Monday Night Runs: From a Newcomer's Perspective

If I'm to be completely honest, I've always hated running. I always found it dull and punishing, yet I once felt the same way about fitness before I found myself hooked. Just like most people, I started working out in high school as a means to lose weight, and for a long time I’ve managed to get myself in the gym to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

As time went on, I began falling in love with the entire journey and learned so much about myself. This taught me discipline and independence ... Working out became personal, it was the one thing I did for myself. And most importantly, I found self-confidence.

I’ve tried it all and although I hated running, I tried to incorporate it into my routine to try to switch things up, but I just could not commit to it. I remember dreading the run days in my CrossFit classes, especially the random 5Ks they’d throw in. Anything over a mile made me sick to my stomach. But it was through that experience I learned running is like anything else in life, the key is consistency.

For a long time, I convinced myself that running isn't for everyone and certainly not for me. I now realize this was just an excuse, and this somehow became a light-bulb moment for me. So, I came to Harlem Run to give running a chance and I mean really give it a chance. I was ready to tackle a major weakness of mine and face the pavements.

Being active has the most positive impact on my mood, productivity, and overall livelihood. In the past, I feel I've failed each time I tried running on my own but I've always wanted to overcome and try to push myself. When a friend of mine referred me to Harlem Run, the thought of being around experienced runners gave me anxiety and was intimidating at first, but my experience so far has been so great. I attended my very first session a few weeks ago for a Thursday speed workout, quickly followed by a Monday night run the following week. I left both sessions feeling accomplished and inspired... oh and SURPRISED that I did not pass out!

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My first two sessions with Harlem Run definitely boosted my confidence in running and I love that there are so many paces to choose from on the runs. This eliminates the pressure to keep up with others and the fear of failure. It's also amazing to witness a community of different individuals who are all on a healthy journey of their own. Being that I am a new member and did not come with any friends of my own, I felt welcomed and was fascinated by how friendly and supportive everyone is.

I truly believe the camaraderie in any sport/physical activity is what makes it incredibly fun. I plan to continue attending many more sessions with Harlem Run. Fitness taught me many things that I was able to apply in other areas of my life. I look forward to learning a lot about running and being more aware of my body. Right now, my main goal is to increase my endurance so that I am able to set real goals for myself and work towards achieving them. I'm excited for what's to come and look forward to reaching some milestones of my own.

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- Nabila

Harlem Run News - August 2017

Interested in a spot in the 2018 NYC Marathon?

We've got you covered. For anyone interested in obtaining an entry into this year's NYC Marathon (Note: you will have to pay for the entry once selected). We have a special contest to help us make the selection. Starting to today and ending on 8/25, follow the instructions below:

  1. Follow us on Instagram (@HarlemRun) and Twitter (@Harlem_Run)
  2. Post ten (10) separate times about what excites you most about running in the NYC Marathon
  3. Use the hashtag #HarlemRun and #HR_NYCM

The winner will be announced August 28th. We look forward to your selection!

MXMRelay 2.0

We are less than two-weeks away from the second installment of our friendly competition that will have teams running through the streets of Harlem and  hitting some iconic spots. Teams are forming, and some have been releasing their team names. Remember the details of the route will be sent out the Monday before (i.e. August 14th)....REGISTER HERE

Next month, we are returning to Detroit and we hope you are ready. We'll be starting from the Under Armour Brand House, and running along the riverfront. Join us for a pop-up mile where there will be raffles, a shopping discount, gear for sale and more. For more info CLICK HERE.

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*NEW GEAR ALERT*
Tonight, during & after #MonNgtRun, we will be selling a new women's tank and a men's shirt. It will be available via big cartel tomorrow. Sizes are limited, so be sure to scoop up a shirt/tank (or two or three) for you and your loved ones. 

FinishLine Spring Running Summit 2.0 Takeaways

Last month, Philippa and I had the honor of attending Finishline's Spring Running Summit 2.0. This summit could not have come at a better time in my life as I am preparing to begin my training for my fist marathon and still feel like a novice within the world of running.  The summit covered areas such as your training, nutrition, recovery, and sports psychology. The biggest highlight and take-away from this summit is how important each and every factor is in contribution to YOU running long term and preventing injuries.

Here were some of the breakout sessions we attended and things learned from the day.

Training and Recovery: Coaches Jason and Andrew

Coaches spoke about the importance and focus of prehab and rehab. They expressed doing things more intelligently and training for life, not just a race. They also talked about preventing burnout. 

How do you create a training plan/s? Here were some questions they suggested you ask yourself in creating and/or choosing a training plan that is geared towards you and injury prevention.

-What are your goals?

-What are your obligations? What are the ones this year?

-How do you structure your training? Your days?

-What do you do for recovery?

Any specifc time goals or PR?

What does your training week look like?

What about cross training? How often? What about non-running things?

What is your life schedule?

What is your recovery schedule?

Being realistic with your goal setting was one of the most important points made throughout the summit, as well as being okay with modifying your plan as needed, depending on life obstacles or how you are feeling.

GOALS

Create SMART goals. Be specific, make sure the goal is measurable, attainable for you, realistic for you to achieve this goal, and time specific. Be okay with modification along the way.

Common Stressors

Life tends to get in the way at time of our training. This can cause fatigue, illness or even burn out. Stressors such as work, family, relationships, illness, new job, new child, peer pressure from other runners, FOMO from other runners, and social media are just a few. However, apps such as Strava and Instagram can be huge motivators.

Coaches addressed that importance of looking at your lifestyle, especially all your common stressors, before committing to a plan. Importance was also addressed about allow listening to your body and allowing yourself to recover when you are feeling fatigue or tired.

One the biggest take ways from the coaches was that training plans are stressful and that it's okay to miss a workout and NOT MAKE IT UP during your training plan. Additionally, it was stressed by coaches that everyone’s 20 miler is different from runner to runner and the same can be said for recovery. Coaches advised that it’s more important to pay attention to the time spent on running then the actual mileage, so 3 hours run instead of a 20 mile run. Also - don't take into account what everyone else is doing! 

Recovery plays a huge role in training as well. This includes foam rolling, wrapping, compression sleeves, stretching, and 3D mobility. Recovery has to be part of your training. It was addressed that its best for you to run 5-10 minutes less and use that time to warm up/stretch then to run a full 50 or 1 hour run.

Always listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel and understand when your body needs a break and take it easy. It's important to not over train, allowing yourself to know when you can push and when not to.

Nutrition

What is consumed during training has a large impact on your training and recovery.  There are 3 stages to healing:

  1. Inflammation-blow ups within the body that last for a few days

  2. Proliferation that can last up to 3 weeks , while body is making new cells and can get weak and also can lose more muscles

  3. Remodel and regeneration that can last up to an year while the body is repairing itself and creating new cells and old ones being repaired and body is promoting a lot of repair.

There was great discussion around what food can be consumed to help improve blood flow and the function of immunity cells. Some ideas provided were to consider more fruits, veggies, increase intake of omega 3 and 6 along with intake of amino acid and whey protein. The importance of avoiding such pills like Advil was stressed as these pain killers interfere with the body’s natural healing process and impact injuries.

It was advise to consume more of the formerly mentioned items especially fruits and vegetables such as 1) Broccoli 2) Apples 3) Citrus Fruits 4) Papaya 5) Pineapples 6) Red Grapes 7) Garlic 8) Turmeric 9) Apricot 10) Mangos 11) Red Pepper 12) Spinach 13) berries 14) kiwi 15) Pecans 16) Walnuts.

Dr Mercer also stressed the importance of eating. Just because you are exercising less due to injury or more due to training, you need to eat and eat high proteins and Omegas’. As formerly mentioned, the items suggesedt are very important and help in cell creation and repairs in a faster rate as well as body consumption of these things such as fats and protein. It was suggested that we should be consuming food every 3-4 hours.

-Lisa

Harlem Run, #UnlikeAny

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Hello everyone! If you have been following us on social media, you'll know that last week was a big one for us. We want to dedicate this blog to our founder, Alison Désir. This past week, Under Armour launched their new global campaign, #UnlikeAny, that celebrates the accomplishments of female athletes who defy the odds and persevere. 

Among the faces of the campaign are Misty Copeland, Natasha Hastings, Jessie Graff, Zoe Zhang, and our very own ... Alison! Harlem Run leadership is so proud of everything Alison has achieved in the running community thus far, and there are certainly more exciting things to come. Be sure to check Alison out on the Under Armour website, read her story, and of course follow her (and us!) on social media for all other updates. Again, we are so proud of you, Alison!!

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Last week was also a memorable week for us, as Alison and Captain Amir got engaged! Yes, that's right - as if last week couldn't have gotten any better. At the launch of Alison's new global campaign, Amir got down on one knee and put a ring on it! Best wishes to our captains as they take on the next chapters of their lives. We can't wait to see where the world takes you!

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Running, My Unexpected Outlet

“Wait. Wait. Come and do WHAT?”

That was my response, as I stood there drenched in sweat, out of breath, wide-eyed, and with my mouth open, staring at my friend as we finished our weekly cardio-aerobics class. The instructor just announced to us that she was moving away, and that this would be our last class. We had both been attending this same fun, challenging class for the past two years, and had looked forward to it every week. Needless to say everyone was heartbroken for it to end.

“Aww … You should come check out this run group. They meet the same time as this class. It would be a great replacement,” suggested my friend, who had noticed my sad disposition.

I stood there, looking in the huge gym mirrors in front of us - slightly overweight - as I had gained weight after being put on hormonal medicine by my doctor -- which I later stopped taking because of the poor side-effects. Also, after just leaving a toxic and unhealthy relationship and experiencing major career uncertainty, I was feeling a bit disconnected. Overall, I just wasn’t myself.  I knew I had to act fast and try to bounce back to a healthier state of being.

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It just didn’t seem logical - asking me, who was a girly girl that lived for her high heels, fancy dresses, and makeup - to do something athletic. Even though I had taken dance classes off and on throughout my life, had done musical theater and other performing arts, I was FAR from THAT type of world - sweat, Gatorade, physical endurance - a world that felt like something straight out of a commercial.

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Well. Alright. I had nothing to lose. I could at least give it one try until I find another class. Then I simply don’t have to go back. No worries. Right? ............. WRONG!

Well to my surprise, not only have I really grown to enjoy the sport of running, I find it quite meditative. Throughout all the heavy breathing, discomfort, and accelerated heart beats, I find myself in a state of solitude - mentally solving certain problems and coming up with new creative ideas. Hitting a “reset” button somewhere deep within.

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As my feet hit the concrete *POMF*...*POMF*… I’m thinking to myself, “Hey maybe I should go to my boss and ask for the raise”... *POMF**POMF*, “Ya know Katherine, I think it’s time to actually end that toxic relationship” ... taking long deep breaths as I’m pushing myself, putting one foot in front of the other …*POMF* ... POMF*... "Hey, why don’t you submit your art to that festival? You’ve got admirable work out there.”

Just like the little engine that could- I think I can, I think I can. Wait. I KNOW I can. The next thing you know, I’m heading towards the finishing point, steps away. Feeling GREAT!!

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So not only did I also go back the NEXT Monday, I started showing up on Thursday nights for speed work too! Then later, found an awesome, encouraging, and dependable run/walking partner on Saturday mornings (and our group is slowly growing)! That’s now, what 3 days a week? Whoa. (Smiles)

And it just keeps getting better. I’ve now gone from run/walk to a 12min running pace and will be running my very first 5K in July. There’s really no better way to get in shape than with a wonderful community of supportive runners who push and encourage each other, both on the track and off.

 At THIS rate, I’ll be running the New York City marathon! Well, not so fast … lol. ONE goal at a time.

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-Katherine 

Harlem Run Newsletter - July 2017

Hello there!  We are excited to now bring our newsletter to you ON THE BLOG.  We will continue to use our mailing list on occasion but, for now, stay tuned right here for the latest on the movement.

Tonight is #MonNgtRun

July, 10, 2017
Bag check @ Harlem Shake by 6:55pm
Meet up @ Marcus Garvey Park by 7pm

#UAMtRunning

The first location this month, will take place at Cascade Volcano. Seven distances will be available for you to choose from: 50K, Marathon, Half-Marathon, Marathon Relay, Vertical Challenge, 10K and 5K.

Cascade Volcano - Bachelor, Oregon
Saturday, July 22, 2017
FOR MORE INFORMATION

#MXMRelay 2.0

The time has come for your chance to dethrone our last year's champtions, Dem Harlem Boyz. Teams of 4 (no less than 2) will run 26.2 miles collectively through Harlem. The location of the starting line and route will be revealed the Monday before the race (i.e. Monday August 14th). Stay tuned, but most importantly register ASAP. The field is limited to 15 teams.

Date - Saturday, August 19, 2017
Time - 9:00AM
REGISTER HERE

#MyTitleIX Chat @ NYRR Run Center

Whether you weren't able to attend the chat or only caught a portion of it, we have you covered. Check out the video above. Follow the hashtag #MyTitleIX via Twitter and Instagram to see the epic photo recreation of the 1967 Boston Marathon by Marshall Roach.

April & Aubrey featured in Women's Running

Last week, April and Aubrey, our favorite running duo, were featured in Women's Running Magazine. They were interviewed by Alexi Pappas before TrackTown USA's Summer Series 5K at Icahn Stadium. Follow the link below, comment and share their inspiring story. 

FULL ARTICLE

Harlem One Miler Recap: Part 2!

Hard to believe, but we are still on a high from our annual Harlem One Miler two weeks ago. This week, we continue to celebrate the stories of our runners, who truly represented all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. What moment or feeling are you still thinking about from our big day? Hit us in the comments to let us know.

Alison

I loved it all....but if I had to choose...my favorite moment was every time someone crossed the finish line. I had a front row seat, as the MC, watching everyone use the energy from the crowd as fuel. The pain the exasperation followed by a knowing smile of 'I crushed it!' It was all so moving to be part of. 

James

Father’s Day has always presented a challenge for me. Knowing my Father is alive, in the same city, yet absent from my life always hurts to the core of who I am. This year was similar in many respects. It's approach gave me moments of reflection that brought me to tears. I needed my therapy, and this year I had the perfect fix -- the Harlem One-Miler.

 Having already registered for the Family Run with my kids, I had an opportunity to share my love of running with the one thing it pales in comparison to -- my love for my kids.  

Running with them is our way of bonding.  They remember running the race in 2016. They approved of this race, and as my daughter says, “One mile is short, Daddy!” I'm trying to raise them to be marathoners, but anything more than a 5K and they're looking at me sideways!

Photo Credit: Janelle Hartman

Photo Credit: Janelle Hartman

On this day, my kids got to witness something I see all the time; the love and support of runners. My son remarked that my “friends are really nice.” Both kids thought the high-fives at the end of the race were cool! Hearing our names being called as we approached the finish line reminded me that some friends become family. No one had to read my name off a computer to know who was approaching the finish line. The Harlem One-Miler is a mashup of a wonderful, crazy, and supportive run family.

 I'm so grateful for Harlem United and Harlem Run for providing a space for my kids and I to bond with each other, while being surrounded by people who actually care about us. I look forward to doing it again.  Any time I need a reminder of what's important, I'll look back to the epiphany that my legacy isn't defined by my Father's absence, but my presence in the life of my children.

This is my Legacy…

Harlem One Miler Recap

One week ago, we celebrated our favorite day of the year -- our Harlem One Miler. What better way to look back on last week by highlighting some of our runners' stories and favorite race moments. This week and next week, we'll share race highlights, and we want to hear yours! Let us know ... What was your favorite thing about the Harlem One Miler?!

Frank, Lisa, & Maxwell

“This is my signature race” – Maxwell, age 8

I started running about 3 years ago.  It was one of those things that you say you could never see yourself doing and then all of a sudden, there you are.  For me, it began as a mental health exercise and I can honestly say it has changed my life.

Maxwell, who witnesses my love of the sport, and who is obsessed with my medals, was beyond excited to run his first race. I, however, was still reeling from my dismal performance at the Queens 10K the day before. We picked up Frank and headed over to the race, where he also let me know that he had registered me for the Women’s Fast heat.  I said, Frank, “I am not fast”.  He said, “You’ll be fine”.  If you happen to know Frank, you know that this is the end of the conversation.  No whining.  

Frank ran first.  We hooted, we hollered, and Maxwell yelled “Hey! I know that guy!” We were bursting with pride - I had never felt so much joy in watching other runners success. The energy from the crowd, the strength and determination from the runners, and of course the excitement from Maxwell was nothing short of exhilarating.

When the Women's Fast heat was called, my heart dropped. I had never been so nervous, even after running multiple 5K, 10K and half marathons. As we lined up, all the women around me were incredibly supportive. I heard, was “We got this ladies” and “Take a deep breath girls, let’s do this” and “Who run the world? GIRLS!”  I felt empowered and incredibly lucky to find myself in this group of women.  When I crossed the finish line, out of breath and incredibly thirsty, I checked my running app and realized I just ran my personal best mile.  

I thought that there was no way I could beat this feeling. Until the family heat proved me wrong. All morning, Maxwell asked when it was going to be his turn?  When would he get his own medal? We lined up with all the other kids and families and psyched each other up. The three of us, walked, ran and talked. 

Once we got to the final turn and the last straight away I realized I have a little runner on my hands.  He turned the corner and waved at the crowd as he broke away from Frank and I.  The crowd literally went wild for him, high fives were flying, cheers were loud and the smile on my face could not have gotten any bigger.Later, as we were on our way home, Maxwell said I am definitely coming back.  That was the most fun.  This is my signature race.

Katherine

As I reflect on 6/18/17, I realize it was an exceptionally meaningful day. It was full of excitement, encouragement, and community. People of all ages, women, men, and kids – various paces and abilities - gave their all as they ran the 3rd Annual Harlem One Miler.

In a group filled with so much diversity, on that day, we were one as we shared a united goal to finish with our very best effort. This is very notable during a time in our country where racial and cultural division is at an all-time high.

It was an especially important day for me, as it was my VERY FIRST RACE. EVER. Being a complete novice to the amazing world of running, I started in September of last year as a Run/Walker. When I first heard about the Harlem One Miler, I signed up as sort of a bet to myself. If I can complete the race without having to stop and walk to catch my breath, then it was a good sign for me to continue on with my running goals. After much practice,  not only did I achieve that goal, but I also surpassed my expectations and completed with 10:12 min pace time!

Even though I am proud of my finish time, I also realize that I have more work to do, more refinement and personal fit goals to accomplish. And that’s ok. The race is not over, it’s only just begun.

Thank You for the Support!

Yesterday, we celebrated our favorite day of the year, the 3rd Annual Harlem One Miler! We wanted to send out a quick THANK YOU to everyone who helped out and participated in our big day. Whether you ran, volunteered, cheered, supported a friend or family member who was running, or just stopped by, we appreciate you being there!

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Every year on the day of the Harlem One-Miler we're able to enjoy one another's company and reflect upon everything that we've accomplished in the past year, all while running, enjoying Harlem, and having some friendly competition. It's not an exaggeration to say that each year the Harlem One-Miler seems to get better and better. 

To those of you who ran, congratulations. To those of you who earned a PR, well done! To those of you who volunteered and/or cheered, you are the reason we keep doing what we're doing. We will see you all tonight at Monday Night Run where we can't wait to hear some more of your stories.

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What was your favorite memory from yesterday? Let us know in the comments! 

Much love, as always.

-Harlem Run Leadership

Rock the Ridge 50 Miler: Part Two

Last week, we shared Captain Amir's story of his 50-mile through the Mohonk Preserve in New York State. We are beyond inspired by his incredible feat, but he's not the only who blazed a trail. Philippa, one of our extremely dedicated pacers, also took on the challenge. Continue reading to hear what her experience was like. 

"It's better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all."  ... I'm not sure I ever truly understood the value in that quote until I tried to complete my first ultra marathon. 

Throughout my life, I have had a tendency to choose challenges that may seem outrageous, but I have always known, without a doubt, that I would succeed. As I learn more about myself, I realize now that what I had for the last 20 years was a fear of the big F. You guessed it, Failure. 

Fear of failure kept me from trying certain things, although not many people on the outside would have noticed this. I have jumped out of planes, traveled the world, climbed mountains, dated bad boys. I wasn't afraid. Right? I spent a lot of time proving to myself that I was fearless. That I was limitless. But was I? And what was the point in trying something if you weren't going to actually achieve whatever it was you were trying to do?

When Alison mentioned the 50-mile run over dinner one night,  I thought to myself, "Hell no, this is not for you. You've only run a half marathon and that was hard! This is an extra 37 miles. You are not on this level yet." And then for the first time ever, despite the fear of failure, I raised my hand and signed up anyway. 

I had 4 months until race day so I got a training plan and started running. Most people thought I was crazy. THEY would never run that far. WHY would anyone want to do this? HOW could I possibly think I could finish this if I hadn't even run a marathon before? I had no idea if I could, but for me, it wasn't about the race or the miles, it was about aiming for something so much bigger than I thought I was capable of.

Success didn't hinge on the finisher time or the medal, it was dependent on me showing up and trying my hardest despite the fear. Many back to back long runs, physical therapy sessions, and sore muscles later, race day arrived.


Denise, another Harlem Run regular, and I set out to endure the 50-miles together. At times, we talked and hiked, at others we ran in silence. We ate our gels, kept our packs filled with water,  and got rustic when nature called. Even when the rain started, we kept pushing. We were thinking we could finish in under 18 hours, so we put one foot in front of the other through the dense fog, another step through the cold rain. Ignore the blisters. One day of agony for a lifetime of glory.

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Four hours of being soaking wet started to take its toll as we pulled into the last aid station at mile 37.5. The path was covered in mud and it began to get dark. As the medic tended to my feet and Denise and I ate chicken broth and changed out of our wet clothes, the participants behind us were tapping out. I was kinda delirious, but I wanted to keep going. I thought we could get to the parking lot at mile 40 and quit there if we needed to. Or make it to mile 42, the last water refill, and call for a ranger if we felt bad.

We had trained for this. Our bodies felt good, legs felt strong, we didn't want to quit. I personally, didn't want to fail. I had never started something I couldn't finish. I didn't want this to be it.  Denise came to her senses first. She smiled and said we had done everything right, and we should be proud of making it this far but it was time to get in the shuttle and call it quits.

She was right, of course - it was dangerous to go on in these conditions, so we got our things and got in the van just as the lightening, thunder, and downpour started. We just looked at each other and laughed so hard. We could have been out there in that! There's weather proof and then there's stupid, and at this moment I was really glad we chose stupid-proof.

 I am so proud of my DNF (that's race code for Did Not Finish). In fact, it is the first thing I ever tried and didn't complete. I thought not finishing would shame me, that I would feel bad or embarrassed. How could I show up around all my runner friends without this medal? And then I reminded myself that it wasn't about them or the medal. It was about the trying. The work to get to the start line. The leap of faith. The believing in yourself. The doubting yourself and going for it anyway.

For me, the ultra was a way to practice my mental strength. It was an opportunity to find my barriers and break through them. The ultra gave me something nothing else has - a place to fight the fear of failure and win. So while I may not have finished the ultra, I have definitely won. Although I considered jumping Amir for his medal (I kid, kinda), I proudly display my bib on my medal rack at home. It's Bib number 99 on which I have written DNF & completed 37.5 miles. There is victory in trying. I know this now.