Tag Archives: legs

The Non-Running Runner: Spin Class Kicks My Ass

I used always view spinning as a wimpy class. Why? Because you’re sitting on your butt and just using your legs. This is not running (nothing is as good as running–see where my mind was at?). Well, in a continued effort to find new workouts since it’s too cold for me to run outside comfortably, I gave the class a shot last week.

The spinning class at the NYSC near my office offers a 6:30am class 4 days a week, and my first go was Jan 4th. My first day back at work in a week, I figured I’d kick my ass beforehand to make it a little better ;). Waking up at 5:30 wasn’t as bad as I remembered it being, and I got to the gym with 5 minutes to spare before class.

The instructor asked if anyone was new right before we started and I waved my hand. He came over and adjusted my bike for me.

Two things I learned about proper spinning bike setup:

  • When you push one leg all the way down, your knee should not go over your toes, just like when doing lunges. Your lower leg should be in a straight line.
  • The handlebars should be in-line if not a tiny bit higher than the “saddle” (the seat).

Once set up, the class started. Holy. Man. It was an intense workout. My first mistake was not brining a water bottle because my lips and throat were burning. But besides that, I haven’t worked that hard in a long time. My thighs were definitely fatigued after 15 minutes, and my breathing was very fast. The “jumps” (where you stand up and sit back down repeatedly) were a good challenge, and of course increasing the resistence was like torture. In my head I was thinking “I will kill you! Make it stop!”. But then before I knew it the class came to an end and we were stretching.

Why did spinning kick my ass so much if I’ve been running for 10 years? Because it worked my muscles differently than I ever have. I think if it was between running for 45 minutes or spinning, my body would need more energy to spin since I’ve never built up my muscles that way. Also noteworthy–I didn’t get the mental treadmill ‘going nowhere’ feeling on the bike. Probably because I rarely ride a bike outside, so I didn’t have a different environment that I was wishing for.

Now I currently have a new found love for spinning. I’ve been going three mornings a week, and am going to stick with it until I get bored…. or until spring comes and I can run outside again :).

Holiday Party at Rye House NYC + Hangover Run

Last night was my office holiday party. I work at a small startup ad agency, so we hooked ourselves up modestly with a reserved table at a bar in NYC called Rye House. Most people approach office parties with a plan of poise and pace so as not to become that guy. Well, I think we all had the goal of becoming him as quickly as possible.

Rye house has an awesome cocktail menu that started me off right (or wrong, depending on how you see it). I started with the house punch.

We all started talking, having a good time. After some drinking we went in for food. I find this is always a fatal (excellent) approach: start drinking hard liquor before you eat. Guaranteed sloppy night + hangover.

In keeping with the impending doom that we knew awaited us tomorrow, all the food available was either fried, cheesy, pastry, or meaty. I had a bite of everything below. My coworkers were cheering me on in shock because they think I only eat carrots and coffee. I couldn’t believe I was eating this stuff myself. But dammit, I was drunk and hungry. What do you want?

The tomfoolery went on until around well into the night, and then we all hopped into cabs exclaiming we weren’t showing up at the office until noon the next day. I went home. My stomach went into shock. At 3am I woke up and crawled to the bathroom. Nothing happened.. though I wish it did ’cause I would’ve felt better! I laid in my bed with my hands on stomach until I fell asleep.

Then I did the unthinkable after a night of mayhem. I went running. In 28 degrees. With a hangover. At 8am.

It was brutal. I got a stitch ten minutes into it and had to take walking breaks. I did a small loop of about 2.5 miles, and couldn’t wait to get back to my apartment. I think i do need to invest in warmer running tights by the way if I keep heading out in this weather. When I got in the hot shower, my thighs stayed red and cold the entire time. Like robot legs. Weird.

Four (4) Mile Mornings

Something is happening…  I’m running more than usual and I’m not even thinking about it. I mean, I’m thinking about it.. but rather, not stressing about it.

Why would long, awesome runs make me stress?

I think it’s something like, and this I believe this is the mindset of most runners, if you achieve something once–whether it’s a certain distance, time, type of workout–it becomes the next benchmark to always strive for. For example, if I manage to squeeze in 4.5 miles one morning, then every morning after that I will know that 3 miles is no longer the best I can do… I have done better.

Running is truly a competition against yourself. See what I mean? It’s a morning battle of mel vs. mel everyday. I spite myself and surprise myself. It sounds like a vicious cycle, but it’s not. It’s an ambitious cycle. I like that; it’s now my quote of the day.

This holiday weekend I ran it up big time (for me, not.. for a marathoner in training) and managed a four miler or more everyday. I just stopped thinking so hard about how well I was doing and ran to feel good. That it the best way to do it, my friends. I did write up my Thanksgiving morning run over the Pulaski Bridge in Brooklyn for the WG News if you want to read about it. you do.

Today I ran 3.9 miles here, and I felt very strong the whole way. That’s unusual for me because longer morning runs usually hit my legs hard (aka the jelly legs attack) and I have to take it easy. This morning was a small victory for melkind. Sweet.

Coming Back to Winter Running

After returning from a run-less visit to Ireland, I wrote about having the comeback run butterflies on my first day out. If you follow my blog, you’ll know I face this run often and worry about it like a kid on the first day of school–anxious and wearing my best running clothes for an extra mental perk.

The outcome of the run on Saturday, of course, made me feel great and hopeful. It filled me with dreams of “really getting serious this time” as it always does. Unfortunately, I am once again battling a bout of runner’s knee (read more about what runner’s knee is like here) which has kept my past two runs switching between my usual pace (I’m guessing 9:30 miles?) to walking. Runner’s knee sucks.

But it’s not just the runner’s knee that has me worried this time–it’s that I’m attempting a comeback at the start of winter! AAaahh! Damn you really cold weather and dark mornings!

the non-technical zip attempt

I was talking to a friend last night about how she deals with running in the cold and she implored me (implored–good word!) to get technical gear saying it made all the difference in the world. My only current winter technical pieces are a pair of UnderArmour tights that I scored while working at runworldwide.com back in college, and what I thought was a technical zip-up by Lulumon that I got 60% off; though it turns out yoga gear is far from running gear because it pretty much holds my sweat tight against my skin and stays wet. But it was on sale! Notice a trend? I never want to spend the money on the expensive stuff.

However, I think if I want to have the guts (and glory!) of maintaining my runs in the winter I’ll have to dole out the cash and grab some good gear. Specifically I’m thinking some kind of pullover, a headband for my ears, and a giant panda bear to hug me when I’m shivering. Bear hugs are underrated.

To fight the morning darkness–even though I have given out tips for getting out of bed–I found this little alarm clock that fakes a sunrise before it goes off with gradual light exposure. Genius! Now if someone can send me a winning lottery ticket, I’ll get right on these purchases :).

Winter? I’m still scared of you, but I am attempting to buy courage.

The Runner’s Knee Dilemma

This is how I roll.

I get fiercely into running it like a warrior, and then I disapear. I wake up naturally at 6am and float out the door, and then I can’t find 6am for weeks. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Almond joy just knew the deal.

The past 3 weeks I’ve been out of the game again.. sucks that I’m saying “again”, but would I lie to you? never. The 3.6er on Sunday was a impromptu butt kicking to get back in, and as usual, I was grateful for it.

Sunday night I magically passed out at 8:45pm (grandma mel?) and my eyes opened at 5:55am Monday morning. And there you have it, the cycle repeats. Back into 6am float.

But wait, there’s more.

Another part of the cycle: runner’s knee.

knee and mess

those are my knees, and my mess in the background.

My Monday morning run was a little painful due to the resurfacing of my runner’s knee. Only in the left knee, but it sucks. It typically comes after taking some time off, and then starting up again.

For those of you who don’t know what runner’s knee feels like, allow me to paint the scene.

The Running With Runner’s Knee Scene:

  • La la la.. man, what a nice morning. I’m a freaking rockstar out here. Look at all these people just walking. I am a champion! These strides feel pretty solid. Sweet, maybe I’ll even go a little longer than usual today.
  • Ouch.
  • Was that my knee?
  • Nah, ignore it. This is going to be a great run.
  • Ouch. Slight pinching in the knee, yes.
  • Stop and stretch a little, that’s it. You didn’t stretch good enough! Idiot. This will still be a good run.
  • Ouch. Mofo! It doesn’t make any sense that I’ve ran for 10 years of life, but suddenly 2 miles in I’m in pain! This is rubbish! RUBBISH!
  • Okay, maybe I’ll cut this run a little short.
  • Stop bending left knee as much in stride. Now I look like an idiot, but at least I’m still running! I feel like a bicycle.
  • Slow it down, it hurts more to run fast.
  • If I keep running it feels like something will just rip, and my knee will only be attached to one side of my leg.
  • Walk home
  • Sob in my pillow and eat chocolate for breakfast.
  • Vow to avenge runner’s knee with a furious… rest day.

Today was much more successful: 3.2 miles, sans the knee pain. Also sans rest day. Small miracle.

Side note: If I were to write “sans sans” is that a word combo that can actually never exist? Interesting…


NYC Fall Weekends Mean Good Running

One thing that cannot  be taken for granted in NYC is the weather. Seasons come and go like traffic (quick, erratic, unpredictable) and perfectly sunny + breezy days invite swarms of people out to the streets to soak it up.

Planning ahead to take advantage of the cool weather for some serious running, I was successful in my party/alcohol management this weekend and didn’t get a visit from Hangover Harry once. If he came to your house instead, I’m so sorry I let him loose.

Friday night after work I met my friend Amanda for some Mexican food and drinks at a random restuarant we walked past in Chelsea called Salsa Y Salsa. I sipped on a mojito while she got the sangria happy hour special:

she was successful.

she was successful.

The drinks and food were both weak (mad wack, yo). I would recommend you don’t try this place.

Saturday morning I woke up naturally at 6:30am (victory!) and ran a sweet 4.5 miles here from my place down through South Williamsburg and back. Warning: TMI ahead. I started out feeling like a rocket, but somewhere around mile 3 I really had to go to the bathroom. Every step I took I felt my bladder dying inside. I tried to trick my mind and focus on the scenery, but you just don’t get used to the feeling. Bouncing up and down–bad idea all around. I ran frantically in search of a coffee shop that might let me use their restroom but it wasn’t even 8am yet, so NOTHING was open. I ended up slowing down to a walk for maybe 6 blocks to give my bladder a break from the pressure. Eventually I starting running again (very fast) and jetted straight home. Internal mutiny?

Also- I ran before eating anything and I definitely noticed a drop in energy during the run. If I have time in the future I need to eat breakfast first.

Sunday morning I did have time to eat breakfast first (apple, yogurt + granola) and holy moses it made such a difference. I don’t know where this run came from. It was glory. I haven’t had one of these in a while and it was the final proof I needed that I’m back. My 5 run comeback theory was right on.

The motion in my body felt so natural I wasn’t even thinking about how far or how fast I was going. I just let the run guide itself, and mapped it when I came home. The result was 4 smooth miles here, after which I did a victory dance that included the running man*.

I’d also like to note that my calves were very sore both Saturday and Sunday after my runs. I don’t know if I’ve ever really been sore in that area and I’m not sure why all of a sudden now? My best theory is that I’ve been wearing high heeled boots in the cooler weather + no running for 2 weeks = my calf muscles got tight. I was hobbling around all night last night. I probably looked awesome.

Today I’m taking a rest day because I don’t want to overwhelm myself, and I’ll also give my calf muscles time to heal the ef up (heal the ef up guys!). I’ll leave you with a picture of this morning’s sunrise in Union Square:

7:30am, NYC

7:30am, NYC

Total week 1 miles: 14.7. On to comeback week 2!

* I made a running man instructional video if you’d like to learn. Email me for details.

** No, I didn’t.

6:41am Thought & 9:30am Afterthought


Some blog readers friends left me words of encouragement over the past week, and last night two comments finally hit me (thank you team). Before I went to sleep I reset my alarm for 6:15 instead of the recent 7:15 and decided to get my running back.

I’m sitting here with my gear on, some motivational music in the background, and am so nervous I have to write it down. Ah! Mike 1 is also still asleep.. which means no coffee.. although as I write this I’m remembering I have instant coffee but I think it’s too late (no time to brew!).

The plan is to attempt 2.6 small miles, and I’m prepared to walk when necessary. How much damage can 2 weeks do? I’ll let you know later today how it went. Ohjeez. And yes, those are small miles, not big ones.


My run (here) was a mix of awesome and dammit this morning

lungs: My lungs are definitely not where they were 2 weeks ago.. that was the one thing I felt the most today. It was that feeling you get when you run after getting over a cough.. just kind of like you’re pushing the capacity in there. I’m confident this will go away in no time if I get back into my routine.

legs: There were no jelly legs, but my ‘runner’s knee’ started to kick in during the last half mile. It usually acts up right when I start up running after some off time.. so that would be right about now, wouldn’t it. Okay, makes sense. Thanks for reminding me, Mr. Knee. you’re fired.

mind: I got the chills 3 times while running- in a really good way. The most notable when “Sugar High” came on my ipod (the version from Empire Records with Gina on the mic) and I pretended to be her…

a girl can dream

a girl can dream

Thanks for the motivation friends. It felt good to be out there today.