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?!?

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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

26:55. That’s huuuuuge!

Hi There!

At the very end of my last post on Sunday, Healthy Enough for Breakfast, Sweet Enough for Dessert, I mentioned that I had some exciting training news that I wanted to share with you, so here it is:

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Did you see that time? 26:55. Do you know what that is?! In case you dont know, I’ll let Jimmy Fallon (a la Donald Trump) tell you:

jimmy fallon

So here are the details: on Sunday, June 12th I raced in a local 5K, Run for the Beach 5K in Beverly, MA–it was a gorgeous road race with stunning coastal views; it also benefited a local nonprofit environmental organization called Salem Sound Coastwatch (always support local!). As many of you know, I am now towards the tail-end of my 10K training for the upcoming B.A.A. 10K and have been consistently running and strength-training over the last month or so. I knew that I wanted to incorporate some kind of race into my training schedule to get back in the mindset of racing and to give myself a bit of a challenge so this 5K seemed perfect.

I went into the race with the mindset of running somewhere in the 28-minute range. The last few Danvers 5K runs I’ve done I’ve hit times in the low-mid 29 minute marks, so I was just looking for a small and reasonable improvement. The course was a pretty simple out and back loop, starting off with a hill so as soon as the gun went off I started my watch and didn’t look at it again until I was on the last part of my straight away. I decided to run completely off how I felt: how I felt being back in a competitive, racing environment, how I felt running a smaller, less crowded race (around 200 participants), how I felt running around a gorgeous small city that I love. I chose to not look at my watch as I ran to get a sense of where I was at.

And how did I feel? I felt hot and uncomfortable: it was already mid-70’s by the 10am start time. I felt pretty tired, but just assumed it was from another long week of training and working that left me a bit physically and emotionally-drained. But, I also felt strong; my legs were carrying me at a steady pace, I didn’t feel too winded, and I figured I would definitely hit my 28-minute range.

What I did’t realize, until I actually did look at my watch during the last straight away, was that I was completely on pace to blowing my 28-minute range out of the water. At that point, I was already full-steam ahead to the finish line anyways, but I couldn’t help but feel a huge smile sweep across my face during those last few seconds thinking of what I was able to accomplish in such a short period of time.  As my watch shows, I crossed the finish line at 26:55. What I didn’t realize until later when the official results came out was that I also placed 5th out of 37 total other women in my division…that’s not bad at all and something I have never done before. So while 26:55 is great, it’s also not an official PR for me in my adult running life, yet I’m still going consider it a PR to what I have been running over the last two years (I’ll explain more about this below).

In fact, I’m not going to lie-that race put me on cloud 9! I ran the 5K with Ryan and he and I both beat our projected times by well over a minute. We were so pumped that we went ahead and set our next 5K goals in order to keep chipping away at our times; we even signed up for a local 4-miler in early July to keep pushing ourselves a bit more.

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Now, let me explain why 26:55 is such a big deal:
(Instead of simply including another Donald Trump .gif…)

On May 7, 2014 I attended my first November Project (NP) workout. Before that I had raced a few local 5K’s in my adult life (Night Shift Brewery 5K, Cambridge 5K Freedom Run, etc.) and had decent times of 27-28 minutes. But, after training consistently 3x/week with NP I got way quicker, way faster than I had ever imagined.

On July 17, 2014 I ran my fastest adult 5K race at a time of 26:05 during the Boston 5K Summer Series which benefits the RACE Cancer Foundation, a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that strives to fight cancer through action and prevention via kick-ass events.

On August 14, 2014, I ran my second-fastest adult 5K race at a time of 26:21, also during the Boston 5K Summer Series.

After that…I’m honestly sure what happened. In December, 2014 I dropped to a 5K time of 27:14 at another local race called Yulefest, which is part of the awesome, local Cambridge 5K Series. Then, over the course of the next two years, that number has steadily plummeted (apologies for using a dramatic word like “plummeted,” but it’s honestly how I feel about it) to 5K race times that fell within the 28-29+ minute marks.

In the summer of 2014, racing was a completely new environment and culture for me and it was exciting! For the first time since high school I was back in a competitive environment with a crowd of spectators and-more importantly-I was challenging myself on a daily basis to be better, faster, stronger…and I was having fun doing it!

Maybe I stopped training as hard? Maybe I stopped training as consistently as I once did? Maybe I became comfortable? Maybe I mentally just started to check out as I saw my times decline and decline? I’ve tried to wrap my head around it a few times and never really found an answer, but what I am thinking is that I slowly started to fall out of love with running and racing.

And that’s why one of my top Current Goals (as outlined on the Meg in the Meantime homepage) is to “fall back in love with running.” I am yearning for that pure joy to fill my body, mind, and soul again and throughout this 10K training period (and especially after this last 5K race) I think I’m finally getting closer to that feeling again!

And so I think it’s only appropriate (and completely necessary) to give a shout out and big thanks to a few key people who have helped me along the road to get me back to 26:55 range and who make me love the feel of racing/training again:

  • Becca: For waking up at un-godly hours to run around Boston with me and get our miles in during the week before work, for checking in to ensure that I stay true and accountable for runs/workouts/stretches that I promise to do, for always sharing accomplishments, encouraging me to try hard/do my best, for daring to try new workout regiments with me (“Let’s go Fartlek-ing on Wednesday!”), and for always telling me that it’s going to be great….THANK YOU!
  • Cara & the RunYoga crew: This RunYoga Series has been-hands down-my favorite workout that I’ve ever done. I am so grateful for the consistent weekly runs and the deep, thoughtful, and targeted stretching and meditating that comes afterwards, but even more so for the light, encouragement, laughter, and positivity that this crew surrounds with me during those two hours every Monday evening…THANK YOU (for making Mondays something to actually look forward to)!
  • November Project: Although I don’t show up as religiously as I used to two years ago, being around your energy and love whenever I do (mainly Wednesdays nowadays) always makes me feel like a better, stronger, kinder human being and that is something that I carry with me on race days. I never fear any hill I face during my races thanks to Summit Ave. and I always try to approach each new experience with a positive attitude and tons of energy…THANK YOU!
  • Ryan: For understanding that when I’m in training that I’m going to have to go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, sometimes be a little hangrier, and that I will always be a bit sweatier than normal; for always being there at my bigger races for support-even if it just seems like an hour or two of you standing around and killing time until I cross the finish line, it means the world to me to see your face in the crowd; and finally, for starting to run with me-these last few weeks of running around the North Shore with you in extreme rain and extreme heat has become such a new and enjoyable “us” thing to add to our memories…THANK YOU!

Well, that’s all from me for now. I’ll write more to you about training updates on Wednesday, but in the meantime start thinking about your huuuuuuuuge goals and the people who help you along the way…send a message to them to let them know you’re thinking of them and are grateful!

Until then,
-Meg

Mind Games

Wow, what another gorgeous, sunny, and blue sky day we had here in Boston!

Now, perfect days like these-of course-don’t come without some stormy weather first and last night’s summer thunder and lightning storm sure was something else! I don’t know about you, but I made sure to soak it all in (without actually getting soaked…I did enough of that during my 3 miler on Sunday afternoon). Last night I sat out in my enclosed porch, lit some candles, and just listened to the world around me and the thoughts running around in my head; it was a great time for some reflective thinking/meditation.

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This special time out on the porch meant a lot to me, especially after such a draining few days at work and a few other personal situations that are currently brewing into (what could become) a perfect storm of stress. However, I had a major takeaway during this week’s RunYoga series with the ever-amazing Cara Gilman and it’s been the one positive thing that I’ve chosen to focus on instead of every (stressful) thing that possibly could be.

After our speed workout (my first time!) on a local track in The Fens, we got back to our base and slowed things down with some targeted, deep stretches to complement the speed workout and then Cara led us through a yoga nidra practice-one of the deepest forms of meditation. I’ve never done yoga nidra before, but after learning more about it and its benefits it wasn’t too hard to fall in love with both the idea and practice of it (I’ll make sure to give you a link to a great guided yoga nidra practice so you can try it yourself, too!).

Anyways, as always, Cara asked us to set an intention and then followed up with an inspirational message: The words we think becomes the world we see. That message really stuck with me; it’s all that I could think about during my yoga practice that night and I’ve carried it with me every day since: it’s my self check-in when I wake up in the morning and it’s my closing thought to reflect on the day (and the things that I can control and the things that I cannot) before bed and make my peace.

And so, last night on my porch, with the sky pouring buckets, I started to think those words in a more targeted area of my life: running. For me, running is a time to clear my mind, to reflect on my current state, to work through all the good and not-so-good moments of my week, and to wrestle with what my next steps should be moving forward.

I have been running unplugged from any kind of music playing device and have been using that extra concentration to zone in on my inner thoughts instead of zoning out to hardcore rap (and sometimes the random popular flavor of the week) like I used to. Instead, I’ve been listening to the world move around me and have been focusing on how grateful I am for each and every breath and step I take-it’s both a humbling and motivational experience.

But has every thought that has popped in my head been positive? Probably not. Have I cursed under my breath a few times. Most likely, yeah. How have I been speaking to myself? Have I been kind enough to myself and all that I put myself through-mentally and physically-during these intimate moments that I consider my sanctuary of the day?! And how will those kind and positive thoughts translate from my running moments into the other areas of my life?

This is why Cara’s message stuck with me-it’s giving me the opportunity to learn more about myself and helping me, in a small yet meaningful way, become a better, more thoughtful person each day. The words we think becomes the world we see. Really stop and think about that. What are the words and thoughts that sneak into your mind  throughout your day…when everything is going well, when nothing is really happening, and then when you feel completely down and out and all alone? How can you become more mindful of the powerful affect that you can have on your life (and others) through your thoughts and perceptions-turned reality?! It’s such a mental game and so important to get ahead of it before it can become destructive.

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I shared some examples of what goes through my my mind when I’m running, so what about you? Or maybe for you it’s during another activity or something that you can’t seem to shake while walking into work or before bed…either way I’d love to hear from you and know what’s been working for you! What techniques or strong mental forces do you practice to keep the demons at bay? If you’re still struggling and are in need of some inspiration, shoot me a message…maybe we can talk it out together! Hearing from you always means so much to me so please feel free to leave a comment below, e-mail me at melucas7@gmail.com, or leave me a message on Twitter: @meggielukes.

In the meantime, let’s end this on a positive note: two things that I’m currently loving.

  • Two-a-days: I have been trying to switch up and amp up my training schedule this time around and have been testing out two-a-day workouts once a week, mainly on Wednesdays. In the mornings I’ll rise and shine with the sun and meet Becca at Harvard Stadium to run stairs with the rest of the November Project crew and in the evenings I’ll head up to the North Shore to spend some time with Ryan and run some evening miles (usually around 3 miles). I realized this morning that, probably the reason why I like this two-a-day concept so much is because I get to spend some quality time with two people who are special to me without compromising on my health and wellness.
  • Training: I have been absolutely loving consistent running, stretch, and strength training exercises throughout my weeks. I had a great early morning 5 miler around Boston with Becca last Friday and am looking forward to another long run this Friday morning, as well. This time we’ll take to the B.A.A. 10k route to get a better feel for the course before our race in two weeks. I also have a fantastic 5k race this Sunday, June 12th in Beverly, MA with Ryan called “Run for the Beach 5k,” in which proceeds benefit local beaches and marine life. The North Shore, and all of its rocky, coastal views, stole my heart a few years ago so I’m super excited to participate in this race…it’s just extra special that it will be my first official road race with Ryan! 🙂

That’s all for now-check back in on Friday for some more health and wellness inspiration.

Be well and stay positive,
-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.

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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.

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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

Time, is on my side.

Hi there!

First of all, I’d like to thank you all for bearing with me as I continue to recover and adjust back to every day life from my recent business trip to China–that 12-hour time difference is really messing with my system more than I expected it to. I came back to the US late last week, celebrated my second master’s graduation (M.Ed.’14 and M.S. in advertising ’16) over the weekend with loved ones over the weekend by way of commencement ceremonies, delicious steak-filled meals, and lots of corny college catalog photos like this one:

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And suddenly after all of the excitement and celebrations passed and life began to slow down, my body slowed down, as well and began to crash: I would put myself to bed at a normal hour, but just lay awake until the sun came out and soon thereafter I developed piercing headaches in the center of my forehead and the top of my head, complemented with a nasty, phlegmy cough that came forth out of left field. Not sure what’s going on with my body at this moment (will bring myself to the doctor for a check-in soon), but I just wanted to explain briefly and let you know that I appreciate your patience with my posts as my blog fell to the wayside for the last week or so.

I ended up missing posting about a healthy snack on Sunday, so I’ll just save that exciting post for this upcoming weekend and instead share with you my B.A.A. 10k training updates because exercising has been one of the few things that has made my body feel better this week.

On Monday, I finally was able to attend my first session of Cara Gilman’s RunYoga Series, courtesy of MoveWith; I unfortunately had to miss the first two sessions due to grad school and the business trip to China, so I was stoked to finally be able to go, despite not feeling so well. The way the workout goes: each session, a scalable running workout (hill repeats, speed workouts, group runs, etc.) is paired with a targeted, strength-based yoga sequence to challenge the individual members of this inspiring community over the course of the 10-week program. Each workout takes place on Monday evenings from 6-8pm in the wonderful Brookline/Boston neighborhood, rain or shine.

This week, we started our run from the Ruggles Baptist Church in the Audubon Circle neighborhood of Brookline and ran to Summit Ave, where we took on hill repeats on the one of the steepest hills in the Boston-area (the gradient incline goes from 7-17% fairly quickly). From there, it was up to us if we wanted to just do one full hill loop and head back to our starting point in Audubon Circle, or add some repeats before turning back. I turned to my usual training buddy/running solemate, Becca Smith, and we decided on adding an extra repeat of the smaller side of the hill, ultimately ending our run with a solid 4.20 miles completed. Afterwards, back in the church, we settled in for our yoga sequence, which would target the outer hips (hello, IT band!), calves and quads. Before we began though, Cara told us to focus in on one word, a mantra, that would guide us through our practice not only that night, but also throughout the week–something we are grateful for and something that would keep us present.

What would be my word?! That one was easy: “time.” Lately, I am so grateful for time-so much so that I find myself replaying The Rolling Stones’ song, “Time Is On My Side” in my head most days! After four years straight of working full-time and going to graduate school part-time (for two different master’s programs back-t0-back) and revolving my life and its priorities around the schedule that these two pieces set for me, I feel so unbelievably free and open to new opportunities and possibilities. And so, more than anything, I was grateful for those two hours on Monday night to reflect on the last four years, refresh my body, and reset my mind to start the first week of the rest of my life with balance and positivity. Despite my headache pounding into all sides of my head at that point, those two hours of active movement not only served as a training run and strength and conditioning session for my upcoming B.A.A. race at the end of June, but it also served me in a metaphorical sense: taking to life one step at a time-one foot in front of the other-possibly facing some obstacles (hills) in the way, and heading straight towards the next great thing, more in balance.

Speaking of things I am grateful for… I am BEYOND grateful for what my friend, fellow November Project-er, and PT/DPT/Cert. DN/Running Specialist, Dani Adler (aka RunFitDoc), taught me about active stretching during her run clinic. If you missed my post from last month, Stretch It Out, which broke down in easy-to-follow steps her suggested guidance of applying the 3 E’s: Easy, Effective, and Efficient to your run training warm-up, then I highly suggest giving it a read through before you continue with your run training! I have noticed a major difference in the way I feel (read: much stronger, more open, more loose, more warmed) before, during, and after all of my training runs and wish the same for all of you!

For example, tonight I practiced my active stretching routine and it put me in the right place, mentally and physically. I attended fun/casual 5k race that occurs every Wednesday night at 7pm outside Osborn Tavern (49 Maple Street) in Danvers, MA called Danvers 5K. My boyfriend recently moved to Danvers so I wanted to start doing something active in the area to get to know the surrounding neighborhood better and I couldn’t have fell more in love with this open running community the second I showed up. First of all, as their website states: this reoccurring weekly race is open to absolutely anyone: great for hardcore runners and those who are just starting out and looking for a solid weekly run/reason to run. Second of all, the course was absolutely beautiful and very enjoyable to run. I honestly don’t know much about the Danvers area yet, but there were some small, rolling hills, lots of cemeteries that were passed along the way–I kept myself unplugged and just soaked up the quintessential New England/North Shore scenery. It felt so nice to change up my usual route and run around a town for once-there’s definitely a charm to it, something I could easily get used to. Third of all, everyone was so friendly…especially to us newbies! I had such a nice and enjoyable time meeting everyone and even found myself trying to keep pace with two older guys during the entire race. To the main in the orange shirt, thanks for letting me tail you during the entire 3.1 miles–you rock!

I really could go on and on, but instead I’ll just encourage anyone who lives in the greater Boston and North Shore area to just show up and check it out yourself. Once you race, you have a bib number for life and are always welcomed back-how nice is that?! I ended my 5k with a time of 29:07, which is far from the lower end of the 25 minute 5k time I used to regularly race a couple of years ago, but instead of being disappointed in myself and wondering where I went wrong, I actually just really look forward to chipping away at that number bit by bit as I continue to focus in with more intensity and intention on my run training.

In the meantime, I’d like for you to read my favorite Boston running, health, and wellness blogger, Jana Ross’ post on “Why I Run Marathons.” People often ask why I run or why I choose to make the time to fit in training runs or workout series to my usual busy schedule and-to be honest-it’s a pretty hard question to answer; however, in a short and eloquent post Jana captures it all. I sure as heck am far from being as accomplished as she is as a runner and am nowhere close to running marathons (she just completed marathon #8!), but I definitely connect with what she expresses and think it’s overall just such a well-written piece. For example, two lines that, in particular, stuck out to me: “I love a challenge, I love the community, and I love the simplicity of placing one foot in front of the next.” and “It’s where I push myself most, discover how I handle adversity, and pick myself back up when I hit what feels like rock bottom.” Preach, Jana!!

Anyways, for one reason or another these lines stuck out to me and made me reflect on the reasons of why any of us do the things that we love, even when they sometimes tear us apart or take all that we have to give at the moment. As we continue to live our lives and push forward each day, tacking new obstacles and challenges with our dreams and goals in sight, I think it’s something pretty important to meditate on, if you haven’t ever…just a suggestion, of course! 🙂

Sending love and wellness to you all of you until the next time!
-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

Stretch It Out.

Hello!

So last week I gave you a sneak preview into my active weekend of participating in FitBit Local’s kickoff event in the South End on Saturday morning and then a free run clinic on Sunday morning. Needless to say, between trying my very first high intensity bootcamp class and actively working on new strength training exercises, I was hobbling around my apartment with that good, sore feeling by Sunday evening.

You know that feeling I’m talking about, right? The one that makes you feel positive that you got a solid workout in and maybe even worked some new muscles because getting up from a seated position is a lot of work and trying to reach for something in a cabinet becomes a chore…sometimes even just laying there hurts! But, as sore as you are, you can’t help but smile knowing that you allowed your body to work hard and you pushed it to the limit for that day. Rest was much deserved!

In between the struggle of my sore moments and the excitement of telling my running friends about these two free fitness events, I realized that the perfect thing to share with you today would be active warm-up and recovery suggestions-something I learned in the run clinic and definitely utilized this weekend…it was my saving grace and can be yours, too as you think about incorporating wellness activities, like proper stretching, into your daily routine.

But first, let me quickly recap what these two events were like…

Fitbit Local’s free event was held in the SOWA Power Station, an architecturally-stunning building with high cathedral ceilings in the South End-and, over the course of two hours, featured a bodyweight bootcamp class led by a prominent Boston fitness instructor, Chad Flahive, followed by a yoga flow by Cara Gilman. I’ll be honest, I originally only wanted to attend this event for the sake of the yoga portion-not only was it a class taught by my absolute favorite yoga instructor, but it was also a free yoga class (whereas many single class offerings in Boston range from $15-$25 per class)…the added bonus was that I got to try out a bootcamp class, too which I have never done before.

That being said, I was very curious about what a bootcamp class would be like so I went in with an open mind. It is what it sounded like: “bootcamp:” a high intensity cardio class, that gets your heart rate up, something to make you sweat quickly and continuously, and something (or someone) to push you to keep moving. Over the course of the class, I did a mixture of twisting jumping jacks, regular squats, pulsing squats, jump squats (after typing out all of those squat, I can now understand the soreness in my glutes…), burpees, mountain climbers crunches, and so forth. The end result? I think I would try a bootcamp class again just to give it another fair shot, but it also solidified that, for me, a large class, with loud music meant to pump you up, and an instructor yelling (in an inspiring way!) things like, “Keep moving!” “Almost there!” “Last set!” “Okay, really–this is the last set!” “You got this–this really is the last one!” doesn’t really motivate me…it more so irritates me. But that’s just me. I can absolutely see why other people need or want a class like that to motivate them intensely for 30-45 minutes; it had me looking at my watch to see when this part would be over. Still, I can’t really complain at all since clearly it worked me out well and I was feeling all kinds of new sore throughout my body.

And, yoga with Cara was simply amazing (to be expected)-so not much to report on that end. I was so grateful to have that time to slowly cool down my body and flow through some poses and begin the active stretching process, while calming my forever-on-the-go-mind. It also reminded me of how much I miss yoga incorporated into my week at least once or twice (is such a powerful practice especially when paired with running) so I bit the bullet and signed up for Cara’s 10-week Run + Yoga summer series…although I have to miss the first two classes due to grad school and work travel, I am beyond stoked to have this series to look forward to each week as I train for the B.A.A. 10K.

And so, I woke up pretty sore on Sunday morning, kind of regretting this decision to do back-to-back new fitness events, but I was also too excited to attend this run clinic to let anything cloud my mind.  A friend, fellow November Project-er, and PT/DPT/Cert. DN/Running Specialist, Dani Adler, led her first clinic: Learn The 3 E’s To Run Training: Easy, Effective, and Efficient where we learned how to apply the 3 E’s to our active warm-ups and strength training routines. We topped off the clinic with a gorgeous 3 mile run along the Mystic River, right across the street from her office in Medford, MA.

Here is a picture of our awesome group-a mix of triathletes, ultra-marathoners, marathoners, and just regular runners, like myself-outside of the Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness office before our run (we were even lucky enough to have two members of Team Hoyt join us as they trained for the upcoming Providence Marathon). All in all, I was inspired to be surrounded by such amazing athletes and greatness and got pumped to keep my run pace with them-it felt good to challenge myself like that.

RunClinic.jpg

Okay, and now the moment I’ve been so excited to share with you since I was hobbling around my apartment, wonderfully sore from all of these free fitness events: active warm-up and stretching. During the run clinic, Dani led us through a series of warm-up routines that were easy to follow, proved to be effective during our 3 mile run after as we all felt properly warmed up, and were super efficient: the whole routine took no more than 9-10 minutes, yet covered a broad spectrum of body parts and muscles that are integral to running. She explained the difference between active warm-ups (what I will share with you below) and static stretching (something like bending over and touching your toes or pulling one leg behind you to stretch out your hamstrings before a run)-she immediately turned me into a believer and made me never want to statically stretch before a workout ever again-that should be saved for post-run stretching. Why do I say this? Read below and find out.

How to Apply the 3 E’s to Your Warm-Up:

  1. Inch worms: 5 sets 
    The inch worm is a great way to actively stretch out your hamstrings and calves and fire up your core before a run. To follow me along, I’ve included a snapshot for you to see-the sequence goes: Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right, and repeat.
    – Start out with your feet close together and stretch down to to the floor in front of you (top left image).
    – Begin to walk your hands forward, alternating left and right, bending only at the hips and keeping your legs straight until you reach a push up position (top right image).
    – Now keep your hands in place and slowly take short steps forward with your feet, not bending your knees-this is where you will start to feel the amazing stretch in your hamstrings and calves (bottom left image).
    – Continue walking until your feet have reached your hands-or have come as far as your legs allow without bending your knees. You will notice you are back in the starting position-repeat 5 times for an active warm-up (bottom right image).
    InchWorm
  2. Downward Dog into “Walking the Dog:” 5-10 on each side.
    Downward Dog is an energizing yoga pose meant to stretch the shoulders (mine always crack), hamstrings, calves, feet, and hands, while strengthening your arms and legs.
    – To get into the Downward Dog position, you place yourself in an inverted “V” pose, with your palms and feet rooted in the ground below you and your sits bones (think: butt area), lifted up to the sky. Your body weight is evenly distributed,  your shoulders are squared to the ground, your neck is relaxed and your gaze is down/towards your feet.
    – To follow me along, I’ve included a snapshot for you below. Top Left and Top Right are the same pose (Downward Dog), just shown from a front view and side view.
    – Bottom Left and Bottom Right just show the “Walking the Dog” sequence, from the side view. From your Downward Dog position, alternatively lift and lower your lower your heels, still keeping your body weight evenly distributed-don’t let your body fall side to side as you pedal out your feet. Repeat for 5-10 times on each side.
    DownwardDog
  3. Downward Dog into Pigeon Pose: 30 seconds, each side.
    Pigeon pose is my absolute favorite stretch. This pose stretches out your thighs, groin areas, abs, chest, and shoulders and is one of the deepest stretches you can find yourself in, but boy does it feel great if you can bear it!
    – From the Downward Dog position, keep your hips squared towards the ground and bring one leg forward towards your arms to a 90 degree angle (or as close as you can get). That foot, which should stay flexed for a better stretch, will come to rest towards your groin area as your back leg is extended out with the knee and leg squared towards the floor and pressed down.
    – You can either keep your upper body upright, with the ribcage lift and hands perched by your front foot, or slowly lower yourself down over your front knee and walk and stretch your arms out forward as well for a deeper stretch-in this case you can keep your gaze down.
    – I’ve included another snapshot for you to follow me along Top and Bottom images are the same pose, just shown from a front and side view. *Note: I am only showing one side in these images, but this pose calls for both left and right sides to be stretched. After about 30 seconds on one side, shake out your leg and repeat the pose on the opposite side. 
    PigeonPose
  4. Adductor Rock: 15-20 on each side.
    This stretch I was pretty new to, but am so glad I tried it! The adductor rock really stretches out the groin area, while also loosening up any tightness in your inner thigh area (note: one side may feel more tight than the other).
    – Start on all fours and extend one leg to the side.
    – Gently rock back on your bent knee, keeping your back flat, and progressively rock back further and further each time, opening up the groin area.
    – I included a snapshot for you to follow along. The Top Left and Top Right images are what the sequence looks like from a front view, and Bottom Left and Bottom Right images is the same thing, but from a side view. *Note: I am only showing one side in these images, but this pose calls for both left and right sides to be stretched. After about 15-20 rocks on one side, shake out your legs and repeat the stretch on the opposite side. 
    AdductorRock
  5. 5 Minutes of “Fitness Walking” – I don’t have an image for this one, and I know it kind of sounds funny to do before a run (especially when most of us barely have time to fit in a run as it is), but getting your body ready for the motion of running by walking at 3.5 mph or less can really relieve the shock of your body going from 0 – (enter your mph here) in just seconds. Walking before allows your heart rate to pick up and for your breathing to quicken and get fired up for your set pace.

After the warm-up we got into applying the 3 E’s to strength training. If you’re interested in seeing some specific strength training videos that you can incorporate into your own routine, I recommend checking out Dani’s RunFitDoc YouTube channel –it’s a great resource to get yourself started and you can rest assured that the information is coming to you from a true professional! All of these routines are easy to follow, reasonable to scale, and really complement your training runs well. The most important thing to me, as someone who is typically stretched thin with many responsibilities, is efficiency: if you give me something that will be effective for my training and compact enough that I can easily fit in to a 10 minute segment every day (or every other day) then that is what I know will work and what I can reasonably stick with.  Personally, I look forward to doing these routines at least 2 times per week, to begin with, during my upcoming 10K training and reporting back on the positive impact.

Lastly, if you missed her run clinic last weekend and are now kicking yourself for it-fear not! You still have one more upcoming opportunity to learn about The 3 E’s To Run Training: Easy, Effective, and Efficient as a part of the first ever BPTW Strength Symposium on Saturday, May 21 at 10am in Medford, MA (I attached the Eventbrite info for your convenience). This event, as opposed to the run clinic I attended, covers a depth and breadth of topics, such as running, nutrition, core strength, injury/pain presentation, etc., but gives you access to a whole line up of health, wellness, and fitness experts and professionals, like Dani…what an opportunity! This is one local event for all you triathletes, marathoners, and fitness enthusiasts to not miss!

As for me, tonight I am off to the Run + Yoga for Runners event held at the Janji pop-up store on Newbury Street in Boston tonight! This event is run by two fellow November Project-ers: Brittany Flaherty and Jana Ross and coordinated by the MoveWith company. I’m so excited to work out in a new location (can’t believe I still haven’t been to the Janji store yet!) after I run through the streets of my favorite area in Boston: Back Bay! More to come on this experience when I write again on Friday.

In the meantime, and in the spirit of today’s post, I want to encourage you all to to incorporate some form of stretching into your daily routine: this could be 5-10 minutes of active stretching in the morning to wake you up or some form of static stretching to flow through and relieve stress before bed…it could even be your midday break from work after lunch! The benefits of stretching (reduced muscle tension, increased range of the joints, increased blood flow, and higher energy levels, just to name a few…) are too go pass up! Or, if you think I missed out on a different form of active stretching, then please comment below and share one of your favorite stretches–I always love to hear from you!

Wishing you wellness today and always,
-Meg

Reason #1,000,001 to just show up.

Hi There!

I must start this post off with a confession. I was planning on leveraging the poor New England weather to spin this Motivational Monday post for the better; however, it seems to me the Boston weather has changed drastically since I checked last night from pouring rain all week straight to pure sunshine (with occasional clouds) through the weekend. Oh well, spring has sprung in Boston and you truly never know what you’re going to get!

I think, regardless of the weather forecast for the week, you’ll still find this post helpful if you’re looking for the motivation to try something new/switch up your fitness routine or, if you’re simply in need of something to fill your life with pure joy and love again. The only catch? You have to just show up…despite the early morning roll call (6:30am) and despite the weather conditions that day. (See…that’s where my inspirational weatherproof message was supposed to go. Now you’re just lucky and get to show up when it’s sunny out.)

If you haven’t guessed what I’m talking about by that description alone, then I’m not quite sure where you’ve been for the last five years! I’m talking about November Project–the free fitness movement that started in Boston in 2011 and now has grown to 30 cities around the world. Isn’t that wild? What began as a challenge between two former Northeastern crew mates to stay in shape during the cold, New England months and workout, outside, for free, for one month straight (the month of November, hence the name) has exploded into a world-wide movement.

November-Project-group

The best part about NP? The people. NP is comprised of everyone under the sun–you never know who you’ll be working out with: Olympic medalists, professional athletes, marathoners, triathletes, current and former college athletes, fitness rookies, couch potatoes, and everyone in between (even dogs! Dogs just show up!!) who are looking to kickstart a healthier lifestyle. Don’t let any of that scare you though; together we all rise and shine to work out and encourage each other, using the city as our playground.

If the amazing people doesn’t sell you on fitness movement, how about the glorious sunrises you’ll experience? Think of all of the Instagram photos!  Or what about all of the money you’ll save on gym and studio class fees?! I’m personally putting mine towards college loans. And did you see the part above that I mentioned dogs…puppies even?! Who doesn’t love the sight of friendly puppies casually workout next to you…

Alright, back to the important stuff because I can go on and on about the benefits of NP and all of the amazing experience you’ll have working out. For the sake of this post, I will only be focusing on the Boston tribe (known as The Mothership, to some), but if you’re reading along from somewhere else in the world, check out the NP Locations page to see where the closest city with NP is to you and find a way to get there…quick!

In Boston, NP operates on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule:

  • On Monday’s, you run to a specific destination (which changes every week) for a workout. This is more of a wildcard kind of workout-it could be anything from circuit training, core/calisthenics work, to seven-minutes of straight burpees. Each Monday location is a different spot around the city–a parking lot, a field, a dock, or even a little patch of grass in between a highway–and is meant to get you to explore the city in a new light.
  • On Wednesday’s, we wear pink. Just kidding-wanted to see if you were still paying attention! Wednesday is a stadium workout at Harvard University’s football stadium, where we run the 37 sections of the horseshoe building and crush 1,147 large, concrete block steps in one workout…sometimes even more, depending on what the exciting workout is that morning.
  • On Friday’s, we run hills on Summit Avenue in Brookline, MA where the incline varies from 7% to 17%. And, sometimes, we increase intensity by adding a stair workout, wall jumps, and sprints to the usual hill repeats.

Even if you just start off coming to NP once a week, I guarantee you’ll love the energy and people and soon find yourself soon coming two-three times per week, so long as your schedule allows. If I may, might I recommend starting on a Wednesday? The reason I suggest this is because on Wednesday, you’re allowed to be singled out a “newbie,” get a brief introduction by one of the three co-leaders, and start together as a newbie group–it’s easier to meet people that way and to not feel alone or overwhelmed during your first NP workout. I did it and I highly recommend!

I decided to include a little background story for you, in case you’re wondering about how I found myself part of this amazing tribe of humans and if it might be the right place for you. Well, first of all: theres no need to think about that second part-I can assure you that it’s definitely is the right place for you and for everyone you know. How do I know this? Trust me…you’ll see why.

Okay, so back to my story. Before I was brave enough to “just show up” to November Project (NP) on Wednesday May 7, 2014, I remember hearing about it from some friends, being curious and pouring over the NP website, especially reading all of the Boston blog entries. To the best of my ability, I did my “research” on what this free fitness workout group was all about–I wanted to be as prepared as possible before taking part in anything new or showing up and feeling completely overwhelmed by the workout (a very Meg-like thing to do). I remember finding one blog entry, in particular, that made me stop in my tracks: “You Will Find Someone Your Speed” by Elin Flashman.

Elin is someone who I mentioned in last Friday’s blog post, when I wrote about the power of accountability and its influence on my life. What I did not mention in that post, is that even before I met Elin, he impacted my life profusely with his blog post. I wasn’t worried so much about keeping up with other people during the workouts and I wasn’t feeling shy about meeting new people (in fact, I was really looking forward to that part!), but it was just something he wrote towards the end of his entry that really stood out to me….so much so that I read it over and over again. He wrote: “I promise you that if you give it a chance it will change your life for the better and in ways that you may not expect.” Call me gullible because, I have no idea why I trusted the words of someone who I had never met before (just as I have no idea why I trusted someone who I barely knew telling me that I could definitely run a half marathon in a few months because I worked out at NP), but that sentence was just so genuine and inspiring that I had to take a chance! Plus, the little teaser of “…and in ways that you may not expect.” I mean, c’mon; who isn’t looking for a wonderful, unexpected opportunity in their life?!  I sure was.

At that point in my life (spring 2014), I was in dire need of something that would light me up inside again. As much as I had wonderful and exciting things in my life at the time: starting my second master’s degree at Boston University and traveling to Italy and Spain for two weeks for work, I was honestly still hurting from the recent and final break of your typical an on-again, off-again relationship and wasn’t quite back to 100% the forever happy and smiling Meg that most people know. So after reading that post I figured, “What the heck–it couldn’t hurt! Nothing else seems to be working.”

Still, at that point, I probably had a million excuses lined up ready to go. Are you starting to build up your own list of reasons to not try? Do any of these sound relatable?

If you asked me then the type of morning person I was, I’d say: “The kind that you don’t talk to before 10am without a large coffee in hand!” Now, I can wake up before the sun rises, eat stairs, hills, and burps for breakfast. And I love it!

If you asked me then what my favorite running style was, I’d say: “A quick, solo run after work to blow off steam, complemented by loud rap blasting in my headphones.” Now, I long for double-digit mile runs with a friend so that we can talk about the highs and lows of training and life…and training for life. And, I can wake up extra early do this before work.

If you asked me then if I would consider running a half marathon, I would’ve laughed and replied: “I don’t do distance. I’m not built to be a runner; I have bad knees.” Now, I can say that I’ve completed three half marathons and am looking forward to growing that list.

Why am I bragging about this?  Because I fell in love. I fell in love with the community that NP created and I fell back in love with fitness and my personal health and wellness. I did just show up on May 7,2014 and NP rocked my world in a way that I never expected it to. I’ve never regretted the early morning wake up, I’ve never regretted the soreness I feel the next day, I’ve never been so inspired by genuine, good-hearted, badass people. I’ve just never looked back. Over the last two years, NP has given me a lot and that’s something that I keep me with in every (long distance) run, every (Harvard Stadium) step, every (Summit) hill I face.

And, just in case you have any other doubts about just showing up, you can reference this other classic, old school blog post by a fellow NP-er, Deniz Karakoyunlu: “The 4 Myths of November Project.”

So…you can be like me and sit back for a few months to research and read all about the scientific benefits of stair climbing or why you need to incorporate hills into your running routine or you can take this as a lesson and just do it.

I cannot thank November Project enough for all it’s given to me along the way: the sweaty hugs, high-fives, the push to keep going when my body told me it needed a one minute rest. Most of all, NP instilled in me the belief that running is more than sprints and internal competition; running is, in fact, a gift and it never takes more than it gives back.

And so, I want to give back to the community who has given so much to me by growing the tribe and gifting them with your presence! To echo Elin: “I promise you that if you give it a chance it will change your life for the better and in ways that you may not expect.” Just show up. Soon you’ll have a story to tell, too.

In the meantime, practice setting your alarm for an earlier wake up tomorrow in preparation for NP on Wednesday. If you need that sense of accountability to make sure you get up and show up, then just know that I (along with hundreds of others) will be waiting for and are excited to meet you and tell you that we’re glad that you’re there. Then get ready for a kickass workout!

Hope to see you on Wednesday at 6:30am,
-Meg