What It’s Like

Thank you, thank you, thank you all who have sent well-wishes to me as I continue to recover from surgery. I kinda think I’m out of the recovery stage and into the comeback stage at this point. The answer to the “How are you feeling?” question is always the same, “Good!”

Two thumbs up, ya’ll! Totally ready to run.

Really. I’m good. I’m back. I’m just slow.

Yesterday I ran to Central Park with my lululemon Run Club buddies to coach during what was probably the one of the hottest nights in New York City in a long time. Well, since last summer.

It was brutal. Not for me, for them.

I am the CHAMPION!!!! The champion with flabby arms. Ugh.

Running is different for me now. I don’t know, nor do I care, what my pace is. I wear capris even though it’s 90°. I have to focus so much more on what I’m feeling than ever before.

Things move and flex differently. My new gear gets a little funky every now and then and I want to stop and see if I can adjust it. I know full well I cannot, there’s nothing to do, and if it’s really that big of a nuisance I should just stop.

It has not yet come to that.

But everything feels different.

I breathe heavier. I have more physical distractions. One mile seems like forever. My legs can’t push as hard or as fast. My abdominals are trying their best to do what they know they should, despite the new restrictions. My back suddenly has a lot of work to do. My arms are more tired.

But in my head, I am happy as a clam. Because, although everything feels different and is harder and wears me down faster and doesn’t do exactly what it used to, I can still run. And I will get better, faster, stronger. Today’s run is just today. I will go farther tomorrow or next week. I will be faster next month. Those feelings will change and my body will adapt. That’s just what the body does, it adapts. Slowly, painfully adapts.

And slowly, hopefully not too painfully, I will be back into running shape.

Running shape…like Kara Goucher. Ok, maybe not exactly like Kara, but maybe my best version. Who am I kidding? I’m just hoping to get some definition back to my body AT ALL.

That’s what it’s like for me these days. What about you? How does it feel for you to run today? I imagine the general consensus will be “HOT” but what else do you feel? Tell me all about it.

Now go out and run!

Combo

Remember when I told you I would crawl under a rock sometime in the next two months? Yep. It happened yesterday. Nearly 4 hours of intense lecture after which I went home to re-write notes (which took all afternoon) and then nearly fell asleep in my sushi.

Welcome to summer school!

No Hamptons weekends for me. Give my regards to the ocean.

So, today is a Combo post. Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays + Workout Wednesdays.

Readysetgo!

This week’s BTAT is and Ode to Father Time. I have a very vivid memory from five weeks ago in the hospital when Time was all I was thinking about. Remember how my pain treatment failed me in the immediate hours post-surgery? It was awful. Everything hurt, I was nearly in tears and screaming for someone to put me out of my misery.

When the nurse fixed it and the doctor gave me a booster, I asked how long it would take to kick in. He said no more than ten minutes. I focused on the clock on the wall in front of my bed and thought, “Ok, clock. Let’s do this.” I watched the second hand click by, counting down the minutes til the pain would go away.

Before long, the pain was gone and I was sound asleep.

Post-pain treatment fail nightmare. I look…better?

Time goes by whether you want it to or not. That is the beauty about Time.

When I was tied to the treadmill this past year, I would watch Time pass by instead of miles. I couldn’t see the miles like I could when I ran outside, but I could see the Time. And I watched and prayed that those stupid numbers would tick by faster because OHMYGOD 10 miles on a treadmill is LONG!

I want Time to slow down for some things. Like my sweet baby niece who is just the cutest right now. Time feels like it’s slipping away with her. For her, and so many other people in my life, I wish that Time would slow down.

But it doesn’t. We age, we grow, we heal, we move past the good and the bad. Time does this for us. Time forces us to move beyond the past and into the future. And that is always Better Than the Alternative.

And now for Workout Wednesday!

Tonight I am coaching the luluemon Run Club in Central Park at 7pm on the 72nd St. Transverse (we leave from the E. 66th St. store at 6:45pm, if you want to meet us there). This will be my first “public” run back from surgery and I’d love for all of my runner friends to come on out and run with me!

If you like to sweat and need a little Cat Hill in your life, come on out and join me! We will for sure take a picture of our beastly efforts. What? You don’t like ugly runner pictures? Oh boy. I question our friendship.

Your workout today, as well as ours tonight, is hills. Hills are a great interval workout that strengthens both the glutes and quads while preparing you for going up and down and up and down like so many races do. Here’s an kick-ass hill workout for you today:

  • 1 mile warm-up
  • 10-15 minutes up and down the hill NO STOPPING IN BETWEEN as many times as you can
  • Recover
  • 4-8 sprint up/slow jog down, recover fully in between (number depends on how long your hill is and how in shape you are)
  • 1 mile cool down

It’s a relatively short workout, but effective if you really push it. Remember, not every workout has to be hours and hours long to be effective. Make the most use of the time and each individual set for maximum results.

Hope to see you on Cat Hill in Central Park tonight. Say hi if you see me!

Now go out and run!

Putting Out 100%

A common question I get from runners is, “How can I get faster?” My answer is always the same, “Run harder in practice and you’ll run faster on race day.”

Most newbie runners are given the same advice when they take up running, which is to run slow because the miles are what count, not how fast you do them. They get stuck in this pattern of running a slow-to-moderate pace for every single run and then they wonder why they feel so fatigued in the middle of their race and don’t meet their goal time.

Run Clubbers put out 100% together and get faster together.

HOW FAST you run your runs is just as important as HOW FAR your runs are.

You gotta put out 100% every time.

Me, putting out 100%

When you train slow, you will run slow in your race. If you want to get faster you have got to start by being honest with yourself. You’re not putting 100% into every single workout, are you?

Confession: I’m not. There. I said it. It’s out there. I put out about 80% of the time. I know where I need to put more effort and I’m working on it. In fact, my doctor and I are both working on it. You see, we’re putting our heads together to do everything possible for my body so that I will some day soon go into remission. Drugs, diet, resting, but most importantly, staying on top of all of it.

I am scared of my disease taking over every single workout, so I don’t always put 100% into every single minute because it makes it all the more frustrating when I have to stop dead in my tracks and take care of business. Problem is, this is a lousy way to set a PR and I’m getting nowhere with it. So I’m adapting.

Treadmill = Adaptation. Treadmill haters, you can suck it.

Today I put out 100%. I could have stopped, slowed down, done an easy run instead of a tempo run. But I didn’t. And I feel awesome because I didn’t.

I put out 100%.

Did you? Or did you do the same old thing at the same old pace for the same old repetitions at the same old weight?

Testing your limits and exploring your edges is the only way to get better at your sport. You have to push harder, run faster, run longer in order to see a change in your body and in your time. That is the only way. Speed work, hard hills, challenging weights, one more mile, a longer yoga class. Start now! Push. Put out 100%. I bet you surprise yourself with what you can do. Go ahead, give it a shot and watch the changes roll your way.

Now go out and run.

When was the last time you really put out 100% in a workout? How often does that happen? Do you put out in your runs but not in the gym? Tell me about it.

Why Do I Run?

Hi friends! I am busy prepping for tomorrow’s lululemon run on Summer Streets (8am @ the E. 66th St. store) and the Joint Protection Workshop afterwards @ 9am. Hope to see you there! In the mean time, a poem I have always loved.

WHY DO I RUN? ‘TAIN’T NO MYSTERY–
WANNA HAVE A GOOD MEDICAL HISTORY,
DOCTOR TOLD ME RUNNIN IS GREAT–
HELPS THEM BLOOD CELLS CIRCULATE,
GREAT FOR THE LUNGS,
GREAT FOR THE TICKER,
CAN’T NOTHIN’ GETCHA
IN BETTER SHAPE QUICKER,
FEELS SO HEALTHY, FEELS SO SWEET,
PUMPIN MY ARMS AND FLAPPIN’ MY FEET,
MOLDIN’ MY MUSCLES, FIRMIN’ MY FORM,
PANTIN’ LIKE A PACK MULE,
SWEATIN’ UP A STORM,
KEEPS ME YOUTHFUL,
KEEPS ME LOOSE,
TIGHTENS MY TUMMY
AND SHRINKS MY CABOOSE,
BEATS BEIN’ SLUGGISH, BEATS BEIN’ LAZY–
WHY DO I RUN?

MAYBE I’M CRAZY!

~Ed Cummingham (I think)

Now go out and run!

Exercises To Do This Week: Rock The BOSU®

Have you ever walked into a gym and seen that funny looking blue thing that should be a ball, but isn’t a full ball? It looks like a half-ball or something. It’s called a BOSU®, meaning “both sides up”. I first saw these things when I was in college and have had a love affair with them ever since (shhhh…don’t tell!)

The cool thing about these little half-ball thingys is that the possibilities are endless. Legs, abs, back, arms, stability, you name it. Anything you can do on solid ground, you can also do on a BOSU®. There are entire classes where they use only a BOSU® and some free weights. Very cool. I’m a fan, obviously, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite exercises with you.

These are advanced exercises and should be done under the supervision of a trainer or fitness professional.

#1. Jump-backs

Grab hold of both sides of the BOSU® and squat down so that your heels are off the ground. Put your weight into your hands and jump your legs back behind you into a plan position. Make sure your feet are always together.

 

 

Shoulders and hips are at the same height. Shoulders are directly over the wrists. Gaze is slightly forward or straight down. Jump back into the start position. Repeat. When you get proficient and feel comfortable with the balance of the exercise, try doing it without pausing in both directions.

Do 3 sets of 10.

 

Jump-backs work everything all at once and get your heart a-pumpin’, too. I love them as an in-between free weights exercise because they engage the core muscles so effectively without putting stress on one particular muscle group.

#2.  BOSU® Lunges with Lateral Shoulder Raises

One foot is in the middle of the flat side of the BOSU® and arms have 3-8lb. dumbbells hanging at your side. The back leg is bent at 90º (as is the front) and the back heel is (and always is) off the ground.

 

 

 

Push off the back foot and stand up straight onto the front foot, raising your arms at the same time.Lower your arms, reach back with your back leg and lower yourself to the ground by bending your standing leg (never letting your back heel touch the ground).

Do 3 sets of 15-20 on each leg.

 

Don’t try to stay up on top of the BOSU® and balance for this particular exercise, it is meant to be dynamic and constantly moving from one position back to the other is key. This is hard, but if you keep the weight mostly in the leg on top of the BOSU®, it’s a little easier to balance. The more you move, the easier it is. So, if you’ve mastered regular ‘ol lunges already, give these a try and challenge yourself. It’s great for the glutes, quads, core and shoulder/upper back area.

In other news today: It is my return to lululemon Run Club tonight. Yay! Summer school is O.V.E.R. and I am so ready to get back with the awesome uptown runners of lululemon. Come on out and join us for an all-levels 3-5 mile run in Central Park. Ladder workout tonight! Meet at either the E. 66th St. store or Lincoln Center store at 6:30 and be ready to run. See you out there.

Tell me. What exercises are you rocking in the gym these days?

Now go out and run!

(Thanks to Rainbow Bright for the awesome fitness modeling!)