Category Archives: Morning Runs

People Helping People

There was a summer morning last year that I woke up in a bad mood. A mood that meant it would be “one of those days”. Do I normally remember a bad mood morning a year after I have one? Definitely not. But this one morning ended up kind of cool.

I decided to go for a run, and headed out of my Brooklyn apartment determined to get in at least four miles. I convinced myself that four miles was what I NEEDED to achieve if I was going to turn my day around. It’s funny that I gave myself that ultimatum. It was a really hot morning that day.  Four miles or bust? Why? It was that tendency that people have–when something is going wrong, you look for other things that are going wrong, so you can beat yourself up and complain all day that nothing is going right. Horrible idea, mel.

tragic

So, creating my own unnecessary downward spiral for the day, I set out on the four mile run. I remember the heat was getting to me, and around mile 2 I was huffing, with my head leaning to right in exhaustion. That’s a weird thing I do when I’m running to the point of “oh man, I can’t go any further” (my high school track coach used to yell “left! left! left!” when I ran past her in races to try to correct my head lean; didn’t work.). At this point, I was on Marcy Avenue, running parallel to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The two mile mark meant I was at the midway point to turn around and rack up the 2 miles back for my grand finale of 4. But I was hurting. I was ready to call it quits and walk home. Run fail. Day fail. And my day hadn’t even really started.

With my head cocked to the side, I struggled to continue running down the street, passing by people who were walking to the train, walking to work, walking their dog. I thought to myself, I must look like an idiot. I kept pushing though. Looking ahead of me, there was another person coming up; a kid with a backpack on his way to school. As I approached him to pass, eyes straight (no eye contact when you’re running and hurting!), he stuck his hand out for a high five. And I stuck out mine.

CLAP!

HIGH FIVE!

A huge grin came over my face. Right on, dude! Thank you! I stopped at the corner and looked back, but he didn’t turn around. I’m not sure why I thought he would, this wasn’t a love story scene. But I’ll tell you, that small gesture, that high five, changed the rest of my day. I chilled out. I walked for a little, then finished a slow run home feeling happy. That kid pulled me out of my little run or die microcosm. My day was going to be great.

I love when the smallest things mean something big.

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Simple Morning Motivation

  1. kickass music of choice
  2. coffee
  3. determination

My morning: Percussion Gun by White Rabbits, homemade cup of coffee (still proud of this), and mental fuel to burn off from an intense week. I WILL prevail. Go.

Gym Time Hath Cometh

This morning I did it.

I ran on a treadmill.

For the first time in six months.

But it wasn’t my original plan.

The goal this morning was to get to the gym for a 6:30am spinning class. At 5:45 my alarm went off, and I dutifully got my ass out of bed and jumped into my workout clothes. La ti da, pull my hair back in a ponytail, la ti da, throw today’s clothes in my gym back. As I pick up my bag to leave my apartment, I catch a glimpse of the clock on my microwave, and it’s 6:07. Aah! Two La-ti-da’s and I’m late?! I realized there’s no way I would make it.

I booked it out the door regardless, speedwalked to the train, and arrived only to see the next 6 train wasn’t coming for another six minutes. The time at that point was 6:26. FAIL. What a bummer. Besides the fact that I wasn’t going to the make the class, I was also exhausted from such an early wake-up. I debated “if I go back home now, I can go back to sleep til 8!”. But why waste how far I’ve come (note: I didn’t really come that far)? Why throw away my butt-crack-o-dawn action, when that extra 45 minutes of sleep won’t even really refresh me?

So, I went to the gym anyway. I told myself that something is always better than nothing, and accepted the fact that this meant I would be on… cough… coughcoughcough… the treadmill. DREADMILL.

Boldly going nowhere. Good shirt.

I got to the gym, threw my bag in a locker, and headed downstairs to the cardio room. As I reached the bottom step, I saw the sad souls running in place on their machines. Watching TV to make the time pass. I hesitated as I started to walk toward them. Kind of like when you force yourself to take Robitussin when you’re sick, but you have an instant gag reflex even before you put the spoon in your mouth.

Working past the gag, I chose a machine and got on it. Besides being repulsed, I was scared, too. I haven’t run in a month, and I believed all my ability was probably gone. So I started walking. I walked for maybe 3 minutes, and then started jogging at 5.0. Honestly, it didn’t feel so bad. I decided on an old trick I used to do to make treadmill workouts feel like they go fast, and keep things challenging: intervals. Any kind of intervals. 2 minutes on, 1 minute off. For example: 2 minutes at a faster pace, 1 minute at regular pace. 2 minutes at an incline of 4, 1 minute flat. And so on. And so forthe. And so it is written. So it was done.

Victory.

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.

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.

Outrage.

Speed Work For Any Runner

I went to bed last night confident that I would wake up and get in a kick-ass run. I was right. I’ve never pinned down what the ingredients are for an awesome morning vs. a tired one during the week, but I got it right today. When thinking about the variables, the most notable change in my routine yesterday was a second cup of coffee at 4pm, which I rarely do anymore I’m now down to 3/4 cup in the morning, and a large tea when I get to work. HUGE progress for this coffee addict. But I don’t know how more coffee could help me the next day.. isn’t that counter-intuitive?

I completed 3.7 miles, and felt really good. Great, actually.

shyeah

On the way back I did 4 pick-ups (running at a fast pace for 2 blocks or so) to get in a little speed work. You might ask yourself why I’m “getting in speed work” when I’m not training for a race. It’s because after 10 years of running and reading about running, I know that distance stamina and  quick-speed sessions work your muscles in different ways, a collaboration that makes you even stronger.

Here’s a quote about speed work from Runner’s World:

“Speedwork doesn’t just make you run faster. It makes you fitter, increases the range of movement in your joints, makes you more comfortable at all speeds, and it will ultimately help you to run harder for longer.”

My pick-ups–also known as a tempo run–are definitely not traditional training speed work by any means, but it’s somethin'(always better than nothin’) and I like it. If you’re really looking to get into this kind of training, you can read the full article at Runner’s World for some workout tips.

Finding My Inner Morning

It’s been three solid weeks that I’ve been out of my standard morning routine, and I’m definitely feelin’ it. From the week of being down and out from my wisdom teeth, to a week of crazy work, to the roadtrip.. my 6:30am wake-up has been thrown out the window in favor of more sleep.

Now that everything is settling back down starting this week, I’ve been pushing it to wake up at 6:15 and re-train my internal clock to love it. Yes, I believe it’s possible to wake up at 6:30 naturally and feel good, because I’ve been there before. Unfortunately though, I’m not there right now.

This morning’s wake up  a struggle despite a solid 7 hours of sleep. I crawled out of bed and made some coffee to wake me up. I drank said coffee out of my new hippie mug that I just got from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

caffeinate me.

It took me 45 minutes to get out of my apartment, but I did it. And I ended up running a nice 2.7 mile loop here:

On the second half of my loop, I decided to do pick ups to kick my butt a little harder. I ran at a faster pace for 2 blocks, and then ran at my regular pace for one. It was a nice change, and I could feel the burn. It was also hot and humid out and my clothes were soaking wet. It’s really annoying to run in a wet shirt. Anyone agree?

Continuing with my butt kicking, I got back to my place and did 2 sets of push ups (the girly kind), 2 sets of 30 bicycle crunches, and a one minute plank. The plank hurt, but you can instantly feel your core muscles pulling inward and tightening. I love that.

I took a cold shower after all that, and had an unconventional breakfast of leftover grilled asparagus (huh?) and greek yogurt with honey and ground flax seed.

don't hate

I’m feeling good. Cool.