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!

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Beat The Runner’s Plateau

In every running career, there will be many plateaus. Sometimes they sneak up on us and we don’t realize they’re happening until we see stagnant race times. Sometimes it’s our running buddies who ask “are you alright?” when we’re lagging behind on every. single. run. Sometimes we find ourselves dreading the everyday run because it just doesn’t feel good anymore. Runner’s plateau sucks.

It happens. Now let’s talk about how to fix it.

First things first. You have to be honest with yourself and ask a few hard questions:

Am I varying the speed and distance of my workouts? This is the most common reason I find for newbie/semi-seasoned runners. If you want results, you gotta mix it up.

Am I cross-training enough (or at all)? Another mistake people make is to think simply running will make you faster. Not true. Aerobic + Anaerobic workouts make you faster.

Am I putting forth 100% effort in my workouts? Only you can answer this question.

Is my schedule the same every day/week? Yikes. Isn’t that boring? I’m plateauing just thinking about it.

Am I getting enough rest? Sleep is where our muscles heal and grow. If you’re not sleeping, neither of these very necessary things are happening.

Do I have a goal? Running for the sake of running is intolerably boring. Even if it’s a 3K/5K Turkey Trot, set a goal. Work for it. It takes the monotony out of the running.

These are the important questions to ask because they will provide you with the answers to get out of your running rut, over the plateau and into a new gear in your running. And we all have multiple gears, like cars, that we can train into and find as we get in better shape. It’s kind of a cool thing when you find yourself pushing and easing into a newer, faster pace.

But that doesn’t just happen. Here are some suggestions to get out of your running rut:

-Substitute one run for another form of cardio. Try swimming or indoor cycling. You never know, you might find you looooove triathlons. Get off your legs and into something new.

-Grab a faster running friend once a week for a short, hard run. Scary, I know. But it helps.

-Join a gym and try some strength training classes. A change of scenery and pace might make you appreciate the solitude and quiet many of us experience on a run.

-Mix it up. Don’t do the same workout for two weeks. Nothing the same, every workout is new and different. No run route is the same. No distance is the same. No class is the same. Try it.

-Kick it up a notch. Indoor cycling (aka “spinning”) is a great way to challenge your cardiovascular system while not beating the hell out of your legs. Push as hard as you can during one class a week and see if you notice a difference in your runs after a month.

-Take a break from running. I know, I know. Runners hate this suggestion. But, seriously, taking a one week/one month break from running to find new ways to move might be just what you need to get back into it with a fresh perspective.

-Set a goal. Sign up for a race. No better way to push yourself than to set a bar to reach and work as hard as you can.

Plateaus are bound to happen to everybody, even (and maybe, especially) the pros. How you handle them is up to you. You can wallow in it and complain about it or you can switch it up, work a little harder, try something new and discover something else about yourself: you have another gear. Who knew?

Now go out and run!

What do you do to get beyond the plateau???

Substituting, Cheating, Calling In Sick (sounds like Summer School!)

Hi all! I hope you’re all avoiding the heat wave that is plaguing much of the country by staying indoors and enjoying modern technology in the form of air conditioning. Remember to take good care of yourself during your hot summer runs! In the mean time, I wanted to take this opportunity to answer a few of the questions I am asked the most by clients and friends regarding training. Here goes!

Q. Can I substitute swimming/biking/elliptical for running?

A. Yes, but with some provisions. If you are substituting for a speed workout, tempo run or hill workout, make sure that you perform intervals in the pool/on the bike/on the elliptical. For example, if you were supposed to do mile repeats, but you’re going to avoid the sweltering heat of the pavement and hit the pool instead, you approximate how long one mile repeat takes you and swim hard for that same amount of time. You recover in between intervals the same as you would if you were running, by swimming slowly (switch to backstroke, maybe!) and then taking off again for another mile repeat.

Basically, you work hard for the same amount of time you were going to run, ensuring that your body will still be getting the benefit of an interval workout. If it’s a recovery run for you, a you want to be as out of breath as you would be for a recovery run (usually just slightly faster than conversational pace).

 

Q. Can I hold onto the treadmill as I run/walk?

A. Not unless you have some physical disability that keeps you from being able to balance as you walk. If you have to hold on (and you do not have a physical disability) then you are going too fast and cheating yourself in the process. If you do have a physical disability, feel free to hold on by any means necessary and, by the way, good on you for hitting the treadmill!

 

Q. Does gardening/shopping/cleaning my apartment count as exercise?

A. Technically, yes. However, we don’t count it as a workout. These are what you put under the heading of “Active Rest.” They are a form of exercise, but they do not count towards your workout. Sorry.

 

Q. Should I run if I’m sick?

A. Only you can decide that. A good rule of thumb is this: If you are sick from the throat down (including stomach, etc.) give yourself a rest. If you have a fever: No way. If you can’t go to work: Nope. If you are having trouble getting through everyday activities, please stay in bed and catch up on your Netflix queue.

If you have sinus stuff or are at the tail end of a cold, a little jog might do you some good. You have to be the judge as to whether or not you have the energy for a run. If you do, go for it. If you start to feel run down during your attempt to hit the pavement, head home and give it another couple of days.

When in doubt, rest. You do yourself no good by pushing your body to do more than it is able to do during a viral attack.

 

Hope this helps to clear some stuff up for you out there! Now go out and run!