Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Walking Plank

Have you ever heard of the walking plank move? I hadn’t until yesterday. It’s basically taking the regular plank, which looks like this:

…And making it 5x harder. The move on it’s own forces you to engage your core. Cool, no big deal, hold it for 30 seconds and try not to give in and let go (challenging enough on it’s own for me).

With the walking plank, you start in the position above, and then push up with one arm onto your palm, then onto the other palm. Once up, you will be in standard push up position. But then you go back down into each forearm one at a time. Then lift back up. WOW. This is a hard move.

My back, shoulders and upper arms are sore. Magic.


It’s so easy to develop a routine and define yourself by it. I wake up, drink a cup of coffee, go for a run, and work at an ad agency five days a week. Therefore I work in advertising, am an avid coffee drinker, and a runner. Or am I a coffee conosiour who runs to burn the caffeine off and works in advertising to pay the bills?

What if we all changed our definitions? What if we questioned the routines that we beileve define us.

Certainly there are more things that define me beyond coffee (I swear), but which of those are constants that I can’t change–and which can be broken? Transformational? I think even the smallest changes can be stimulating.

Now let’s bring all these thoughts back to the ground. Here’s where I’m going with this: While being consumed by thoughts of my knees breaking, I threw around some ideas about what I can do differently. Sure, I am a runner, but what if I am more than that?

What if I focus on strength training instead of running? After such a philosophical intro, one might assume I had a serious announcement, like a career change, or a new life plan. Nah, I’m not quite there yet. I’m excited about this though. I’ve never fully believed in strength training for my own personal growth; never gave it a consistent shot.


Something other than running everyday–wild. I’m actually having a hard time letting go, but what the hell, I’m givin’ it a shot.

New Song

Recorded this morning :). I’m glad I started my day this way.

Black & White

A bunch of songs are now compiled in the “Her Music” section. Rockin. Happy Friday!

Save The Knees

While on my trip in Kansas, I spent a lot of time with my coworkers chit chatting over meals and in between meetings. It came up that I went for a run through the area in the mornings, and out came the camaraderie from past-runners who have since hung up their kicks.

One of the women on my team, let’s call her Sharon, said at breakfast “You must’ve run again, you have that glow on your face; gotta love it.” I did run, and I did love it. However, from there the conversation took a different turn over the hour. Another coworker, let’s call him Joseph, spoke up saying “Oh I used to run and play hockey day in and day out… you know, you’re going to ruin your knees that way.”

highlighting my knee area, for demonstration purposes

What? Ruin my knees? This is a topic I’ve been choosing not to face for a few years now. Two years ago I was diagnosed with “runner’s knee“, which is a common pain runners get when piling on too much mileage too soon. It hits you in the middle of a glorious run and forces you to utter obsceneties and feel inferior and old for a week following.

After learning about how to manage that better (by approaching each running season with a little more caution and planning–what a bummer) I’ve been able to avoid pain for the last few seasons. Beyond the runner’s knee though, my knees now crack when I bend down to grab things, or when I stretch before a run.

I relayed this new development to Joseph, “Your knees are already cracking?” he said, “Oh, that’s bad.” Shit. Is it? Does that really mean something’s going wrong? “At this point, I need two new knees,” he said. “Sometimes it hurts just to touch them, and I can’t kneel down with my son, I have to lay on my side.” Sharon sympathized with him, and said very cheerfully, “Oh, don’t scare her.” Then, turning to me, “You still have another good ten years before that happens to you, enjoy them.”

Another ten years until my knees are ruined? Enjoy them?

What will I do if I can’t run? I’m not a great swimmer, and I don’t think I’m interested in becoming one. Yoga is cool, but it doesn’t give me that kick-ass heart racing workout I crave. Should I banish myself to ellipticals? cough. Speed walking? bullshit.

Perhaps, strength training. Perhaps, less focus on miles and more on my overall physical fitness. Maybe more circuits and sprints, and less pounding the pavement for forty-five minutes at a time.

After all, if I don’t make an effort to save my knees now, I won’t be able to do any of those things “in ten years”. And that’s scary, isn’t it?

She Runs Kansas

I am currently sitting in a hotel room in Kansas City watching the ABC Family Channel from a king size bed. This is interesting for a few reasons:

  1. I’m in Kansas?
  2. I don’t have a TV in my apartment.. ohmygod… tv
  3. Just straight chillin.. in a hotel room.

hotel, motel...

Okay, I’m not really just straight chillin. I’m here on a business trip doing some work in between meetings. I’ve been on a great running kick lately, so while packing for this three day adventure, I threw a pair of sneaks and workout clothes in my suitcase in case the hotel had a gym I could use. Once I got here though, I realized I could just run outside!

Yesterday and today I set my alarm for 5am Kansas time–less crazy than it sounds since my body is on NY time which would be 6am–and set out to run from the hotel. I ran down a street called Nall Avenue, and I’m going to estimate I did a 2.5 mile loop. The avenue is more like a highway to me, as it’s very wide and traffic moves fast, but there were traffic lights which was helpful.

#1 most notable thing from a New Yorker running in Kansas: THE AIR. Holy man, the air. It smells sweet and fills up my lungs like an ocean. It’s times like these that make me wonder what growing up in Staten Island and running there, Brooklyn, and Manhattan have done to my lungs. This is fresh, clean air. Hit me like an acme piano over the head (I could’ve said ‘like a ton of bricks’ right there, but that’s so boring).

Also, for some reason i assumed Kansas would be completely flat, but apparently I’m a naive New Yorker because I hit two hills on these runs. Not monster attack hills, but in comparison to flat Manhattan, my calves and lungs were burning. I also packed old kicks I have because they were a little less bulky than my newer ones, and that was definitely a bad idea. Never run in old, worn out sneakers. You will kill your shins and more.

So, off to find Dorothy and Toto back to my Family Channel tv viewing. Yes, I also like chick flicks and the bravo channel.

I Can’t Do Real Push Ups

Small fact about Mel: I am the weakest female I know.

I’d say I know maybe about 500-600 females. If I were to arm wrestle all of them, I would lose every single time. I would probably injure myself in the process. I might also cry a little on the inside while laughing it off on the outside. How does one wipe away inner tears? It’s very difficult.

I don’t know how I evolved to be such a physical pansy, but somehow it happened. The way I recall it, when I was 12 or 13 I used to be able to do 10 pull ups on a pull up bar no problem. Then what happened? Did my upper body strength melt and drip in a breadcrumb trail behind me Hansel and Gretel style? Did my ass grow faster than my arm muscles? Is my ass that big?

Whenever I think about strength training I usually imagine a nice little bubble in which I start going to the gym and lifting weights three times a week while my body physically changes before my eyes. Yeah, bullshit. While musing about all of the possible ways I fail to maintain my strength, I decided I would just start doing push ups and see what happened.

First discovery: I can’t actually do push ups. I get in position, lower myself down, and sort of struggle for a minute to push back up before my stomach hits the floor completely.

Solution: I started with modified push ups. Or as I call them: girl push ups.

I don't look nearly as serene when I do it.

Every day for the past five days I’ve been doing two sets of ten pushups. The first day I was hurting right away. I’m a little unsure if my form is right (are my hands in the right place relative to my shoulders, etc.), but it’s amazing how much stronger I already feel–they are getting easier!

Soon I will try to do a real push up again and see how I fair. Big things.

The Garbage Truck Run Battle

I woke up exhausted this morning. Last night I went to an impromptu concert with my brother (Circa Survive at Highline Ballroom) and got home past the time I’m usually asleep during the week.

I pulled through with a strong cup of coffee and the Simon and Garfunkel song Cecilia to pump me up–then I was out the door. My initial plan was to run to the track and do some tempo running again to 1) minimize the length of my workout and 2) still kick some ass. That didn’t happen though.

Somewhere around mile 1 I started to feel awesome, and decided to turn my run into a 3 mile loop. SWEET! It’s a Miracle! I thought. Until.. as I stayed on the pavement.. I began to run into garbage trucks.

the enemy

The first one attacked me from behind. It was a cruel game; stopping long enough that I could get ahead, then moving up right next to me again to repeat the cycle. Holy man, what a stench. The smell that radiates from those garbage trucks is just rude. Can a smell be rude? If you’re a runner getting trapped behind it, definitely. Imagine an odor that’s a mix of hot sour milk and rotten meat following you as you gasp for deep breaths. If you just winced, then you get it.

post-run reenactment. accurate expression.

Every other block I turned down there was a garbage truck. Could it have been the same garbage truck looping around? Maybe. Was there a garbage truck brigade out to sabatoge my miracle run? Also, maybe. Is it just garbage day in my neighborhood? No. They were out to get me.