Race Day Gamble

First off, congratulations to everyone who ran the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend. You guys know how I love the Marines and this race, so OORAH! to all my fellow runners!

Big fan.

Big fan.

This weekend is the New York City Marathon. For so many runners, it’s a bucket list race. And it’s great, it really is. Running all 5 boroughs is something I wish for every New Yorker to experience once. It’s electrifying.

Of the 40,000 runners toe the line this Sunday, most would have trained for this day for several months, logged hundreds of miles, and perfected everything from fluid to chafe prevention.

You can do everything perfectly…

…and it still might not be your day.

I might use this meme too much, but it's just so perfect.

I might use this meme too much, but it’s just so perfect.

There are too many reasons to list as to why you might bomb out your race. The bottom line is that it’s ok.

It’s ok to be mad. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to be disappointed. It’s ok to not want to smile when people say, “Smile! You’re a marathoner!” It’s ok to want to kick those people in the shins. (It is not ok to actually kick people, didn’t your mother teach you anything?)

It’s ok. It sucks. I’m sorry that it wasn’t your day.

You can try to figure out what went awry. You can re-play the race in your head to see if there’s something you need to adjust. You can try a different training program next time.

In the end, it’s sometimes just not your day. Getting your mind wrapped around that idea helps in the absence of an actual explanation. In that case, chalk it up to a shitty day and move on.

Hang your medal proudly next to the others. Eat your celebratory meal. Enjoy the week off from running and know that it’s just one race. You’ll get over the disappointment, I promise.



There’s another race that will be your race. You’ll find it.

Now go out and run.


Runner Q & A: What Matters In Marathon Prep

As a personal trainer and a run coach, I’m asked these questions pretty often. For those of you running your first marathon, listen up! These just might save you on race day.

Q. I’m so nervous for my marathon, I’m afraid I won’t be able to sleep the night before. Help!

A. Well, you’re in luck because the sleep you really need happens TWO nights before the big day. That means Friday night is the night for you to kick back and call it an early evening. Get plenty of rest and lazy around as much as you possibly can (2pm nap anyone?). Whatever you do, make every effort to get as much rest as possible in the week leading up to your marathon. Doctors have stressed that you don’t “make up” for lost hours of sleep, so try not to lose any that week.

Sleep is good.

Q. How do I stay warm at the start line and in the beginning of the race? It’s supposed to be 35° at Ft. Wadsworth and up to 55° by the time we get to 1st Avenue. 

A. Layer, layer, layer. I suggest wearing throw away pants, a sweatshirt, gloves, a hat and possibly cover up with a Tyvek suit or garbage bag to keep the cold out at the start line. Be ready to throw all of your cover-up items away (most races collect them and donate them to shelters). I DO NOT suggest full-length tights unless it’s supposed to be 45° or colder during the entire race. You will just get too hot and sweat more than is necessary. So, guys, wear shorts and either a lightweight long sleeve or a short sleeved t-shirt and hold onto your gloves for a little bit. Gals, I would wear lightweight crops (vented in the back) and a long sleeve vented top over a tank top. You may take the long sleeve on and off throughout the race, but you’ll be glad to have it when it’s shady. Gloves are the best accessory because sometimes you want them even if you’re in a tank top and shorts.

It was 60 by the time I finished and I felt perfectly dressed the entire way.

Q. Any tips for getting out of the park after the New York City Marathon?

A. Why, yes. I have a few. The NYCM finish line is by far the worst I have EVER encountered. It’s a great big bottleneck and they make you walk a mile up hill to the family meeting area before they let you out of the park. Most people follow along because they’re too tired to argue. I’m not one for forced marching. Disclaimer: None of these are sanctioned by NYRR, but I have used them many a time to get the hay-ho out of Central Park after the marathon. My first marathon, I was in desperate need of a bathroom and there was one near the medical tents off to the left of the finish line. That allowed me to hit the POJ and exit the park right there. Mind you, I must’ve looked like I needed medical attention because no one argued with me. The second one is to just jump the police barricades. JB and Mr. Red Sox did this last year. Basically, if someone tries to stop you you basically just ignore them and get out of the park as quickly as possible.

Here is your finish line (looked great today!)

Rock on, marathoners! And for the rest of you…

…Go out and run!

Last 5 Tips for How To Run a Marathon

It is officially Marathon Week here in New York City. The bleachers are up in Central Park, the flags are starting to fly on the course, there are several hundred (probably thousand) Europeans running around the streets and parks and everyone is wearing sneakers. The excitement is almost tangible.

Everyone is excited, but I bet quite a few of you running the marathon are getting nervous. Before you get all crazy with carbo-loading and expo shopping, take a few minutes to read these tried and true tips from your favorite run blogger 🙂

Mind you, I am not the speediest runner (my PR is 3:46) but I have finished all of the nine marathons I’ve started, including during a crazy flare-up in NJ and running with 2 other guides and a blind athlete in New York. Here are the main things that have gotten me through each of those marathons. From me to you.

#1. Start slow. Don’t let the excitement of actually getting started get you all riled up. Too fast a start will absolutely ruin your chances of finishing strong. I recommend running your first and second mile about a minute slower than your normal pace.

#2. Eat breakfast. You’ll likely be awake at least two hours before your race’s start time, which is plenty of time to eat a solid breakfast before your head off to the start line. Get up early enough to fuel up properly for what is probably going to be the longest run of your life.

#3. Maintain a steady, even pace. Even if you feel like you can run faster in the first half of the marathon, hang onto that energy for the second half. Marathon PRs aren’t set in the first 13.1 miles, but the second. If you tend to take off out of the gates, stick with a pace group.

#4. Stay positive. When it gets hard out there, don’t succumb to the pain and start getting down on yourself. “I can do this” is the most powerful thing you can say to yourself when you start to doubt your ability to finish. Negativity will get you nowhere but curled up in a ball on the side of the street crying for your mom. Trust your training. You can do this.

#5. Visualize a familiar run. The first 15-18 are in the bag, really. You’ve done it before. When you get to 18/20, visualize what your regular 6-8 mile run looks like and then count down your miles. You know what 5 miles looks like, 4 miles, 3 miles, here’s the last 2. You can do this. Think of a regular ‘ol 5 miler and hang tight.

Enjoy the crowds, but don’t get too caught up with them. Enjoy the moment and take in everything around you. This will be a moment to remember. You never forget New York. I can’t wait to see all of you out there on 1st Avenue. Look for me on the left side at 125th Street and then on 5th Avenue on 125th Street. I’ll be the tall, curly-haired brunette with cowbells in each hand.

Rock on, runners. And try to relax. Race day will be here before you know it.

Now go out and run!

What are your tried and true trips to get through a marathon?

Fitness News Fridays

Happy Friday! I have had a very productive Friday that began in the wee hours of the morning when it was only 36 degrees outside. You read that right. It’s FREEZING here in New York. I hear it’s been snowing upstate and my dear family in Colorado just got blasted with their first snow of the season. Apparently, Vail looks like this:

Courtesy of Vail.com

Wow. Ski season is totally on. Red and her BF must be thrilled!

Anywho, there’s lots going on in the health and fitness world this week, too! As predicted, most of the news is about running and marathons as we count down the days (9) to the New York City Marathon. It’s funny, it’s not the biggest or only marathon in the world but when people in New York ask me, “Are you running The Marathon this year?” they are referring to the New York City Marathon and have rarely heard of another outside of possibly Boston. They are often confused when I say, “No, Philly. The Philly Marathon” and don’t know how to respond.

On that note, GOOD LUCK MARINE CORPS MARATHONERS!!! If you find yourself near Washington, D.C. or Arlington, V.A. this weekend, take a walk along the course and cheer on the 35,000 people running The People’s Marathon this year. I love, love, love this marathon and hope to do it next year.


And now, the news.

  • If you are a female runner, you have Dr. Julia Chase-Brand to thank for paving the way and debunking the myth that your uterus will fall out if you run for more than half a mile.
  • If I had kids, I would make these for Halloween. I may still make them. JB and I are big kids.
  • California has banned teens from using tanning beds. Personally, I dig it cuz it causes cancer.
  • ACL and meniscus injuries in young athletes are on the rise. This drives me crazy because their mostly overuse injuries. A year-round single sport child seems to me to be on the fast track to lifelong debilitating injuries.
  • Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall calls magazines out about unhealthy images portrayed and how it affects young women’s perception of health and beauty. Good on her.
  • Sam Fox is running 2396 miles to raise money for his mother who has Parkinson’s. What have you done for your Mom lately?
  • Yoga helps to relieve back pain. Do you really need MORE reasons to take up yoga? Do it.
  • Adidas made a shoe in honor of the late, great Grete Waitz. 100% of the proceeds goes to Waitz’s cancer foundation.
  • People rarely challenge me to an Anatomy/Physiology discussion about running being “bad” for you (guess who wins that one?) but not everyone has the information to back up their plans to run a marathon and sometimes they encounter the nay-sayers. My advice, tell them “I’m doing it because I want to.” So there.
  • It’s never too late to save your life and start exercising.

One last thing, by popular demand, Aleah and I will be hosting ONE MORE BRICK workout tomorrow starting at 12:30pm at the Upper East Side Flywheel. If you didn’t make the list, come on by and jump on the wait list. See you there!

Have a great weekend. Now go out and run!

The Rules for Marathon Cheering

I am well-known among my family, friends and the running community at large as being one of the loudest, most enthusiastic cheerleaders. I cheer for everyone. I love cheering. No one is spared the embarrassment of getting a shout-out from me, should they happen to run by. I am especially bananas during the New York City Marathon, which happens to be JUST AROUND THE CORNER! I lose my voice on Marathon Sunday. Always.

We’ve talked about how cheering can be inspiring for your own running, right? Well, with all of the marathons in the upcoming weeks, there will be a lot of opportunities for you to get out and cheer on your fellow runners. Trust me, you need to get out there and watch people run their hearts out. It’s awe-inspiring. There is always “that guy” who has a FREE HUGS poster and “those runners” who take him up on it. So fun.

But there are rules.

#1. Cheer for everyone. Yes, you are probably out there to cheer on your one/ten friends, but there are lots of other runners who could use your smile, clapping and cheering. And since you’re already there, you may as well offer support to them, too.

#2. Do NOT yell “You’re almost there.” Unless you can see the finish line, they are NOT “almost there” and this will make them angry, not inspired.

#3. Do NOT say “Go faster!” They are going as fast as they can, I promise. No one wants to be out there any longer than they absolutely have to be and telling them to hurry up isn’t helping.

#4. Tell everyone “You look/are doing great!”. Even if they don’t look and aren’t doing so great. Encouragement, even from perfect strangers, goes a long way during a marathon.

#5. Don’t crowd the course. This one is SO important for those of you who want to be on 5th Avenue in Manhattan during the New York City Marathon. If you step out onto the course and crowd the runners, you can cause a funnel that causes a backup on the course. No bueno. Stay on the sidewalk, behind the lines and barricades. The runners will appreciate it.

For those of you who have a marathon nearby in the next couple of weeks, step outside and cheer on those remarkable individuals who’ve decided that they are going to take on the challenge of 26.2 miles, some of them against incredible odds or for very noble causes. They will smile at you, shout back, thank you, hug you, hit on you, ask you for booze and otherwise love that you are cheering for them.

If you want to come out and cheer during the New York City Marathon and don’t have a spot already, consider joining our luluelmon athletica crew up on 125th St. & 5th Ave. We will have a DJ and loads of enthusiastic people cheering like wild banshees. I will have two cowbells, per usual. And if you’re in Philadelphia during the Philly Marathon, look for me and JB. I will have my name on my shirt because I love when people shout, “Go Abby!” We know no one in the city and will need all the cheerleaders we can get!

Regardless, get out there and cheer. It’s the best gift you can give your runner friend/family member/significant other. Everyone needs a cheerleader.

Now go out and run!