Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Top 10 Things You're Missing If You Only Run Indoors

"A marathon is like life with its ups and downs, but once you've done it, you feel you can do anything."


If you had asked me to run a marathon prior to college I would have laughed in your face and then gotten really worried when I realized you were serious.  "The mile," the portion of the physical fitness test when you were asked to run for an entire mile, was my least favorite part of school growing up.  I was much better at grammar than I was at fitness in those days.  Even when I got to college I struggled to make the transition to outdoor running.  I could run for an entire hour straight on the treadmill, but once I was outside I had to take walking breaks frequently.  However, once I fully committed to running outside there was no turning back.  Here are the top 10 adventures of an outdoor runner you're missing out on- the good, the bad, and the ugly!

1. Beautiful Sights: Some gyms are beautiful, but nothing compares to being outside. There is no better feeling than running by the ocean or in a fun part of town.  

My favorite path in Central Park- Reservoir Loops
2. Exploring- New Cities & Your Own: Throughout my training runs I've discovered parts of NYC I never would have if I wasn't a runner.  And no matter how many times I run Central Park I always find something new.  When I travel I'm able to explore new cities as well.

Views from my beach run in Charleston this month
3. The ability to surprise yourself: When I run on the treadmill there is one thing I always know- exactly how fast I will be running.  Prior to running outside I liked that I knew exactly how fast I was running, but I was essentially setting a ceiling for myself.  It wasn't until I started running outside that I realized how fast I actually was and how much faster I could become.  I'm also more likely to surprise myself and run further outside than when I'm on a treadmill.

4. Racing: There are no (or at least not many) treadmill races.  You can run 3.1, 6.2, 13.1, or 26.2 miles on a treadmill, but you won't get that same feeling you get from running in an official race. 
Oakley Women's 10K 2013
5. Run Groups: You can always run with a friend on the treadmill, but running groups can provide you with so much more.  There are hundreds in the city and most of them are free.  Running groups not only provide you with a great social experience, but they are great for helping you to set and achieve new goals for yourself.  And you don't have to plan out your training because they will plan the runs for you!  Nike Running Club helped me train for my first half and I loved it!

6. Braving the elements: Sometimes this is a negative to running outside- this winter it definitely was- but running through the snow or rain will make you feel like you can accomplish anything.

7. Supportive Strangers: The running community is incredibly supportive.  I love running through Central Park and seeing the other runners.  Whenever I'm not really feeling a run there always seems to be a runner that smiles or gives me a thumbs up.  The picture below is the famous Raven, he runs at the same time every night welcoming whoever wants to run with him.  

8. Wildlife: This is another one that may not seem appealing at first, but can help liven up your run.  Just like exploring new locations can be fun so can seeing the wildlife of different areas.  And even though getting bit by a dog is never fun it always makes for a good story!

9. Real live hills: Hill may not seem like fun, but they are great for training.  And while you can replicate hills on a treadmill nothing compares to getting out there on a hill where you have no choice but to push yourself up to the finish.  Plus if you are serious about doing a race you're going to need to tackle the hills eventually.

10. Getting lost [in the run]: You can definitely get lost which can suck, but at least you'll log a few extra miles!  But more importantly running outside allows for plenty of distractions that can help you get through those long runs without the monotony of CNN reports.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Race Recap: Brooklyn Half Marathon

"I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have inspired a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did: I run because it always takes me where I want to go."
-Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

Brooklyn Half finish line on the Coney Island Boardwalk
Saturday I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon marking both my third half marathon and my third race to qualify for 9+1 entry to the 2015 NYC Marathon.  Packet pick up was Friday in Brooklyn along the East River.  Unfortunately the weather was not so great so most of the entertainment was canceled.  CeCe and I took advantage of the bad weather and were able to eat the famous Grimaldi's Pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge without even waiting for a table (usually the wait is upwards of two hours).
Bib Pick-Up
Best Pizza in NYC
Unlike Friday, Saturday was perfect weather- a first in my marathoning career.  This made getting out of bed at 3:30 am much easier.  Although I was still running leading up to this race I didn't really train for it like I have for my other two half marathons.  I did no speed work and only a couple long runs so I was most impressed by my timeliness for this race.  I was in Brooklyn, had my bag checked, and already used the restroom by 6:10 am giving me plenty of time to stretch in front of the Brooklyn Museum. 
Brooklyn Museum at sunrise
The Brooklyn Half course begins in front of the Brooklyn Museum takes you through Prospect Park and then down to Coney Island finishing along the beach.  
Brooklyn Half Course
The nice part of this course is all the hills are in the beginning.  The bad part is the second half is pretty monotonous down the highway.  This was the first time I really struggled during a race.  Around mile 9 I really wanted to stop, probably because I hadn't done many long runs leading up to this race.  However, that just made finishing feel even better.  And what's better than a marathon that finishes along the beach?

The spectators were also amazing and really helped push me along.  There were some great signs, my two favorites were, "Run like you're in an elevator with Solange" and "MTA are you taking notes on how to run?!"

Despite feeling fatigue during the race I had no problems recovering.  I was a little tired after the race, but had no soreness (yay!).  Over the next few months I have several shorter distance races so my plan is to focus on strength training and speed work until the end of July when I will start training for the Staten Island Half Marathon and the Baltimore Marathon- my first full marathon.  More posts to come!

2 boroughs down- 3 to go!
3 races down- 6 more until guaranteed entry to 2015 NYC Marathon!