Smile Samantha! You Are Our Member Spotlight Of The Week!

Always with a smile, Samantha has been featured on many NYRR promo ads!

Another week has passed so it’s time to shine the spotlight on one of our members! Today we are happy to shine that spotlight on one of our very first members, the always smiling, Samantha M.!

Samantha has always come to club gatherings with tons of energy, a positive attitude and of course her vibrant smile.

Samantha started running in 2001 in college when she felt she was overweight and as a result, it made her self-conscious. At the time she had an unpleasant dance teacher that would make her feel uncomfortable about her weight so she turned to running to prove that teacher wrong and feel better about herself. Little by little she would set small benchmarks for herlsef measured in city blocks.

When she’s no running, Samantha loves singing and dancing!

 

Eventually she had worked up to a mile and before she knew it she was running as far as 5 kilometers! As running became a healthy obsession, she would run at the gym on treadmills admittedly so she could watch trashy TV (lol). Ever increasing her mileage, she joined New York Road runners in 2012 and ran her first 5k that year. Fast forward to today, Samantha has run over 80 races with NYRR!

Being a runner since 2012, Samantha stumbled across We Are NYC Running club last year while training for the United NYC Half Marathon. Why would Samantha join a running club though after being a runner for 6 years and having success with it? Samantha points to the amount of support that she felt from strangers who shared the same common goal as her and had a true genuine love for running.

3rd from the right, Samantha was at the very first official club meet up!

Samantha was part of the first unofficial meet up of the club back at the 2018 NYRR Gridiron 4 miler run. That day she felt the group had something special just from spending 15 minutes together with the group before the 4 mile race. With many years of running already under her belt, she wanted to be part of something bigger where she could talk to people and not be judged. She remembers many years back still to that dance class teacher where she made to feel so small. Being a part of this club, she no longer feels that at all! Since joining the club, Samantha has loved being a member as she points to the many fabulous, strong, dedicated and down to earth people she has met. She adds that running a race is so much better knowing that you have a lot of people out there rooting for you and running with you. Just yesterday, Samantha ran her 22nd race as a member of We Are NYC Running Club as she ran the NYRR Gridiron 4 miler with the club and celebrated a year of running with her new found running family!

Looking forward, she continues to think about running the TCS NYC Marathon as a long term goal. For now she is concerned with committing time to train for a marathon as she knows the amount of time involved with it and she does not want to take that time away from her family, especially her three year old son Harrison. Speaking of her son Harrison, he himself has already run some races with NYRR. Samantha plans on continuing to have Harrison run more races this year while she continues to prepare for some more half marathons herself with the 2:00 time barrier as her ultimate goal!

Pictured here at the Bronx 10 Mile, Samantha ran 22 races with We Are NYC RC in 2018!

We are fairly confident that Samantha will break that 2:00 barrier if not at the NYC Half Marathon, perhaps the Brooklyn half marathon! Once she has done that, if she hasn’t changed her mind about going for the TCS NYC marathon, she may just be content with continuing another fun hobby of hers – performing and singing famous Broadway musical scores on top of her radiator with her son Harrison!

Here are some words that some of our members had for Samantha!

Fellow Club teammate Marjorie

Fellow Club teammate Cesar

 

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!!

Stay Ahead Of The Pack

Thanksgiving is over and in a day or so, November will be completely behind us. Staring us right in the face is a month that many of us love to let loose in. Days off of work, celebration with family, various holiday parties and lots of food and drink make this month so dangerous that once it is over you hear the same resolution mantras year after year once December exits and January enters.

“New Year, new me!”

“Time to shed some pounds”

“This will be my healthiest year ever!”

Sound familiar? I don’t mean to sound like a scrooge at all. I will most definitely attend my share of holiday parties. In fact as I look at my calendar, I am very thankful for the multiple “ugly sweater parties” I will be attending and the various work gatherings I have on the calendar. At the same time however, I also cringe because I know that at all these events there will be a lot of food, alcohol and of course dessert that will be calling my name and without undoubtedly, I will answer that call!

With all of that said, I have accepted December for the health trap that it is. However, I did something a few years ago that I have repeated each December and I highly recommend to everyone. As I mentioned above, folks wake up on January 1, some hungover and others not, and realize “damn, I was bad in December”. The pants fit tight, the scale annoys them because of the number they see and the resolutions begin. But why do people wait til January 1?

Don’t Wait Until January 1!

 

Three years ago, the gym that I am currently a member of, Lifetime Fitness, opened up the location that I go to in Garden City. They opened their doors in the first week of December. When my family joined, I thought that maybe we should just wait til January because were we really going to go to a new gym in December? Boy was I wrong!

Since then, when everyone is making ” “January 1” their eureka moment, I would much rather stay ahead of the pack and pick December 1. Think about it for a second, would you rather wait until January once you have added 5, 10 or whatever number of pounds to your frame and work harder to take that off? Or is it easier instead to offset the gains as they come along? Don’t get me wrong, December will be bad, but by all means embrace the holidays! I know I will. By starting an exercise routine in December however, you will give yourself the opportunity to either gain very few pounds or if you are lucky, none at all! Simple logic also tells you that once the deadly month of December is over, it’s easier to lose a few pounds if you started working out in the beginning of December than to lose a lot of them if you wait until January. An added benefit of starting a healthy plan in December is that there is no one in the gym in comparison to January. It’s a given that EVERYONE will show up to the gym in that first week of January. December tends to be a ghost town in the gyms!

Get Ahead Of The Pack – Gyms Are Empty in December!

 

There is no rule that “New Year’s Resolutions” need to start on January 1. I know your schedule may look busy in December but I encourage you to find those gaps in your schedule. Trust me they exist. Further, I have always said that you do not need a block of two or three hors to get a workout in. Remember, some time spent on yourself is better than no time.!

Once again, get ahead of the pack and start now, believe me you will not regret it!

Monday Motivation 

Ok folks, I have a confession to make. I didn’t run this weekend, nor did I exercise either. I haven’t had a weekend like that in some time. Do I feel bad? Not really. A little guilty perhaps. But the calendar says it’s Monday and for me, that’s the time to get back on the fitness grind.

For many folks, Monday’s are a drag. But they don’t have to be. They can also be the start of a new beginning, especially for someone who has been away from the fitness game for a while. If you don’t know where to start, it’s ok. Start by making simple decisions in your daily routine that are different from what you’re doing now. Here are some simple examples:

  • If you commute to work, get off a stop earlier than you usually do and walk the rest of the way. Tomorrow do the same and perhaps add the return trip also.
  • Drink coffee? Soda? Start to cut back the sugar. Sugar can pack on the pounds and if your trying to lose them, sugar will help.
  • Look at your daily habits. Do you really need to binge watch all of those shows on Netflix on Hulu? Ask yourself how much time you spend daily on shows and start replacing that time with exercise. Walks, runs, trips to the gym. Anything is better than self-imposed Netflix marathons.
  • Guilty of ordering take out? Don’t do it this week. Look over your diet and make healthier decisions.
  • Add veggies to everything – breakfast, lunch, dinner and slowly cut out the carbs. It goes a long way – trust me!
  • A lot of us have iphones – use the apple health app! Count your steps, track what you eat. It’s such a useful tool that is already on your phone but people don’t use it! Try it!
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Is Netflix your marathon? Consider scaling that back!

 

Of course, I highly recommend running to anyone looking for a longer term plan to feel better. My favorite recommendation for beginners, schedule yourself to take part in a 5k race in the next 3 months. That’s 3.1 miles. That gives you 3 months to get your body used to running 3.1 miles. Start out light. Jog a mile a few days a week for the first couple of weeks. Then increase it to 1.5 miles and then gradually increase it each week. In your practices leading up to race day work up to running 4 miles max. If you can get two or three 4 mile runs in then a 5k on race day will be easy! But listen to your body and progress accordingly. If running is new to you make sure you stretch properly before and after and if you feel pain, not soreness, take a couple of days off before resuming.
Monday’s should not be looked at as doom and gloom! It’s time to start a new routine! I gave you a couple of examples of how to start a new routine but ultimately its up to you to figure out what it is that you need to change!

Just promise me one thing – that you will make today a better day than yesterday!

Running doesn’t have to be fast – just consistent!

 

Workout – Thursday 10/19/17

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Say no to the couch and yes to sweat!


Ever since I ran the Staten Island Half-Marathon two Sundays ago, I have scaled back on my running. The training for that race put a lot of miles on my legs and with my next two races being a lot shorter, I decided to scale back a bit. In fact scaling back after a half marathon is highly recommended by the so called experts – see this article!

This past Monday, I did some striders on grass to stretch out the legs a bit. On Tuesday, I ran some shorter distances on the track and focused on speed.

Today the weather was too nice to not go for a run. The layoff from running long distances seemed to have helped as my pace overall was pretty swift.

Here is the funny part though and the part that I think pertains to many folks reading this. I commute from Manhattan each day on the dreaded Long Island Railroad. Today I knocked out on the train ride home. I mean I was dreaming and the whole bit! Got home and felt like sleeping some more, but with the weather as beautiful as it was, I knew I wasn’t going to get too many more days like this to run during the week. So I pushed myself. I downed a Gatorade Endurance Carb Energy Drink and off I went. I highly recommend these if you are feeling sluggish before a workout!

Got back at 7:30pm in time to enjoy some quality time with the family before everyone is off to bed. Once they knocked out, I logged on here about a half hour ago to write this. Why am I telling you my day? Because I want you all to see that even though our days can be busy and you may feel bogged down by it all – you can still get that work out in! You don’t need that much time – I gave it an hour today but a half hour would have been more than enough. I always say – “a little workout is still better than no workout“!

I’ll be posting my workouts from time to time. If you start to workout too, share yours with me! Would love to see your progress!

That 4th mile was under 8:00 because I waited at a traffc light for like 30 seconds during that mile – argghhh!!

Why I Got Back Into Running

First Step

Maybe its time for your first step?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I got back into running about 4 years ago. It has led me on quite a journey learning about myself and as long as my legs will allow me to keep running pain free, I don’t think this journey will end. But where is it going? Well to know that, I’ll have to tell you where I’ve been first!

I ran cross country and track & field in HS and had some pretty good success with it. Managed to get down to a 2:02 half mile and a 5:05 mile. I would say that is ok.

Picture From HS

Slim and ready for a race (circa 1990)

After high school, I continued to run in college and even shortly after college but primarily to stay in shape. Even though I did run after high school, my intensity level was a lot less than it was in high school!

Years went by and as family life settled in and daily routines as a homeowner and father of two arose, the pounds started to pile on and the waistline started to expand. If I ran 3 times a year I was probably exaggerating. Then in 2012  I got a phone call from a friend who I ran cross country with in high school. He had become the alumni director in my high school and was reaching out to some of his running buddies to get a group of alumni runners to run an alumni race at the school’s varsity cross country city championships. I couldn’t pass up seeing old friends and running the course I used to run at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, so you know I said yes and showed up.

Vanny! (Photo Credit: Van Cortlandt TC)

In high school, I ran the 2.5 mile (4k) course in high school usually under 15 minutes. On that day I ran the alumni race and out of 120 alumni, I finished 118th in the race and it might as well have been 119th because me and a buddy ran together and we finished together. My time was 23 minutes and change! Now let me stop for a second and say time should never be an issue to a new runner. But when you used to do this week in and week out and see where you are now, it’s an eye opener!  I felt helpless on some of those hills while I was running and woke up the next day in insane amounts of pain.

In the following months, I let that day scar me for a while for really no reason. Weight piled on after that and I developed some nagging pains in my ankle that a foot doctor said were weight related. I peaked out at close to 200 pounds.

Peaking at 200 pounds in 2013 – boy was that bad!

 

I love my family but when your daily routine consists of work, home, eating, drinking, lounging around the house and sleeping, it’s time for a change.

Cue up running.

My doctor prescribed me orthopedic inserts. At a very slow pace, I started to run again regularly. I changed my diet and in the course of a year my weight started to drop. In that year, I would come home and spend time with my family but I would yearn for a run. Sometimes when I would have a bad day at work, and even to this day, I tell my family, “Look, I’m not in a good place right now, can you give me an hour?”. Off I would go for a run and I would come back a changed person emotionally and mentally. For the past four years my need for a run has been like a drug but of course this is a good drug! I blame the euphoria that I mentioned in my last post and the endorphins that running brings.

How many of you out there feel tired all of the time. How often do you settle for nights on the couch which follow another night of takeout food? Weekends come and go and no exercise was done. Do you miss how you looked in high school or college? Are the clothes getting tight? Or do you wake up hungover way too many mornings?

Running worked for me – it can work for you! Start that change – all it takes is for you to get up and take the first step!

Get out and run, one step at a time!