Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Rabbits

Friends, it is a beautiful day here in New York City. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, AND it’s Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays today on the blog! Don’t be fooled by the theme of today’s BTAT, it is not about fury little outdoor creatures who eat carrots.

Nor is it about a vampire bunny who sucks the color out of vegetables but isn't this a classic book?!

The kind of Rabbits to which I am referring are the types found in road races and track meets and life. Rabbits, or Pace Setters as they are more officially called, are hired by teams, individuals and sometimes the race directors themselves to start a race with the elite runners but drop out about halfway through. The idea is that they set and maintain an extremely even pace for the elites to follow, fall into, and perhaps even to encourage a record-setting pace.

Joseph Kariuki was a staple at the NYC marathon as the pacer for the elite men's pack. (Image courtesy of The New York Times)

Some runners treat everyone who is ahead of them on the road as a Rabbit whom they should try and follow, keep up with, or even pass. I have found that there are Rabbits in life, too.

A “life” Rabbit is someone who doing/being what I want for myself. They are walking the walk, talking the talk, taking names and kicking butts.

They are the athletes whose commitment and determination we all wish we had. They are the philanthropists who set aside countless hours and dollars to better the lives of those less fortunate. They are the students who sacrifice way more than I do to get a good grade in a hard class. They are the friends and partners who keep their cool in even the most stressful of situations. They are the moms and dads who have found the balance between parenthood and still being individuals, too.

How DO you do it???

Paula chases and BEATS the male runners...almost cost her a world record but HISTORY STANDS. Rock on, Paula. (Image courtesy of iaaf.org)

These, and so many more, are my Rabbits. They are out in front of me, setting the pace for life. I am trying to keep up, to train harder and adjust my racing strategy and tactics to better match their momentum, their movements. One day, I hope to run alongside them as equals and to maybe even inspire someone else along the way.

For now, I will continue to huff and puff in their steps and learn from them during the races. Maybe I’ll catch them, maybe I won’t. But I’m going to keep on trying. I hope you Rabbits in my life don’t mind a noisy grasshopper tagging along behind you. I just can’t pass up the opportunity to run with you awesome people.

I will follow that cute Rabbit anywhere, but especially onto the field at Yankee Stadium!

Rabbits remind me to work harder, strive for more. They keep things fresh and challenging. Most of all, Rabbits remind me that I can do better and that I should do better. And that is always a good thing in my book.

Who are the Rabbits in your life? Who sets the pace and the tempo for who you want to be? Are you a Rabbit? Tell me all about it.

Now go out and run!

Ode To My Headphones

As you well know, I have been logging my mileage exclusively on the treadmill (not so much a choice as a necessity, don’t hate). I miss running outside for so many reasons, not the least of which is because I don’t require headphones when I’m pounding through Central Park or the East River or along the Hudson. It’s so lovely to just be outside and take in my surroundings on a run.

Treadmill running is an entirely different beast. I NEED music. I will go CRAZY without it. Easy solution, my trusty little iPod.

Very necessary.

Major problem: I am a SWEATY BEAST on the treadmills. Like, sweat goes everywhere-my treadmill, my neighbors’ treadmills. Seriously, I warn people getting on next to me that they might become victims of flying sweat, should they choose to run next to me. Consider yourself warned!

11 miles later. Sweaty. Girl.

Problem? Earphones fall out when I start to sweat. I started with the ones that come with the iPod. Yeah, total fail and everyone in the world can hear what I’m listening to as well. I’m kind of a private person at the gym. Second option? Earbuds. They worked until the sweat started dripping. Then, total fail. Really, really annoying to be all like, “Wow! They’re working!” until mile 6 and then it’s, “Stupid *%$#-ing headphones, STAY IN MY EARS!”

Solution? My Bose heaphones.

They may look a little funny, but they are tiny miracles for your ears.

I borrowed a pair from my friend for the Jersey Marathon and will be forever grateful that I did. Not only did I desperately need my music during that marathon, but it was indeed a warm day and no other headphones would have made it through those 26.2 miles with me. They didn’t slip. They didn’t hurt. They didn’t get all hot and burn the inside of my little ears. I fell in love right then and there.

I might be smiling because my headphones are awesome. Or because it's the last mile of a marathon. You know, either one.

They also helped keep me motivated during the Philly Marathon.

All geared up and ready for Philly!

No, Bose didn’t pay me to write this. No one pays me to write (but they should…) about awesome gear. I am just one runner in search of my perfect tools and tricks to get through 26.2 and every other distance feeling great. Bad headphones can really get my blood boiling during a run. No more! Yes, they’re pricey. But, as with anything you use often that brings you comfort and joy, it’s totally worth the investment.

Now, if only someone could make a water bottle that is weightless, even when full of water. Get on that, scientists!

Now go out and run!

Friday Fitness News: Girl Scout Cookies

It is a cruel, cruel world when Girl Scout cookies are delivered the day before Lent starts.

*sigh*

Thankfully, Thin Mints are better frozen.

Onward, friends. Happy Friday! I am doing my taxes this weekend, what about you? I’d reeeeeally rather be planning a lazy Saturday in my pajamas (read: my usual) instead, but Uncle Sam would probably have something to say about skipping taxes this year.

‘Til the time when I can have my personal assistant do all my dirty work, here is what you might have missed in the Fitness world this week:

 

Anybody racing this weekend? Running a crazy long run? I’ll probably knock out 10 or so again on Sunday and, yes, I’ll be doing it on the treadmill. Don’t judge. Outdoors isn’t an option just yet. I’m not loving the endless miles on the ‘mill, but it has given me an opening for a cool opportunity next week. Stay tuned for that!

Now go out and run!

The Case For Weights

Guys, I fell into an L-hole yesterday (“L” for Laundry!) and completely spaced blogging. What is wrong with me? Anyway, bygones. I’m back!

It’s no secret that I love a good lift. When I was 13, Obi-wan introduced me to my first Fitness Icon, Kiana Tom.

Thanks for all the advice, Kiana!

Kiana had a show on FitTV and I learned form and basic exercise technique from her and from Obi-wan himself. Well, them and Ah-nald. I love this book.

"We are here to pump YOU up!"

At that point in my athletic career I was running cross-country, playing basketball, cheerleading, running track and playing softball in the Summers. I was all over the place with my training, which was probably the primary reason that I didn’t suffer from overuse injuries, ummm, EVER.

I learned to get my lift on in this very gym. Way to go, Daddy-o!

When I got to college, I realized that I was unique in my knowledge of proper exercise techniques. I continued to cross-train throughout my marathon career and have only had to take off one month to strengthen a bum glute medius. I ran my best marathon that Fall.

Point is, I credit strength training for keeping me healthy and strong.

Don't be fooled by the skirt and the smile. I'm a BEAST in the weight room!

Physiologically, muscles need to be strengthened before they can be beat up by the mileage required to train for a marathon. Muscles build faster than tendons and ligaments because they have a better blood supply. That’s why long-term, sustained weight-training is the way to go so that the tendons and ligaments have a chance to catch up and get stronger, too.

Excuse me while I grab my 85 pound dumbbells and do some bicep curls (juuuuust kidding, those are Obi-wans' bad boys)

Awesome benefits of weight training:

  1. Builds muscle which can increase the body’s metabolic rate and burn more calories in everyday life.
  2. Stronger body = fewer overuse injuries.
  3. Works the anaerobic capacity of our cardiovascular system to increase the body’s VO2 max )which makes distance running easier).
  4. Helps to increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
  5. Cut arms. Perky butt. Hot legs. Seriously, you need more convincing?

So, grab a friend and head to the weight room or a strength-training class. Your body will thank you.

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Alternatives

Welcome back from the long weekend, everyone! What did you do with your 3 days off? Sleep in? Throw in an extra long run? Stay in your PJs all day long? Ahhhhhh, I absolutely looooooove a 3 day weekend!

(Oooooo, sorry to those of you who didn’t have the extra day off this weekend)

Anywhoodle, I do not really consider myself an optimist. I’m more of a realist. But lately, I’ve been seeing Alternatives everywhere in my life, which leads me to believe that I’m leaning toward conversion to optimism. Uh-oh.

  • I can’t run outside these days. Too many horribly embarrassing variables. Alternative? The gyms at my university. On the treadmills. Go ahead and judge me if you want, tell me I’m not a “real” runner anymore. Whatever. I’m still running.
  • Yesterday I wanted to run 10 miles on the treadmill at school. They were packed! I guess hooray for the active NYU community on a day off from school but BOOOOOO for me. Alternative? I called JB and we took a long walk on a nice day.
  • I get up at 4:30 for work almost every day. It’s not ideal but someone’s gotta keep the world working out! It means I’m super-pooped at about 8pm and dead to the world by 9pm. Bummer? Nah. Alternative? I work out early and *BONUS * it always gets done.

See, what’d I tell you? Lemonade out of lemons. Who am I? Pollyanna! Nellie Forbush!

Alternatives!

I do not always feel like this, believe you me. Some days I just wanna throw in the towel, go home, and eat the 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies that currently reside in my freezer (Girl Scout cookies delivered the day before Lent begins? It’s a cruel, cruel world). Sometimes I do. Most of the time I do not.

There’s too much good in the world to obsess over every single thing that’s going “wrong” in my life. Hell, if I got bummed out by every bit of bad news that came my way, I’d be suicidal. Or dead. Seriously, though, there are good things out there. You just gotta have the right attitude and see the Alternative in the situation.

“I’m stuck like a dope
With a thing called hope,
And I can’t get it out of my heart!
Not this heart…”

Happy BTAT, friends.

Now go out and run!