Training

Meet Olivia, Our Half-Marathon Beginner Runner (and Biggest Loser Season 11 Champ!)

I went from this (left) to that (right), and now I'm ready to tackle my first half-marathon! (Photos courtesy of NBC)

First, I have to tell you how EXCITED I am to be doing this project for FITNESS Magazine. That being said I will totally admit that I am scared to death of running a half-marathon. I’m sure that might be surprising to most since I survived eight months with Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels on Season 11 of The Biggest Loser, but I’ve never run a half-marathon! A 5K yes, marathon NO.

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to figure out what I’m so scared of. Is it the distance? Is it the fear of the unknown? Am I scared I will get injured? Um, the answer is YES, YES, and Y-E-S! One thing I learned through my journey on The Biggest Loser is that when you face your fears head on there will always be growth, and you will probably learn something in the process. It’s funny, alongside that fear is some real, true excitement (told you I was nuts!). It seems crazy that both of those emotions can coexist in my body, but they very much do. I know that I can do this, but in true “Olivia Style” I take comfort in a plan. I know Hannah is somewhere rolling her eyes at this very moment.

Click read more to find out how Olivia is getting ready to start her training plan!

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Gearing Up to Run

Marla will soon receive her hard-earned medal. (Photo by John Herr)

Marla will soon receive her hard-earned medal. (Photo by John Herr)

Two more days to go! Hope you are all ready for the big day. It’s crazy how fast time flies! Just 10 short weeks ago I was only running two to three miles and now I am gearing up to run 13. I am so proud of myself for getting this far. All that’s left to do is cross that finish line!

This past week’s training has been pretty low-key. I only ran and did some core work on Tuesday, and have decided to give myself the rest of the week off. I want to let me body repair itself so that I am in tip-top condition on Sunday morning! I have also been incorporating more carbs into my diet these past couple of days (loading up!) so that I can store some much needed energy. Instead of eating two servings of carbs a day like Stephanie Middleberg, my nutritionist, had me doing in the beginning of my training, I am now eating around three servings of carbs a day. Bring on the pasta baby! What are you planning on having for your pre-race dinner?

Before 8 a.m. on Sunday (race time), be sure to check out the expo, where you have to pick up your race number, as well as plenty of other fun goodies! I’ll be working in the Digital Lounge, where you can check out the new Fitness iPad app, tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Feel free to stop by! I would love to meet you.

Best of luck to all participating on Sunday!


Six Secrets to Race Day Success

Susan's making sure that she's hydrated before the half-marthon. (Photo by Jack Miskell)

Susan's making sure that she's well hydrated before the half-marthon. (Photo by Jack Miskell)

I’ve done just about everything I can to prepare my body and now it’s time to let the excitement set in. The next couple of days are all about relaxing and carb loading—my favorite parts!

Nutritionist Stephanie Middleburg and I discussed my past races and how to make this one the best yet. She shared some tips with me about what to do and eat during the few days before the race:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Try to get extra sleep
  • Stretch
  • Carb loading is great, but don’t go out of control or eat foods that could bother your stomach on race day
  • Fill your meals with nutrient dense foods and complex carbs (some good options include bananas, sweet potatoes, nuts, whole wheat pasta and quinoa)
  • Most importantly, if whatever you have been eating or drinking before your long runs has been working for you, don’t try something new on race day

Great advice, which I know I’m going to be following from now through Sunday! I’m sure all of the hard work those of you in training have put in will pay off, and I hope you enjoy the race. Talk to you Monday after the half-marathon!


Stretching Out the Last Week of Training

Time to stretch and prepare for the race. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

Time to stretch and prepare for the race. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

We are down to the final week! I can’t believe that the big day is almost here. The past 10 weeks have flown by a lot quicker than I had expected them to, but I am happy to say that I am ready to do this! There’s no turning back now. How are my fellow half-marathon trainers feeling?

After running 10 miles last Saturday, I could sense that my body needed a little break. I was tired and needed a few days to rest. To stay active though, I took a dance class on Monday night at JoAnn’s Dance Studio in South Plainfield, NJ (I danced there for 18 years!), and I made sure to pop in an abs DVD every morning before work, to strengthen my core. Later in the week I picked my running back up, but kept it in the five mile range. I dedicated Sunday for my last long run before race day, and ran 8 1/2 miles. I was hoping to get in 10 miles again, but the wind was pretty harsh, so instead of pushing myself to the point of possibly getting sick or hurt, I called it quits and am crossing my fingers for nice weather on Sunday! As we move into this last week, I plan on keeping my  runs light and quick, sticking to no more than four or five miles.

On a side note, in one of my first posts, I mentioned that I had gotten stretched by Nick Nicholaides, who is a Fascial Stretch Therapist. I went for a stretch session again on Saturday morning and could totally feel the difference. Prior to being stretched, my muscles were tight, especially on my right leg (I am a righty). My muscles felt longer, lighter and not as tight after the hour session. Fascial Stretch Therapy is such a great stretching technique for athletes, especially runners, and I strongly recommend looking into it for after race day! I know I’m definitely going to need it.

Have a great last week of training everyone! We’ve all come this far and are almost there. I’ll see you all at the starting line!


The Final Race Countdown

Ideal weather for a run on Sunday! (Image from weather.com)

Ideal weather for a run on Sunday! (Image from weather.com)

The big day is quickly approaching. Are you getting excited, nervous? Are you ready?

My adrenaline high after the NYC Half-Marathon gave me such an energized start to the week! I was sore, but did not feel any pain. I took fours days off from all exercise and focused on stretching and trying to rest. Then on Thursday, I ran five miles and felt tired and tight. So I listened to my body and decided not to push it over the weekend. I ran seven miles and felt OK. I didn’t want to overdo it and also wanted to conserve my energy for the upcoming race!

This week I plan on doing a few short runs, stretching and a working in a bit of cross-training. And I’m of course looking forward to the carb loading!

As I’ve mentioned before, in regards to weather, I’ve had back luck with the More/Fitness Half-Marathon! In 2009 it was a balmy 95 degrees, while 2010′s race was on the other end of the spectrum: it poured and was very chilly. I already checked out the weather forecast and am thrilled to see that “perfect running” weather is predicted. I’m not 100 percent confident (as we know, these things change a million times and frequently aren’t accurate). However, I’m trained and ready!  Rain or shine, I am committed and I am ready to rock this race.

I know that those of you who have been following along with the training program will too. You’ve trained hard, so enjoy every minute. You deserve it!


Conquering the Longest Training Runs

Marla's getting ready to toe the line on race day! (Photo by John Herr)

Marla's getting ready to toe the line on race day! (Photo by John Herr)

Only two weeks left to go! Hope everyone is getting excited. I know I am (and a little nervous too!).

Over the weekend I tackled my longest run yet, the big 10-miler. All week I had been psyching myself up for it, and on Saturday morning I set out for it feeling strong. I met with Stephanie Middleberg, my nutritionist here in NYC, on Friday afternoon, and we discussed how I should be eating on days that I run hard. Because I like to wakeup and do my runs in the morning, Stephanie recommended that I eat a banana and half of a Nature’s Valley granola bar an hour before running, to ensure high energy levels. I took her advice, waited an hour, and then hit the streets. With the sun shining, the fresh air, a brand new running outfit from the Helly Hansen team, and my iPod blasting my favorite tunes, I felt like I could take on the world!

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Songs to Power Through Training

Finding the right music will motivate nearly any runner! (Photo by Laura Doss)

Finding the right music will motivate nearly any runner! (Photo by Laura Doss)

I looked at the calendar this morning and had a minor panic attack. This race is creeping up on me sooner than I would like it to! In four short weeks I will be running my first half-marathon with thousands of other women. Ahh! Mentally, I feel like I need another month to prepare myself, but physically I think I will be able to do it. In the past month alone, I have noticed such a change in my stamina, my willpower to run and my physique. I am so happy to have gotten this far, and am even more excited to cross the finish line!

My iPod really helps me to push through long runs. I have a few playlists that I alternate between, but I have compiled a pretty good list of songs that pump me up and keep me going. I’m definitely going to have to add some more tunes to my iPod before race day, but here are some favorites that are currently on my playlist:

Misery Business,” Paramore (For the rebel in me.)
Who’s That Chick,” David Guetta, featuring Rihanna
Push Push,” Kat DeLuna, featuring Akon (Great for running up hills!)
Animal,” Neon Trees
Side by Side,” Blessed by a Broken Heart (Every girl has a little metal chick inside her, right?)
Better Than Revenge,” Taylor Swift
Blow,” Ke$ha (Such a great beat.)
Memories,” David Guetta, featuring Kid Cudi
Boom Boom Pow,” Black Eyed Peas (This song makes me feel like I am Superwoman and can do anything!)
Yeah 3x,” Chris Brown

What songs are you currently running to? I’d love to know so that I can add them to my race day playlist!

P.S.: As a follow-up to my last post I just want you all to know that I made that white bean hummus over the weekend and it’s AMAZING! Definitely a tasty and healthy snack to get you through the day.


Give It a Rest!

Feeling sick?

Susan realizes it's time to take a break and let her body heal. (Photo by Sara Forrest)

The week started off really well. Not only did I have great runs, but I also complemented my training with spinning and Physique 57 classes. I was feeling great, strong and confident.

Then I hit a road block…

While running on Friday, I felt lethargic and did not have a lot of energy. I went to sleep early on Friday evening in preparation for my Saturday early morning long run. Sadly, I was woken up in the middle of the night with a horrible stomach bug. I was really sick all day and night Saturday. I was praying that I would feel better on Sunday and hoped to do my long run then. However, I felt progressively worse and weaker, and realized that training was not an option. How could I possibly run 11 to 12 miles in the rain when I barely had enough energy to get myself from my bed to the kitchen? Even if I tried, I think I would’ve made myself sicker.

As we start the new week, I’m still sick, and it probably will still take a few more days to get better (I hope not more!). The rational side of me realizes that I need to be fully better before I run, or else I can end up hampering my recovery and feeling worse. However, the guilt and stress about not completing my long run is adding to my negative feelings and already know I won’t be able to run for the next few weekdays until I am better.

I was confident about everything, but now I feel like I am all thrown off. Here’s hoping this week will be better than the last! How do you get yourself “back on track” after taking time off to heal your body?

More from FITNESS: Feeling an illness coming on? Try one of these six foods that prevent sickness.


Warm Weather Training

Susan soaks up the sun (and gets her training done) in Florida.

Greetings from sunny Florida! It is warm here and I am loving it!

Instead of bundling up for my runs, I’ve been coating up with sunscreen and wearing sunglasses and a visor to protect me from the rays. It’s been hot during my runs, but I’m not complaining because this is a great change from the cold or the treadmill runs I’m used to runs up north. Plus, I finally got to wear my new Maui Jim wrap-around sunglasses, which provide extra sun protection around my eyes and are super lightweight.

To survive in the heat, I made sure to eat a little extra before my run (a full banana) and while running replenished my energy with Gu Vanilla Bean gel and hydrated with lots of water. It has been great to run along the beach and, best of all, to do my stretches at the beach or pool after my long runs. I better not get too used to this!

Last week I mentioned I needed some type of tracking device to help measure my distance. My colleague/friend suggested I download an iPhone app called iMapMyRun. It’s amazing and exactly what I was looking for. I simply push “start” and it uses the GPS on my phone to calculate the distance and time. It even has a voice function and heart rate monitor. It’s awesome because I didn’t have to buy another device or carry another thing while running—and it doesn’t hurt that it’s free! I highly recommend it.

If you’re running along with me, how’s your training going? Have you found ways to spice up your routine?