Short Run, Long Story

The grass is a little greener on the west side

I took on a new full-time job a few weeks ago, and it’s been a huge shock to my system. No more sleeping until 8:45am and commuting from the bedroom to my computer in the kitchen. And I’ve had to say so long to my 3:00pm “coffee runs,” which involved me doing a loop in the park, finishing at Starbucks, and then walking home to check email again by 4:15pm. Yep, I’ve got a full on, 9-to-6 office gig with a traditional subway start and finish to call my very own these days.

I’ve managed to keep my training on track (got to be ready for The North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain Half Marathon!), but all of my runs are starting to feel the same. My easy days and my hard days have all morphed into tempo runs—comfortably hard efforts that I rely on to help me deal with my new work-related stress. But while all that speed is great for unwinding my head, it’s made a tight, whiny mess out of my left calf.

Which brings me to yesterday, the final Saturday of March 2012. I thought a nice gentle run on the flat path along the west side of Manhattan would be just the thing to loosen up my leg muscles. It wasn’t. I spent more time pulling over to stretch than I did running, and after 35 minutes of stop-and-go effort I got frustrated and decided to pack it in.

I know that short, easy runs are good for your body from time to time. But part of me still thinks they’re pointless. In the back of my mind I’ve always thought that if I’m not running for at least an hour, I shouldn’t bother tying my shoes.

Still, yesterday did more good than I gave it credit for in the moment. All that stretching loosened up the knots in my calf and I was able to have a mental-stress-busting run today. I ran 7 pain-free miles at a comfortable pace, with a few surges tossed in for fun.

The moral of this long story: I need balance and I need to listen to my body (always tough for me). Sticking to a couple of hard runs per week and doing easy ones on the other days will continue to keep my mind and my muscles stress free.

Do you have trouble keeping an easy pace when you’re stressed, too? Do you wait for sore muscles to remind you to slow down?  

You Heard It Here First: I’ve Got Weak Arms!

Big thanks to Carly Abel of TLCommunications for snapping this photo!

Earlier this month I spent a morning at Peak Performance pushing sleds, tossing medicine balls, and hanging from TRX straps. And I learned something really interesting about my body: I have weak arms.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, since most (ahem, all) of my fitness endeavors focus on my lower half—running, the once-a-week spin session.  Even the SurfSET class I tossed into the mix for fun a week ago was predominately squats and lunges (on a wiggly surf board, so my abs were engaged, too—but, still).

I like running. And I want to be a better runner. Should I even bother beefing up my bird-like biceps and triceps? The not-so-shocking answer is: “Yes!” says Dan Trink—he’s the hunky personal trainer, strength coach, and nutritional consultant for Peak Performance pictured here. “It’s fantastic for you to be passionate about your sport,” he’s quick to add, “but logging all those miles can lead to muscle imbalances and injury.”

I finished off my last two runs with push-ups and tricep dips on a park bench. Not bad, but I can do better. Dan wants me to supplement my running routine with an upper body weight-training program that will ultimately make me faster when I sprint towards a finish line. “It will help create a better running posture and give you forward propulsion,” he says.

Adding arm moves into my already hectic work-run-date schedule is going to be tough. But it will be worth it come race day. (Which, by the way, is May 6 for The North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon at Bear Mountain. Can I get a whoop-whoop?)

What’s your weakest body part? And what are you doing to whip it into shape?