Ask Me Anything

1. How should I prepare for an obstacle race (Dirty Girl/Tough Mudder/Spartan Race)?

These races are less about running and more about brute strength. Many races, the Dirty Girl and Tri-State Tough Mudder, have the obstacles listed so you know what you’re getting into.

This isn't my idea of a fun Saturday activity but to each his/her own.

This isn’t my idea of a fun Saturday activity but to each his/her own.

As far as training goes, I suggest a hefty dose of strength training, focusing on 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps of heavy weight and major muscle groups. Think: lat pull-downs, push-ups, pull-ups (assisted works too!), lunges, squats, and step-ups with weight, if possible. Incline walking and running or the Step Mill (revolving stairs) for the muddy hills.

Short bursts of max effort repeatedly best mimic these types of races. A quick tip from my friends who have done these races: knee pads, elbow pads, fitted pants, and grippy gloves.

2. How about some ideas for incorporating simple strength training into my routine? Think I maybe maxed out on improvement from just running.

The most common mistake runners make: they only run. For the why of strength training, click here. For when and how much to strength train, click here. And for your basic Leg Day Workout, click here.

3. How about some IT band stretches?

Let’s be very clear: the Illiotibial band is a fascia, not a muscle. The fascia inserts into a muscle called the Tensor fascia latae (TFL)–>tenses the fascia. The IT band has negligible blood supply and doesn’t really stretch. The TFL, on the other hand, will stretch and, in turn, relieve tension on the IT band. Here are a few TFL stretches:

photo (6)

Bear in mind that most IT band problems develop because of weak hips and glutes. Deal with that with these exercises. When foam rolling, roll the muscle, not the fascia.

4. Chafe

Ouch. It hurts. Two things: fitted clothing and Body Glide. I may not look amazing in my compression shorts, but I don’t get chafe anymore. So there.

Compression shorts = no chafe = no sudden excruciating pain in the shower later. #winning

Compression shorts = no chafe = no sudden excruciating pain in the shower later. #winning

5. What do you eat before a run?

Most days it’s PB&J. Sometimes only PB if I’m out of J. Sometimes Eggo waffles if I’m going out for a long run. Hey, you asked.

6. What did you learn about PT and Myasthenia (Gravis)? There’s a lot of controversy…I need to do something, but so out of breath and needing a nap just from climbing my stairs.

Myasthenia Gravis and other auto-immune diseases wreak havoc on your body and leave you utterly exhausted, especially during flare-ups. Everyone is different and no hard and fast rules apply here. However, what we did learn is that even a little bit of exercise can help keep you fit, healthy, and mentally sane.

Some ideas:

  • Walking–nothing strenuous, like walking a dog or with your kids
  • Pool walking–in 3ft+ deep water
  • VERY light weight training (3-5lbs for all exercises)
  • 10-15 minute bursts of exercise throughout the day instead of 30+ minutes at a stretch
  • Taking longer rest breaks between sets
  • Hatha yoga or restorative yoga
  • Light stretching

7. How did you choose your career path?

I’ve been an athlete my whole life and a runner for 23 years. In college I took kickboxing classes and one day, the instructor handed me the mic and told me to teach. So I got my AFFA certification and taught throughout college. When I moved to NYC, I joined a gym and was approached to become a trainer. So I took my NASM certification and started training over 10 years ago. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn so I applied to my post-bac pre-med program at NYU in 2009 and then to the NYU DPT program in 2011.

Your body is my business!

Your body is my business…in the most professional way, of course.

The human body and how it moves just makes sense to me. Even before I took Physics and Anatomy and Physiology and Kinesiology, I innately knew the how and why of body mechanics better than most people. I can’t say the same about chord inversions.

8. How do I increase mileage (not the 10% rule or speed work)?

The 10% “rule” came out of nowhere and became the standard. Whatever. I generally add a mile or two to my long runs for 3 weeks and then I take it down for a week. This take-down long run should feel really good and really easy. If it does, bounce back up to your previous long run and continue the pattern of slow progression. If it doesn’t, go back and try a shorter distance.

You can also do doubles once or twice a week to add a few more total miles.

9. PT school: the good, the bad, the ugly.

  • Good: Lots of interesting (to me) classes and material for me to geek out over and have long conversations about body mechanics with my friend Birdie. Oh, my friend Birdie is also a good! The rotations are cool and I love applying what I’m learning in real life and the job is something I can do absolutely anywhere in a growing field.
  • Bad: VERY time consuming and some of the material is downright pointless. But you’ll find that with every graduate program. Long hours in a chair wreak havoc on my body and I’m so very, very done with being in school.
  • Ugly: Me during finals week. My student loans.
Pizza, falling asleep on my notes, buried under my notes, SLAC. Finals week in a nutshell.

Pizza, falling asleep on my notes, buried under my notes, SLAC. Finals week in a nutshell. Oh, and sanity runs on the East River.

10. Any speed work recommendations for newbies?

I got you guys. Click here and remember, it’s not about being fast but about being consistent at your fast.

11. How do you know if you are actually overtired and need a rest day or you’re just lazy, ie. mental barrier?

I think feeling consistently fatigued should be a big, red STOP sign for you. More than 50% of your runs should feel good–or, at least, you shouldn’t feel dead after them. Rejuvenated, you know? If not, you’re doing too much. If you’re mentally fatigued, get with someone who runs your pace and run with them for a little while so you can take a break from thinking about every single step you take.

12. Best strength training exercises for runners.

Always do your Minimum Leg Day exercises. Push-ups, Pull-ups, and Sit-ups are classic and great. Yoga is fantastic. Pilates is even better. What do I do? Refine Method, New York Yoga, Pilates Pro Works, Flywheel for cross-training, and I hit the gym on my own when I can’t get to class.

That's right. I FLY. #nevercoast

That’s right. I FLY. #nevercoast

11. What to eat for energy without gaining weight.

I’m not a Registered Dietician or a Nutritionist but I do work with one to meet my nutritional needs who specializes with patients with IBD. May I refer you to Lauren or Kim for that question? These two ladies are far more qualified than I to advise you on that.

I will recommend you get a full physical and blood panel that you’ve fasted for to have accurate vitamin, mineral, blood sugar, and cholesterol readings so your RD can better cater to your needs.

12. How do you mentally push through on a tough run?

There’s no secret weapon here for me. In general, I set out to do a certain number of miles and I do it. If I feel terrible, I get in a cab or on the train and I go home. Having a goal and a schedule is key for me because I know exactly what I have to do every day to meet me goal. Even if I’m not “training”, I still set a weekly schedule for myself.

13. How do I get myself running again after pregnancy? Totally realize no kids yet for you but figure you have friends. Or maybe after your surgery… how did you do it? I can’t seem to get back at it after taking 9 mos off. So out of shape. Where to start when my cardio sucks now?

Oh boy. Surgery and pregnancy are pretty similar in that you go through a major trauma, you are wiped clean of so much strength and endurance, and your body feels entirely foreign to you.

First of all, Square One is a scary, lonely, emotional place but acknowledging you are there and you are going to start is key. Get ok with the concept that it will be hard and you will be sore. But you’ll get stronger.

A week of lying in bed really takes it out of you!

A week of lying in bed really takes it out of you!


Pick an event and work toward it–maybe with another mommy friend? I set a goal to run a 10-miler 3 months after surgery and I geared all my training toward that race. Twitter and Facebook can also be sources of encouragement while you’re training–they’re also a place to meet new workout buddies!

Don’t forget to celebrate your milestones along the way (1 mile without stopping? Woohoo!) and whatever you do, don’t give up. You’ll get stronger. It will get easier.

13. Why do I feel like I have to pee when I run even if I just went? Ha ha ha too much info but I want to know.

Common problem, don’t worry about TMI here. For women (this question was asked by a woman), it can be a two-fold issue. One, weak pelvic floor muscles. Need to start doing kegals and adductor ball squeezes. Two, the bouncing–this applies to both sexes. There’s really no way around that unless you do pool running. If you’re really concerned, talk to your doctor or wear a small pad when you go out for a run.

14. How you stay motivated to get out and run in bad weather?

Frozen Abby running in 20 degree temperatures. Brrrrrrr.

Frozen Abby running in 20 degree temperatures. Brrrrrrr.

If it’s cold, being properly bundled up and making a run date with a friend helps. If it’s hot, different clothing rules apply and sometimes I run naked. In the rain I wear a hat, when it’s sunny I wear shades with my hat, and I generally have my tunes on me if I get really frustrated.

Again, having a planned run and goal to work for helps, running with a buddy is always a plus, and being properly fueled and hydrated is a must.

Basically, you wanna be a Boy Scout about it: Be prepared.

Tunes? Check. Shades? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Nuun? Check. Off to my run date!

Tunes? Check. Shades? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Nuun? Check. Off to my run date!

15. How to keep a steady pace.

Set a reasonable goal pace in your mind. Get a GPS watch. Warm up for a mile at a pace slower than the pace you’d like to run. Ease into the pace. Maintain the pace. Simple, but not easy.

Phew! Thank you all for your questions. If I didn’t get to answer yours (or you’d like more information), feel free to email me: runstrongereveryday<at>gmail<dot>com

Now go out and run.