Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Rewards

Welcome to another edition of Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays where we take a moment and say, “yeah, it’s better to be here than not to be here.” I definitely need this reminder at least once a week that, no matter how much things suck, they could be so much worse. I could not be here. You could not be here. But we are, so let’s just take stock.

This week’s theme is Rewards.

You know when you set a goal, work really hard to achieve it and are rewarded for your hard work how great that feels? I’m feeling that and loving it this week.

After completing my 9th marathon in Philly this weekend, I’m definitely basking in the glory of my medal, the ultimate Reward for a runner.

Proudly displayed on our medal rack! (Nice rack! hahahaha, I kill me)

Red says it should be made of gold. I think it’s made of blood, sweat, tears and carbs. There’s nothing quite like feeling the weight of a medal around my neck after a hard-fought path to the finish line. Don’t get me wrong, Philly was beautiful and I fully expect that I will do this race again in the very near future. But the whole journey to Philly was a struggle.

I struggled with making the time between studying, working, being a wife and a sibling and a friend and making time to run. I struggled with my Ulcerative Colitis for the better part of the training season and learned some serious humility in the process. I struggled with my diet, which had to be modified to account for the changes in my disease. I struggled with every single cold virus that went through NYU this Fall. I struggled with finding a balance between wanting to do it all and knowing that I can’t do it all. I struggled.

And yet, with my medal firmly placed around my neck and my husband holding my hand, there was no better feeling in the world. I had struggled, yes, but I had conquered. And I had the Reward to prove it: my shiny new medal.

I love a good post-race medal photo!

Rewards are so important to give to ourselves and others. It’s acknowledgment, encouragement and praise all wrapped into one “You did it!” momento. Some people Reward themselves with food, clothes, a trip, sleep, a day off. Other people Reward us with presents, cards, words of praise, flowers, a foot rub. (Isn’t it just the best when someone else Rewards you?) Whatever it is that you do to Reward yourself for accomplishing a goal, it is imperative that you celebrate.

Be proud of what you’ve done! Show the world how awesome you are! Let people know you’re working toward something and when you’ve reached it, share that, too! Reward yourself and congratulate yourself for the accomplishments in your life.

I didn’t always celebrate myself the way that I did other people in my life. You know where that got me? Nowhere. I felt ignored and my accomplishments unacknowledged. I learned to open up and let people know I was working really hard at some task and when I achieved it, I was going to mark the occasion.

Sometimes it’s a high-five. Sometimes it’s a party. Sometimes it’s a medal around my neck. No matter what form it comes in, that Reward will keep me working hard toward newer, and maybe harder goals. And that’s the key. Rewards keep us moving forward.

So, next time you think that finishing a “little” 5K isn’t something worth Rewarding yourself for, think again. Grab a new sparkly headband and mark the occasion. Reward yourself (in a productive way…) and celebrate how awesome you are! Or maybe Reward someone else for their accomplishment. Everyone loves a shout-out, even if it’s on Facebook or Twitter. Go ahead, Reward a stranger at the finish line with a high-five. I bet you you make them smile.

BTAT: Rewards. Pass it on.

Now go out and run!

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.

OOOORAHH!

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!

 

 

 

 

No Guts, No Glory

“Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards.” ~ Alberto Salazar

Sometimes you gotta lay it all out on the line and race. I don’t like to put too much pressure on myself during marathon training season, but I do like to throw one longer race in the mix just to test my speed and race day routine before the BIG marathon (or whatever distance I’m gearing up for) morning. Racing is a key part of training. Here’s why.

When you plan for a race mid-training season, you have the opportunity to test out just about everything for your bigger, longer race. Your food, hydration, clothes, tunes, early morning routine, bathroom breaks, etc. The list is endless! I like to use it as a way of testing out how my nerves will be on marathon morning. Make no mistake about it, friends; I have run probably hundreds of races in my 21 year running career, but I still get the jitters at the start line. I still have trouble sleeping the night before. I still run to the bathroom every chance I get until that gun goes off. Oh, the nerves!

But this isn’t the BIG race. This is a little in-betweener. This is the perfect time to go out and lay down some serious speed. This is the time to perfect starting out slower and finishing faster. This is the race to figure out when to weave through the crowds and when to tuck behind and let someone else do the work for you. This is when you test that fancy-schmancy GPS watch of yours to see if it helps or hurts to have too much information mid-race. This is when you find out if those shorts really are too short or that shirt is going to chafe under your armpits. This is when you figure out how much water you really need and approximately how many Cliff Shot Bloks to eat and when. Seriously, that HAS to be done before your BIG race and this is the time to do it.

This weekend’s Battle of Brooklyn 10 miler is perfect for me. I’m about halfway into my training for Philly in November and getting into more serious mileage, so a speedy 10 miler should be just what the doctor ordered as a mid-way check in. I plan on doing about 8 minutes for my first mile until the crowd thins out a little and then hammering out 7:45-7:50 for the rest of the race. I’m also planning on running without my headphones and without my own hydration. I want to be speedy and have as little on my body as possible. I’m pumped. It’s my first post-Jersey Marathon disaster race and I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. I’m pumped.

I’m going to leave it all out there in Brooklyn, guys. You should find a short race to RACE just to test yourself. Get out there with the crowds and the crazy runners and the first-timers and see what you’re made of! You can do it! And while you’re at it, tell some of your family and friends what you’re up to and make a breakfast date for after the race. Everybody likes a diner breakfast (especially runners!) and people will come if there’s a promise of food. This I have learned well.

Wish us luck!

Now go out and run (but find a race first)!