(Not Quite) 10 Questions With…

Vogue or Work Bitch?

Driving or flying?

Super Mario or Zelda?

At the end of each interview, I ask my guests a series of rapid fire, just-for-fun questions. Here’s what Hollie (who you’ve met on “Running and…”), and Kevin and Alex (who you have yet to meet), had to say when it was their turn on the hot seat.

Enjoy!

How the Peloton App Changed My Life

I know, I know, it sounds dramatic. But after using it for nearly six months, I don’t think I can overstate just how much the Peloton app has improved my physical and mental game.

It all started when I was struggling to stay active during the pandemic. My motivation to push myself had all but disappeared, and we cancelled our gym membership as the hope of being safe in a gym faded more with each week the pandemic went on. I wanted to work out consistently, but I needed help. I’d heard about the Peloton app from friends that had the Bike and Tread, but… I was skeptical.

giphy-5

Peloton as a concept has been mocked endlessly. Who can forget the cheesy Peloton commercial that launched a thousand couch critics , or the exhausting “hot takes” from purist influencers mocking people for spending thousands of dollars on workout equipment when they can just run outside or get a cheap bike and hit the road. To those haters, I say: get a life. If you feel the need to berate or otherwise shame someone for buying a treadmill or a bike with a logo on it? Put the phone down, take a deep breath, and go eat an apple or something. And on the flip side, if you own Peloton equipment, good for you! I don’t give a f*ck how you spend your money, least of all on workout equipment. If buying a branded bike or treadmill helps you get and stay active? GO FOR IT.

giphy-6

…aaaanywaaaayyy! Popular opinion aside, the bigger concern I had was the cost. At $13/month, the app would be a new commitment. BUT, I reasoned, with the gym out of the equation, we were saving $40/month in membership fees. So I started the free one-month trial of the app and told myself to give it at least that long.

But after the first day, I was hooked.

giphy

Strength Training

The app interface is super easy to use, with an intuitive filtering function that allows you to sort and select classes by type, body area you want to focus on, length, difficulty, music type, and even by instructor. I started small with On-Demand strength training and HIIT classes, 10 minutes at a pop, before work and in between meetings: arms, back, legs, glutes, full-body… you name it, I did it. I learned the lingo, met all the various instructors, and left it all on the mat. Soon, I was stacking 3-4 mini workouts of 10-15 minutes on top of each other in one day.

My motivation came back in spades. I loved seeing badges add up in my profile, and the app’s integration with my Apple Watch encouraged me to get up and get going. There are challenges you can join within the app, and even training programs too.

giphy-3

Also, even though the On Demand classes are recorded, you can still see a count of how many other people are taking the class at the same time as you. In the middle of quarantine, there was something comforting to log on at a random time and find 7 other people in a class with me.

Walking & Running

In addition to the cross-training strength classes, I also took a few outdoor running classes with some success. It was easier to find the motivation to keep going farther than I’d normally go by simply selecting a 30- or 45-minute run and hitting the road. But everything changed when we lucked out and bought a second-hand treadmill.

Every morning, I rolled out of bed and onto the treadmill for short On Demand walking and running classes. 1-2-3 miles at a time, it added up. If I felt good – and most days, I did – I added another workout onto my schedule and kept going. Instructor Rebecca Kennedy quickly became my Peloton sensei (seriously, I’m convinced we were separated at birth because we have eerily similar upbringings and families).

giphy-5

I learned how to “high five” other participants, and squealed with joy when they returned the favor. Sharing workouts to social brought me tons of new encouragement from other Peloton fans, and I found my groove again. Soon, I was logging more miles, more often, and I was officially Pro-Peloton (App).

Meditation

Just when I thought I couldn’t love the app anymore, I discovered yet another benefit when my therapist suggested I try daily meditation – and wouldn’t you know it, Peloton has that too!

And just like the more active classes, you can sort the meditation sessions by time, by intention, and more. And again, the participant list was reassuring, with an average of 10-20 people taking “Sleep” and “Rest Day” evening meditation classes “with” me most nights.

Funny story: I logged into an On-Demand “Acceptance” class just after midnight on election night and found 95 other people in the virtual room with me. I haven’t stopped laughing about that since.

39393AD6-E75D-4C06-ADD6-BD4D3CE51968

LOTS of people apparently looking for tools to help them gain acceptance on election night, right along with me. 

I could go on, but I don’t think I have to; it’s safe to say I love this app and it’s only helping me more the more I use it. Next to the treadmill, paying the monthly app fee is the best investment I’ve made in my health in recent years. While I’ve already gotten so much use out of it for the past 6 months, I can easily see myself using it for the foreseeable future. And the best part is, there is really no risk of “running out” of workouts, either – there are HUNDREDS of classes On Demand, in every possible combination, with more being added every day. Yay for options!

giphy-2

Also: I’m not being paid by Peloton to talk up their app (god, I wish) – I just have gotten a lot of comments on Instagram about how I’m liking the app and figured I’d share my full thoughts here. With that said, now I want to hear from you: have you tried the Peloton app, or any of their equipment? How do you like it? 

A Very Special Bonus Episode of “Running and…”

After a great chat about running and physical therapy with Tiffanie (@Star_wars_runnah), our conversation soon turned to our number one shared interest beyond running: Star Wars.

This is a little bonus video of what happens when you put two Star Wars fans together after nearly 8 months of quarantine with no one to show off their toys and talk Star Wars with.

Running and… Physical Therapy

It’s time for Running and… Physical Therapy!

In Episode 2, I’m chatting with Tiffanie (aka @star_wars_runnah) about how her job as a physical therapist for children 3 years old and under has helped her stay grounded and healthy throughout a 20+ year running career that includes a handful of Boston Marathons and even more Star Wars costumes.

What – or who – else do you want to see on Running and? Let me know in the comments!

Let’s Talk About Running and…

Part of my reason for launching a YouTube channel was to not only share my own stories, but to share the stories of other runners, because we’re more than just runners.

Today I’m excited to introduce my new video series: “Running and…”!

There’s so much great running-focused content out there. But what interests you beyond running? This series takes a closer look at the things that make us runners tick in the hours we’re not logging miles.

I’m kicking off this new series this week with my good friend Hollie (@fueledbylolz) as we chat about running and… swimming!

Let me know what other topics you want to learn more about from me or from other runners – and I hope you enjoy!

Virtual Racing: Yay or Nay?

Back in February, I was SO excited to sign up for 4 New York Road Runner races in the spring and summer. I was fresh off of a health scare that had rattled me into a new outlook of sorts, so I was riding that motivational wave.

It helped that NYRR races are kind of my favorite things in the world. Others might think it sounds crazy, but there’s just something about getting up at the crack of dawn, rolling out to the train station, watching the sun come up from the train window, riding an empty subway, and jogging to the starting line to run a full loop or two around Central Park with 5,000 other people, then wandering the city for the rest of the day.

But, as luck would have it (can it still be called luck in this, the year of our lord, 2020?) ‘Rona showed up and made in-person racing a thing of the past. I held out hope for a few months that they’d be postponed, but the reality sunk in somewhere around June that nothing was going to go as planned this year, least of all racing in Central Park with thousands of other people.

Instead, virtual racing became the norm, and lots of people opted for running their races on their own time and in their own comfort zones – which usually meant alone.

Screen Shot 2020-10-19 at 9.57.42 PM

I’m no stranger to virtual races, having done a handful of them when I first started racing, mainly for the bling and fundraising purposes. In my experience, these races were usually done as an honor system type of thing, where people ran the miles whenever they wanted, and there was no checks or balances of entering your time to be “counted” as participating. You were merely sent the medal/shirt/bib/whatever swag came with your registration, and that was that as far as the “race” organizers were concerned. As such, I didn’t necessarily view these types of virtual races as “real” – it doesn’t seem right when I’m not running on the same course in the same conditions as everyone else.

In 2020, however, now that the idea of virtual racing is basically all we have left to cling to as runners in terms of goal-setting, it seems as if the systems have been majorly upgraded. Runners enter their times in the digital race results portals of their races, and compete for real. I have only participated in two, both of them still very much like the previous virtual races I’ve done, with no such technological advances, but I know handfuls of people who have run them and loved them. Some have run virtual Boston, others are prepping for virtual NYC… heck, some have even won their virtual races!

Screen Shot 2020-10-19 at 9.58.02 PM

I, on the other hand, ran my one notable virtual race on the treadmill, alone, put on the medal as I walked to the shower, then hung it up on my medal rack shortly after that and promptly forgot about it after the picture was posted to instagram.

shrug

As you can see, my virtual race experience through the pandemic isn’t necessarily a rousing success story – I only registered for one other race, back in early September, and still haven’t gotten any more information on it ($50 down the drain, possibly??), and I don’t have any desire to register for any more in the near future.

But that’s why I’m writing this post today: did any of your races get cancelled or turned into virtual races during the pandemic? How has your virtual race experience been? Tell me everything!

Gluten Be Gone

If the pandemic has given me anything (aside from crippling anxiety), it’s more time to focus on my own health. On the mental side of things, I’ve started seeing a therapist again (5 stars, 10/10, highly recommend), and on the physical side, I noticed that I was feeling sluggish and bloated after certain meals, but not always. My skin was also reacting poorly to *something*, and having experience with cystic acne in the early 2000’s that turned out to be an allergy to egg whites (go figure, which has also since gotten better), I thought maybe I would try a little unscientific investigation of my own.

science

I started tracking what I was eating on a daily basis, and discovered that (shocker) I was eating a lot of gluten, a fair amount of added sugars, and a TON of corn or corn-based products. Like, SO much corn. Also a lot of wine on the weekends. What can I say, a kiddie pool and a bottle of cab became my go-to Saturday activity from June through mid-September. It was safer than the beach, amirite?

200w

So I did what any rational human being would do, and I nearly entirely eliminated all of those things from my diet in one fell swoop. Corn, gluten, wine, and added sugar: 96-99% gone. 

eek

Yes, I know cold turkey is not necessarily the best way to do these things, and by eliminating them ALL at once, there’s no real way to determine which of them was really giving me issues. BUT…

Screen Shot 2020-10-15 at 4.57.20 PM

In the 8 or so weeks since I started, I’ve lost 10 lbs without doing anything different exercise-wise, my skin is slowly clearing, and the bloat is all but gone. My knees don’t hurt all the time. People are commenting that I look thinner, especially in my face, and I can definitely see it there. I’m also pleased that I no longer have the belly bloat I had gotten used to and chalked up to the quarantine-15 or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

IMG_0234

Now, I’m only still doing this because it’s actually pretty easy for me. I wasn’t eating bread on the reg, and the corn products were mostly snacks and stuff that I could easily replace – like swapping my daily lunch corn tortilla wraps for a slice of gluten free bread for open-faced sandwich action, or cutting my evening snacks of chips and salsa entirely. Added sugar was tough at first, but once I got over that initial “sugar withdrawal” mild headache for a day or so, I no longer crave sugar like I used to. 

The one thing I find most shocking of all is that I’m eating less but feeling more full. I don’t know if it’s something to do with the stuff that I eliminated being empty calories or what, but I’ll take it. I mean, eating less is bound to help you lose weight, that’s just simple science, but usually eating less = being hungry all the time (at least in my experience), and I’m not feeling that this time around. 

200

This is all to say that I found something that worked for me. Take that with a grain of salt though: I am by no means a healthcare professional, and I do have plans to see an actual doctor to confirm that these sensitivities I’ve “discovered” so unscientifically are indeed real.

But, for what it’s worth, regardless of the results of those tests, I can see myself sticking with this lifestyle for the foreseeable future. 

How about you: do you have any food allergies or sensitivities? How did you discover them? Share your experience in the comments and let’s bond over some imaginary almond milk lattes and gluten free muffins. 

Running in Place

In my 10 years of running (happy runniversary to me, btw), I’ve never hidden my love for the treadmill. Yes, running outside has its perks, and I’ll always love it, but having my pace set for me, music/Netflix/water at my fingertips, air conditioning, a bathroom nearby… everything about the treadmill appeals to me. I don’t find it boring like so many other runners I know who call it the “dreadmill”.

For basically all of my running career, I had various gyms at my disposal to get my treadmill runs in. And then, COVID-19 happened. Gyms were shut down temporarily, but the longer they stayed shut, the more the thought of working out/breathing heavily with a bunch of strangers in an enclosed space with a windows that don’t open became unthinkable.

That’s why I threw out a lifeline on Facebook one evening in the form of a question I asked maybe once every year in the off chance that someone might reply:

“Does anyone have a treadmill they want to sell or get rid of?”

Fast forward two weeks, and behold: my virtually brand new baby.

An old friend from high school that I hadn’t spoken to since 2000 had been wanting to get rid of her treadmill for two years. A few months after buying it, she found herself unable to use it, so it sat in a spare room gathering dust all this time, seemingly waiting for me. After a few days of measuring and rearranging furniture, my husband and I picked it up on August 16th, spent a few hours sweating and swearing to put it back together, and just like that, I had my first treadmill.

Coupled with the Peloton app I’d discovered a few months prior, this was the game changer I had been waiting for.

All of the times I’d said that I’d run more “if I only had a treadmill”? I wasn’t lying, even to myself. Now that I have it, I have been so much more active in the 2 months since it became a part of my life. Every morning – or maybe every other morning some weeks, if I’m being honest – I get up, roll into running gear, brew some coffee and make my way to the treadmill where I get a minimum of 20 minutes in before my day starts. Sometimes I walk, sometimes I run, sometimes I do a bit of both.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was working out sporadically, with anxiety and depression creeping in on the edges of my mind basically every time I stayed stagnant for too long. This machine – while some might call it a bore or a bastardization of what running really is all about – has given me an outlet that I didn’t even know I needed.

What do you think of the treadmill? How have you managed to cope with running through the pandemic?