Summer’s Running Away

 

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Consider that Winter seems like it was just a few months ago..when we were talking crazy-cold-how-do-I-get-my-run-on weather and now we’re running through August, no stop signs in sight. To use my, of late, favorite expression – “What the hell!” Whatever happened to slow down, take time to smell the roses and all that cute stuff? Maybe, I’m just complaining cause I’m preempting what follows summer (to which I will not give a name so as to delay it as long as possible) but really the wisest course to follow would be to abstain from such thinking and do as much running damage as possible, which brings me to the matter at hand.. Summer runs rock!

I don’t know when was the last time we’ve had or even if we’ve ever had such amazing running weather in the summer in New York City! I mean this is the time to run and if you happen to be lucky and you’re in NY, then this is the place to run, and you totally lucked in cause we also have the company to get you out and about in this summer city. Some may complain of the crazy-weather-days where the highest we’ve seen so far is just about 89 and that we have lows in the 50s but this right here is runner’s paradise. It just doesn’t get better than this. And so you want to take advantage of it cause..well..hell, you never know.

Here are some ways to get running in the city that never sleeps for the visitor and New Yorker alike:

Run Central Park. You’ll never find a place more likely to make you into a runner. Running enthusiasts, visitors, sightseers, any and everyone active can be found here..Central Park is New York in action and home to everyone.

Run City Streets. Every summer for about one month, the city opens up some of the busiest  and most popular streets so that runners, joggers, cyclists, walkers, skateboarders and rollerbladers can do their thing. Yep..that’s right. No cars. The road is yours. Where else in the world can you stop traffic at your fancy?

Run with company. The Running Company is just one of the running stores that hosts free runs for running enthusiasts throughout the city. Nike, Paragon Sports, Lululemon and North Brooklyn Runners are some others to name a few. With just a click, join them and you’re in. These groups usually pace out into sub groups so everyone fits in never mind your level. It’s on to keep you fit and fab.

Run official. Do what I did; join a running club or organization that provides days, times and run workouts. Whether it is to train, to get you to your goal or to assume competitive level, such organizations exists with your purpose in mind. These clubs have an annual membership fee upon registration and acceptance; Central Park Track Club, Brooklyn Road Runners, Jack Rabbit and Dashing Whippets are among a host of others that provide the “athlete” runner with the impetus for racing.

Run with Meetup NYC. Throughout the city there are meetup groups happening for runners of all persuasions. For those who don’t know, Meetup.com exists with the sole purpose of bringing like-minded people together so that they can be passionate about whatever they care about. So of course running. And of course in NYC. Get online, join a group, reserve a spot for a suggested meetup run and voliá. You get to run all over this beautiful, crazy city for free.

Run with NYRR (New York Road Runners). Here is the mastermind behind the New York City Marathon, which is run by thousands from all over the world each year. NYRR is a running community that hosts races throughout the year in the five boroughs of New York. Most races can help with your eligibility for the ” big” race but ideally all runners are invited to belong to a community of runners that run and share the New York we know and love. Races are priced for members at a lower rate while non-members can run for a fee, though not all the races. Why not be a New York Road Runner?

Run for fun, for charity, for personal satisfaction. Whatever you decide, you have to take it to the next level. There are so many fun and charity races all over the five boroughs and beyond you couldn’t hide..but why would you want to? Summer in New York, especially this summer, is a time to make a difference in your and someone else’s life. You just wouldn’t be able to wrap it up come September and call it a great summer if you didn’t. There are color runs, mud runs, obstacle races, 5ks for Cancer research, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Kidney research and so much more. Whichever you decide, in any and all of them you can make a donation and make a difference. You’re running anyway right?

Do you doubt that we, runners, have it made? To not only live in the greatest city in the world, but to run the show. New York is not only about The Arts and Broadway and Wall Street and the Stock Market and Fashion and Times Square and Sightseeing and Tall Buildings. New York is about Running. Runners RUN this Empire State.

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40 and Beyond: your best running years are ahead of you.

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“The God who has girded me with strength has opened wide my path. He made my feet like the feet of deer, and set me secure on the heights.”

  – 2 Samuel 22:33-34

 You don’t just wake up one day and decide – Hey, I’m gonna be a runner! – Or do you? It takes years of dedication, sacrifice, hard work and sometimes struggling to stay focused and I say that for even the casual runner, because even so, over the years running would have demanded something from even you.  And so, you don’t just quit. You can’t. There’s this current school of thought running around that approaching 40 years is major. It claims that you’ve now attained full maturity and peak form, you’ve never looked nor felt better; your best years are ahead of you.

It is said that all the work you’ve put into who you are up to this point is about to blossom into the most beautiful flower you can possibly imagine. I think it’s a great metaphor for your running potential going forward. In all honesty, and for most people, 40 can be quite scary. You either look back with horror and forward with trepidation or, you look back with satisfaction and to the future with hope. Depends, I think, a lot on your perspective and where you stand, but what I can tell you is this.. the past is in the past, what you did or didn’t do is done for. However, what you do now and can do is totally determined by you. It is absolutely true that you’re now at your peak: fit, healthy, strong, beautiful and determined. Indeed you’ve never felt better; this is the result of your sustained effort and hard work and so at this point you can look forward to enjoying rewarding running.

You have running down to a science; a tried and true method. You’ve established where you are on the running scale and feel pretty confident about your abilities. Whether you’re facing your first marathon, ultra, triathlon or Ironman, you can do so confident in what you have to give. And so it follows that it only gets better from here on. Your experience, wisdom and knowledge of running will inform and fuel your runs and give you the opportunity to impact the sport and community in a unique and lasting way. So whether you’re staring at 40 in a couple of years or whether it’s right around the corner, you can do so with confidence and ease, you’ve earned it. Now go out there and show’em!

1, 000 000 000 Reasons to Run this Summer, Choose One!

I could give you all the reasons in the world why I run but they would still be my reasons.  On the other hand, there are infinite reasons why others enjoy this faithful and rewarding sport.  Like most things in life, what you put in, is most often what you get out of it.  And for those who genuinely seek it, they will find all these and more.  

Health.. Fitness.. To lose Weight.. To be SexyWP  De-stress.. For Charity.. To Motivate.. Inspire.. Meet People.. Be Free.. Worship.. To Think.. Travel.. Meditate..  For Self Satisfaction .. To Find Peace.. To be Awesome.

WP6To Find Yourself.. Discover New Places.. To Belong to a Community.. To believe in Yourself.. To give Hope.. To Succeed. . To get Me-Time.. To Enjoy Nature.. To be All You Could be.

WP2To Earn Your Calories.. Just Because.. For Discipline.. Finish Line.. Medals.. Prizes.. Money.. Sense of Achievement.. Speed.. Strength.. Recognition.. To Retreat.. Escape.. To Live.. To Forget.. For Insight.. For Inspiration. To Master Fear.. To Connect.. To Live.. To be Happy.

smell-roseTo Smell the Roses .. To Remember.. To Honor.. To Dream.. To Heal.. To Deal.



To Give Yourself the Best Fighting Chance to Life, Love and Happiness.

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Spring into Action on the Trails

Running TrailOh yeah..beautiful, luscious, picturesque Spring is here! Goodby to the treadmill, to freezing nose and toes and layers of clothes!

It’s such an exciting time for us runners and outdoorsy people. However, if you live in New York, it may be a few more days before you feel that magical, spring-fever-energy that craves adventure, as we rally to push a winter that will not leave gracefully, out of here.  But if you’re anything like me, you’re already hearing the call of the wild; though it’s more likely that after the winter we’ve had, you’ll settle for warm sunshine and cool temperatures to start with.  Just the thought of Spring though, I’ve seen those colorful buds pushing their way through the still-cold ground, brings to mind outdoors: fresh air and dirt, and green and birds, and its got me thinking… Trail Running.

Spring presents the perfect opportunity to get so much done beginning with those exercise and running goals we had from the beginning of the year. So what if it means getting those rain boots & ponchos out, you gotta give and take a little. From long walks to long runs to hikes, rock climbing, cross-country runs, obstacle and fun races, and my favorite, trail runs; there are just so many ways to get your run on, and what’s even better is that you can get the entire family involved, from your five-year old to grandpa and yes..even the dog; everyone loves Spring.

So grab your gear, your running bud and your camera, because you just can’t let such gorgeousness go by without trying to steal and savor some, and let’s figure out where our running adventures can take us this Spring.

Cross Training for Runners

Recently there has been a surge in the idea that Cross Training can benefit runners, increasing strength, endurance and building muscle. It is suggested that Cross Training can be supplemental to running, providing variety while strengthening and building muscles that normally atrophy with overuse and helping with speed and endurance to make you run longer, faster and better.

According to Dr. Vonda Wright, in her power play video above, what one needs to be a great racer goes beyond good sneakers and great nutrition. She claims, that what makes one a great racer is metabolic efficiency, balanced muscles and total body fitness. I believe she’s right on target with her attempt to get us to question and stretch ourselves.

There exist a ton of information on the best exercises to optimize your running potential, so much so, that it can be difficult to decide where your best results lie. Most trainers and runners agree that exercises, which target core areas and strengthen those that you use for running, which would pretty much mean your total body, are the ones you need to focus on. Some are: Swimming, Biking, Gym Workouts to include core work such as planks and squats; Yoga and Pilates are great for this, and Light Weights. Biking is great for strength training and targets your quads, gluts and legs without the impact of pavement pounding. Swimming is no impact and great for upper body and shoulder strengthening. It helps with stability and control and helps you stay in line when running because it builds core strength. Also, as with biking, runner’s knee and other susceptible injuries are a misnomer. Finally, there is so much to do at the gym..where to begin? Kettle bells! I love the feel and result. They have the advantage of giving your muscles and gluts a good workout-great butt booster girls-but lower the risk of injuries associated with heavier weights. Kettle bells can be included in a circuit workout that may include butt kicks, burpees, jumping jacks, planks and high knees. Remember the idea here is to be lean and fit so the focus should be on less weights and more reps. This will keep you in good stead, strengthening those muscles that will help you to be a more efficient and effective runner.

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Happy Cross Training guys.

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Skinny vs Healthy

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At no time in our history has it been more pertinent, so debatable or misunderstood. Studies rage as do diet fads and exercise plans, all in the name and search of Skinny, Perfect, You.  Maybe it’s the media hype, the crazy celebrities we are wont to emulate, or could be it’s the mixed messages we get from society at large, who knows or even cares, fact is we are so messed up with the idea that we all have to be a ‘perfect’ size 2 or is it 1, that people have been literally running in circles trying to fit in.  Now I’m all for running, but you may have noticed that in this race there’s no finish line – no one wins. That’s because when it comes to human beings, there is no one-size-fits-all.  So then, why are we of the mistaken belief that size 2 is the standard for beauty, happiness, well-being and perfection, when in fact, beauty comes from within, happiness is a state of mind, your well-being embodies physical, spiritual, mental as well as emotional health and as for perfection, well..a pipe dream really.

One can assign blame to various sources, but the truth is there is enough blame to go around. However, I am convinced we are our worst enemies.  Use to be, we could have gotten away with the saying ‘Ignorance is bliss,’ but in this fast advancing world, that is just plain lame.  It couldn’t be further from the truth anyway, ignorance is just that, ignorance, and bliss is bliss; In the end, we remain responsible for who and what we are. We’ve been told often enough that what we put in, is what we get out.  That should apply across the board; food, exercise, study, family et al.  The time, effort and resources we assign to those areas determine the results we get.
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Really, there are no reasons we can claim ignorance as information abounds on healthy eating practices, exercise, health & wellness and just about any area of interest we can imagine.  It behooves us to acquaint ourselves with this superb human machine God has gifted us with, to learn and appreciate it inside out, to love the skin we’re in, only when we do, will we find balance and enjoy what is the healthy and right size for each of us.  People often say – you’re so lucky, you’re so skinny – as if luck has anything to do with it or as if skinny is my desire.  Not so at all.  So what if I’m small-boned.  Does that make me healthy? Should it mean that I get to eat crap and not exercise; that I get a pass on practicing healthy living? Definitely not.  We need to get that we’re all unique.  Therefore, we will not, nor should we aspire to be, the same.  A size 2 on me maybe healthy, if I live it out correctly, but maybe totally wrong for your built and stature, which may be a size 4 or 6 or even 8.  If you can’t fit my shoes, you shouldn’t try to wear them.  Find your own and wear it beautifully and well.  Now does this mean that it’s ok to be overweight? Heck no! Obesity is a big problem, and it shouldn’t be because of image but because of the potential hazards inherent in living with it.  It is therefore very important that we pay attention to our health, this is the reason we eat right and exercise; to be healthy and fit. The rest is just a sexy bonus.

  

The Joy of Trail Running

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Running is a sport that’s hard to love. It could be because it requires so much of one’s energy among other emotions that there’s hardly room left for anything else. Most runners run either because they’re good at it, are very competitive, like the physical & psychological results of running or a combination of the above. Very few, I believe, will admit to loving the constant pounding of heart, feet and muscle to the insistent beat of their personal-health-aspiration-drum.

imageQuite frankly, after my teenage years and before I discovered trail running, I saw running as strictly a competitive sport and would hardly consider it something I did for fun. The trails changed all that. There among nature, I discovered my inner ying that responded to the call of the wild with a resounding yes that echoes wherever trails are found. I want to discover, explore and enjoy them all. Within those trails I am able to step outside of myself and see the beauty of God’s creation as He intended it and it’s a wonder to behold. I don’t know why I respond this way, what it is within me that unfurls at the sight, sounds and smell of nature blossoming in my midst..I just know that I do and that to be given the opportunity to experience it is a precious gift I treasure. Upon my return to the track and roads there’s really no comparison. Time stands still among the quiet chatter of birds and insects; the cackle of leaves underfoot is background music to the sighting of a unique flower or plant as the fresh air pleasantly tickles my nostrils, and my senses are thoroughly assaulted by the explosion of color as the seasons change. And If per chance I encounter one of my wild friends, it’s always with a gaze of awe as I humbly submit to their authority in this world of theirs..where I am but a guest..a world seemingly untouched, unspoiled by the passage of time and those who are fortunate to enter in.

I try to get to the trails as often as I can, which is not often enough in my mind. Thank goodness New York offers lots of opportunities to the desirous trail runner, as there are lots of parks surrounding the city that one can get lost in. Venture a little further upstate or head out to the Catskills and it’s trail heaven out there and great for hiking too. What I have not been so fortunate to find are running events that involve the trails, I guess it’s harder to organize those, but be that as it may, there are always opportunities for those so inclined; my eyes and ears are open to new trail experiences this year.

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All Peaches and Running Dreams

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I love running in Georgia. Particularly, I delight in the fresh and pristine air surrounding the Savannah Rapids River in Augusta, and the cacophony of sounds that enfold me as I make my way along the scenic trails.  Because I consider myself a nature lover, I relish the times I can get away from city life and get in tuned with my wild side.  There’s nothing more inspiring than being lost to the world of city lights, blaring traffic and the constant chatter of well-meaning or not, people.  It is here that running takes on a whole new meaning; where competition, pace and races take a back seat to enjoyment, beauty and appreciation.

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It seems everything and everyone conspire to offer the perfect conditions -it’s hardly winter here today- for lacing up and heading out.  And because it’s so designed, I can hardly not take a camera along as picturesque scenes are sure to greet me.  I picture the willow trees, its branches swaying gently in the breeze as the gurgling sound of water gushes by and the birds singing sweetly as they tag along on this self-defining run that will unearth more than I can imagine and unload more than mere calories.

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I may return with some Spanish moss in my hand and some stunning shots on my camera, but what I hold in my heart and my head, words cannot express, nor can I really articulate what it means to this city girl who’s really country at heart.

Yikes It’s Winter!

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Summer bodies are earned in winter!

You take a Caribbean gal accustomed to tropical and warm temperatures and you place her in average 25 degrees Fahrenheit weather and what you get is me, cold and cranky as heck.  These are the days you just wanna curl up..fetal position preferably, with your favorite book and blanket; christmas music playing softly in the background and a steaming cup of hot chocolate peppered with marshmallows and/or Jim Bean.  Yep, winter is just about here with its oh-so-short days and cold and wintry nights.  So how do I beat this – it’s too cold to run – truth be told, there is no easy way.  These are the days we’re gonna have to dig deep down and find the inspiration that has brought us thus far.

That being said, there are some external things that can inspire that move from fetal position to running form.  For nature lovers, like myself, a lot can be said for experiencing the changing seasons first hand; your winter runs are much more quiet, there is less traffic in the parks and on various running routes as others seek warmer alternatives, and who doesn’t enjoy some extra quiet and the chance to run without sidestepping strollers.  Also, sweat becomes a thing of the past; you can actually run without breaking one, well at least not the wet, drenched-looking kind, just remember to drink a lot.  Layered and mittened up, you’re on a determined path to success and nothing beats the feeling of super-accomplishment post running; you’ve braved the cold with determination and tenacity – nothing says you’re a badass quite like that.  And of course you can always rely on the calorie factor to get you out the door.  You want to deserve the extra treats you give yourself and since we know that nothing in life is free, that extra piece of pumpkin pie means extra calories to burn.  Additionally, running in cold weather, causes you to exert more energy and effort and you’re likely to burn more calories on your average run.

Of course, now is a good time to get some cross training in and sign up at a gym so you have some variety to spice up your workouts.  While it isn’t the average Joe that decides to run in winter wonderland, anyone who has a serious desire to stay healthy will see winter as a challenge and either embrace it or look for ways around and through it.

Running vs Walking

imagesW0AIPL91The age-old debate over whether it is better to run or walk continues.  Of course runners think they’re totally in the know and far out class their walking counterparts.  While there is a lot of research on the topic and enough said to indicate that both activities are beneficial, it stands to reason that it all depends on what your goal is.  Recent studies on the subject allude to this as well as to the fact that those intending to lose weight are better off running over walking (The Journal of Obesity, 2012).  On the other hand, in a new study, published last month in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, walkers got the edge over runners in the area of heart disease reduction with a 4.5 decrease, while walkers saw their risk of heart disease decrease by more than 9 percent after expending the same amount of energy.

From a runner’s perspective,  I believe it is all about what one hopes to accomplish.  Lots of people and research will tell you that running places a lot more stress on the body than walking, that there is a lot more wear and tear of muscle tissue and that this reduces the average lifespan of a runner, they would be mostly right.  On the other hand, others may say that walking gets you nowhere fast.  Well, that’s debatable and entirely dependent upon your goal.  Obviously if you’re looking to lose weight, running will be the better bet as you’re likely to burn more calories during this form of exercise.  What is also interesting I have found, is that overtime, runners carry weight better.  Controlling weight is much easier according to current research on the issue and it has been found that appetite has a lot of bearing on this.  Runners are found to consume less overall than walkers.  From me to you, I think it has a lot to do with mindset.  Consider the runner who has motivated him or herself to pursue a certain path and gain a specific and desired outcome; overarching total health, such a person is far less likely to engage in unhealthy practices.  Why? Well, for one thing, running is hard work; a lot of commitment and sacrifice, one is hardly likely to wash it all away with a proverbial can of soda.  Also, I think runners are of a more competitive mindset and see their lifestyle as a continuous challenge to be met and overcome; this serves to keep them focused and on track.

People who walk on the other hand, though not necessarily as driven, are nonetheless just as goal oriented as runners.  Such enthusiasts will tell you of their dedication and commitment to the cause of walking and advise you of all its attributes which, like running, affords one a stress outlet and encourages a healthy lifestyle.  What differs are the results; calories burned, weight loss, distance covered, these are all likely to be less for the walker in the short and over the long-term.  That being said, there is a chance they’ll one day out walk runners as the rigors of marathons and ultra marathons do take a toll on the body, though I’m proud to say I know of many aged runners doing quite well.  Walking is a good place to start, if this is you, you’re on the right track and I encourage you to continue.  Who knows one day you might add a little jog in and find that it’s not so bad after all.

So what have we concluded?  Not too much I think, the debate rages on.  What we know to be true is that both running and walking are great forms of exercise that are highly beneficial.  While running may seem to have the edge over walking, I think it’s all a matter of where you’re at and where you want to go.  As a runner though, I think running rocks!  The cheetah agrees.

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