Who is Your SHEro?

As we wrap up an incredible Women's History Month and look forward to our "SHEro" Run tonight, we wanted to turn to some of our captains and pacers and hear about their SHEroes. Who is your SHEro? Let us know in the comments.

Amir

My Shero is the one and only, Cynthia. Ever since joining the movement, Cynthia has always shown up. Her consistency, perseverance, and determination has inspired me. She is one of my heroes and it's an honor to see how she inspires so many.

Kayla

My mom is my “Shero” - she has and always will be my biggest fan. My mom pushes me to think critically about the decisions I make in life, and what I admire most about her is that no matter what I do - whether I’m starting grad school, running a race, or moving to a new city - she always shows up and let’s me know that my happiness is her priority. Seeing her cheering me along on the course of my first half-marathon as well as my first marathon were some of the happiest and proudest moments I’ll ever have.

Raydime

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At SUNY New Paltz, I met Rita Kusi [@ritakusi], an alum who provided mentoring and guidance to women, including myself. Ten years later, we remain close friends and her life path inspires me in many ways. Rita quit her job, moved to Ghana, started Kusi Consulting, and wrote and self-published a book that empowers young women. Rita creates opportunities for professionals and through her movement, Sista 2 Sista, she hosts workshops and summits.  She recently started running and ran her first 10k last year! I am proud and grateful to have her in my life ... Thank you for cheering me on and for all the women and youth that you serve with the biggest smile on your face.

Tasha

My sister is my "Shero". Her loving, honest and firm ways not only teach us but show us that no matter what, we will get through it together. She is someone I know I can count on anytime and the bond we share is something I would never trade for anything in the world. She is the best version of me! I love you Carolina.

Lisa

My shero is my mother. Despite all the hurdles life threw at her, like being an immigrant to the US,  a single mother with two children, having a limited education, and not knowing the native language, she still managed to overcome. She showed me the true meaning of being consistent and persistent. Most importantly, she has shown me, through action, the importance of community - supporting, developing, and celebrating those minimal steps we tend to forget. She always finds a way to be helpful to others regardless of her limited resources. 

Kai

My Shero is my mom. Hands down the strongest person I know. From teaching me how to navigate the Big Apple, knowing little to no English, to standing her ground in all of our battles with things I learned, to watching sitcoms growing up. Everyday of my adult life I am learning more and more about how much she was right. Looks like I will be apologizing to her for the rest of my life. Everything she did was because she wants the best for me. 

Philippa

My sHero is Skyrunner Emelie Forsberg [@tinaemelie], who is a world champion of trail running and ski mountaineering. Emelie used to run in the mountains for fun, but soon realized that she could become elite and has since made it her professional career. She also posts the most amazing photos of herself flying over mountains. I am inspired by the wins and the struggles of her training and race experiences, and am most drawn to her love of nature, the fact that she is always smiling, and her consistent message of loving your body and the amazing things it can do. After recovering from ACL surgery in 2016 she came back to win several races in the Skyrunner World Series. The girl is just badass!

Reminiscing on My Running 'Firsts'

I’m coming up on my first Boston Marathon in just a few weeks, and I'm looking forward to representing Harlem Run along with Alison, Amir, and Joe.  This occasion seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on some of my other memorable running “firsts.”

First Run

Okay, so maybe not the first time I moved faster than walking pace, but at least the first run that set me on the path to being “a runner.”  Prior to my first real run, I had been what you could call “aggressively sedentary.”  Like so many lifestyle changes, this one began shortly after New Year’s.

Instead of a resolution, it was a challenge – my girlfriend, Margi, threw down the gauntlet to run a half marathon by the fall.  I may have been lazy, but I was also competitive, and if she could do it, so could I.  We set out for our first training run straight away – a little 2.5mi path outside the place we were staying in Miami.  We took off, and I found myself leading. 

I was convinced Margi was waiting in the wings a step behind, ready to blow by me as soon as I lost steam.  I killed myself trying to make sure that didn’t happen, not wanting to look back to show any weakness.  About a quarter mile from finishing the loop, I couldn’t hold up any longer.  Finally checking over my shoulder, it turned out I had quite the lead, and she wasn’t on my heels at all… I may have had zero endurance at that time, but it seemed I was decently quick. 

First Trail Run

I had been running fairly regularly at this point, but had logged all my miles on pavement or (shudder) the treadmill.  On a trip to San Diego, I came across a series of trails close to my hotel.  Criss-crossing the arid terrain was a great change of pace, and having just read Born to Run, I felt like one of the Tarahumara.  It was the first time I felt so lost in myself during a run that it seemed I could go on forever.

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First 20mi Training Run

I’m a slave to the training plan, so when my 20 miler happened to fall on a visit to my grandmother’s in Montreal, I had no choice but to say, “sorry, grandma, see you in a few hours.”  Of course, for my first run of this length, I did everything wrong – it was a hot and humid day, I was on an unfamiliar route, and didn’t bring water, anticipating fountains along the path. 

There was no water, and I got lost enough to tack on a couple miles to the run.  Afterwards was agony.  I put on a brave face for just long enough to find a quiet part of my grandmother’s house where I could lie on the ground and writhe around in pain, wondering what on earth I was doing to myself and why.

First Marathon

If the 20mi training runs were the worst part of getting ready for my first marathon, curating my running playlist might have been one of the most fun.  I spent plenty of time lining up track times vs. projected mile splits, and picking the perfect song for when I anticipated I would need a boost.  Then, in the first 200m of the Chicago marathon, my headphones break. Great. The longest run of my life is about to be my first without music. 

That bit of bad luck turned out to be a blessing in disguise – the crowd support along the course was phenomenal.  Without the music, I was so much more tuned into my surroundings.  I didn’t miss it once over the 26mi, and have rarely run with headphones since.

First Harlem Run

Is a Harlem Run shout-out shameless pandering? Maybe. But I clearly remember the first time I pulled up to Harlem Shake to see a crowd of what looked like 100+ getting ready for a Monday night run. I immediately thought, ‘these guys are legit.’ Then they announce the pace groups, starting at 7min/mi, and thought, ‘damn, these guys are really legit.’ Better still, it turned out they were friendly, too – starting with the tradition of pre-run introductions, you feel right at home on day 1.  By day 2, they treat you like family. And while I’m making shameless plugs, some self-promotion – Harlem Run Stairs 1.0 is a special running memory for me, as it was my first race win.

One great thing about running is that there’s always another challenge out there, which means plenty more firsts still to come.

- Ryan

What's Happening in March?

Hello Harlem Run!

Spring is coming...we HOPE  you're as excited as we are! We've got some great events scheduled. Here's what to look out for in the coming weeks.  Oh and new gear will be dropping soon...stay tuned!

3/19 - NYC Half Cheer Station and after party.  Meet us at 7:30am at the top of Harlem Hill as we welcome everyone to Harlem. We will head to RowHouse at 11am for brunch with the movement!

3/20 - #MonNgtRun - NYC Half Marathon Recovery with FinishLine PT.  Meet at 6:30pm at Springmoves (124 E. 124th Street 5th Floor) for a session on recovery with Finishline PT followed by a shake out run and walk.  Bag check at Springmoves; all invited (whether you raced or not).

3/27 - Harlem Run Celebrates Women's History Month with #GirlsRunTheWorld 2.0.  This special edition of Harlem Run will be in honor of all those women who inspire us.  Bring your Shero with you! 

4/17 - Harlem Run at the Boston Marathon!  Join us in Boston to cheer on Alison, Amir and Joe as they take on the Boston Marathon on the 50th anniversary of the first female numbered entry.  We will have a cheer station at mile 22 with Wilpower Fitness; more details coming soon

4/22 - HR Young Legendz Celebrate Earth Day. We are excited for this event hosted by our Young Legendz for our Young Legendz.  More details to follow; save the date! 

As always, follow us on IG, Facebook, and Twitter for updates and be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you never miss a beat.

Warmly,
Alison

The Workouts of #HarlemGetsFit

Week in and week out we put in work together. Whether we are getting faster or stronger, we get fit. For those who’ve joined us on more occasion than one, this may be a refresher, but for those who will be joining us soon, we wanted to breakdown our Thursday night speed workouts.

Hill Repeats

Our normal location for this workout is Harlem Hill at the north side of Central Park. It’s always about working in teams. We head out in groups of similar speeds, which also includes walkers and run/walkers. We start out at the bottom of the hill and run all the way to the top at about 85-90% and then either a jog or walk back down. That is one rep. After three reps we go to the opposite side and do another three reps. Some choose the alternative of doing fewer reps depending on their own personal fitness.

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Half-a-Square

Marcus Garvey Park is home to our annual #Harlem1Miler, and the location for this workout. It happens to have four sides, which will serve as our square. We head out in groups of similar speeds and run two sides of the park. Half run towards one side of the park and the half run towards the opposite side of the park. When the other side is reached, each group waits exactly two minutes. After that they head out to complete the other two sides of the park. Each group repeats that two more times for a total of three. Alternatives of few reps are always optional depending on your level of fitness.

Caterpillars

Groups of similar speeds go out together and run in single file. Once the group is ready, the person in the front gives the signal to start. The last person in line sprints all the way to the front of the line and returns to the moderate pace. This is repeated for 2-3 times as each group follows the one-mile, upper loop of Central Park.

3-2-1-2

This sequence of numbers can be broken down as follows: 3 minutes on, 2 minutes off, 1 minute on, 2 minutes off. Then you repeat it all over again for roughly 30 minutes of speedwork. When you are on you are putting out 90% of effort. When you are off you are either walking or jogging.

3-on-3-off

This is simply 3 minutes of hard effort, and 3 minutes of recovery. Recovery can be walking or jogging. Just be sure to keep it moving and don’t come to an immediate halt. The Great Hill in the northwest part of Central Park is home to this workout.

Tempo

The key to any tempo run is maintaining a consistent and specific pace. Joining groups of similar speed and pace hold everyone accountable in pushing each other. We go out at about a 90% effort circle the Harlem Meer in the northeast part of Central Park. We generally stay within 30-45 minutes of speedwork, but the goal is a specific distance.

Stairs

We are no stranger to stairs thanks our #HarlemRunStairs event, but every now and again we will utilize either Morningside Park or St. Nicholas Park. With a 20 minute time limit, the goal is to run up and down and cover as many stairs as you can. In some cases there are a lot of stairs to cover, so we offer modified versions for our walkers and run/walkers.

As with all of our workouts, HGF speed workouts welcome all ages, abilities, and performance levels. Whether you are a speed demon or are just beginning to build up your strength, these nights are for you! We hope to see you out with us on a Thursday night.

- HR Captains & HGF Regulars

Harlem One Miler Throwback Blog

The countdown to the 2017 Harlem One Miler has officially begun and REGISTRATION IS OPEN! Over the next few months, we'll be reminiscing on some of our favorite #H1 memories, and there is no better way to do that than to flashback to one of our favorite - and one of our first! - blog posts. Read on to flashback to some of the First Annual Harlem One Miler memories...

With all that life throws at you, it's easy to just relax and not help out. This weekend I had the wonderful opportunity of volunteering for Harlem United and Harlem Run’s first Harlem One-Miler. This opportunity allowed me to give back to the community and connect with people from all walks of life in NYC. 

It felt great cheering on all the different runners/walkers while ensuring that we were all taking care of our responsibilities. It was also great when we were approached by different runners who not only expressed their appreciation for the event, but also for how organized we were.

Overall, the excitement that comes with being social with everyone while still making healthy choices has me considering becoming a runner. We shall see what types of adventures Harlem Run/Harlem United takes me on next.

- Lisa, Volunteer

Due to an injury I was unable to run this Sunday. While I was upset at first, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I have ran several races before, but this was my opportunity to be "behind the scenes". I love Harlem and anything that uplifts it. The Harlem One-Miler and groups like Harlem United and Harlem Run do just that. Growing up in Harlem, I rarely got to see my community in such a positive light. Promoting fitness and well-being for everyone in our ever-changing community is wonderful.

Although I hate waking up so early in the morning on a weekend, volunteering for the Harlem 1 Miler was worth it. I got to meet new people and cheer on all different types of athletes. It was especially fun to cheer the little ones on. I invited several of my family and friends, many of whom are either new to fitness or are working on becoming healthier. This event gave them an opportunity to set a goal, build and boost their commitment to fitness, and introduce them to the world of running. To add the cherry onto the metaphorical sundae, this race also made our relationships stronger by giving us one more thing to relate to. Because of the sense of community and fitness, it was truly a perfect day in Harlem.

- Raydime, Volunteer

To say that I had a great time at the Harlem One-Miler would be a huge understatement. Aside from beaming with pride for my best friend and Harlem Run founder, Alison Desir, on the success of the event, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from everyone who came out on Sunday. As I struggled to make my way around the course in the thick, muggy heat, people from the surrounding neighborhoods were out on the sidelines, cheering and giving high-fives to all the runners. Their joyful smiles and the energy from the crowd at the finish line was contagious. I ended my race filled to the brim with the love and joy that I’d absorbed from everyone along my run. 

In 2013, Alison coined the motto “Find Meaning on the Run” and started a community-based movement to promote running and fitness as a means to achieve not only physical but also emotional well-being. I drew inspiration to start running from my dear friend and her brilliant motto and have learned so much about myself and life in general over the past 2 years. I didn’t win my heat or run my fastest mile on Sunday but that wasn’t the point.  Instead, I was reminded of the power of love and community and the ways in which they promote a sense of well-being, self-esteem and most importantly, joy on an individual level. I left the race on Sunday with a smile, grateful heart and a feeling of accomplishment. That's the biggest win I could ever hope for.

- Sasha, Participant

Harlem Run Retreat Recap

Back in December, 20 of our runners escaped the New York City hustle and went up to Growing Heart Farm in Pawling, New York for one weekend to talk about running, the Harlem Run movement, and future goals. The weekend was too epic to fit into one blog post, but here's what one of our attendees, Philippa, had to say...

The Harlem Run Winter Retreat was transformative in so many ways. I started my running journey in 2014 but I would only run occasionally from April through October while the weather was nice. As soon as winter came and it got cold or rainy I would hibernate, eat ice cream, and struggle to pick up running again. Something about winter in NYC always makes me lethargic and lazy. I also thought that people who go out in the snow on purpose for anything other than a snowball fight must be crazy.

In 2016 when I decided to take running more seriously, it became a personal goal to run all year-round and through any weather conditions ... Making running a lifestyle instead of a just a hobby.  I jumped at the chance to attend the Harlem Run Winter Retreat with the hopes that I’d get to know the people I share my Monday nights with a little better and maybe even enjoy spending time in the cold.

On a Friday afternoon in December, we went upstate via Metro North for a long weekend to stay in a cozy house and participate in group activities. The itinerary was already planned so all we had to do was be open to new things and willing to participate. The forecast said SNOW, and not just a few flurries. This was going to be an adventure.

On the first night, I was part of the dinner crew that had to make food for all 20 people. Let’s just say it’s a lot harder than cooking only for yourself. But as a team we managed to get it done, and sharing a meal together broke the ice and set the tone for the trip. We all went to sleep smiling and satisfied, ready to take on the next day.

On Saturday we woke up to a lot of snow and we were scheduled for a run - my first ever snow run! It was harder than a regular run - having to lift my legs higher than usual and also watch how I landed. Two miles felt like four miles but I felt like a bad ass super hero. It was so much fun!! Feeling the energy of the people running beside me pushed me to make it to the end and knowing that Jeff and Kai were taking awesome pictures along the route didn’t hurt either. 

We were in a remote rural town so as far as the eye could see there was snow, trees, a few scattered houses and peace and quiet. I learned that I really enjoyed the eerie quiet and calm of a snow run and now I won’t let the weather deter me again.

The next day was my first HIIT Class led by Talisa. She is no joke when she gets into “trainer mode” and the workout really showed me all the areas of my body that I need to strengthen. Still, it was cool to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. I got her back for the mountain climbers with a snow ball fight which she definitely LOST.

In between the physical activities we shared stories around the fire of our first time at Harlem Run, made vision boards for 2017, learned a form of meditation that Karen practices, and got to dream up big ideas for the future of Harlem Run and #TheMVMT (think “Global Takeover”).

Besides running in the snow, Kayla introduced my other favorite activity of the trip. She had a picture of each of us and passed them around the room so that everyone could write one word to describe each other. Personally, I am my own toughest critic and to hear others describe me with adjectives that matched who I am striving to become really affirmed that I am on the right path to my achieve my goals.

This retreat showed me that I am surrounding myself with some amazing people that are ready to lift me up if I fall. They are there to encourage me if I struggle, whether it's in a race or in life. We all got a little emotional during the weekend, and I realized that all these people whom I admire so much are humans, just like me, and are making their way on their own paths to greatness. I’m looking forward to the next retreat and spending quality time with this amazing and diverse group of people who have so much to offer. I got to be honest though, I really hope the next retreat has NAPS on the itinerary.

- Philippa

On the Road to the Start – My First Marathon

Running has played an enormous role in my life in the last 3 years, but committing to training for the NYC Marathon was something that I thought was out of my reach. I didn’t think someone like me, without any athletic background, could get up and run 26.2 miles. The day I committed, I almost had a panic attack thinking about all those miles and my ongoing process of recovery from my injury earlier this year.

There was also the fear of telling the world that I was going to do this and possibly being unable to get it done. But I started my training and committed to the runs, the time, and the continuous work of recovery. I gave myself the goal of simply finishing the race without injury.

Training shifted my priorities. I had to make clear and strong decisions about what mattered most to me and how to manage that. I had to focus on my physical and mental health because without fueling my body and keeping myself motivated, there was no way I could go onto the next run. I had a tangible goal - an action and an activity that required me to make time to for myself. 

Luckily for me, being a part of Harlem Run helped me get my easy runs and speedwork done. The cross training was a lot harder because I don’t like the gym. Eventually Talisa started her HIIT class and boom! My problem was resolved. I got my strength training in a room full of beautiful, familiar, encouraging, and sometimes very silly faces. 

For the days that were harder to get up and go, I was grateful to have to hold myself accountable and meet up with Sara for our long runs. We took our time and talked about our training programs and enjoyed the company of a friend while we struggled to get those miles in. Often times, the motivation to get up at 5am and run those long hot miles was lacking. I reached deep and then hit a wall. 

 Two weeks in a row, I couldn't get past a 10k when I should have been running double digits. I spent a month trying and failing to meet my miles for my long runs. Whether it was because I got hurt or was losing that sense of self determination, I started to feel defeated. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be at that point and I felt like I was falling behind.

Then the sky opened up, the clouds parted, and a light came through... I got an invite from the 5am crew, run with us they said. Knowing I need an external force to hold me accountable and push me through, I accepted. We ran 20 miles that day. That day I knew I was going to be ready, without a doubt, for the marathon. I was on a runner's high for over a week.

As we got closer to November 6th my anxiety grew and that horrible monster of self-doubt kept trying to push back. I continued to run with the 5 am crew. We worked through our crap in every run. Rain, heat, and sunshine we trooped mile after mile together. Surrounding myself with people who were cheering for me and knew what I was going through was instrumental to me reaching that start line.

I have to admit I am spoiled to have experienced my first marathon with an easy transition into training schedule because of Harlem Run weekly workouts and finding friends that were in it together. When race day came, we hitched a ride on a fancy Under Armour bus and began the journey. That 5 hour wait til our wave started wasn't so bad. One by one our little group went off to their corral and start times, wishing each other luck and getting excited to see them on the other side. 

The race itself was incredible, but training was the real journey. As I start my training for Paris, Marathon #2, I know now that I truly can do anything. My body and mind are capable of so much more than I ever thought. Here’s to the New Year and all the smiles and miles it brings!

-Raydime

Rest and Recovery Tips

A few weeks ago, our friends Brynn and Sara from Finish Line PT came by to talk about how to set healthy, realistic goals for the year ahead. It was a great session with lots of useful information from the experts themselves. Didn't get a chance to attend? Read some of Sara's tips on how you can make the most of 2017 while staying healthy and injury-free.

Oh hey there, 2017! ‘Tis the season for setting goals, planning out race calendars and gearing up for your best year of training yet. As inspiring as it is to turn the page on a new year, it’s just as easy to get caught up in the excitement of a clean slate. And of course, seeing everyone else’s goals on social media doesn’t help. (FOMO, anyone?)

While having big training and race goals isn’t a bad thing, it is important to make sure your plans are realistic and set you up for success. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you develop and refine your 2017 calendar:

Recognize your own limitations.

Just because you could do a race every weekend doesn’t mean that you should. And even though everyone is training for an ultra, if the farthest you’ve ever run is a 5K, then 2017 might not be the year to make such a dramatic increase in distance.

Be honest with yourself about your capabilities. A new trend in running is the “race everything” mentality – but this is a misconception. While some athletes have the fitness and ability to do this without getting injured, most do not. There’s a reason most professional runners only race two marathons a year; “regular” runners like ourselves should not be the exception!

Set manageable goals.

Many athletes like to break up their race calendar into ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ events. An ‘A race’ is your top priority for the year; the structure of your training program is geared towards this event. The goal of a B race is to still race hard and do well, but it is not one that you’ll taper for. Consider it a dress rehearsal for your A race. ‘C races’ support your training; they’re intended to be fun and done at a lower effort or with a specific purpose (i.e. to practice pacing or nutrition).   

Select your A race and plan all other aspects of your training around it. If you enjoy doing weekend NYRR races as a way to cultivate community and stay motivated, that’s great! Just make sure you have a “why” for each race (it shouldn’t be to go as hard as you can every time). Is it to get the miles in? Practice running at race pace? Gain a better understanding of your nutrition strategy? Having a purpose in advance will help you manage your effort.

Prioritize rest and recovery.

Going hard all the time, in every workout and in every race can prevent you from seeing the fitness gains you’re working towards. It’s important to balance the hard efforts with workouts that are easier in order to build endurance and strength.

And it’s crucial to practice self-maintenance: foam rolling, dynamic stretching and soft tissue massage. All of these are forms of active recovery that help to increase circulation and break up soft tissue restrictions that cause pain and prevent us from being our best. Spending as little as 10 minutes a day can help expedite your recovery so that you’re consistently able to perform at a higher level.

- Sara