Happy Holidays from our dailymiler of the week, Erica S.!

Our dailymiler of the week for the holidays has been a member of dailymile for quite some time. She’s a runner, foodie, fashionista, and marathoner! Check out Erica S. from New York!
(KS) How does yoga help your training?
(ES) I’m not sure I’d still be running if it weren’t for my yoga practice. The most obvious answer to that question is that it helps keep my muscles loose, malleable and happy. I practice poses like pigeon & half moon to keep my hips open, stretch my quads and thighs, and help with skeletal alignment that can get out of whack after hours pounding the pavement. Yoga is also an incredible
strengthener, especially for the core, which helps with my posture and prevents me from falling into my hips when I get tired during long runs. The more I’m able to pull out of my hips when I run, the less stress there is in that area. It’s been a huge help in curing & preventing the bursitis I delt with during last year’s half marathon training.
Second, and maybe a little less obvious, is that yoga has taught me to breathe to become a better runner. I have a brilliant teacher who has taught me to direct my breathe into the muscles that need it. The first time I got a muscle cramp during a run, I used this technique to direct breathe to the muscle and I couldn’t believe how well it worked. With a lot of breathing and a little focus, the muscle loosened right up.
And finally, the least obvious but perhaps most important answer is that the meditation techniques I’ve learned during my practice has helped keep me sane during those long & lonely runs. I’ve learned to be quiet, still and clear my head for up to an hour at a time (yes, like in the book Eat, Pray, Love) so when I feel my mind playing tricks on me during races or long runs, I use the same technique to clear my thoughts. During this past weekend’s Ted Corbitt 15k, a fellow DMer actually saw me close my eyes & meditate during the race. I sort of love that it cracked her up.

(KS) Any running gear on your christmas list?
(ES) Well… I’m Jewish so no Christmas list for me ;) But if I had a list, it wouldn’t include much. I’m not big into gadgets and already have Samson(my Garmin) and Dante (my foam roller), two of the best running buddies a girl could have. But if I had to pick something, it would probably be new and lighter weight shoes. My coach, The Running Lamintor has suggested I try them after my foot problems resulting from the marathon. Also on my list would be some more Zensah calf compression sleeves, especially since they’re finally coming out with the XS in funky colors! And finally, a lifetime supply of Body Glide; you can never have too much.

(KS) Congratulations on becoming a first time marathoner this year! Are you
planning another marathon for 2011?
(ES) Thank you and of course! I ran the 9+1 guaranteed entry to the NYC Marathon this year so I’ll be signing up in January and joining the thousands of others in November 2011! I’m not sure words can express how excited I am for this race. Watching it for the past several years is probably the reason I decided I wanted to be a marathoner.

(KS) As a new marathoner, how did you stay motivated for the long runs?
(ES) I just remind myself that if I don’t do the long runs, the race will suck. I feel like that’s motivation enough. After months of training, the last thing I want is to break down during the race and not finish. I’ve also had tons of help holding onto the motivation from this incredible running community! I mean seriously, If I had know runners were so freakin’ awesome, I would’ve started years ago. When I’m not in the mood for a run, I look to you guys for the inspiration, motivation and encouragement. It’s nice having everyone to help keep you accountable.

(KS) Do you have any running resolutions?
(ES) I guess to keep running, get stronger and maybe even a little faster. During this year’s training, my goal was to just finish the race. I told myself “this year just finish no matter how ugly it gets. Next year, finish with grace.” Luckily, I think I did a great job and finish with plenty of grace this year but I realize that NYCM is a pretty tough race. I’m hoping to train well enough to I can finish with grace next year.

(KS) What’s your favorite part about dailymile?
(ES) The people I’ve met of course! Like I said, you guys are all serious rock stars. I’ve gained some incredible friends and gotten wonderful advice. But maybe the best part is knowing that there are other people out there like me who enjoy this as much as I do. When non-running people in my life tell my I’m crazy and give me a hard time about my running, I think of all of you. If I’m crazy, at least we’re in this together.

(KS) There are a lot of other urban runners on dailymile, but running in NYC takes the cake. Any urban running advice from a year of training in the streets of Manhattan?
(ES) I love running in NYC! Hmm… advice. I guess I would advise that you play it safe and be aware of your surroundings. I think sometimes running makes us feel invincible, right? It’s like, hey, I can run 26.2 miles so I am strong and can do anything. But unfortunately, that’s just not true. I made some stupid decisions about when & where I’ve run and I’ve quickly learned that I am not invincible. I know it’s obvious but running at night in a secluded area is just a bad idea. Even running in daylight in a secluded area can be a bad idea as us NYers learned this summer after several incidents in Riverside Park (which is where I used to run at night). So the best advice I can offer is pay attention and be aware of your surroundings. And on a lighter note… have fun & explore!

(KS) From your blog I could tell that you’re quite the foodie! What’s your
favorite pre- and post- run meal?
(ES) That might be the toughest question so far! When it comes to food, I’m so driven by my mood and my cravings. I might crave something, eat it every day for a week and then move on to something else.
Some of my favorite pre-race meals are:

  • Gluten free oatmeal made with almond milk. I toss in some raw almonds or walnuts, cinnamon, banana, a touch of agave and a dash of cinnamon
  • Brown rice cakes with peanut butter & banana
  • Quinoa with dried fruit, almond milk & agave

After races I tend to just eat everything in site. Anything from sushi to brownies, gluten free pizza or giant omelets with french fries, mahi mahi burgers from Trader Joe’s, a big bowl of soup, etc… I love all kinds of food!

(KS) Are you also gluten free? Has that had an affect on your nutrition for running at all? How?
(ES) I am gluten free and have been since July of 2003 when I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Luckily, I studied nutrition at NYU so I’m very aware of what I can or can’t eat and what I need to add to my diet to get all of my nutrients. When I’m training, I like to record and analyze my diet to make sure I’m getting enough calories and all of my vitamins & minerals; I prefer to get them through
food instead of supplements.
When I first started running, my biggest challenge was figuring out what to eat to carb loaded. Runners always talk about their pasta parties the night before a race but since I can’t eat traditional pasta, I had to find other ideas. Also, sometimes I have trouble digesting food as quickly as other people so if I ate pasta (even gluten free) the night before a race, it would still be sitting in my stomach the next morning and wouldn’t be pretty. I’ve found that if I eat brown rice pasta a full 24 hours before a race, I’m better off. Then I eat bananas, dried fruit, etc… the rest of the day so keep getting in the carbs.

(KS) You’re also a bit of a fashionista – any favorite running apparel?
(ES) Lol! Yeah, I guess I am. I love Lululemon but rarely shop there because it’s just too darn expensive. After growing up in the industry (my father was in fashion) and then working in it myself for 12 years, I’m very aware of what things should cost and just can’t spend the extra $ for the brand names. Most of my running wardrobe comes from TJ Maxx and Old Navy! My running socks come from Target. The only things I will shell out the big bucks for are Zensah calf sleeves and the Nike tanks with the high impact built in bras because you can’t find that kind of support at a discount.

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