Looking Back on 2012

Today I ran 12 miles to play out 2012. That’s 12 miles more than I could run less than a year ago. Honestly, it’s 12 miles more than I ever could have imagined running before last March. To say this year has transformed me would be the understatement of the century. 2012 did not start out as the easiest year for me, in fact, it may have been the roughest start of any year of my life, but I’m leaving this year stronger and more confident in myself than I’ve ever felt before.

Oktoberfest

I took my first running steps in the middle of last March. I was not in a good place emotionally at the time and needed to focus on something bigger. Little did I know within 10 months it would become my passion and play a huge role in my life.

As I write this, I’m still having a hard time putting to words how much running has changed my life this year. To non-runners this probably all sounds cliché- how could exercising make you a better person, find yourself even? Well, to my runner friends, they know more than anyone that running is one of those things that strips you down to your core. Makes you figure out what you’re truly made of. That’s true for most of my running friends and it has been true to me this whole year.

I started with a Couch-to-5K run/walk program last March and it took me weeks to get off the treadmill and out on the road. Slowly but surely, my confidence began to build and I felt comfortable on the road. Then I got runner’s knee and felt completely defeated. Just when I was starting to feel comfortable, I’m sidelined by injury? Well, that’s the thing about running. My dad always said running builds you up so high one minute and the next minute it can all be taken away. But I guess that’s part of the thrill and it’s what keeps us all coming back for more.

After my runner’s knee healed, I wanted more and decided to train for a half-marathon. Training was going flawlessly and my mileage continued to increase and then a month before the half-marathon I was struck with a terrible case of IT Band Syndrome. I remember the day in August like it was yesterday when I couldn’t even run a mile on the treadmill. I pressed the big red stop button fell to the ground and basically started crying.

Halfmarathon1

After a week off, and complaining on Twitter, a fellow runner, Ryan Knapp, reached out to me and offered to help with my form because he said that was probably the root of the ITBS problem. He was 100 percent right and with three quick changes I was back on the road, running stronger and faster than ever and finished my first half-marathon at the Hampton Rockfest Half-Marathon in September.

Halfmarathon2

That is another thing about running- the running community is so tight-knit, supportive and just plain awesome! I’ve met so many amazing people just through running and I haven’t even met many of them in person! It sounds weird to the non-running blogger but I’ve met some really amazing people through #runchat and other amazing networks and I can honestly call them my friends. I was also honored to be chosen as a Greatist and FitFluential ambassador, my blog was highlighted on the RunChat website during August for Running Blog Month and even nominated for a RunChat blogging award for best new running blog! The running community had supported me through injuries and congratulated me on running accomplishments and I’ve done the same for them. It is their support and motivation that keeps me going and inspires me to achieve more.

Running also did an amazing thing for me this year by landing me an unbelievable job at Runner’s World magazine as an editor. This is something I couldn’t have imagined in a million years but the experience of graduating from college, getting a job as a reporter and then only a few months later landing an editor job is unfathomable in and of itself. But, the fact that I get to write about running, something I’m so passionate about, is just icing on the cake!

Runner's World

This leads me to my final point and the thing that has brought me the most joy this year from running and that’s been connecting with other runners and helping them out. While I am definitely not an expert, I’m a self-proclaimed novice, I only hoped that my running escapades could help other people and now people are asking ME for advice! Some people start running or a new fitness routine to get in better shape. I started running to change my life and find myself and I’ve gotten that and so much more out of it. While my 2012 only consisted of 10 months of running I’m looking forward to what 2013 will bring. I don’t think this post does my year justice but it’s something I’ll continue to reflect on. I wish everyone the best in 2013 and Happy New Year!

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Monday Motivation: I am Stronger

Happy Monday and New Year’s Eve everyone! To me there’s nothing better than New Year’s because it’s a fresh start and a time to look back on the year you had and what you can do to improve in the upcoming year. I’ll do a resolutions post later on this week when I actually nail them down but I want to hear yours! What promise are you making to yourself in 2013 and how will you stick to it? Whatever your resolution is for 2013, I wish you a strong, happy and transformative new year!

Make it count New Year's Nike

Learning to Race Uncomfortably

VictoryI have a confession to make- I’m too comfortable with running comfortably, especially in a race. I’m trying to change this and in 2013 I will change this. I’m a pretty competitive person but since I only started running a year ago racing is totally new ground for me. However, slowly but surely I’m starting to get faster during my training runs and I’m trying to translate that speed to racing.

My problem is I get kind of lazy. I know, a race is about the last place you want to get lazy but I hold back when I know I have more to push. I make excuses like, “well, I’m not really ‘racing’ this race,” or “well, I don’t want to get hurt so I’ll just stay at this comfortable pace.” I think I make these excuses because I’ve always been more concerned with finishing a distance than the time my Garmin reads.

However, now that my paces during my “easy” runs are consistently sub-9:00/miles I know when it comes time to race, I have the energy and endurance to push that pace even harder. I like to call it, learning how to run uncomfortably and part of that lesson is realizing races are much different than training runs. You’re supposed to pace yourself but push yourself too. You’re not supposed to be able to talk. You’re supposed to hurt a little bit because you’re working you butt off to get a good time.

In an effort to learn how to push myself, I’ve been trying to do at least one speed workout a week, whether it be intervals or a tempo. A few of my speedy coworkers asked me to come to mid-week intervals with them one week. Scared, and extremely nervous, I conceded and thought I’ll just do my own thing and if I can’t finish it so be it. Well when I got there I thought to myself, oh no, if I’m going to do this I’m going to do the whole damn thing just like everyone else- and you know what? I did!

This workout was HARD. I started off with a 2-mile warm up at an easy pace just to get the blood flowing. Then, our coach, Budd Coats, had us do a workout that would break the heart of any slowpoke like myself. We did the following:

200m, 400m, 600m, 200m, 200m, 400m, 600m

What. Yes, that happened.

But you know what? I lived and my pace was a solid 7:24 for the entire thing! So a few weeks after that I decided to push myself and see what I was really made of. I had promised Michele, of NYC Running Mama dot com, I would participate in her virtual Race for Recovery 5-K. What better time to test my new speedy legs than a race where no one’s watching? Well it worked and I busted out a 24:14 3.1 miles! A 5-K PR by almost three whole minutes! I was dead at the end but felt amazing! I finally learned how to really push it even when my lungs, legs and mind were trying to get the best of me.

But, as always, it’s important to remember not to push yourself beyond your limits- because we all have limits. While my fast may not be the same as another runner’s fast, it’s fast for me and for now, I’m just trying to find my limits.

{Friday Faves} Reads, Runs and Raves

This has been quite the crazy week for me between traveling back to Massachusetts for the holidays to coming back to Pennsylvania for work the day after Christmas, to a snowstorm, to some iffy but successful treadmill runs- I’ve been all over the place! But, lucky for you, I still managed to find some pretty cool running things on the interweb. So, here they are- my Friday Faves!

  • Last week I found out my blog was nominated for the Best New Running Blog of 2012 for the #RunChat blog awards! Honestly I couldn’t believe it but I felt so humbled and honored to have been nominated. The winners were announced today and although I didn’t win, I was first runner up to a pretty amazing blogger- The Runner Dad. Congrats to him and the rest of the winners in the other categories! You can check them out here- RunChat Blog Award Winners announced via RunChat
  • One of my coworkers, Megan Hetzel, launched her newly designed running blog this week. It’s pretty great so you should definitely check it out –Meg Runner Girl
  • On Wednesday night I took part in a #FitFluential twitter chat co-hosted by the Commitment Day race series. This race series is pretty inspirational and challenges runners and non-runners alike to make a commitment as opposed to a New Year’s resolution on January 1, 2013. Check out the race series and what they’re all about here: Commitment Day
  • Found this great read about how exercise and running will make you smarter (but we already knew that, right runners?)– via New York Times Well blog
  • VIDEO: Girl Power! What if men and women switched roles at the gym? (pretty sure this is already happening)- via Greatist
  • Because I had to drive back to Pennsylvania to work the day after Christmas, my family had to switch around some of our typical holiday traditions. Usually we’ll go to mass on Christmas Eve and then to a family friend’s house for dinner and drinks. This year however, my mom planned a really nice day in Boston and we walked around, took pictures and went to a really nice dinner. I was so happy to be able to spend this time with my family because I have definitely missed them tremendously since moving down the PA. But, it’s precious days like we had on Christmas Eve that really make you appreciate each other’s company. Here’s one picture from our day in Boston.

Christmas

  • I might have some really big news coming next week, so in honor of that here’s a great quote:

Disney quote

Run happy this weekend y’all!

Avoid Winter Running Injuries- Give Yourself a Sports Massage

Winter running (outdoors) is for the truly dedicated runner. This is the runner who leaves the house wearing shorts, a long-sleeve tech shirt, gloves, ear warmers and compression socks when it’s 32 degrees out. Or, the runner who opts to get in a few miles on Christmas Day before the family stops by. This is not to say runners who opt to head indoors for treadmill runs aren’t dedicated- they’re probably smart. They’re smart because sometimes running outdoors in the winter can be dangerous and if you’re not careful, slipping on ice or falling into a snow bank can lead to a sidelining injury that’ll keep you on the couch for the rest of the season- and nobody wants that!

(via Pinterest)

(via Pinterest)

So, besides wearing the right clothes, bundling up and making sure you have all the right reflective gear, watch wear you step and don’t forget to stretch! Running in the snow can help to strengthen muscles in the legs and feet but can also lead to overuse injuries. Some common winter running injuries include hamstring strains, Achilles pain or Achilles tendonitis, lower back pain, runner’s knee and ITB syndrome. Injuries often occur during the winter because it takes a lot longer for you to warm up during a winter run but it also takes a lot less time to cool down so post-run stretching is vital to avoiding tight muscles and cramping.

One effective way to avoid tight muscles during the winter months is through sports massage. The Áhsi’ Day Spa in upstate New York offers special sports massage sessions for runners but they also suggest you do at-home self-massages before and after your winter runs.

“Massage is essential for runners to prevent injury,” said a representative of the spa. “Whether you engage in self-massage or professional massage, it is essential to use massage for a successful training during the winter months.”

Here are three tips from Áhsi’ Spa for at-home sports massages for runners:

  • Foam Roller: Foam rollers can be used to massage certain areas of the body. The lower back, neck and quadriceps are commonly massages with foam rollers.
  • Lacrosse Ball: Lacrosse balls are often used to relieve myofascial pain on hips, legs and other parts of the body.
  • Theracane: Theracane is a self-massaging tool that can be used for the shoulders and back. This tool is a runner’s favorite.

Week 7: Sub-50 10-K (and Half-Marathon) Training

Training went really well this week! I’m feeling really strong (knock on wood) and I keep on surprising myself with how awesome my paces are. I haven’t seen a pace in the upper 9’s or 10’s in weeks and what’s even better is I’m feeling more comfortable at paces in the upper 8’s (which means I can really go even faster!). Here’s a rundown of my runs this week:

Monday– I had to cover a story after work so instead of going to bootcamp I did 35 minutes of Detox Flow Yoga from Lululemon’s YouTube channel. I also did some planks and ab exercises after because I’ve been slacking in that department.

Tuesday– 5.2 miles, 46 minutes, 8:50/mile pace

Wednesday– 5.5 miles, 44 minutes, 8:00/mile pace (I ran with some of my faster co-workers and this was definitely a workout but it was great!)

Thursday– 2.94 miles, 24:58 minutes, 8:27/mile pace

Friday– Rest day and travel back to Massachusetts for Christmas!

Saturday– 4.5 miles, 40 minutes, 8:50/mile pace

Sunday– 10 miles! 1 hour 33 minutes, 9:18/mile pace

My long run this week (10 miles) was my longest run since my half-marathon in September and I felt extremely good! It was a really cold and very windy run but I still had a pretty good pace with the entire 10. I didn’t stop to walk at all and ran up the hills without any problems. I’m feeling good about the half coming up in January! Happy running!

{Friday Faves} Reads, Runs and Raves

This week in Friday Faves:

  1. My blog was nominated for a #RunChat award! I’ve been nominated for the “best new running blog” for 2012! If you have two seconds, and a Twitter account, please, please, please vote for me! Voting ends on Dec. 26 at 9 p.m. and I would really appreciate the support! You can vote here: Vote in the 2012 #RunChat Blog Awards
  2. This week in the #slowpokediaries: Favorite run of the week was when I played 5.5 miles of tag with some of my speedy co-workers. They said it would be an “easy” 5, but easy for them is 8:00/mile pace. It was a great run though and one of my fastest yet!
  3. If you haven’t seen “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creak” on the New York Times website yet, you are missing out! They’ve done some really amazing work integrating multimedia and feature writing that just makes my nerd journalism self warm with joy!
  4. The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness in 2012 via Greatist- this included Runner’s World’s own Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso!!
  5. I have to give a shout out to fellow run blogger Ashley of Running Bun for her feature on Fitness Magazine’s Fit Blogger We Love! So awesome Ashley!!
  6. photoI wrote a story this week for Runner’s World about Doug Masiuk, a type 1 diabetic who is about to complete the ultimate running trek- across the United States. Doug is running to raise awareness of the rise of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. and to inspire type 1 diabetics. Check out the story here: Type 1 Diabetic Running Across the Country via Runner’s World.
  7. And this motivation for your weekend long runs:

Go the extra mile

 

Running My Second Half-Marathon

run disneyI feel like I’ve been training since the day I started running, which was not too long ago. I took my first running steps last February when I decided to start a Couch-to-5K program. Now, I’m getting ready to run my second half-marathon, less than a year later.

I say I feel like I’ve been training since I started running because I really have. I began the Couch-to-5K program with the intention of training for my first 5-K. Before I even toed the starting line of my goal race, I was registered for a four miler on the Fourth of July. Then, about a week after finishing that race I registered for my first half-marathon in September.

It wasn’t until after my half, when I decided I needed to cool off a bit, that I felt lost. I did some 5-Ks but I craved the longer distances. In November, as winter started to set in, I decided I’d come up with a new goal of training for a sub-50 minute 10-K. Up until that point, all of my running goals had been based on distance so I figured, in an effort to get faster and bring purpose back to my runs, I’d set a new goal.

My sub-50 10-K training was going really well and before I knew it my average paces were dropping from the familiar and comfortable 9:50/10:00 per mile to 8-minute miles. I was getting faster and I liked it but then I was presented with the opportunity to run the Disney Half-Marathon.

It didn’t take much coaxing from my co-workers to get me to register with the Runner’s World Challenge but I was still a little hesitant because I would only have six weeks to train and my longest run since my half-marathon in September barely broke 7 miles.

But I registered anyways and started to increase my long run mileage on the weekends and my midweek mileage runs went from 3 miles to 5 miles. Last weekend, I did a 9-mile long run and surprised myself with paces around 8:40/8:50 per mile! I couldn’t believe it because when I was training for my first half-marathon all of my times were in the 10-minute mile range.

I’m not trying to say I’m some gifted runner, because I’m not, I’m a very average runner and I still have a lot to learn. But it’s amazing what a new goal, in my case the sub-50 10-K, can do to you. I’m so looking forward to the Disney Half-Marathon and can’t wait to meet the rest of the Challengers to hear their stories!

Week 6: Sub-50 10-K (and Half-Marathon) Training

try hard every day

(via Pinterest)

I have been really slacking on writing my weekly running round-ups lately. There are a few reasons for this: 1. I’m extremely busy with work; 2. This is a really busy time of the year in general; and, 3. I’m not sure how helpful they are to you guys, my readers.

The reason I started my blog was to document my experience with a Couch-to-5-K program last February/March. I wanted to use my blog mostly as a training log. As I finished the program and came up with new running goals I thought I’d continue doing round-ups of my training runs throughout the week. It also helps me to stay consistent with my writing but when I’m super busy with work, I kind of forget to do them.

But, after asking some fellow blogger friends, many of them said, write what you want to write, your blog is for you, and if it’s helpful to you then do it! So I’m going to continue doing it but I’m going to go about it a little differently. Instead of breaking down my workouts and runs each day I’m just going to do bullet points with distance, time and pace. If you’d like a more comprehensive description of follow me on Daily Mile where I usually go a little more in-depth with my run breakdowns.

Phew, glad I got that out of the way. And now, here are last week’s workouts:

Monday- 45 minutes of Men’s Health Delta Fit bootcamp at the Rodale gym. Involved lifting, squats and plyometrics.

Tuesday- Easy mileage day, 5 miles, 47:50, average pace of 9:33

Wednesday- Intervals with coach, 5 miles total, 37:00, average pace 7:24 (woah!)

–       2 mile warm-up

–       200m, 400m, 600m, 200m, 200m, 400m, 600m

–       ½ mile cool down

Thursday- 3 miles (semi-faster), 25:58, average pace of 8:39

Friday- REST!

Saturday- Long run, 9 miles, 1:24, average pace of 9:20

Sunday- was supposed to do a shakeout and it didn’t happen, oh well

Overall it was a really solid week of training. I hope everyone else had a great week!