2010 is coming to a close. Newspapers are printing their “Best of” and “Worst of” lists, Time has named its Person of the Year, Merriam-Webster has selected “austerity” as its Word of the Year (no surprise there), and people everywhere are reflecting on the year’s top stories.
I thought Midtown should get in on the action, so here are some of the club’s 2010′s highlights:
As for me, the year has been a mixed bag. I’m wrapping up my first year as a member, and I have nothing but positive things to say about my member experience. That’s the good.
The bad? Well, the Rochester Half-Marathon I spent months training for in the spring and summer never happened. Sidelined by a double calf strain, I enjoyed a pity party for one on a weight bench in the club as I watched the clock tick over to 7:45am on September 12th, the time the race was beginning.
However, eight sessions of ART (Active Release Technique) in the fall, followed by a strict regime of stretching put me back in the running business. And I plan on rocking the Flower City Half-Marathon on May 1st of next year.
2010 also marked the debut of this blog and the re-launch of the Midtown RochesterFacebook page.
What have you liked about the posts I’ve run on Meet Me at Midtown? What haven’t you liked? What would you like to see more of, or less of?
We also want the club’s Facebook page to be as useful for you as possible, so please let us know what you’ve liked and haven’t liked, or would like to see more of on Facebook as well.
One current Midtown member who submits their feedback in the Comments section or emails it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org will win this high-quality Midtown Sports Bag!
I will select one winner via Random.org on Tuesday, January 4th, at 5pm, and post the name of the winner on our Facebook page and here on the blog on January 5th.
Happy and healthy New Year!
Today, I was to pick up my race packet at the Marathon Expo, held at the venue where I had my wedding reception nine years ago.
Tomorrow, my mom was to arrive from Lake Placid to cheer me on during the race. Her husband, a photographer, was to take pictures.
On Sunday, over 1,500 people will run the MVP Healthcare Rochester Half-Marathon, for which I have trained for six months.
I won’t be at the starting line.
Five weeks ago, I sustained a calf strain in each of my legs (the right worse than the left). In early August, I did 11.5 on a Saturday, and when I woke up on Sunday, the nagging calf soreness I had been experiencing for about a week had turned into significant pain. Walking was moderately painful. An attempt at a short three-miler was excruciating.
I immediately launched into panic mode. I set aside my training program, to which I had been adhering like glue. I took a week off from running, implemented the R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method of injury treatment, and when running after seven days of rest was still painful, I went a little nuts in pursuit of self-healing. My list of remedies included, but was not limited to:
But last week, after I tried to run again and had to stop just a few miles in because the pain was that bad, I came to the realization that my half-marathon dream, the one for which I had been fighting (and at times, with the insanity of my life, getting my training runs in was truly a fight, both mentally and physically) needed to be shelved.
It was over.
My injury came as a result of pushing myself to my limits (but not beyond them). I did not train to run a half-marathon. I trained to finish a half-marathon in around 1:50. I was clocking long runs at an 8:20 pace. I increased my mileage according to my training plan. I did speedwork with a three-day break following long runs. I followed the rules and I trained hard.
I know I would have finished a sub two-hour half-marathon. I would have met my goal.
Today, I had an appointment with a chiropractor who specializes in sports injuries. He gave me a phone consultation weeks ago, and put me on his cancellation list. I wasn’t able to get in to see him until today. He performed electrical stimulation therapy on the damaged tissues in my calves, followed by ART (Active Release Technique). I have two more sessions next week. He said I should be back running in a week to ten days. He wishes he had been able to see me earlier.
To say I am disappointed does not cover it. What I’m feeling right now requires expletives (and many of them) to even touch the emotions that are swirling. I will spend Sunday either drinking or baking heavily, I haven’t yet decided which.
But if I’ve learned anything over the past six months of training, it’s this:
I can accomplish any damn thing I want to do.
I am now a stronger, faster, fitter, more hard-core runner than I ever was before, even when I was running 30 miles a week, every week, seven years ago. I have an incredibly supportive circle of friends both at Midtown and in my personal life who get what my training meant to me, and who understand how devastating this injury is.
And when I’m 100% again, I’m going to take all the discipline, all the preparation, and all the skills I’ve gained through training for the half-marathon I’m not running this weekend, and turn it into a killer performance in another half, probably in early spring.
And next fall?
I just might try for the full.
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Read any article about weight-loss tips or healthy living and you will undoubtedly find a line in it that knocks the so-called “fancy gym.”
It might say something like:
“You don’t need a fancy gym membership to get in shape.”
“Fancy gym memberships won’t take off the pounds.”
“Who needs to go to a fancy gym when staying active is as simple as lacing up your sneakers and hitting the road. ”
These statements are true, to a certain degree. No one needs the new iPhone, the NFL Sunday Ticket, the state-of-the-art laptop, or the leather sectional when the wool one was just fine. These upgrades might make your life more fun or more comfortable, but these are wants, not needs (although my husband might beg to differ about the NFL Sunday Ticket).
But where emotional and physical well-being are concerned, I have absolutely no problem with admitting that I am deeply in love with my “fancy gym.”
I have belonged to and visited other gyms. And while the experiences haven’t been terrible, these other establishments do not hold a candle to the environment, support, and facilities of Midtown. It’s the atmosphere of Midtown that has made it so much easier to attain my fitness goals.
At Midtown, if I have a question about how to work a machine, I can find a fitness attendant or personal trainer within seconds who is willing to drop everything to help me. They are highly visible. They are incredibly knowledgeable. And they have never, ever made me feel like my question was unimportant or silly, even when my question was, “Um, how do you start this Arc Trainer?” and the answer was, “See this large, green QuickStart button? Press it.”
At Midtown, I can work out, have lunch, take a tennis lesson, attend a yoga class, and get a massage, all without ever leaving the grounds. And on my way out, I can skip the Starbucks run by grabbing an iced coffee in the cafe. Considering my schedule is anything but flexible, having everything under one roof is very convenient.
At Midtown, my children are able to enjoy 4,000 square feet of Pure Kiddie Heaven in Kidtown, where they are enthusiastically greeted by name every time we arrive by the friendly, energetic, warm, and helpful associates who work there. My 21-month-old twins love the people who work in Kidtown so much that they yell the name of their favorite staff member the minute I push them through the door in the stroller. Where once they clung to me and cried, they now practically trip over their own feet to rush into the play area, leaving me in their Cheerio-laden dust. They love being there because the staff members take the time to make each experience a joy for them. And this makes my workouts all the more productive because I do not have to worry about them for one second.
At Midtown, the staff I’ve met ask me about my training. They’ve offered me tips to improve. They are genuinely interested in me and my progress. And the staff members I do not know personally are always supremely friendly and accommodating. Encouragement means everything when you’re training for a solo-sport event, like a marathon or half-marathon.
At Midtown, the facilities are always clean. There are towels on the racks at all times, the rugs and floors are grime-free, and the locker rooms and bathrooms are spotless, even during high-volume times. The club does not have the funky gym smell I immediately noticed in other clubs. Working out in a clean club makes a difference. It helps me enjoy my time there, and it encourages me to stay longer.
At Midtown, I have never had to wait for a treadmill. I’ve only ever had one instance where a machine wasn’t working. The treadmills and ellipticals are replaced every year, even if they’re in perfect working order, to ensure the best experience for the members using them.
At Midtown, the pool is an oasis, especially in the hot summer we’re experiencing in Rochester. I don’t belong to a country club, but I’d imagine the atmosphere is similar to the one in the outdoor pool area, minus the pretension.
I’m always with at least one of my young children, but that doesn’t stop me from looking longingly at the people reading on lounge chairs, or enjoying a glass of wine with friends under the umbrellas, and thinking, “Someday, that will be me. It may be 18 years from now, but one day, that will be me!”
At Midtown, the opportunities to make new friends and business contacts abound. From tennis socials to Sunshine Yoga on the Great Lawn to PowerNet meetings, for me, belonging to Midtown has been about gaining a new community of like-minded individuals. And it’s a community to which I feel lucky to belong.
And this is why you’ll never find me knocking my “fancy gym.”
How does your membership make a difference to your fitness goals?
This month’s “Ask the Trainer” post features Midtown personal trainer Dave Statt, whom I asked most of the questions I received from last month’s “Ask the Trainer” post.
Dave has been at Midtown for 19 years, and holds an M.S. in Exercise Physiology. He is a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and an NASM Certified Personal Trainer. His recent personal accomplishments include competing in the Musselman Triathlon and being a two-time finisher of the Adirondack Canoe Classic (AKA “The 90-Miler”).
Kristi: Tell me about your background and how you became interested in personal training.
Dave: I began lifting weights at age 12, and haven’t stopped since! I began college with the goal of becoming a Physical Education teacher, but I soon realized I loved training and science, so I switched my major to Exercise Physiology. My job is very fun. I enjoy helping clients develop a passion for exercise and achieving fitness goals.
Reader Question: “I am training to run a half-marathon in September, but don’t want to give up my regular yoga practice. What is a good balance? I try to go to 3-5 yoga classes a week.”
Dave: 3-5 yoga classes per week is too much. I would do two per week, and then do two full-body stretch sessions, which may include static and dynamic stretches that are running-specific. In general, yoga is a workout so you have to take that into account with all of the running so you don’t over-train.
Reader Question: “There was a discussion on Facebook awhile back about the ideal number of days to work out per week. Some people said they worked out 4 days, some 5, some all 7. What’s the right answer, and is it possible to work out too much?”
Dave: Frequency of workouts depends on many factors. The more intense you train, the more days off you need. It is a difficult question to answer. You have to listen to your body and if you’re feeling worn down, then take a day off. It also depends on what you are doing. I recommend strength-training 3x per week and cardio 4x per week, but you can do those on the same days as well. I would not train 7 days per week. Always take a day off.
Reader Question: “Which cardio machine at the club is best for burning fat and losing weight?”
Dave: Any cardio machine that uses a lot of muscle groups is most effective at challenging the heart and metabolic system. Here are the cardio machines that are best in terms of calorie expenditure in order from most effective to least effective:
1) Running on treadmill
2) Step mill
4) Cybex Elliptical
6) Precor Elliptical with upper body
7) Precor Elliptical without upper body
Reader Question: “If you could design a nutrition plan for a 40-something male who wants to lose about 50 pounds, what would it include?”
Dave: That is a difficult question to answer on a blog. You may want to meet with a nutritionist or trainer that can assess your current status to provide you with a thorough program.
Reader Question: “I’ve been reading a lot about sports drinks lately. Some research says they’re good for refueling after exercise, while others say water is best. What do you think?”
Dave: The best time to refuel for enhanced recovery is within 30 minutes of completing an intense workout. The fuel should be a 4-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein. Some drinks meet those requirement (e.g. some new products made by Gatorade, Endurox, and even chocolate milk). Water is best for hydration, but not for refueling. They are different. Always rehydrate. Sports drinks are not bad, but some are full of sugar and unneeded calories.
Thank you, Dave!
If you emailed me a question and don’t see it answered here, it will appear in next month’s “Ask the Trainer” post.
As for the rest of you, don’t be shy! If you have a question you would like one of the gods or goddesses of the Fitness department to answer, you can post your question as a comment to this post, or email it to me at email@example.com. If you email the question, I will ask it anonymously on your behalf, and post the question and answer (but not your name) on the next “Ask the Trainer” post. You do not need to be a member to ask a question.
What do you want to know?
On June 12th, I ran “The Fast and the Furriest” 10K to benefit the Verona Street Animal Society in Rochester. I took more than three minutes off my time from the Lilac 10K back in May, and ended up with a PR (personal record) of 50:31.
The very next day, I could not run at all.
I had experienced a lingering pain along the inside of the upper thigh of my left leg for a week previous to the race. It never bothered me while I ran, but it would hurt after my runs. I finished the race and felt fine, but later that day the sharp pains would hit with virtually every step. Walking up stairs was exceptionally painful.
The next morning, I foolishly got up at 6am, laced up my sneakers, strapped on my ancient Shuffle and set out to run. I didn’t get very far before I had to stop. In the light drizzle of a cool Sunday morning – weather that would have been perfect for the seven-miler I was planning – I had to stop and limp back home instead.
The next morning, I headed to Midtown, tracked down the club’s unofficial trainer for runners, Bruce Hedlund, and asked for his advice and help. I was in full-on panic mode, terrified that I would lose to this injury my training progress, pace, and leg strength that I had been working so hard for during the last four months.
He talked me down from the ledge by assuring me that I had plenty of time before the half-marathon, and told me I should cross-train instead until I felt better. He set me up on the Arc Trainer (who knew there were cardio machines at the club besides treadmills?), and said he would introduce me to the magic of the foam roller later in the week when my injury wasn’t as acute.
Two days later, Bruce showed me a bunch of exercises similar to these that I could use to speed up my recovery. Bruce said the foam roller is the runner’s best friend, so if you run, I would highly recommend you check them out because the exercises helped me quite a bit.
After eight days of cross-training and no running, I did my first treadmill run on Tuesday and another yesterday. I am off pace and running shorter distances than my half-marathon training plan dictates, because I am hesitant to push myself this week.
But after wallowing in self-pity and experiencing daily panic attacks brought on by the belief that I would never run again and that my half-marathon dreams were over, I am running again.
I know that injuries are part of training. A marathoner friend recently told me that runners are always a single step ahead of an injury, and now I know that’s true. Training for the half-marathon has become a part-time job of sorts for me: I have to get my miles in, I have to do my intervals, I have to stay healthy. And with the relative insanity of balancing training along with my work, caring for three children under the age of four, and ensuring the health department doesn’t condemn my house for unsuitable living conditions, for a brief moment I thought that a break from the rigors of training would be welcome.
But it wasn’t. I hated each and every day I was off the road or the treadmill.
On Saturday night, I watched Spirit of the Marathon for the first time. Admittedly, watching this movie while injured was not the wisest choice I’ve ever made. I was a blubbering mess through most of it. But while I was sobbing quietly in the dark and hoping my sleeping husband wouldn’t hear me, I was watching some of the most incredible stories of perseverance and triumph over adversity I’ve ever seen.
Most of the runners profiled were “ordinary people.” While two were superstar professional athletes, the others in training for the Chicago Marathon included a 30-something single mother, a 26-year-old PhD student, and a 70-year-old man who ran his first marathon at age 65.
Each of them had a reason why they were training for the marathon. Whether it was to mark a return from a devastating injury, attempt to qualify for Boston, or simply to accomplish something many people just cannot do, the people profiled in this documentary would not be side-tracked by pain, personal circumstance, or the allure of a warm bed on a freezing cold morning when a 20-mile run is on tap.
I might not be training for a full marathon (yet), but I could completely identify with the runners in this film. And watching this movie made me really think about why it is I’m adding yet another “thing” (as my grandma calls my training) to an already very busy life.
I am running the Rochester Half-Marathon in September to prove to myself that I can do it and to show my children that with hard work, they can achieve anything they want to do.
I’ve set a goal. And I will achieve it.
(Of course, I may achieve it from the back of an ambulance because I have passed out from exhaustion at Mile 5, but either way, I’ll get there.)
“When you cross the finish line, it will change your life forever.”
-Dick Beardsley from “Spirit of the Marathon”
But it was my first (and only) digital music player, and it gets me through my runs like no amount of positive thinking, grit, or determination does.
Of course, that’s because I have several power songs on my playlist. These songs infuse me with bursts of energy when the last mile of a long training run is threatening to drag me down. They kick-start my speed intervals, which help me run faster for longer stretches of time. And they push me to run a mile or two farther than I did the week before.
My general tastes in music are definitely in the alternative vein, but some of my power songs are not. Here’s my list:
“She Sells Sanctuary” by The Cult
Okay, so I was 9 when this song came out, but I’ve long held a penchant for 80s-era British rock bands. The meaning of the lyrics is somewhat of a mystery. Some say it’s about social isolation. Others insist that it’s about a man in love with a “lady of the evening.” But I love playing this song during the last half mile of my runs. It’s my “the finish line is near” power song.
“The Other Side” by Pendulum
The first minute of this song builds up to a great switch-up in the beat, and once the song reaches that point, I start running a speed interval. Running intervals within the first two miles of a run is relatively easy for me. Running them six or seven miles in is not. So, I try and have this song queued up just before I start.
“You Spin Me Right Round” by Dead or Alive
The 2009 re-mixed version of this song gets me in my sneakers and out the door on cold, rainy mornings, it helps me power up hills, and it makes me want to go dancing in the tinfoil paradise known as Vertex in downtown Rochester, a place where I spent a great deal of time in the early 90s.
And last, but not least…
“Lose Yourself” by Eminem
I realize Eminem doesn’t exactly fit the genre to which my other power songs belong, but I can’t help it. I love this tune. It helps me push through to the end of my run, when one mile back I thought I didn’t have anything left in me. The lyrics make me think of crossing the finish line at my half-marathon in September, of achieving this goal of mine that I’ve held on to for so long.
(Oh, and sometimes I do a little above-the-head fist-pumping while this song plays. Don’t tell anyone, or you’ll ruin my street cred.)
“Feet Fail Me Not.”
Admit it, it’s a perfect running song.
What are your power songs for your workout?
I was not always a runner.
In high school and college, I was the classic bookworm. I studied. I co-edited my high school paper and wrote for my college one. I read stacks of books and wrote short stories and poetry. I ate whatever I wanted, and didn’t give much thought to what I was putting into my body. My eating habits were awful. I was the only vegetarian I knew who didn’t eat vegetables.
One day, I stepped on the scale and was horrified by the number staring back at me. I turned to my sister, a long-time runner, and asked her about her sport. She encouraged me to lace up my sneakers and get back into shape. That was almost seven years ago.
I ran 30 miles a week and was in the best shape of my adult life. Running had given me back my strength, my energy, and my body. I was addicted. On the one day a week I did not run, I felt as if I had accidentally worn my slippers to Wegmans. Something was just off.
I set a goal to train for a half-marathon.
Of course, my journey has had detours. My detours are now three and 17 months old.
In 2006 my daughter was born, and 30 miles a week, plus a full-time job, plus freelance work was no longer possible. Instead, I ran 20 a week, and while it wasn’t enough, it had to be enough.
In 2008, my twins were born. And a life that seemed chaotic before their arrival suddenly morphed into the very definition of mayhem. Running was squeezed into the crevices. Five miles one week, fifteen the next, and three the week after that. I had no schedule. No rhythm. And certainly no speed. They had colic for six months. I functioned on less than five hours of broken sleep a night until well past their first birthday.
My runs suffered.
And in October of last year, I stopped running. We moved. I had taken on a number of large freelance projects. I had three children under the age of three. I told myself that there wasn’t time. That I would start again soon. That there would be plenty of time for running in the future.
It was the wrong decision.
Running makes me a better writer. It makes me a better mother. It makes me a better human being. It is something that is mine, and mine alone. Whether I am on a deserted road or on the treadmill at Midtown surrounded by fellow runners, I am completely centered, focused, and driven. My outside distractions, my kids, my deadlines, my mountainous piles of laundry cease to matter in the slightest.
I needed to find a way to bring running back into my life.
In February, I joined Midtown. The club has, in many ways, given me back my life. I am “me” again.
I drop off my children in Kidtown, where a wonderfully kind, patient, and dedicated staff takes incredible care of them. I can complete my runs knowing that they are in a safe and fun environment, which means so much to me. The social scene of the club is something I’m looking forward to enjoying as well. My family and I attended the Bunny Brunch recently, and we all had a blast.
And the half-marathon plans are back on. I’m running in the Rochester Half-Marathon in September.
My Midtown story isn’t that different from yours, minus, perhaps, the Twinsanity. Each of you has made healthy living a priority. Each of you belongs to Midtown (or would like to) for a reason. Whether it’s the pursuit of a lifestyle change, a fitness goal you want to attain, or a sport you want to perfect, Midtown is serving an important purpose, and I would love to hear about it. Write a comment, use the form on the Contact page, or send me an email at Kristi@meetme-atmidtown.com.
This blog is for you, Midtown’s members and future members. It will feature member profiles, an “Ask the Trainer” series, commentary on current health news, and special posts, such as “Midtown’s Best-Kept Secrets,” which will highlight aspects of the club you might not know about. And of course, I want to hear your ideas, too. If you have a suggestion for a post on this blog, please share it.
Welcome to your blog. I hope you’ll return often.