Learning to FLY!

JB and I are training for the Philadelphia Marathon this November, which happens to be on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The ultimate pre-turkey dinner workout, I say. We will run super-fast and then indulge in pie. I like turkey and all that, but I live for pie. As we are not yet officially into our 14-week training program yet, we are currently working on the super-fast part of that equation. Here’s what I’m doing: I’m learning to FLY!

Flywheel Upper East Side!

I’ve taken Spinning® classes on and off since I was first introduced to them in college. Back in my day, it was all Johnny G Spinning® instructors and bikes in teeny rooms with those tapes that we (group fitness intstructors) bought from companies that put the beats per-minute range on them and the songs were mash-ups set to trance beats. You know what I’m talking about, Cam. Oh, back in the day! Well, Johnny G Spinning® has evolved and branches of indoor cycling studios have popped up on the coasts (look out, Chicago, you’re next!) to much fanfare. I’ve been to many classes at almost all of the major NYC gyms and to both the newbie indoor cycling studios, but I’ve honestly found my home at Flywheel.

Because they have an all 80s ride.

Because they think nothing of catering to my two different sized feet

Because they have pretty boards (oh, and LOTS of classes)

First, the reason why I have incorporated cycling (can’t call it “spinning” unless it’s Johnny G Spinning®) into my running training: I’m trying to get faster without getting hurt. It’s as simple as that. I’m still a spring chicken not getting any younger and as I amp up my workouts to push my limits, I want to achieve new levels of fitness without having to add on tons of miles. I know this is possible for two reasons: 1. I’ve see the progress already and 2. I am studying the “why” of the progress in school. In order for me to get faster, I have to train at a higher intensity. I have to push harder and teach my body to process oxygen faster, increase my VO2 max and my lactic threshold. I achieve this by doing anaerobic sprints and pushing past my physical and physiological limits in my workouts. But, I don’t want to kill my legs and hips all the time with running, so I need a different type of cardiovascular interval training: hello, Flywheel!

Flywheel is my kinda studio. I’m looking for a kick-ass class with challenging intervals that include sprints, hills and seated climbs. Honestly, I’ve studied and trained too much in the field to be fooled by “new moves” and “total body workouts” on bikes that are advertised elsewhere. It’s just not for me and personally, I cringe when I see instructors letting their form go to hell and ruining their knees while asking the class to mimic their form. Yikes. I’m into the loud music, the group ride, the focused intention and attention to detail where form is concerned. You can have an awesome vibe about you, but if you can’t talk to me about form or demonstrate good form yourself, you’ve lost me. That’s why I love the instructors at Flywheel.

The other cool thing at Flywheel is that every bike is hooked up to a computer that shows you your rpm, your resistance level and what they call your “power”. This all helps the instructor better guide the class through the workout they intend to give that day by offering ranges of speeds and resistances and makes it a whole lot easier for the rider to know where he/she should be during that interval (or rest period). The “power” component is something you can choose to have put up on the Torque Board in the front of the room to see where your effort stacks up against those of the rest of the class. This is an optional feature that you can opt-out of at any time.


My instructor on Friday at the Upper East Side location was Aleah and she was awesome! First of all, I think she must’ve stolen my iPod because she had my most favorite songs playing the entire time. Second, her focus on us as a class and the intervals is exactly what I look for in an instructor and this is the second (of many, I’m sure) class I’ve been to of hers where I experience a truly intense workout. Third, her parents were there, which is just, well, the coolest. Also, I really liked that Aleah kept the Torque Board off most of the time so that we weren’t distracted by our number, but flipped it on at key times so we could check in.

Hey parents!

When you are looking for something to supplement your running, please consider jumping on a bike of any kind and putting the same amount of time and effort into your ride that you would have put into your run. Do those intervals, power up the hills, take that new indoor cycling class you heard about from your friend.

Beware of two things in a class: bad form and bad instructors. You can control your form: knees don’t bow or knock in when you peddle and are always slightly bent, arms slightly bent, back straight and belly button pulled up toward your spine. You can control which instructor you choose: one who offers options and alternatives to whatever they are doing to cater to everyone in the class, one who isn’t there for his/her own workout, one who helps you set up your bike if you need it, one who will answer questions after class.

I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far I’ve seen about a 20-25 second (per mile) improvement in my tempo runs and I’m thrilled to be under the 8 minute/per mile marker for 10+ miles. It’s a great feeling, especially since my digestive system hasn’t been cooperating all that well lately. Drugs are a good thing, I tell you! Hopefully, the combination of these awesome new workouts like Flywheel, some serious pace work with JB and his running club and 3 different drugs will equal a super-fast marathon time this Fall. Hey, it’s worth a shot. If not now, when–right?!

Have you given cycling a shot? What was your experience? Are you cycling today? No? Well…

Go out and run!


Check out Flywheel Sports: http://new-york.flywheelsports.com/ and I was totally NOT compensated for this post in any shape or form. I pay for my own classes 🙂

Flying Rocks Hit Me Sometimes

They do. Here’s what happened:

True story. I was running along the river underneath the FDR, minding my own business, when suddenly *WHACK* Right. Between. The. Eyes. A giant rock tiny pebble smacked me in the forehead, leaving me stunned and standing in the middle of the sidewalk furiously rubbing my head, searching for blood. No blood (hooray!). I jogged home, hoping I wouldn’t have a gigantic bruise on my face that would leave me explaining my story to everyone so they wouldn’t think something bad about Justin, and ran to the mirror to assess the damage. Nada. A little red spot, but no more worse for the wear. It did get me thinking, though. Here are my thoughts.

I fall down, trip, and get generally sick-feeling occasionally when I run. Don’t you? I mean, even sometimes? Well, when I go out and run I sometimes run to Brooklyn or over the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey (what’s up, Jersey!) and anywhere else my little heart desires. Problem is, if something happens to me and I’m not able to communicate with paramedics or passersby who find me, they wouldn’t know who I am or who I belong to. Scary, right?

In case of emergency, call Chi-Chi!

That’s why I love my Road ID (shameless plug, but I was definitely NOT compensated for this post or given any free schwag). It’s $20 and has all the pertinent information on it that one might need if I end up on the side of the road somewhere. Given that I have a medical condition that can sometimes sideline me during a run, this little velcro/stainless steel wonder might just save my life one day. I even bought one for my husband because here’s the thing: there are dozens of hospitals in this city and if I ended up in one, these are the three people I’d want notified right away. I can’t imagine my poor husband pacing in our tiny little apartment, worried sick because I didn’t come home from a run. This makes us both feel better about going for a solo run in our big, bad city. And seriously, it’s tiny and weighs nothing.

Some of you might not know the story of Trisha Meili, the Central Park Jogger. Back in 1989 in New York City, Trisha went for a run in Central Park shortly after 9 p.m. Hours later, two men wandering the park found her near death from a brutal beating and rape. In a coma, with 75 percent blood loss, a fierce blow to the head and severe exposure, doctors worried that this young woman might not survive and they didn’t even know her name. For days they couldn’t identify her or let her family know she was alive. If she’d had a Road ID, it might have been a different story.

*PS. Trisha is an active volunteer with the Achilles Track Club and her book, I AM THE CENTRAL PARK JOGGER: A Story of Hope and Possibility inspired the Hope and Possibility 5 miler I am running this Sunday. Come on out and join us!*

Super-light and doesn't get in the way

If that isn’t a case for you to spend $20 for a Road ID tag or some other form of identification, I don’t know what is. Just click the link and get it. They even have this cool interactive feature that allows the doctors or whomever is working on you to go to a link that brings up your ID page (and whatever you choose to put on it) to better treat you or contact your next of kin. How modern are we?! Here’s the link:


So, buy your new tag. I promise that I will stop mothering you about leaving a note telling people where you are going or when you should be expected back. Need more coaxing? Watch 127 Hours and then try and tell me it will never happen to you. That’s what they all say…

Now go out and run (before it rains)!