Troy Conquers 26.2: The Easiest Hardest Thing

In his newest post, my awesome running brother really captures something that’s true about running – it’s the easiest, and hardest, thing I do.


It is hard to explain running and the brain worms (the compulsive desire to run a stupid long distance and sign up for races).  I never thought I would be in the position to be a distance runner and still, I catch myself thinking ‘Well, I don’t need that.  That is for real runners.’ Only to realize that maybe along the way, I have become a real runner.  40 mile weeks and marathons; planning days and weeks around mileage; traveling with twice as many clothes so I don’t miss a workout — I didn’t plan this and it hasn’t come easy.  Though maybe it has…

Running, running long distances specifically, is the hardest thing I may ever have done.  It is also the easiest.  Running seems essential to human life in some way and something that occurs without ever thinking about it.
We as a species seem born to run.  I watch my three year old nephew and realize that he runs until he falls over, everywhere.  He doesn’t think about it and has no finish line.  He just runs as though it was the easiest and most natural thing in the world.  And really, running is easy.  It is just falling slowly but in a very rapid pace.  There is nothing magical about it and anyone, yes anyone, can run or work up to a run.  Running is easy.

Running, running long distances specifically, is the easiest thing I may have ever done.  It is also the hardest.  Running the long runs is just time, a decision to put aside 4 hours of my day to go out and enjoy nature.  To listen to birds sing and see my neighborhood or a park at a calm 5 mile per hour pace.  Getting to that point, getting to running 3, or 5, or 10 miles is hard.  It is hard to get out of bed and strap on shoes to run for 3 hours.  It is hard to push through mile 15 and 17 as feet and ankles and knees all seem to rebel against movement.  It is hard to face up to chaffing and consuming half your calories in paste form.  Running from mile 17 to 18 last weekend was one of the most physically and mentally straining things I have ever done but I did it.  It takes being more stubborn than smart.  Running is hard.

Troy on run

Maybe that is what is appealing about running or what draws people to run until they bleed and can’t walk another step.  While challenging, the challenge isn’t the activity. The challenge is to push yourself into something you never considered possible before.  Running is easy to do but incredibly hard at the same time.

Lions and Tigers and 8 Minute Miles

I rarely talk about pace here, mostly because it simply isn’t that important to me. Once upon a time I was much faster, but knee surgery happened and things are different now. Slowly and steadily, I’ve been working on my speed. I would love to get back to where I was pre-surgery, but that seems pretty far off sometimes. I’m older, living in a hillier climate, and, frankly, not in prime racing shape. But I’m getting faster. Lately, my biggest problem hasn’t been my speed. It’s been my brain.

8:20 used to be my long run pace. I love 8:20. It feels great. It’s easy and smooth and it’s my “happy pace”. I finally saw 8:20s in training last fall. Then, I hit 8:20s consistently in a half marathon. But every time I made it, I quickly lost it. It started with little tendrils of panic. I worried about being able to maintain the pace. Then, the voice in my head took over. In a matter of minutes, I went from running comfortably to full-on panic. I convinced myself that I couldn’t keep it up. I couldn’t run 8:20s for more than a mile no matter how easy it felt physically. No matter that I’d been running consistent 7s in my private training runs and hold it for a couple miles. Put me around people and I panicked.

Today, I ran a great local race. I set out with one goal – run below 8:20 average miles for the first 4.5 miles. Then, at the enormous hill at 4.6 miles, walk up the hill and ease my way to the finish line. The first mile started a little slow and that familiar feeling of panic set in. I prevailed over the voice in my head telling me I couldn’t and hit an 8:25 first mile. My second mile was 8:10. Going into the third mile I started to think. Physically, I felt great. I was easily running along, chatting off and on with a nice man near me. I was talking and running and feeling fine physically, but the mental part was a struggle. I spent the next mile trying to convince myself that if I could *talk* at an 8:20 pace I would be fine. And I was fine. I sailed through the third mile and into the fourth. I came upon some hills and ran them easily at 8:18. I made it to the foot of the big hill and could hardly believe it. My average pace was 8:22. Goal achieved, I eased my pace and floated to the finish line. I had broken the 8:30 barrier. Next up, a half marathon at 8:30 and a 5k in the 7s. Speedy former self, I’m coming for you.


Ultra Cold

This past weekend I attempted an ultra marathon with a great group of runners. Someone suggested it a few weeks ago and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Of course, at that time the daytime temperatures were comfortably in the double digits, with highs in the 20s and sunny skies. I needed miles for my Goofy training and hadn’t been having good weather-long run luck. After missing a long run to sickness and one to an ice storm, I needed miles badly. And an ultra seemed like the perfect way to get those miles. A group of similarly crazy people, running ten 5k loops around a park. An ultra sounds fun, I thought.

As is the way of many good plans, this one started to unravel early in the week. The weather took a turn for the worse, with temperatures dropping into the single digits. We were lucky to get a high temperature of 10 or 11 degrees. By anyone’s standards, that’s some cold running. By mid-week the winds had picked up, ensuring sub-zero windchills. The forecast showed a major snowstorm heading toward the East Coast. Just in time for my ultra.

For those of you who don’t know me, I get cold easily. I usually don’t run in temperatures below 20 degrees. I just get too cold and warming back up is an all-day ordeal. I have a boiling hot shower, a hot drink, and even sit under an electric blanket. No matter what I wear, I get cold. So the impending snowstorm was not welcome news. This winter I’ve had to suck it up and run in single digits and sub-zero weather, but I draw the line at blizzard conditions. The rest of the group was going to run. And if they were, I was. I spent the entire night before the race praying to the weather gods and imagining myself dressed as Ralphie from Christmas Story.

The morning of the ultra (Seth’s Fat Ass 50for the record) I woke up to 5 degrees on my thermometer. The one that is sheltered by the house. Sigh. I geared up in layers upon layers and microwaved my water to slow down freezing. I packed my little hand warmers and set off.

At the race start, it was 10 degrees. Double digits. Score! But the windchill had the real feel temperature at -3. Yikes. Being outside for even a few minutes was terrifying. It. Was. Freezing. But I was determined. I told myself I would tough it out for at least three laps. I could run 10 miles and be happy. The course was lovely. It was a series of 5k loops in a very nice park and adjoining neighborhood. The view was pleasant and the course mostly flat, so I really liked it. The loop set up was perfect for a freezing cold day. I overheard lots of runners plan their escape after a loop or two.

Three laps came and went and I was freezing, but knew I could do one more. About halfway during the fourth lap, it started to snow heavily and I started to think. I wondered what frostbite felt like. Could I have frostbite? I hadn’t been shivering or had any goosebumps for at least an hour. (Side note – I now know this is a pretty bad sign. Oops) I knew it was time to call it quits when I had difficulty stepping up a small curb. I couldn’t move my leg the three or four inches. It was simply too cold and too numb to move. I was done.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t finish. I know I could have on another day. My legs (aside from feeling like they might snap off from cold) felt strong and I was running well. But it wasn’t meant to be. It was simply too cold for me. And in retrospect, I know I made the right decision. I have broken blood vessels on my legs and it took me a full day to fell normal. It was definitely the right call to DNF. This experience has made me more determined than even to run an ultra soon. Know any good ones? The only requirement – temperatures that don’t begin with a 1.


Gifts for Runners – On Any Budget

Is there a special runner in your life? Looking for a gift for a runner? I love my gear and I love running, so I’ve prepared a list of great gifts for the special runner in your life.

Under $25

Thorolo Experia Socks – Available in men’s and women’s sizing and cuffs ranging from no-show to mid-calf, these socks have an option for every runner. Coolmax fiber and padding on heels and toes ensures a comfortable fit. $14.99 and up

Road ID – Road ID keeps the runner in your life connected to loved ones in an emergency. Interactive options direct emergency personnel to a website; the original option allows owners to print several lines of text. We all hope we’re safe on the run. A Road ID is there for you in an emergency. Gift certificates are available if you aren’t quite sure what to write. The classic slim is $17.99 and a nice shoe tag option is $19.99. For furry runners, consider the Scout ID $17.99.

KT Tape – KT Tape offers targeted pain relief for a variety of conditions. It’s stretchy, reflective, and stays put for days, even in water. KT Tape can give muscles, ligaments, and tendons the support they need for healing and recovery of soft tissue injury. $19.99 for a roll of pre-cut strips.

KT Tape for fibula

Training Journal – The Believe I Am Training Journal is my favorite, feminine training journal.  This beautiful journal has original artwork and inspiring quotations on each page. Designed by professional runners, the journal tracks workouts, races, and has blank pages for sketches, clippings, and other details. For a unisex option, consider the Runner’s World Training Journal. Both are $19.99.

Believe I Am Journal

Bib Coasters – Reproduce a runner’s favorite bib on a set of tile coasters. Thoughtful, easy, and a way to commemorate an important race. $19.99

Lock Laces – A great option for keeping shoes secure. Check out my review here. $8.99 each or three pair for $19.99

SPI Belt – Need to carry gear with you on the run? The SPI Belt is perfect. It doesn’t bounce, comes in a great selection of colors, and fits everyone. I love mine so much I reviewed it. The original version is $19.99

SPI belt

Under $50

Saucony Ulti-Mitt – I describe these mittens/gloves as the best mittens in the history of mittens. I love them so much I have them in multiple colors and have recommended them to everyone. I even wrote a review and added them to my favorites. With a wicking glove base and a wind-resistent shell, the Ulti-Mitts are simply the best for cold weather running. Unisex sizing, so ladies, order smaller. $45


Run with Me Toque for her – This amazing hat is made of cozy, soft, cottony Rulu, one of Lululemon’s signature fabrics. It’s perfect for cold runs and running around town. The brim can be folded up for a close fit, or down for a floppy look. A ponytail hole at the back lets  hair fly free. $32 For men, consider the Sprint Beanie ($32) or Brisk Run Toque ($28). Same great hat, but a more masculine look.

The Stick – The Stick is a fabulous invention! With little bezels on a long rod, the Stick is ideal for self massage. Options range from a smaller travel version to the Stiff Stick. $34.99 and up.

Add a Day Roller – The Stick on steroids, this amazing self-massage roller is more intense. It features an extra-stiff rod and oddly shaped knobs that simulate the pressure of an elbow. I love mine! Retail prices vary, around $40

Add a Day Roller

Under $100

Base Runner Half Zip – Made of ultra-soft Rulu (a Lululemon fabric), this wicking pullover is crazy warm. With thumb holes and a high neckline, it keeps me warm on the run. An offset zipper adds interest and keeps my neck chafe-free. $98

Run: Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve – This Lululemon classic is great for every run. It can be used as a layer or worn alone. With an amazing array of colors, it’s perfect for every runner. $68. The men’s classic long sleeve, the Metal Vent Tech Long Sleeve is a great option for the lucky man in your life. $74

Swiftly at Cape Cod

Endorphin Warrior Bracelet – Endorphin Warrior cuff bracelets feature inspirational statements stamped in sterling silver. For women ($98) and men ($108) the bracelets are not only beautiful but inspiring. A leather-and-steel version is $20.

Allied Metal Display – The original stainless steel metal display company makes an assortment of metal medal racks. Custom racks are also available in any finish, pattern, and style. Prices vary and there’s an option for every runner to display his/her race medals.

$100 and Up

Fluff Off Pullover – With down filling, cuffing, and a water repellent shell, this pullover is perfect for whatever winter weather has to offer. Stretchy side panels ensure the pullover moves with you on the run. $158

PNW Jacket – (Men’s) Softshell fabric exterior and brushed interior make this jacket perfect for winter’s worst weather. Thumbholes and a hood keep hands and head cozy warm. $198

Happy holidays!


Race Recap: Harrisburg Marathon

Recently, my running friend and I were discussing marathons. Both of us were craving another marathon. We discovered our schedules were similar and started to look at marathons we might run together. I found the Harrisburg Marathon and we  immediately signed up and started planning our trip to Harrisburg.

I knew that the trip to Harrisburg would be a quick one. I would be nearing the end of my crazy travel and running extravaganza. In fact, I would leave directly from the airport following my trip to San Antonio and head right to Harrisburg. Luckily, a last minute change in my flight schedule let us get an early start to Harrisburg. It was a pleasant drive through lovely countryside. We got to Harrisburg around dinner time, checked in to our amazing hotel, and headed to dinner. We stayed at the Raddison Harrisburg. For anyone planning a trip to Harrisburg, consider the Raddison. The staff were wonderfully kind, the hotel was clean, the beds were comfy, and they hotel staff offered to let us stay as late as we liked on Sunday after the marathon. We couldn’t ask for a better hotel. After dinner, we decided to ride down to the race start to get a sense of parking and race-day organization.

Harrisburg night

It was gorgeous. The race start was at the foot of a pedestrian bridge that lead from City Island to city center. The capitol was lit up for the night and the whole scene was lovely.

Race day morning dawned bight and early. It was clear, sunny, and really hilly at 35 degrees. Packet pick up was in a large building on City Island. Thankfully, the building was heated by huge heat fans. Food and drinks were plentiful and the volunteers were friendly.

Harrisburg Marathon check in

The race was small and runners gathered inside awaiting the start of the race. Professional pacing was provided by

The race began on City Island and moved across the bridge to the city center. The course wound briefly through the city center, through a small park (a half mile or so were on a gravel trail) and paved trail along the river. Then, the course went across the Market Street Bridge back to City Island. The early miles of the course were lovely. The bridges are charming and the sun was shining. The course was well-marked.

Harrisburg bridges

The weather was fall weather at its finest. Unfortunately, the bliss of the early miles would fade. A few miles later, the course would curve along the river and the weather would turn. The sky clouded, the light darkened, and the wind picked up. What was pleasant, 45 degree running weather quickly turned into 35 degrees and cloudy with a significant windchill. The course went along the river for a while and then into a neighborhood. The residents seemed a bit perplexed as to why we were running through their neighborhood, but volunteers were on hand to direct traffic and help the runners move smoothly through the course. I had been running along well, hanging with a friend who was pacing for the race. We had a nice time chatting, and I enjoyed her group.

Unfortunately, things started to deteriorate around mile 15. Near the end of the neighborhood section, I had to visit the port-a-pottie. Not good. I wasn’t feeling the best and slowed my pace a bit. Around mile 16, the course moved into an industrial area. The industrial area was unpleasant at best. The road was bumpy, the scenery was terrible (distribution centers, barbed wire, and tractor trailers as far as the eye could see), and I struggled mentally. I knew some late hills were coming, so I conserved my energy and moved along at a steady pace. The course then passed into a community college parking lot. This part of the course was inexplicable. I don’t know why it was necessary to run through such an unpleasant area. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, we turned into a park. I was delighted. A park! Sadly, the joy was short lived. At mile 18, the hills began. And they were hills. With hills at the worst possible time, I struggled. I was freezing cold, mentally spent, and physically exhausted. The hills seemed relentless. Finally, at mile 21, we left the park and headed back to the neighborhood. I was done. Mentally, I was worn out. Finishing the rest of the race was a struggle. It was a lesson in the importance of

As we turned back along the river and the steady wind blew me around, I tried to stay positive. I was running a marathon and enjoying a fun trip with a friend. The course was challenging. Those hills just ate me up. It was difficult mentally. All in all, I struggled in this marathon. I enjoyed it, but it was difficult.

Overall, the race was well done. The organizers sent multiple emails before the race, outlining aspects of the race that are critical to runners. The pre-race food was nice, check in was organized, and bag check was easy to use. The course was well marked and the aid stations were well stocked. At the finish line, cheering fans greeted the runners. Each finisher got an attractive finishers’ medal and a mylar blanket (best blanket ever!) and was ushered into the warm building. In the post-race building, there was ample food and drink. There were sandwiches, chips, fruit, and candy. It was a nice spread.

With the excellent organization and big-race amenities and a small race field, the Harrisburg Marathon was a nice event. The course was challenging and I’m not sure I would run it again. I would have loved to have some of the race run through Harrisburg itself. It looked like a cute city with friendly people and clean streets.


Cox Providence Half Marathon 2013 – updated

Updated! I added the elevation profile, by popular demand.

Today, I ran in the UnitedHealthcare Cox Providence Half Marathon. It was not a great day. It was one of those runs were nothing works – it’s just too bad it happened during a race.

The day was dark, cool, and rainy. At race start it was 60 degrees with 100% humidity. It was foggy, grey, and sprinkling off and on. I appreciated the cool temperatures and overcast sky, but wasn’t very excited about the rain. High humidity is asthmatic hell, so I knew it would be a tough race. I got to the parking area bright and early and headed for the “Exchange Terrace” area, a little street across from a park where they have an ice skating area in the winter. According to my pre-race email and attached instructions, packet pickup was on Exchange Terrace. I wandered around for a little while, totally lost. There were lots of people, but not a volunteer in sight. There was no one to ask for help and no sign of an obvious packet pick up area. Finally, I saw someone with a goody bag and asked. Packet pick up was in the ballroom of the Omni Hotel, a block away. I walked on over to the Omni and waited in line. Wrong line. I waited in a second line and got my bib. When I got to the t-shirt station, a not-that-friendly volunteer barked “Only larges left. You want one?” Resigned, I accepted my large, men’s shirt. Not quite the extra small I was hoping for. Everyone around me milled around in a state of confused disappointment. No one got the shirt they wanted and all of us were lost. There were no volunteers to help. I pinned my bib and followed the crowd, hoping they would lead me to the starting line. They did and I got there with 15 minutes to spare until the 8am race start. It’s definitely a post-Boston world. I noticed lots of security staff. Men with huge guns wandered in the crowd, police were stationed on rooftops.

Cox Providence Police

8:05 passed, then 8:10. There was no sign of an imminent race start. At 8:13 someone sang the national anthem. The crowd was getting restless. All of the pre-race materials had said 8am start. Thousands of people were standing in the rain. Finally, at 8:17 (?) the race was underway.

The first four miles went well. I was cruising along and feeling soggy, but fine. I’ve been having some trouble with my knee (the had-surgery one) and it began to stiffen up. It doesn’t like the rain, and really doesn’t like changes in atmospheric pressure. The front rolling through was not a friend to my knee. My poor knee was stuck in a half-bent state, totally stiff and not straightening well in the forward part of my stride. I didn’t think it was too much of a problem until mile 7, when my calf and hamstring started cramping. Not dehydrated cramping, but weird muscle spasm/charlie horse cramping. I resolved to slow down and start walking the water stops. A side note on water stops. What a mess! The pre-race guide said water stops would be every mile and a half. No such luck. There didn’t seem to be much of a pattern to the water stops, only that they were about 2+ miles apart. Most were understaffed, a volunteer or two per table, so runners were pouring their own water. There was no pattern to the Gatorade/water distribution. Sometimes Gatorade was first, sometimes not, and sometimes it was all mixed together with both in one area and in the same style cups. The cup styles weren’t even consistent so there was chaos at every water station. Runners were coming to a full stop to search for and find a cup that had the right liquid in it. It was a volunteer staffing and organizational problem.

I felt wheezy and asthmatic. The humidity was not kind to my asthma or my knee. The wheels fell off at mile 9. My leg muscles were firing at all the wrong times. I couldn’t seem to get them to coordinate with the bending of my knee. I felt like Phoebe from Friends when she runs in the park. I’m sure I looked normal, but I felt miserable. I trudged along. I’m sad to say there was a lot of walking while I tried to get things under control and avoid running with a limp. This race wasn’t worth an injury, or angering my funny IT band attachment point, so I slowed WAY down to avoid limping.

The course itself was well-marked, but poorly staffed. There were no medical tents or personnel along the course. The few volunteers I did see at points in the course other than the water stops were children. Children young enough that I began to wonder where their parents were and why their parents were letting them stand on a street corner on a race course in arguably questionable neighborhoods. There were plenty of police offices at major road crossings, but few volunteers. The course itself was winding, and passed through a few attractive, and a few unattractive areas of Providence and Pawtucket. Compared to the Rock N Roll Providence course, this course was more older neighborhoods with less gentrification.

Finally, mercifully, the race course curved past the river (there were swans!) and toward the finish line. I was grateful for the race to be over, but sorry to see the report from my Garmin (thank goodness I had my Garmin since the clocks were all set to the marathon time, not half). I was headed to a Personal Worst. Now, I’m always happy to run a slow race and pace a friend, or be sensible when I’m undertrained, but this PW hurt. I am fit. I tapered. I ate well. I got plenty of sleep. I don’t know what went wrong. Other than a perfect storm of bad weather + asthma + knee stiffness + muscle problems, I don’t have an explanation.

Cox Providence Start

I’m still a little sad about the race. I don’t know what went wrong. I’ll go back to my training log and look for a lesson, but this just might be one race in which the lesson is that sometimes running is random. Sometimes a run just doesn’t work. Today was one of those days.

The look of resignation. A PW.

The look of resignation. A PW.

Updated – here is the elevation profile.

Cox Providence Rhode Race Elevation Profile - Half Marathon

Cox Providence Rhode Race Elevation Profile – Half Marathon


Found: Nemo

Connecticut found Nemo. And we’re hoping whoever lost him will claim him soon. This weather is insane! After weeks of record-setting cold and single digit temperatures, it had finally reached a suitable run-outside temperature last week. Then we had a monster wind storm. And then, the predictions of Nemo began. Nothing good comes from a storm that is predicted, days out, to be “historic”, “epic”, or “catastrophic”. As if poor New England didn’t suffer enough with Irene and Sandy, we were getting Nemo. It’s always bad news when the weather reporters name a winter storm.

In preparation, I went to the gym and did a brick workout. I washed running clothes and bought some spinach for salad. Priorities. Nemo came through with the expected record snowfall. We got about 30 inches at my house. It was so much snow that the town had to send some sort of terrifying road grader/plow and front end loader to clear the snow.

Snow plow

Yikes! It was a lot of snow. Undeterred, I went out snowshoeing. I had 13-15 miles on my schedule for the weekend and I figured a nice snowshoe hike would have to do. I made it about 10 feet before I realized – three feet of snow is a crazy amount of snow. Snowshoeing in a foot of snow is lovely. Two feet of snow is doable. Three feet is practically impossible. Clearing trail by myself, I could only make it four or five steps before I had to rest. Although I was up on top of a foot and a half of snow, I was having to move another foot and a half with my feet. It was like walking in quicksand.


I’m on top of about 4 feet of snow here. That’s my normal height lamp post, all but buried in the snow.

24 hours after the snow stopped, I was finally able to leave the house and set up a snowshoe date with some local friends. Most roads were only barely passable, so we kept it close to home. Working as a team of three, we took turns breaking trail. It was tough going! Our hard work was rewarded with great views, amazing animal tracks, and a nice workout. The snow is deep and mushy, so it will be here for a while. Looks like me and my SportsCenter treadmill workout will be spending extra time together this week.

My next big race, the Gapsarilla Distance Classic, is less than two weeks away. I’m hideously undertrained, thanks to this terrible winter weather, but I’m counting down the days. Nothing will feel better than to leave all this snow and freezing rain behind and run in gorgeous Tampa!

Long Time No Blog

Wow. I just logged on to post something new and realized that it’s been ten whole days since I’ve created a new blog post. Yikes! Time really has gotten away from me.

I came back from Disney (loved it!) and the little tiny sniffle I had before Disney turned into something evil. A hacking cough, a stuffy nose, and killer sinus pain took over my body. I laid low for a while before admitting defeat and getting on some antibiotics for my obvious sinus infection. I guess the airport/plane/bus/expo/bus/marathon/plane combination was too much for my feeble immune system. My poor asthmatic lungs grab on to any and all germs within a 50 foot radius. After spending the weekend on my couch, doing nothing, I was feeling much better.

Just when I started to feel human again, it was time for the new semester to begin. Since I had been in Disney Training Mode, then sick, I hadn’t done anything to prepare for the semester and whole classes of students were expecting me to show up on Tuesday and do something. This led to a frantic scrambling process at work on Monday. Write syllabus. Copy syllabus. Learn new online class notes/grades system. Plan something to say on the first day. Try not to cough on too many students. I survived the first day of classes, only to have the undergrads point out that my dates were wrong on the syllabus for about half of the semester. Oops. I prevailed and managed to make it through the week sanity intact.

As if that wasn’t crazy enough, I started teaching a new yoga class (yoga for athletes!) at a local studio. I love teaching yoga, but there’s always a new song to find, playlists to create, or asana sequences to build. I’ve kept pretty busy.

Now that I have emerged on the other side of both my major marathon goal and the first week of a new semester, I’ve been thinking about my goals. Normal people make New Year’s resolutions. I make new semester resolutions. I work on a semester schedule, so I plan my goals by semester. This semester I will…

  1. Try not to eat as many meals at my desk. Or maybe at least eat better quality (i.e. not all Lean Cuisine) meals at my desk. (My actual desk and actual to do list for those of you who wonder if I only run and never work)Meal at desk. :(
  2. Stick to my running schedule. Even when it’s been a long day. And it’s snowing. And my leg kind of hurts. Generally, try not to get sucked into work and preserve the work-life balance. Snow!
  3. Spend quality time with my running friends.
  4. Stick with my stretching and strengthening routines, regular massage, and chiropractic care to stay healthy and injury-free.
  5. Drink more water so I can be better hydrated.

I think it’s going to be a good semester. Fingers crossed.

A Resolution Rant

It’s that time of year, when the world resolves to lose weight, get fit, and be healthy. I love this time of year. I like the new energy and excitement around fitness. I don’t even really mind the newbies at the gym texting or resting while on a machine. Good for them. I’m glad they are at the gym and making an effort. I make an extra effort to be friendly at the gym this time of year. It’s my little way of encouraging people who might be hesitant or new to the gym.

What really bothers me about this time of year is the terrible “advice” that I hear at the gym.  This week, I hit the treadmill at my local gym with some friends. The temperature was in the single digits, so running outside was not an option for me. I don’t run outside in less than 15 degrees. So, I hit the treadmill. From across the way I heard the “trainer”, a certified personal trainer who I think is terribly unkind, screaming at his charges. He was urging them to work harder, push more, and keep going. Now, I love an in-your-face style of coaching. I like to be pushed. But these poor people were clearly gym newbies. One was wearing slip on casual sneakers. One was in jeans. None seemed to know what they were doing and not one was using the weights or machines with proper form. And all their “trainer” was doing was yelling at them. He use a condescending tone, and I even heard him belittle one woman for resting. Horrible. Later, I saw this same trainer with a group of folks doing what looked like an interval/circuit workout. One women stopped to take a drink of her water bottle. He accused her of “not wanting it”, “not trying”, and “not even working”. She looked close to tears. Horrible! Drinking water should be encouraged when working out and visibly sweating. Again, all his charges had terrible form and he was yelling at them to work harder. Forget that they were mere feet away, his voice was at a full-on yell. He mocked one woman, telling her if she had “abs of steel” she could “do better”. I was truly horrified. I made my second complaint about this trainer to the manager.

It bothers me when I see behavior like this because it isn’t what fitness should be about. Fitness should make you feel amazing. Your trainer should make you feel good about yourself. She should encourage you, cheer for you, and push you when you need it. She should push you in the way that you like to be pushed, which might very well be yelling, but it might not. Bottom line – I worry that the behaviors of bad trainers, unkind people at the gym, and other haters will deter fitness newbies. Fitness newbies, I hope that you realize that there are nice people, friendly trainers, and good groups out there. Find one and have fun. Fitness is really about having fun and feeling great.

Happy Holidays!

Dr Rachel Runs has been on hiatus for the last several days to celebrate the holiday season. I hope that each of you have enjoyed a happy holiday time with friends and family.   I hope that you’ve squeezed in some time for fitness with friends and family. Whether it’s a run, a hike, yoga in the park, or just chasing after the little ones, the holidays are a perfect time for fitness.

It’s been a nice, but busy, end of the semester and start of the holiday season for me. For college professors, the real panic of the end of the semester starts after Thanksgiving and the work load increases until the semester ends. This year, our program had the exciting bonus of an end-of-semester visit from audits from our national accrediting body. Life was all about work for a few weeks. Horrible. Luckily, I made it through that with my sanity (at least mostly) intact. I’m so thankful for the end of the semester and the freedom that brings.

My leg has continued to heal and I’ve increased my runs accordingly.  I even managed to squeeze in a 20-mile run just in the nick of time. I’m training for the Disney Marathon (yay!) and had built into my schedule several extra weeks, just in case a winter storm thwarted my running. I was so thankful to have a few extra weeks when injury struck. Somehow, I managed to get back on track and get my 20-miler in just three days later than scheduled. It was a little slower and more painful than I had hoped, but I made it.

20 miles!

It was a huge relief to get in my 20 mile run. I am feeling much more confident about the Disney Marathon. This week, I resumed running normally. It feels amazing. Running normally meant a Sunday trail run, and wonderful runs with friends on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve brought sunny skies and excellent weather. Several friends and I met to run on a paved trail with lovely views of the local reservoir.


Christmas Day, I gathered with friends for a gorgeous, snowy run on a private trail. I brought Lucy, the running dog, and she was delighted to run with her doggy friends. It was a perfect run and made my holiday special.

I have been enjoying time off, time for running, and time with friends. I hope that you’ve been doing the same.