Fartin’ Around with Fartlek

Happy Friday, Everyone!

As I mentioned in my last post, “Just 10 Minutes/Day of Stretching,” I always try to write about things that are conducive and true to my every day, hectic lifestyle; mainly, that means I’m sharing time-efficient and scalable, yet challenging workouts and ways to incorporate more balance and wellness in hope that it benefits you and your lifestyle needs, as well.

That being said, I realize that sometimes we just don’t have much time (or energy) to fit in a long, much-needed workout or to catch a fitness class that sounds exciting and so when I stumbled upon this article from Fitness Magazine called “The Most Effective Workouts if You Only Have 10, 20, 30, or 40 Minutes,” I knew that I had to investigate further and write about it for my Feature Friday series!

This past Monday, my usual RunYoga series class with Cara Gilman was canceled so Becca and I decided to stick with our consistent running routine and do our own workout instead. Inspired (and intimidated) by the Fitness Magazine article and what many of our fellow running friends do, we decided to challenge ourselves with our very first Fartlek workout (which on the article is highlighted as what to do if you have 20 minutes for a workout) and so we decided to take our evening training session to the outdoor track at Harvard University.

So, what the heck is a Fartlek? Well, it’s not exactly what it sounds like, but it could make you just as smelly from all of the sweat you’ll release! Fartlek is Swedish for “speedy play” and is a fairly unstructured workout where you warm up and then play with running at a faster pace (think: race pace) for a shorter period of time, followed by an easier effort pace to recover. Then you repeat for however long you wish to continue the workout. Fartlek workouts can be something done on your own, with a partner, or even in a larger group in which someone is the leader and can set the pace for the faster-effort levels.

The Fitness Magazine article that I linked to above gives a nice description of what a 20-ish minute Fartlek workout, so-as novices to this whole speed play thing-we decided to follow that for our first attempt. What was tricky for us was deciphering what our “level 8” pace was like versus our “level 7” and “level 9.” We decided that this was pretty subjective (we obviously have to run off of what we feel that pace should be) and is something that will obviously change and grow over time as we get faster and smarter.

So, in chicken scratch terms, this is what our workout was:

Watch-Workout-Track

In clearer terms it says: 6 minutes at level 4, 1 minute at level 8, 30 seconds at level 9, 30 seconds at level 5, 2 minutes at level 7, 2 minutes at level 5 and then repeat (minus the 6 minute warm-up). A workout like this will also teach you that having some kind of watch to monitor your time and pace is very helpful. Pictured here is my Garmin Forerunner 220, which I purchased for my last half marathon and personally love!

So, in the end, we definitely sweat a lot (after all, our motto is: #SweatLikeAPigToLookLikeAFox), pushed our limits, tired our legs out, but really enjoyed experimenting with a new kind of running culture. I mean, c’mon…these aren’t the faces of two humans who just hated their workout, right?!?

Becca-Meg-track

Afterwards, Becca and I agreed that, although it was hard, it was good to do and that we will try to incorporate it into our future training series more–we’re curious how it will help our race times and overall enjoyment of running (“It will be great!” Becca said, per usual). After all, if it doesn’t challenge you then it doesn’t change you…right?! t would also highly recommend trying a Fartlek workout to anyone who is curious about speed work, in a run training program/series, or who gets bored easily with just long and short runs; but again, I am a complete novice to this so I hope to share more insights and knowledge about my speed workouts more in the future.

In the meantime, tell me about your experiences with speed play! Did you love it/hate it/are too intimated to try it? If you have done it, what are some of your favorite, short and effective kinds to do? I would love your guidance and recommendations when doing it more consistently in the future so please comment below or write to me on Twitter: @meggielukes, with the hashtag #MegInTheMeantime.

Other than that, I’m two days out from the B.A.A. 10k–I can’t believe it!! Tonight, I’ll go for my last short run after work before I rest and stretch out my body and fuel up for Sunday. Wish me luck!!

Enjoy your weekend and don’t forget to check in on Sunday for my next Sunday Snacks series–I promise it’ll be another delicious one!

Love,
Meg

Get Movin’!

Hi There!

I got an e-mail from MoveWith yesterday that included a mini challenge: workout nine times with them in the month of June and they’ll reward you with one free class! Did someone say free? If it’s free, then it’s definitely for me…at least that’s a saying that’s resonated with me since my undergraduate student loans kicked back in last week.

And so, I figured this would be the perfect Feature Friday post to share with all of you-check it out:

MoveWith

So I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to resist a challenge (must be part of my natural-born competitive DNA) so I’m stoked to expand my usual workout regiment of mainly running and yoga to test out some new classes in the community and see what moves me, what clicks with my personality and style, to see who in this amazing city I meet; and what I can overcome when I take on new, personal (both physical and mental) challenges. The extra free class is just a bonus…but a great, financial one at that!Pe

In previous posts, like “Make Time To Do The Things You Love” and “Never Forget to Stop and Smell the Roses,” I’ve mentioned things that I appreciate about MoveWith and the community they’re building in Boston through their mission of #SocialSweat. But what I like best about MoveWith’s website is their easy search and filter function. Looking for a specific teacher? Check! Can only workout in mornings? You got it! Interested in a certain fitness style: barre, cardio, cycling, pilates, running, strength training, yoga? Just one click away! Nothing could be easier. Oh, wait…yes. There’s even an app for that so you can check out their classes and experiences while you’re on-the-go.

Personally, I’m interested in trying out some rowing and meditation classes. What about you? If you live in the Boston (or San Francisco) area, what classes have you tried and loved? Who are some of your favorite movers and shakers? Comment below or share your thoughts with me on Twitter: @meggielukes.

In the meantime, it’s Memorial Day Weekend! The weather is on the rise: 70’s and 80’s! Life is good. I hope you make the time to get outside and do something that you love-get back to the basics, something simple and enjoyable…whatever that means to you. Maybe instead of just texting someone from the comfort of your couch, call up that person that you care about and take a nice long stroll outside together and walk and talk for hours (don’t forget to take some water with you…always stay hydrated!) or heading out for a long, solo run to reset your mind and focus in on your summer goals and plans. Or, get adventurous: go for a hike and breathe in that fresh air, hop into a kayak and work your way up a river or across the lake…do something, get dirty, don’t stop moving.

This week, I took my own advice and got away from the city to do something I don’t do enough of with someone who I love: getaway, relax, and unplug. Ryan and I booked a tiny house via Getaway and landed ourselves in northern New Hampshire for a night of small spaces, simple living, fresh air, and no service…it was lovely and so necessary for a recharge/reset. We went for a stroll around the nearby lake, met some kind locals, cooked a great dinner, roasted some s’mores, Ryan built us a great fire that we sat by for hours in the Adirondack chairs, and ended our night by escaping the mosquitoes and playing cards and singing classic songs from the 90’s and early-2000’s for hours. It was perfect and I only wish it lasted for another day.

tinyhouse    fire

NatureScenes

 

Anyways, I’ve been so inspired by some great, local bloggers and their recipes lately so I’m really excited to keep experimenting with food and share my experiences with you-tune back in tomorrow for my weekly Sunday Snacks edition to see what I got for you!

Until then, get movin’!
-Meg

Impossible is nothing (so they say).

Hi, Friends!

It’s been a while since I blogged about a running-related book (if you missed my last book review check out Something for runners and non-runners alikewhich highlights Caleb Daniloff’s book Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time), so I figured I’d share with you another highly recommended book…you know, since I have more time on my hands to read for pleasure again now that I’m done with grad school. 🙂

And so, today I would like to introduce to you Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon by Ed Caesar. Unlike Daniloff’s book, this one is definitely geared more towards the running community, as it captures the true essence and the (sometimes heartbreaking) love affair we have for endurance sports, such as marathons. However, even for those of you who don’t run or who are just starting out, I think there is still something in here for you–something to make you fall in love with the history, evolution, and mindset of marathoning, both the casual and elite styles.

TwoHours-Book

Why people run–any length, let alone endurance lengths like marathons and ultra-marathons–is always something that is questioned by non-runners. What is the answer to why we run? Why we put ourselves through the ringer during training periods? Why we go to bed extra early to get up early to run extra far? Why do we put ourselves in pain-sometimes both physically and mentally-to run great lengths? Everyone probably has their own personal stories and reasons; I’m personally still writing and conceptualizing my own, but in the meantime like to refer you all to Boston blogger Jana Ross’ post on “Why I Run Marathons.” I know that I already linked to her blog in my last post about 10k training, but I really do think she hits the nail on the head with her reasoning.

Anyways, back to the book! I actually got Two Hours as one of my Christmas gifts from my boyfriend, Ryan-he’s always extremely thoughtful with his gifts and intentions (one of the many reasons why I love him). To be honest, I actually had never heard of this book before, but he assured me that he did research on the book and that it not only had great reviews and received lots of praise by the running community. Say no more-I was excited to dive in!

After reading the inside cover, I expected the book to really follow one marathoner’s journey on his quest to hit a world marathon record of a two hours, but it was so much more than that–his story was only one part of the overall message of endurance sports. To take a quote directly from the inside cover: “It is a book about running that is about so much more than running.” I learned about the history and evolution of the modern marathon, about technical race rules, terms, and strategies (like “rabbits” and the “Stotan approach”), and even gained some insight and inspiration about the human body and kinesiology.

As I turned the pages of this book, Muhammad Ali’s famous “Impossible is nothing” speech kept coming to mind. A couple of hours later when I breezed through the book’s 217 pages, I found myself left in a state of amazement and awe for the human body-more so than ever before. I also found myself questioning what actually, if anything, is the limit that we can push our bodies and spirits to when we set off to accomplish great physical feats?! To paraphrase the great, local athletic company New Balance, I think when you’re always in beta that success is not the end…that there is no end to what we can become.

MuhammadAli-Impossible

I consumed Two Hours in probably about two hours or less–it was just that captivating and insightful! One of my favorite takeaway quotes about run training can be found on page 147 of the book: “Mutai doesn’t spend a minute of his working day on a flat surface, and so his muscles are always working to balance and respond. ‘They learn to listen with their feet,’ says Lancini.” How could an insight into running get more poetic than that?!  I don’t want to ruin the great experience of reading this book for you, so I won’t go into anymore detail and instead just tell you to pick up a copy for yourself to enjoy!

Did I walk away from reading the book ready to sign up for my first marathon? Not necessarily anymore than I’ve already considered doing so, but I don’t think that was the point of the book. What I was impressed with, however, was how much I learned about the fascinating details of marathons and world records and it was definitely enough to get me to look up some more information afterwards. What about you? What’s your favorite book about running? I’d love to compile a big list of books to read and ultimately review to fuel my passion for this sport. Feel free to comment below with some of your favorites or send me a note on Twitter: @meggielukes.

In the meantime, I hope enjoy your weekend–looks like we finally got the warmer weather, but not the sunshine quite yet. Either way, make sure to get out there and do something active that you love, just because!

Talk with you soon,
-Meg

This thing called “Spoonking”

ni men hao! you duán shijiān méi liánxìle.
(roughly translated to: Hello, Everyone! It’s been a while.)

Greetings from rainy and humid, Hángzhōu, China, where the current time is approximately 5:50am and here I am…awake! My biological clock is definitely still thrown off, having just arrived in China approximately 14 hours ago after a 16 hour flight and knowing that I’m 12 hours ahead of where I usually am back home in Boston. Despite the fatigue and my body’s confusion to the local time, I am most excited to be here in China for a week and to explore as many cultural aspects as I can. As you can already see, I’m doing my best to pick up the language to get by. 🙂

I’m going to keep this post fairly short since the internet is pretty touch and go here, but I did want to follow up on something that I mentioned during my last post on Wednesday: “Do Your Om Thing!” So when I was describing that my best friend, Anya, had just come out of a 40-minute meditation and was lying on an acupressure mat, I knew at that very moment that I wanted to talk about that mat on this week’s Feature Friday post.

Although there may be many variations of an acupressure mat, the one that I know Anya was lying on (because she gave me the same one for Christmas last year) is called a Spoonkand it looks like this:

spoonk2

According to their website, Spoonk is “based on the principles of acupressure and Japanese Shiatsu massage. The mat stimulates specific reflex points throughout the body, releases blocked energy, eases tense muscles, and creates deep mental and physical relaxation. Benefits include increased level of energy, reduced inflammation and pain, improved and deeper sleep.”

That all sounds well and good and very commercial, but what is it really like? Well, even though it may look to some like a torture device (see the picture below), I have honestly found it to be quite relaxing and a great way to practice bringing awareness to specific parts of your mind, while easing your mind. While I never thought to use it during my stretching time, I have tried it recently on my sore calves and tired feet and it also can definitely relieve tension and pain in certain trigger areas…I mean, check out those spikes!

spoonk1

I personally have used the Spoonk mat most to calm my body down after a long day or to mindfully try to go to sleep without the aid of Netflix or my phone. I’ll usually break it out before bed, and position my back (from the neck/shoulders area) all the way down to my lower back to be positioned on it. From there, I will usually lay down in my savasana pose with my legs completely sprawled out straight or a  variation of vrksasana, or tree pose, where I switch each leg off in being in a figure four pose while still lying down. From there, usually it takes me about 20 minutes to completely fall into a deep, relaxation state and many time I find myself sleeping for about 2-3 hours on it before I wake up in the middle of the night, grateful for the peace that it has given me, and push it aside for the rest of the night to give my back some release from the spikes.

You might want to use the Spoonk differently, though.

  • You can roll the mat a little bit to elevate your neck, like a pillow, and massage out that high-stress area.
  • You can sit down on a chair or the edge of your bed, and walk out your feet to hit pressure points that way.
  • You can use it in a more active sense and either massage your hands or feet with it during a yoga pose like, downward-facing dog.

The best part about the Spoonk is that it’s light and easy bring with you on-the-go and store anywhere. The mat easily rolls up, very much like a yoga mat, and can be stored in a handy over-the-shoulder/across-the-shoulder, light weight protective bag that it comes with–this means that you can Spoonk at home, at work, on vacation, at your friend’s place, etc. The possibilities are endless!

spoonk3Well, I’m off to eat breakfast and start my day as you wind down yours across the world. Today we are exploring Hángzhōu through a private boat ride on the famous West Lake, Lingyin Temple-one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, and the Southern Song Imperial Street, which is filled with genuine antique shops and teahouses.

In the meantime, I encourage you all to find a way to meditate today. Personally, I know that I will definitely take some time to quiet my mind as I enter the temple today to think of my current state of being and my levels of happiness, as I continue on my quest for balance. You are winding down your day–what will you focus on?  If you don’t know where to start, first read over my last post to get a better sense of what kind or style of meditation might be best for you. As always, if you have any suggestions on techniques that work best for you, I’d love to hear them and share them with everyone: leave a comment below, email me melucas7@gmail.com, or Tweet at me @meggielukes and include #MegInTheMeantime.

And make sure to tune back in on Sunday (pending internet connections) for my next edition of Sunday Snacks!

baozhòng! (Take care!)
-Meg

Never forget to stop and smell the roses.

Hello There!

Boston is absolutely stunning today-it finally feels like spring has sprung! The sky is blue, the sun is shining, there’s not a cloud in sight, and all around the flowers and trees are blooming. I am definitely not usually a supporter of spring weather (I prefer fall/winter), but today you can’t help but be in love a little bit.

On that note, I wanted to share my experience with a recent outdoor/indoor fitness event I participated in because it really made me stop, look around, and realize how lucky I am to use the city of Boston as my training grounds and I want you all to be able to experience something similar.

So on Wednesday night, I attended the Run + Yoga for Runners class at Janji and definitely enjoyed it! I met up at 6pm at the Janji pop up store on the corner of Newbury and Dartmouth Street with my running partner and sole mate (see what I did there?!), Becca, and we joined in for the 2.5 mile run, led by Jana Ross: Bananas for Balance blogger, marathoner, run coach, and Janji Corps ambassador. The loop took us across Back Bay onto the Esplanade, down to the iconic Hatch Shell, followed by a sharp turn back up the Esplanade to the Mass Ave Bridge, across the busy streets, down Beacon Street, and back over to the Janji store. During the run, I got to see the Charles River sparkle as the sun began to set, beautiful yellow flowers stand tall along the greenway, and–for the first time all day–I let the rest of the world and all of my responsibilities melt away as I just tuned in to the sunshine on my face and the fresh, crisp air I got to inhale. That absolutely made my day and solidified that I need to be outside way more to enjoy the world around me through running.

Then, back at the store, we were led through an amazing yoga for runners flow by Brittany Flaherty: yoga instructor and Janji Corps ambassador. The flow was chill, filled with laughter, and really hit some key, targeted areas (hello, groin!) that needed some extra love and attention post-run. It was interesting flowing through a yoga series in the middle of a very public glass storefront where passer-byers felt the need to stop, watch, and even take pictures, but I assume that’s the whole point in trying to raise awareness of the Janji story and mission. All in all: it was a great experience, led by a wonderful duo! I highly recommend being on the lookout for future Run +Yoga for Runners series by Jana and Brittany-you can rest assured I’ll always keep you in-the-know here!

This particular class is considered part of the overall MoveWith community (as is Cara Gilman’s RunYoga Spring/Summer Series), which is a digital platform that let’s you browse community-based fitness classes and experiences with some of the best and most inspiring teachers in the local scene. I encourage you all to browse the upcoming MoveWith classes in Boston and maybe even sign up to try something knew that you’ve always wanted to try. One of the best parts about MoveWith, besides their notion of #socialsweat, is the prices of their classes and experiences. Did you know that the average rate for a drop in fitness class in Boston hovers around $20-$25?? That’s outrageous! The prices I’ve been seeing on the MoveWith site have been more like $10-$15, which is definitely more fair-priced for the experience you’ll be getting. So if the idea of community doesn’t move you, then perhaps the better prices will!

In the meantime, I’m going to share with you something my mom always tells me to do because it is legitimate wise advice: make time this weekend to feel the sun shine on your face, breathe in the fresh air, and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! Every now and then we all get weighed down by work responsibilities, social engagements, to-do lists, and a wide variety of other things that society tells us we should being doing…but that doesn’t mean we should neglect ourselves and our health and well-being. Really, it’s just that simple: a little awareness to the amazing world around you as it begins to bloom and take shape again can go along way when you’re feeling stuck or a little lost.

So, from my mom and me to you: don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! 🙂

Happy Friday,
-Meg

Something for runners and non-runners alike.

Hey Everyone!

Can you believe it? Another week has come and gone! I wanted to follow up on Wednesday’s post, featuring my Top 10 Wellness Tips, with something that might be enjoyable to do, while practicing wellness: reading a book. Now before you get ready to click out of this post and say “Nope, I’m not into books” or “I don’t have time to read at this time,” just hear me out; I promise you’ll be so glad that you picked up this book in the end.

So the first tip I shared was “less screen time.” This tip was inspired by an article I read by Fast Company called “What Happened When I Stopped Using Screens After 11p.m.” One of the many benefits that came from this wellness experiment was more reading time. Personally, while I’m sad to be finishing up my second master’s degree at Boston University (BU)  in a couple of weeks (really, I’m going to miss being in a classroom), I realize that this extra non-school time can be filled with more time reading for pleasure again. That being said, I figured it was only fitting to share a book recommendation for my Feature Friday post.

The book I encourage you to all pick up is Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time by Caleb Daniloff. Again, before you trail off because you think this is your typical inspirational running book, don’t go anywhere. Now while I do think this book should be in the hands of every runner, whether you’ve run no more than one mile, a race of any length, or even if you are a marathoner for the umpteenth-time, I also wholeheartedly believe this book is a must-read for the non-runners alike. We all have a past–and moments, actions, and decisions within it–that we are none too proud of and Daniloff’s book is an absolutely raw and brutally honest narrative about his journey as a mean, hopeless drunk through the difficult trials of sobriety and into a spiritual redemption of marathon running that will go straight from the ink on the pages and into your soul, if you let it.

RunningRansomRoad

Throughout his book, Daniloff poetically describes the rhythm and cadences of running, the swift movement of his arms as they chop through the weather elements and the way his feet pound the pavement below him–he brings you along on his runs and opens his mind and soul to you so that you may experience his thoughts and feelings along the way, for better or worse. As the pages turn (and trust me, I underlined and dog-eared most of them), Daniloff proves that he is not only an accomplished runner and amazing storyteller, but most importantly, he’s an inspiration to anyone smart enough to pick up his book.

To me, he personally opened up a new way of thinking about running; a new way to experience it: to not run from the things that haunt you, but instead to run through your life’s haunts and take ownership back. I, too, now draw lessons from the road no matter what distance I am running that day and could not be more grateful to Daniloff for baring his soul so that I may open up mine a little more.

Within the pages of the book, he provides the reader with the gift of his life story, and some of the harsh lessons ensued from it–it’s the kind of gift that you will want to continue to pass along to the important people in your life..the runners and non-runners alike and that’s why I felt the need to share it with you today.

Full disclosure: I actually know Caleb through working at BU and running with November Project, but I wouldn’t recommend a book to you unless I really, truly loved it and felt like it would benefit your life in an instrumental way. I got it as a Christmas present from one of my sisters (thanks, Kathleen!) and finished it within 2 days because I could not put it down. If you do decide to pick it up, shoot me a message and let me know your thoughts!

Now, let’s see–what else is going on? This weekend will actually be quite an active one for me, starting bright and early tomorrow morning for the Fitbit Local Boston kickoff at 8:30am in the South End. During the 2.5 hour event, I’ll get to experience my first bootcamp class (more on that experience afterwards) and top it off with a yoga flow with my favorite local instructor, Cara Gilman. One of the best parts about this event? It’s FREE (#freefitness)! Definitely be on the lookout for upcoming events by Fitbit Local–this is only the beginning of their new monthly free fitness series in Boston and beyond.

Then on Sunday morning, I’m stoked (and so proud!) to attend my friend and fellow-November Project-er’s free run clinic in Medford, MA at 9am: “Learn the 3 E’s To Run Training: Easy, Efficient, Effective.” Dani Adler, aka RunFitDoc, is a DPT at Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness and is also a 3x marathoner (including two Boston Marathons). She is someone who I trust completely when it comes to running advice and injury prevention, so I’m looking forward to walking away with some helpful tips as I begin to gear up into training for the B.A.A. 10K. This free clinic will start with some information about proper warm ups and information how to incorporate strength training into your workout regimes and will end with a 3 or 5 mile run along the scenic Mystic River. I’ve never run in that area before so I’m excited try to something new, while enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

In the meantime, I’ve told you my active plans for the weekend-what are yours? I feel so grateful to live in a city where free fitness is a growing phenomenon to create access and opportunities for everyone to live a healthier lifestyle, but I realize free fitness does not always have to be something as formally organized as Fitbit Local, a run clinic, or November Project. I’d love to hear from you about some of your favorite healthy and free activities: hiking, evening strolls around the neighborhood, walking a local track to catch up with friends, biking into work, etc. Leave a comment below, e-mail me at melucas7@gmail.com, or give me a shout out on Twitter @meggielukes (don’t forget to include #MegInTheMeantime, for good measure!).

Enjoy your weekend-it’s much deserved!
-Meg

Wellness, when you can.

It’s Friday–we made it through the week!

I’m sorry this post is coming to you a bit later than originally planned. One of my favorite Boston bloggers, Jana Ross of Bananas for Balance, once told me that you should never feel pressured to put out a post, but rather to write when you’re ready, when you feel like it. Well, this morning I was not feeling it and was not ready to put out a message to you all. Let me explain…

This morning, I was planning on running hills with November Project at 6:30am–I was so excited to be surrounded by some of the greatest people I know on such a significant day: One Boston Day, a day of remembrance for those killed, wounded, and the families/friends affected by the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 and a day of celebration for the resiliency, courage, and strength that the community demonstrated. Although I wish city officials would promote making a difference every day, just as I wish the members of the community would volunteer and go out of their way to perform acts of kindness every day, I still very much appreciate the notion of communities coming together and finding common ground through difficult times.

Anyways, I set my alarm and woke up at 5:50am and rolled over knowing that I had ten more peaceful minutes of rest in my cozy bed before my next alarm would go off at 6am and then I would up and getting dressed in my neon best to run miles and miles of hills to reflect on the day. Instead, I woke up at 7:05am and immediately mumbled an explicit word, knowing that I had slept through my alarm and missed a perfectly planned out opportunity. I laid there for a bit thinking about my next move: I could get up and go for a solo run–it would be just as reflective as my original running plan OR I could just stay in bed and accept defeat. At that point, I honestly wasn’t feeling it so I rolled back over and opted for more sleep.

Throughout my work day, the choice I made to stay in bed and get some extra sleep stuck with me. Why did I chose that? Did I need the extra sleep? Was I just mad or cranky about something? Was I disappointed in myself? The questions continued to stream in my head and it bugged me all day. The answer came to me finally by the end of day: wellness. This morning, my body was telling me something–you work yourself too hard, you need some sleep. This morning, I needed a little time for me. And, without fully realizing it, I took the proper steps towards wellness.

I don’t know about you all, but I personally like to keep busy. I work full time, I’ve been in grad school (two different programs) for the last four years spending twice a week until late at night in classes, I enjoy working out, I love keeping up with my family and friends’ lives all around the world, and am always striving for new goals…doing whatever I can to try to better myself and the world around me, in any way. But, the older I get, the more I realize that my body and mind are not invincible and that burnouts are real. Very rarely do I just stop and ask my body what it needs…instead I just do.

And that’s when I felt like I was finally ready to write to you: to encourage you to support your wellness, where you can, when you can. Here’s what I decided to do: slip off my flats during work, break out a tennis ball, and roll my feet under the desk…it’s like a mini massage for a fraction of the cost!  You can stand and roll the ball the length of your foot, from heal to toe for a few minutes or keep it stable under your arch for some pointed pressured or, if you’re trying to be a bit more incognito at work, you can do so while sitting in your chair.

tennis-ball

The tennis ball technique is so simple, it’s cost effective (you can get a pack of 3 tennis balls for under $3), it’s easy to pack and bring along with you wherever you go (keep it in the car, throw it in your bag, leave it in your desk drawer, etc.), yet the results are amazing: you’ll get to work the deepest muscles and tissues and allow your feet to properly stretch and recover. We’re on our feet so much throughout the day so why not show them that you’re grateful for them carrying you around all day and bringing you amazing places by kneading out their aches and pains with this little wellness hack?!

The best part? You don’t just have to stop with your feet, the tennis ball technique can be used to fight aches and pains in other parts of your body, too as outlined in this Prevention article by a well-known yoga instructor.

This is just one example of something you can do to promote more wellness in your every day life and give some much deserved love and attention to an important part of your body that gives you so much each day. By all means, if there is a different technique that works for you then go for it–this was just something that worked well for me. I’m sure that if you stop to clear your mind and listen to your body every now and then, you’ll find something is calling for your attention.

That being said…in the meantime, take my advice: make some time this weekend for some quite reflection–it could be as you climb into bed and wind down at the end of the night, it could be as you stir and wake in the morning before you even look at your phone (and all of your messages and e-mails), or even as you escape life’s responsibilities for a 10-15 minutes to take a quick stroll around the neighborhood. During this time think about what you could to take better care of yourself–it doesn’t have to be a major life change, just something that you can mindfully do one day at a time. After no time at all you’ll see these little changes will soon turn into healthy habits and your life will be better off because of it.

Here are some ideas to ruminate on in case you’re having trouble starting your reflection: drink more water, stretch when you first wake up, practice deep breathing and meditation before bed, indulge in less screen time (no phone/computer/TV/etc.) before bed or when you wake up, set some time aside each night to cook a healthy meal with family and friends instead of eating out…the list can go on! I’m excited to hear what you’re planning on doing that’s just for you and your wellness; please feel free to comment below and share your reflections.

Looking forward to chatting more on Sunday about another healthy snack!
-Meg

I strive with a little help from my friends.

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Accountability was a huge theme in my last blog post on Monday–I probably used the word “accountability” a hand full of times throughout the post. I did that because I really wanted to hammer in the importance, benefit, and power of accountability when tackling new (and possibly daunting!) fitness goals and challenges.

The reason why I believe in accountability so much is because anything I’ve accomplished, health, wellness, and fitness-wise, in the last two years is because of the accountability tactic. Accountability is something I learned the second I just showed up to my very first November Project (NP) workout on Wednesday May 7, 2014 at the notorious Harvard Stadium and it’s stuck with me ever since.

The NP movement uses “a simple sense of accountability (verbal) to motivate and encourage people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels to get out of their beds and get moving.” It’s simple, yet SO powerful. When you say something out loud–it becomes real. When you say you’re going to show up at 6:30am to workout, you better be there. At NP, no matter how large the group grows, someone will notice when you’re not there…and they’ll miss you. When you say that you’re going to set the bar high for your next fitness goal–whatever it may be–someone will believe in you and even join you in making strides towards that goal.

I, and any fitness goal I have accomplished, am a product of accountability.

  • I once told CC Yudin (pictured below) that I would finally show to NP, after many months of just considering it IF she would start doing some yoga classes–I remember this conversation vividly. On May 7, 2014 I finally showed up and never looked back. I am so grateful for that conversation and for the friendship with CC that has blossomed from it.

CC

  • Once I showed up, I met some of the most inspiring and kind people you could ever imagine. A couple months into showing up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I started to get better, faster, stronger…I grew more confident in my fitness capabilities. I also felt inspired by everyone around me sharing their big fitness goals: ultra marathons, marathons, half marathons, 10k’s, 5k’s, PRs, etc. That July, I remember chatting with Daniel Rothenberg (pictured below) about his experiences training for marathons. I remember asking him, “I know anything is technically possible, BUT if I’ve never ran more than 5-ish miles…do you think I’d be able to do a half marathon by early November?” To which he replied, “Oh yeah for sure. Very easily, especially if you’re doing NP.” I don’t know why I felt so comfortable in asking this question to someone who I really didn’t know well at the moment, but NP will do that to you.

daniel-rothenberg

  • Following that conversation, I can remember being a little nervous about that bold, aspirational question I just asked. I’m pretty sure I told Daniel to not tell anyone (just in case I chickened out)…and then I’m pretty sure he turned right around and mentioned it in passing to Christine Power (pictured second-from-left below) who, in-turn, let me know that a bunch of NP people were planning on running the United Healthcare Newport, RI full and half marathon on October 12, 2014 and that I should join…that it would be great. And so I did, without much hesitation.

newport-half

  • But before that picture above was taken, it was August 2014 and I still hadn’t even run a full 10k (6.2 miles) yet. I felt like I would follow along with the Hal Higdon Half Marathon-Novice 1 Training Program and see if I could stay on track with training to finally fully commit to this big goal of a half marathon. Luckily with the help of an every-other-Sunday run group, called the Boston Brunch Runners (BBR), I randomly decided to turn my usual 3 mile loop into the full 6.2 miles that day. I might have died a little along the way (the heat was something else that morning!), but afterwards I ran into my friends’ arms, told them what I just had accomplished, and felt like nothing in the world could stop me. I will never forget this day or the people who helped me along the way to running my first unofficial 10k.

brunchrunners

  • That same day at BBR, I met Becca Smith, who ended up becoming my sole mate running partner for life. Becca and I have trained for all of our major races together and you’ll often find us working out at NP together. She and I even ran our last half marathon together, side-by-side for the entire 13.1 miles, in November 2015 in Portsmouth, NH. She’s the one person who I roll out of bed for at ungodly hours of the morning when it’s cold, or hot, or rainy, or snowy, or even when I just don’t feel like it because I know she’s waiting on the corner for me to start a run and a great, long conversation. Or, as she likes to say:

becca-and-meg

  • And finally, on Sunday October 12, 2014 I completed my first half marathon with a time of 2:10. I felt strong during my finish and was even energized beyond belief because Elin Flashman (pictured below), who was one of the first people I sought out at NP, promised that he would be there to see my run my first half marathon after I told him about my big goal…that he wouldn’t miss it for the world. Elin has been a constant motivator and positive light in my life since the day I met him. That morning, he drove down to Newport, RI and cheered me on during the final home stretch. Who else, in the entire world, would do something like that for you–just show up to cheer you on??

elin-half-marathon

Since October 2014 I have completed 3 half marathons and numerous other road races at varying degrees. More importantly, I have continued to just show up and to be held accountable for my words, actions, and goals and that has made all of the difference.

I promise to pay full homage to November Project and how, through the amazing community I connected with two years ago, my life changed so much for the better. But, that’s a bigger story for next week– it’s one that deserves its own blog post, but I wanted to at least start you off with a little introduction as to why this accountability thing is such a big deal. For those five NP-ers that I mentioned above: CC, Daniel, Christine, Becca, and Elin, thank you. You may have had no idea how much you influenced my life in the summer and fall of 2014, but I definitely would not be where I am today without you.

Two things I wanted to share with you quickly before we head into the weekend…

First of all, what are you doing tomorrow, Saturday, April 9th from 1-4pm? If you’re in Boston-or even nearby-then I highly recommend you stop into The Lansdowne Pub near Fenway and join together with some of the best members of the Boston running community to support Dani Adler aka “RunFitDoc,” fellow November Project-er and DPT, in her fundraising goals as she gears up to run her second Boston Marathon on behalf of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. For more event details (including raffle and silent auction items), check out her Pre-Marathon Fundraising Party Facebook event.

Now, I’m sure many of you know someone (or at the very least knows someone who knows someone) who is running the storied Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18th this year, but I think it’s important, amidst the excitement of Marathon Monday traditions and the racing community from all over the world coming together to celebrate the day, to stop and reflect on why anyone runs marathons, let alone the Boston Marathon. For all of you who run (or knows someone who does), please never lose site of the instrumental people and loving reasons behind these bold and motivational running goals–everyone has a unique story that’s worth hearing. If you have a few minutes, read Dani’s story on why she runs and, if you are able, please consider donating. It is the hope of Dani, and many others, that running the Boston Marathon and raising money to contribute towards innovative cancer research means that, one day, cancer won’t be the reason that far too many loved ones are gone too soon.

On a more personal note, I wanted to follow up on something I briefly mentioned in my Monday post: my entry was confirmed for the 2016 B.A.A. 10k race! This means that on Sunday, June 26th I will be racing my way through some of my favorites streets in Boston with 10,000 other participants; however, it also means that I am well on my way towards tackling some of the goals I have outlined on the Meg in the Meantime homepage…and that just feels damn good!

In the meantime, tell me about you. Have you started making strides towards any of your health and wellness goals? Even just making the time, at some point this weekend, to sit down and write a few out is a great start! After that, I challenge you to share at least one or two of those goals–perhaps the one(s) that scare you most?–with a friend; let them hold you accountable and be there as a support system along the way. From someone who is taking on the 30 Day Abs Challenge with a friend by my side…trust me; when you’re well on your way to accomplishing something you thought you never could or would, you’ll be so glad you did.

Looking forward to chatting more on Sunday,
-Meg