Making {runner} Friends

There have been times in my life when it’s been difficult for me to make friends.

  1. Camp, when I was a couselor.
  2. College, when I was an RA.
  3. School in general.
LittleMe 017

I can’t imagine other camp counselors thinking I’m uncool based on this picture alone.

I always ended up making the best friends in the end, but it was not an easy road and it was often lonely.

Moving to a new city or graduating from school can really mess with your running buddy lineup. I know it did mine!

First marathon trained & run allllll by myseeee-eeeelf.

First marathon trained & run allllll by myseeee-eeeelf.

I tried a few running groups but ran into the same problems as before:

  • Everyone else already had friends in the group.
  • No one wants to hang with the overly chatty new girl.
  • I do not come off as “cool”, even on my best days.

I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I had to be someone’s.

FRIENDS!!!!!!!!!!

FRIENDS!!!!!!!!!!

Enter Twitter and the blogging world.

New friends? Check! New running buddies? Check! New studios to get my sweat on? Check!

Some of my newest and most exciting goals are coming straight from my Twitter friends.

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200+ miles in 24 hours with 12 teammates in 2 vans? I’m in!

And the Twittersphere and Blogosphere have given me the opportunity to not only meet fellow runners and sweat-a-holics like myself, but it has introduced me to some of my favorite fitness gurus ever whom I love (and miss–WHY DOES EVERYONE LEAVE ME?!?!) dearly.

Ambassador Buddies forever!

Ambassador Buddies forever!

Steven, DON'T GO!!!!!!! I mean, I guess it's a great opportunity and all but we will miss you!

Steven, DON’T GO!!!!!!! I mean, I guess it’s a great opportunity and all but we will miss you!

Plus, they tweet-cheer you on when you hit up their class or kick butt on a run!

So, if you’ve just moved or want to get into a fitness community or need a running buddy, take to the Internet! Hit up Twitter and make new friends. You’ll be surprised by how warm and welcoming everyone is. And, hey, you might meet your BrFF: Best running Friend Forever. I’m off to run with a new friend right now.

Now go out and run!

Endurance Without the Mileage

The Marine Corps Marathon is a little more than 7 weeks away.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!!!!!!!!!!

Ready to rock my Team Fisher House gear & get my medal!

But I’ve only been back running for 3 months now. That whole surgery thing in May set me back a ways in my marathon training. Soooooooo, what’s a gal to do when she’s committed to running a marathon, for a charity no less, in 7 very short weeks? Suck it up and train smart.

Starting back, I started slow and short. My friend took me for my first jog around the block when I felt ready. I broke exactly zero records on that and just about every run to follow for the past 2 months or so. Only in the last few weeks have I started feeling like myself.

Slow. Heavy. But more like Abby Who Runs instead of Abby Who Just Had Surgery. Progress!

Run, run, run as fast as you can! Can’t catch me, I’m the cupcake woman! Admittedly, I don’t really have cupcakes all that often, which is sad but true.

My first concern was Rosebud. After that, it’s hydration. Then it’s my legs. And finally, my endurance.

My mental game is there. I struggled mentally with my first marathon back in 2003 but kinda got the hang of it after that. My game is primarily about endurance. And since I haven’t had much time to build endurance, I’m doing it in a rather unconventional way.

I’m running, yes, but I’m spinning. Like, twice a week and on days that I’m running and the day after a long run. And I’m lifting twice a week in addition to the 4-5 days a week of running.

Lord help me, it’s been a beastly hot summer! Check the “glow” (= massive sweat).

I’m doing this for several reasons:

  1. One of my favorite Flywheel instructors is finally back from the Hamptons. Finally.
  2. I need to train for the time, but not necessarily the mileage, to increase my endurance without getting injured.
  3. I want to get stronger but I really can’t afford to add more run workouts.
  4. I feel safe to push hard on the bike and in a gym.

A typical week looks like this:

Sometimes I decide not to run and I take a nap. It happens.

The spinning and the track workouts have definitely made a HUGE difference in my ability to add mileage in short period of time.

The other thing I do is mandatory take-down weeks once a month. I add mileage to my long run every week and then, after the third week of adding, I drop down. For example, the past 4 weeks have gone like this:

  • 8/19: Battle of Brooklyn 10-miler
  • 8/27: 14 miles
  • 8/3: 16 miles
  • This weekend: 13 miles
  • Next weekend: 18 miles

This allows my body to take a break from all the adding on and have an easier, shorter long run every few weeks. We’re all about finishing here! No records being broken.

Well, maybe the shortest time from colectomy/ileostomy to marathon? Nah. Probably not.Anyway, if you’re in a hurry to go from nada to marathon (and have done a marathon before), this is a good way to add the mileage without breaking your legs. Works for me!

Now go out and run!

What Defines You?

I was briefly sidelined from running due to a bum butt about three years ago. My gluteus medius needed a break from running and I begged my PT for other cardio/workout options. They were limited. Recumbant bike, aka the one that makes your butt go numb and your back ache. And flat-surface walking. Like I don’t do enough of that already. Oh, and I could swim a little. My hair loved that month of swimming.

I was concerned at my hair while at the pool from a very young age. Also, isn't my hot pink numbers swimsuit just THE BEST?! I totally remember loving it!

It wasn’t that long without running and I had the bike and the pool and weights and stuff to keep me occupied. I feel like I have ADD when it comes to working out, except where running is concerned. Anyway, one month flew by with my PT and I was back at it, one mile at a time, because I followed all of the instructions given to me and let my body heal.

But what if it was longer? What if, in the future, I have to lay off of running for a longer stretch of time? What if it’s harder to get back to?

Clearly, running is my happy place. Running in Yankees Stadium is euphoric.

So many of my friends are currently experiencing running-related injuries that have sidelined them from running entirely for the foreseeable future. Many of them are not recovering as quickly as I did, despite following a variety of trained professionals’ advice, and the it seems that they may not return to running very soon.

Many of you define yourselves as “runners”. Me, too. But, don’t let running define YOU.

Run. Have fun. Race. Run fast. Commit to it. Work hard. PR.

But do something else, too. I have found balance in my life, and more happiness than I could ever imagine, but incorporating other things into my fitness world. Flywheel, yoga, apparently I am trying Zumba with LB, maybe one day I’ll buy a bike and do a try, whatever. I’m not afraid of not being able to run one day (maybe forever) because running doesn’t define me.

Never met a spin bike I didn't love.

Don’t let it define you. So, if one day you find that you have to cut back, take a break, or give it up entirely, you’ll be like, “that sucks, but at least I can still ________.” You know? Remember Obi-wan’s guest post? You gotta be flexible ‘cuz you never know what curveball life is going to throw at you.

Branch out. Have fun. Find things that get you going. It won’t be the same as running, but that’s ok. It’ll be something. It’ll be different. And different is good.

Now go out and run (while you still can!).

Speaking of injuries and branching out, running season is upon us! As you gear up to add mileage or hit the road for the first time, you’ll need a quick tune-up before you get going. Or maybe you have a nagging pain you can’t quite fix? Join me and my friends, Dr. Shure and yogi Lara Benusis,for a Total Body Tune-Up on Sunday, April 1st at the E. 66th St. lululemon. Have Dr. Shure check you out, get stretching/yoga advice from Lara and ask me anything about running! See you there. Don’t forget to RSVP!

“How Do You Stay So Motivated?”

…JB asked. Last night, this very unexpected question came my way from my gorgeous husband and I struggled to give him a concrete answer.

If I’m being honest, what comes to mind first and foremost is vanity.

Gabrielle Reece, courtesy of SI.com

Gabrielle Reece has always been an inspiration to me. She’s strong, she’s healthy, she’s visibly athletic and she’s had two babies…and still has THAT BODY. She is a testament to clean living and exercise and I want to be like her some day…you know, 6’3″ and blonde 😉 Let’s be honest, I am not genetically metabolically blessed and I’m ok with it. I’ve had to exercise my entire life to stay in decent shape so working out is nothing new to me as I venture deeper into my thirties. I guess I should probably be grateful for that.

The other component of my devotion to fitness has nothing to do with motivation at all. Fitness is part of my LIFE, pure and simple. In my world, there is no option to skip workouts just like there is no option to skip brushing my teeth in the morning. I started the habit of exercising for life very young and now it’s just as much a part of my life as breathing.

 

I have always liked cake = must work out. Coincidentally, this is also the year I started running.

Public shame is another tool I use to stay motivated. I set goals, tell everyone I know about them, and then am forced to give updates on my progress when people inevitably ask, “How’s such-and-such going?” That’s what got me to the start line of my 1st marathon in NYC.

I'm not ashamed of this less-than-flattering, heavier Abby picture. That is me ROCKING NYC for the 1st time!

Sharing my fitness and life goals with others has motivated me to stick it out on many an occasion. Twitter and Facebook have opened up an entirely new community for me to seek motivation and encouragement from, which is an awesome benefit of social media.

But beyond those reasons, I find that fitness has taken over a new space in my heart these days. With my flare-ups threatening (and sometimes succeeding) to derail every single workout I try to do, I have started to realize just how important exercise is to me as a person. I guess you really don’t know how much something means to you until it’s taken away.

Working out makes me feel better about how I look and who I am. Running makes me feel a sense of accomplishment. I feel powerful and strong (duh, I know) when I lift. I feel a sense of camaraderie with my fellow classmates when I spin. I feel peaceful and like a dancer when I finish yoga. I am exhausted in the very best way after I swim.

I am my best me when I am happy in my fitness life. I guess that’s the final thought.

I want to be my best me for my husband, my family, and myself. So I make time to run, spin, flow, swim and move in a way that makes me feel good. And that is the best motivation of all: to feel good.

Me. Feeling good, post-sweat.

What motivates you? What gets you to the gym/on the road/in the class? Share with us.

Now go out and run!