Categories
Travel

Oh, Canada: Toronto Vacation for the Win

I was standing on a busy street corner last week when a strange man I didn’t know leaned in from behind. “Nice sunglasses,” he crooned. Well-trained NYC women know not to engage with random weirdos offering compliments, so I murmured a sarcastic “thanks” – just shy of the “thanks, creep” I wanted to say – without turning around. As the light changed and I went to cross, I glanced back. Turns out he was a uniformed police officer, wearing the same exact sunglasses as me, which he’d wanted to point out. He smiled and waved. He wasn’t a creep at all.

He was Canadian.

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And he lived here!

I don’t know if you’ve recently traveled to our neighbors to the north with their charming apologies and their decade+ of marriage equality and their adherence to the Paris Agreement, but MAN there’s a lot to like about it.

Sure, they have a handsome president prime minister, but they offer so much more:

  • Their fast-foot joints sell delicious meat alternatives.

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    This is a Beyond Meat sausage egger and cheese from A&W and it’s amazing.
  • They’re all about reducing waste.

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    This friend of a friend’s store, Pretty Clean Shop, has refillable laundry detergent so you never have to throw away an empty container again.
  • You don’t have to give away your peanut butter cups if a guy names Reese comes asking.

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    They aren’t possessive here! No wonder Canadians don’t understand that Mitch Hedberg joke!

During a week in Toronto, we experienced so many delightful things: delicious Thai food, fantastic dim sum, barrels of Timbits, buckets of Caesars (i.e. a Bloody Mary with Clamato juice), and, oh yeah, some non-eating memories too. But hands down my favorite thing about the city was how damn active it allowed us to be.

While I never once put my running shoes to use while visiting “The 6ix” (thanks, Drake), I was still able to keep moving in this walkable, pedestrian-friendly metropolis. By trekking around the waterfront, hiking over to Kensington Market, and exploring the islands on foot, we were able to log 8 or 9 miles a day most days, making me feel slightly less bad about all the pineapple pizza I was eating (don’t @ me).

AND I was able to supplement that walking with some other forms of exercise (plus wedding dancing!), which may sound like vacation torture to some other people, but to me, it was a perfect way to relax on a week off from work:

  • BARRE: I belong to a Barre 3 studio in Queens, so I emailed the Toronto franchise to ask if I could pop in, and they offered me a free class! Huzzah! The moves were essentially the same, but the 80s and 90s inspired playlist was to die for.
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Show Me Love! Though I’ll admit the American Beauty soundtrack during stretches DID creep me out a bit.
  • YOGA: It’s hard to call a restorative class a workout, but considering I fell asleep in every single posture, it seems I really needed it. I went to two different sessions at Toronto’s Yoga Tree studio, and those naps were worth every Canadian penny (which don’t exist anymore, but you know what I mean.)
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I’ll give you ZZZZZen.
  • BIKES: Is a 4-seater bike ride still a workout? Unclear, but it was super fun cruising around Toronto Island with my friends, especially when the journey ended at a lakeside bar.
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EYES ON THE ROAD, BOYS.

Well done, Canada. Until we meet again. ❤

Categories
Travel

Walk on the Wild Side

I’ve always loved going to the movies.

I love the smell of popcorn. I love the pure escapism. I love stubbornly following the rituals of theater-going that my dad instilled in me 30 years ago: never arrive after the lights go down, always guess how many previews there’ll be in advance, never sit behind a man in a tall hat.

And of course, always stay for the credits. We did that decades before hidden scenes were a thing and, much to the chagrin of my friends and husband, I will never, ever stop.

So I guess you could say growing up, my family took the movies pretty seriously. I mean, did anyone else don their snowsuits and Bean Boots and trudge a mile-and-a-half to the theater (uphill both ways!) on snow days to catch a matinee screening of Homeward Bound? I think not.

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“But does Shadow make it at the end?!”

In fact, the only thing I don’t appreciate about the movies is the preposterous idea that in the event of a fire, we should walk, not run, to our nearest exit. (And that’s not just because as Mitch Hedberg so sensibly said: “If you’re flammable and have legs, you are never blocking a fire exit.”) It’s also because — in dangerous situations or otherwise– why would you walk somewhere if you could run?

For that past seven years, that’s essentially been my motto: running > walking. Why walk the dog if you can run with her? Why walk to brunch if you can jog there? I mean, did Forrest Gump walk for three years, two months and 14 days? I rest my case.

I’ll be honest: I never took walking all that seriously as a form of exercise. So I was as surprised as you’ll be when I found myself waking, not running, every single time I exercised in September. Or more precisely, walking rapidly uphill while carrying a backpack. I believe it’s called, as they say in French, hiking.

It started simply enough: Lucille wanted to check out some trails upstate, and I found myself accidentally hiking. I suppose that’s pretty on-brand for mountain dogs.

The next weekend, my friend Z threw a hiking party — a far healthier alternative to how we celebrated her last 14 birthdays — and we covered seven miles in a Hudson Valley forest, chatting the whole way. “Huh,” I thought to myself, “This hiking stuff isn’t half bad. I’ll look forward to doing it again some time in 12-15 years.”

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One of these women has a torn ACL and probbbbbably shouldn’t have joined us, cough cough, Rogan.

Turns out, my math was a little off. Two days later, I flew to Hawaii, where hiking appears to be a way of life — or at least a way for my kid brother to keep me busy until it’s an appropriate hour to frequent the neighborhood karaoke bar. We did two quite vertical hikes together to massive waterfalls, plus I took my niece Keira (remember her?) on a solo hike to this gross view.

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“Remember when I starred in this blog?”

“But why hike on just one continent?” I foolishly asked myself before boarding a plane out of Honolulu. (I was getting cocky.) Turns out the past five hikes were just warm-ups for the big finale: Hong Kong Island’s Twin Peaks. The internet calls this trek to Stanley Beach “very difficult,” and that’s not #fakenews. My bud Kenneth and I hiked up — oh I don’t know — 875 trillion steps on our way over the first peak. We’re still friends after that insane climb, but only because I convinced him to walk the long, flat way around the second peak. (And because he treated me to a beer and spa day afterwards, like a champ.)

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Hidden behind this smile: so much pain.

So what did I learn spending several weeks on a running hiatus in favor of hiking instead? Lots!

Hiking is much more social than running, and it allows more opportunities to take in the scenery and unwind. It also works different muscles than simply hitting the pavement, including those stability muscles in my feet and ankles that I know are massively underused on the mean streets of Queens. Most importantly, no one even blinked when I pulled a 12-inch turkey sub out of my backpack mid-hike in Westchester and started chomping away — a surefire perk that running can’t match.

Does that mean hiking is going to become a bigger part of my routine going forward? I’ll let you be the judge:

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*siblings Christmas card*

Other runners, is hiking part of your routine? More importantly, how excited are you for the day Keira and Lucille can be in a photo together on this blog? Ten months and counting!

Categories
Travel

Up, Up and Away

We’re in an era of human existence where we spend an awful lot of time looking things up.

  • “Can I use baking soda instead of baking powder?” “Dunno, look it up!”
  • “What ever happened to Brendan Fraser? “Dunno, look it up!”
  • “Is is still my favorite cousin’s birthday in Hong Kong?” “Dunno, look it up!”
  • “What’s the name of that Nic Cage movie where he wants to take John Travolta’s face off?” “He wants to take his face off?” “Yeah, Cage wants to take his face off.” “Dunno, look it up!”

We’re so used to having everything at our fingertips at all times that we never just agree to disagree anymore. In fact, to test how addicted we’d become to the constant ability to seek out any answer at any time, my sister and I once went an entire Maryland-to-Indiana road trip without allowing ourselves even once to approach Google for guidance. Instead, we kept a running list of questions with pen and paper and told ourselves we could search only once we’d arrived in the Hoosier State. Turns out, by the time we got there, we really didn’t much care anymore whether any of the voice actors in the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were still famous.

(You’re going to google that now, aren’t you?)

Ironically, during all that time we spend looking things up, we’re nearly always looking down. Seriously, picture a New York City street, or a subway car, or an elevator, or the gym: We’re always looking down at our phones, rather than up at the physical world around us. And sometimes for good reason – our phones are fun, and if you look up at Manhattan’s tall buildings, everyone thinks you’re a tourist and tries to sell you a double-decker bus ticket.

Still, it can’t be healthy to never – and I mean NEVER, in my case – look up at the outside world. That’s why my visit to Chicago last weekend was so great. Not only did I get to spend some quality time with my sister and eat a “pizza” that was thick as a quiche, but we treated ourselves to an architecture boat tour that demanded we spend a solid 90 minutes taking in the scenery above.

And it was glorious.

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Look at the mix of modernist and post-modern and art-deco style! Just don’t ask me to explain which is which.

Now I can’t say whether an hour an a half away from my normal phone routine made me a healthier person or a better runner, but it sure felt nice to stretch my neck in the other direction for once. So here’s my charge to you this weekend: spend some time looking up at whatever’s above you — buildings, mountains, drive in movie screens, giraffes — and I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you find. I know I was.

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Bean there, done that.

Happy Friday, folks! Get out there and see the world!

Categories
Travel

On the Road Again

Eating healthy is easy, some smug soul will tell you without reading out loud the fine print.

Eating healthy is easy — when you’re at your own house, have no temptations in the fridge, have no plans to see friends and have all the time in the world to whip up a nutrient-packed home-cooked meal.

But when you aren’t in control of your own schedule, your access to food or even your meal times, eating well becomes exponentially more challenging. It’s hard when you’re staying overnight with family. It’s hard when you’re working late. It’s hard when you’re snowed in.

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I need a hot cocoa and I need it stat.

And it’s extra hard when you’re traveling for work, staying at a conference hotel, working 16 hour days and subsiding on vending machines, coffee carts, freebies and (ugh) press food.

That’s right, folks: I’ve just returned from an industry conference and oooh I have the too-tight work pants to prove it!

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(also all these pictures of cars)

But even though my week in Detroit wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of health, I did find some small ways to undo the damage living out of a suitcase was doing my waist line. These are manageable tips you, too, may want to adopt before your next business trip. (But not your next vacation. Live a little!)

#1. Check out the whole buffet before filling your plate.
Work conferences are famous for their abundant but bland lunch offerings, in which attendees keep going back for more and more because nothing’s satisfying. To make better choices, instead of going straight down the line like the sucker in front of you, scan the heating trays first to decide what two or three items would go well together. Then fill your plate with the salad at the start, add some roasted chicken or grilled steak from the hot food bar, throw on some veggies, and you end up having a pretty decent lunch. And skip the conference room brownies — they’re never good.

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Unless you’re eating at Slow’s BBQ, in which case the “salad” was ribs.

#2. Stock up on produce wherever you can find it.
If you were smart and prepared, you may have packed some dried fruit or carrot sticks in your carry-on — but I wasn’t. And after spending the first 24 hours in Detroit without so much as seeing a vegetable, I knew I had to get serious. So for the rest of the trip, every time I was offered something green, I took it. Banana at breakfast? Check. Side salad at lunch? Check. Individually wrapped apple at checkout? Check. It wasn’t the super-food kale I was craving after several days of sugar rushes, but you take what you can get when you can’t shop for yourself.

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Cause that’s a normal way to serve apples.

#3. Squeeze in a workout however you can.
On long work days, it’s a constant struggle — sleep an extra 45 minutes or work up a sweat in the hotel gym? I did manage to make it to the elliptical once or twice, but the rest of the time, I had to get creative. I did squats in the hotel room while I checked my email. I took the stairs at least a handful of times. I skipped the airport shuttle and hightailed it gate to gate. Pro-tip: if you pack your oldest running shoes that were already slated for retirement, you can leave them behind in the hotel room and make more room for the swag you’re inevitably bringing home.

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Goodbye, beautiful NYC 2015 Marathon shoes.

Don’t get me wrong — for as tough as work travel is, it’s fun to get out of the office for a few days.

But it’s even more fun to come back home again.

Especially when this face is waiting for you. ❤

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Welcome home, I suppose.

How do you keep healthy-ish on the road?

Categories
Travel

Shoe In

I’ve just done something so unlike me I’ll probably end up on some kind of FBI watch list.

  • No, I didn’t eat a head of celery.
  • No, I didn’t adopt a cat.
  • No, I didn’t give Lucille the night off on Halloween.

I did something far more out of character: I packed for a weekend away and left my running shoes behind.

For the past six years, my Asics and I have been virtually inseparable. I’ve brought pairs everywhere, from Hong Kong and Mongolia to Australia and Greece, and no matter the time zone, I’d always find time to squeeze out a few on-the-road miles.

I love running while traveling, since it’s a great way to learn a new city and burn off the croissant weight that every red-eye inevitably brings. But I also know the power of rest, and this weekend during a quick trip to London, I’m granting myself that rare gift.

To be fair, I assume “rest” in this case really means a lot of pints and some late night pies, not actually putting my tired legs up and relaxing, but I’ll take what I can get.

Good luck, New York marathoners! Will be toasting you across the pond.

London, England: here we come!

Categories
Running Training Travel

Runner’s High: An Elevation Guide

You know that sinking feeling when – despite thinking you’re in pretty good shape – you go for a quick little run and can barely catch your breath?

We’ve all been there: you lace up all excited, expecting to knock your workout out of the park, but then you find yourself huffing and puffing with muscles and lungs who clearly decided not to show up to practice.

At least for me, it’s disheartening, discouraging and downright demoralizing. (This sentence brought to you by the letter D.)

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Like me! The dog!

Well, that’s how I felt the last two weeks while vacationing with my siblings. I’d wake up early each morning to churn out a few easy miles with my brother, and within the first five minutes, find myself feigning a loose shoelace or side cramp in order to stop and catch my breath, which Simply. Couldn’t. Be. Caught.

So I was feeling pretty darned bad about myself and my clearly out-of-shape physique. But then we got back into wifi range and googled the elevation of our host country, and – guess what, folks: Mongolia is as high up in the sky as Denver. VINDICATION! (Also, surprise! I’ve been vacationing in the land of Genghis Khan. No big deal.)

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Doing my best Lt. Dan impression.

Why does Mongolia’s elevation matter, you ask? Because the drop in barometric pressure at high altitudes decreases the amount of oxygen intake in each breath, which in turn lowers the amount of oxygen making its way to your muscles, which in turn makes working out super-duper tough (I believe that’s the medical term).

So what’s one to do if you find yourself in high elevation with legs itching to exercise? Plenty! Without further ado, here’s my guide to working out at high elevations in Mongolia, which maaaaay be slightly less useful than my guides to hydrating during races or training in the cold or literally anything else I’ve ever published ever.

But you can also apply these tips to non-Mongol movement, so maybe not so niche after all. Here’s some tips for staying fit when flying high:

  • Choose quality over quantity. You may want to log the 10-miler on your schedule, but if you find yourself in high elevation without time to get acclimated, better to check your expectations. For example, my first morning in Ulaanbaatar, my brother and I warmed up and then ran sprints in Sukhbaatar Square. Speed work’s a great workout anyways, but because of the built-in recovery breaks, it let us catch our breaths before the next 50-meter dash.
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Not pictured: my empty lungs.
  • Stay hydrated. Evaporation occurs more quickly at higher altitudes (according to the internet – I have not independently factchecked this) so you’ll need to drink extra liquid to replenish what you lose. That’s doubly the case if you’re in the Gobi Desert. Might I recommend some freshly squeezed goat milk?
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I’d say no goats were harmed in the taking of this photo but, let’s be honest, that can’t feel so good.
  • Take frequent breaks. If you find yourself short of breath, stop and catch it. While it’s tempting to power through, it’s safer to take a few minutes and do some light stretching or yoga while your muscles get a chance to refill their oxygen stores. No one’s timing you.

 

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Taking a breather? Or staring longingly across the world in Ben’s direction?
  • Cross train instead. If running isn’t in the cards, there are plenty of other ways to keep fit while on the road. Do some body-weight squats and pushups, go for a hike, climb a mountain, dive into your ger headfirst when a dust storm hits, ride a camel. As long as you’re using your muscles in some shape or form, they won’t atrophy during a forced vacation from long runs. Trust me.
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Also trust me that camels don’t like when you scratch their butts and make them think it’s a fly. Tom.

So there you have it: how to vacation in Mongolia without letting all fitness go by the wayside.

That said, it’s vacation, and if all you want to do on vacation is hang up your running shoes, sit back and smoke a cigar, I’m certainly not gonna stop you.

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Christmas card?

Any more tips for running in high altitudes to share, friends?

Categories
Travel

Keeping the Weight Down (Down Under)

Starting a piece of writing with a dictionary definition is a carnal sin in journalism, but I’m going to commit it anyways. Here goes.

The dictionary defines “honeymoon” as “a vacation spent together by a newly married couple.”

Honey, I imagine, refers to the sweetness of time passed together.

Moon, I assume, refers to the shape of one’s face after two weeks off a normal routine. Because, holy cow, a honeymoon is a decadent affair.

We’re talking flowing champagne, copious croissants, and more gelato than I’m proud to admit, plus very little incentive to stick to a workout routine, unless that routine involves walking up a hill to the afore referenced gelato store.

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OK, fine, or walking up a hill to see this decent view.

And that’s OK. A honeymoon is by definition an indolent escape meant to let the newlyweds relax after the stress and strain of planning a wedding — no small feat, no matter what pinterest leads you to believe. So it’s totally OK to honeymoon and not eat any vegetables for two weeks, or to honeymoon and not do any workouts, or to honeymoon and not drink anything that doesn’t come out of a coconut.

But if your idea of relaxing and feeling good doing it IS maintaining a semblance of health, that’s OK too. I, personally, feel better — and more like me — when I’m at least keeping healthy choices in my peripheral vision, tropical weather and all. Which is why I made some (very modest, I promise you) efforts to be healthier while traveling down under with my husband — efforts that I’m going to share today with you fine folks if you care to read on.

Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t spend my two weeks in Australia training for a marathon or knocking my leafy green consumption out of the park. But I did make a few small, intentional choices aimed at keeping my body feeling strong and healthy while out of my time zone. These travel tricks are easy ones, and ones any traveler — honeymooning or not — could adopt to return home feeling a little less, well, engorged than might have otherwise been the case. Here goes:

Take a mid-vacation yoga class. Running or biking in a hot climate isn’t much fun, but yoga? That’s a workout made for vacationers. Most gyms or resorts offer free or discounted classes, or find a local studio in your host city. Many lend mats and offer a first class or even first week free, which is perfect for the traveler who will never come round for a second visit. I took two yoga classes in Australia — one on the deck of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club on Christmas morning and another at a swanky Surry Hills studio in Sydney — and my stretched out legs thanked me when I re-boarded that 20 hour flight home.

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Downward facing dingo, amiright?

Diversify your routine. Laying on a pool deck is one of my all-time favorite past times, but sometimes you want to work up a sweat while soaking up the sun. So why not rent a stand-up paddle board? Take out a kayak? Borrow some snorkeling gear? You’ll have so much fun taking in the sealife that you won’t even realize you’re burning off your breakfast via non-motorized watersport.

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Fact: You burn more calories when you’re terrified of being eaten alive at the Great Barrier Reef.

Explore on foot. Taxis and subways have their place, but if you’re exploring a fairly safe city and you have time to kill, why not venture out on your own two legs? Just exploring Sydney, we walked upwards of five miles a day, which allowed me to justify the many, many days I thought about going for a morning run and then rolled over and went back to bed.

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Explore and you might stumble across views like this. Or you might get blisters. Both cool though.

Get caught up on sleep. The experts agree: rest is one of the most important components of any training plan. So take it to heart! Sleep in, get a massage, take afternoon naps, and love every second you get to spend in your borrowed Australian hammock. Rest may not qualify as a workout, per se, but it will help you return to the real world ready to tackle those training plans head on in a way your pre-vacation mind couldn’t have even fathomed.

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Shhhh, it’s naptime. (It’s always naptime.)

And if you make it all the way through your vacation without remembering to incorporate any of these healthy tips?

You can always stop by Hawaii for a quick walk with your best friend on your journey home.

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TOGETHER AGAIN!

How do you keep fit — even marginally — while traveling? 

Categories
Running Travel

Run If By Land 

When you like two things separately, it only makes sense you’ll love them doubly together.

You know what I mean: Like peanut butter and chocolate? You’ll love Reese’s cups. Like animals and football? You’ll love the Puppy Bowl. Like Muppets and Apple products? You’ll love FaceTiming with your niece in Hawaii, even if she doesn’t feel the same way.

Given that so many good things are made great through the act of sheer combination — wine & cheese, pizza & beer, Chris Pine & shirtless scenes — it’s amazing that it took me so long to try what was such an obvious and inevitable combination: running and the beach.

I’ve liked the beach as long as I can remember — from riding the waves to walking the coastline to soaking in the sun for more hours than my Irish-heritage skin should have allowed. And I’ve liked running for years and years, as you should have gleaned from this blog unless you’re terrible at context clues.

So why then did it take me 30 years to put those two things together and go for my first run ON the beach? Maybe because I was afraid of getting sand in my shoes, or because I tend to sleep in on vacation, or because I was nervous that running in sand would feel like being in that awful slow-motion dream where you can’t pick up any speed despite your enemy nipping at your heels. Whatever the reason, I’d never been for a beach run, and this past weekend in Long Island I vowed to change that.

And, wow, I loved it, but wow, it wasn’t easy. Running in sand takes about 1.6 times more energy than running on a hard surface, according to competitor.com, and believe me, my glutes and core could tell. I had less bounce than on the roads and had to work different stabilizing muscles to keep propelling forward. Unlike on a normal run where I could just tune out and go, I had to keep hyper aware to avoid stepping in holes or getting my feet wet when a wave came up further than usual.

Still, the pros outweighed the cons. By running on the beach instead of the asphalt on a hot summer morning, I was able to take advantage of the cool breeze and go longer without overheating, a major plus for summer training. And whenever I wanted to stop and splash water on my face, there wasn’t any shortage of ocean to choose from. Add on top of that a gorgeous backdrop, accidental resistance training and more dog sightings than I’d ever imagined, and the experience was a net positive one.

I’m not near a beach in the city, so I doubt this will become part of my normal routine, but I think it will inspire me to seek out other surfaces besides pavement for a few of my runs each month. Whether that’s the bridal path in Central Park (I miss you, my friend!) or some other yet-to-be-discovered-by-me alternative in Queens, something tells me you’ll be seeing me offroading a bit more going forward. Especially if that offroading leads to friends and a vineyard, another winning combination.

Do you run on the beach? Any tips for a burgeoning Hasselhoff?

Categories
Travel

Summer Lovin’

In even the best of conditions, staying healthy can be a challenge. Literally all the stars in the world could align — you’re in your own kitchen, your shelves are stocked with nutritious offerings, the weather is perfect for a run and your schedule is blissfully free — and you still somehow end up prone on the couch ordering pad thai.

If staying healthy is tough when you’re in complete control of your surroundings, it’s doubly hard when you’re not. Whether it’s because you’re sleeping in an airport or traversing Siberia on a train, chances are you’ll find yourself this travel season in a situation where adhering to your normal routine is downright impossible.

When that undoubtedly happens, the question is: what do you do about it? Throw caution to the wind and engage in a few days of consequences-be-damned eating and sedentariness? Or try to maintain some semblance of order in a situation where healthy choices are very much an uphill battle?

I’ve been known to do both, and read my lips: there’s nothing wrong with occasionally saying yes to all the local culinary options in order to experience your vacation to the fullest. (If you spend a week in Italy and don’t partake in the local wine and pasta on account of a rigid diet, you’re dead to me.) But on other trips, there may be some easy ways to keep your lifestyle in check and return home without a couple extra pounds of baggage. Here are a few ideas from me, gleaned from my time last week aboard my father’s boat.

Travel Tip 1: If possible, keep up your normal fitness routine. Sure, it’s tempting to sleep in when in vacation mode, but there’s often no reason you can’t pack your running shoes and log a few miles from the lake house (whatup Keanu?) or the beach. In fact, the roads and trails around most bodies of water are delightfully flat, making a vacation jog all the more pleasant. For me, my four-mile morning run from Liberty Landing Marina took me by the financial district, Ellis Island and Lady Liberty herself. Not a bad view for an easy weekday workout, plus getting it out of the way before breakfast allowed me to enjoy my on-board wine more that night knowing I’d earned it.

Travel Tip 2: If you can’t do your normal workout routine, get creative. Is there a pool you can swim laps in at your vacation destination? Is there a trail you can hike? How about a stand-up paddle board? More and more travelers are finding ways to stay active on their vacations, and if you can manage to work up a sweat every day in some way, you’ll thank yourself when you go to buckle the seatbelt on the flight home without an extender belt. When in doubt, you can always do squats and pushups in a hotel room, but engaging in some kind of location-specific activity is so much more fun. Just ask Ben.

Travel Tip 3: When it comes to food on vacations, I try to follow my Christmas-party rules. What do I mean by that? Allow yourself to enjoy the treats that are only available because it’s Christmas (pecan pie, roast beef, etc.) and avoid the junky items that are available any day of the year (Lays potato chips, peanut butter cups, etc.) The same general concept can keep your eating in (relative) check on vacation: say yes to the lobster rolls in Maine and the paella in Spain, but say no to the candy bars and pretzels you could have any old day. It’s not foolproof, and you may still end up with a belly ache if you eat in the quantities I do, but it will help you from bursting.

Travel Trip 4: Even if there’s no way to eat well or exercise on your vacation, you can still exit the trip healthier than you went in. Instead of working on your diet or muscle mass, prioritize something else important, like your water intake or your sleep. Bank enough hours under a cabana and you’ll return to your normal life refreshed enough to throw yourself into your workouts again. My mom and I can verify this claim.

How do you keep yourself in check while enjoying a vacation?

Categories
Travel

Greece Is the Word, Is the Word That You Heard

Ask any marathon training coach and she’ll tell you the same thing: running is just one part of the preparation equation. Diet, cross training and rest also play a crucial role in the 20 weeks leading up to the big race, and in true Captain Planet style, only by their powers combined is a marathoner made ready.

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as justification for going an entire six days last week without so much as unpacking my running shoes, even though the NYC marathon is just eight weeks away.

Call me undisciplined, uncommitted, or unfocused if you want, but I’m going to choose another word to describe myself during my restful and relaxing past week along the Aegean Sea: tan.

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(Also in need of a better arm workout.)

My trip to Greece may not have been the most training-focused vacation I’ve ever mustered, seeing as I only logged a single beachside run during my entire week in Nea Moudania, but to be fair, I pretty much nailed the other parts of marathon training: diet, cross training and rest.

  • Diet: I started each day with a protein-rich European breakfast of full-fat Greek yogurt, watermelon and honey (fine, and Nutella by the jarful), which kept me satiated until a late, late afternoon lunch. At around 4 p.m. each day, we’d dry ourselves off and gather at a waterside table for course after course of the freshest, cleanest food you can imagine: tomato and feta salads, grilled octopus, steamed mussels, and enough tzatziki to feed a small army. We’d then eat and eat for hours on end, but with almost none of the food processed or fried, we never left the table feeling too full to function. Given Greece’s seafood-, good fat- and veggie-rich diet, it’s no wonder they won all the ancient Olympic Games.
"Keep the head on and, uh, find out if it had a nickname." - Jim Gaffigan
“Keep the head on and, uh, find out if it had a nickname.” – Jim Gaffigan
  • Cross training: This one is a bit more of a stretch, considering 45 percent of each day was spent prone in a beach chair, but I did manage to work a few muscles besides my chewing ones. For example, one day I sidestroked my way to this very far away rock, then elementary backstroked my way home. Did I work up a sweat? Maybe, maybe not. But I certainly stretched out some muscles that had laid dormant as I’ve been busy logging 40 miles a week.
That rock is very far away.
Thank god I didn’t see any yellow and purple Greek jellyfish until the following day or I might still be living on that rock.
  • Rest: Sleep til 10, nap on the beach, sleep on a floating raft in the crystal clear water, sit for a 3-hour meal overlooking the sea and then polish the night off with a few glasses of delicious Greek wine? Yeah, I got the rest part of it down to a science.
photo 4 (51)
You’d be amazed at how many courses they can fit on a table this size.

So what if I spent a week in Greece and only have one 8-mile run to show for it? I am now well fed, well rested and, well, ready to dive back into my training full force. As proof, I logged a quick 3 miles during a layover in Vienna, and yesterday, I put my jetlag to good use and ran 8 humid Central Park miles before work. Today’s jetlag, which had me up at 4 a.m., has resulted in this blog post and soon, 5 more sweaty miles.

I may still be on Greece time, but for all intents and purposes, I’m back, folks. Let the marathon countdown begin.