This week, the spotlight is on the Best Inspirational Blogs!
- 27, New York City
This marathoner and fitness fan is gearing up to rock the New York City Marathon this year and is ready to take you along for the ride! Her site, Ali on the Run, inspires us to get moving as well. Ali’s energy and positivity is infectious, and her discussions about Crohn’s disease (an inflammatory bowel condition she was diagnosed with at age 7) are honest and educational.
My Motivation Secret “When I work out, I sweat. When I sweat, I feel happy. When was the last time you went to a great indoor cycling class and said, ‘Man, I wish I hadn’t done that?’ Right, never.”
Go-to Breakfast “One-Minute Quaker Oats are so easy to throw on the stove to prepare. I add cinnamon and a few—OK, a handful—of semi-sweet chocolate chips.”
My Home Gym Star “I can’t live without my beloved foam roller. I use it at least twice a day to ease my sore, bratty muscles.”
Written by Brittany Vickers, editorial intern
In just a couple short months, you’ll be watching the best of the best from across the world compete in London for gold. Among the contenders? America’s own Meb Keflezighi, a distance runner who took top honors at the trials in Houston with a marathon time of 2:09:08 (yes, that’s an amazing sub-5-minute mile pace for 26.2 miles!).
Besides being an all-star athlete, Keflezighi is passionate about helping others through the organization he founded, the MEB (Maintaining Excellent Balance) Foundation. His career has taught him the importance of chasing your passions. “You have to believe in yourself. That is number one!” Keflezighi told us. “Many people told me I couldn’t do this, but I knew that I could. So can you.”
We caught up with Keflezighi—thank goodness he didn’t have his racing shoes on—to gather his top three tips for runners training at any speed.
- Find your support system. “The people who are counting on me, supporting me and encouraging me give me great motivation! I’m representing them and I can’t let them down,” Keflezighi says. “Another great way to stay motivated is to find accountability. Meet someone to work out, and then you know you’ll be there. You would never not show up for a coffee meeting. It’s the same for an exercise meeting!”
- Give yourself a break. “It’s OK to mix up your training. Always cross train! It’s a great way to keep pushing your body and work different muscles, and it helps reduce injury. Also, you’ll have days where rest will do you good and may be the best thing for you. Take advantage of that free time, and if you’re feeling off remember: there will be brighter days,” Keflezighi recommends.
- Step two will never happen without step one. You’ve got to go for it! “Don’t be too intimidated to try. Running gives you this therapeutic energy. Just start with one mile and see how it goes, he says. “If you run one half-marathon, it’s such an accomplishment! I ran my first 10K in college and said never again. And then I ran my first marathon, and I also said never again, but look here I am. Once you get into a good habit you’re used to it and it’s easier to keep it up.”
Now tell us: What’s the best fitness advice you’ve ever received?
Five years ago, Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea immersed themselves in running while training for the Nike Women’s Marathon together. While they had support from one another, they realized that there weren’t many resources to help working moms balance race training with life.
“There is a huge community of women just like us: women who get up before the sun rises, lace up and head out,” McDowell says. “We wanted to write a book that spoke to those women—our tribe—that addressed the various reasons why we run.” And that is how Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving—and Not Lose Your Family, Job or Sanity was born. The pair’s new book, Train Like a Mother, hits stores today and “fills in the gaps.” You’ll find motivation tips, “motherly advice,” funny anecdotes and nine busy-woman-friendly training plans for races from 5Ks to marathons.
We laughed, nodded in agreement and dog-eared countless pages while reading Train Like a Mother, but nothing stood out quite like the running bucket list. It’s like a fitness game full of fun challenges that you can start today! Here are a few bucket list items from the authors to get you started—check out the book for more or brainstorm your own ideas that will inspire you to “run this mother!”
- Get a non-running friend to drink the Kool-Aid, then guide her through her first race. (Bonus points for letting her cross the finish line in front of you.)
- Plan a vacation around a race.
- Register for a race the day before, just because you feel like it.
- Wear a shirt with your name on the front in a race so spectators can cheer for you.
- Be on a relay team, either for a marathon, triathlon or longer 12-person relay race.
- Use the phrase “track workout” casually in conversation.
- Write down all the thoughts you have after a great run or race, then refer to them when your mojo goes MIA.
Now tell us: What is on your running or fitness bucket list?
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.
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.
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!
In grade school, Stuart Calderwood would run lap after lap around the recess yard while his classmates were playing a ball game. “I’m not sure where this feeling came from, but the sensation of running fast felt more important than being good at ball games, or even smart or strong,” Calderwood remembers. Now, as the senior editor of communications for the New York Road Runners, this 53-year-old hasn’t hung up his racing shoes. In fact, he’s run every single day for the past 25 years!
Since we can’t imagine a life without rest days, we had to ask Calderwood how he stays motivated and the most important question of all: why?
Did you start your run 25 years ago thinking this would be the beginning of a long streak?
Yes. When I was 28, I felt like my running career was coming to an end. I had run cross country and track in high school and won two division II national championships with my track team at the University of California, Irvine. I became a coach and was worried I might not improve my own skills. I noticed I was missing my runs and eliminated that excuse by deciding I’d never miss a day again.
How do you stay motivated to hit the road every day?
That’s exactly why I have a running streak—so I have a reason. Nothing is big enough now to make me break the streak!
What does a daily workout look like for you?
According to the United States Running Streak Association, you have to complete at least one mile non-stop to count as a day in your running streak. I always run at least 1 1/4 miles, to be on the safe side, and have run up to 31 miles in one day during the past 25 years. The average for my streak is 9.2 miles per day, and I do the elliptical and ride the bike to cross train.
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Thinking about signing up for the MORE/FITNESS Half-Marathon coming up in April? Steal tips from a recreational racer here. — Peanut Butter Fingers
- Nappers may be on to something…Here are five reasons why sleep should be a priority (even if you have a busy schedule). — Fit Sugar
- Instead of a fast or cleanse, try just one “detox lite” meal. — MizFit
- The keg stands may have stopped after college, but the excessive alcohol? Apparently not. One in six Americans binge drinks, on average, weekly. — The New York Times
- Here are how most Americans cope when they’re stressed about money, work and relationships. — American Psychological Association
More from FITNESS: Learn more about (and sign up for) our half-marathon!
Written by Theresa K. Brady, editorial intern
Starting to feel the “winter doldrums” setting in? Many days, it’s way too comfy to stay tucked under the covers to lace up your shoes exercise outside—or even to scurry from the car into the gym! So we asked avid runners and stars of the Discovery series Flying Wild Alaska, Ariel Tweto and her mom Ferno, how they stay motivated to run 365 days a year. They should know: Both women have run through snowstorms, crazy winds and other outrageous weather patterns in Alaska!
Read on for their tricks to keep energized and active no matter how low the temperature goes.
- Consistency is key. These two have been running, at least a little bit, every day for over 15 years! “For us, it’s something we have to do,”Ariel says. The women run anywhere from three to 15 miles no matter the weather. “Stormy days are the most fun,” Ferno adds. She and Ariel have run through snow, 40 mile per hour winds and have even been chased by moose!
- Dress for the weather. “We never leave without a face mask and gloves,” Ariel says, adding that layers are the best way to stay warm and insulated. They start with a basic T-shirt, then add a fleece and some kind of windbreaker. Ariel explains that “polyester fleece” material covering her mouth helps to make breathing easier. “Don’t use a cheap neckwarmer,” she says.
- Treat it as an adventure. “No way!” is what both women immediately said when asked if they would ever run on a treadmill. “Running is the best way to explore a city,” Ariel says. The pair runs throughout cities like Boston, Minneapolis and New York to familiarize themselves with their surroundings. And Ferno thinks that running in her home state of Alaska is a “magical thing.”
- Do it for yourself. “Everyone knows when I haven’t run,” Ferno says. According to Ariel, not running puts her mom in a bad mood. The minutes alone with her thoughts are crucial after she’s spent the day surrounded by others. “It’s her relaxation time,” says Ariel. Ariel can relate: “I’m the most boring person if I haven’t run.” Don’t love jogging as much as the Twetos? For a different activity that’s perfect this season, try cross-country skiing, the pair recommends. (Skiing bonus: A 140-pound woman burns 256 calories in just 30 minutes!)
More from FITNESS: Find answers to all of your burning cold-weather workout questions here.
Now tell us: What keeps you motivated to keep moving all winter long?
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Holidays stress making you angry? Try one (or a few) of these 30 simple ways to be happier. — iVillage
- It’s the perfect time of year to think about giving back. Get inspired to perform one of these six good deeds (which take about as long as two commercial breaks). — Divine Caroline
- Save some dough this season by making these gifts with items in your kitchen. — SparkPeople
- “What’s the problem officer?” Bad for your blood pressure, but better for your bank account: Drivers are being pulled over for good behavior. — Today Show
- How The Biggest Losers—and you—can keep the weight off for good. — L.A. Times
- Ouch! Follow these steps to make sure running doesn’t cramp your style. — Fit Bottomed Girls
If you reside in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago or San Francisco, you have access to some of the hottest and trendiest health clubs and group exercise classes right in your back yard. And even if you live in an urban part of Dallas, Seattle, Kansas City, Pittsburgh or any other large metropolitan area, you still have a lot of different workout options available. But what if running or walking outdoors is your favorite activity? Well, urban exercisers have to deal with the hustle and bustle of city life, which can put a damper on your exercise experience.
Urban living may give you the freedom to function without a car and easily walk to hip shopping, dining and entertainment destinations, but when you’re trying to actually fit in a workout, navigating the city safely and efficiently can be a bit of a challenge. After all, you’re up against pollution, traffic, possible crime, uneven sidewalks and other treacherous conditions, not to mention all the traffic and intersections that stop you multiple times mid-run.
Here are six ideas for where and when to navigate the urban landscape. Make sure to check out the complete article for bonus tips for when it comes to your safety and city life.
1. Park it. This is an obvious one, but it’s too important to ignore. City parks are made for running and walking!
2. Run in the place where you live. While parks are great for getting away, sometimes straying from the park can be a good thing when you need variety or a change of pace (pun intended). Jog or power walk through a residential area of town that has an interesting history or one that you find particularly charming or beautiful.
3. Play red light, green light. Next time you’re stuck at a stoplight, don’t just stop or jog in place, impatiently waiting for the light to turn green. Use the break to do some squats or use that street pole for a few one-armed push-ups or that city bench for an assisted plank.
4. Get on track. Running in a circle may not strike your fancy, but running and walking tracks can be great places for city dwellers to work out in peace. On the track, you can easily track your distance, avoid the traffic and distractions of street running and, if you’re lucky, you’ll have an easier-on-the-body rubberized surface for your workout.
5. Get active on your commute. Unless you work from home, you already have to commute to your job. So why not multitask with an active commute that doubles as a workout?
6. Hit the gym. You may love outdoor running and walking, but when the weather is bad or you work late hours, it’s hard to get out there and hit the pavement. A gym membership may be expensive, but it allows you to work out safely and comfortably.
More from SparkPeople:
I’m halfway through my first marathon training plan, and let’s just say I’m in love with the idea of crossing that coveted finish line (and super-psyched to be part of such a big “club” here in New York City), but how the heck am I really going to run for 26.2 miles?! These are the thoughts going through my head as I do my long runs on weekends, passing each mile marker and thinking about the many many more I have ahead. I should be thinking inspiring things to move me forward, like how this is a goal I always wanted to check off my list or that if those older than me and some physically disabled can do this, then why can’t I?
However, the unknown and nerves surrounding 26.2 miles is playing games with my head! They say the most challenging physical demands you ask your body to do for you—like marathons, triathlons and even Ironman races—are also challenges of the mind. The mental component to accomplishing a goal is the will or desire to want to achieve it. So like Nike says, “Just Do It.”
So that I will, but not before I try some of these 11 mental tips from New York Sports Club Master Trainer and Running Coach, Monica Vazquez. (She’s run over 25 races: five full marathons, a handful of 5ks and many many half-marathons! Check her out at fitnessbymonica.com.)
For the smartest tricks to make it through your next long run, Read more