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Conquering the Half-Marathon: Taya Rabinowitz, A New PR

Written on February 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm , by

Taya blew her old PR out of the water, and you can too! (Photo by Jason Todd)

In our March issue, you’ll find four inspiring half-marathon stories from readers who went from couch to 13.1, from jogger to racer and more. For the remaining Wednesdays in February here on The Fit Stop, we’re sharing more personal stories from women who tested our half-marathon training plan.

Written by Kate Branciforte, editorial intern

After 10 weeks, Taya Rabinowitz completed FITNESS’ half-marathon intermediate training program, ready to run her third half-marathon. Using motivation from past racing experiences to gear up for an event she could be proud of, Taya laced up and crushed her old PR (personal record) of 1:53 by three minutes, clocking in at a 1:50.20!

Taya filled us in about all of her race-conquering secrets, including her unconventional strength-training workout and how she was able to push through the tough days.

Schedule Stickers

She’s been running since middle school, but Taya’s training was never consistent unless she had something pushing her, like an impending race on the schedule. “I work long hours during the week, so getting in weekday exercise is sometimes tough when I’m not training for anything specifically,” Rabinowitz says. Getting in your daily dose of sweat requires real commitment. At the end of each week, write down when you’re going to work out, and maybe even what you plan on doing. Treat this like you would a business event or presentation—that way, if people try to book something with you during your scheduled sweat session, you can tell them you already have an appointment.

Marathon Motivators

It’s always good to have a role model, and watching the elite runners from the sidelines during the New York Road Runners (NYRR) New York City Half-Marathon sealed the deal for Rabinowitz. “They don’t even look like they’re working that hard, but you can’t get a photo because they go by so fast!” Your idol doesn’t have to be an elite athlete or celebrity (but it doesn’t hurt!) . We often turn to bloggers and others in the healthy living community for a dose of fit-spiration!

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Fit Links: Half-Marathon Basics and the State of Stress in the U.S.

Written on January 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm , by

Lace up your sneaks for a race! (Photo by Denise Crew)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

More from FITNESS: Learn more about (and sign up for) our half-marathon!

Staffer Race Recap: My PR at the Philadelphia Rock ‘N Roll Half-Marathon!

Written on September 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm , by

Doesn't a start like this inspire you to run? (Photo courtesy of Competitor Group, Inc.)

Last weekend in Philadelphia, I ran my first Rock ‘N Roll Half-Marathon (my fourth half-marathon race!). It was a perfect day weather-wise and I was psyched to be running on a new course. With my marathon training, long runs do get a little l-o-n-g when I’m running multiple loops around Central Park. (See our tips for marathon training blues if you’re training is getting a little ho-hum.) Although Central Park is one of my favorite places to be, with it’s many different fields and gardens making it feel like you’re not in the middle of Manhattan, I’d prefer variety on my runs so I never know what hill or turn is coming next.

The race through Philadelphia started at the “Rocky” steps (aka the popular Art Museum) and looped through the city for a few miles, then wrapped around the Schuylkill River and back to Rocky’s famous steps. Before heading into this race, I had the attitude that this wasn’t a race for me but another long run I’d be checking off my calendar of marathon training. However, being a competitive person that I am, lining up in the corrals, I knew I had to put my game face on.

Before marathon training began, I had always considered myself a 10-minute miler, running along in a nice, steady pace, not exerting myself too much so I could log the most miles. But since training, I’ve realized I can get my butt in gear and take things up a notch after all. I used to think that I’d burn out if I ever tried to go much faster than the 9- or 10-minute pace. This race really proved me wrong! I started out with a quick pace of 8:30-minute miles and kept that up, give or take 10 or 15 seconds, throughout the first 10 miles. Around the 10-mile marker, things always seem to go wrong for me. My somewhat injured right hip started aching, then pain in my knees said hello. I took it easy for another mile then realized where I was: Way below two hours, and if I kept at it or picked up the pace, I would actually finish with a PR of under two hours! And I did it, finishing with 1:58, a lovely two whole minutes to spare and 12 minutes knocked off my previous race record.

That's me! Proud to be a runner. (Photo courtesy of Competitor Group, Inc.)

The bad hip and bum knees have been addressed this week—doctor appointments for the hip, sessions with trainers at Equinox to strengthen my butt, and a lovely massage. I’m working my nutrition—Gus, Chomps, Gatorade—into my long run (18 miles!) this weekend to practice what I’ll do come race day.

Ten athletes qualified for the Olympic trials at this race, including New Zealand’s Kim Smith, who was the female champ and finished with a course and American-soil race record of 1:07:11; which is the fastest womens half-marathon time run in the USA…ever!

I interviewed Kim a few days after the race to find out what she wears, listens to, and what goal is next on her list!

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Fit Blogger We Love: Eating Bender

Written on April 7, 2011 at 11:50 am , by

Eating Bender's Jenn celebrates crossing the finish line at her first half-marathon!

Eating Bender's Jenn celebrates crossing the finish line at her first half-marathon!

Jenn, the brains behind the food and fitness blog Eating Bender, knows how to have a good time! Just scroll back through a few recent posts and you’ll see her fiery trip to a Teppanyaki restaurant, a pizza party with her new husband and an appearance or two by an Eating Bender favorite, coffee cocoa. After recently celebrating her blog’s third birthday, Jenn told us about her favorite foodie treats and what keeps her motivated to stay fit:

On my fit life list: I would love to hike Machu Picchu in Peru, as well as complete a longer hike of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. I had the opportunity to do a three-mile trek there a few years ago and look forward to going back for my first wedding anniversary this October!

My biggest indulgence: Wine, bread and cheese. Preferably in generous amounts together. Bonus: Enjoying all three while in Napa.

Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) by Big & Rich. I’m not sure much explanation is needed beyond that.

My “I Did It” moment: Running my first half-marathon in Phoenix this past January. Especially after my husband and I were in a tandem bicycle accident (yes, you read that right) while on our honeymoon. It left him with a broken wrist and me with a busted up knee that was not ideal for training. Getting across that finish line never felt so good! I would love to improve upon my time in another race—and hope to complete a full marathon someday.

My motivation comes from: The inevitable feeling of accomplishment that comes at the end of a workout. Knowing that I will feel awesome about myself and my body when I am finished makes me excited to lace up my tennis shoes. Combine that with being a part of an amazing community of inspirational bloggers, and you have a recipe for sweet success.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email blog@fitnessmagazine.com.

Fun Fall Races You Should Register for NOW!

Written on April 5, 2011 at 2:00 pm , by

The Nike Half Marathon

San Franciso's Union Square: Start of Nike Women's Marathon.

Did we tempt you enough to do your first race? Well, here’s three more reasons to try one! Even though these rainy, windy days are still hitting us hard in NYC, and it might be difficult to see when summer will really show its face, once summer is in full swing, you’ll have to start preparing for fall’s hottest events! Warm weather and sunny days means more time and reason to get outdoors. So sign up for one of these popular races and find a training plan HERE —then the fun begins.

If you love a nice feel good moment…TRY

Hershey Half-Marathon—Registration opens on May 1 and the race will be held on Sunday, October 16, 2011 in Central Pennsylannia. Presented by Capital BlueCross, this 13.1 miler is held in a town dubbed “The Sweetest Place On Earth” and all proceeds from the race benefit Children’s Miracle Network, so what’s sweeter than that? Run with your daughter because this race is open to anyone 14 years and older and can be ran as a two-person relay as well.

Me after finishing the 2010 Nike Women's Half Marathon!

Me after finishing the 2010 Nike Women's Half Marathon!

If you think girls rule…TRY

Nike’s Women’s Marathon (& Half)—Registration opens on April 11 and a random drawing will hopefully select you to run on race day on Sunday, October 16, 2011 in San Francisco, California. But this one’s worth the anticipation (I ran this last year!)—although the San Francisco hills can seem daunting, nothing is more beautiful than running along the gorgeous coast and passing the Golden Gate Bridge. Word on the street is finishers receive a special gift from Tiffany’s! This is the ultimate girls weekend getaway, so grab your friends and start preparing now.

If you like getting dirty…TRY

My best friend Emily & I after finishing The North Face Endurance Challenge!

My best friend Emily & I after finishing The North Face Endurance Challenge! She came in 2nd!

The North Face Endurance Challenge–Registration is open now for this multi-day event taking place at numerous locations all around the country, making stops in: Madison, Wisconsin on September 17-18, Atlanta, Georgia on October 15-16 (hopefully I’ll be there for this one!), and ending with its Championship run in San Francisco, California on December 3-4. Race distances vary from 50 mile, Marathon, Marathon Relay to Half-Marathon, 10K, and 5K. If you like getting dirty and hitting the trails, this is certainly a challenge to add to your bucket list. I ran the 5K in last year’s Championship weekend and it was the most fun I had running since my days on the cross-country team in high school. Plus, this race is one for any level runner so there’s something for everyone (and the ultra distances garner some fun famous faces to watch!).

What other races would you recommend I try next? Let me know!

MORE/FITNESS Half-Marathon—a HUGE success!

Written on April 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm , by

Yesterday was FITNESS magazine’s 3rd annual MORE/FITNESS Half-Marathon—and the weather was in our favor indeed! Unlike past years, the temperature was just right and it was a sunny, beautiful day in Central Park. I learned that this particular race is the largest women’s only half-marathon in the country—way to go ladies! And it’s no wonder why: I haven’t seen race-day energy like this at any other race I’ve been involved with. There’s something really special about a women’s only race (sorry dudes) because the ladies really know how to make things fun. From tutus and hot pink knee socks to running with your mom, women make breaking a sweat a party you don’t want to miss. The racers were pumped up from start to finish and just being there, even as a spectator, made you feel like a better person. Since I was “working” on something special for the magazine, I wasn’t able to run the race, but I enjoyed keeping track of a few very special ladies who I’ve been working with for the past three months.

The line of runners stretches on and on...

The line of runners stretches on and on...

I also bumped into Tara Costa from season seven of The Biggest Loser. She ran the race with her best friend who is a newbie to the running thing. And, Tara looked great—still in prime form since leaving the show. Way to go Tara! Also at the race, was Healthy Tipping Point blogger Caitlin Boyle (also of Operation Beautiful). She was with other blogger friends, Jenn of Fit Bottomed Girls and Gabriela of Une Vie Saine, but they were walking the race due to injuries. I think that’s pretty awesome though—who says you have to just run a half-marathon? Walking is just as good, and with over 10,000 other participants the energy of the race makes it super fun! Thinking about walking your first half marathon? Check our Caitlin’s advice HERE and then try FITNESS’ walking plan to get started on your own walking goals.

Tara Costa from Biggest Loser & me at the finish line!

Tara Costa from Biggest Loser & me at the finish line!

For the past 10 weeks, our Half-Marathon Diaries blog has been following two runners, FITNESS’ fashion assistant Marla as she trains and runs her first half-marathon, and sales account director Susan who was running her third half-marathon but this time raising money for her favorite charity, Team Hole In The Wall Gang. They had different experiences but both stories are so inspiring. Is a half-marathon on your bucket list? If so, read about Marla and Susan’s 10 week training and start planning your first race too. Looking for even MORE inspiration? Check out my list of favorite running blogs!


Healthy Tipping Point: www.healthytippingpoint.com

Fit Bottomed Girls: www.fitbottomedgirls.com

Une Vie Saine: www.une-vie-saine.com

Half-Marathon Diaries: www.fitnessmagazine.com/blogs/halfmarathondiaries

Hungry Runner Girl: www.hungryrunnergirl.com

Sweat Once A Day: www.sweatonceaday.blogspot.com

Peanut Butter Runner: www.peanutbutterrunner.com

So, are you convinced yet that racing is totally awesome and just so much fun (not to mention SO good for your body and your mind too—oh and totally addicting!)? You’ll feel better once you take that first step, trust me. Okay so here’s all you need to start hitting the pavement today. If you can’t make it outdoors for a jog, try the treadmill. Just hop on one tonight and run for 15-20 minutes. Then everyday tack on a few minutes or another mile. It’s really that easy. The hardest part is starting—and since you only start something once, that can’t be so bad, now can it? If you need a nudge try following us on Twitter to stay motivated too!

If you need help or have a particular question about getting started on a walk or run plan, leave us your comments and I’ll definitely get back to you!

How I Got Back into Fitness (and How You Can, Too!)

Written on January 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm , by

Jenna celebrates her awesome finish at this year's Nautica Triathlon.

Jenna celebrates her awesome finish at the 2011 NYC Nautica Triathlon.

A few years ago, I had my very own “I did it!” moment. I had just moved into the city straight out of college and got wrapped up with all the amazing things there are to do and see in the Big Apple, all while completely putting my health on the backburner. As a kid, I played every sport—lacrosse, volleyball, and running cross-country—but really fell in love with martial arts. Ten years into training, I regretfully decided to call it quits and focus on my schooling. (Getting your black belt takes a lot of dedication!)

In college, I got back into exercising and learning my way around the gym, but only started taking fitness seriously when I hit that slump after moving out on my own. When I say I put my health on the backburner, I promise you I was doing everything wrong—I was getting no sleep, had little energy, and wasn’t caring about what I was eating. I missed the once fit girl that I knew I was. So I woke up one morning, went online, and signed up for my very first Olympic-distance triathlon (if I’m going to do something, I’m doing it big!). Less than a year later I completed that race—and then two more and three half-marathons. I’ve got my sights on the NYC ING Marathon at the end of the year and my soon-to-be hubby and I plan on climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro for our first anniversary in 2012.

Are you ready to commit to your own fitness adventure? Today marks day one of our half-marathon training program! Follow along with our two running bloggers, Marla and Susan, as they test out our FITNESS plan—join them by downloading your own schedule and hitting the road today. Good luck and stay warm out there!