Resolution Road

img_6959-editI cannot believe how neglected my blog has been the last few months. I am changing that, starting NOW. For some reason it became less of a priority, which isn’t like me. Even when I am super busy, I alway make time for my blog. No excuses. I’m back at it.

It’s the time of the year when everyone is extremely busy with holiday parties, gift shopping and wrapping, baking, end of year work responsibilities, kids home from school for Winter Break, travel to see family – this time of the year is often one filled with love, laughter, and a whole lot of things on the calendar. It’s also the time of year many folks start thinking about the new year, and the new hopes, dreams and goals they see with it. And that’s where I come in.

I am a firm believer that we can all turn over a new leaf, set new goals, and choose to change habits TODAY. We don’t need a fresh month or new year to finally make ourselves do something, but that seems to be the trend. As you probably know, New Years brings with it more fitness, weight loss and physical goals and resolutions than anything else. Sure, there are people who set career goals, finance goals, travel goals, etc – but fitness is the overwhelming winner of resolutions.

It never fails that the first few weeks of the new year my email and my phone will be filled with inquiries from new people with big goals. I love those emails and calls. I am excited to meet new people, hear about their goals, and discuss how I can help them. It’s part of what I love about what I do – helping people achieve something for themselves that betters them and their quality of life. The excitement, motivation and energy each person brings with their call or email is something I wish I could bottle and save for them. It’s infectious. And yes, out of all the messages, calls, meetings and even a few weeks into training, a certain percent of those hopeful, motivated New Years Resolution clients fall of the face of the earth. The motivation and focus slip once they realize how much effort it takes to train or eat the way they need to, or they become impatient when the scale doesn’t show a magical number within the first week, and so on. The excuses start rolling in, and I know it’s a matter of time before they are off the Resolution Ride, and they will move off my roster. Look at the gym on January 1-5 compared to February 1-5 and you’ll see just how few people stuck with their plan for a month. One month. Thirty-one days, people.

I don’t think any less of the people who can’t commit to their training goals than the ones that do. I get it. It’s hard. It’s also really frustrating to continue that cycle of training/dieting and falling off the wagon. I want to hug and shake and give a pep-talk to the people who fall off. I know that progress takes time, and it takes WEEKS to form new habits, and a lot of work, focus and persistence to make the changes often necessary to achieve goals so momentous that they are saved for the New Year.

I know how hard change can be, but the hardest part is starting. I know I can help people who are willing and capable to make their health and goals a priority. I know anyone can make the changes they desire – but it takes a hell of a lot of willpower, support, knowledge and the acceptance that not every day will be easy for feel good. If say you don’t have time, I will call you out. Bull shit. You have no idea what I’ve made myself accomplish with VERY little time. You have no idea how many clients have succeeded with their goals while juggling an incredibly busy, stressful schedule. Yes, change often involves struggle and some setbacks, but again I will call you out. A setback or struggle doesn’t ruin all the progress or make you a weak person or a failure. It makes you human, silly. And if you find a trainer or gym hard to afford, I suggest you check out how much you are spending to eat out, have drinks with friends, and on medical bills. If you cut back on eating and drinking out, that’s money and calories saved. We almost always eat a better diet when preparing our own food. Cocktails with your girlfriends or with the guys at the bar add up pretty quickly. And if you get yourself healthier, in theory you’ll be spending less money on doctors appointments and medications.

So if you are looking to 2015 with fitness-related goals, be prepared to work hard and to also be in it for the long run. Look towards April, and what goals will be accomplished by then, not January 15th. A ton of progress can happen within four months, but very little will show for it the first two weeks. But the only way to get to April and those goals is to stick with the plan every day between January 1st and April 1st. I wish everyone with high hopes and big goals all the success in the world. There is no better gift to yourself than health, self-confidence and strength. And if you need help, there are tons of great trainers, gyms and programs out there in every city. The road to progress can be hard, but it is never impossible.

The Benefit of a Race

img_7093If you are looking for a goal, a new challenge, a reason to hit the gym or lace up your shoes, or to try something new – sign up for a race. I promise you that you won’t regret it. Races come in all shapes and sizes, themes, times of day, days of the week – the possibilities are endless.

Okay, so perhaps you are not convinced. Maybe you don’t consider yourself a runner. Perhaps you are worries you’ll be the last person across the finish line. It’s possible you assume all runners look like Olympians and are concerned looking like a human being will make you the laughing-stock of the race.

I get it. Remember, I didn’t race for years because I had those same fears. Instead I’d run on my own as I pleased, but I sometimes struggled with motivation, and I rarely pushed myself for pace or a goal other than to go outside and clock some miles. I didn’t see myself as a runner, but rather a person who happened to run. My first race changed my perspective in a hugely positive way, and it can for you too!

Here’s the truth and some tips:

Runners come in all shapes and size.

Walkers are more and more welcome at races these days, so you will probably not be last.

No one will laugh and point – in fact, you’ll be shocked at how many strangers will cheer for you!

No matter how fast, crossing the finish line will feel awesome.

Sign up with some friends and go to brunch after the race to celebrate your achievement – food always tastes better after a run!

You’ll feel a new sense of accomplishment.

Start with a 5K and go from there. There’s no need to take on something epic too soon.

Bring a camera and take some photos. You’ll start to see yourself as a stronger, more capable person. The photos don’t lie!

Make your own race-day goal. It could be to set a new personal record, have fun the whole time, high-five every child cheering, thank every volunteer, help a friend achieve their goal, wear a costume, enjoy a new running playlist – the possibilities are endless!

No matter what your reasons or plan, a race can be just the thing to reignite your healthy habits, start new ones, or simply have some good, clean fun.

Bonus: local 5Ks are usually very inexpensive, intimate, and often benefit a local organization, charity or cause.

 

10K for Cancer in Cancun

10559813_10152416229363645_4378808899992536179_nThis coach recently took a vacation from NYC, coaching, and America – and spent a week in Cancun. While I won’t bore you with stories of drinking island cocktails on the beach, rowdy dance parties, and foam parties, I somehow found the motivation to hop into a local race while in Cancun, and that’s what this blog is about.

Personally, I love to travel and run. It’s a great way to see new places and get away from your hotel and the “tourist” areas. When we booked a vacation to Cancun, Chris found out that our resort was hosting a 5K/10K race while we were in town, to benefit children in Cancun with cancer. This seemed like the perfect activity, and so we signed up for $20.00 USD the day before – which also covered a medal and a tech shirt. Talk about a deal.

The night before, I cut back on booze consumption and only went to the dance club for a few hours. We were in bed by 11pm and ready to get up at 5:45am, which seemed pretty darn responsible for vacation. The next morning, we walked 1.5 miles to the starting line. It was VERY humid outside – even for Cancun.

The first real difference we noticed about a race in Mexico – no bathrooms. Not a single porta potty along the course or at the start/finish. Perhaps you get what you pay for, and or $20.00 fee meant they skimped on potties? Either way, this was a surprise. Even very small races back home have some sort of facility. Oh well. I had to get creative and pee pre-race, which wasn’t a big deal. It also became quickly clear that this was a race very few tourists were running. The field was almost all locals, which surprised me since the race was hosted by our resort. Therefore, everything was communicated in Spanish. Nothing was ever announced in English, and so we had to listen carefully and give up control. Following the crowds was the only option.

The 5K/10K were on the same course, starting all at once. The 5K split off to finish while the 10K runners ran the course a second time. I was one of the top 3-5 runners during the first loop, and told myself to relax – maybe some of these ladies were running the 5K. After the first mile, humidity hit me like a wall. It was extremely humbling. I’m sure my Ultra training and lack of speed work was a factor, but my sweat rate and core temperature became an issue before very long. It’s a strange feeling to have a wave of heat pour down from your head and through your body. I don’t know how these locals made it look so easy!

Another big difference was the kindness of other runners. Around mile 2, one lady and I kept swapping places and were pulling/pushing each other along. When we got to the first aid station, where water was handed in sealed plastic bags you tear open with your teeth, she grabbed one, took a few sips and then offered it to me. I declined, as I was more in awe of the water bag concept and this runner’s kindness. By the time we got to the 5K split, I dropped her and she finished a few minutes behind me. I ended up taking two bags later in the race – embracing the way runners hydrate in Cancun and giving my body some much-needed water.

To my surprise, the women in front of me were still on the course after the 5K mark and forging ahead. My hope that they were racing the 5K was squashed, and I knew there was no chance I’d catch them. They were out of sight unless we were on an out-and-back portion, and my body was crumbling under the weather conditions and I couldn’t get my legs to move any faster. Again, so humbling.

As I closed in on the finish line, a bike escort brought me in – which confused me for a few minutes. I knew I was either 4th or 5th female, just shy of a cash prize, so the escort was odd. Folks shouted words of encouragement in Spanish, and Chris was there cheering too. He ran the 5K, and thought I was perhaps 3rd female. I told him I was pretty sure there were 3 ladies ahead of me. In what was my slowest and hardest 10K of my life, I was thankful when the finish line was behind me.

A huge table of fruit, coolers of water, bottles of coconut water, and thermos of Powerade waited at the finish line. We waited for the award ceremony, which included honoring the children in the area benefiting from the race. These little cancer patients were so cute, and for a minute it made my suffering for a 10K seem small and silly.

I won 1st in my Age Group, and laughed when the announcer stumbled on my obviously non-Spanish name. As I made my way up to the top of the podium, the two ladies in 2nd and 3rd were incredibly sweet. High fives, hugs and kisses for all. Again, very different from any race I’ve experienced in the US. My prize was a day pass to our resort for two people, which of course we couldn’t use. I gave my prize to a runner as we walked back to our resort. He was extremely thankful, and said he and his girlfriend would love to use it. I was happy my prize didn’t go to waste!

Age Group winners.

Age Group winners.

When we got back to our resort, we were ready for a huge breakfast, drinks and relaxing in the hot sun – and we spent the rest of the day relaxing and maybe drinking too much. It was great to get out of the resort area, meet some locals, and get our legs moving. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – traveling and running are an awesome combination.

The F Word (Failure)

A snap shot of my Ultra. So ill at this point.

A snap shot of my Ultra. So ill at this point.

This week I want to talk about failure. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have experienced some sense of the word in our lives. In terms of fitness and weight loss, “failure” is the F word that plagues most of our minds. Many people are so scared of failing at a goal that they never start. Having failed many times at things, I can tell you that it’s not so scary once you embrace that little F word and make it into something positive.

The last week or so, I have referred to my Ultra on July 19/20th as a “failure.’ Why? Because it was. I didn’t achieve my goal of 100 miles. However, I also know I pushed further than before, and that “failure” is sometimes objective. I suppose when you fail at an Ultra, and still mange to run over 75 miles, everyone around you still thinks that’s super-human awesome. While I don’t really see it that way, I understand that my achievement was still something the average person cannot do. Therefore, I have taken that “failure” and somehow decided to own it as mine.

The same is true for past races, ones where I tanked during a race and a time goal slipped away. Weight loss failure a few years ago plagued me and defined my sense of self. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a fat, worthless failure, who couldn’t succeed at the simple task of dropping some body fat. Was I ever really fat or worthless? No, I don’t think so now. But then I did. Every time I “failed” at a diet or workout plan, I labeled myself as weak. When you tell yourself you are weak, you believe it. At some point, something snapped for me and I realized that I wasn’t weak, and my knowledge of nutrition, fitness and health were WAY off base. I was also too caught up in what I thought I needed to look like, thanks to time spent reading beauty magazines and watching too much E! News. Once I finally said “fuck it!” and made choices around my happiness, I stopped sweating my failure and started to see it as something else – BEING HUMAN.

Being human means we are capable of awesome things. Don’t believe me? Then you haven’t tried. Really, truly tried. Being human also means we fail. Why are we all so scared of failing and therefore being human? Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to be this ideal person? I don’t know about you, but that kind of pressure will make most of us crack.

So if you are sitting there, reading my blog and feeling incapable of getting off the couch and going for a walk, a run, to the gym, or to clean out your kitchen of all your junk “feel better” food, I have news for you – you are not alone. And here’s some more news – you will never succeed if you don’t try. True, you will also never fail, but aren’t you already failing by passively not being proactive in your life?

In college, I remember one of my choral directors told us to sing with confidence. It’s better to make a huge mistake and own it than to passively “sing” your part. Go big or go home. If you make a mistake, you’ll learn from it and realize that note needs to be corrected. But if you get it right, it will not only be the correct pitch, it will have your breath, diction and voice all working the way the composer intended – creating something beautiful.

Don’t be scared to fail. Failure makes us stronger. You’ll never know how strong, fast, smart, beautiful or fit you may be unless you try. That goes for everything in life.

#LikeAGirl and girl-on-girl hating

Liz Corkum 322Let’s talk about girl-on-girl hating. It’s a real thing. I have experienced it my whole life. It never feels good, and has honestly always left me confused. Why do women and girls desire to pull down other females? We are often the voices of women empowerment, but are ironically the first ones to drag down the females around us. What gives? Why do we try  to knock down the women we envy, admire or look up to? Why do you put down the women we feel superior to? Why, in a world where our country and many males view us as less than equal are we continuing this girl-on-girl crime? Shouldn’t we be rallying together, and cheering on those who are rising to challenges? Bullying, whether as children or adults, is the sign of a hateful, sad, insecure person. Knowing that helps, however it still really hurts.

Perhaps girls first experience this kind of repression in gym class. Girls make other girls feel bad if they try to compete. Boys make the girls feel unwelcome. Many teachers make assumptions regarding athletic ability based on gender. These girls become young women who hate exercise and feel threatened by anyone who happens to like sports or happens to work hard for their physique. To be clear, I am NOT saying that all women should aspire to be a size 0, be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or be a movie star – but why do we seem to put down the women who DO have these aspirations?!? Shouldn’t we instead say “good for you, girl!”

Since this is a fitness blog and not a political one, I am going to simply stick to the fitness side – though I must confess I have some strong opinions on this topic that go across the boards. In the fitness world, I see more girl-on-girl hate than anywhere else. If a woman makes the news for have six-pack abs a month post baby (and why that is news-worthy I’ll never understand), it never fails that the hundreds of comments below the article will be hateful, venomous remarks made by…..WOMEN. The hate, lashing out, and judgement over a complete stranger’s physique is disgusting. Ladies, instead of spending time writing hateful remarks, how about we do something POSITIVE with our free time! No, I do not think a woman should feel pressured to pop out a baby and have her pre-baby weight, whatever that might be, within a few months. Frankly, its up to the woman if she wants to lose the weight at all. Perhaps the real source of judgement is jealousy – because let’s face it, how many American women have their ideal set of six-pack abs ever – baby or not? While I am not a doctor and am not a mother, I can tell you this: It is a million times easier to be fit post-baby if you don’t gain 70 lbs. while pregnant. And ladies, just like anything in life, we have a CHOICE regarding what we eat, how much we eat, and how much we exercise. Yes, pregnancy requires weight-gain. Does it require 70 lbs. of weight gain? Absolutely not. I promise you the women who do happen to have a killer set of abs post-baby also had killer abs pre-pregnancy – and were probably hated on for that too.

It doesn’t make sense to me that ladies who are naturally petite judge those ladies who naturally carry more weight. Or that women who are plus-sized despise the women who are a size 2. The hate goes both ways. We are damned if we are thin and damned if we are fat. And if you happen to be toned and muscular, you will be considered self-centered and its assumed you don’t eat anything but salad. I hope we can all agree that no matter our size or health, we all feel judged. We all ARE judged. Let’s stop that. The venom is out of control. Can we stop focusing on size, age, power, superiority and for a second focus on happiness, health, achievements and working to be better versions of ourselves. Can we focus on cheering each other on, celebrating achievements and milestones, and perhaps empowering the women and girls in our lives.

When I watch my female runners train, its amazing to me how much they hold themselves back. I have witnessed dozens of ladies who tell me on day one what they are capable of, and they hold themselves to that number. On the flip side, many of my male runners are often ambitious with their goals and hardly ever put a cap on what their potential ability could be. Why are women so quick to cap their potential? Does it go back to gym class in middle school and being told what we can or cannot do? Does it go back to being scared of failing, and looking like fools? Is it that all of their female friends who run do it “for fun” and eliminate the concept of improving pace and ability? For the record, I think it is entirely possible to have fun and love a sport while still trying to improve.

Next time you read a news headline that tears down a woman, I encourage you to read the article from a different point of view. Journalism and the media realized a long time ago that women love to read about other women who have failed, or have succeeded so far that we somehow give ourselves permission to judge them. Instead, ask yourself a few questions – Why is this article “news?” Is the point of the article to communicate anything positive? How is the subject depicted? Do we actually really know anything about the person in the article? Who are we to judge? A chain in perspective and attitude can happen, but it will take time. It is my hope that someday, girls won’t feel inferior in gym class, that women feel supported by their fellow sisters instead of judged and that we create a world where females feel empowered, strong, and equal. Let’s start today. Go be awesome.

National Running Day!

Today is National Running Day! I encourage everyone to go outside and run. You don’t have to run far or fast – a few blocks is better than nothing. Bring a friend, spouse, or the kids! it’s a day to celebrate fitness, fresh air, and taking a little time away from our computers and favorite television shows and to enjoy the long summer days! Happy running!

Running California

On a run in Novato, CA.

On a run in Novato, CA.

Perhaps one of my favorite things about being a runner is the opportunity to see places on my feet when I travel. I have always found it interesting to be able to see new places on my feet, often experiencing places I wouldn’t if it weren’t for my running shoes.

I was recently in California for 10 days, and my legs and running shoes took me all over the Golden State. San Diego Mission Bay, Downtown San Diego, Venice beach, LA, Oakland, Golden Gate Park and Novato – sunrise, mid-day heat, and sunset. Beach-front, trails, cities, and suburbs – my legs took me all over. Just under 80 miles of running during my California trip, and never a dull moment.

The trails in Golden Gate Park and the path along the Pacific in Santa Monica/Venice Beach was probably my favorite – though its hard to choose. The trails in Golden Gate Park offer a nice soft surface, breathtaking views with every few steps, and the challenge of steep inclines and declines – though they never lasted too long. If I thought I had any real business as a trail runner, San Francisco would be at the top of my list for places to live and train. In Santa Monica and Venice, the smell of the Pacific, the sunshine kissing my shoulder blades, and the wind in my face on a mostly flat beach run brought back memories, as I trained for my first Ultra along that same beach a few years ago. In some way, it felt like home. 

On a run at the San Diego Marina.

On a run at the San Diego Marina.

Perhaps the most meaningful runs were the ones I had some company during. In San Diego Mission Bay, I ran with my cousin and her boyfriend, and they took me around beautiful paths along the water. Chatting while we ran, the miles clicked by on their last pre-marathon long run. In LA, I took my sister on a run where I ran almost daily (when not beach running), and the smell of flowers flooded our runs with such amazing smells. For some reason my sense of smell seems to be heightened when I run, especially on the west coast.

If you are traveling in the near future and interested in running while away, do some research on where to best run. Figure out safety, water and fueling, routes and mileage, and go have fun. I brought a camera with me on some of my runs. Make sure you pack your running gear. Even if you usually run with music, I suggest you leave your music at home. Go experience a new place with all of your senses. Also, unfamiliar routes may mean navigating traffic and crowds, which isn’t safe when you can’t hear. 

IMG_3263I should note that while in Oakland, I mapped a route and headed out from my hotel for a potential 10-15 miler. It became obvious within the first mile that the neighborhood was not nice. In fact, I was very much on edge the entire run. I’m sure not knowing my surroundings contributed to feeling uneasy, but it was also simply not a nice place. I cut the run short at 5 miles, and clocked an additional 5 miles later that day in Novato, CA. Safety should always be your first priority when out for a run – especially if you are alone and in a new place.

California is an amazing place to run. The varying options for where to train was extremely refreshing. While I love Central Park, and enjoy the Westside Highway, clocking those same routes day after day can make a high-mileage runner feel a little uninspired. I absolutely want to go back and run more in California. I am also very much intrigued to get out of my comfort zone and out of NYC to run. There are parks and trails outside of Manhattan, and I am excited to go on a few adventures and get in my Ultra training miles all over the NYC-area. I suppose the lesson I learned while out west was this: running is and can be what we make of it. It can make a trip to a new place and experience you never expected. You get to see things not on  your tourist list, or where your friends or family would necessarily take you. And that is very cool.

“HOW TO START RUNNING NOW: 7 TIPS TO GET YOU ON YOUR WAY”

img_6834-editA few weeks ago I was interviewed for Bustle.com‘s article on tips for getting started with running.

I thought some of you may perhaps benefit from some of the questions I answered.

If you are new to running, perhaps you have found other tricks and tips that have worked for you! While we are all different, it’s important to always begin slowly and to build mileage gradually. Before you know it, you’ll be running harder and further than before!

Have a tip I didn’t mention in the article? Please share it with the class in the comments!