(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.

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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? 

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.

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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!

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?

Guest Blog: Why I Run

I haven’t done guest posts here on the blog before, but when my friend Jimmy reached out about wanting to share his experience with running, I jumped on the opportunity. Jimmy and I work together, but more importantly, we share a love of working out, Star Wars and all things pop culture – seriously, when he was cleaning his desk one day he gifted me with a little Darth Vader Funko Pop and his set of Kylo and Rey figures to keep watch of my stuff when I’m not there. A few months ago we had a nice chat about how running helps us both, and now he’s sharing his story with you guys. I hope you enjoy!

It all started around New Year’s Eve. I felt like I had been hit by a ton of bricks. Work had been very hectic for the final 6 weeks of the year. It was non-stop. I felt like I didn’t have a chance to come up for air. I kept telling myself, “All you have to do is make it until the 24th & you’ll have a whole week off for yourself.” Well, when that day came, I felt like I couldn’t get out of that gear that had kept me going through those final weeks of 2019. I couldn’t relax. It felt like my heart was going to beat through my chest.

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After a few days of dealing with this uncomfortable feeling, I decided to go to the doctor to see if it was an underlying condition. I explained to the doctor what I was going through & if I should be worried. She was very upfront with me & explained it was stress-related anxiety. Me? With anxiety? That can’t be the case! I thought I was invincible. No one is invincible & that’s OK! We discussed a plan of action that included changes to my diet & exercise regimen. I have always been self-conscious about my weight. That certainly was not helping the situation.

I organized a schedule. Thanks to the hospitality of my girlfriend’s mother, I was able to prepare chicken on their grill each Sunday for the upcoming week. I am a creature of habit, so getting into a groove was not an issue. During this time, I discovered how much easier it was to go to the gym after dinner than it was heading over right after work. You need a little bit of a recharge. It was an excellent way to get the blood flowing. I was sleeping much better at night. Everything was going great; work had calmed down a bit after the new year & my new diet was helping me reach numbers on the scale (not that it was the ONLY goal of this endeavor), I hadn’t seen in quite some time. I was feeling FANTASTIC. Then we were all hit with a right upper cut.

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This pandemic arrived like Thanos in Wakanda. It was very difficult to adjust at first. How was I going to get all the right ingredients for my diet with the stores being ransacked? How was I going to exercise without being able to go to the gym? Workout like I had been for the first 3 months of the year. I was knocked down on the mat & I didn’t know how I was going to reach for that turnbuckle. Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Well, I had to take a stand. I was not going to let this situation consume me. I was able to find healthy alternatives.

I have been very lucky all my life. My grandparents live right next door in a tiny, brick house. It was always great for birthdays & anniversaries. Just a few paces across the lawn. They have this small weight room set-up in their basement that my father & I use from time to time. It has become a good friend of mine since quarantine began a month ago.

I began a new workout schedule. Just happy that I had a place to let my frustration out after a long day at work(ing from home). Something was missing, though. When I found out what it was, I couldn’t believe it.

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I pulled the cover off the treadmill in the basement like it was the DeLorean & decided that I was going to start running. As a younger boy, I DESPISED distance running. I’d rather play a game of pick-up basketball or football. Times have changed. I decided that I was just going to go for it. I’ve got to tell you; it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My mind feels so clear when I’m on the treadmill or just on a jog around the block. Each time I strap up my shoes, I want to reach a new milestone.

It does not feel like I am running AWAY from my problems, rather running TOWARDS them. I have been feeling much more confident. I feel more comfortable walking around the house with my shirt off (sorry, Mom & Dad). Yes, I am still dealing with anxiety & the other facets of everyday life, but running & working out regularly have helped me control them. Another thing I did notice that required correction was the incline setting on the treadmill. I kept hitting my head on the basement ceiling. Oh, well, a tiny roadblock that was easily fixed with the flip of a switch.

Everyone handles issues in their life differently than their neighbor. There is no instruction sheet. We must find ways to cope, either on our own or with some help. It is OK to get some help. There is no shame in that! Running has become the sword that I fight these battles with every day.

We are going to get through this pandemic. There are good days & there are bad days, such is life. My hope is that when we come out on the other end, we’ll be better off. I certainly will not take the little things for granted just like how I used to view running as a chore, I now see it as a hobby.

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Until then, I hope everyone stays safe & healthy. We’ve got this!