November Project

November Project, a free grassroots morning workout tribe, has attracted hundreds of members in the Boston area and across the nation. I’ve been a returning member for several months, and love the energy that the founders and participants generate at 6:30 a.m. This video takes a look at Boston’s Wednesday morning stairs workout at Harvard Stadium.

The tribe meets every around Boston Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 a.m. Newcomers are more than welcome, so I suggest you check it out. The movement has also begun to expand nationwide.

UPDATE: November Project recently landed a spot on the COVER of Runner’s World magazine. Check it out!


Recycle Studio: Profile Coming Soon

Photo taken by Nottingham Trent University | Republished with Creative Commons license

Photo taken by Nottingham Trent University. | Republished with Creative Commons license.

When I lived in New York City from January to July of this year, I couldn’t escape the SoulCycle craze. It seemed like everyone was heading to or talking about these indoor cycling studios. I never really caught on, maybe because the following appeared to be almost cult-like, and more of a trend than a way to stay fit. Not to mention, a SINGLE CLASS starts at $34. However, indoor cycling was on my radar, and I have been on the lookout for an opportunity to explore it more without breaking the bank.

Megan Lieberman, a Northeastern University senior, is heavily involved in Recycle Studio, an indoor cycling studio with two Boston locations. She has played many roles since the studio opened several years ago, from running their blog to teaching classes. I’d love to learn more from her, as well as her coworkers, about the Recycle’s history and the spin craze that’s really caught on in the past couple of years. I’d also like to explore the kind of commitment it takes to run a fitness studio. I plan on attending a class for myself, and also speaking with participants on why they chose to spin, and specifically at Recycle. I look forward to providing you with some insight into the world of indoor cycling, as well as a look at what it’s like to be a part of a small (but expanding) fitness studio.

If you have any suggestions, or anything you’d like me to specifically address, please let me know in the comments section.

Tips for Your First Half Marathon: Race Day

Today could not be more appropriate to provide my second installment of tips for running your first half marathon. This post will focus on race day preparation, and just hours ago, Geoffrey Mutai and Priscah Jeptoo, both of Kenya, crossed the finish line in Central Park to win the New York City Marathon. For additional features and coverage of the five-borough race, check out the New York Times and Runner’s World. The New York Times also created a Run Well training tool, where you can fill in your information and receive personal training schedules from around the web.

Photograph of the New York City Marathon in 2009, taken by Rebecca Wilson. | Republished with Creative Commons license.

Photograph of the New York City Marathon in 2009, taken by Rebecca Wilson. Republished with Creative Commons license.

But anyway, let’s get to the race day tips for your first 13.1:

  1. Have everything laid out the night before, including your clothes, breakfast and other race day essentials. If you are using an mp3 player, make sure it’s charged and your playlist is ready.
  2. Wake up early enough to ingest plenty of water and allow time to digest. You can find what works for you by treating your long run mornings as if they were race day.
  3. Don’t eat or wear anything different. Again, by now you should know what works for you because of your long run preparation. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it were 15 degrees warmer than it is. However, wear plenty of layers to stay warm up to the gun.
  4. Take some time to mentally prepare. Envision yourself crossing the finish line feeling healthy and proud.
  5. Get to the race location early. Calculate how much time you’ll need to pick up your packet/bib and check your baggage, and add plenty of time for bathroom lines.
  6. Line up properly. Situating yourself in the wrong starting corral could lead to a race run too quickly, too early.
  7. Break up the half marathon by setting small milestones. The marathon for me was a mental battle, and I won by seeing the race as a series of three 4-mile runs, which was more doable in my eyes than thirteen 1-mile runs.
  8. Be your own cheerleader. I found it helpful to talk to myself, often acting as my own personal trainer. “Come on, what’s three more miles? Twenty-five minutes and I get a cheeseburger!”
  9. Create your own “pacer.” I find that I run better when I’m competing with others, so I picked out two to three people that were running at my pace, and even a few seconds faster, to push me to stay strong.
  10. Remember why you’re running. If it’s for a charity, or just to accomplish a personal goal, you chose to do this. Most importantly, HAVE FUN.

What do you guys think? I hope this advice make race day seem less intimidating. Stay tuned for a final installment of post-race tips, which focus on what to do immediately after and in the days following your first half marathon.

Tips for Your First Half Marathon: Before the Race

Photo by Ed Yourdon | Republished from Flickr with Creative Commons License

Photo by Ed Yourdon | Republished from Flickr with Creative Commons License

As the New England winter rears its head and marathon season draws to a close, I’ve had some time to reflect on my big race. In the post about my first half marathon, I promised a follow-up blog with tried and true half marathon advice. Below are 10 simple tips to consider in the months leading up to the race. Over the next few days, I’ll also include posts with tips to keep in mind during the race (mental toughness is key) and after the race (don’t plop on the couch just yet). So check out the tips below, and I hope they inspire you to take the first step towards your 13.1.

Before the race:

  1. Start off small. You should run a 5K or 10K at some point before your first half marathon. This helps with nerves and makes sure you’re capable of the next step.
  2. Pick a customized plan and set a realistic goal. There are tons of free plans available online, but pick one that is tailored to your fitness level and weekly availability.
  3. Prepare with the right gear. Most importantly, make sure you have a good pair of running shoes that you can break in before the race.
  4. Practice proper breathing, pacing and form. Your long run days provide a good time to get this tricky trio down.
  5. Research your race and train accordingly. Learn the course, and run it at least once before race day. Know what surface it’s run on, what the weather should be, and whether the course is hilly or flat.
  6. Stay motivated and on-track with a training journal. I used the Nike+ Running app to keep track of my pace, distance and routes.
  7. Don’t skip the weekly long run, which you can treat as a practice for race day. Eat, dress, and prepare as you will on the big day.
  8. Eat right. This is often half the battle, and can make all the difference on how your body functions.
  9. Rest and recover. Don’t push yourself to or through an injury. Listen to your body and take a break when it’s telling you to.
  10. Taper in the week leading up to the event. Failing to do so could leave you sore and exhausted at the starting line.

What do you think of these? What worked for you while training for your first half?

Fitness Favorites

Happy Friday! We’ve made it. Take a break from work and check out these fitness links from around the web. And don’t let those 40 degree temps keep you from getting your sweat on today.

  1. Here are the top 10 fitness trends for 2014. Topping the list: high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
  2. This weather has me dreaming of a fitness retreat vacation, something I’ve had my eye on for a while.
  3. Experts caution you to not get too focused on comparing yourself to others’ fitness and health norms. Do you!
  4. To wear shoes or not to wear shoes? Benefits of barefoot running remain unproven.
  5. Adorable video of kids trying healthy Halloween candy. Personally, Halloween is definitely a cheat holiday. Calories who?

Fitspo: Inspiring or Appalling?

Last year, controversy surrounded thinsporation, or “thinspo” for short – a social media movement that promoted a skinny lifestyle through “inspirational,” but often contentious, images. Many photos were often self-admittedly pro-anorexia, and sites like Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram began banning these unhealthy posts.

More recently, the attention has shifted to fitsporation, or “fitspo” – words and images intended to inspire others to live active and healthy lifestyles. Maria Kang, a business owner and mother of three, posted a photo of herself looking very fit along with her children and the text, “What’s your excuse?” The photo has recently gone viral, and in the more than 30,000 comments on the picture, Kang receives an onslaught of criticism, claiming she is “fat-shaming.” Others come to her defense, holding that Kang’s post was simply an attempt to encourage other busy moms that fitness can fit into their lifestyle.

Kang recently issued an apology (sort of), and defended herself against critics.

I tend to side with Kang’s supporters, with the belief that she did not intend to offend anyone, but instead wanted to prove to doubters that fitness and family can coexist. What do you think? Should Kang and those like her be more cautious about the images and text they use to inspire others?

Mindful Mornings

Photo posted on Flickr by RelaxingMusic | Republished under Creative Commons license

Photo posted on Flickr by RelaxingMusic | Republished under Creative Commons license

Mornings can be rough, especially for naturally late sleepers like myself. I find it hard to resist reaching for my iPhone to check emails or Instagram seconds after my alarm sounds, although I know this routine isn’t a great way to kick off my day. I saw this slideshow on Well+Good NYC that gave me some ideas for positive alternatives that allow me to take some tech-free time for myself before craziness ensues. Many people say they don’t have time in the mornings (just like they don’t have time to work out), but I think it’s important that we find 10 minutes or so to set our intentions and just breathe.