Lesson one: increasing aerobic capacity.

August 4, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Posted in running | Leave a comment

Aerobic capacity is your body’s ability to bring oxygen into your bloodstream, which, in turn, gives you the energy you need to exert yourself (running). When you increase your aerobic capacity, you are able to run faster, longer, and stronger.

Many people (including me, until recently) believe that the only way to build aerobic capacity is to do speedwork. But I’ve just learned that that’s not true! While speedwork (intervals, pace runs, repeats – more on those later) can certainly help, the best way to build aerobic capacity is to simply run greater distances. You are doing the most work when you push yourself just a bit more past the moment when you think you can’t go any longer. During that extra mile or half mile, you’re teaching your body to deal with the added stress so that it is able to handle it better next time.

Naturally, when training for a marathon, you do this every week as you increase the distance on your long run. But remember that your overall weekly mileage counts too, so be sure that you’re getting in all of your weekday miles. If you can only run four days a week instead of five, try to tack the missed miles onto your other runs.

A few from Tuesday’s practice:

See you tonight? 6:30 at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park. All are welcome.



August 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Posted in not-running, Thursday group, weekend | Leave a comment

Lately, inconsistency is the theme of my life. I’m an erratic runner, yogi, and blogger. (Not to mention wife, daughter, employee, friend, cat mommy, housekeeper, businesswoman, cook, etc. etc. etc.) Sometimes I get around to things; more often, I don’t.

So, for the moment, I’ll just offer you some pictures from last week and hope to be back tomorrow with the first part in my series on what I learned in my coaching certification course.

See you soon!

Information overload.

July 26, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Posted in not-running, weekend | Leave a comment

I spent this whole weekend cooped up in a basement conference room at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey.

I was taking a course to be certified as a running coach!

I learned SO MUCH. We covered everything from how the body creates energy to nutrition to injury prevention and treatment to building training plans. It was incredibly overwhelming to have so much information condensed into such a short period. But it was also extremely useful. Starting next week, I’ll share a series of posts on the various things I learned here on the blog. In the meantime, I’ll tell you the major thing that I took away from the program (which may be obvious, but kind of hit me like a ton of bricks):

The most important thing is miles.

The more miles you run, the better runner you will be. Yes, there are many other factors, but the bottom line is that you can add up all of those other factors and they won’t mean much if you’re not getting in the miles. So, I’d suggest that you lace up your sneakers and get out there!

The hardcore group.

July 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Posted in running, Thursday group | Leave a comment

As Coach Jeff recalled last night, on the 2009 marathon team there were a handful of people we called “the hardcore group” after they ran the 18-mile tune-up in freezing, pouring rain, even when the coaches told them to stay home and stay dry.

Well, there’s a new hardcore group.

These crazies came out in 97 degree (heat index 107) temps for their weekly Thursday run. Clearly, they mean business.

We shortened from the standard 5 miles to 3.5 and took a gatorade break between loops, but we still cranked it out, and at a clip, I might add. I was very impressed with everyone! (Myself included :))

On that note, though, PLEASE don’t run outside today. A day off won’t kill you, but a run might.

Have a safe, fun, beachy, cold-beer-filled weekend! And good luck to everyone doing the NYRR Long Training Run tomorrow. Drink lots of water and gatorade!

Yoga + music: yay or nay?

July 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Posted in yoga | 5 Comments

I did my 15 minutes of random yoga this morning with music playing and it was… weird.

I’ve always thought of yoga as a quiet, meditative time. When I’ve been to classes with music, it has generally been what I would call “yoga music” – mostly instrumental and played at a very low volume. But I know that real music is becoming more and more prevalent in some studios, so since I already had music playing this morning, I just let it go.

My verdict is: I’m not convinced. I spend a lot of energy trying not to think of anything but yoga when I’m doing yoga, and music really distracts me from that. Also, the varying rhythms seem to mess up my breath patterns, and breath is how I measure my time in each asana.

But maybe really clever teachers choose the right music. I was just letting Pandora go all willy-nilly. So I can’t be sure.

What do you think? Yoga + music = yay or nay?

P.S. Join us for some very hot and sweaty running tonight! 6:30 at the Columbus Circle entrance to the park.

Making up for lost time.

July 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Posted in running, strength | Leave a comment

Well! THAT was a workout. Covered a few days worth, if you ask me.

This handsome group gathered for team R2R’s Tuesday Technical Run.

(Like how there are more and more of us each week?)

We started with a light jog around the littlest loop – 1.7 miles. Then Coach Ali threw us right into a core workout: warmup (high knees, butt kicks, jumping jacks) followed by balancing exercises (sort of like Warrior III), lunges, squats, mountain climbers, push ups, and planks.

Then we did some short funny runs to wake up some muscles we don’t normally use while running – sideways runs, high knee runs, butt kick runs, skipping, and backwards runs.

This was all accompanied by some delightful music.

If anyone wants to volunteer to play at all of our practices, we would gratefully accept!

We finished with a surge run – another time around the 1.7 mile loop. This time, we were to start slow and gradually increase speed, finishing with a burst of sprinting at the end. We were all pretty exhausted by then, so there wasn’t much in the way of increasing speed, but I did manage to sprint it out at the end.

Even though I was sweating like a hog and ready to pass out, I felt great when we finished! It was quite a well-rounded workout.

Oh, and remember our friend who was struggling a few weeks back? She was amazing last night. She did absolutely everything and didn’t fall behind at all. Now that’s progress. My heart swells!

If you’re out running this week, please be careful. It is so hot and humid. HYDRATE and take it easy!

Here and there.

July 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Posted in not-running, strength, weekend, yoga | 6 Comments

This has been a crazy summer. In addition to fixing up our apartment, we also…

Bought a house in Rhode Island!

My family lives there, and we’d been dreaming of a place where we could “get away” for a while, and now we’ve finally found our spot. (Remember when I was posting pictures of the beach in the winter? That was because we were house hunting near the ocean!)

Anyway, it’s a dream come true, but it also means that I’m stretched thin. More and more, my only workouts are runs with R2R. That’s great, but I only see the team once or twice a week at the most, which is not enough. So, I’m trying to find ways to squeeze in mini workouts here and there.

I’m starting with the yoga I mentioned last week – I got an off-line recommendation for a DVD with several 20 minute workouts (perfect!). While I wait for the Amazon order to arrive, I’m faking my way through 15 minutes of sun salutations each morning to hold me over.

I’ve also dusted off my weights. I have the least elaborate set of all time – two 7-lb dumbbells and a 10-lb kettlebell – but they get the job done when there’s nothing else. I can run through 3 sets of bicep curls, overhead lifts, squats, lunges, and calf raises (and those are all equipment-free!) in 15 minutes.

Then, if I’m feeling really wild, I’ll throw in some true torture – planks. I try to hold for 30 seconds and the rest for 20 seconds and repeat 5 times. (On the fifth one I am literally groaning.) This gets me sweating bigtime, which means it’s working. You really use your whole body staying up, so it’s pretty unbeatable for a quick workout.


Any other good ideas for quickie workouts?

AM yoga.

July 14, 2011 at 11:55 am | Posted in yoga | 2 Comments

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I had a job that didn’t start until 10 am, and I used to get a lot done in the morning. And for a long stretch – a year? – I actually got up early every single morning and did a mini-yoga session to start my day. I had a 20 minute VHS (!!!) tape called AM Yoga that I loved.

Now, I have to be at work at 9, and my office is further away, and I’m older and lazier. But since I haven’t had time lately to get to yoga after work, I’d like to get back into my old habit of practicing in the morning. There’s nothing easier than showing up in your own living room, right? You don’t even have to shave your legs.

This morning I started with a YouTube video by Sadie Nardini. I guess I should have watched it first, because it wasn’t really what I was looking for – she just dove right into a bunch of moves that weren’t really even asanas. So, I closed the computer and tried making up my own routine.

It wasn’t terrible – a few sun salutations, mainly – but I definitely need guidance. I want to buy a DVD. I’m looking for straight vinyasa, something by someone who is a yoga teacher, not a fitness instructor (ie, not Jillian Michaels’ Bad Ass Yoga for Rock Hard Abs – if I wanted that I’d just go to the gym). Any recommendations?

Sweaty striders.

July 13, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Posted in running | Leave a comment

My deodorant was working overtime last night.

It was HOT and HUMID as Team R2R gathered for its Tuesday Technical Run.

Coach Ali taped my ankle – I’ve been having a little pain, so I’m trying to nip it in the bud. Ali held her breath and tried not to pass out from my foot odor.

This kindly cop popped by to see if we needed any help. We told him we were a-ok.

The team jogged up to Engineer’s Gate, which is at East 90th Street and exactly 2 miles from where we depart at Columbus Circle. It also happens to be one of the only spots in Central Park where there’s an extended flat surface. Ali and Brian set up orange cones there to mark a distance of 100 meters, and the team was to sprint that distance 12 times with full recovery between each sprint. (This is the moment where I ecstatically remember that as a coach, I don’t have to do the workout!) In the interest of surviving the extreme weather, we cut the 12 sprints back to 8. (I did one just to test it out and I can affirm that we would have taken a group trip to the hospital if everyone had done 12.)

These sprints are called “striders” and are a short, quick run, starting out slow and increasing speed. The goal is to increase your leg turnover, maintain correct form and lengthen your stride.

It was actually a kind of fun workout (says the person who didn’t do it), though perhaps would have been better on a slightly less disgusting day.

What’s your favorite speed workout? Know any fun ones?

The hills are alive.

July 11, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Posted in running, weekend | Leave a comment

Coach Brian is a funny guy. He told us that Team R2R’s long run this Sunday would be a “very light jog” around Central Park.

Very light jog indeed! I think we went up and down every hill I never knew existed in CP.

It was actually an incredibly beautiful run. We were really off the beaten path and for the most part, I had no clue where we were – which was awesome.

To be completely honest, though, I had a little bit of trouble keeping up. I guess that’s what I get for not running at all for 10 (!) days, and really only running a handful of times in the whole month before that. Marathon training is in full swing now, and though I’m not likely to run myself, I need to be able to keep up with the team on our runs.

(That said, the hills were so killer that Coach Ali cancelled our planned post-run cross training, so I know I’m not the only one who was exhausted :))

P.S. Found an awesome new post-run rehydration drink: chocolate coconut water. So delicious.

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