. And this could all change next week. But until then, gonna get to that book proposal…
Peak week = kind of successful. 3 weeks till Eugene. Aaaalmost there!
75 sweaty, glorious minutes of yoga. If anyone in NYC wants to come with, I go to Prana (in Union SQ) every Monday at 6:45 or 8:10 (pm). Come!
Tuesday: 6 miles (track workout)
For whatever reason, 6 miles on the road seemed boring for me, so I decided to do a “fun” track workout: 2 sets of (1200-1000-800-400) at as close to 6min/mile pace as possible. (Yeah….bout that). Felt OK, but had to cut the 400 off and literally sprint back to my apartment from the track (does that count?) so I wouldn’t be late to work. Also, I miss track workouts.
Wednesday: 7 miles
THIS was the best day ever. I ran 4ish miles up to Columbus Circle, where I met Meg to run a few more in Central Park. We decided to mix things up and run the loop clockwise (!) and search for the CASTLE. We found it. It was awesome. Running with friends (esp Meg) is the best.
Thursday: 8 mile tempo
This was my 10 mile turned to 8 tempo from hell. Tempo speeds at 7:20 did not make me a happy camper. Felt sorry for myself and had a little pity party for the rest of the day. (Shots)
Friday: 1 mile, strength
After a shitty run I always take it easy the next day. I ran ONE mile + a little extra (in SKORA‘s!) and did a lot of foam rolling, dynamic stretching, and a little strength stuff. Then I stuffed my face with guac and wine. Twas a happy Friday.
Saturday: 21 miles
After about two hours of stalling and feeling super anxious before this run (hi I am a head case) I finally left my apartment. I remember hitting minute 22 (not mile…) and almost stopping and giving up. After 10 sluggish and stressed miles (8:20′s) where I wanted to retire from marathon training and take up the 50m dash, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself. I gave myself a tough-love pep talk (innnn my head) while running around the reservoir, and then got my act together. I started running faster, and wavered under 8 minute pace for the rest of the run. My legs felt pretty dead by the end, but I did it. I had a good long run. Bout freakin time.
IN OTHER NEWS..
1) As I was running up the Harlem Hills on my long run, a man was selling water. I was thirsty. I stopped and tried to find a dollar in my pocket that I didn’t have, and after staring at him with a look of helplessness (and dehydration) he gave me one for free, said “Merry Christmas!” and told me he was there every day and I could give him money next time. So I went back to Harlem the next day, and he wasn’t there. So sad. Mr. Water man, if you’re reading this, please tell me your water selling schedule. I have $2 for you!!
2) Half of Nora’s ear is gone. I came home from my run and HALF WAS GONE. Her ear was bleeding. I didn’t know whether I should go to a pharmacy and get medicine, or try to find the other half first. (Turns out she probably ate it….WHAT).
So….anyone want a cat?
It’s a word that has become increasingly popular — a suave and techy term that no longer only applies to expert programmers and network wizards. (Kevin Mitnick and so can you!) Now when we hear “hacking,” we’re not just talking about getting knee deep in US Armed Forces computers or making way into the Bush family email account.
Instead, people can now (quite legally) hack their life: gargle whiskey for a sore throat, organize your cables with toilet paper tubes, or download an app to get more shit done. We’re also hacking time: We’re getting our dream body in four hours and our workout done in four minutes. People are hacking their days by getting toothpaste delivered to their bathroom and dinner delivered to their kitchen. We’re encouraged, as Ari Misel coined, to automate, outsource, and optimize. Do less, and in some odd, wizard-like way, get more.
Of course, the term “hack” can be loose. When we say “hack your BBQ,” it can be as innocent as making smoked lemonade or swapping cinnamon sticks for skewers (holy shit). It can be silly, fun, or über life changing. But no matter how you apply hacking to your own life, one thing is pretty certain: Hacking is pretty darn cool.
Now, I do support this idea of hacking your life to be more productive, happy, and creative. I get it. I really, really do. But (yeah, it was coming…) I was thinking about this idea of “expanding” time without budging the 24-hour clock while I was on my 21-mile run yesterday. For time-hackers, tabata fiends, and productivity wizards alike (I’m using that term a lot, sorrynotsorry), long runs are bad news. My workout is taking almost 3 hours, and it’ll leave me wiped out and in relative discomfort for the rest of the day. And if I’m looking to get in shape, why run for 180 minutes when I can do a WOD at a CrossFit gym, run circles around track, or download an interval app and be done in less than 60?
Because truthfully, I don’t always want to hack my life. Sometimes I want to take the extra step (or billion…). A three hour run is incredibly liberating; a trip to the grocery store and an hour in front of the stove rewarding; drawing out a map (with pen and paper!) before heading to a new neighborhood fun. I miss the adventure that hacking can sometimes take away. And I get scared that people do everything in their means to be so incredibly productive that the empty space to get more done never fills.
For many, hacking time leaves space for other important things that can slip away: time with family, time to rest, time to read. But I often get the sense that hacks leaves time to do more — to hustle to a crazy degree, to keep going and going and be so efficient that time almost feels artificial.
Which is why I approach hacking with caution. Find the tips and apps and tools that make you more efficient, but don’t let it compromise your own creativity, your hard work, and your love to let things happen naturally, and in due time.
Is it time for Eugene yet?
As I enter the final stretch of marathon training and am knee/neck/head deep (though probably underwater…) in peak training, all I want to do is toe the line. I have no idea if I’m ready, but at this point, I just want to race.
These last few months of training have been nothing short of a roller coaster. I’ve had fantastic runs where I’m smiling the whole way, and others where I’ve pulled over to cry into my frozen hands. And that’s what’s most frustrating: I’m hardly able to predict how I’m going to feel from one training week to the next. Sometimes work keeps me up past midnight. Some nights I just don’t sleep well. Other times I can’t turn down seeing friends. Or it’s snowing out. Or it’s cold. Windy. I’m hungover. Or in Costa Rica. Whatever. But no matter what, I still run.
And lately I’ve felt like crap, but instead of trying to figure out why, I just keep going through the motions. I went on a 10-mile tempo run today even though I kneeeew I felt off, and my body finally gave me what I deserved: After 4 relaxed miles (where I felt sluggish) and 3 at tempo pace (where I felt terrible), I threw up in front of all the lovely tourists trying to sign up for helicopter rides on the Pier. (Sorry!) Then I proceeded to walk 2 miles home (it was cold) and collapse in bed, feeling more worn out than I do after long runs.
And yeah — there’s no question this marathon plan is making me faster and stronger. My pace has improved. My endurance has improved. I haven’t gotten injured. But unfortunately, improvement in the running world doesn’t mean that running faster or longer becomes any easier. If anything, knowing I can stretch my boundaries further makes me work even harder.
Which is awesome, rewarding, and also really hard to maintain.
So long story not so short, this 16-week ride of feeling awesome! feeling terrible! with training is wearing me thin (anyone else? please?) and I am more than anxious to just race my little heart out. Luckily, it’s only 3 weeks away. So close! And to not make this a blog post from negativity hell, here is a necklace I recently found that my parents gave me back in high school — I’m wearing it everyday until the race to hopefully send positive and fast vibes my way. Heeeere’s to hoping!
After a really tough and really awesome yoga class a few days ago, I got to thinking about my yoga journey — how I went from being absolutely clueless to literally needing it in my life to stay sane.
I started doing yoga in high school. I took it as my PE class senior year, and all I remember was waiting desperately for savasana so I could literally nap before having to go to math class. Aside from PE, I went to exactly one 45-minute class outside of school, and all I remember from that was trying to do a headstand. (Wrong.)
Then I went to college and never did yoga, thought about yoga, or cared about yoga.
I don’t know what sparked my interest in it again, but about two years ago I started doing some 20-minute online videos to help stretch after my runs. I actually found this to be super helpful — that’s when I learned that hey, this sequence of down dog, low pushup, sweep your arms up thing happens over and over. It means something.
When I finally moved to Brooklyn, I started going to Hosh, a donation based studio in Greenpoint. I liked that you could pay what you want and I liked going to classes with different teachers each time. I got a little taste of everything, and I learned something different from each instructor. I figured out the types of yoga I like, and the types of teaching I respond best to.
Then I tried Bikram, cause, c’mon, you gotta. And I cried. The teacher yelled at me because I was doing a pose wrong and I cried.
So I stuck to my classes at Hosh, and also started going to Prana Power Yoga, which has hot vinyasa classes (not bikram!). This is when my practice really improved. Having the same teacher almost every week helped me get better at the poses I knew were coming. I learned what a real chaturanga looked like. I could also, finally, touch my toes.
And after all the years of exploring and experimenting, I know what I look for in a yoga class. Music? It’s gotta be soothing. “Oms” playing during savasana? If possible, no. Teachers in jeans? Please practice with me instead. Meditating for the whole class? Not what I signed up for.
Hands on? Adjust away! Chanting? Go for it. Tell me stories and philosophy and how I can leave my problems behind? Heck yes.
Maybe most importantly, I realized I was a lot calmer IRL (Namaste.) I started doing what all my teachers told me to do: take the practice off the mat. If I got stressed, I would do like I learned while holding chair pose for way too long: Breathe into it.
And oddly enough, it works.
What I love most about yoga, and what I think sets it apart from running, is that it forces you slow down and look inward. I know I sometimes use running to literally run away from things, but with yoga, you’re prompted to dedicate your practice to something — a person, a concept, a word, an idea. It may sound silly, but it becomes natural. I literally think about someone or something for the whole class, and try my best to move into every pose with that intention. And with that, I also try to improve myself. With running, I sometimes just go through the motions. It’s numbers. It’s mechanical.
I’m challenged and humbled after almost every yoga class — they can be more physically and mentally tough than a 20-mile run. For me, the benefits are nearly endless, and I’m itching to getting more time to practice after Eugene.
So with that, namaste & all that jazz,
This last week of training was pretty bumpy in the beginning, but ended up being great. I was having a pretty shitty week in real-life, but used running as my “Pharmacy-free Rx,” which worked wonders.
The next two weeks = peak training weeks, which means two more weeks of high mileage before it’s time to taper. I’m getting more antsy by the minute (28 days till Eugene, whaaaat), but luckily I feel like the real countdown to Oregon can begin. So does my iPhone.
I received some very sad news regarding my friend’s family right as I was entering the studio, and I probably should’ve turned right around. But, no better time for a yoga class? Spent about half the class in child’s pose.
Tuesday: 5 miles (8:00), strength
Easy five miles along the Hudson. All I really remember was that it was cold and windy.
Wednesday: 9 miles (7:45)
This run was… interesting. I had 6 miles on the schedule, so decided to do one loop of Central Park after work. However, I got so “in the zone” and ended up going for nine. I’ve had those runs where I literally feel like I’m flying, but this was necessarily the case. I just felt numb. I ended the run and didn’t even feel tired. It was bizarre.
Friday: 5 miles (7:50), strides & strength
I worked from home on Friday so was able to sneak a “late morning” 9:30 run in. I went around the hood and the track, and felt really great. I made it home just in time for a conference call too, where I was laying on my yoga mat in a sports bra. AND NOBODY KNEW.
Saturday: 20 miles (8:20)
Did my long run in Northport, since I was home visiting my fam for Easter! I had no idea how this run would go, since my neighborhood is obnoxiously hilly. After stalling for two hours in the AM, I went. The first half, as always, was great — I ran to the beach and all around the harbor. Then I started getting super thirsty, so went on a water fountain hunt for a few miles. (Local library FTW). Then, since I’m a genius, I decided to map out the final 10K that led me to a massive, steep motherf*cking hill at mile 15. With about 30 meters left, my body just buckled. I physically couldn’t run the final few steps, so walked to the top, which luckily has a very scenic view of the LI Sound. I shut off my music and realized I was wheezing like a crazy person, so allowed my asthmatic lungs to chill out for a minute, told myself “only five more miles, only five more miles,” and was able to finish the run, while exhausted, still in one piece. I even managed to hang out with some frieeeends downtown a few hours later (instead of my usual nap+eat+nap+eat+go to bed routine after long runs).
Sunday: 4 miles (8:00)
Recovery run before Easter brunchhhhhh! My body was pretty tired, but it felt good to shake out the legs. Anways… EASTER FOOD.
So I shut up and talk about something other than running, here are some of my favorite reads from this week.
The women in charge of the band // NPR Music
7 unconventional cruises for your bucket list // Mother Nature Network
What is wilderness worth to you? // Matador Network
Is giving the secret to getting ahead? // The New York Times
At 89, this kickstarter grandma is starting a business // American Express Open Forum
38 healthy foods on a stick // Greatist
Since running has been such a big part of my life recently, I started thinking how my own habits, tactics, and lessons learned while training can be applied to other areas of life. And I came up with a couple. Have at em!
It’s not always a numbers game
Once I started using a garmin, I entered the scary, yet rewarding world of “data.” And it absolutely made me a better runner. And yet, some of my best runs have been without a watch, where I was freed from the constraints of having to hit a certain time or pace. This absolutely applies outside the runner’s world, too. Numbers — salaries, weight, twitter followers, passport stamps, what have you — these numbers, while maybe a source of inspiration, do not define you.
Discomfort is okay
One of the most important things I’ve learned from running is being open to discomfort and pain. It may sound of strange, but it’s true: Once I allowed myself to embrace feeing uncomfortable during tough workouts (rather than freaking out) I found myself getting faster. (WHO KNEW). And so it goes with life — putting yourself in situations where you don’t always feel incredibly confident or comfortable will only make you stronger.
Rest equals strength
Speaking of strength, runners also need to take avid time off to recover in order to hop into the next workout feeling better than ever. IRL, the same can be applied: Solid R&R is so important to help feel rejuvenated and regain fresh energy.
You’ll surprise yourself
About one year ago I ran my first 20-miler. And now I’m running them almost every weekend. I used to never feel like I was built for endurance, but now I feel more and more comfortable with long distance training by the day. Basically, you never know what you’re truly capable of unless you try. So…try! Something. Anything. You’ll be surprised.
The first few steps are in your control
Maybe this is just me, but I can literally tell how a run is going to go by those first few steps. And I really think it’s all mental: If my head’s in a good spot for that first half mile, then I’m good to go for the rest of the run. And when I wake up in the morning, I’m allowed those same first few steps. I have a choice to set how the rest of my day is going to go.
It gets easier
On the flip side, some runs start out pretty rocky. And yet I almost ALWAYS hit a turnaround point where I feel better. For some reason, mile six is my sweet spot, and is usually when I finally settle into a groove and pick up the pace. So remember that for the ol’ non-running life: things can start off rough, but that doesn’t set the precedence for the rest of your day, year, lifetime — however you want to look at it.
Hills have their advantage
Hills make the best metaphors, right? Anyhow, I grew up in a really hilly town and our XC course had one of the most challenging courses in NY state (with the infamous cardiac hill). So throughout the years, I’ve learned to love them, and I know I can use hills to my advantage when I’m racing. So embrace the “uphill battle” in life situations. Cause guess what? It’s smooth (and sparkly?) sailing down the other side.
You can’t always go all-out
If you ran at tempo pace every day, well…that’d be stupid. You can’t give an all-out effort everyday in your training, and that same goes with life. It’s impossible to dole out all of your energy to every single part of your life. You’ll explode.
Taking care of yourself is key
Runners have to take special care of themselves‚ foam rolling, icing, stretching, mega-carb consuming, etc — in order to stay on their A-game. This applies elsewhere, too. People need to check in with themselves to see what they need to feel happy and clearheaded. (A mental health day, home-cooked meal, a girls night out, a bag of pretzel M&Ms…)
Materials can motivate
Lemme tell ya, a new pair of running shorts can make me WAY more eager to go for a run. Sometimes you can find (and deserve!) a little motivation in the form of material possessions for any area of life: a new notebook, outfit, kitchen gadget, etc. Let Amazon get those creative juices flowing.
You can’t go at it alone
While I pretty much train on my own, I could never keep it up if I didn’t have the community by my side. And the same goes with life. You need other people to help push you, support you, and inspire you. And go to da club with you.