You always hear people talking about working on your core. That it’s so important for runners and weightlifters to help prevent injury. It’s important to help with weight loss and posture. The list goes on why we should be working our core.
Well, for me it’s also important because when I was in middle school it was discovered that I have a severe case of scoliosis. The doctors at the time wanted me to have back surgery where they essentially attach a metal pole in your back so you sit up nice and tall…and can do nothing else. I grew up being active, I was a dancer and a cheerleader now turned fitness professional. Moving has always been important to my life. So naturally, I immediately shot down the idea of surgery. I got a second opinion from a doctor that wasn’t all about throwing my under the knife and I did alternative physical therapy and learned about working on my core to prevent my back from getting worse.
Here are my 5 favorites to keep me healthy and strong:
- The plank. I know that it’s basic but it’s a killer if you throw it at the end of a work out. You can also change it up to make it harder by doing plank to push up, shoulder taps, side planks, on a stability ball etc. It’s so versatile!!
2. Dead bug. This is an exercise that I use with everyone. Especially beginners. Like the plank you can also make it hard by changing leg positioning, adding weight etc.
Extend opposite leg and arm, then return to back to start:
3. Bicycle crunch. I’ve always loved this one. But the key is to do it correctly. If you’re whipping through reps at a fast pace then you’re not really working on the muscles. I like to go slow and controlled. Getting stronger is about really concentrating on the movement and focusing on the muscles that should be working.
Opposite elbow to knee:
4. Wood chops. This move is great for targeting the obliques and are good for sports specific athletes. While I don’t play baseball or racket sports I still love adding these in!
Swing across, then return to start:
5. TRX Jack knife. This one is challenging and I love a good challenge. It might be a move that you have to work up to but it’s always good to have a goal no matter how small!!!
Or challenge yourself and pike in!
The Boston Marathon this year was my first marathon. I had a coach for this who was also helping me with triathlons, so my plan was high cardio volume. A lot of swimming, biking and running and a little strength worked sprinkled in there. Seeing as this was my first marathon I put my trust in the coach and followed the process. However, through this process I learned a lot about my own body. First off, don’t get me wrong, this coach has successfully coached many athletes to BQ, run their first Ironman etc. It’s just that his method doesn’t work for me and won’t work for everyone. I suffered a lot of hip pain and knee pain to the point where it hurt to walk.
So this time around I am training myself for NYC marathon and I’m taking a whole different approach. I recently read an article from Runner’s World about training for a marathon with only running 3 times a week. So I have started to loosely follow this plan. I’m running only 2-3 times a week. A short speed work out, a tempo run (this one is only if I have time) and a long run. On the other day I am either taking a spin class or doing a HIIT workout. I’m also doing 2 rest days a week.
A sample of my week might look like this, but I listen to my body and I will change things around depending on how I’m feeling:
Monday: Upper Body/Core
Tuesday: Sprints and Lower Body
Thursday: Full Body/ Tempo run
Saturday: Long run
I can’t say how it’s going so far, but I will say I am not injured like I was while training for Boston. I’m a bit run down this training cycle because I haven’t really had an off season in over a year. But I’m just happy that I can continue to keep working out without pain. I honestly just want to finish the NYC marathon in one piece…and a bit faster than I finished Boston. I’m not fast. I never will be. I’m okay with that. I enjoy what I do and I just want to continue doing that.
Don’t get me wrong, I do have goals for my running. I want to be able to do a 25 min 5k and I would love to get a sub-2 hour half marathon. But I also want to not fall apart so that I can be 80 years old and still doing this. There’s only 7 weeks left until race day and I am looking forward to seeing how different this race goes for me!!!!
If you were to really ask about what my favorite food is, salad is actually the last thing on that list. I know, I’m a fitness person right? I’m supposed to live off of overnight oats and leafy green salads. Don’t get me wrong I love eating healthy and feeling good about what I’m putting in my body, but Pizza is my favorite food group and I’m not stranger to a heaping pile of nachos. It’s all about #balance.
I know you’re dying to know, when I do eat a salad…what do I eat? Well here’s your answer! My 5 favorite salads (and this was NOT easy lol).
- Beet and Goat cheese salad. LOVE me some goat cheese.
2. Guacamole Greens from Sweet Green
3.Falafel Salad. Obsessed with Hummmus…..yummm
4.Taco salad!!! I like to make it healthier by using greek yogurt instead of real sour cream. Can’t even tell the difference.
5. Tomato Basil Mozzarella (does this count? In my book it does!)
That feeling of being on top of the world from my last triathlon didn’t last for long though. Training after this race ramped up as I prepared for my first half ironman distance sprint. During this time I got my first triathlon bike, which while it was way more comfortable for my hip, it was a different position for the rest of my body that I didn’t really have time to get used to. I started to doubt my ability to finish the race and my self esteem dwindled. Then the day before my race I had my first “crash.” It really wasn’t anything bad. I unclipped my left foot and leaned right so I fell into some gravel. It wasn’t horrible but it left me a little banged up and shaken. I got right back on but it didn’t help my mental state.
Then come race day. I’m so nervous I don’t sleep the night before, I’m up before my alarm and I can barely choke down breakfast. Bad sign number one because I NEED the fuel for the race. I grab a bar on the way out the door so that I can have a little something later too. We get to the transition and walk to the beach, which is miserable because it’s gravel and I have no shoes on, my feet hurt and my stomach is churning. We get to the beach and struggle to get in my wet suit which makes me frustrated, I finally get it on and eat the bar brought with me. Then I head down to the water to warm up. Here I immediately throw up in the ocean (sorry fellow athletes but I couldn’t help it). Another bad sign.
Finally the race starts and we’re off to swim. I go what I think is a straight line towards the bouy that I think is the orange one I’m supposed to be swimming to. I’m wrong. Dead wrong. That’s actually the red one for the olympic tri and I am not swimming in a straight line. Why they chose red and orange is beyond me. They look the same when you’re dying in the water. Anyways, I know I’m so far behind everyone, which I guess is okay because I’m a fairly slow swimmer anyways. But then I realize there’s no one around me and I start to freak. I don’t want to to this anymore. The bouys seem too far away and I just want to be done. To this day I don’t know why I was thinking like this. It was completely irrational because like I said, I’ve swam this far before in the open water and it’s only slightly longer than my last race. This is emotionally draining to me and when the first wave of male swimmers from the olympic distance catch up to me, I’m completely crushed. I finish the swim and immediately start crying when I see my boyfriend. I don’t want to continue. I don’t want to get on my bike. I just want to call it a day. Amazingly him and one of my Coeur teammates that’s there volunteering convince me to get on my bike. After all, I did just get this brand new bike for the race, I might as well USE it. So I get on and let me tell you the next 56 miles were a roller coaster of emotions.
I got on my bike unhappily and I took off thinking that it was a mostly flat course. OOOOHHH BOY was that a lie. I’m already grumpy and people are flying by and drafting and it’s making my unhappy until I’m finally alone on the course after the two distances split up. It’s probably a good thing I was alone because other people would have probably thought I was crazy. I was yelling and crying and laughing and singing. Pretty much all at the same time. At mile 35 I had a brief period of being hopeful and positive thinking. I told myself I worked hard for this and I was going to finish the race. 10 miles later I was spent and didn’t want to continue. And that’s what happened. My body felt mostly fine but my spirit did not. After a tearful decision I handed in my chip and I called it a day.
At the time I was upset with myself but I’ve since come to terms with it. It wasn’t my day and that’s ok. Sometimes we need to listen to our bodies and know when to push through and when it’s just not right.
I was able to end my season though on a very good note and finished up last weekend at Max Performance’s Title IX women’s sprint tri. It was so much fun, I got to meet up with another Coeur Teammate and we represented an amazing company that I have been honored to be apart of this year. I wasn’t worried about time and I finished all smiles and cheering everyone else on. I’m already looking forward to next year and giving that half ironman distance another try!!!
This past Saturday night was bittersweet, I have had a rough triathlon season, but as I packed up my transition bag one last time I got a little bit emotional. I’m not sure if it was from the large pizza that I ate alone or the million times I had peed that day while I desperately tried to rehydrate. But I started to reminisce about what I left behind.
I want to start this recap with one thing. I always pick a mantra for my race season. This year after reading the book How Bad Do You Want It, that became my mantra that I would say to myself when things started to get rough.
I started out the year in June with the Cohasset sprint tri, not a distance that’s new to me and it was good because it kind of dusted off the wheels for me. This is only my second year in the sport and I’m honestly proud with how far I’ve come in such a short time. Last year during my first race, I froze, not literally that time but I spent most of the time freaking out. The only parts about this race that went a little rough were the fact that the water was mind numbingly cold and I swam mostly on my back because I couldn’t breathe and I was well under prepared for all the hills. But you live and you learn and I’ll be back to crush it next year! Oh and the BEST part was when I say my boyfriend up ahead of me on the run and I pushed so hard to catch up to him so that we could cross the finish line together. (I wanted this so badly!) Sadly the photographer didn’t get a good picture 😦
Next up in July was my first Olympic distance tri! I won’t lie that this scared me a little bit because it’s more than double the swim and a longer bike ride than what I’m used to. All the sprints I’ve done were 1/4 of a mile. An olympic distance is .9 miles. But I’ve done this distance before. I’ve practiced in both the pool and in Walden Pond so I knew I could do it. This was an ocean swim but it was calm in Dorcester Bay that morning and I wasn’t worried. However, the rain that day did worry me. I don’t ride outside much because I’m terrified of horrible Boston drivers (I’m slowly getting over this by the way) and I’ve never ridden on wet roads. Up to this point I’ve never crashed before but I always picture it and it’s never pretty. However, I made it (uncomfortable though, I really need to get my bike fitted) and set out for the run. During this time I’ve also started training for the NYC marathon for 6.2 miles is not that far for me. However, after riding the bike I always need some time to shake out the legs. I finally get into my stride around mile 2.5 which was awesome because I had more than half the race left to go and I was feeling good. Usually during the shorter distance I would be just about done just as I’ve warmed up! But then pain hit me in my lower back and I really blame it on my poor bike fit. Something is off on it and was really hurting my hip the whole time. I had to walk a few times, but that’s ok! My goal was to finish in 3:30 and I finished in 3:03, a whopping 27 minutes ahead of my goal! I left that day feeling on top of the world.
The rest of the season to be continued in Part Two….
I know I’ve written this post before, because I certainly have done it again. I abandoned my readers and I apologize. It wasn’t a choice, I would come home at night and say to myself, I really should write a post, I should really update my blog because I’ve been doing some awesome things lately. And I have been doing some awesome things! But then after a long day at work I would snuggle up with Stella (my cat) on the couch and doze off.
So let me update you. After I finished the marathon, I got a promotion at work! I’m currently the Lead Trainer at one of the many Boston Sports Clubs and I’m loving what I’m doing, it just has taken some getting used to. I’m not just training clients anymore but building an awesome team to do what I do best, helping others to make fitness part of their lifestyle. But it hasn’t been easy, however, I always like a good challenge!!
But no worries, even though I haven’t been posting, I still have been training and racing my heart out! Since Boston, I’ve completed the Boston’s Run to Remember 5 miler, the Cohasset Triathlon and the Boston Triathlon. I trained for and started Rev3 Half Iron distance triathlon. But mentally it was a tough day for me and I didn’t complete it. That’s another story for another post for another day.
So now that aside from the NYC marathon, my race season is now over and I’m settled into my position. I’m back. I’m here to rattle on about different recipes I’m trying and different work outs I’m doing. I can’t wait to write some reviews on the different classes I’ve been taking and work outs I’m trying!
But I want to hear from YOU. What do you want to read here?
Well it’s been almost two weeks since the biggest race of my life and I have yet to write any sort of race recap except for a couple comments here and there. Not because I’m disappointed or because I’m having withdrawal. It’s simply because after the race I headed off to Florida for some sun and relaxing and then as soon as I got back I was thrown into work again. So how did my first Boston Marathon go? Well, let me tell you…
The morning started off pretty normal, I tried to stay calm and just do my pre-race/long run routine. Eat, dress, make sure I have everything with me, and all my batteries were charged. After all, nothing new on race day right?
As a side note: who ever said running was a simple sport was wrong. I stressed over, hat or no hat (I decided on no hat because I wanted my race pics to look cute!) and I had to make sure I had my bib, gels, bloks, sunscreen, inhaler etc.
One of my team mates picked my up that morning, so we got to skip taking the shuttles from downtown Boston to the start line. I know it’s a huge part of the Boston experience. But I live in Boston, I’m downtown everyday I’m okay with not experiencing that and getting an hour more of sleep. We drove to the parking lot where family and volunteers park to get to the start line and then took a bus to the start line. We got there early enough so that I got to see waves 2 and 3 take off – I even saw my Coeur teammate Melissa! Then it was our turn.
As we lined up in our corrals I realized it was hot. I mean really hot, especially for someone that had only trained in the cold. I instantly regretted sacrificing the hat for cute pictures. I just knew I had to take it easy and make sure to stay hydrated.
I immediately felt the heat, but I felt good and my teammate Rob and I stuck together, which helped me slow down a bit because my legs had a mind of their own and wanted to take off. At one point he tapped me on my shoulder and was like chill.
I kept my pace despite the heat. I took water and gatorade at every station. Sipping the gatorade and dumping the water over my head. Some kids were handing out ice along side of the course and I took a baggy. Before the race started Rob told me to instantly cool down, dump it down your pants. So I did, as well as down my sports bra lol. But despite my carefulness I started to feel my calves cramp up from dehydration. The Wellsley scream here was awesome. I high fived so many people and I got myself a little winded from sprinting/screaming through it all. It was totally worth it though
I started to hurt, but I managed to do my 2 minutes walk and 1 minute run for awhile. I kept my mind from straying and focusing on just keeping moving. Eventually I just had to talk and every so often break into a run. But mostly I walked.
These were the most exciting miles for me because this is when I knew I was almost home. I know Heartbreak hill has earned its name for a reason, but for me it wasn’t heart breaking. This is when I started to see friends. A coworker at mile 19, my good friend Barry at mile 20. I did have to stop and get the cramp massaged out of my calf at one point though because it hurt to even walk,. But I knew no matter what I couldn’t stop, it wasn’t even a thought that crossed my mind, I had too many people cheering for me, too many people counting on me to find the strength to keep going. I saw some friends around Washington Square and I FINALLY got to Coolidge Corner where my boyfriend Rob was waiting with my friend Chantal. I apologized for being so slow lol.
As soon as I saw that Citgo sign I started crying. Not because I hurt so much, but because I am so proud to call this my home and I knew I was almost there. Here I had to force myself to run to enjoy that last mile no matter so slow my little legs would go and just soak in the experience and it was truly amazing. All the people screaming and cheering, I couldn’t help but break out in the goofiest grin and completely just sobbed as I crossed that finish line.
I may have been about an hour and a half slower than what I wanted, but the heat and inexperience caught up to me. I also wasn’t full prepared, with working 60 hours a week, fundraising and trying to train for a marathon it was hard but I wouldn’t change my experience for anything.
So what’s next? Well, I’m taking on some triathlons in the coming months. A sprint distance in June, Olympic in July and a 70.3 in August! Then it’s focusing on the NYC Marathon in November!!
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