Listening To Your Body

Happy hump day my friends!

I am a firm believer that in order to reach any of your predetermined goals, you will have to push your body to do things that it never has before. Sometimes that means forcing it to do things that may not be natural or may even hurt a little. You all know the old saying, “No pain, no gain” right?

A good challenge for yourself whatever your level of running is, can always be a good thing. For those starting out it can be just running a mile without walking. For more advanced runners it could be breaking 2 hours for a half marathon and so on.

Since the beginning of 2018, I have pushed myself to gradually increase my mileage as I prepare for the 2018 United NYC Half Marathon. My goal for that half marathon is to run my personal best which would be under 1 hour and 51 minutes. A great day would be to break 1 hour and 50 minutes! In the midst of doing that, as many of you have read, it has been frigid in New York City. In my mind, I know what pace I will have to run at the half marathon in order to meet my goals. I also know that right now given the weather in New York City, it’s difficult for me to run that pace. Icy conditions, wind and more layers of clothes than I prefer, are just making that pace close to impossible.

As is the reaction for most people in cold air, my breathing in the cold weather is not optimal. Further, the turnover in my legs right now is just doesn’t happen as fast. There is truth in the fact that the cold air does drop the temperature in your legs slightly lower to the point where the blood does not circulate as fast and they tend to feel a lot more sluggish than in warmer temps. Maybe its that or maybe its mental or maybe it’s the tights I am wearing but I am definitely feeling slower in this cold during my training runs. I’ve come to accept that this will have a direct impact on my pace in this weather and to be honest, that is perfectly fine! For me, right now, there is no need to push the body and risk injury my pulling a muscle. A couple of weeks ago, I felt soreness in my calf when I tried to go full tilt. No need to risk a calf injury. Instead I can focus on increasing my distance which is what I have been doing.

My pace isn’t as fast in this cold – but its ok!

 

The alternative to listening to your body is listening to that bad alter ego of yours that tells you to sit it out and do nothing. We definitely do not want to listen to that! Take pride in stepping up to the challenges or goals that you would like to achieve but listen to your body. The road to your goals is yours alone and if you have to alter the process a bit because your body is telling you something that is perfectly fine.

My wife recently took up running in the past 6 months. She has never been much of a runner as she is asthmatic. In doing some reading on her behalf I found that asthmatics can run, they obviously have to watch their breathing and try to avoid cold air. Her near term goals are to run a 10k and she is working towards this still. But I told her that there is no rush to get there. At times her breathing has been hampered in the cold. At times her knee has bothered her. All things to take seriously and to obviously listen to the body. Still that doesn’t mean its time to go back to the couch. She’s altered her running workouts to work on cardio at the gym on the elliptical and has focused on working her core and some strength training also. When your body talks back, it isn’t the end of the world. Just listen to it. Cooperate with your body by altering your workouts, maybe take an off day or two and your body will reward you in return!

There will be obstacles in every road no matter who you are or what level you are at. No one is immune to them.  How you handle them will determine your outcome. So if your body talks back to you don’t get discouraged – it happens to all of us!

Stay positive and keep moving towards those goals!

Stay focused no matter what obstacles may come!

Display Your Pride For New York City!

Happy Monday to all!

New York City has just gone thru one hell of a cold spell. The temperature has not been near freezing for over a week. Wind chills have had it feeling below zero for quite some time. Still, I have seen so many posts on social media of people running in this cold weather.Seeing this is quite inspirational. It shows a drive and determination that you just don’t see in too many place.

I myself ran a 5k on New Year’s day in zero degree weather. New Yorkers for lack of a better term can be crazy at times with their running. For me, it has to do with a very busy schedule so my time to run is limited. That being said, whenever I plan on getting a run in, I hold myself to that no matter what it is doing outside. For others, as well as myself, there is a great sense of pride to running in New York City. That can also be said for the hundreds of thousands that flock to New York City each year to run races here.

With all of the above in mind, I had an idea to make accessories and shirts with the hashtag #irunnyc on them. For me it is one of my favorite running hashtags. I’m proud to be from New York City and I love running thru out the streets of New York! I have had several runners, both from New York and from out of town express the same pride. I’ve started a page on this blog that has a few items on it that display the hashtag. I am hoping that you will give it a visit and check it out. If you do, check back often as  I will be adding more things from time to time. If anyone has something that they would like to see with the #irunnyc hashtag on it, let me know and I will try my best to make it happen! If nothing else, I will have fun wearing some of these items over time to some of my upcoming races!

For now, be proud of your city and display your pride with #irunnyc accessories and apparel!

Baby Its Cold Outside!

It seems that winter decided to come early on the east coast this year! Technically, it is not winter yet and we have already had 2 snowfalls and on Wednesday, we had windchills of single digits! If this keeps up then we are in for a very cold and perhaps, even a long winter.

For some of us, we have some races coming in the spring that we would like to get ready for. Personally, I have the United NYC Half Marathon in March and that is going to require me to workout all winter! I’m praying for nice conditions come race day. Pictured just above is the scene from last year’s NYC Half- cold with snow on the ground!

For some of you reading this, you might be eager to just start a running program. The weather can be a deterrent for starting a running plan unless you choose not to let it! Barring the fact that you hit the lotto tomorrow and relocate to warmer climates, here are some cold weather tips that I follow when I need to run in the cold and nasty weather! Follow these and you should be able to confront cold frigid temps!

  • Check the weather and plan accordingly. This might sound obvious but you have no idea how many times people tell me they didn’t realize it was ‘that cold’. In winter, the wind chill is a factor and while the mercury might read 40 degrees out, the wind chill can make it feel like 30 or 20 degrees. That difference is huge if you are dressing for 40 degrees. You do not want to underdress for winter weather.
  • Once you have checked the weather, dress for weather 10 degrees warmer than it is outside. Once you get going on your run, you are going to heat up. Having too many layers may make you a sweaty and uncomfortable mess.
  • Layer up! I know folks think they can wear that one super thick pullover or sweatshirt but that’s not ideal. Layering up is the way to go. I tend to start with long sleeves at 50 degrees and add a layer for every 10 degrees it goes down. The layers don’t have to be thick because they will trap heat in between. The key thing to be cognizant about is the layer against your skin. This layer should never ever be made of cotton! Cotton doesn’t wick away moisture and being wet and cold is not something you want in cold weather. Go with wool or other materials that wick away moisture. Under Armour makes great shells for cold weather that I love as bottom most layers and their layers wick away moisture also!
  • As winter drags on, you know that most of the time you will likely have to deal with night time running. Here is a post I wrote a few weeks ago with tips specifically for running in the dark. Make sure to implement these during your cold weather runs!
  • Cover those extremities! Gloves, hats, scarves are a must especially a hat. It’s a known fact that 90 percent of your body heat leaves via your head. I can never understand why folks run in cold weather without a hat! Those fingertips need protection too. Don’t worry about the iphone, they sell gloves with special fngertips for the phone too!
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Picked these up at this year’s NYC Marathon expo and they are racking up winter miles!

  • Ok so you are now dressed. No running yet because you must stretch, stretch and stretch some more! I am a big believer of stretching in general. In cold weather, double or even triple the amount that you stretch! Your muscles tend to contract more in the cold and they will take longer to get loose and limber. A lot of muscle strains happen in cold weather because people do not take the time to adequately stretch. Don’t let this happen to you!
  • If you know you will be dealing with wind on your run, and there tends to be a lot of wind in the winter, plan your run accordingly. Find out which way the winds are blowing and break your run up into two segments. Your first segment, should have you running into the wind so that when you come back, the wind is at your back. In the cold weather, you do not want to do the opposite!
  • If the temperature tends to get extreme, in my opinion single digits or anything below zero is extreme, then it may be time to find a treadmill. I personally despise the treadmill but Wednesday night for example, I bit the bullet and ran 5 miles on the treadmill. Wind chills were making it feel like 5 degrees and for me, after a long day, I was not in the mood to deal with the cold, the winds and the dark.

Wednesday night was also the motivation to write this post! It would have been very easy for me to stay home and throw on sweats and call it a day. But remember, its December! There are still parties to come, still tons of food to consume and you need to stay ahead of the game! Don’t let the cold weather keep you on the couch and feeling guilty. Follow these steps above and you will be ready to brave the cold and come back from your run feeling like you have conquered the world!

Have a great Thursday my friends!

This Is Your Journey

Good day friends! Time to get over that hump, its Wednesday! These days, I’ve been thinking a lot about the reactions I get from people when we discuss my running. Of course there is always the comments like “dude you are crazy” or “running is just boring for me”. Those are to be expected. Then there are those that claim not to have the time or will blame something else for them to avoid running all together. Then there is the bunch that confuse me with the following comment: “I’m not fast enough, so why bother”.

When I hear that comment, or something similar, it’s like a punch in the gut. My first reaction is to say, “you know you are right, I’m going to stop running because I’m not fast enough either”.

There are tons of people faster than me. So I wonder, why compare yourself to anyone at all? This is your own journey. It’s my journey also. My journey will be completely different from yours. There may be some similarities but at the end it’s customized to you and me.

My journey three years ago started when I was holding onto my daughter’s stroller to use it as a walker in Disney World because excess weight had given me bad plantar fasciitis and the pain caused me to hold onto the stroller, just to walk! My journey started when I got home from Disney. Lose the weight with exercise. I took small steps. Walking, jogging, stopping even during my running as my foot got thru the discomfort. Time on my watch didn’t matter. What mattered was dropping the weight.

When the weight started to go down, the satisfaction of a walk or a jog felt so euphoric. It was like a drug. An exercise high if you will. I never wanted to give this drug up. Walks became jogs and jogs became runs. Never since HS did I ever think I would run as much as I do now, however that journey has led me here.

Going back to the concept of being fast enough, did it matter how fast I was going to walk around my block three years ago when I started my journey 40 pounds heavier? Not at all. My eyes were set on losing that weight. My daughter was 5 at the time. Dad wasn’t about to be slowed down at this age because of some excess weight and ankle issues. When you put all of this into perspective, ask yourself instead, ‘are you fast enough to make the decision to do something better for yourself before too much time passes or before its too late?’ That’s where the question lies. That’s where you question ‘your speed’. Never mind how far others are running or how fast they are running it. They aren’t on your journey. Only you are!

Further what awaits you once you decide to take on ‘your journey’ is a transformation into a better version of yourself than ever before. For many, the physical aspects of your journey will bring you a healthier, stronger and more fit self. However that’s not the only transformation you will see. I talked about that ‘fitness high’. Oh its real…it is very real! Runners can tell you about their ‘runner’s high’ also. For me it is a feeling like no other and it isn’t one that I feel only when I run fast or I set a personal best at a distance. I feel it every time I run. You may not feel it initially but it always comes around! How I wish more people would experience this – but they don’t because mentally they have put up a road block that won’t allow them this euphoria.

Now that I’ve explained why time doesn’t make a difference, I hope I have been able to push some of you out there to stop doubting and questioning yourselves! Sometimes the mind is our worst enemy. Ironically enough, just yesterday I spent the whole day thinking of a quote that a great American Olympic distance runner, Kara Goucher, said back in 2013. I will leave you with a graphic of that quote below and implore you to start your own journey now!!

Athlinks – Another Cool Running Resource!

Hi everyone! This will be a short but hopefully a some what informative post. There is no mystery that I love running, but here is one thing that I really love about it. Just when you think you have seen it all or that you have enough websites, gadgets etc to keep you entertained with your running, along comes something that you never knew existed. A couple of weeks ago I discovered “The Runner Box” and I broke it down for my readers here. Last week I finally joined Strava. Yesterday I came across our friends at Athlinks. The “Fitness” sub folder on my iphone is growing almost daily with all of these finds!

My first thought when I came across Athlinks was “All that work I spent on keeping my race log page and these guys will do it all for you!”. Essentially that is what Athlinks is, a site that pulls results from every organization that you have registered for a race with. In a way for me, it was kind of creepy how they are able to find the results of races regardless of where you ran them. But hey, these are race results and I have no shame sharing them with the world ! I always enjoyed New York Road Runners results page because it goes back several years and their stats are pretty detailed. However they obviously do not keep track of races that I do not run via NYRR. Athlinks keeps it all! You can also follow your friends on the site, assuming they are registered, and you can see their times and even make them your friendly “rival”. I have no rivals yet but who knows where this feature of the site will take me lol. Looking at all of the results on one nice page along with stats was pretty cool. However that feeling of bliss was quickly erased when I noticed that it has been a while that I haven’t run a race. I’m getting the urge to run again and I don’t know if I can wait til January til my next race. Hmmmmm…

 

Are you on Athlinks? If so follow me and leave me a note in the comments so I can follow you back! If you are new – enjoy setting it up. Its simple and quick to setup!

Monday Motivation – Starting A Run Plan!

Good Morning blog world! It’s a Monday and the sun is out! Sure there is snow on the ground but let’s not allow that to foil our plans. If you have been thinking about getting a running workout started, let’s not let the weather steer you wrong. If you are ever going to take one word from me take this. The hardest part of the whole process is taking that first step out of the door. Once you are out there your body will adjust and that cold weather that you were concerned with won’t be much of a concern.

Now that you have taken my word on that, here are some simple steps that I recommend new runners keep in mind as they get acclimated to the whole process. These are steps that I myself followed a few years back when I started  running again. Like many of you, my schedule is busy. Once you have a job, a family, children, friends and whatever else, it gets hard to get into a routine. I totally get it. But that doesn’t mean all hope has to be lost. If I can get it done, I know you all can get it done!

  • Before you take a step running wise, commit to yourself that this is YOUR journey. You don’t have to run at anyone’s pace or beat any certain times. This journey is yours and you are the master of your goals!
  • Once you have committed to my first point above, do set a goal for yourself. It can be as simple as running a mile without stopping or it could be running a 5k. It’s not easy to recommend a standard goal because everyone has different capabilities and fitness levels. Therefor I will say this, in general, your goal should challenge you but should also be something attainable. Set a reasonable time frame for your goal of somewhere between 1-2 months. Need a race to run?  Check my race calendar on my blog here! (sorry NYC area only!)
  • Here is the most important part in my opinion, particularly for busy folks. Schedule your workouts! People starting to run say “I think I will try and run 3-4 times a week”. Three to four times a week is great but saying just that, leaves things too open ended. Instead of saying 3-4 times per week, schedule those 3-4 times per week and tell your family and/or friends about your scheduling so that you don’t run into scheduling conflicts with your workouts. This may sound funny, but when I schedule my workouts, I set aside time slots and send calendar invites to my wife so that the time is blocked out on her calendar so that she doesn’t try and have me run errands or handle the kids during those times. Too often we “say” we will run but then “something” comes up! I found scheduling workouts to be very effective to meeting your goals!
  • If you have a mobile device download one of the well known running apps that exists. Two of my favorites are Map My Fitness by Under Armour and Strava. These apps run with the use of the GPS on your mobile device and can track your runs as well as the times and splits. I know I previously said not to worry about running a certain time, but tracking your own workouts will help you monitor your progress. These apps are free to use and both have premium options to add on. Basic tracking of your workouts is free. Don’t have a mobile device? Pick up an inexpensive stop watch on Amazon and log your runs in a small running diary of sorts.
  • Another very important tip that many people over look is stretching. I know we are pressed for time, but please please please do not by pass your stretching. If you are short on time, shorten your run but get your stretching in. Five minutes of stretching will go a long way especially if you are new to running. Remember, your muscles are new to this do. The last thing you want to do it build up the motivation to start a running plan and then get injured. Here are some key stretches that I do myself before I start a run.

Running Stretches

  • When running, run at a pace where you can hold a conversation. If you are running and you are out of breath and cannot hold a conversation, then you are starting out too fast. I have mentioned to many beginners that the number one thing to focus on at the beginning is your breathing. Never mind your legs or pace or anything else. If you lose your breathing tempo, everything else will follow suit.
  • As hard as it may be, don’t think of running as a bad thing. So many people never see it thru but the feeling at the end of meeting your goals when running is euphoric. For many it is a feeling that not many other daily things can bring.

I will leave the ‘starting out” tips at that for now as I don’t want to bombard beginners too much. As always if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me!

Experienced runners, have any tips for new runners starting out? Share them in the comments section!

Have a great week everyone!!