Triathletes: The Secret to Avoiding Injury This Season

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In theory, making the move from a single sport to three adds variety to your exercise regimen and will reduce injuries, right?

Well, the reality is a bit different, thanks to the “compound effect” of doing three activities: “What we have to compare it to other sports is the injury rate, and triathletes have one of the highest incidence rates of any sport,” Dr. Joshua Burns, a researcher and podiatrist at the University of Sydney in Australia, who has studied the nature of triathletes’ injuries told The New York Times in this article.

The bad news? Triathletes, in particular, are susceptible because they not only engage in a highly-repetitive stress activity, but also only move in one plane of motion (and likely sit all day at work), which contributes to limited range of motion in the mid-back and hips. The good news, though? With the right approach to strength training, you can correct imbalances, resolve weaknesses and vastly improve performance.

That’s where my friend Al Painter of INTEGRATE Performance Fitness comes in. Not only has he been teaching endurance athletes how to dodge the injury bullet for years, but he also knows. his. stuff. As you can see below, there’s a reason why he’s been named “Best Bay Area Personal Trainer” by CitySports Magazine, so I always love picking his brain about the latest workout crazes and geeking out together over the greatest fitness gadgets.

As training seasons begin to ramp up, I thought it’d be fun to sit down with him and talk about the not-so-secret secret for avoiding injury when it comes to multi-sport endeavors.

1. Triathlon is in endurance sport, so why is strength training important for triathletes? It helps to reset the body from the repetitive stress nature of training in one plane of motion. It can also keep the hips strong, which goes a long way for happy low backs and knees.

2. How much about it is preventing injury versus being able to perform better (i.e. faster!)? Yes to both! I think one leads to the other. Keep the muscles balanced, and you can reduce your chances of getting hurt and improve your chances of performing well.

3. If body weight is the only thing being “lifted” during a triathlon, why do triathletes need a training program that uses free weights, machines or other equipment? It can lead to more speed in the pool, more power on the bike and more efficiency running.

4. How does strength training for triathletes differ from programs used by bodybuilders, powerlifters and the general public? Triathlon training should emphasize split-stance and single-leg lower body moves while incorporating single and alternate arm patterns to work on diagonal loading of the hips and shoulders working through the core. I’ll definitely get into more of what endurance athlete specific strength training should like the night of the talk.

5. What do you think is the biggest misconception about triathletes and strength training? That it will slow them down, add bulk and take away from swimming, riding and running.

6. So is it enough to go lift weights at the gym a few times a week? No, there needs to be a program dialed in to address what endurance athletes need: solid mid-back, shoulder and hip mobility. It has to have a plan, a purpose and specific outcome as the goal. Plus, if there is a performance gap in the pool, on the bike or on the run, strength training can help to close it.

7. What’s the biggest mistake you see most triathletes make with their current strength training routine? Not enough emphasis on the back half of the body which is the powerhouse for performance and proper posture.

8. If there’s one exercise triathletes absolutely cannot afford to skip, what is it? I don’t know if it’s an exercise as much as it is a movement: Learning the hip hinge is critical to opening the front half of the body and strengthening the back half to help with both injury prevention and performance improvement.

9. Should triathletes adjust their program when training for different distances? How? My stance on this is that the longer the distance, the more hip dominant movements (hinges, bridges, etc.) they should do. It should be the majority of the lower body work to keep the glutes as “online” as possible. Once they shut down, the whole operation can go south.

10. Say someone’s deep into training and short on time; is there a minimum amount of strength training they should be doing each week? Two days a week for at least 30 minutes using compound movements. Exercises combining hinging + pulling and squatting + pressing work really well. Especially using a split stance with single or alternate arm exercises.

Thanks, Al — great info, as always! 

Attention Bay Area friends: Al’s doing a *free* triathlete-specific strength training workshop at Sunnyvale Sports Basement from 6:30-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 11. Swing by, say hi, and pick up some of his tips on the best kinds of strength training exercises to help you race stronger, recover faster and reduce the chance of getting injured this season. 

Click here for details on the event, and visit INTEGRATE Performance Fitness to learn more.

Triathletes, is strength work part of your regular training regimen?
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StitchFix Shipment No. 5 Review

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My previous StitchFix (read about it here) was a success — I scored an adorable LBD, just in time for holiday parties — so much so that I knew it’d be a hard act to follow.

For my fifth installment I requested some dressy casual blouses and tops for work, along with a brighter color palette to carry me from the gray of Portland winter into spring.

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

Let’s check out what came in this month’s box, shall we?

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First up was the Braddon Airy Knit V-Neck Sweater from RD Style ($68). Pretty color? Check. Luxurious feel? Check.

I loved how soft and cozy this one was, and the fit was flattering with the slightly longer back, however the loose knit is slightly concerning for someone who is pretty active — a.k.a. prone to getting it caught on something.

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Next was the Giorgio Cowl Neck Long Sleeve Thermal Top from Splendid ($84). Again, great color and super-soft fabric. And although you can’t see it well in the picture, it’s got a delicate waffle weave, which makes this top a perfect mix of dressy-casual.

But $84? I’m on a budget and would have to love it to justify that price.

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Third was the Quito Open Drape Cardigan from Market & Spruce ($68). It’s not something I’d typically wear, but that’s what I love about StitchFix — the stylists help push you out of your comfort zone.

Becca recommended pairing it with chambray, and I thought it might go well with some of my cowboy boot collection, as well!

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After that came the Filbert 3/4 Sleeve Popover Blouse from 41Hawthorn ($58). Becca knows me well enough by now to know that the jewel-toned blouse is my sweet spot. I love pairing it with boyfriend jeans, ballet flats and simple jewelry.

But I’ve got these in pink, blue and a black checkered pattern; do I need one in green, as well?

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And, finally, was the Emer Bootcut Pant from Margaret M ($98). She nailed it with the size, and I love a simple, classic pant with a figure-flattering bootcut.

However, I’m not sure if I can shell out $100 for a basic black pant when it’s more of a want than a need at this point.

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So what made the cut? I was stumped, so I used three lifelines (my sister, a friend and my husband) to help narrow things down. Look number one got thumbs up from my girlfriend, but a thumbs down from my sister, so that was out. Look number three got a yay from my sister, but a nay from my girlfriend, so that was out.

And when I polled Ben, he just asked if I really needed another piece of clothing right now, so that didn’t help much.

In the end, I went with the green top (look number four). Sure, it’s the “safe” choice, as my sister said — but it’s also the one I’m sure I’ll consistently get the most use out of, which means it’s the best value. The others are great, but I see myself wearing them maybe once or twice, so I’m staying conservative this time and going with the sure thing.

My next fix is scheduled for early May, and I requested some bold, bright colors for summer. I also asked that she throw a fun sundress or skirt in the mix so I have something fresh and fun to wear for my birthday festivities later that month, so I’m excited for shipment number six!

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I simply love the service and think it’s fun to share my experience. I pay for Stitch Fix on my own. If you sign up for Stitch Fix using my referral link, I will get a credit…thanks! 

How I Run: November Project’s Lillian Lingham

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Lillian Lingham’s favorite running buddy? Jake Gyllenhaal.

Well…kind of. See, she happened to jog by him during a pre-race warm-up at a Martha’s Vineyard event, did a double-take, then likely smoked him after the gun went off (Exhibit A: a 1:41 PR at Boston’s Heartbreak Hill half marathon).

I wouldn’t expect anything less from someone dubbed “The Terminator.” A Boston native, Lingham has been running since age 12, competing in track and cross country in both high school and college before moving to San Francisco, where she now resides (Exhibit B: an impressive 3:42 PR for the city’s hilly marathon…did I mention that this gal eats #HillsForBreakfast?!).

After achieving her goal of 1,000 miles in 2014, she’s now set her sights on 1,500 in 2015. And she’s already looking ahead to 2016 (and more — surprise, surprise — hills) in the Big Sur full marathon, pending lottery acceptance.

So I caught up with my former November Project pal recently to talk shop about pounding the pavement.

1. What’s your favorite route? Literally ANY route that involves a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from near, far or across! I’ve been living in SF for four years and first saw it over 10 years ago, but it still captivates me in a way that no other structure or icon can. Seeing it glow red in a sunrise or sunset against the gorgeous green background of the Marin Headlands makes me swoon. On the foggiest or dreariest of days (we are #weatherproof), knowing that I could catch a glimpse truly motivates me to lace up and run out the door!

2. What shoes do you wear? For a few years, I would only wear Mizuno. Then my college coach switched my team (at Smith College) to Asics 2100s, which I love, too. But now I’m hooked on New Balance 870s.  They are minimal, comfy and come in the best selection of neon colors!

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3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I can’t live without my Nathan lights — they are little colorful clip-on lights. I use a headlamp and the Nathan lights in the early hours before the sun is up, and these make me more visible for the cars. Hence, the Mama Lil nickname.

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack”? The night before an early morning (5:30am!) November Project workout, I lay out all my clothes, gear, snack and shoes at my front door. It makes getting dressed in the dark foolproof!

My other hack is to literally “run errands” — as in, I run to the bank to make deposits, I run to the store to do groceries, I run to the post office to mail a package…you name it. Time saver + exercise in one.

Okay maybe those were obvious ones, so here are some more courtesy of Buzzfeed.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I am good at hugging. Hugging is related to running. If you come to a November Project workout, you’ll see what I mean.

6. What do you listen to while running? I am shamelessly into electronica and dubstep. I’ll blast some Tiesto, Avicii, David Guetta…anything where the bass drops. The beat quickens my stride and heart-rate, and makes me float and dance instead of run. Workouts just fly by!

7. What are you currently training for? I am training for …LIFE. Aren’t we all?! It’s not a sprint, it’s marathon and I’m truly training to be the best that I can be every day so that I can live a long, healthy life.

In terms of races, I happily closed out 2014 with the Berkeley Half Marathon and the North Face Endurance Challenge. Now I’m in the market for a new 2015 race, and I’m thinking it’s going to be a full marathon….likely the SF Marathon. Why run it a second time? Well because the route goes over the Golden Gate Bridge, duh!

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8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? Recovery for me equals food + hydration. (I should probably say stretching, too, but I don’t do enough of it. I go to yoga weekly instead.) The first thing I do when I get back from a run is eat a (homemade) Almond Butter Power Ball to get a quick boost of energy and protein. I usually make a batch to keep in my fridge….they are so easy to make (no bake, one bowl) and they cost way less than energy bars.

Here’s the recipe I’ve used, but I’ve modified it to include everything in my cabinet! My recipe adds honey, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cacao nibs and maca powder. Hence, the nickname @SFgluten_freek.

My sleep routine is strictly 7.5 hours. I used to sacrifice sleep in order to “be more productive,” but I found that I can accomplish more if I’m rested and work less, sleep more. The irony.

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? I read Runner’s World magazine religiously (well, running IS my religion), and I got the advice to create a mantra for your race. Mantra is Sanskrit for “instrument for thinking,” and having a well-chosen mantra really can keep you calm and focused during a race.

My mantra is “Think strong. Be Strong,” which is a reminder to myself of the power of the mind. If I’m doubting my ability to PR or I’m focused on any pain I’m feeling during a race or training run, I can derail the whole thing.

Instead I focus on how strong I am, and I repeat my mantra that if I think strong, I will be strong. Hence, the nickname Terminator. It distracts me from the negative and directs me toward the positive. This mantra has gotten me across many finish lines, both literally and figuratively.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? New Year’s Day 2014. I flew to Boston (where my family is based) from San Francisco on New Year’s Eve, partied with old friends all night, slept for two hours then went to the Harvard Stadium at 6:30am on January 1, 2014 to run with November Project Boston in the freezing temps of a New England winter around the Harvard Stadium.

It was amazing to see how many people had gotten out of bed early on a dark, cold morning to start their year off on the right foot, literally. I think there were 200+ people there, and that was considered a “small” group!

My friends thought I was crazy, but it was a pilgrimage for me. It set the tone for the whole year of 2014: a year full of running, community and adventure.

Second favorite memory: running to my goal of 1,000 miles in 2014. I reached it during a run in Paris, France in December 2014. Running is a wonderful way to visit and experience a foreign city/country: you get a fast-paced tour, yet you feel like a local. Pack your running shoes if you can!

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My least favorite running memory was when I got such painful calf cramps in both legs at mile nine in the Berkeley Half Marathon. I ended up running the last four miles of the race in my socks, with my sneakers on my hands. I was determined to cross that finish line! I crossed it eventually (completely missing my PR), but my sneakers were still in hand so the chip on my shoe didn’t register my results! It listed me as a non-finisher.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. I would love to go on a run with Rory Bosio, ultramarathoner and all-around-goofball. Her laugh is infectious, her energy contagious and her determination and positivity, inspiring. She seems like the best person to run next to for 30+ miles, assuming I could keep up!

12. Anything else you want to add? You’ve heard this before from other tribe members, but if you haven’t tried November Project (NP), then check it out.

I’ve been a runner since age 12, but nothing has transformed me or my running ability in the tremendously positive way that NP has. I’m a better runner, neighbor, hugger and athlete thanks to the community and support that NP creates.

Whether you’re new to it or have been running for years, I guarantee that NP will take your running experience (and social life) to the next level. It’s hard to explain, you just have to try it for yourself!

Thanks for playing, Lillian! We’ll cross our fingers for you for the 2016 Big Sur lotto — but keep crushing it in the meantime at NP 🙂

Runner friends of all ages/levels/abilities, please email me — info (at) kineticfix.com — if you’d like to be featured.

Year in Review: 2014’s Highs & Lows

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October’s Best & Worst of Racing Link-Up post was so much fun that I figured I’d revisit each of this year’s races in the same manner.

So on the eve of 2015, I’m taking a little walk down memory lane…starting way back in January with our chocolate-fueled 15K and ending with December’s holiday-themed run.

I was going to add up all the mileage, but instead of boring you with stats, I’ll just get to the good stuff 🙂

Best Post-Race Bellyache

We soared away with mega sugar highs after January’s Hot Chocolate 15K. Not only did Kelly, Ben and I have a blast running the scenic route, which looped around Golden Gate Park and down Highway 1, but we also (over)indulged in the most decadent post-race spread of fondue, hot chocolate, marshmallows, cookies and all kinds of other goodies.

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Best Mid-Race Meetup

You know it’s going to be a good race when you become fast friends with someone you meet two miles in (hey, Molly!) and get to hang out afterwards with the one and only Catra “Dirt Diva” Corbett and her running companion, a dachshund named TruMan. Just some of the many amazing running memories that Vivi and I — college friends reunited as running buddies — made at the Chabot Trail Run 30K in February!

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Least-Intimidating Triathlon

At home and on a whim, I signed up for the LifeTime Fitness Indoor Sprint Triathlon with my friend Colleen in March. Not only was the 10-minute swim, 30-minute bike and 20-minute run a nice way to ease into triathlon for the year, but it was also a great workaround for being able to “race” while there was still snow on the ground outside.

Best of all, though? The 10-minute locker-room transitions, which may have permanently ruined us for “real” ones.

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Friendliest Faces Race

Our entire SF community came out in full force for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half Marathon back in April. The weather cooperated, I helped pace Barry’s Bootcamp owner Adam Shane for the start of his first 13.1 finish, and friends and family came out of the woodwork to run and spectate along a course that was much tougher and hillier than anticipated.

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Worst Race Ever

Lest you think this rundown of races is all rainbows and puppy dogs, I present to you my darkest moment from the 2014 season: the HITS Napa Valley Olympic Triathlon.

Struggling with sickness and self-doubt, I battled for more than four hours through a panic attack on the swim, not being able to catch my breath on the bike and a miserably hot run that day. But as far as my performance was from perfect, I’m proud that I didn’t quit — and, hey, it can only go up from here, right?!

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Most Revealing Race

If you’ve never run Bay to Breakers in May in San Francisco, you’ve got to add it to your runner’s bucket list. Not only is it the oldest consecutively run annual footrace in the world, but it’s also some of the best people-watching and partying you’ll ever witness in the city. And no, don’t count on a PR, but do plan on getting an eyeful while covering the 12K course.

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Ultra-Freakin’-Awesome Race

Each time you run farther than you’ve ever run before, it’s an exhilarating experience. Jamie, my pacer extraordinaire for my first Canyon Meadow Trail 50K Ultramarathon, fortunately understood this and dealt with my exclamations every mile on the mile after 26.2: “Guess what? This is officially the longest I’ve ever run!”

And it may have been the first, but it won’t be the last…

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Biggest Post-Race Double-Take

As in, I had to check the race results twice to make sure I read them correctly. Hubby paced me to a shiny, new 10K PR in the Beaverton Sun Run, and I credit the Hanson’s marathon plan for the speedy finish. Sure, I got injured soon thereafter from the sheer volume and high threshold of training (plus lack of pre-hab), but it was fun while it lasted!

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Best-Worst Race Experience

Was it real or was it a dream? You may never know…because after more than 24 hours of being awake, driving and running for almost 200 miles the hallucinations start to set in. I can’t even really do justice to the insanity and hilarity of an overnight relay, particularly the “Mother of ’em all,” but I can say that this year’s Hood to Coast Relay was something I’ll always remember!

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Favorite Street Cred Race

Yes, I’m referencing the location, but I’m also alluding to the fact that, after five weeks off during peak mileage building, I had something to prove with this race — and, per usual, it was to myself. Both being able to run and highlight my hometown, plus be able to finish the Detroit Marathon was an incredible way to cap off a fall full of physical frustrations.

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Most Instagrammable Race

No joke, the first thing I did when I found out we were moving to Oregon was to put the lottery date for the Silver Falls Trail Half Marathon on my calendar because I heard it had some fantastic scenery. And the price we paid — in crazy elevation changes, rough footing and cold, crappy weather — was totally worth it!

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Most Spirited Race

From the looks of some of the creative costumes involved in this event, I have a feeling several of the participants may have taken the holiday “spirit” part of the race literally. Not only did Carolyn, a fellow LUNA Chix teammate, finish her first-ever race with flying colors, but the Jingle Bell Run 5K for Arthritis also ended up being an ideal way to round out the year just the way we started: with friends.

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Looking back, I’m feeling really thankful for a year chock-full of memories made, laughs shared and miles covered with friends and family.

Cheers to an even more eventful 2015!

Which moments are you most thankful for from 2014? I’d love to hear!

How I Run: Boston-bound Amy “The Punisher” Leedham

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Contrary her nickname, Amy “The Punisher” Leedham doesn’t actually enjoy inflicting pain on others. Well, at least not on purpose. She does, however, regularly push herself to her limits…and tends to do the same for her workout buddies, which they usually thank her for later (after they catch their breaths, that is).

I first met Amy through November Project in San Francisco — we hit it off over a mutual love for running, Boston and Shalane Flanagan — but it wasn’t until she took me up on an invite for my first-ever clipped-in bike ride with the Coeur Sports ladies that we truly bonded: Powering through a few thousand feet of elevation in the Bay Area foothills after getting lost and trouble-shooting a flat tire together will tend to do that to people!

Amy’s now about to embark on her annual Bostom Marathon training cycle, so I thought it’d be fun to check in and see how she’s faring.

1. What’s your favorite route? My favorite running experience thus far has to be the descent from Skeleton point to the Colorado River on the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon. However, that is hardly my go-to route. I would have to say my favorite place to run is in Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, Calif. I had never really run on trails until I moved to California, and the first time I attempted it I was seriously humbled, but now that park is my go-to on the weekends. Its large enough to have tons of variety, but small enough to feel like its in my backyard.

2. What shoes do you wear? For trails I am rocking the Brooks Pureflow, and I love them. On the road I am pretty minimal and am loving my Merrell Gloves. I have about 12 other pairs of running shoes in my closet, though, because I can’t bring myself to throw them away. I even still have my college XC racing flats.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I absolutely love my Jaybird wireless headphones. I fully support listening to music while you run if it makes you happy or run better, and the lack of an annoying cord makes a huge difference in the comfort of running with headphones. I also love my Garmin because I am huge data nerd.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” If I am pressed for time after a run I stretch in the shower. Its kind of awkward, but you get get in some really good stretches while washing your hair and shaving your legs.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? Not running. Actually I suck at this, as my husband says, but sometimes you must adapt. My agonizingly-slow recovery from what was supposed to be minor knee surgery in April has caused me to appreciate and dominate pretty much every physical thing one can do that’s not running.

6. What do you listen to while running? For faster runs, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I have several playlists with awful music by the likes of Pitbull, but damn is it so good for running. When I head out to the trails for some R&R I usually leave my music behind and listen out for this one eagle that lives in Redwood Regional Park.

7. What are you currently training for? Boston 2015. I have a problem. I keep re-qualifying and can’t let myself not register. Boston is the first city I lived in after leaving my childhood home, and it was my home for (a very formative) 6.5 years.

I ran the Boston Marathon in 2013 and, even though I was not physically impacted by what happened, that day will stay with me for the rest of my life, as will the experience of running it the year after. More importantly, though, I am training to be able to keep running for the rest of my life.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I’m admittedly not great at maintaining a good sleep routine, but when I get into proper training my body kind of makes the decision on when to go to sleep for me. Usually I’ll be in bed at 9:30 p.m. and get up for a run at 5:30 a.m. or so.

As for recovery, I recently wrote a blog post about it. I also love compression tights and Epsom salt baths. A good sports massage is just the right kind of pain, and is totally worth the financial investment.

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? It’s not advice as much as finally letting a certain lesson sink in: Not every run needs to be (or should be) a full-out hard run. Those days of easy running are essential to maintaining a healthy body and building fitness.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? It’s a cliche, but it’s got to be running Boston last year. The combination of the unbelievable emotional energy pulsing throughout the city, the camaraderie of running with a friend who I knew was feeling all the same things I was feeling (I had never run any race with someone before) and the burst of energy and love from the mile 18 November Project cheer station all combined to be pretty unbeatable as far as running experiences go. Oh, and PR-ing doesn’t hurt either.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. Shalane Flanagan. I am not ashamed to admit that my fandom of Shalane rivals that of a 13-year-old girl for One Direction. When she ran past our cheer section at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, I freaked out and sprinted up the hill after her only to realize I had no idea what I wanted to say and that I looked a little crazy. As my husband pointed out later, “I would have thought you would have had a plan in place knowing you were going to see her on the course!”

Thanks for playing, Amy! I miss our weekly workouts, but hope to cheer you on in Boston in 2015. Keep on punishing in the meantime!

Runner friends of all levels, please email me — info (at) kineticfix.com — if you’d like to be featured.

StitchFix Shipment No. 4 Review

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Although I only kept two items from my previous StitchFix (read about it here), I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of box number four. Once again I requested Becca, but this time asked her for some edgier pieces to carry me through the holidays and into winter.

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

Let’s check out what came in this month’s box, shall we?

First up was the Pixley Robyn Teardrop Branch Necklace ($34). I like the design and the shape, but the color wasn’t as bold or exciting as I had hoped. Sometimes it’s had to tell, though, until you get it on and see how it works with an outfit, so I put it in the ‘maybe’ pile.

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Next was the Andrew Marc Bryn Sheer Top Textured Dress ($148). I love a LBD (little black dress) for the holidays, and totally agree with Becca that this one’s “the definition of elegance” with a sheer paneled top and shimmery bottom. The shape is super flattering, although the waist will need to be tailored a bit (I was pinning it back with my hand in the shot above), plus it’s versatile enough to be worn a few different ways.

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Third was a pair of Just Black Jake Slim Bootcut Jeans ($88). Becca was pretty accurate with sizing, and dark denim transitions well from day to night, making this a nice double-duty item. However, I’m starting to accumulate quite a bit of denim, so this was another one to mull over in the ‘maybe’ pile.

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After that came the Market and Spruce Janet Striped Cross Front Sweater ($74). I wrestled — literally — with this one, putting it on upside-down at first (oops!). But once I untangled everything and got it on properly, it was not only cozy, but also a lot different from anything else I’ve got in my closet. Becca suggested pairing it with some heeled ankle boots and a bright scarf for a casual look, which I thought would be fun for winter.

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And, finally, was the Renee C Rocca Chain Trim Open Cardigan ($68). It’s cute, in theory, and I like how the chain-link trim could add some edginess to my wardrobe, but as soon as I felt the fabric I knew it was headed to the ‘no’ pile. Instead of a nice, rich wool, it’s a stiffer, scratchier polyester-type material, which is probably meant to withstand the weight of the metal. But, sadly, it just wasn’t doing it for me.

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So what did I end up buying? Because I was waffling on pretty much everything, the true test was running it by Hubby for a guy’s opinion. Of course, he agreed with my initial reaction to the chain-link sweater and that I didn’t need (another) pair of jeans. The necklace wasn’t met with much enthusiasm, either. And his word to describe the cross-front sweater? “Frumpy.” So out that went, as well!

In the end, the dress was the only clear winner. With a little nip and tuck from the tailor, it’ll be a great LBD for this year’s holiday parties, and since it’s a classic silhouette, I’ll likely keep it for years to come.

My next fix is scheduled for the end of January, and I requested some dressy casual blouses and tops for work. I also asked that we brighten up the color palette to try to combat the inevitable winter doldrums and start looking forward to some bolder items that can be worn for spring.

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Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I simply love the service and think it’s fun to share my experience. I pay for Stitch Fix on my own. If you sign up for Stitch Fix using my referral link, I will get a credit…thanks! 

How I Run: November Project’s Laura McCloskey

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You may have heard me mention November Project™ before — it’s a FREE fitness movement that was born in Boston as a way to stay in shape during cold New England months. Now present in multiple cities in across four time zones in North America, the movement uses a simple sense of accountability (verbal) to motivate and encourage people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels to get out of their beds and get moving.

That’s the official definition. The unofficial one — my definition — is that November Project is simply “my people.” And if you consistently show up, smile and sweat with ’em, they’ll quickly become your people, too.

After living in the Bay Area for almost a decade, it wasn’t until I found this group that I truly felt at home. They’ll greet you with open arms (literally, get ready for an all-out, hips-in hugfest at the beginning of each workout), you’ll cheer each other on ’til your throats are hoarse, go on some crazy adventures, challenge one another to better your best, and top it all off with a victory tunnel at the end of each workout. If that’s not a good excuse to get out of bed ass-early and get moving, I don’t know what is.

And the ringleader of San Francisco’s “gang of yahoos?” Well, that’s Laura McCloskey. She’s a former Northeastern University track standout with a Boston Marathon “problem” — that is, she keeps qualifying year after year. I sat down with McCloskey to talk about what makes her tick when it comes to motivating herself — and up to 200 others — to #JustShowUp week after week.

1. What’s your favorite route? Nothing makes me happier than trails in the early fall. No route, but just enough of a grasp on the trails so I don’t get completely lost, forcing me to spend the night eating wood chips and fighting off mountain lions. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but trails are the perfect cure for a cluttered mind.

2. What shoes do you wear? Asics Gel Nimbus. Discovered them when I was 15 years old and never looked back.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? Do bags of ice count as running gear?

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” Early run? Sleep in your running clothes. The first few miles fly by because you are still in your REM cycle. Also, putting your alarm clock in your running shoes on the other side of the room has gotten me out of bed on those freezing, dark mornings.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? Blacking out. Maybe that came out wrong. But I tend to run long runs alone because I can mentally check out and check back in 15 miles later, impressed with how far I have come! If only my work day was like that…

6. What do you listen to while running? All depends on the goal of the run. Sometimes your body needs those chill, relaxed runs, and I will slow the music down to keep the tempo contained. When I am trying to get after it, the beat is fast, the genre is pop, and the air drums I play with my hands are on point.

7. What are you currently training for? I am planning on toeing the line for the Boston Marathon again this spring (if all training goes well). But in general, I am training to just keep up with the fast people I call my friends.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? All nutrition nuts look away; I binge on ice cream and cinnamon buns post marathons. In the general sense of recovery from long runs or a long week of high intensity workouts, I use yoga as my active recovery. I truly believe in the power of taking time away from running, for both the body and the mind. Even if it is only a couple of days, you need to hit the reset button sometimes. Also, never underestimate the power of a bottle of wine. I hear it cures cancer.

When it comes to sleeping, I am a log. And if I get less than 8-9 hours a night, I consider calling in sick to work the next day. Just kidding. But no, really.

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? I used to race competitively and my coach always kept us in check. You are running a race, you are not fighting a war. Stay competitive and fight for every second, but don’t ever take the sport so seriously that you stop having fun. Because if you’re not smiling at the end of the race, what is the point?

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? When I was 14, I won the NYS cross country championship in the pouring rain and knee-high mud. I only won by the hair on my chin, not even a full second. My Dad was right at the finish line with tears in his eyes. I was too young to really appreciate that day, but now when I look back on it I can’t help but get a rush of adrenaline. It’s a funny thing, pulling inspiration from a former version of yourself. But that 14 year-old girl was one bad ass chick. I hope I am making her proud today.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with: Ellen Degeneres. Followed immediately after with a push-up contest against Michelle Obama.

12. Anything else you want to add? At the end of the day, running is the only thing that keeps my mind steady and my life sane. It has been the most consistent component of my life and connected me to the best people I know.

Thanks for playing, Laura! I couldn’t agree more. 

Wanna watch Laura in action? Click here to see an amazing video she created during her recent “funemployment”/”runcation” in Europe!

Runner friends, please email me — info (at) kineticfix.com — if you’d like to be featured.