P.S. If This is Austin, I Still Love You

I just spent four days on vacation, and if you know anything about the health blogging community, tradition dictates I now post the obligatory “how to maintain fitness while on the road” update, a close relative of the Jan. 1 “back on track” update and a dead ringer of the upcoming “how to cut calories on Super Bowl Sunday” update. (Take cover.)

Any blogger worth her weight in three-ounce bottles of shampoo (including this one) could list for you a series of tips for keeping healthy while living out of a suitcase, from sticking to your daily workout routine to bringing your own breakfast to limiting your alcohol intake to a respectful two drinks a day. My travel companion in Austin was a Bay-Area-living, Trader-Joe’s-shopping, lunchtime-yoga-practicing, three-time marathoner, so I knew our long weekend in the Live Music Capital of the World would be one for the healthy-living record books.


And boy, was I right. So without further ado, I bring you Anne and Meredith’s top 6 tips for keeping your health on track while traveling:

  • Forgo fattening paper plates and eat your chili directly out of a full bag of Fritos instead. Saves calories and trees. Or maybe just trees.


  • Take the edge off your hunger with a light, pre-dinner snack, preferably in the form of free fried bacon strips.


  • Work up a sweat. While not moving a muscle in 103-degree water. Tub-side bottle of wine optional.


  • Use your time in an unfamiliar city to experiment with new sports. Most guests at our hotel opted to kayak or paddleboat in Lady Bird Lake. We opted to ride jackalopes instead.


  • Eat your vegetables. Drink your vegetables, too.


  • Seek out activities that, um, curb your appetite. (Too political for a running blog?)


Ok, so maybe I left Austin a little more, uh, well-rounded than I’d intended, but when you’re surrounded by good friends and good food and all the late-night food trucks a girl could ask for, sometimes healthy lifestyle choices go by the wayside. And as long as you don’t make it a full-time habit, I think that’s A-OK.

Because we had (warning: bad cannon joke ahead) a blast.


What’s your favorite way to let go while on the road? And can ya’ll help me brainstorm ideas for other things I can eat out of a fritos bag? 

Running Training

The Weather Outside is Frightful

The month was October. The year was 2012. It was 7 a.m., we were on a Metro North out of the city and I was voluntarily dressed as a cat. Pretty typical Saturday morning if you ask me.

My friend Ethan and I were making our way to Sleepy Hollow, New York, for a Halloween 10K and – like runners tend to do far too often for non-runners’ liking and far too infrequently for our own – we were talking about our sport.

I don’t purport to be a great athlete by any means, and most of my advice – like that Junior Mints are a totally appropriate pre-run breakfast food – should probably be taken with a grain of salt. But with Ethan still in his first few months as a runner (albeit a speedy one) and me just one week out from my inaugural marathon, his questions were a’flowing.

What’s your strategy for this morning’s race? What do I need to know about running in the winter? Does this pumpkin make me look fat?

The answers to question No. 1 and No. 3 were: ‘Start out alongside you but quickly fall behind because you can run a 6:06 mile, you jerk‘ and ‘Ahh! A talking pumpkin!’ respectively, but when it came to the winter running question, I unknowingly bought myself some time.

It’s 55 degrees out, I said. I’ll teach you the basics of winter running once it actually feels like winter.

Little did I know that day was still a full fiscal quarter away. November and December came and went without so much as a flurry gracing the streets of Manhattan (or Queens), and up until this past Monday, I ran most of my ‘winter’ miles in tshirts as the temperature hovered around this runner’s dream climate of 35 to 45 degrees. The polar bear enthusiast in me has a real problem with global warming, but the outdoor athlete in me thinks Al Gore never ran a mile in a half foot of snow.

But all that came to an end this past week when I woke up, threw on some spandex shorts and proceeded to be hit in the face with this:

So, Ethan, I may be three months late on this one – hope you haven’t frozen to death and/or been forced to grow a full beard in the interim – but here is my once-solicited advice for running when the mercury drops.

Don’t overdress your core. When the thermometer grazes sub-freezing digits, it’s tempting to layer up like a parfait. Layering is smart, yes, but don too much weight and you’ll seriously regret it two miles in. The rule of thumb is to look at the temperature and dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer. Thirty degrees sounds frigid when you’re checking from the comfort of your bed, and those agonizing five minutes spent waiting for your Garmin to get a satellite signal can be excruciating when you’re in just a long-sleeved tech shirt, but you’ll be thankful you dressed for 50 when you start heating up. Everyone’s tolerances for cold are different, but ignoring the possibility of windchill, I generally go by this:

70 and up: Shorts & tank top
50 to 70: Shorts & tshirt
40 to 50: Light leggings & tshirt
30 to 40: Light leggings & long-sleeved tshirt
15 to 30: Heavier leggings, long-sleeved tshirt & thin outer shell
0 to 15: Heavier leggings, long-sleeved tshirt & thick outer shell
Sub-0: Pajamas. In bed. With the Seamless app open on my phone.

Don’t underdress your extremities. Run in too light a jacket and you’ll be chilly the first few miles of your loop. Forget your gloves and you’ll want to kill a man. Invest in a good pair of wicking running gloves and a fleece hat and you won’t be tempted to pull a Ray Lewis on your morning warmup. (P.S. Go Ravens!)


Think through hydration. It’s easy to remember to drink when the August sun is scorching down your back, but good hydration habits often go by the wayside as the days get shorter. They shouldn’t. Central Park doesn’t make it easy, turning off all the drinking fountains until it thaws, but you can still stick your head under a public bathroom faucet (hello, hepatitis) or even better, bring your own. Or sign up for some winter races and let the volunteers hand you your fluids personally and hepatitis-free.

Choose your route carefully. In the summer months, I’d roll out of bed with 12 miles on the schedule and just see where the morning took me (spoiler alert: usually to H&H Midtown for a whole wheat everything with lox). In the winter, you have to be a bit smarter with your running route. Is the bridle path going to be well-lit enough at 6 a.m., or should I run on the less-muggable reservoir loop instead? Will a dirt path give me better traction on an icy day, or should I stick to the salted sidewalks? Is visibility so precarious that I should simply hit up the gym instead?

Speaking of visibility, did I tell you my niece got a haircut this week?


But back to my point. Runners tend to feel like failures if we’re not running ‘enough’ miles for our liking, but twist your ankle on a slippery morning and you’ll be off your feet faster than you can say ‘the treadmill would have been an OK option, too.’

When all else fails, get out of New York. Can’t handle the cold? Maybe plan a weekend in Austin with your Californian partner in crime or head to Mexico for an obscure industry conference or book two weeks in, say, India to tide you over until temperatures start climbing again in the continental U.S. At least, that’s what I’m doing. Because, let’s be honest, this scene that greeted me as I deplaned in Austin ten minutes ago doesn’t look so bad:


I realize Googling ‘running in the cold’ would have probably given you better information, but also probably fewer dog photos, so, Ethan, I’d say you’ve chosen wisely.

Hey runners: What winter tips would you add? And hey barbers: What do you think of her haircut? Runner barbers: you may answer both.


New Year’s Resolutions, or Not

A favorite tool of motivational phrase writers and the Denver Broncos alike, failure is purportedly a useful means to self improvement.

“The only real failure in life is the failure to try.”

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

“Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you’ll still be among the stars.”

Sounds nice, sure, but something tells me Neil Armstrong might not have been pleased as punch to make his giant leap for mankind among massive, luminous spheres of plasma held together by gravity. (Whatup, Wikipedia.)

I realize that in all likelihood, no one really likes failure, but I’d venture a guess that my aversion to it is far more severe than the average overachiever, which is why – here we are on Jan. 16 – and I’ve yet to declare my 2013 New Year’s resolutions.

I’m not sure I always took my resolutions so seriously, as evidenced by decades of unabated bad habits. But after setting challenging resolutions for myself these past two years and actually following through (2011: to lose 30 pounds and 2012: to run a marathon), the stakes suddenly seem noticeably higher. Fail at a New Year’s resolution in 2006 and drink away the shame from a red solo cup; fail at a New Year’s resolution in 2013 and shatter the opportunity to achieve the all illusive self-improvement hat trick.

There are hundreds of areas in my life that still need improvement, from my lack of cross training to my inability to squeeze toothpaste from the bottom of the tube, but I’m having a hard time coming up with a 2013 goal of the same caliber – and eventual achievability – as those laid out in the past two years. Should I vow to cook more meals at home? Strength train once a week? Go to yoga? Sleep eight hours a night? Tell more funny jokes like the one about me sleeping eight hours a night?

Maybe I should resolve to end the year uninjured, with a renewed (i.e. brand spanking new) emphasis on stretching, strength-training and recovery. Maybe I should resolve to make my own coffee instead of racking up a weekly $20 tab. Maybe I should take a page from my dog-niece’s book and resolve to take more risks.Image

Clearly, I’m open to suggestions. What do you think I should target in 2013?

Races Running

Let Me Count the Ways

I love number crunching nearly as much as I love number munching–and most other educational 1990s computer games, to be fair–so I’d like to take a brief reprieve from my typical verbosity and break down my last year in numerals instead.

  • 1,048: Miles I ran in 2012, or about the distance from my Manhattan apartment to St. Louis, Missouri. And here I was, thinking I’d make it all the way to Meredith. #HumbleBrag

12 months

  • 26.6: Longest run of 2012, in miles. This is the final distance my watch read after the Marine Corps Marathon, meaning I look my turns too wide and tacked on a few extra hundred yards before crossing the finish line. And who said I was an underachiever?
  • 13,894: RiledUpRunner blog views last year. Thanks, everyone, for the support!
  • 12,798: Estimated number of those views that came from my father’s iPad.


  • 727: Most blog views in a single day. I reached this impressive tally–coincidentally also the model of my favorite Boeing Co. mid-size narrow-body three-engine jet aircraft–on Nov. 8 after Ashley at HealthyHappierBear featured me in a guest post. I’d suggest checking it out, except I make all the same jokes I always make, so reading it is going to feel a little like déjà vu. Reading it is going to feel a little like déjà vu.
  • 58: Countries that visited my blog in 2012. Well, more likely, individuals sitting at computers in those countries, but I can never be sure. It’s possible the state entity of North Korea is an avid reader. What up, Kim Jong-Un?
  • 3: Half marathons I ran last year.
  • 1: Half marathons I ran last year in the snow.


  • 7: A prime number. Thanks, Number Munchers! Watch out for troggles.
  • 21: Races I ran in 2012.
  • 1: Races I ran in costume in 2012.


  • 21: Races I wished I’d run in costume in 2012.
  • 4: Readers who stumbled across my blog by searching “dog with captain hat.” I knew I liked you guys.


What number best sums up your 2012?