Tourists In Our Part-Time City

Who stole our spring?  Last weekend we had wonderful temperatures in the 80’s and this weekend it was chilly and even rainy.  I want my warm spring back!

Friday was a total wash out.  We were stuck inside due to the weather and when it finally passed, Mary put on her rain boots and jacket and went for some splashing in puddles.  To say she loved it would be an understatement.  Fortunately, Rock planned ahead with a full set of extra clothes.  By the time she was done, we had to dump water out of her boots and wring her clothes!

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It rained so hard, part of the promenade along the East River where I run, collapsed!

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Saturday was at least a little sunny and I overdressed for a 7 mile run.  Does it bug anyone else when you wear sleeves and then end up out in sunny weather?  I prefer running without sleeves.  Back when I was a competitive figure skater, I never wore dresses with any type of arms attached.  I prefer bare arms.

It ended up being a really nice run and I was grateful for the sweat.  If I was a better blogger, I would have taken a picture, but this weekend I only snapped pics of the little girl.

I even had a celebrity sighting in Central Park. I walked past Ryan Seacrest and actually recognized him.  This is rare as I would normally not be able to pick a celeb out of a lineup.  Why I noticed him of all people, is beyond me.

After nap time, I woke up inspired to try something new.  We headed to Central Park and went to the Tisch Children’s Zoo.  This is part of the Central Park Zoo and I thought they might have a reduced rate for the smaller portion.  I was wrong.  But when I went to pay, Mary’s admission was free and mine was only $12.

My plan was just to take her to the children’s portion because I figured she was too young and wild to appreciate all of the other animals.  But as soon as we stepped inside, I knew we were going to check out everything.

At the children’s portion she loved the farm animals.  She ran in and cried, “Sheep!”  We’ve been working on animals with her and their sounds, so this was a perfect opportunity to see everything.

It is hard to believe that I have lived in NYC to some extent for 15 years, and I have never once set foot in the Central Park Zoo.  I walk through the gates almost daily and worked next to it for over a decade.  I have to say that I really have missed out.  This zoo is far nicer and bigger than I had realized.  However, I think I had a far greater appreciation seeing it from this 21 month old’s eyes.

We had fun walking through the tropical room full of birds and flora.  Mary loved watching the monkeys jump around all of the rocks. The snow leopards stayed hidden, but she loved looking for them.  The bears would have kept her interested for an hour if I had let her.  She adored the seals and sea lions and once she got over her fear of the dark room where the penguins and puffins were, she was mystified.

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For $12, it was an afternoon well spent.  We finished it off in true tourist style by grabbing a pretzel and a churro from a cart outside and parked ourselves on a bench for a little bit.

The zoo was absolutely the highlight of our weekend, our week, and our stay so far this spring.  I am almost certain we will be back again in the next few days.  I don’t think I can keep her away!

How was your weekend?  Do you or your kids enjoy the zoo?

Learn To Relax For Easier & Improved Running

While we were away over Easter weekend, I had the chance to do a few lovely runs on a rail trail in the Hudson Valley.  Then on Easter morning, Mary and I took a walk while Rock got to do a solo workout.  Usually when I am on a trail or path, I am busy running or working with clients, so it was a nice change to just take my time.  I was also able to take notice of a few trends that we often forget about when running.

Loosen Up:  I noticed that a lot of runners tend to get tense, especially in the shoulders and the arms.  This can make running not only uncomfortable, but also constrict your air intake; a bad combination!

Whether you are new to running or have been doing it for awhile, there is no argument that it isn’t always easy and it certainly can be uncomfortable.  The first few minutes of a run are always a bit more difficult than the rest, so make sure you set yourself up for success by checking in occasionally.  Make sure your shoulders are down and relaxed.  Keep your hands loose and unclenched.  Take in nice even and deep breaths.  Remember that after the first few minutes, your body will adjust and it will feel a bit easier.

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Slow Down:  During my walk, I saw so many runners who were struggling to keep pace.  Whether you are training for your first race or just aiming to get some time in on your feet, there is no rule stating how fast you must go.  In fact, slower running has huge impacts not only on improving your running, but also for cardiorespiratory efficiency, weight loss, and even speed.

If you find that running feels difficult or uncomfortable, take a breath and slow down.  It is far more important that you enjoy your time and stay healthy than getting it over a few minutes faster.  And don’t worry, if you stick with it, your pace will naturally start to improve.

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Dress For Success:  Unlike going to work in some offices, you don’t have to break the bank to dress for success.  When I see someone trying to run in shoes that are not meant for running, it makes me cringe.  Proper footwear is the first step to an enjoyable experience.  Running shoes come in all shapes, sizes, and price points.  Just as you wouldn’t wear baseball cleats to play in a tennis match, you don’t want to wear basketball shoes to go for a run.

While we are at it, ladies you will want to wear a comfortable sports bra.  All of us want to keep our assets tucked and tight when we are out there logging our miles.  If you are chafing and uncomfortable, it won’t be an enjoyable experience.

And gents, I’ve mentioned it before but find some nice fitting running clothes.  Your chafing issues can cause some ugly nipple bleeding, and nobody wants to see that!

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Just slow down and have fun.  Running can be tough at first.  But if you are patient with your body and yourself, it will eventually feel like second nature (or at least much more fun).  Give yourself the grace to go nice and slow and make sure you keep your body relaxed.

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What are your tips for making running easier?

Weekends Are For Running And Chocolate

Happy Monday and Happy May!  Here’s hoping that those April showers are a thing of the past now.  We had some rather rainy and muggy weather here this past week.  However, on Friday everything made a change for the better and we had two lovely days in the 80’s with sunshine too.

I was lucky enough on Friday to snag an hour to get a hilly 7 mile run in during the afternoon.  I was a little nervous about running in the heat, but ended up having a really great sweaty run.

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Saturday we got up as a family and made sure we first enjoyed some NY bagels and cream cheese.  This has become my weekend routine and I am really loving this one.  It’s all for the baby, of course!

Then we headed out as a family and got a great 8 miles in together.  Mary loves going over to Randall’s Island and checking out all of the other runners, dogs, and boats along the way.  The island is always packed on the weekends with soccer, lacrosse, rugby, and cricket games.  There is plenty to keep her occupied over there.  We even spotted a few of our students playing in lacrosse games and had a chance to stop and cheer.

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Post run refreshments.  Someone also enjoys my pregnancy cravings!

Mary and I went down for afternoon naps and Rock left to teach lessons in the park.  He texted me and requested that we meet him at the end of his last lesson because his students had an Easter present for Mary.  He said it was a huge chocolate bunny.

I thought maybe it was one of the big bunnies you see at the drug store, but when we arrived, even I was blown away.  This bunny was almost as big as Mary!  She immediately gave it a hug and proceeded to semi-decapitate the poor guy.  Nothing like leaving a ton of chocolate in front of a pregnant woman to test her self control!

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Our freezer looks like a hare-y crime scene!

The weather was a tad cooler on Sunday but that didn’t stop us from taking a long walk on the East River (after more bagels of course).  We stopped in our old neighborhood to do some shopping at Target and then ended up at the playground.  The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying more delicious food and family playtime in the park.

I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled that it is May.  I love spring and summer and can’t wait to see the warmer temps headed our way.  Beach time and summer runs are the best!

Any weekend highlights for you?

What I Am Loving Right Now

Happy Friday!  For some reason, this week flew by.  We started with fabulous weather, got really chilly in the middle, and are just hanging on for the weekend now.

Today I thought it would be fun to share some of my recent favorites.  Spring is in the air and it has me feeling all sorts of fabulous.

Pinkberry Meyer Lemon

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If you live anywhere near a Pinkberry, run there now and try the new lemon flavor.  I know the frozen yogurt craze has been done and most of it is just okay.  But Pinkberry is the real deal.  They only have a few flavors at a time, with their original tart being the standout, in my opinion.  Real, fresh, tart yogurt without all of the sugary extras, it leaves you feeling far less guilty about this delicious splurge.

Lemon is the perfect spring-like flavor.  I tried it once with fruit on top and fell in love.  In fact, I skipped dinner the next night, ran six miles instead, and ended up at Pinkberry for a delicious serving of……well calcium. Right?!

Knockaround Sunglasses

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I lost my Oakley running sunglasses during our move.  Major bummer.  I know they are around, but I couldn’t find them in time for our trip to Florida.  I figured I would be fine without them, but the first time I tried running on the beach, I knew I had made a big mistake.  The glare off of the sun and sand was not a good combo on my eyes.  All of us runners should practice proper sun care and that includes wearing shades.

Rock loaned me his Knockaround’s and it was love at first run.  Most of these glasses will cost you about $20 and are polarized.  They are light, fit comfortably, and don’t bounce around when you run.  One of my biggest pet peeves with shades is if they fall off when you lean over or place them on top of your head.  These stay put but are light enough that you won’t even notice they are there.  At $20 a pair, you can afford a pair, or maybe even two!

Just Salad

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When the weather gets warm, I crave salad. During pregnancy I try to make sure that I eat a big bowl of veggies at least once each day.  Just Salad is my daily go-to place in NYC.  I love going down the line and picking different combos.  I also really like that they use as many local ingredients as possible from organic kale to fresh made bread, and cheeses.

Decent Fitting (Non-Mom) Maternity Jeans

H&MWhat is it with ugly maternity clothes?  Just because we are pregnant doesn’t mean we need to wear a box or a bag over our growing bellies.  I have been having serious jeans envy as I wander NYC.  Can’t an expecting mom get a decent pair of denim without breaking the bank?

I happened to check out H&M’s maternity section and snagged a great pair of boyfriend jeans for under $40.  And can we talk about how awesome the elastic panels are on maternity jeans?!  I seriously think everyone should be able to enjoy the benefits of a little elastic to hold them in!

Nice People

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It seems these days that everyone is in a rush and looking at their phones or worried about something else.  It can really start to get you down!

The other day I was running a loop of Central Park when a cyclist cut me off, and without looking crossed over into the pedestrian/running lane to stop.  I had to jump over their bike and just barely escaped an accident.  I was really annoyed and almost shouted at the person.  Instead, I hopped over the bike and tried to keep running.

A gentleman run up alongside me to check on me and we ended up having a really great conversation.  I had been struggling the last mile or so and was dreading a big hill that was coming up.  Instead, we chatted all the way up and I almost kept going with him.  To the minimalist runner from San Diego who was in town on business, thanks for reminding me that runners are a really great bunch!

What are your recent favorite things?  Does spring have you craving all sorts of new goodies?

Giving New Shoes A Go- Harmony Road by Reebok

**Please note that I received Harmony Road shoes by Reebok to try and am being compensated for this post.  However, all opinions are always my own.

A few weeks ago, Rock and I were out shopping for running shoes and it turned into a deep discussion about how expensive our taste has become and how frustrating it can be to find the right shoe.  Rock commented that it should’t be this difficult.  It is great that there are so many different models out there for runners, but essentially, a shoe should be a shoe. (Many of you know that I am a certified running coach but I don’t often mention that Rock is also a RRCA certified coach as well.  Together we have coached hundreds of runners.  We have also coached thousands of athletes from hockey, to lacrosse, baseball, football….you name it)

It was interesting that we had this conversation, when a few days later I received an e-mail from Reebok, asking if I would be willing to try out their new running shoe “Harmony Road.”  I was intrigued because it was essentially everything Rock and I had just discussed.

At a price point of $120, this shoe doesn’t break the bank for runners.  With ample midsole cushioning, a lightweight build and heavy shock absorption, this is basically anything a runner could ask for.  While many of us walk into a shoe store and are overwhelmed by the plethora of models to choose from, Reebok keeps it simple.  The Harmony Road is a thoughtfully created shoe that is meant for just about anyone.  It was also the winner of the Runner’s World 2017 best debut shoe.

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I was thrilled to get the chance to try these out, but admittedly, a little nervous as well.  The last time I switched shoes/models was when I unknowingly went from a stability Asics to a neutral of the same brand.  Dumb mistake for a running coach, and I paid the price with a bout of tendinitis that left me unable to walk normally for weeks.  I would be lying if I didn’t say that this caused a bit of hesitation to try something new.  I am a strictly loyal Asics fan (who only wears the stability models these days).

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As soon as I received my shoes, I took off for a loop of Central Park.  This was when I realized I made a few really stupid mistakes.  You should never go out in a brand new pair of shoes and do 7 miles of hills on the first run.  Second, I realized I forgot to put my Super Feet insoles in.  Ever since I experienced debilitating plantar fasciitis years ago, I have needed these to run comfortably.  Recipe for disaster!

Or was it?

Just a half mile into my run, I realized that I completely forgot that not only did I have on new shoes, but also a brand I had never worn on a run before.  It surprised me to notice that even on hills, the arches of my feet were feeling just great without my trusty insoles.  The entire run was a really great surprise.

The biggest test would be how I felt days later.  While a run in new shoes might feel great initially, it is even more telling how your body and feet feel in the days to follow.  When I ended up with tendinitis in the past, it took me forever to realize what had caused this because it takes time for the issues to present themselves.

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I did something I wouldn’t normally recommend, and wore these shoes all over New York City for one full week.  During that time I ran 45 miles and logged approximately 25,000 steps each day.  Not only did I run in these shoes but I also walked everywhere and taught classes in them.  The end result?  My pace was great, my feet felt fantastic, and my body didn’t notice a thing.

The verdict:  Am I a total convert?  Yes and no.  I’m not quite ready to hang up my beloved Asics.  But I am not tossing the Harmony Road’s to the side.  I still love the brand I am loyal to, but I also really like how these new shoes feel.

As a running coach I am a big fan of alternating shoes.  However, I know that isn’t always a feasible option for everyone.  At $120 per pair, these shoes are a bit more affordable than the ones I currently train in.  I am much more likely to purchase a pair of these to alternate with.  The Harmony Roads are also meant to be a long lasting shoe.  I foresee these sticking around in my current rotation for quite a long time.

As a coach I would absolutely recommend that new runners and any runner who is looking for a great enduring shoe with plenty of cushioning give these a try.

Want to give the Harmony Road a try or find out more?  Click here!

Our No Boston Weekend

Happy Boston Marathon Monday!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  We took advantage of the holiday and some fantastic weather and left New York City for one of our favorite places.

Rock had to work on Friday, so we loaded up the car and I did something I have never ventured to do before.  I drove Mary and I out of New York City (my first time driving there) and up to Fishkill about 90 minutes north of the city.  We discovered this area in Dutchess County several years ago and just fell in love.  Anytime we have had a weekend off from work, this is the place we typically like to head for.

As soon as we arrived, Mary and I had a second breakfast at Panera and then hit the rail trail.  While she generally doesn’t sit still very well, she is usually really awesome on a run in the city or anywhere that she can be entertained.  The weather was fantastic (in fact, I over dressed) and the path was busy with families, dogs, and cyclists.  Mary had a blast saying hi to all of the dogs and passersby.

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The Dutchess County Rail Trail is one of my favorites.  Just over an hour outside of NYC, and you are surrounded by beautiful wooded areas, lakes, streams, and bridges carved into the rocks and foothills of the mountains.  Eight miles later I felt refreshed and Mary hopped on her scooter.  This is her new favorite activity.  She loves to wear her “hel-meat” and shout, “I scoot!”

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Later in the day we picked up Rock at the train station in Cold Spring.  This is one of my absolute favorite towns.  If you didn’t know any better you would think you were walking down “Main Street USA.”  Unique shops, antique stores, and eateries line the hilly streets.  Commuters, and tourists piled off of the train.  Local inns and bed and breakfasts were busy this weekend with those looking to relax and others who came specifically to hike the many traills (including the Appalachian Trail) just dow the road.

 

We took a pizza back to the hotel and ate in the lobby.  Mary then proceeded to scoot all around the building, to the amusement of the staff.

Our personal alarm clock was up and ready to go on Saturday at 6:00am.  After a quick breakfast, we hit the trail again and logged another eight miles as a family.

We took a quick drive to Bear Mountain.  Years ago Rock and I ran a North Face Enudrance Challenge there.  We’ve also spent several weekends enjoying Oktoberfests, hiking up to the top of the mountain, and wandering the historic Revolutionary War grounds.  This time we took Mary to see the Merry-Go-Round and the zoo.  It was a perfect family adventure.

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We finished the evening off at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Maya Cafe.  After way too many chips and some delicious street tacos, we left with a special gift.  The owner brought Mary a tiny purse to take home.  We absolutely love that place.  If you are ever in the area, you must go!

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We woke up on Sunday to beautifully warm weather.  Rock hit the rail trail and Mary and I took a nice long walk together.  She also spent some time scooting around and playing on the “choo-choo.”

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I have to give a major thanks to the Residence Inn of Fishkill.  This hotel just opened up three months ago and the place is fantastic.  From the huge gym full of top of the line cardio equipment, to the full breakfast and family board games in the giant lobby, this place really takes care of it’s guests.  We had a lovely one bedroom suite and they kindly gave us a late check out.

We arrived back at our room earlier than expected, so Mary and I went to let the front desk know they could clear our room.  The manager offered for Mary to partake in an Easter Egg hunt.  It was actually her first real egg hunt and I was pleasantly surprised by the kindness of the entire staff!

I would by lying if I said that I wasn’t bummed about not running Boston.  Seeing all of the buzz and excitement on social media this weekend definitely made me realize just how close I got to running this year.  I typically have a race scheduled for this time of year and I just love training for something.  While I am a little sad to not be running today, it was really wonderful to spend a special weekend with my family.  When the time is right, we will go for Boston again.

Happy race day to everyone running Boston.  We will be cheering you on from New York City today!

It Doesn’t Matter How Far. It Doesn’t Matter How Fast.

A friend of mine mentioned the other day that she has a hard time convincing people who run, that they are runners.  As a runner myself, I find it really hard to imagine that someone would want to be in denial that they are so bad ass!  But seriously, this is a topic I have touched upon before and one that tends to pop up frequently.

Merriam Webster defines a runner as a) one who runs and b) one that smuggles or distributes illicit or contraband goods.  

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I can certainly understand why you wouldn’t want to be defined as the latter.  But according to the good old dictionary, the only thing you need to do to be a runner, is simply run.

While we runners are often pretty damn proud to be a part of this little club, there really isn’t much you need to do to make the cut.  There are no rules about how fast you need to go, nor is there anything that dictates how far you must run.

Truth be told, there is a very large portion of runners who specifically follow run/walk plans.  Many of the full and half marathoners I have worked with use run/walk their entire races.

That definition of a runner never mentions a particular pace you must hold.  So please, stop apologizing for your pace.  No more, “I run but I only do a X-minute mile.”  If you run, you are a runner!  If you run and walk, you are still a runner!

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You will not find a definition of running that dictates how far you must go.  Indeed, if you would like to call yourself a marathoner you will need to run 26.2 consecutive miles.  But if you like to throw on your shoes when you get home and run a few blocks around your neighborhood, then you are a runner!

One thing I think you will find as you continue running is that the people who comprise our sport, are pretty spectacular.  We are a nerdy bunch who love to see other dorks join our team.  We know that this isn’t always easy, and we appreciate anyone who is willing to lace up and push through the sweat, snot, and occasional blisters or missing toe nails.

Just like with anything else in life, you will find a snobby runner or two.  There will be the trail runner who turns their nose at those of us who pound the pavement.  You might meet the speedy marathoner who claims anything over 6 hours doesn’t count.  By the way, this article in the NY Times still burns me up; especially the last line.

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As a coach, I have worked with hundreds of runners. Some are speedy and some go at a much slower pace.  Some runners have a shorter training route, while others will see 22 mile training runs.  One thing I know for sure, is that the struggle is real.  The passion is real.  And the running is real.

So please, stop apologizing about your pace.  Don’t shrug off your runs.  Nod, smile, and proudly proclaim that you are a runner!

Tips For First Time Racers

Ah, Spring was in the air this weekend and it felt fantastic.  I don’t know about you, but I woke up with a little it more pep in my step.  When I took Mary for a walk yesterday, I just felt like a different person.

This is the time of year when my training clients start working on building up their race schedules.  And this is also the time of year when I started hearing from runners about writing training schedules for spring, summer, and fall races.

As a running coach, I receive many inquiries about races mixed with a lot of hesitation.  First time racers are often the most excited and reluctant to dive in to their racing debut.  I absolutely understand this.  It can be scary and overwhelming.

In many ways, signing up for a first race reminds of me walking into a new gym for the first time.  We often have many of the same questions.  What will the atmosphere be like?  Will they immediately know that I don’t belong here?  What if I get started and then am totally lost?  What if I collapse and can’t make it through?

These are legit concerns.  However, I can assure you that in almost any race you choose to partake in, you will be one of many first time racers.  99% of races are both welcoming and meant to be for first timers.  Below are some tips to help you with first time racing.

First, decide on a distance:  If you are new to running and racing, I would recommend trying a 5k (3.1 miles).  This is a manageable distance for almost any level of runner.  Most 5k’s even have a walking option and allow ample time for walkers.

Not feeling the 5k?  No problem.  There are plenty of other distances.  Just because you have never run or never raced doesn’t mean you can’t do another distance.  In fact, I have coached dozens of first time runners who jumped right into the marathon distance.  Just be aware that you will need to allow yourself ample time to train.  First time runners and marathoners will want to plan on some extra training time to prepare themselves.

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Do your research and find a race that suits your style:  Just like runners, races come in all shapes and sizes.  There are road races and trail races.  You can find a fun race like a color run or something more intense like a mud run.  Some races are flat while others pride themselves on butt kicking hills.  Courses can be an out and back (meaning you will see the same views twice) or a winding loop.  Races can hold just a few hundred runners while big events like major marathons welcome  tens of thousands of runners.

Take some time and decide what will feel best for you.  Some people like to start with smaller, less overwhelming events.  Others prefer to feel like they are one of many thousand, where they will blend in a bit more.  Perhaps you want to run solo or maybe you want to do a relay.

Websites like Running In The USA  archive races by state, date, and race type.  You are certain to find something to suit your style there.

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Find a plan:  The best way to enjoy race day is to feel prepared.  For almost any race distance, this doesn’t mean you have to give up your entire life for several months.  If your goal is to simply finish, you can find a plan that will accommodate your style.  Take the time to follow a plan and I can assure you that your experience will be far better than had you not prepared.

Get there early:  Arrive early.  Find the porta-potties and use them.  Look for the start and listen for any announcements.  Make sure you look at a race map ahead of time.  I have a great friend who is a fantastic runner and he is notorious for getting off course during races.  Lucky for him, he is super speedy and often still places or wins!

I also recommend finding the appropriate corral for your pace.  One of the best things you can take advantage of for first time racing is the pacers.  Find the runners carrying flags with times listed.  Jump in with your projected finish time and you will have a lot of assistance and likely meet a bunch of new friends.

Don’t try anything new:  If you want to know from experience how I can pick out first time racers, there are a few things I notice.  As a general rule, you should not change anything up on race day.  Wear the same clothes you trained in (shoes, socks, shirt, and shorts/pants).

At Grandma’s Marathon last year they gave out race socks.  I saw several people who wore those socks on race day.  Almost any experienced runner would know that this is a recipe for massive blisters.  Another dangerous thing to do is wear the race shirt you are given with your packet.  Gentleman, I have seen many, many a bloody nipple(s) on those runners who try their shirts out on race day.  The best guarantee that you won’t chafe or bleed is to wear what you know works for you.

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Have fun and know that everyone was a first time runner/racer at some point.  Running is one of the most inclusive activities I have ever experienced.  It is very rare to meet a runner who isn’t thrilled to see someone new join the bunch.  It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are.  We don’t care if you are doing 3 miles or an ultra.  We just love having you join our team!

What is your best advice for first time racing?

Treat Your Body Well, Run Stronger

Life in NYC can be absolutely exhausting.  The first day we arrived here at noon and by the time I went to bed I had accumulated over 27,000 steps.  Between walking the city, getting my daily runs in, and teaching classes, it all adds up very quickly.

Tuesday it rained and I ended up taking two naps and opting out of running altogether.  This is totally unlike me.  I felt guilty.  But my body was exhausted and I needed the rest.  I knew it was worth it on Wednesday when I completed seven strong, hilly miles around Central Park.

As I had heading home after my run, I overheard a mom chatting with her young preteen daughter.  She was explaining that her daughter was exhausted and she should aim to start getting six hours of sleep.  Six hours?!  As an adult that sounds like far too few hours for a functioning day.  Children and young adults need even more rest time!

All of this talk about rest and taking time off seemed like a perfect opportunity to discuss treating our bodies well.  All of us, especially runners and athletes, tend to push our bodies and minds.  As important as it is to get your training runs in, it is just as vital to take recovery seriously.

Sleep:  I might not be a Patriot’s fan, but there is no denying that everything Tom Brady does is clearly working.  Tom is very serious about his sleep time and it clearly shows.  Not only has he stayed healthy and strong for years, but let’s face it, he looks pretty good too.  Sleep is necessary for recovery and keeping our bodies healthy.

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Try aiming for 15-30 more minutes of sleep each night for a week or two and you will notice that you feel a little stronger on your runs.

Take your days off seriously:  Rest days are recovery days.  It is important to push our bodies when we work out.  It is also equally important to take days off to allow our muscles to repair.  When we continually push ourselves too much and for too long, we run the risk of injury.

This doesn’t mean you need to spend the entire day on the couch.  Enjoy some active recovery.  Go for a bike ride with friends or family.  Take a light yoga or stretching class.  Enjoy a walk in your favorite park. All of these will help flush out lactic acid and leave your muscles ready for new adventures.

Skip the pills and eat them instead:  There is a lot of evidence showing that anti-inflammatories can be detrimental to athletes.  These pills can help alleviate aches, but they also mask the pain and allow us to continue pushing through injuries.  They don’t necessarily help heal what might be ailing us.

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Try eating a diet full of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.  Bright red and green fruits and vegetables are powerful healers.  Cherries and tart cherry juice have been proven to help aid in heart health and repairing muscles.

Eating protein with each meal can also help repair tissues.  Don’t eat meat?  No problem!  Add rice and beans, quinoa, or tofu.

Get a massage or give yourself one:  I am the worst culprit of this one.  I wait and wait until my body is screaming before I go to my amazing massage therapist.  He works wonders.  However, if I practiced what I preach, I would spend a solid 5 minutes each day stretching, foam rolling, and taking care of my body.

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It only takes a few minutes, but rolling over some foam or a lacrosse ball can help relax tight muscles and get rid of those pesky knots and kinks.

Give yourself a little extra:  Sometimes you need that rainy Tuesday off.  If your body is telling you to rest, give it that extra time.   Take a look at your plan or chat with your coach about making adjustments.  Some training runs are more important than others.  But nothing is ever really set in stone.  Things can be moved around if you need a little extra time off.

What do you do to help keep your body healthy and rested?

Wind As Your Training Tool

One thing that is never in doubt when we visit Florida, Chicago, or NYC, is the crazy winds.  During Rock’s first visit to Florida, I took him on a run that was so windy, our ears actually ached afterwards.

I will admit that I am not usually a huge fan of the wind.  As a girl with curly hair,  it makes me look like a hot mess.  As a runner, it really kills my pace and sometimes even my enjoyment!

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How I want to think I look.

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How I really look!

 

The key to running in the wind is to learn to make it work for you, or find a way to work around it.

I once read that during any run, you need to know that your pace will slow when you run into the wind.  While your pace will speed up once you have your back to the wind, you will never be able to make up any lost time from when your pace slowed.  Lesson to be learned, is that you just need to be patient and work with what you’ve got.

Here are a few pointers to make running with the wind work for you:

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Use resistance training to work on form.  One thing I noticed on a particularly breezy day was that you really need to focus on the drive of your knees.  Efficient form makes running into the wind a lot less frustrating.  Take the time to use this resistance as a lesson in working on driving your legs forward more efficiently.  Powerful strides using both the knees and glutes will make your running much stronger.

Keep your shoulders and hands relaxed.  A slight lean is fine but never hunch over.  While you want to look ahead, it can be useful on hills and with wind to look forward and down little in front of you to push through.

Choose the least annoying route.  Mentally, it is much easier to running with the wind for the second half of a run.  If you have the chance to alter a route, take a look at the weather before you head out.  Aim to run into the wind for your first half and then head home with the wind at your back.  Knowing that the second half of your run will be easier will make everything a little bit more bearable.

Planning ahead is always helpful.  It can be very frustrating to not realize you are running with the wind, only to turn around and get smacked in the face!

Arrange for a drop off.  I’m not going to lie.  On a particularly windy day, there is no shame in having someone drive you a few miles out and then run the entire route with the wind at your back.

In fact, I had the most wonderful 10 mile run on the beach in Florida with 15-20 mile gusts.  My GPS said that this pregnant runner was knocking out times similar to when I was in marathon shape.  I knew that the wind was giving me a giant cheat, but it was still a nice mental boost.

Turn up the tunes or find another way to ignore its existence.  Sometimes you have no choice but to just deal with the wind.  We can complain all we want, but if you want to get a workout in, you might just have to deal with it.  Turn up the tunes, tuck your chin, and just power through.   You will be so glad you did once it is over!  And you will also likely be so glad it is over too!

How do you like to deal with windy runs?