Is There Such Thing As Too Much Running?

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Spring tends to naturally bring about a renewed sense of love for outdoor running. As winter thaws, so does that icy feeling of frustration that comes with working out on the streets during the coldest, darkest months of the year. As our mornings brighten, passion blossoms once again.

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(New York City tends to lack in spring colors — mainly green. Fortunately, there are plenty of pretty flowers planted throughout.)

As much as I enjoy it, and to this day have yet to purchase a gym membership, Central Park from December through February can feel tedious and cruel. March and April, to be perfectly frank, haven’t been much kinder to us either. And as my wedding approached in early April, I was very much itching for spring.

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Only in recent weeks have the mornings become tolerable — almost enjoyable, in fact. While I’m still in long pants (with a few runs in shorts peppered in here and there) and, most mornings, long sleeved shirts, the sunshine on my skin feels divine. The air may still be crisp, but my body is at least quick to heat up.

I know I’m not the only one who’s running fire has been fueled by the spring air.

Central Park, once quiet and bare on winter mornings, is now bursting with energy, the paths packed with runners and cyclists, walkers and dogs. Instead of leisurely paces and clear-cut routes, it’s the time of the season when, to run without stopping, one must zig-zag in and out of fellow pedestrians, making an effort not to swipe an arm against the flesh of another (lest you suffer the disgust of a stranger’s sweaty skin).

But that’s a whole lot of run love, amirite?

I never thought I’d say this, but after running for so many consecutive days now, I’m beginning to consider whether there’s a negative side to all this fervor.

I mean, it’s great that I can run every day and all, but if I run every day, that means there is less room in my life for alternative modes of exercise, like yoga and strength training and impromptu classes like Circuit of Change. This week, I practically had to force myself to swap my morning in Central Park for a “lunchbox flow” at Mang’Oh studio in Murray Hill. Even then, the class turned out to be crowded, all of us packed in (ironically, as with a lunchbox) like sardines.

I know I don’t need to say this, but not only are cross-, strength- and stretch-training GOOD for your body, but no matter how much we deny it, they’re also incredibly AWESOME for the run, making us stronger, fast, more resilient. They’re paramount to our performance as runners but also great for our general health and well-being.

So is it wrong to ignore these complementary modes of exercise to enjoy the spring air and run, run, run, run, run?

Hangover Helper: 10 Ways to Motivate After a Late Night Out

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Being the old married woman that I am (re: approaching 27 in a week), it’s not often that I’m out until the wee hours of the evening.

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Worse yet, I can’t handle the antics of a night on the town like I used to; god forbid I drink more than a beer, and I’m sure to feel it in my bloated fingers the following morning. Ick.

This weekend was a lot of fun. In true grandma form, my friend and I traded in our martinis for a mild-mannered night of mussels and ravioli marinara (with plenty of malbec, of course). Instead of heels, we wore sweatpants; rather than a quiet table in the corner, we settled for a cozy spot on the couch.

By the time dinner was over, we conceded and met a few friends at a bar — exactly 1.5 blocks from my apartment, nonetheless. Still, a bottle of wine and a PBR tall boy later, and I could feel it on Saturday morning. Did I really need that extra brew? Those extra frosting-filled snickerdoodles?

What to do?

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Get up! Get out! Run!

Since I discovered running in college, I’ve always turned to this very physical form of fitness to cure that sense of exhaustion and haze that almost inherently accompanies the very idea of drinks with friends. The run itself isn’t necessarily the problem either; at least for me, the hardest part is finding the motivation to get off the couch and out the door.

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For a bit of motivation, look no further than these 10 run-spiring ideas.

10. Drink a glass of ice cold LEMON WATER to hydrate and breathe life back into your body. I usually find that this helps to wake me up and feel refreshed.

9. Turn to SOCIAL MEDIA. I know this sounds kind of weird, but on days when I’m feeling lazy, I often turn to my Twitter feed. I follow a ton (mostly all) of fitness enthusiasts like myself, and reading about everyone else’s morning accomplishments can usually get me moving.

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(Here’s an example of my feed at any given moment.)

8. Give yourself some extra time to FALL BACK ASLEEP. Maybe you need it! Then, when you wake up, try again, this time with more energy.

7. EAT SOMETHING. Just not a massive plate of bacon, eggs and toast, which can make you even sleepier as your body goes to work digesting. Instead, try something small but uplifting, like a bowl of fresh fruit, some cereal or a smoothie. Then, when you’re done with your run, order those eggs and bacon.

6. Stop thinking, and GET DRESSED ALREADY. After a late night, I could sit on the couch in my pajamas for hours. Days even. Jump-start your morning by throwing on the workout gear right away. After all, the worst thing that happens is you laze around in leggings.

5. String together a PLAYLIST that’s appropriate for the circumstance. I like to start with some slower tunes and then ramp it up as the run goes on. After a few miles, I’m usually feeling a lot better and ready to get moving.

4. HYDRATE. This one seems obvious, but if you’ve had a bit more than usual to drink the night before, it’s incredibly important to hydrate. You might not feel it at the moment, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself parched or with a slight headache midway through the morning run. Sometimes, it turns into a migraine. To avoid this, drink up, stop at water fountains, and drink up some more right after. You might even consider carrying a water bottle with you.

3. Treat yourself to a freshly made GREEN JUICE. I haven’t always loved green juices, especially those that taste particularly, well, green. But once I learned how to order them, I was hooked. Make sure that there are sweet, spicy flavors mixed in so you’re not only getting a blast of nutrients but also a whole lotta yum. Lately, I’ve been loving the combination of kale, spinach, apples, lemon and ginger. Guy and Gallard makes a mean one for just $5.

2. Pick a pretty DESTINATION. Some mornings, running near the water can feel as refreshing as a glass of H2O. Find a river or a stream, or run to a park with a pond or fountain. Use your surroundings to ground your body and mind.

1. NO EXCUSES. It’s easy to give yourself a get out of run free card when you’re feeling less than 100%. Simply put, don’t. Save your “rest days” for those times your body truly needs a rest, not for mornings when you’re feeling sluggish due to a slice (or three) of late-night pizza. Do it, and I promise — you won’t regret it.

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How do you motivate yourself to get moving after a late night out — with possibly a few too many burgers and brews?

Fitness Loyalty: From Morning to Midday Runs

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If you work out in the morning, then you understand how important routine is to, simply put, getting it done. I mean, let’s be honest. An alarm clock blaring from across the room doesn’t exactly entice us to get out of bed at the crack of dawn, nor does a pitch black room or the warm blankets we know we’re bound to leave behind.

What does inspire us to open our eyes, ignore the “snooze” button and saunter into the bathroom? It’s the feeling we get from breaking a sweat before the sun has said hello. It’s our ability to start each new day with a bang. It’s the chance to greet the day with energy and positivity.

Few things can replace this sensation, and missing out on that irreplaceable sense of ahh (also known as sweet, sweet endorphins) can be as disastrous as forgetting to brush our teeth or put on pants. If given the choice, I might actually bid adieu to the latter before giving up my precious morning run.

But what happens when it’s not the run, but the routine that changes? How does that affect our morning workout — and the rest of the day at that?

A few weeks ago, I got married. Picture 1

(Back-up Toms. If you’re getting married, put these on your must-have list.)

Then, my now-husband and I searched for an apartment in Philadelphia and signed some lease papers with lots of legal talk on them. Now, I’m about six weeks out from the big NYC to Philly move, working from home, and by no means setting my alarm for the ripe hour of 6:30 AM — a time I’d truly come to love.

Take away my run, and my day will unquestionably be all out of wack. But take away my day, and heck, now my run is all screwy.

For the last week, the first thing I’ve wanted to do upon opening my eyes in the morning is run. Like a Pavlovian dog, it’s what I’ve trained myself to desire. Eyes open. Shorts on. Central Park bound. In a lot of ways, this routine is part of who I am.

For the last week though, I’ve been on no real schedule — at least, not one that requires an early alarm. Not only have I been waking up a full hour or two later, but by the time I get up and recognize that same craving for pavement, I’ve already convinced myself that hey, there’s no rush. Like any weekend morning, I can sit, have my Raisin Bran in peace, drink my coffee, watch the Today Show and shoot off some emails. Eventually, I can lace up and head out. Eventually.

On Wednesday, by the time I actually put on my Reeboks, it was 3:30 in the afternoon — an entire day had gone by before I was able to convince myself to run. Then, by the time I found myself on the East River path, I also found myself with a massive stomachache. Apparently, my body isn’t used to running midday. I was in pain the entire time.

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(Why so quiet? What, do people work or something?)

Today was slightly more productive. Today, I told myself it was time to get off the couch and out of pajamas by 11. Today was the day I wouldn’t sit with my feet up on the coffee table until 3 in the afternoon. Picture 3 I succeeded too, exploring Central Park around noon. All of the faces I saw were unfamiliar, and the traffic patterns I’d grown so accustomed to were totally different too. It was strange, and it still felt somehow off.

But it’s progress.

I suppose that, as with running before work, midday runs take some getting used to as well. Knowing me though, just as I’m getting used to this laid back routine, I’ll be thrust into a new life with a new job that requires a new alarm to be set. And when that happens, I’ll have to re-train myself to love the early run once again.

So, tell me. Are you loyal to your fitness routine, or do you change up the times at which you exercise during the day?