Running Motivation (From Readers Like You)

A few weeks ago, I asked my Instagram followers what motivates them to keep running. Here, I’m taking a look back at some of the best responses in the hopes that they’ll inspire you as much as they inspired me!

What about you – what keeps you running? Share in the comments!

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.

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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.

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…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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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!

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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? 

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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. 

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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…

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

Race Recap: 2019 NYRR/NB Fifth Avenue Mile

It’s a wild idea: shut down one mile of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and let thousands of runners take it over. Invite world-famous athletes. Televise it. Magic.

I first ran the NYRR/NB Fifth Avenue Mile in 2015, where I nabbed my personal best mile time of an 8:51 and then ascended to Heaven when Meb himself was standing at the finish line, practically waiting for me to take this picture.

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I still believe that I actually died at the finish line after running, and this photo was taken in Heaven, and then they kicked me out, but that’s just conjecture.

In the past 3 years, I consistently missed the mile for one reason or another: conflicting races, travel, life, etc. Also, if I’m being honest, it’s a LOT to go into the city just to run one mile. The $27 train tickets ($54+ for me and my husband), on top of the subway costs and the 4AM wakeup time, just to run for like 15 minutes?

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Exactly, Mike.

This year, however, I’d toyed with the idea of doing the mile while I was in physical therapy for the nerve issues and Achilles tendinitis that forced me to DNS at the NJ Half Marathon back in April. One mile was just long enough to really push myself, and it would also give me a good baseline idea of where my fitness was if I really focused and trained for the weeks leading up to it.

So, with the blessing of my physical therapist (what up Dean), I convinced my running and injury recovery buddy Kevin to sign up with me and we headed into the city to see how fast we could run one whole mile down Fifth Avenue.

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Nearly head to to Altra Red Team gear *devil horns* Bonus: the race premium was a sweet pair of race-branded shorts!

Friday before the race, I came down with food poisoning that kept me up all night, and then Kevin and I and our friend Jess went into Manhattan on Saturday to pick up our bibs and check out the Camp exhibit at the Met, while I ran in and out of every bathroom that museum had to offer every half hour. Needless to say, by Sunday’s 5:37am train, we were already done with the day.

We managed to pull it together and look cute, cause that’s what we do. But we DID take a cab to the start though, because reasons.

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We did the usual pre-race stuff: warmed up by jogging up and down the closed off streets behind the start area, made friends in the line waiting to take the photo you see up there,  and fueled up while waiting for our heats to begin.

Because we wake up so early and travel so far for some of these races – sometimes upwards of 4 hours from wakeup/breakfast time to start – I get hungry before a race. And I don’t perform well on a completely empty stomach. So I tried something new with this race and ate half a PB&J at home before the train and packed the other half for the race, which I devoured on the sidelines while waiting for my heat to start.

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The results speak for themselves, just like the pic that Kevin snapped of me looking like an angry squirrel while I housed my half-sammich.

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There’s only so much space on Fifth Avenue for the runners, so they break down the race into heats based on age and gender, then let them go every 10-15 minutes. This meant that my start time was 8:10AM, followed immediately by Kevin’s heat at 8:25AM.

After polishing off my sandwich and sipping on some water, I wished Kevin good luck on his race and slipped into the corral for my wave.

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My previous performance here in 2015 was literally lightning in a bottle: I’d run some 10:3x’s during training and in a few really good 5K’s, but never cracked the sub-10 mark, so 8:51 was mind-blowing. Fast forward to 2019: nearly 2 years of on and off injuries and depression (that led to a roughly 20 lb weight gain that I’m slowly chipping away at) had me convinced that a 12:xx was more likely. I could consider an 11:xx a celebration-worthy finish. Little did I know.

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In the corral, this was the first race in months – maybe even since the marathon – where I actually felt like a live wire, twitching and ready to run. My whole body was primed for the gun to go off.

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the view from the starting line

I had prepped a race-specific playlist of just three songs at the same bpm of my sprinting pace to last the whole mile:

  • Bonfire – Childish Gambino
  • Apesh*t – The Carters
  • Ass Drop – Wiz Khalifa

I hit start just as the gun went off, and immediately knew it was going to be a great run. Everything just felt easy. The weather was perfectly cool, the folks cheering on the sidelines were super pumped, and my legs just kept moving.

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While it was a mile on Fifth Avenue, the course still had some slight elevation changes that I mentally prepared for. You start on a slight downhill, then hit a very slight uphill between 1/4 and 1/2, and peak just about 3/4 of the way through before finishing on another slight downhill. The elevation is really negligible – you only gain about a total of 7m – but when you’re staring straight down the barrel of the street and see that wave of runners rising in front of you, it helps to know it doesn’t last forever.

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So I glanced at my watch when I saw the incline coming, and saw that I was running 9:5x. Too fast. I kept moving my legs in time with my music, but eased off the gas ever so slightly for the uphill. By the time we hit the halfway point, the course clock read 5:xx and I laughed – I really was going faster than anticipated, but I still felt good. I kept an eye on my watch and when I hit .65, I turned my music up louder and said f*ck it. If I puke when I finish, I puke. I wanted to see how fast I could go.

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if you look closely you can see the 2 safety pins I used to make my shorts tighter since I picked a too-large size and couldn’t return them

The resulting sprint looked horrible in race photos, but damn if it didn’t feel incredible. It had been so long since I opened the gate and let loose for a finish. My legs were moving so fast at one point that I briefly thought I might trip, but I stayed upright and crossed the finish line at 10:53 by the course clock and 10:12 by watch time.

I was ecstatic. Even if my official time turned out to be more like 10:30 once I factored in the time it took me to cross the start mat and official results were posted, that was amazing, considering I had an A goal of 11 and B of 12.

It took a while to get my breathing under control, and I refused all food at the finish, but gulped down a cup of water and headed to the sidelines to cheer on Kevin as he absolutely CRUSHED his mile in 8:24!

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After we reconnected at the finish, we decided to wait for a pic with our official finish times and met up with my friend Jenny who is currently on her way to finishing the NYRR 9+1 Program for entry into the 2020 NYC Marathon. We killed time by catching up while the line moved, but everything stopped when I stepped up to the monitor and the race volunteer typed in my bib # for my official time to pop up on the screen:

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Fam, I cried. I cried big fat baby tears because I never expected to see 10:08. After hours  upon hours of physical therapy, crying in MRI tubes because I didn’t know why my legs would give out on me during long runs, and wondering if I should even keep running, 10:08 may as well have been 6:08.

I felt like I floated the whole walk back to the Tick Tock Diner for a post-race nosh before heading back to NJ – PS, get the avocado toast benedict, it’s TO DIE FOR.

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Now that I’ve continued to ride the wave after this race, I can see that it was a turning point for me and my running, and I’m excited to see where this momentum carries me into 2020!

Race Recap: 2019 FRNY/NYRR Pride Run

Just like we’ve done in years past, my good friend Kevin and I hopped on the 5:37AM train into midtown for the FRNY/NYRR Pride Run 5 Miler and let me say before I go any further: I was SO unprepared.

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Not unprepared in terms of forgetting sneakers or gels… I mean I had been in physical therapy since May for an Achilles issue and nerve problems that make my leg give out on me, and I’d only run about 4 miles in the lead up to this race.

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Per my therapist’s orders, this was going to be a fun run (no sh*t), and it was also going to be my first run in the heat, which made for a pretty miserable time once I hit mile 2.5-3. BUT ANYWAY…

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We arrived at the start area at around 7:30 or so and killed time by posing for photos and covering ourselves in sunscreen until our other running buddy, Stephen (aka Lady Champagne Bubbles), arrived.

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We ran into a few other friends doing the race while we made our way into the corrals and hung out waiting for the starting gun, and the sweat we’d broken into before even starting the run should have told me what I had to look forward to. I say again: I was not prepared.

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As we crossed the starting line, we took off at a pretty solid 12:00-ish/mile pace. Stephen cantered off ahead because he’s in MUCH better shape than me, but thankfully Kevin hung back and took it easy with me. Every quarter mile or so we’d catch up with Stephen who waited for us, but by about mile 2.5 I realized I had pretty much used up all I had in the tank.

It was a miserable feeling. I’d run these hills dozens of times before. In much worse conditions. Hell, I ran the goddamn 2017 NYC Marathon in rain for more than 6 hours!! I really should just listen to the universe and pack it in. Why should I bother when all I do is finish after all my friends and get injured anyway?

All those negative thoughts you get in the middle of a race? I had them.

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I mentioned my insecurities to Kevin at one point and he talked me through them – saint that he is – but while he helped my mental game, my physical game was just too far gone. My therapy had been focused on isolating the muscles that were causing me pain, working them gently and slowly strengthening them. The lack of running while focusing on those smaller, foundational things really sucked a lot of conditioning out of me.

Thankfully, I wasn’t SO far gone, and we made it to mile 4 relatively soon. Kevin made deals with me to get to the next light post, the next stop sign, the next tree. It worked, sort of. There was a lot of walking. But once we got to the final half mile or so, I realized I’d done it. Kevin asked if I was OK with he and Stephen taking off and finishing strong, and I said go for it. The only thing that makes a miserable race worse is knowing you held people back.

So off they went and I hunkered down for the final sweaty, breathless half mile. The nice thing about the Pride Run is that in the final mile, all of the local running clubs come out to cheer you on in the final mile or so. And because it’s Pride, the music is bumping, the energy is high, and the love is on full blast. All I had to do was shift to the side of the course and hold my hand out as I ran, and I was rewarded with high fives and screams and cheerleaders galore.

All that excitement was just what I needed to get down the last hill and over the finish line – and for Kevin to snap this hysterical picture of me thanking the running gods that the damn thing was DONE:

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Afterwards we all hung out for a bit eating the rainbow ice pops they handed out at the finish line and taking pics – of course I can’t let Stephen take a nice photo just one damn time – before heading home to recover in the air conditioning.

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As always it was a great race that I highly recommend, especially for first-timers. It’s high-energy and a wonderful way to support a fantastic cause that is dear to my heart.

Just Do It. No, Really.

After a few weeks of pretty solid base building after the New Year, I started officially training for April’s NJ Half Marathon – and, drumroll please – I’ve stuck 100% to the plan so far!

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la la la la, la la la la, training time!

I’m feeling myself. I no longer have to make that horrible noise when I get up out of a squat (you know the sound, we’ve all made it) and I can comfortably run about 4-5 miles without any lingering pain. I’m not about to crank it up to 10 just yet, but I’m getting there.

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YAY ME

Looking back on the last few failed attempts at a – and I hate this word – *comeback*, I keep searching for reasons why this time is different. There are a few, mainly the fact that I’m not injured or coming back from an injury, and I’m mentally in a better place than I was the last 2-3x I signed up for a race and didn’t even make it to the starting line in the past year.

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I’m also feeling about 1,000% sassier thanks to a great job and having other fulfilling hobbies outside of running

But while I was getting dressed in the gym locker room the other night after a full, draining day of work, the last piece of the puzzle finally came to me: I’m shutting up about it and getting it done.

Or, to paraphrase the most popular sports company slogan in history: I’m just doing it.

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Fact: the post-work runs are hard because I have to get through a whole day of work before I can do them. [And before you say “run in the morning!”, just know I’ve tried it time and time again and it just ain’t happening. I’m 35 years old and if I haven’t learned to love losing an hour of sleep to get a workout in yet, I’m not going to. Go bark up someone else’s tree about how *magical* it is to wake up before the sun and let me sleep while you get your sweat on. I’ll have the coffee ready for you when you’re done, I promise.]

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I’ll even be SMILING by then because I GOT MY FULL 8 HOURS OF SLEEP

Fact: The weekend runs are tough because I have nothing really lighting a fire under me to go and just get it over with every morning.

In the past, I’ve skipped weekday runs because I’m tired after work and convince myself on the drive home to treat myself to a rest day. Or I spend a half hour in the gym locker room on a Saturday morning scrolling through Twitter or Instagram looking at other people’s workouts when I could have been done and on the way home already, just because I can’t psych myself up to get out there.

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*thinking* I wonder if they give medals for procrastination…. 

This time, I’ve made a point as soon as those “maybe I should just skip it” thoughts creep into my head to simply… stop. Stop that thinking, consider the workout non-negotiable, shut up and JUST DO IT.

If it’s quiet in the locker room, I resist the urge to sit on the bench before I change and scroll through Twitter for another 10 minutes. I just put one foot in front of the other and change and get up those stairs and on a treadmill and JUST DO IT.

When I wake up on a Saturday morning and lazily make my coffee and plop down at my desk and start scrolling through Twitter, I allow myself 15 minutes before I make myself stand up from the desk, shut up and JUST DO IT.

Yes it’s a pain in the ass to schlep 14 pounds of gear from the house to the car to the gym locker room, to change into cold running clothes while surrounded by a dozen screaming tweens who just got out of swim practice, and to get onto the treadmill. Yes, it’s easier to lay in bed, and it’s more tempting to skip a run and read a book or catch up on Netflix.

But once I run, man does it feel good.

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like, “the hills are alive” good

Yes, it’s good to talk about running with other runners online. It’s good to read blog posts with titles like “how do you get motivated?” and “top tips for getting started with running again”. But more often than not – and this is going to sound harsh but I mean it in the most encouraging way possible – it really is as simple as shutting the hell up and JUST DOING IT. Get up off the hiney, put the sneakers on, get the keys and GO.

I’ve gotten harsh with myself MANY times in the interest of getting my miles in. If you’re lacking motivation or find it hard to get up and moving, I invite you to do the same. It gets easier the more you do it. Once you stop thinking about it, you’ll have so much more time to just do it.

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And I promise you’ll rock it when you do. Nicolas Cage in Con-Air style.

Marathon Training Movie Reviews – Part 2

In case you missed it, I kicked off a new series on the blog last week called The Jess Runs Happy Marathon Training Movie Reviews. In this series, I review the movies that I watched on the treadmill while I trained for the 2017 NYC Marathon, through the very specific and slightly skewed lens of a marathon runner; i.e. judging based on the number of miles each film helped me run and whether or not I cried while watching it. In addition to other movies like Moana, Paterson, While We’re Young, The Matrix, and Blade Runner, I watched the film I’m continuing the series with today:

Ex Machina

As a Star Wars fan, this one was a no-brainer: it has General Hux AND Poe Dameron!

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sure, they look a little different, but space does weird things to a body…

In short: Bro-genius Nathan (Oscar Isaac) has invited schmoopy Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) to his underground laaaairrrr to perform the Turing Test on Alicia Vikander plays Ava, a slinky android. And, as is to be expected when you lock two supremely smart men in a labyrinth of underground halls filled with technology and *spoiler alert* evil robots, it takes a pretty hard left.

But not before we get treated to what is possibly the most mesmerizing, oddball, and perfect piece of dance in 21st century cinema:

I mean.

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Come on.

The absurdly deep V-neck. The drunken swagger. The use of the best Oliver Cheatham song ever. Move over, Citizen Kane. Poe mother*ckin Dameron is here and he’s gonna tear up the dancefloor.

Enough about the silly dance scene, you’re probably saying; how did it fare as a marathon training movie?

Distance: Right off the bat, this one gets an A+. With a runtime of 1 hour 50 minutes, I started this one at the beginning of a post-work 8-miler and expected to lose interest or call it at the 60 minute mark when I had to restart the treadmill. But I was so absolutely enthralled by this movie that I not only blew through it, but managed to finish my run just as it ended, all in one night, with only a few walk breaks. Near perfect.

Sob Factor: No tears. But in this case, I’m going to say that means it gets an A.

Inspiration Meter: There’s no real action to speak of, but Alicia Vikander and the rest of the androids are f*cking flawless, and both the male leads each had their own specific appeal. A+ for eye candy alone, #sorrynotsorry.

Overall Score: Let me set the scene for you so you can understand why this movie is getting the rating it is:

It’s near 8:30PM on a Tuesday. It’s dark out, you’re just finishing a 95 minute run in your office gym and there’s no one in the parking lot. You’re entirely alone. The building is very modern, lots of automatic lights and glass and marble – much like the set in the film about murderous robots you just watched. You leave the gym exhausted and sweaty, and walk into the empty hallway to get to the other side of the building where your car is parked. As the gym door closes behind you, a motion-activated light on the far side of the building flicks on, too far to have picked you up. “Hello?” you call. No answer. Slightly spooked, you take a slightly different route down a parallel hallway. You feel your pace quicken slightly as your heart starts to pound. Just as you’re about to get to the exit, a shadow on your left jumps out at you and you scream – before you realize that it’s your own god damn shadow, the god damn glass door is just half open, god dammit. You REALLY shouldn’t be watching scary movies alone.

A+. Have watched again. And again and again.

Ready Player One

Although most of you have probably figured it out by now: Since the NYC Marathon, I’ve been pretty disillusioned with sharing my running journey online.

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*sarcasm* shocking, right?

I guess it comes down to the fact that I started to get tired of playing the game, especially around Instagram.

Looking back, the amount of time I spent on that app is embarrassing. I wracked my brain coming up with a creative Instagram-worthy photo angle for every run. I wasted a half hour after every run selecting, editing, and captioning a picture. I worried about what I wore because I’d already worn black for my past three runs and needed to inject color into my IG feed. I found myself sitting at dinner in a restaurant with my husband, with my nose buried in my phone while I picked out hashtags. I was injured, but I still went on painful runs – sometimes just to “keep the feed fresh”.

And even though I did those things, I still lost followers.

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Then I lost my job and fell into a depression. For those of you who haven’t had the good luck (again with the sarcasm) to experience depression, my idol Carrie Fisher summed up what it feels like with heartbreaking clarity while in the middle of her own manic episode in Bright Lights:

“You know what would be so cool? To get to the end of my personality and just, like, lay in the sun. I’m sick of myself.”

At my lowest point, I was so sick of my self that Instagram seemed like a cruel joke. I hardly felt inspirational. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror, let alone take yet another picture of myself and share it with 16,000 people – the majority of whom I have never and will never meet.

I lost the courage to even try.

Because I dropped out of the game (and yes, it is most certainly 100% a game that Instagram will always win because they control what accounts get exposure), I lost nearly 1,000 followers since November. And I’m losing more every day. I can’t figure out the algorithm no matter how much or little I post or what hashtags I use.

But a funny thing happened since I came out the other side of that whole depression thing: I finally want to run more.

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After nearly 10 months of being disillusioned with running in general and not even thinking about racing, the other day I got an email from the Run Newport folks about running the Newport Half next month and actually got excited.

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The thought of a half marathon gave me butterflies.

I got the jimmy legs thinking about the thrill of the starting line.

I started looking at training plans.

While I’m in absolutely no shape to run the Newport Half (because it’s in less than 6 weeks and I haven’t run more than 4 miles in about 10 months), I’m probably not going to be running it (but I WILL have an entry to give away, woohoo, stay tuned!). But I WILL start slow, starting now.

It’s going to take courage to try again, but I’m ready.

I’ve committed to run 2-3x during the week after work and slowly build up my long run mileage on weekends. The plan is to get to 6 or 7 PAIN FREE miles for a few weekends in a row before I even sign up for something.

It’s not a plan, per se, but it’s more than I’ve done in 10 months, so there you have it.

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Once it became more of a plan in my mind over the past few days, I found myself excited to blog about it – and even more excited to share my story on Instagram once more.

I don’t know what race I’ll be doing or even when I’ll run it. Throughout training, I won’t spend a half hour picking out the perfect filters or an extra half mile trying to get the right running selfie after every run. But I WILL be sharing my journey again, and I’m excited to have you along for the ride if you’d like to join me. ❤

How NOT to Train for a Half Marathon

When we last hung out, I mentioned getting ready to buckle down for the NJ Half Marathon in April. At the time, I was a little concerned because life took a hard left and I went right to compensate, and training ended up going out the window. But I had high hopes.

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*how I pictured myself come race day with all the training I was going to do in the coming weeks*

Well, that didn’t happen. Things haven’t gotten much better in terms of fitting my training in, but now it’s for a super great reason: I started a new full time gig last week and am *loving it* in big capital, bold, italic letters.

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that’s my happy dance, in case you didn’t know

But all the learning and growing I’ve been doing from 9-5 has left me with just enough energy (mental AND physical) at the end of the day to crawl into pajamas, help cook and clean the kitchen up, pack my lunch for the next day and repeat the process.

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I don’t even have time for guac or rose 😦

Not to mention we got hit with yet ANOTHER snow storm last week that incapacitated the area for a few days.

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god do I miss summer.

While being burnt out from a rewarding new job that I love is an awesome problem to have, it still has me slightly fearful of what April 29th will bring.

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at the very least, I’m confident that the race course won’t be on FIRE. but I may be carrying pizzas all 13.1 miles.

Once my chances for a fully fleshed out 10-week training program went out the window, my interim plan was simple: run 3x a week M-F then run long on Sunday. But in the last 2 weeks or so, that hasn’t happened either. I didn’t hit my long run goals last weekend, which means that this weekend won’t happen either, and so on and so forth.

So we improvise. Basically, my newest plan is to just wing it, within reason. The last time I ran for about an hour I managed to get 5 miles in and felt like I could have kept going by starting super slow and working my way up, so negative splitting is the plan. This weekend I’m aiming for 6-7 miles (or 90 minutes, whatever comes first), walking as much as I need to get to the time goal. And I’ll continue to do a few additional miles/15-minute increments every weekend until race day.

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crawling, if necessary.

Beyond that? We’ll see what happens. I already know that race day is not going to be about speed or time. Those 13.1 miles will be the final exam after weeks of lessons in how not to train for a half marathon. But sometimes, life takes a turn and you’ve got to roll with it. And while things are 110% on the upswing for me at the moment, 13.1 miles is a tall order in the next 4 weeks. But I DO know I can finish, and that’s all I want to do.

Listen: you know the drill here. I run, I’m [mostly] happy, and I keep it real. Just like I did with my first marathon fail or my struggles with depression and anxiety, I’m not going to ignore or lie about these experiences I’m going through. I think it’s important that someone who may be struggling in a similar way sees that they’re not alone. If you’re in a running slump, remember – it’s not a competition. Running will be there when you’re ready to run again. I’m not worried about running again – things are balancing out more and more every day, and I find myself looking forward to my runs, which is better than nothing.

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Beyond April 29th, I’m looking forward to other races at less taxing distances where I can work my way back into fighting shape and enter the second half of 2018 stronger than I was when I started it. Because the best thing about going back to zero? When you start again, you’ve got nowhere to go but up.