Better Than The Alternative Tuesdays (On A Wednesday…oops): Fall

I thought yesterday was Wednesday. All day. I didn’t miss class or work or anything, but having Chemistry class on Mondays and Wednesdays all year last year really screwed me up for this Tuesday/Thursday Physics schedule. I should have known. I saw my Tuesday clients but, alas, I asked each and every one of them, “Is today Wednesday?” and promptly blogged as if it were. Thus, Better Than The Alternative Tuesdays is on Wednesday this week. *sigh*

Upward and onward.

Marine Corps Marathon finish line is Arlington Cemetery. A beautiful, peaceful place to be in October.

I love Fall. It’s almost Fall here in the city. Apparently, after it rains tomorrow, it will be Fall. Well, except for those two weeks in October when it’s 85° again and people start asking each other, “Can we wear flip-flops in October?!” My response is yes to wearing sandals all year-round if the weather calls for it. I hate when my feet get hot.

I digress.

Fall means my favorite things: boots, light jackets/blazers, marathon season, less sweating while <insert any activity here>, pie, perfect running days, foliage, cozy nights, warm food, open apartment windows (finally!), sweaters, bzzzzzzzzz hot cocoa, new school classes, holiday season, my husband in cute sweaters, baseball playoffs, the GOOD movies finally come out, soup, new marathon shoes, some of my favorite people have birthdays, crisp mornings, long-sleeved running tops, turkey dinner, less bronzer, more snuggling, and it’s almost Christmastime!

Go Yankees!!!

These are just a few of the things I LOVE about Fall. I suppose I could have just said: food, clothes, marathons and the weather. But that’s boring. I like my little list 🙂

I like the other seasons just fine but as a true midwestern gal-turned New Yorker, I love Fall most of all. I just do. Fall and early Spring represent such an amazing change in the seasons and a fresh start at life for me. I suppose that’s why I am in awe when I run through Central Park at those times of year. I’m reminded of the beauty and simplicity in the world and I actually stop to take it in. Thanks for the reminder, Mother Nature.

Central Park in the Springtime is bursting with beauty!

And that’s just another reason why it’s better to be here than there. Fall.

Now go out and run, friends!

What do you LOVE about Fall?

Want To Run Faster?

I wondered for a long time how to get faster. In my cross country days, sometimes it would just happen. I wouldn’t have to think about it because I would just show up to practice every day, run at the meets and suddenly get faster towards the end of the season. As I went onto my non-competitive running career, I didn’t find it to be so easy. That is, until I started studying. Amazing what one can learn from books!

You know what I found out? If I want to run faster, I have to train faster. Rocket science, right? Well, it was to me at the time. When I looked back at my best (and most favorite) cross country season at St. Francis with Coach Moustache, I realized that he created our workouts based on this very principle. Speed days were hard. I mean HARD. We pushed each other and ourselves to beat that dreaded stopwatch as he shouted out our times for 400, 800 and 1200 meter sprints. Guess what happened? By season’s end I was running my fastest times and moved up to #4 on the team (I started at #7 of 7 girls…not so great).

The more I studied, the more I learned that simply running more was not enough to make me faster. Yes, it helped me get in a little bit better shape, but in order to get faster, I’d have to train harder. So, I made weekly speed workouts and hill repeats part of my schedule. I ran them fast, hard and felt myself on the brink of vomiting more often than I care to share with you, but it DID make me faster. A LOT faster. Like, a minute faster. In the running world, that’s equivalent to going from bench pressing 45 pounds to throwing up 500 pounds without breaking a sweat. That’s how it feels to me, anyway.

The moral of the story goes like this: if you want to get faster in races, you have to train faster. Every run should not be done at the same pace every single time. Speed workout should be done at your speediest. Tackling hill repeats should be done with maximum effort every single time. Short races are an awesome opportunity to see how fast you can go after a few weeks of speed drills. You must teach your body to process oxygen and other nutrients faster and get it to your muscles and lungs so you can be a speed demon. Remember, if you’re not working at a 10 (or as Monty Python says, 11), you’ll never get over that hump to find out how fast you can reeeeeally go.

Work hard and you will see results. Loaf around on your runs and you’ll stay where you are. It’s your choice. But just for kicks, what would happen if you gave speed a shot?

Now go out and run!

Battle Of Brooklyn Recap

JB and I just sat down for lunch (yes, lunch at 11am) after finishing the Battle of Brooklyn this morning and all I have to say is: Holy sweaty runner, Batman! I am not unaccustomed to getting my sweat on during a run, especially a 10-miler in August, but Oh. My. God. I think I left puddles along the course in Prospect Park. Yikes.

We almost didn’t make it to Brooklyn because our cab driver felt compelled to drive at the speed of sound down the FDR. I was convinced it was the end of us. No, we did not take the train to Brooklyn at 6am. We are that couple. My husband more so than me, but I really don’t put up much of a fight when it means I can get up at 6:30 (a much more reasonable hour) and do my morning routine without being stressed out about train times. Stress + UC = emergency bathroom breaks mid-race. So, yeah. We took a cab. And almost died.

Well, at least there wasn't a chance in hell we'd be late for the start!

Upon arrival, I thanked all of my guardian angels and headed to the POJ to do my thang. Ummmm….memo to Jackrabbit: When there are hundreds of people coming to your race, 7 POJ’s is insufficient. You read that right: 7. For a race. I was horrified and immediately staked a place in line, hoping I’d get to go before the start, suddenly thankful for my speed demon of a taxi driver.

Wow. Just...wow. Clearly, they did not know I was coming to this race.

One woman complained to some official-looking person. His response, "At 8:05, the lines will be gone!" PS. The race started at 8:00. Nice.

Thankfully, I made it in and out and to the start line with JB in plenty of time. A very unceremonious (not in a bad way) “GO!” started the 10 mile race. We took off downhill, steering clear of the brilliant runners who thought their 10 minute per mile pace warranted a front-line start. I will never understand that. Anyway, the park wasn’t too crowded and the race wasn’t either so it was a great run to pace it out and relax. 1st mile downhill = 7:15 first mile. Ooops. I did not keep that up. JB hung back and we both just tried to get a handle on our pace.

I really enjoyed running through Prospect Park. It’s not nearly as crowded as Central Park, the loop is shorter and friends who live in Park Slope come out to cheer! Nothing’s better than having friends cheer for you as you muddle through a soggy 10 miles. I must’ve looked super sexy.

JB passed me around mile 8, which I love. He’s 6’2” and a former Marine, so I fully expect he will be the fast one in the family. He finished about 15 seconds ahead of me and cheered for me at the finish line. Good man. Hard to miss the sound of someone shouting, “Go Abigail!” (he doesn’t call me Abby–ever). I love that he’s coming out of his cheerleader shell! Go honeybun!

So, done and done. We both ran just under 8 minute miles. Not exactly my goal, but close to it and the weather being what it was, I’m happy. We ran into Ali who was sporting her “I ♥ SWEAT” shirt, a perfect theme for the race.

Clearly, I support this statement because, well, duh...

We also saw our friend from lululemon Run Club, Secret Agent Man who fully kicked our butts and later confessed he was struggling out there as well. No one was immune to the humidity beast today! We’re all just thrilled we finished.

Success!

I am home, showered, in my robe and about to devour my tacos. Do not get in between me and my food after a race. I will hurt you. Battle of Brooklyn winner? Me!

What did you do this weekend? Did you rock a run or take a break? Tell me and then…

Go out and run!

 

5 Tips For Choosing The Right Trainer

(So, I started this post last night after hosting a baby shower in Brooklyn and I totally fell asleep. Better late than never, I suppose!)

Ladies and gentlemen, there are A LOT of bad trainers out there. They’re certified (not necessarily by reputable agencies, but they are technically “certified” because there is no national oversight committee for personal trainers…yet), employed by major gyms, some are even paid quite a bit of money to do what they do. This does not make them a good trainer. Some of the best, smartest, most talented trainers I know are so low key, you would need a reference from another trainer just to find them. So, how do you find the right trainer for you? The same way you go about finding a pair of jeans. You shop.

Very few people I know buy their jeans without trying them on. Even fewer buy the first pair they try on. It’s just not the way you go about finding your perfect pair. You first decide what you want to look like in your new jeans. Are you going for a perkier behind? What about (my personal quest) longer-looking legs? Guys-fitted but not skinny jeans? Then you browse. Check out what’s available. You try some on and then price them out. It’s a process. You should devote the same amount of effort to hiring a trainer.

1. Decide what your goals are. A marathon? Strength? Flexibility? Speed? Longer legs, perkier behind…etc. This will help you narrow down who will be a good fit for you. Odds are if you’re looking to run a marathon, you probably don’t want to train with someone whose idea of running is down the stairs to catch the subway. Experience is gold in the physical world. And while the body does what it does and there’s pretty much no deviation from classic human anatomy and physiology, there is something to be said for taking advice from someone who’s been there.

2. Shop around. One of my clients told me she “stalked” me before she asked for a trial workout. I love that! Check out what’s available and get recommendations from people whom you trust. Chances are, your friends and coworkers will provide the most honest and trusted reviews. Yelp and Google can be helpful for reviews on local trainers, but nothing beats word of mouth. Also, if you’re coming off of an injury, as your PT if they have a recommendation. I have reciprocal relationships with several PTs in the city because they trust me with recovering athletes and I trust them to fix my clients (and me, sometimes!).

3. Try some on for size. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few, make an appointment with each of them to experience what they have to offer. By the way, most trainers (and gyms, for that matter) offer complimentary first workouts, which are a great way to decide whether or not a trainer is a good fit for you.

4. Price them out. The going rate in the city is about $85-$125/hour, but that’s Manhattan. Most trainers offer discounted packages if you buy 5, 10, 25 sessions at a time. If it’s too much for your bank account, ask about partner sessions and go in on it with a friend. Or, ask about half-hour sessions instead of the full hour. Show up warmed up and stay to stretch afterwards in order to maximize those 30 minutes.

5. Decide who “feels” best. You have to be comfortable with your trainer. You will be giving up control of your body for an hour to this person and, if you don’t trust them, it could be disastrous. Also, if you get the feeling that they don’t know what they’re doing or talking about, you’re probably right. Trust your first impression and go with your gut.

Red flags that tell you they aren’t the trainer for you:

-They talk about themselves the whole time.

They work out while they’re training you.

-They talk on the phone during your workout (I did this once, but in my defense, my boyfriend–now husband, was in Iraq with the USMC at the time and I never knew when he would be able to call. When this was happening, I warned my clients in advance and gave them the option to work out at a different time or with a different trainer)

-They cut your time short.

-They train someone else while they’re training you.

-They are unprofessional (in any way, shape or form: appearance, vocabulary, manners, etc.)

-They aren’t certified.

-They make the time about them and not about you. You should be their focus the entire time, not the chick/dude across the room or their friends on the treadmills.

-They don’t listen to what you want. You want to work on your legs and they have you doing chest press for 20 minutes? That’s a problem.

Contrary to what you might have seen on TV, vomiting mid-workout is not normal, nor is it indicative of a good workout. If you are sore for more than 4 days post-workout, this is also NOT a sign of good workout. Rather, these both tell me that the trainer you worked with pushed you too hard. Delayed onset muscle soreness is 48 hours, not a week. Feeling sore after more than 4 days means that your muscle tissue is damaged, which is bad. Passing out is also not a good thing. The trainer should be able to accurately assess your fitness level before you begin your workout by having a conversation prior to the start. They should also be able to tailor the exercises through the workout if it seems you are struggling. If not, they aren’t paying attention and do you want a trainer who doesn’t pay attention to you? I think not.

I’m pretty picky about what jeans I buy. They’ve got to fit juuuuust right. You’re trusting your trainer with your body. Take the time to find the right fit for you.

Now go out and run!

 

 

I ♥ Summer Streets

Yay for Summer Streets! My Mayor, Mikey Bloomberg (aka Bloomie) started this fun August activity three years ago and I have been a loyal supporter ever since I ran out my door one August morning to find Park Avenue shut down all morning long. It’s so great for us runners and bikers and the like because as training season goes into full swing, we yearn for a new route to run. Don’t get me wrong, the park is beautiful and amazing and we’re lucky to have it, but those hills get OLD after a while. So, this morning I very happily took full advantage of the stretch from 72nd Street to the Brooklyn Bridge for my 12 mile run this morning.

It was nice and cool this morning (only 79°!) but WOW was it humid! I was so happy about the temperature, I didn’t notice the humidity right away…until my shorts were soaked and I thought it was raining because I felt droplets on my legs. Gross. Still a fun run, though!

I ran South to the Brooklyn Bridge first, passing several friends along the way. I always shout out when I see someone, so if you were one of those embarrassed lucky people who received one of my famously huge “Hey there, so-and-so” bellows accompanied by my flailing arms waving hello, you’re welcome. It wasn’t crazy crowded as I cruised south, but I knew if I didn’t want to have to throw elbows, I’d have to hit the Bridge early. I love running over the Brooklyn Bridge.

This view never gets old

Onward and upward to the Upper East Side! Some fun things I saw along the way were: sandpits for children, though there were an awful lot of dogs in them as well (sand + this sweaty, sweaty runner = my nightmare), Crunch Fitness Bootcamp class (which I considered stopping for, but figured I had the workout thing covered today), free bike rentals, a Whole Foods picnic area (free food? I’ll have to find out next week) and my favorite thing ever: water fountains!

NYC has some of the best drinking water in the country. How do you like them apples?

I love running up and down Park Avenue for lots of reasons, but number one is because I get to run “through” Grand Central Station. It’s so cool.

Sweet historical monument, folks. Can you believe they almost tore this down? Shame on them!

The very cool coming-out-of-the-tunnel view heading north on Park Avenue

Summer Streets is just the thing to keep us feeling fresh and make our August long runs fun and adventurous!

I returned home rejuvenated and disgusting to find my sock was bloody. Oh no! After 9 years of marathon running, had I finally succumbed to the dreaded toe nail loss during a long run? Say it ‘ain’t so! Summer Streets loves me and would never do that to me, right?

Noooooooooo! Where is the source of this bleeding?!!! (and OHMYGOD I need a pedicure!)

Dr. JB, USMC to the rescue with alcohol to clean the wound and diagnose the injury! The patient looks on nervously:

Oh, just a cut. Phew!

Weird place to get a cut, but I still have all my (embarrassingly unpolished) toenails! I guess that pedicure will have to wait til later in the week.

All in all, a gorgeous 12 miler on my favorite super-long avenue in the city.

What is your favorite way to break up the monotany of running the same routes over and over again? Does your town have a Summer Streets-esque activity?

Tell me quick and then go out and run!!!