Category Archives: get fit challenge

Mourning the Losses: Boston and Big City Races of the Future

me runningHow could you?


How could you take something that shows the goodness of humanity, the spirit of cooperation, and the sublime energy and goodwill of thousands of people, and forever alter it. One of the only places left where everyone runs together—the elite and the regular people. Working people. The 4 am runners. Late night runners.  Those who push their babies in strollers. Runners of all shapes and sizes, colors and backgrounds. They run the same path. Or so they say in Boston—they run in the footsteps of giants.


How could you take this great equalizer, this mass of positive energy and effort, this collective moving forward to a goal, a goal that meant countless hours of commitment, energy, and time—and turn it into something horrific.


Running and marathoning is forever changed.  We are fundamentally changed.


You see I remember that exact spot. I remember walking through the streets, right after finishing that great race years ago, so tired I wanted to lie down on the pavement and it was nothing but the beauty and kindness of volunteers that shuttled me to water, food, a medal, my family. Walking so vulnerable, so weak, so open, so trusting.


How could this be exploited?


So many people use running to work through grief. To remember a loved one. To work through hardship, challenge, addictions, and find their way back to health. Running has saved me on many occasions, and I do not say that lightly. When my father died suddenly, it was one of the only things that tethered me to the earth. Where I could think freely—even yell, cry, and sprint—in anger. I needed that space. That time. That freedom.


For big city races, that freedom is gone.


You may say I am overreacting. But our kids will never know the freedom we had, and took for granted, in these events.  These often life affirming, moving events.


They will never know how running down Boylston street, lined 20 people deep, roaring with cheers for you, as a normal, regular, slow runner, feels.  Running among all these people without a trace of fear. Not one inkling. Because that’s how I felt.


When in front of my eyes, finishing the 2001 Boston marathon, a man fell, staggering in the last ¼ mile, fellow runners rushed in, and held him up and they crossed the line together. The tunnel roared, quaked with support, love, encouragement. I was moved. I was carried by this energy in the last ¼ mile, guided by their kindness.


Now that has all changed. We cannot assume goodwill, kindness, and encouragement will prevail. We cannot make any assumptions about our safety. Our big city finishes are forever changed.


I mourn the loss of this. Of the loss in our sport, the loss of our freedom, and the terrible injuries suffered by volunteers, supporters, friends and family members of marathon runners. Most of all, I mourn the lives of the 8 year old child, and the two young adults lost in such a senseless crime.


Other countries already know about this. We have finally, irrevocably, joined them.


There is no turning back.

Go Green, Get Fit Challenge: Lessons from the Trail


As part of the Go Green, Get Fit Challenge with the EcoMom Alliance, I’ve taken to the trail. I’ve been running on roads for years. The trail gives an added challenge, and a new direction in the sport I love so much. So far, I’ve hit the trails on several runs, and here is I have learned so far.


1.  You will not go as far as you are used to. It will take longer. Don’t be demoralized!

I usually run between 3-6 miles on the roads, and when I run for an hour, I expect to go 6-7 miles or more. Not trail running!  With the extreme hills, bumpy footing, and navigation, trail running is much slower. I have gone on runs for an hour with my Garmin watch totaling my miles, which came out at 4 miles total. This made my 12 mile trail race goal feel like more than a marathon. I’ll keep working on it, but for the time being I know that I will simply be a bit slower and not go as far as I expected on the trail. And that is okay. For a runner used to logging a certain number of miles, this is easier said than done.


2. You will fall!  

This has happened to me on several occasions. Usually its when I have spaced out, deep in thought, then before I know it, splat! Down in the mud. Talk about a physical reminder to be mindful and present! Trail running (like yoga) demands this. It takes mental training to pull your mind into focus on the trail in front of you, looking where you want to go (not where you don’t want to go). I am working on this.


3. You have to pay attention more.

 Many times when I am running I simply slog along, deep in thought, paying almost no attention to where I am going. Not with trail running!  You have to plan out your route, and follow it or you might end up in the middle of Timbuktu.  If you do an out and back, or wing it, you must pay attention to every trail, and every turn off so you keep track of where you are. I spent several minutes at signs recently, figuring out where I was and where I was headed. While this interrupts the run, it is time well spent if you want to make it home for dinner.


4.  You will be sore. 

A road runner is used to the even road surface. Trail running supplies none of this.  A constantly changing surface, trail running holds uneven terrain, from hard rock to sand, to deep mud. I was surprised that after a 4 mile run (which I do all the time) I was sore. The shorter steps, the quick moves, and the uneven terrain made my hamstrings and calves more sore than I expected.


5. Get some good trail shoes. 

I was lucky enough to receive a sweet new pair of Solomon XR Crossmax Guidance trail shoes from Planet Shoes for this challenge. They are so much better than my road shoes for trails.


I overpronate excessively and need stability running shoes most of the time. But these light and cushy rides are perfect for hitting the trail. They have a much lower profile which protects the ankles. The tread is aggressive and sticks to rocks, logs and other slippery surfaces. These trail shoes have a light, water resistant exterior, and laces you can pull tight and tuck in.  They have a bit higher sides to keep out rocks and dirt. This takes a bit to get used to but is very helpful. These shoes are super cushy compared to my firm stability trainers. I didn’t want to take them off!  I can see hiking in them too.


I have read these kinds of tips a thousand times but nothing drives home lessons like hard earned experience. Go out on the trails, and see if these tips help, and share your own here! I’d love to hear about your experience trail running.


image: seeannarun on Flickr under CC 

Go Green, Get Fit Challenge: 5 Ways to Stay Green, Fit and Healthy While Vacationing with Kids

We all know it is NOT easy to fit in fitness and exercise while full time parenting.  At least at home, we can schedule workout time based on work schedules, play dates, naps, bedtime and activities. But when vacationing, it can actually be even harder to fit in exercise.  With long drives, family activities, planning meals, and the challenge of getting kids settled into bed at a new place– those hours can fly by and then your workout plan has crashed.  Here are some tips I discovered on a recent road trip with my family while trying to keep up with my training and the Go Green, Get Fit Challenge.


1.  Be opportunistic.

Are the kids playing well in your vacation rental or hotel?  Seize the moment.  Do some yoga, even if you didn’t bring your mat.  Try a plank, and a side plank, a few sun salutations and poses.  It is better than nothing, and can loosen up muscles tightened during travel.  In addition, if you can practice outside (on a deck?) you will observe your surroundings in a different and meaningful way.


Or maybe the kids (and your spouse) are napping, happily watching a movie or playing a game. Now is your time.  Grab a short walk or run, or head to the hotel fitness club.  Even 20 minutes walking is an attitude changer and is good for you.


2.  Be flexible:  Cross Train.

If you are training for an event, you might not fit in your training for that sport.  For me, I am training for a couple of running races in the fall. I knew I wasn’t going to get my long run in, but on vacation I had to be flexible.


Take walks with your kids, rent bikes, go swimming, or on hikes as a family.  Hikes and walks are particularly good ways to enjoy your surroundings.  Getting away from the car provides perspective and shows kids how to enjoy physical activity.  These activities are wonderful examples for children about how to stay healthy and active, and provide exercise for everyone. As long as you are keeping active, cross train away!


3. Eat locally.

Find local, whole foods wherever  you go.  Is it blueberry season where you are visiting?  Visit a local farm stand or pick your own farm and taste the bounty of where you are.  Instead of expensive restaurant meals grab a baguette from a local bakery, some local cheese and produce, and have a picnic.  You’ll save money and eat lighter.  The kids will enjoy a special picnic meal too.


Savor treats as special.  Ice cream and summer go hand in hand.  On your trip, certainly consider sampling from local scoop shops. Make it a special treat and only go once or twice during your vacation.


4.  Take time for yourself. 

It is your vacation after all!  Make sure to have some stress free downtime and advocate for yourself so you get it.  This may be a run, a lingering trip to a local coffee shop, sleeping in, or a long walk.  Whatever your zen is, treat yourself to it during the trip because before your know it, the trip will be over and you will be wondering– what did I do for myself? So many times as moms we forget about ourselves.  Reclaim your passion and refuel by taking some time everyday for yourself.


5. Rethink Road Food. 

The fast food chain companies would have you think that eating at their restaurants are the only option while traveling. Not so!


Grab your eats from home and some containers, and head out.  For example, we brought our localvore CSA food with us on a recent trip.  The girls snacked on fresh plums, a baguette and cheese on a recent 10 hour drive.  You can also make sandwiches in no waste lunch containers to bring along. No waste, no junk food, no supporting questionable companies and factory farms.  Woot!


Be sure to bring your reusable utensils, cloth napkins, a reusable coffee mug, and water-bottles to use as well.


What are your tips for staying green, fit and healthy while on the road with kids?  I know you savvy readers have tips to share, so please, add your thoughts.  Please join us in the Go Green, Get Fit Challenge to, and get moving.


Happy road tripping!