Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Confronting My Fears of Running Alone in the Woods

Are you someone who is afraid to run alone in the woods? I am, sometimes. I always seem to get spooked by some made-for-TV scenario I’ve conjured up in my very creative brain. That said, I love trails and I relish every moment I spend on them—that is, in a race with other people or while trail running with friends.
I’m finding that as I train for what will likely be the longest, most difficult event I’ve ever done the (Trans Rockies Run), that I have to do most of my training on trails if I am to be successful. And much of that training will probably be on my own.
I’ve decided to do an experiment. Over the next few weeks, I will work on confronting the fear that I have of running and hiking alone in the woods. And I'll write about it both here and in Women's Running Magazine.
How do you confront your fears when it comes to running?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Calling BS on BMI

I run. I jog. I hop and skip along roads and trails, and sometimes—albeit reluctantly—the track. Sometimes I trip over real roots and hurdle over imaginary ones. I find complete joy in the act of moving my body through nature, and even against the weak, ineffective breeze from my treadmill fan. I sign up for big races, wonder where my sanity has momentarily gone, and then do the big races and discover profound things about myself. I chafe under my bra on long training runs. My hands swell in the middle of 50Ks and I finish those same events with salt caked around my face. I am a runner.
I am a big girl, a big runner. A fat runner. After all, the name of my blog is Fat Girl Running. In it I hope to spread the word that being a larger person and running aren’t two mutually exclusive things or ideas and I hope that you will indulge me for a minute in exploring the idea of being a larger person and being fit.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I Love My Legs

In celebration of International Women's Day and all of the intersections it has with the concept of body positivity , I'm going to talk about my body, because my body is a phenomenal piece of machinery. It should be recognized and honored as such. I love it.

Part of being a woman in today's world is constantly confronting societal expectations and aesthetic preferences around what a woman should look like and how we should dress and whether or not we should be spending time away from our families doing stuff we love and/or need to do. 

I spend a lot of time running. I choose to honor and respect my body. I choose to honor the gift of being a woman who runs.
I love to run. And I love my legs, what they can do, what they represent.

Beautiful, powerful women, with legs. 
I run because I need to be outdoors. I need to feel the sun on the back of my neck, or the gentle rain lightly landing on my already sweaty face. I thrive on this almost daily habit of being awakened by the smell of coffee from the percolator in the dark hours of early morning.  I run because the sensation of carrying my body over great distances on my own, big, strong legs is powerful. 
Power. My legs translate the power and strength given to me by my mother and passed on to both of us by my grandmother into forward motion. Energy. Momentum.

My dimpled thighs are wide and brown, my calves thinner and chiseled. Together, they work to propel me forward. Most of the time, their muscles, even when hidden, prevent me from falling and hold me steady. If I do fall, they offer padding and flexibility. Finally, they offer the ability to stand up again. And they continue on their path, my path.
I went out on a run this morning with some friends. The sun was a brilliant yellow and the sky was a sharp blue. We celebrated being women, practicing self-care, and honoring our bodies
My legs carry me, and I carry the wisdom and love given to me by the women in my life onward.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Yesterday morning, as I was driving home from doing a brisk, predawn walk on campus with my friend Captain Tara, a deer bounded from the left side of the road right into the driver's side of my car, just a few feet away from home. I slammed on the brakes, screamed DAMMIT WHAT THE FUCK, and then caught a glimpse of the deer looking straight at me with its pointy ears and big brown eyes, like EXCUSE ME MISS! He/she bounded away out of sight before I could catch my breath and continue driving the last few feet to my driveway.

When I got home, I opened my car door to major creaking and squeaking. The side of the door featured blood and a little bit of fur. I was a little traumatized for a second. There was also a dent near the wheel housing.

I went through a range of emotions: unnerved that a random deer decided that at that moment it would bound across the street; anger at myself for not seeing the deer in enough time to come to a complete stop; foreboding--did this mean my entire day of carefully planned events was doomed? Was this a sign of things to come?; and annoyance--now I would have to deal with a body repair that was certain to cost an arm and leg.

I examined the car and there appeared to be no major damage except the inconvenient dent that caused my door the inability to open fully. I looked at my cellphone clock and told myself, well I'm ok, the deer seems okay (it did run away, didn't it?), and I have got to get going. I've got a big day ahead of me and I MUST not let this ruin what is going to be awesome. After cleaning the blood and fur off the car with the garden hose I headed inside to prepare for a full day. I knew that I needed to be resilient, clean up what I could and get on with my life. I couldn't let myself mope about the deer or my car or the impeding doom that was apparently going to be happening. I got on with it.

This time of month, this third weekend in January happens to be around the time when everyone tells you that the novelty of your new years resolutions will wear off, and that you'll fall back into old habits. This is also the time of winter when people can become depressed and anxious and it's fairly
easy to dig yourself into an emotional hole if you haven't already reached all of your resolution goals.

So I have a challenge for you, particularly if you happen to be someone in this position.

Start again. The deer will be ok. You will be ok after a little crash or interruption in your grand plans. Start again. Got a little dent? Can you still drive your car? Sure it ain't pretty, but if you can still drive it, I say it's a win. Practice being resilient, especially now. You might think that starting over isn't worth it but I swear to you that it is. Your mental and physical health are worth it. You are worth it. Rejoice in your ability to do something, even if it's square one yet again.

Did you make a resolution to go to run couple of times a week? Start again. Only now, be realistic about how many times you'll actually run THIS WEEK. Once? Okay, start there. That's okay. We don't have to be rockstars all the time. Let's focus on being rockstars some of the time first.

Did you make a resolution or goal to eat more healthfully and without realizing it head right back into wherever you were? Ok. Don't hate yourself. Start again. Master one meal a day like the Plate Coach suggests by focusing your energy on that one time a day. Maybe it's lunch or dinner. Make sure it's a meal that you CAN be successful at most of the time and be flexible with yourself when time becomes scarce, when your energy becomes non-existent. Forgive yourself, start over, and move on.

Why not be like the deer? He or she was obviously hurt as there was a little blood and fur--but the deer managed to gallop off after initially being stunned and hurt. Sometimes we are stunned by life, our own perceived failures. Sometimes we leave a little dent,  blood and fur at the scene. Clean it off and go.

Also, if the deer can get up and gallop away from what must have been the biggest, most scary and painful disappointment ever, we can at least try.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Perspective and Gratitude

From Evans #iamme campaign, photo
by Danielle Levitt
When I was at the gym yesterday, going in on the elliptical, I started to smile.
I looked down at my clothes and realized that with the exception of my big girl panties, everything I was wearing I had not purchased myself:

NYC Marathon long sleeve tech shirt

tech running tights by Merrell
running shoes by Merrell
socks by Swiftwick
and bra by Enell 

When I started my fitness journey, I would run on the treadmill in my office almost every o dark thirty morning and dream. I would imagine that I could do any event I wanted, wear gear that fit and looked good, and that when people watched me in action, they would feel as though maybe they could do that too.

Over the past year, I've had many, many cool opportunities and experiences thrown at me and somehow, with the blessing and support of the Rabun Gap Nacoochee School, my students, my family, and my fitness community in general, I was able to take advantage of many of them.

From Tough Mudder Long Island 2016

I started out the year in January doing the Atlanta Fatass 25K run hosted by the Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society in Atlanta

In early March, I did the Naked Bavarian Trail Marathon in Reading, Pennsylvania

Narragansett Beer Half, Easton MA

In April I participated in a photo shoot for Evans, a plus-size fashion company based in the UK.

I did my first Tough Mudder Training event and the Shape Magazine Women's Half Marathon in New York City

At Catamount 25K
In May I did my first ever Tough Mudder in Atlanta

Early June I did the Tortoise and the Hare 12 Hour Run in Canton, Georgia. Oh, I also got a book deal too. I started writing that.

A few weeks later I did the Catamount 25K in Stowe, Vermont. I wrote my book.

A week after that, I did the Finger Lakes 50s 50K. I worked on my book.

I drove up to Massachussetts and did the Naragansett Beer Half mid July. BOOK? Yes! And beer too!
The following week I did my second Tough Mudder in Long Island, NY. I was still writing that book.
Post Marine Corps Marathon with my cuz

In August I got to tape a show of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (which hasn't been aired yet)! Did somebody say book?
In September I got to try out some the (then) top secret new obstacles for Tough Mudder. Book, book, book, book.

October featured the most events:

First, I did the Tri-State Tough Mudder in New Jersey. Escribía mi libro.
Then I did my fourth Tough Mudder in Dallas. J'ai ecrit mon livre.

I met NYRR CEO, Michael Capiraso!
What a cool guy!
My penultimate event was the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. My cousin and her children gave me VIP treatment before, during, and after the marathon. It was a difficult one (it was extremely hot!) but the hardship paled in comparison to the good times had with family, new and old friends, and new respect for the marathon distance I gained. Ich habe mein Buch geschrieben und I finished the first draft the day before the marathon at 9:28pm the night before Marine Corps.

And finally, to top of an incredible year of running, reading, writing, and doing a little diversity and inclusion at work,

I ran the New York City Marathon in November. To say it was one of the most fantastic experiences ever is an understatement. Also, I got to meet NYRR CEO Michael Capiraso, shook hands with Race Director Peter Ciaccia, went to the Runner's World Party that weekend with my Swiftwick bestie Ashley, hugged Ryan Hall, and heard Kara Goucher, Stephanie Bruce and Sara Hall speak at the NY Custom Physical Therapy pre-race partay! And then to top it off, my family was able to see me run the race of my dreams in their own backyard.
Mom, sis, niece and nephew cheering me on at the NYC Marathon in Brooklyn!

Wow, right? I am so fortunate to have the sponsorship and ambassadorship opportunities I do. I love each of the companies I get to represent as they align with both my lifestyle, mission, and intention. They have allowed me time to learn, grow, prosper and succeed as an athlete, even though those things might look and feel different for other, more traditional athletes.

Check out this podcast that Nicole DeBoom, founder of Skirt Sports, and I did a few weeks ago!

For this incredible and still surreal year, I thank Merrell, Swiftwick, Skirt Sports, the folks at Trail And Ultra Running, my publicist Margaux Nissen Gray, my literary agent Dystel, Goderich, & Bourret, my family, and countless others who have supported, encouraged, and motivated me to keep doing what I'm doing. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, Happy Holidays, and Happy Winter!

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Something got me out of bed yesterday.
Maybe it was that I woke up without a deadline looming over my head.
Perhaps it was my excitement about returning to one of my favorite yoga classes at my favorite gym, Lifetime Athletic.

Or that I knew my mother would make me dinner (cuz I'm still a big baby).

All of the above.

Plus, I was excited the fact that I would actually have a minute to sit down and post on the blog today.

I know, it's been a while and what actually inspired me to blog was something that my yoga teacher Erica Sergott said yesterday during practice.

It was really simple.

Morning of NYC Marathon!
At the beginning she said "Set an intention for your practice today" and I immediately thought of my breath. 

I haven't been running regularly since the New York City Marathon because:

     1. I needed and still need a break from running after that back-to-back-marathon-palooza (Marine Corps followed a week later by NYCM) followed by life.

     2. I've had some pretty major breathing problems since the beginning of November, when thick smoke and particulate matter filled the air of Northeast Georgia because of wildfires as close as four miles to our town.

Two doctors visits, one x-ray, one CT scan (clear!), and two different steroid prescriptions later, I'm slowly approaching a state in which I can breathe again without feeling like I'm drowning in peanut butter mixed with molasses and Elmer's glue. Breathing is essential.

Erica Sergott, yogi extraordinaire!
I've also been under a bit of stress lately. If you read my Women's Running Magazine post from last week about my goals and accomplishments from this past year, you'll understand why. And also, if you are new to this blog, you should know that I'm in the midst of writing a book. That's been giving me a little bit of anxiety.

But back to yoga yesterday morning.

I set my intention for my practice. It was--

"Thank you lungs for allowing me to breathe." 

Throughout the practice Erica reminded me several times to call to mind my intention for the practice, and it refocused me in a really powerful way.

My breathing became less labored, and I became less afraid of giving my full self to movement. I gave into quietude of the mind, and to opening myself to the bounty of good that has come my way in the last two years.

I returned to my intention, expressed gratitude for my lungs, and then reminded myself of the intent of everything that I do in the name of fitness, including this blog. I recommitted to health and wellness a few years ago, because I was letting them escape from my life. I started the blog because I wanted to share the journey with others.

So here I am. After a hectic-in-a-good-way year I want to recommit myself to blogging on this platform and continue to share my journey with you.

Thank you to Erica, yogi extraordinaire for helping me to realize this with a simple but incredibly meaningful yoga practice.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Heading to Las Vegas?

Getting your workout on while traveling, EVEN IN LAS VEGAS

I’ve been traveling a lot lately.

When I travel to a new city, even one that’s in my own country I love to explore it by either going for a run or an extended walk with no particular plan in mind, other than to breathe in and experience the city in the most visceral way possible.

In this way I’ve explored Paris, Madrid, Granada, Sevilla, Nice, Chicago, Rome, Florence, Spoleto, Quito, Philly, Orlando, and many other cities and towns around the world. It’s an awesome way to travel and appreciate what a city has to offer.

But what if you’re in a place like, say, Las Vegas in August, the hottest place on earth?

Doing a little T-25 in my hotel room
There’s the food, the shopping, the crepes, the shows, the people-watching, the burgers, the Bellagio, the casinos, the buffets, all the things you've found on the www.vegas.com page, and the throngs and throngs of people milling about and enjoying themselves twenty-four hours a days, seven days a week, 365 a year no matter how hot-as-Hades it is. Is there even space or time for a workout?

When I was in Vegas this past summer to tape Who Wants to be a Millionaire for Teacher’s Appreciation Week it was HOT! Like 107 degrees hot. It was so hot, in fact, that I felt like I was melting every single time I stepped outside of my hotel and I actually like heat. Like, I really LOVE heat. But this was too much.

Did I mention it was hot?

So what do you do when you want to get your run on or do some exercising and it’s a brick oven outside? I’m 100% a fan of exploring the outdoors, but if it’s like you’re on the surface of the sun and your body is not acclimated to the extreme, dry heat of the Mojave Desert, maybe you can go with Plan B or Plan C or Plan D which is stay-in-your-room-until-it-cools-down-and-then-you-can-run-but-it-never-cools-down-and-now-you’re-screwed

If you are dead-set on getting your workout on, you totally can! Here’s what I usually do, wherever I go:

After a session at a swank hotel gym
  1. Once I get to my hotel, I drop my stuff of in my room and head immediately for the fitness center, if there is one. I generally exercise early in the morning, so I check out the schedule and make sure I can do what I need to at an insane hour. I also check out the equipment to make sure it’s in working order, because been there, done that.

  1. If the fitness center is non-existent or gross, that’s when Plan B comes into play. I work out in my AIR-CONDITIONED room. In Vegas, the rooms are nice and spacious, so I can move around and do what I need to do.
  2. To make sure, I don’t miss important workouts, I almost always travel with the following, especially if I’m not sure about a hotel’s fitness offerings:

a yoga mat and strap
running shoes
a running outfit (weather appropriate)
and if I remember, a resistance band

These things are all light, and except for the yoga mat they don’t add a whole lot of bulk in your luggage (unless you have a fancy, expensive, foldable travel yoga mat)

In addition, since I always carry my computer or tablet with me, I can also access exercise videos via Beachbody’s streaming service, Beachbody on Demand. So if I’m not in the mood to make up my own workout, I turn to Chalene or Shaun T and his fine self.

One time, I even tried to put 10lb weights in my carry-on and they were confiscated. Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking either…

So I’m all set. If it’s too hot and the fitness center is not to my liking, I work out in my room. There are many things that I can do to ensure that I get my workout in--especially before I go out and get all sun-tired and Cirque de Soleil’d out…

I can do yoga on my yoga mat. There are tons of videos on Youtube so pick one and go! (My favorite series is Yoga with Adriene. I love her!)

I put together 3-4 sets and do 8-12 reps of the following bodyweight exercises:

  • Burpees
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Crunches
  • Planks
  • Jumping jacks
  • Push-ups
  • Speed skaters
  • Jumping lunges
  • Leg lifts
  • Mountain-climbers
  • V-ups

If I have remembered my resistance band I try to diversify my sets by adding some strength-training to the mix with the following (obviously not a complete list):

  • Overhead press
  • Bicep curls
  • Triceps kickbacks
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Chest press
  • Boxing moves (jabs, crosses, uppercuts, hooks)

You can create cool sets and supersets, or make up your own AMRAPS (As Many Reps As Possible), create stations in your room (or hallway if you’re brave), and/or get your intense cardio in by running up and down the stairs.

There are so many things you can do to keep yourself moving, even when you’re on vacation IN VEGAS. Working out wherever I go makes me a better (and more tolerable) traveler.

Do you exercise while on the road? How do you do it?