Greetings, from sunny San Diego! I have escaped New York City for Westin Wellness Escapes, a new series of health and fitness retreats hosted at Westin Hotels & Resorts nationwide and led by experts in running, yoga, nutrition, meditation and more. I’m in Southern California, courtesy of Westin, to check out their very first workout weekend: Women’s Strength Nation LIVE with trainer Holly Perkins.
This is just the first in what Westin plans to be a national, and even global series. Next up on the calendar is a Triathlon Recovery Retreat with runWESTIN concierge Chris Heuisler from May 16-17 at The Westin Jekyll Island in Georgia following the Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Triathlon.
But first up, it’s off to The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, where Westin Move Well advocate Holly Perkins will lead us through a two-day itinerary aimed at honing physical and personal strength.
Gaslamp District (Photo: Starwood Hotels & Resorts)
I’m aiming to run four times a week, following a half marathon training plan from Greg McMillan’s book You (Only Faster). I’m also slowly building my mileage from my winter base of 20 miles per week to 30 miles a week and beyond. Last week I said: “I want to get off the road and onto dirt once a week during my runs. I also want to up my strength training from once to twice a week.” Um, not so much. I had some great workouts, but did zero trail running, minimal strength training, and missed a long run. Thus the comme ci comme ça.
Announcing at the Scotland Run (Photo: Phil Hospod)
But I also announced at the Scotland Run 10K with 8,000 runners, some in kilts, storming Central Park. Announcing is always a highlight of my week. If I can’t run a race, the next best thing is announcing at one!
So here’s the run down on my last two weeks of training.
Fartlek: 3.65 miles outside. After a warm-up, I ran 1 minute on, 1 minute off fartleks. It was a solid workout and I was pushing really hard by the end. I ran past the United Nations, which is a beautiful complex.
Hills: 4 miles on the treadmill. I ran 10 x 1-minute hill repeats at a 5% incline, roughly the incline I’ll face at Bear Mountain. Got a great sweat going on this one. Big bonus: Positive K’s “I Got A Man” came up in my running mix. I usually run with all my music on one giant shuffle, so I don’t actually repeat songs all that often. Yeah, I was super pumped! Pretty sure I got some stares as I rapped and gestured along. “But how you talking? Pshaw, whatever!”
Easy: 5.4 miles on the treadmill. I’ve been doing all my easy runs as progression runs, but still felt great the whole time on this one. Watching A League of Their Own didn’t hurt either!
Strength: Tacked this onto the easy run above. Did some planks, push-ups, and what not, followed by foam rolling, just so I could watch more of A League of Their Own.
Long: 0 miles! Ahhhhhh! Totally skipped what was supposed to be a 9-miler. Why? No good reason whatsoever. I had a bad bout of cramps, and I just wasn’t in the mood. Told myself I’d do it the next day. But I slept oddly and cranked my neck, so the next day and the day after that were a wash. I didn’t run for 3 days in a row. Instead of trying to make up the long run, I decided to just plow ahead with my half marathon training plan. Read the rest of this entry →
The Fresh Foam Boracay and Zante in action (Photo: New Balance)
New Balance shoes have been a part of my running shoe rotation for two years now. Last fall, I included the 890v4, 1400v2 and Fresh Foam 980 in my Guide To Neutral Running Shoes. In the last few weeks, I’ve been trying out the three newest New Balance shoes in the neutral running category: Fresh Foam Zante, Fresh Foam Boracay, and 890v5. How does each pair stack up? I’m happy to report that these are three excellent updates that will suit different types of neutral runners.
The shoe vitals are as listed by New Balance for the women’s version. I tried each pair in a women’s size 9, courtesy of New Balance, and listed them from lightest to heaviest.
MSRP: $100 Weight: 6.4 oz Drop: 6 mm Colorways: 3 standard
The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante is for folks who want to run—or feel—fast. The lightweight shoe rivals the New Balance 1400 in responsiveness, but with feel-so-good cushioning and an insole that cradles your arches like your favorite pillow. The Fresh Foam’s midsole design of interlocking convex and concave shapes means the shoe gives where you need flexibility and holds firm where you need support, much like the Fresh Foam Boracay. But New Balance used biomechanical data from faster runners to build the Zante.
Fresh Foam Zante
The result? A shoe that rides like a dream—a dream where you’re setting PR after PR. You may not run a 5-minute pace, but you can imagine what that feels like in these shoes.
Springy and speedy, the Zante promises a quick heel to toe transition with an “aggressive toe spring.” It delivers. The shoe is light, supple, and downright fun to run in.
The upper is a soft and flexible mesh bootie that hugs in all the right places—at the heel, arch, and outer ball of the foot—while leaving breathing room in the toes. In short, this shoe fits like a glove and responds like a race car.
The stripped down design has just what you need and nothing more. Best of all, it has enough cushioning to take you on long runs too.
I love everything about this shoe, and don’t have a singe critique for it. I totally see why Competitor Magazine named the Fresh Foam Zante the 2015 Road Shoe of the Year. It’s earned a spot in my personal shoe rotation and might even be my favorite pair of New Balance shoes yet.
Will you love it as much as I do? Yes, if you like to feel the road under your feet in a light and soft ride. Maybe not if you prefer a beefier or more plushly cushioned shoe. Read the rest of this entry →
I’m in the third week of my half marathon training schedule for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon and first week of The North Face Endurance Challenge 10K training. How goes it? So far, so good. I’m aiming to run at least four times a week, following a four to five day per week plan from Greg McMillan’s book You (Only Faster). I’m also slowly building my mileage from my winter base of 20 miles per week to 30 miles a week and beyond. By that measure, the first two weeks were a success.
Tempo: 6.65 miles in Central Park. This was a glorious run. I did 4 miles at what felt like tempo pace and might have set a new 4-mile personal best. Great way to kick off training!
Easy: 2 miles on city sidewalks. I love running errands as my easy runs. Two birds…
Hills: 3.3 miles with 8 hill repeats on the East River Greenway. This was my first proper hill workout in a looooooong time. But my half marathon training schedule called for hill repeats, so I jogged to a steep hill that’s a tenth of a mile long and just pushed up it as fast as I could. This workout reminded me why I haven’t done hill work in so long. Um, I hate it!
The hill sits in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge with the view pictured above. It reminded me what an incredible city New York is. And I’m really lucky that I get to run it. So I’ve started snapping shots of city landmarks that I spot on my runs and sharing them on Instagram with #RunNYC. Read the rest of this entry →
I blame my husband, Phil. He was all, “Can we do a trail race? I really want to do a trail race this year.” And I was all, “Sure, just pick one.” And he was all, “How about The North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain on May 3?” And I was all, “Bear Mountain? But it’s so steep! Ahhhhhhhh! Sure, let’s do it.”
I love Bear Mountain and I love Harriman State Park that surrounds it. It’s a 90 minute drive north of New York City.
Photo break in Harriman State Park (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
I love the views from the top of Bear Mountain, and I love taking Cinderella there for hikes.
Bear Mountain was where I trained to climb Mount Kilimanjaro back in 2008. Phil and I even did our engagement photo shoot in Harriman State Park.
Our engagement photo shoot in Harriman State Park (Photo: Lev Kuperman)
But running Bear Mountain? The thought has never occurred to me. It’s really, um, traily and technical.
Here’s the thing: I “hike like a fish,” as Phil likes to joke. He’s not being mean. He’s being completely accurate. I am, truly, a fish out of water. The second you take me off of a road, smooth grass, or groomed trail and onto a trail with any sort of technicality, I lose all sense of balance. I am the opposite of sure-footed. No, it doesn’t stop me from hiking and running in amazing places like Cinque Terre and Machu Picchu. Read the rest of this entry →
I’m really excited for this one. I’ve never run a Rock ‘n’ Roll event, and I’ll be attending the race as a guest of Competitor Group. For my first Rock ‘n’ Roll experience, I wanted to run one of their marquee events, and it doesn’t get bigger than Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & 1/2. The 2014 event had nearly 23,000 finishers between the marathon and half-marathon. Plus, I’ve only visited San Diego once, more than 10 years ago, so I’m definitely due for a return trip.
Half Marathon Training
A tempo run PR in Central Park (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
My 12-week half marathon training program started Sunday!
I kicked it off with a stellar tempo run in Central Park—my fastest ever. I ran 4.35 miles in 39:03 at an 8:58 pace. Um, folks, that’s a 4-mile personal best for me! My current 4-mile PR is 36:00 at a 9-minute pace. Of course, I won’t count my Central Park tempo as an official PR since the course was not accurately measured, but just knowing that a late winter workout where I was working hard but not all out was in PR territory makes me deliriously happy. Read the rest of this entry →
I’m a runner who loves ultra lightweight running shoes and ultra soft cushioning. I want to feel like I’m running on clouds and I want my shoe to weigh something in the range of clouds. So I was excited to try the new Nike LunarTempo shoes at a media workout at Mile High Run Club, a treadmill studio in New York City. Nike has billed the Nike LunarTempo as a shoe with “ultralight cushioning for high-speed miles.” The workout at Mile High Run Club would put that tagline to the test.
Nike LunarTempo Shoes
Nike LunarTempo in action. (Photo: Nike)
When I arrived at Mile High Run Club, a locker with my name on it was waiting for me, filled with complimentary running gear, including the new Nike LunarTempo shoes.
How did they fare in one treadmill run? The neutral shoe is a bit like running on clouds.
Nike used their Lunarlon foam midsole, which is indeed one of the cushiest rides in town. I currently wear the Nike Flyknit Lunar2 with Lunarlon. That oh-so-soft landing under the heel is one of my favorite things about that shoe, and the Nike LunarTempo didn’t disappoint.
But this time around, Nike has re-engineered the Lunarlon foam to make it even lighter at 6.2 oz for a women’s size 8, more responsive and just as supportive. After a few short wears, I can confirm that this shoes feels fantastic underfoot if you love a soft ride like I do. Read the rest of this entry →
Happy Super Bowl Sunday! February is a great time to check in with the running and fitness goals you made for 2015. The weather is frightful and the sofa is so delightful. How to stay fit when you just want to hibernate? Set some goals, stick with them, and mix up your workouts when things start to sour.
How To Stay Fit
Step 1: Set SMART goals—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
A winter run through Central Park in New York City (Photo: Phil Hospod)
Still looking to make or tweak your running resolutions for 2015? I’ve got 10 ideas meant to make you a happier, healthier runner:
Revamp your 2015 planning with goals meant to make you a more well-rounded runner. Set the right goals and you’ll run faster, train smarter, and have more fun hitting the pavement in the new year.
Resolutions that merely focus on going faster may set you up for frustration down the road. Sure, speed can be part of your resolutions, but goals that also focus on training, friends, and having fun will make your 2015 more successful—and enjoyable. Check them out at SHAPE.com.
Step 2: Stick to your goals and fitness routine.
Pro women race the Front Street Mile in Bermuda. (Photo: Phil Hospod)
Falling off the wagon already? Here’s something to motivate you: how quickly your fitness fades when you stop exercising completely.
But you can still dial back when need be and fight the fade with a few, short workouts:
Training was going swimmingly with four solid weeks of outstanding runs, including a weekly tempo run and fartlek workout, as I outlined in my Running New Year’s Resolutions for 2015. I started working toward those goals early.
We’re now one week into 2015, which means I should set some running New Year’s resolutions!
I wrote 10 Running Goals You Should Make for 2015 for SHAPE.com, a collection of resolutions that will make you a healthier and happier runner. Some of them I’m already good at doing, like “Work Hard, Play Hard“—pairing hard-lined PR goals with ones that are more fun, like taking a runcation. Others, I need to work on, like “Prioritize Injury Prevention“—I could certainly be better about dynamic warm-ups, strength training, rolling, and other preventative measures.
So here’s a look at how I did with my personal goals in 2014 and how I’m going to tweak them for 2015. As always, I want to build on my successes and learn from my failures.
New Year’s Resolutions For 2014 Analyzed and Tweaked For 2015
Chasing Cinderella (Phil Hospod)
1) 2014: Get even faster
I make this goal every year. I finished my very first race, a 4-miler, at an 11:34 pace. Now, almost eight years later, I run a 5K at a 7:59 pace. I’ve gotten much faster over the years. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that.
How’d I do in 2014? So-so at this one. I nabbed three PRs: 8K/5-mile road, 10K road, and ITU Sprint Distance Triathlon.
Why do I say that’s so-so? I still have 8K and 10K track times that are faster. The IAAF and USATF log track and road records separately, so I do too. That said, track records tend to be faster than road ones. The track is a nice flat, predictable surface. The road is not. My 8K PR was set on a hot, muggy day whereas the track PR was on a nice, cool fall day. So I’ll take it. Same with my 10K PR. I set it during the same fall track workout as my 8K, whereas my new road PR was the first half of the hilly Staten Island Half Marathon. So, all in all, I’m happy with both of those.
As for my triathlon PR, I was deliriously happy with that. It was the second time I’ve raced an ITU Sprint Distance course and I walloped my swim, bike, and run times. OK, so maybe I did get faster in 2014.
2015: Run tempos
This year, rather than focusing on PRs, I’m going to focus on faster overall paces in targeted workouts. I’m excellent at the easy run, and those will remain just that—easy. But what I’m not great at are tempo runs. I don’t do them, and it reflects in my racing. So for 2015 my “Get even faster” will be dedicated to hitting those tempo paces, which will hopefully pay off on race day. Read the rest of this entry →
Greetings from sunny California! I’m here for a New Year’s runcation, and so far, I’m cleaning up. I’ve logged 11.5 miles in two mornings. But today’s run was the best: a Los Angeles Griffith Park run to the Hollywood Sign in the Hollywood Hills.
Space Shuttle Endeavor
I arrived late Monday night and awoke to a cold, rainy day on Tuesday. What to do in LA on a rainy day? I visited with a dear friend and her kids at the California Science Center, where we saw the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
Endeavour’s tail (RunKarlaRun.com)
It was pretty incredibly to see this beast up close and personal. The tones and textures of the tile and thermal blankets that line the shuttle are so interesting in person. We had a great time at the museum.
Griffith Park Run To The Hollywood Sign
This morning, I awoke to sunrise looking over the Hollywood Hills from The Line Hotel in LA (my husband, Phil, works for the company that owns the hotel). The rain cleared away any trace of the city’s famous smog, leaving a glorious, clear sky. This was one of those clear days where you really can see forever.
Hello Hollywood! (Phil Hospod)
So Phil and I hopped in our rental car and headed for a run in the city’s sprawling Griffith Park, a 4,310-acre oasis in the Santa Monica Mountains and home to the famous Hollywood Sign. (Yup, it’s five times the size of New York City’s Central Park). Read the rest of this entry →
Running in some of my favorite gear of the year. (Phil Hospod)
Christmas is right around the corner and New Year’s isn’t far behind. Putting together a wish list for your running resolutions? Still need a gift? Here is my favorite running gear of 2014.
The products on this list are the best clothes, gadgets and running gear that I’ve tried this year. There are more than 50 items from more than 25 brands. For every item here, I’ve sampled another two or three things that didn’t make the cut, including products in every category. Companies send me loads of samples, many unsolicited, and I often receive products in swag bags at races and events. So I didn’t buy anything you see here. I also don’t keep most of what I receive.
But if it’s on this list, I officially own it and love it—I don’t list anything I haven’t used myself. In clothing, I’ve tried the women’s versions, but many come in men’s options too. And I’ve included the list prices, though you’ll find many items for less than that.
Also, if it’s been in a past gift or gear guide of mine, I didn’t include it here. But many of the products I highlighted in the days of yore are still available. So here are my gift guides from 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2009.
Bia is a new two-piece device consisting of an ultra-light, slim wrist piece paired with a GPS “Go Stick” that clips onto your top, waist-band, visor or anywhere else you want to wear it. The Go Stick is the brains of the operation with an SOS safety alert, fast-connecting GPS, automatic uploads to your training log, and multi-sport functionality.
Run, swim, bike or do all three in one workout. And with live tracking, your friends and family can follow you on race-day or when you’re along in a remote area. I tested it while I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, and it worked wonderfully. Best of all, Bia comes in six fun colors. I have it in purple. Stay tuned for my full review.
Are you looking for a small, simple, and streamlined GPS watch? Look no further than Timex Run x20. In three bright colors plus basic black, this watch is the antidote to the big, bulky, expensive GPS watch with features you never use.
Instead, you get the features you really need: reliable GPS workout timing with speed, pace, and distance; run/walk timer; interval timer; stopwatch; automated pace alerts; night-light; alarm; and water resistance up to 50 meters. The interface and menus are supremely easy to use. Plus, it’s really easy on the eyes.
The Nike+ Fuelband SE is the first fitness tracker that I’ve tried, so I have no basis for comparison. That said, I love it (and I’ve tried a few other watches and gadgets this year that I can’t say the same about).
I work from home, so I don’t take nearly as many steps in my daily “commute” as most folks. In other words, if I’m not running, I barely move from my desk chair. Wearing the Nike+ Fuelband has shown me just how little activity I really have in a day unless I make a conscious effort to get up and move more. Thankfully, the Fuelband reminds me when to move, tracking my steps, Fuelband “points,” calories, and more. It’s motivated me to make my days more active outside of my workouts. That’s a win!
Headphones made for women, by women in five fun colors and two styles—clips or buds. With three different ear cushion sizes to choose from, Koss FitClips fit my ears perfectly and stay put during sweaty runs. The FitBuds do too. Plus, they’re comfortable. I barely notice they’re there, even the around-the-ear clips. And they’re super light too. Once I got these, I handed my old black and red headphones to my husband with a, “Here. You can have these.” FitClips are it for me now! Read the rest of this entry →
Winter is here and it can be hard to stay motivated on cold, snowy, dark-too-early days. But in the last few years, I’ve found that winter is one of my favorite times to train. Where I used to hibernate over the holidays, I’ve grown to love winter runs. Marrying a Canadian will do that to you. Don’t get me wrong: there are few things I hate more than running in 38-degree rain. But I find the mix of cold, brisk outdoors runs and focused treadmill work on a dark evening more invigorating than the summertime equivalent of sweltering, humid outdoor runs or treadmill workouts when it’s bright and sunny, but too hot outside.
So here are a few of my latest stories at SHAPE.com meant to pump you up for winter running, with lots of running tips from experts in the know.
Rocking my run streak in New York City’s Central Park. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Don’t let frigid temps stop you from getting the most out of a workout! From warm-up exercises to running essentials and how to adjust your stride, follow these 10 running tips to make the most out of your winter run.
Holiday running streaks are popular. I know, I’ve done two myself, logging 46 days in a row at the longest. But running every day certainly isn’t for everyone. Experts explain how to make this winter motivation strategy a healthy—not harmful—habit with key running tips.
I ran a 4-minute negative split at the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon to run my fastest 13.1 in more than two years. And I did it after writing this article. These running tips from expert coaches were in my head the entire race. In other words, they really work. I even got a new mantra from it: Last Mile, Fastest Mile. Training your body to start slow will help you finish faster (and happier!) at your next race.
The Bermuda Triangle Challenge (Photo: Bermuda Tourism Authority)
Bermuda Triangle Challenge PR Attempt
When I first wrote about the Bermuda Triangle Challenge 12 weeks ago, I threw down the gauntlet: “I will run a personal best at one of the three events. I’m not sure which one I’m going to target yet, but I’d love take down any of my 1 mile, 10K or half-marathon PRs.”
But which one to choose?
At the Philly Half, I showed some serious closing speed that I didn’t know I had in me, finishing the last two miles of the race in 8:37 and 8:49 and with an overall time of 2:05:46. As a result, part of me is tempted to go for the half-marathon PR. But honestly? I’d rather not have it hanging over my head all weekend. I think I want to just enjoy the scenery on that one.
Plus, if the weather is on the warm side, that will put the kibosh on that. I’d rather bask in the glory of having run my best half-marathon in two years and take down a shorter distance before working up to the 13.1-mile PR has proven to be my personal Everest. Plus, the year that I ran my 2:00:30—my current PR—I ran 2:05:15 eight months before, awfully close to what I just ran in Philly. I think asking five minutes less of myself after just two months might be a stretch. So scratch PR-ing at the half. Read the rest of this entry →
Training in my Gore Running Gear (RunKarlaRun.com)
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a GORE-Tex Philadelphia Marathon training update. I’m running the race with Team Gore, and training was going well. Gore helped me gear up for the race with Gore Running Wear and GORE-TEX Saucony shoes. The sky was blue and birds were singing. In other words, all was right in my world.
During my bi-annual skin check in September, my dermatologist found a mole she didn’t like. She immediately pulled out her scalpel and sliced it off to be biopsied.
A week later, the results were in: it was precancerous, a term used for atypical moles that are more likely than regular moles to develop into melanoma. This particular mole was classified as “severely” atypical, the worst it gets before possibly becoming cancer.
Though my doc had already removed the entire mole, both she and the pathologist were in agreement: an entire patch of skin surrounding the mole should go too. It’s standard procedure when a mole comes back that abnormal.
So the day after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco on October 19, I went under the knife. It was a simple procedure. My doctor used a local anesthesia to numb the area, remove the skin, and sew it all up with four sutures.
The skin was then sent back to the lab to check that all of the margins around the mole were clear of atypical cells, since it’s impossible to tell simply with a visual exam. Thankfully, all my margins were clear. After three weeks of bandages and healing cream, all I have to remember the incident by is an inch-long red scar.
At the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon San Francisco the day before my excision.
Doctor Demanded Downtime
There was just one problem: my doctor didn’t want me to run for two full weeks, lest I inadvertently rip open the stitches. The mole was on the right side of my back, over my latissimus dorsi, a muscle that plays a large role in your running gait.
I never realized how much the muscles and skin on my back move when I do, well, everything—putting away dishes, reaching in my closet, walking my dog, turning over in bed, you name it—until I had stitches. Give your skin a pat on the back—it works really hard.
So my doc told me one week of no activity at all. During week two I could add in the elliptical with no arms, leaving them dangling at my side, or ride a recumbent bike. Marathon training would have to wait. Read the rest of this entry →
I’m not the fastest runner and I’m not the slowest, but I am a running nerd. A journalist by trade, I love to research, read, learn and cogitate. So stick with me. Like all good nerds, I’ll do the homework and share it. But the running is up to you!