Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wannabe Wednesday: Fast-Legs-Megs!

As you may have guessed from Monday's post, you witty thing, you, this week's Wannabe Wednesday is inspired by my friend Megs, a true athlete whose ultra-competitive racing spirit is masked in day to day life by her equally sweet personality.

Megs ran in both of the More/Fitness Half-Marathons that I did and proved a supportive cheerleader in the run-up (pun obviously intended) for both.  I vividly remember Megs inviting me to join her for a long run in the lead up to what would be my first ever half marathon.  Although elated by the invite, I told her that I was pretty sure we can't run together given my pace and she cheerily responded that it wouldn't be a problem and she was sure I'd be awesome.  Flash forward a few weeks to the finish line: Megs comes in 13th.  Out of 6,385 people.  I came in, roughly.....3,168th place.  The following year an extra 1,150 runners participated, causing Megs to drop 1 - you read that right - just 1 place to 14th.

Now do you get why I'm so in awe of her and legitimately was so nervous to jog with her on Sunday that I had to down a few gulps of Pepto to calm my jittery stomach?  Obviously you do.  People, the girl qualified for Boston [where she set her PR of 3:23:33!!!] in her first try - while still having time to attend college classes and do all of those other fun things college seniors do.  Can you blame me for sheepishly asking mid-run if she'd answer some questions for the blog?
Post 5 miler in CP on Sunday...maaaaaaybe not the best pic we've ever taken...
Without any further ado...below is some running wisdom from Megs, who I wanna be like:

·  What is your exercise routine, and how much of an emphasis do you place on cross training? During the course of my “normal running season” (i.e., not training for a marathon), my exercise routine is pretty consistent in that I run 5-6 days a week, and try to cross train 1 day a week. For me, I have found it to be extremely beneficial to run the same time every day, which is early in the mornings, so that my internal clock is always used to morning runs. Also, this has helped because most road races take place during early mornings, so my body is used to that. I find cross training on a weekly basis to be extremely beneficial, to allow for both a mental and physical break from running, as well as to help strengthen muscle groups that normally are not challenged during a run. My cross training activities of choice are biking and ellipticaling (is that even a verb?)
·  Have you always been a morning person? YES! I love the mornings. It sounds cheesy, but it is not in my DNA to sleep in. By that same token, I am not much of a night owl, as I am in bed most nights by 10:30 (that’s embarrassing to admit!)
·  Not to sound totally creepy, but I've noticed when we've done cross training spinning that you go  totally bad@ss and churn up the gears and get a kickin workout in.  You're not the poser chick who's bouncing along like the energizer bunny, but has no resistance.  How do you make sure to get in a tough, worthwhile work out without overdoing it so that you're too sore to get your runs in over the next few days? Not creepy at all! I have checked out your spinning form during class as well, and I must say it is quite impressive. No matter which workout I am tackling, I like to make sure that I am breaking an honest sweat and not cheating myself out of the opportunity to improve upon my fitness level. If I am going to have a tough spinning workout at night (similarly I  had a tough kickboxing class last night), I tone down my next morning run a bit, and cut back a couple of miles, so as not to burn out!
·  You seem to always be having fun partying, or excelling at school/work, or vacationing somewhere fabulous and yet you post race times that are up there with the professional runners.  How do you manage to do it all? It may sound counter-intuitive, but my runs actually help keep me sane and mentally balanced! No matter how crazy my day may be, or if I am on a business trip, I find it helps me stay balanced and clear-headed if I build in time for a morning workout, even if it does come at the sacrifice of some sleep. I usually find my runs give me a greater energy boost than an extra hour of sleep would. Of course, there are exceptions to this (mornings where I may be feeling sick), but my general rule is that running will help me stay in check, mentally and physically.
·  How do you ensure that you don't over do it and wind up injured? I make sure to take off one day a week, no matter what! Sometimes it is hard for me (yes, I know that sounds borderline insane), but I find that a day off does wonders mentally and physically. Also, I recommend a light stretching before a workout, followed by a longer stretching session after, once your muscles are warmed up, to help avoid injuries. I am also a fan of bags of frozen vegetables, as these make great ice packs for sore shins.
·  You mentioned on our run that consistency is crucial to your running.  Do you think a person can gain speed from consistency alone?  If not, what other types of workouts to you recommend and how often do you mix them in? I tell this to friends and family all of the time – I have built running into my daily routine. After I make my bed, I throw on my running shoes and am out the door. It has now become an act I perform on autopilot, rather than something I think about. I think that once you allow yourself the time/opportunity to think about it, that is where the danger lies in blowing off a morning workout. I do think consistency helps with building a strong base fitness level, but it is through varying speeds (for example, I sometimes try to push myself to run a little harder uphill), where I think that improvement comes.
·  Have you always been fast / good at distances (in case you didn't know, for a lot of us, running feels a lot like torture for a very long time)?  If not, can you pinpoint anything that was a turning point for you? I have been running seriously since my freshman year of high school, when I joined my team’s winter track team. I instantly took to running and enjoyed the training drills and runs from the moment I started… it has never really ever felt like torture for me. I started out decently fast at shorter distances, as I ran the 800m (half mile) races for my first couple of months. As my training became stronger and I became faster, I worked up to run the mile and then cross country distances (5k and 6ks) in high school and college.  
·  With all of the miles you put in, do you follow any special diet to keep your energy up? I am a big fan of carbo-loading! I eat some form of carbs with almost every meal, though I have been leaning towards whole wheat products in recent months. I also am an avid coffee drinker (two cups a day), which helps me keep my energy up. I do not put any sugar in my coffee though, just low fat milk, so that it is a pure caffeine boost!
·  Any favorite fuels, gear, or secrets we should know about? I love the Craft running shirts in the winter! Morning runs, while it is still dark, can be quite windy and cold in Central Park, but Kraft makes a good, dri fit base layer. My other secret, after a run on a hot summer day, is mixing up ground chia seeds (available at most health food stores), with water. Ground chia seeds are supposed to help you stay hydrated throughout the day, as they retain water. I have found this to work for me.
·  My near-term goals are to PR in the 5/19 Brooklyn half.  I'm also running a 10k and 15k in early April as part of my prep for it, and wouldn't mind posting good times on those, too.  Anything you think I should be making sure to include in my workouts before then that aren't already in my March goals?  It sounds like you are on the track for success! I think that running an organized 10k and 15k will definitely help get your body in gear for the half marathon. I like to do a couple of 12-13 mile runs before the half marathon (at a slower pace than race pace), just to get my body used to the distance.
·  Any embarrassing work out stories you care to share with us?  Hmmm…there have been a couple of winter-time runs in which I have completely bit it and wiped out…one of those times being in a muddy patch. People are usually very nice and act with concern, making sure that I am ok. Of course, I am mortified and bruised, but still try to run away as fast as I can so that no one sees me!
·  Any upcoming goals that we can cheer you on towards? The New York City Marathon in November! Looking forward to it…and I hear the lottery is still open, in case you are interested again J

Thanks to Megs for taking the time our to answer all my questions.  Do you have any questions you would like to ask Megs?

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