Find Your Secret Garden…And Your Inner Ugly

I expected that after my oh-so inspiring post on Wednesday about “running for me” and all that fun stuff that I’d be equally as eager to run that morning. Wrong.

On Wednesday morning, I so badly wanted to stay in bed. I think it has something to do with sleeping with the air conditioner on now that it’s too warm to keep the windows open. By the time my alarm went off, all I wanted was to stay under the warm, plush covers, but then reality set in. If I didn’t run, I knew I’d regret it for the rest of the day. So I did.

I was in dire need of something different to get me through Wednesday’s workout, and while there’s nothing I love more than Central Park before the cabs and cars are allowed in, I knew I needed a change. Instead, I chose to take my First Avenue route for a total of 3 short-but-sweet miles, with the inclusion of 20 minutes of river-side plyometrics and cross-training exercises.

On mornings when you can hardly muster the idea of lacing up your running sneakers, let alone forcing yourself out the door, it’s important to pick a destination – otherwise, it can be far too easy to give up before you’ve reached your halfway point. (At least, that’s the weird way I view those kinds of runs.)

For me, my happy place – my secret garden of sorts – is a little outlet off of 59th Street and Sutton Place…

…where I can surround myself with the city to my west, luxury apartments I’ll never live in to my north and south, and delicious East River views to my, well, east. Best of all, it’s a mere 1.5 miles from my apartment, and so, while the hills can prove to be challenging, it’s nothing I can’t work my way through.

Once on the water, I committed to a solid 20 minutes of body strengthening exercises. On the menu: lots of stretching, 40 lunges, 24 squats, leg lifts (which are surprisingly fun to do when you’re outdoors on the water, leaning against a “barre” of sorts)…

…32 push-ups, 30 tricep dips, 1 plank (confession: it didn’t last very long), and 100 sit-ups.

But who’s counting.

Unfortunately, although my run to the little outlet on the water was strong and determined, my run back was a lot weaker and tired, which I guess a bunch of squats and lunges can do to you.

When, later in the day as I sat in my desk chair, a friend of mine sent me this text message (courtesy of Men’s Fitness), I felt proud of what I had accomplished earlier in the day. Sure, I had somewhat “forced” myself out of bed and out the door; but it wasn’t to feel better about my reflection. Going back to yesterday’s mantra, I was doing it – working out, working hard – for myself.

“I don’t work hard because I hate my body. I work out because I love it.” Thanks, Elyssa, my fellow muscle mamma, for these inspiring words to keep in the back of my mind.

Speaking of encouragement, sometimes, the best form of it is to embrace running and working out in general in all its shapes and forms — the good, the bad, and especially, the ugly. Even the seriously ugly.

A long time in the making, fellow running champ and amazing jewelry designer Erica Sara and I recently teamed up in an effort to embrace our outer ugly — on the race course, that is. If you have a moment or three, check out our newly launched site dedicated to accepting – while lightly poking fun at – some of our less beauteous racing moments. It’s called Seriously Ugly Race Pics, so be sure to send in your most horrendous race photos too!

To submit your ugly race pic, send a jpg attachment to and include the following information:

  1. Your first name
  2. Name of race pictured
  3. Date of race pictured
  4. Your blog (optional, if you’d like us to link to it)

And don’t forget to spread the word!

  • Do you have a favorite place – a  secret “me” spot – you run to on your toughest, tiredest days?
  • Are your race photos glam or gahhh?

Will Run For Wednesdays: I Run For Me

Let me preface this post with this: If you’re participating in the Runner’s World Running Streak this summer, I think you’re amazing.

On with it.

I recently came across this Runner’s World campaign called “run streak,” which encourages participants to run at least a mile every day from now (well, since Memorial Day Monday) until July 4th. “We’re going streaking!” has graced every corner of the Twittersphere in the preceding weeks, which of course brings back visions of Will Ferrell drunk off his ass, inviting everyone to the quad including those with green hats.

For some, I think the idea of a run streak is great. It’s a phenomenal way to motivate a group of people who might find the warmer summer temperatures to be a deterrent to their daily fitness habits.

For me, however, a run streak simply goes against this idea I’ve been toying with lately – a philosophy that’s slowly begun to underscore many of the points I make daily here on my blog.

Over the last few weeks – months, perhaps – I’ve been trying really hard to be grateful for every moment I get out there and to ultimately run “for me.” Selfish? I’m not really sure. Maybe a little, especially when the running community is so small and close. And yet I can’t shake this important concept that, if I run for someone else – for the sake of someone else’s challenge – I’ll lose sight of how far I’ve come.

I thought about participating in the 38 day run streak, I did. But then Monday came around and, after lots and lots of exercise and running and strength training, all I really wanted to do was nap and take a nice, long walk around the city. I certainly know that there is nothing wrong with that; it’s not like I was craving a Big Mac and fries followed by a McFlurry and a Carvel Cake. (Okay, maybe I was craving the Carvel Cake, but I settled for Ralph’s mint chip ices instead.)

What I do worry about is that, for those who really need to rest their bodies for one reason or another – physical or mental – could the shackles of a run streak be a little too confining? “I have to run a mile” can go one of two ways: either inspiring and a way to feel great everyday or daunting at this demand to be active.

There’s a point to what I’m saying, really there is. All I hope is that those who have chosen to run for a month or more straight do so for themselves—not for your Tweeps, for your fellow runners, or for the editors at Runner’s World. Look deep within yourself and decide whether streaking your way through June is what will truly make you physically and emotionally fit and happy, or whether you might find yourself living healthfully by engaging in some other form of physical regimen, nutritional guidance, etc.

After taking Monday off, Tuesday’s was a welcomed run indeed. It was pore-cleansing hot (76 degrees by 7:45am!). It was humid and sticky. But Central Park was uncrowded, sunny, and beautiful, and I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I’d have rather been during those first few hours of the day.

Most importantly of all, never once did I feel guilty on Tuesday for taking Monday off. It’s taken me a long time to learn how to do this – and to accept it – but thanks to personal growth along with reading other supportive and positive blogs and comments, I’ve come to accept that it’s the off days that make you stronger. (That and speed work, but I’m not there yet.)

At the end of the day, there are tons of ways to be fit and happy, and as I sat there contemplating Runner’s World’s ultimate dare before the weekend, I decided that I truly enjoy running most days of the week; sometimes, I’ll even run days upon days upon days in a row. A run streak, however, just isn’t for me. Not unless I declare it.

That’s not to say it’s not for you, and if it is, I wish you the very best of luck! 35 days to go!

For today, I run for me. That’s what makes me feel strong.

  • What do you run for?
  • Are you doing Runner’s World’s Run Streak, and are you 3:3 already?