“Only the disciplined ones are free in life. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods. You are a slave to your passions.”

—Eliud Kipchoge

My name is Jessica. I’m closing out my 30’s and heading into my 40’s as a new runner. After years of injuries, I trained last year and finished my first marathon (the New York Marathon) at 4:50! I thought I would do it once, but in true type A fashion, I just keep running, hoping to get stronger, faster, and better. I’ve learned a lot over the past year – the importance of speed work, form, and nutrition …but most of all, consistency. I’ve started this blog to record my progress. I’m hoping to keep myself honest and on track and share some of the tips and strategies I learn along the way. One of my favorite things about the running community is that we cheer each other on. I’m looking forward to building a community here so we can do just that. Let’s do this!

Weekly Training Schedule: July 8th – July 14th

It’s the last week of the training preseason and I’m traveling! I’m very thankful for these days off at the beginning of the week. Look out for a post on maintaining your run schedule while traveling later this week.

Cross-Training: For the Love of SoulCycle

One thing you should know about me: I love classes. I’ve gone to enough classes that I can find my way around a gym on my own, but I prefer the class environment. I like an instructor to correct my form and the energy of the class motivates me to push harder than I might if left to my own devices.

One of my biggest challenges last year was switching from a class schedule to a run schedule. At some point, the miles take over and it was hard for me to temporarily say goodbye to my favorite classes. I’m vowing to do better this year. That said, cross-training is a critical element of a marathon training plan. My New York Road Runners’ virtual training plan includes flex days, which are designed for cross-training.

While I’m focused on banking more miles this round, I credit cross training for helping me get strong and I’m counting on it to help me stay injury free. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be profiling some of my favorite cross-training exercises. I try to focus on abs, leg strength, stretching and overall physical fitness (just a few, small goals). Many gyms will offer classes similar to the ones I describe, but I don’t have a gym membership. I use classpass to book my classes. They have a great list of studios in New York, where I live, but you can book across the country and internationally. I’ve used classpass in NY, Austin, LA, DC, Miami, San Francisco, and London (!). They charge you $20 if you don’t show to a class or cancel in time – which is extra motivation to make it there. (Do you see a theme? I can’t be left to my own devices).

Why Cross-Train?

While I personally saw a benefit from cross-training, I was pleasantly surprised to see that NYRR was encouraging cross-training as well. I did some research and it seems to be universally accepted that cross-training can help runners improve their performance and reduce the risk of injury. Want to know more? Check out this Runner’s World article on the 8 benefits of cross-training.

 Why Cycling?

Last year‘s NYC marathon was the last marathon I could run before I turned 40. I’ll be 40 (yikes!) when I run this year. So, although I was still experiencing pain in my knee every time my foot hit the pavement last year, I was determined to find a way to make it through 26.2 miles. My knees were hurting due to a hip alignment issue, and my physical therapist was working with me to build up my leg strength. I used cycling as my transition to running,

This low impact, high intensity workout got me in shape and got my legs prepped to hit the road again. Cycling works most of the muscles in the lower half of the body. It’s also a damn hard workout that will strengthen the heart and improve lung capacity.

Why SoulCycle?

I was initially skeptical about SoulCycle. I’m competitive and I like the structure of FlyWheel. (Suck in life, but topping the leaderboard? I’ll take it!). That said, I like to try new things, and when SoulCycle opened in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a ten minute walk from my home, I decided to give it a try. After a few sessions, I was hooked. The class is a high energy, mix of speed work and hills culminating in an arm session about 30 minutes in. Following arms is what I call meditative soul – a ride at your pace, eyes closed, making the most of your moment on the bike. There is one more song, and then class is over and it’s time to stretch. The time flies. Like most classes, the instructor and music are key. JR Kennedy teaches a Sunday class in Park a Slope and I’ve definitely become a member of his devoted tribe. He brings high energy, mixed with a motivational message and a reminder to have fun to each class. The class is hard but you feel good afterwards. In one recent class, after a grueling hill, multiple people yelled out “I love our JR!” It sounds crazy, but it totally made sense in the moment.

For me, the benefits are improved physical and mental endurance. When taking us on an impossible hill, JR will encourage the class to “push past the resistance.” I hear those words when I’m jogging up a hill, or dealing with a difficult call at work, and it’s a reminder that I’m strong enough to get to the other side.

Weekly Training Schedule: July 1st – 7th

Each week I’ll post my run schedule. I’m using the NYRR virtual training program and mixing in my workout favs (yoga, soul cycle and leg and ab day). I’ll share how things went at the end of the week. What’s your workout plan for the week?