My New York Tribe

My New York Tribe

The New York running community is like nothing I could have possibly imagined. It’s a group of exceedingly diverse, multi-leveled, pretty freaking weird souls all out on the pavement just trying to survive. The very concept of the “everyday athlete” – a term I’ve often used to describe the basis on which the Happy Runner Diaries was created – seems to have been born in New York. Here there are elites, there are beginners, there are mothers, charity runners, and multi-sport athletes all sharing the course with nothing but love for each other. There’s no room for entitlement, because in true New York fashion, no matter how you’re acting, we honestly don’t give a sh*t.

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LG Got her Grove Back

LG Got her Grove Back

I’ve lived and have been running in NYC for about 7 years now. For 6 of those years I never ran the NYC Half Marathon. But this year the lottery gods were on my side, and I finally received an entry through NYRR.  I’ve always heard how fun of a race it is, and what a great course it is, so I was pumped to be part of it this year.

With the marathon about 2 months behind me and being right in the middle of the long, cold winter months, I had been feeling less than motivated to run and was getting antsy to train for something, anything.  So this was perfect timing. I picked out a training plan I found online, and put everything in my calendar. Long runs on the weekends, some hill work, plans to go to the track, added in some cross training and yoga days. I was ready to go!

Week 1 came and went and - running wise - was kind of .. no it WAS.. a fail.  It’s okay, I told myself, next week you will get to it.  Well, week 2 came and went and same thing. Aaaaand week 3 was a repeat of weeks 1 and 2.

I don’t know what it was, but running felt SO. FREAKIN. HARD.  My weekend long runs were mostly awful feeling and there were several times I thought to myself “How on earth did I run 26.2 miles only 2 months ago?!”. Any weekday hill or speed work plans I had were thrown out the window. Those runs just became about getting in a few miles.

With March 19th quickly approaching, I was feeling like I had lost my running mojo and was not looking forward to the race at all anymore.  Even the day before and the morning of, the pre-race excitement adrenaline was not kicking in.  I just wanted to get it over with.

Well, for how crabby pants I was about the whole thing, to my utter shock, I had SO MUCH FUN and totally crushed the course feeling strong AF.  There was no PR, but it was the second best half marathon I’ve ever run. The second I crossed that finish line, before even looking at my watch to see my time, I thought to myself: “Oh yea! Stella’s got her groove back!”

So this all obviously has me thinking, what gives?! How did I go from being miserable about even running the NYC Half to having one of my best races in a loooooooong time?

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New York City Half Hacks

New York City Half Hacks

Much to my disappointment, I've never really been the kind of person that can leave it all on the road race morning, pulling out my best performance on the course despite whatever's been going on at practice. Slight amounts of jealousy aside, what's left is nothing less than admiration for these types of racers. I'm, instead, the type of runner that puts my body through hell at practice, somehow still letting nerves/fear/bad luck get the best of me race morning.

I do have those miraculous kinds of days. But it's always on a random Thursday night when I'm extra amped up from work and need to shed negativity straight out of my sneakers. Alternatively, I'll knock out a PR when I'm pretend-racing my teammates on a long run, resting on my ego that in that moment I know I can push a little harder than everyone else at that specific moment in time. Mmkay, great. This doesn't serve me any glory on a course...so what gives?

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10 Tricks to Stay Cool under Pressure

This is the manual. Life gets busy, and it’s a consistent balance, maybe even a juggle, to keep everything up. So sometimes don’t keep it up, let it come down. Go to bed early. Cancel your plans. Close your computer. Go to yoga. Drink tea in your underwear. Do the things that you need to do in the mini moments where you catch your breath so that when you come back, your game face is stronger than ever.

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How to get motivated for Winter Running

How to get motivated for Winter Running

Well, runner’s, it’s that time of year again. Winter is upon us. The temps have dropped, the wind is blustery. We have the occasional snowfall, and it gets dark at a ridiculously early hour.  Our natural instinct to put on our comfiest jammies and snuggle up inside our warm apartment is kicking into high gear (ya feel me?).

It’s that time of year when going out for a run isn’t as easy as it was in the warmer spring and summer months. Winter running takes a lot more planning. Routes need to be carefully mapped out in well lit areas; layering becomes an artful of the most essential kind - not enough layers and you struggle to even get warm, but too many layers and you build up too much body heat and your sweat doesn’t evaporate.  

And, if you’ve spent the a good portion of the past 6 months or so training for a big goal race, your schedule is a little more loosey goosey with no real obligation to weekday training runs and early weekend morning long runs. Aka, you don’t really HAVE to go for that run.

Bottom line - more planning and less structure can leave you feeling a lot less motivated to lace up your sneakers and get out for a run this time of year.  

I admit though that I’m one of those weirdos where this time of year is actually my favorite time of year for running. There are few things that I enjoy more than the cold, crisp winter air filling my lungs, the occasional sound of the snow crunching under my feet with each stride (but if it’s shiny, watch your hiney!), and the feeling of bad-assery I get when I am finally forced to take off my top long sleeve layer revealing a short sleeve layer because I’ve finally built up enough body heat to be hot in 30/40 degree weather.

So how do I stay motivated in the winter months, even when I don’t HAVE to be running? I use 5 essential winter running steps.

 

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The Pursuit of the Personal Best

The Pursuit of the Personal Best

I grew up a high strung kid. Most people would likely still say I'm a high strung adult, slightly too anxious, and always reaching for the unattainable. In many ways, I'd say they are right, or more certainly that they were right. Today, more than ever, we are surrounded by ideals of perfection. We see them on facebook, instagram, snapchat, and blogs. We are bombarded with the images and videos captured on only someone's very best day... marked in the illusion that life can be like this all the time. I'm personally extremely guilty of using social media to portray my "best self" through the portal of imaginary reality that I'm living my best life. Then, as I'm sure we all-too-intimately relate, on the inside we're faced with questions like is this enough? Am I enough? What am I missing out on? 

This wasn't a new phenomenon for me. I think I experienced the term "FOMO" far earlier than the concept existed in any type of abbreviated form. I always felt an urge to be at the center of the action. I always longed for the moments that were just distant enough in the future to still be dripping in imagination. At any instance I was doing one thing, a part of me felt so strongly I wanted to be doing something else. This bred a nervousness in me. It created a concept that whatever I was doing wasn't as good as I what I could be doing. It cultivated the concept that if I just worked a little harder, expelled a little more energy, ate a little less, trained a little longer... you could imagine this is a slippery slope. 

In college it spiraled so far out of control that I lost sight of what I wanted in the long term to focus on the "image" of what I thought I could portray of a life I wasn't even leading. The concept of sharing experiences with others forced me away from experiencing them myself. Immediately following that, I realized that the sharing wasn't the issue, but the perception of being and thriving didn't stand a chance when measured against an external scale. 

The concept of the happy runner was born on the backbone of this timid realization.  The happy runner is not distracted by comparisons, put-downs, or the concept that every race needs to be competitive with the elites. As a runner, the concept of "personal best" is not only key, but critical. While the goal of being elite is both attainable and important to keep in one's mind, it shouldn't and - if we are lucky - isn't the climax of the sport. Bearing ability, opportunity, and injury in mind, we - the happy runners - move along the trails and pavement in pursuit of much more personal and internal goals. 

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Marathon Season is here.. What to get your Favorite Runner

Marathon season is upon us, and with the NYC Marathon less than 1 week away, you may be wondering, "what should I get my favorite runner on her special day?" Below is a list of some starter ideas to get your basket going. Top with a heartfelt note and card and you'll be sure to have your pal in tears, aided by both your thoughtful gesture and the emotional output of the final days in taper.

Here's a few links for the items above:

GuHoney Stinger | Clif

Body Glide

A Proper Send-off for Summer ‘16

A Proper Send-off for Summer ‘16

It’s the week back after the long Labor Day weekend, and the first unofficial start to the fall season. According to mainstream media, summer is over, white attire is retired, and autumn crisp is right around the corner. This has been a roller coaster year in life and running. It has been a year of re-assessment, of running for the sake of run love, having bad runs – bad days at work, bad commutes, and bad hair days – and being ok with it. This year was the concession to the reality of the quarter-life crisis. But most importantly the rising from the doubt, the dating myself, and slowly re-positioning the frame to smirk at my own imperfections with the love I can only imagine comes from the slight bit of pride that builds from knowing you created the best version of yourself.

This weekend was a capstone of sorts on the progress of that journey. There was no grand race, award, project, or accomplishment. Like the rest of summer’16, the weekend was different – but also better – than expected. Eight ladies set off early Friday morning for our camping adventure in Minnewaska State Park, just outside of New Paltz, NY. The objective of the weekend being a starter weekend for bonding, an exceptional weekend for bonding, and a much needed break from city noise and Saturday long runs. 

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How Running Helped My Yoga Practice

How Running Helped My Yoga Practice

As runners, we are creatures of movement; drawn by the pulse and rhythm we get from the road. Often, we become dependent on the movement to maintain our state of equilibrium. Science will tell us this is the result of endorphins – tiny elemental chemicals which flow through our veins after a tough workout bringing messages to the brain of elation and excitement. We, as runners, concede it is not just endorphins but freedom, competition, habit, and community which bring us to the road.

I know – for me – after a tough week, an argument, or simply the drain which is the corporate America lifestyle of being chained to a desk, I want nothing more than to counter the stagnation with heart pumping thrill. So, you ask, where does the yoga come in? For me, it was the replacement – or the augment – to a former life of dance. After beginning full-time work, I noticed a slip in posture, a lack of stretch, and a terrifyingly cluttered brain that wouldn’t slow at night, wouldn’t calm in silence. Two years into work I became a frequent sufferer of panic attacks. They came on with suffocating intensity, racing heart, tingling fingers and the fog of the thickest storm cloud clouding out any clarity to my motion.

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The Happy Runner Survival Guide

The Happy Runner Survival Guide

Ever have a moment where you step away from social media in one last futile attempt to silence your mind and create a gap in active screen time? Whether yes or no, the feeling for me has created this month lag in Happy Runner posts while I tried to get a grip on my utter frustration around the expectation to never "turn off." Of course my intention was never to leave the happy runners behind. It's here I feel my most creative and most complete self. It's in this venue with the Happy Runner manifesto that is keeping me sane.

Instead, this break is a cry to my inner peace to show itself in the form of active recovery in a toxic work environment. My goal in my happy runner heart mission was to take all that I've leaned in my own yogi-runner journey and not only create a discourse of how I apply it in my own life, but also share it with a community of like-minded souls like you. In this past month I've been called to act on my own cry of action...to meditate in brief moments on the train and during elevator rides, use 20 spare moments in the early morning for quick at-home yoga or a morning run, cook on Sundays to try to bring healthy meals during the week.

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6 Tips for Morning Gymming

6 Tips for Morning Gymming

We want it all because we deserve it all. We’re the ladies that are going to change the world. We’re smart, independent, determined, but while we’re out there chasing our dreams we can’t lose sight of the fact that healthy bodies harbor healthy minds. Aside from our other long list of amazing accomplishments, we are athletes and we need to be.

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Run Love: Why I will forever cherish charity runners

Run Love: Why I will forever cherish charity runners

In the deepest corner of this loving community live the charity runners. Theirs is soul sweat - a community connected beyond the notion of the runner movement. They are healing and moving together for their cause. I myself have been a charity runner for the past three years, and as it’s nurtured and inspired my own personal runner journey, I was curious to dive deeper into the charity runner mindset, and discover what exactly keeps all of us so tight-knit despite the diverse and ever-growing demographic.

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