Category Archives: Run Musings

How to Run with a Hangover

Step 1: Sit on the couch and feel the pain

Step 2: Chug cold water like it might instantly cure you

Step 3: Regret how much you drank the night before

Step 4: Immediately delete step 3 after reading and move directly ahead to step 5

Step 5: Debate if it is a good idea to run in this condition

Step 6: Realize that you’re probably very dehydrated, will get nauseous 5 minutes after you start, crumble, and start directly back at Step 1.

Step 7: Skip the morning run and wait until the afternoon or evening. mm hm.

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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.

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.

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.

When the Goin Gets Tough Remember To Take Care of Yourself

Normally, I love my job. I work with great people, and we make cool things happen. Today, however, was not a good day at work. Just one of those days when too much needs to get done in not enough time, and things get a little hairy. Today was like cousin it.

my day at work, but i'd throw a few curls in

I ended up working until 7pm, and needless to say when I finally shut down my computer I did NOT want to go to the gym and to complete a workout. Had this been any other time in my life when I didn’t have a workout schedule I would’ve been on the train pining for sweatpants and my bed ASAP (and chocolate. definitely chocolate). But you know what? I’ll be damned if a bad day at work will take over my attitude and have me put myself last. I changed my mindset to focus on putting my personal goals first, and taking care of my needs! Sounds so selfish, but I’m really just comparing my wants to my career pressures. So this is okay :).

Today’s workout plan:

I arrived at the gym at 7:15 which unfortunately means I missed the 6:30 ab class I penciled in, but something is better than nothing. I hit the dreadmill treadmill and got in my 2 miles. They started out powerful–“I am strong! Damn the man!”–and ended with staring at the mileage on the clock as it creeped towards 2. Torture. I kept bumping up the speed for 2 minute intervals so I could reach the distance faster and get the hell out of there. Unplanned speed work, sweet. Once I hit the big 2, I slowed down and walked on an incline for 4 minutes. Then I hit the road.

When I got home consumed a large plate of steamed broccoli and red kidney beans + a spicy black bean veggie burger. Glory. glory. We are the champions.

My friends.

I Have A Workout Plan, Stan

Dear Stan,

Two weeks ago I blogged about getting my ass in gear and making a workout plan that will get me back into my A game. Since that time, I never made a plan, just took it day by day like I usually do and hoped for the best. What happened was… nothing much happened. Bullocks.

In general, once I reach the two week mark of not working out, I scare myself daily about ideas of how out of shape I am and how hard it will be to start up again. This mindset is such a downer because clearly you can’t get back into it unless you take a step to get there. After a week full of waking up at 6am and planning to do some exercise and failing almost everyday (snooze button greed), I finally decided to pull it together and make a plan.

So, here’s the plan (stan):

Now let me explain the strategy behind this a little bit. I have three goals:

  1. get my running capacity back up
  2. incorporate toning exercises
  3. lose about 5 pounds in the process

To hit goal #1, I kept the mileage at 2-3 miles throughout the whole month. I also wrote “however I want”, meaning if at the beginning I need to walk or slow down, that’s cool, just reach the mileage. Or if I’m at the gym and choose the elliptical instead (fat chance knowing me) that’s okay as long as I meet the 2 miles. Basically I made this plan to allow myself to ease in and not get scared of how out of shape I am. The spinning classes will give me a change of pace during the week and help get my cardiovascular system rockin. Note: I didn’t schedule any days off because I know they’ll happen on their own.

Spinning is also a key element for goal #3. To be completely honest and bare it all (ah) I am at the highest weight I’ve been. Before you flip out and tell me I’m not overweight–i know this. I don’t think I’m overweight and I think I have a pretty healthy view of my body. But, that being said, I reserve the right to want to be in the best shape I can, and I feel a little more comfortable at about 5 to 6 pounds lower than where I am at the moment. I’m not going to obsess over this at all, but it’d be nice.

Now I’ve never had a problem (per se) getting a run in when I want it, but weight training/toning is a weak spot for me. Enter goal #2. I have the strength of a 10 year old girl and pretty much never do any type of workout besides cardio. I’ve dabbled here and there with DVD’s, gym classes, and yoga, but I never really stick to it. If I did, I’d be pretty kickass at this point. Too bad. So, throughout the workout sched* (pronounced skej), “Level 1 Shred” is a 20 minute total body workout from this Jillian Michaels DVD, and 20 mins of Tae Bo is a quick workout from this Billy Blanks DVD. I also threw in that ab class from the NYSC gym. Let’s see if I get ripped.

This is the first time I’ve made a legit schedule for myself. Today is day one, and I’m actually excited about this whole idea. I have to be my own drill sergeant. Although I’m still taking applications for someone else to kick my ass, so email me if you’re up for it. Or if you want to join me, let me know. 🙂

Love,

Mel

P.S. you’re such a good listener stan.

*Does anyone else make themselves a sched?