My favorite running clothes

Hi all! My dear friend from college asked me to put together a post about my favorite running clothes, so of course I had to do it. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m a major creature of habit when it comes to my exercise clothes. When I find something I love, I’ll wear it forever (case in point: the purple tank top/white visor combo below). Here’s a candid, unsponsored overview of a few of my favorites… Deby, this one’s for you!

IMG_0013Tops: As a curvy gal, I love the fit of Athleta’s tank tops. They tend to be the only ones that are fitted but not skintight, and they come in a great variety of cuts and colors. Also, for my short ladies, it can be super tricky to find tanks in an appropriate length!! Hip length usually = a cute mini-dress. Athleta to the rescue! Just be sure to size down–I wear an XXS here vs. a 4/6 at Lulu. Unfortunately my number one favorite tank I can’t seem to find this season, but the Surge Tank seems to be the closest thing–super lightweight for hot days. I also love the Chi Tank–a slightly heavier fabric but it works for running or yoga. I swear this only fits me correctly in the varied stripe version. It also happens to be on sale–go for it!

IMG_9761Shorts: I’ve written in the past about my love for slightly longer shorts, but this summer as my body composition has shifted a bit (thank you speedwork) I’ve started opting for shorter and more fitted pairs. I don’t totally love supporting Lululemon, but for long runs you can’t beat their Speed Track shorts. They have the perfect mid-length inseam and enough pockets to store your phone, keys, headphones, credit cards, and Gu without batting an eyelash.

Bras: Every time a bustier runner mentions bra issues, all I say over and over again is Moving Comfort, Moving Comfort, Moving Comfort. These bras are INCREDIBLE–I never ever wear anything but the Rebound Racer! I love that this lightweight bra has relatively narrowly spaced straps that don’t cut up under my arms (short people problems), no weird foam cup padding, and super adjustable straps. This baby has nearly eliminated any chafing issues for me!

IMG_9747Socks: Apologies for this whole post turning into a rant about short people probz, but being a smaller sized human comes with having very very tiny feet. This means I need socks that come in a full range of sizes (one size fits all is a hoax!) I also like a good amount of padding in my socks since I’m pretty blister-prone, and a nice cotton-y feel. Enter Bombas! These babies do the trick, and they have tons of fun colors to boot. If you’re looking for a good compression sock, I love Pro Compression’s Marathon socks, although they’re a little thin so I mostly use them for recovery. I’ve been lusting after the Marathon Elites which have more padding to actually run in, but at $55 I’m hesitant. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve tried ’em!

Headwear: It may not be the coolest-looking thing, but if you’re training in the summer, do yourself a favor and get a visor!! I have this super basic one from Target and it is a life saver.

What are your favorite running clothing items?

Linking up with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the run!

Weekending + tailoring marathon training to your busy schedule

IMG_9405After a busy couple of months of weddings, racing, and travel, I finally got up to my favorite place in the world this weekend–my family’s little cabin in Maine. My favorite thing to do up there? Absolutely nothing 🙂 Just a whole lot of sitting by the lake, reading, swimming, and hanging out with the fam. We actually had a little bit of unexpected excitement when we discovered a family of flying squirrels had nested inside our roof, so there was a lot of running around and some nasty clean out. Never a dull moment…

The one challenge I have going to up to Maine is that the local roads are SUPER hilly, and they don’t have much in the way of sidewalks/shoulders/shade. Which is great for a hill workout, but less than ideal for a long run. So after an unnecessary amount of stressing out about it I decided to get my long run in on Friday morning before we left for the weekend. The problem was that I had 14-15 miles on the schedule, which is more than I can logistically fit in before getting to my desk at 8:30 a.m. So I made the decision to swap this week’s 14-15 with next week’s 10, and did my favorite 10-miler along the Charles. Next weekend I’ll be at home, and will have the time and energy for a long, flat run (the longest distance I will have covered since the NYC marathon!)

This led me to thinking about consistency and how important it is/isn’t to stick to a training plan. IMG_9399For me, the two most essential pieces of marathon training are getting in at least one “hard” workout and one “long” run every week. Beyond that, there is some flexibility–and you have to live your life and do what’s right for you. That said, marathon training is a commitment and takes a ton of time, energy, and planning. Especially at the beginning, it’s incredibly important to set yourself up for success by creating a routine of good habits. If you start off by skipping runs and slacking on workouts, you’ll pay for it later on (been there done that!) Like all good things in life, it’s all about finding the balance that works for you.

I’m also super excited that this past week was the first time I ran 6 days! J and I went for an easy 3 mile shakeout run on Sunday after taking Saturday off, and I felt super strong on my run this morning. More to come in my weekly recap later on this week!

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap!

Five summer running must-haves (for ladies)

On a sunny spring day in Boston, it finally feels like it’s ok to start thinking about summer running. I absolutely LOVE running during the shoulder seasons in New England, but the hot weather is going to come and this year I’ll be prepared. I’m generally not someone who deals well with heat, so I learned quickly last summer what to wear to avoid scary sweaty chafe-y discomfort. Here are my top five summer running essentials for my fellow ladies–I’d love you hear about yours in the comments!a056b8a5cf153afb69b95e25a159df60

  1. A dry-fit hat: I got my Nike hat on sale a few years ago and it is amazing! It wicks a little bit of sweat and keeps me from having to squint too much on days when I don’t want to wear sunglasses. Word to the wise–pick a light color. Black not only soaks up extra heat, but it shows sweat lines like whoa.
  2. Super duper lightweight tops: I have a couple of tissue thin tanks from Athleta that I LOVE for hot long runs. The style I have isn’t currently available but I definitely recommend something light and preferably white for the hottest days. Someday I’ll have the balls to just run in a sports bra, but this will do until then 😉
  3. A sports bra that breathes: Speaking of bras, it is essential to have a good one in the summer. I am blessed/cursed with a couple of not so teeny ladies and have found Moving Comfort’s Rebound Racer to be an total game changer. MC’s bras are designed by female runners and are thin and breathable (I hate thick padding) while still holding you in place for the long haul. And not one chafing issue since I’ve made the switch!!IMG_8578
  4. Long compression shorts: Short shorts may look super cute, but hot damn, nothing burns more than the ensuing chafing. I’ve made the switch to a longer compression short and haven’t looked back once. Plus, these Old Navy ones are still short enough that I stay nice and cool.
  5. A flipbelt (or hydration belt for longer runs): I used to run with a big, clunky armband for my phone, and recently switched it out for a flipbelt, which is made of comfy stretchy fabric that you wear around your hips. I pinky swear you can’t even tell you’re wearing it–no bouncing AT all. I wore this during the NYC marathon last year and didn’t even know it was there.

Are you ready for summer running?? It’s coming in fast and hot!!

The best places to run in Boston

Sunset gawking at Jamaica Pond

I have had the unfortunately common young adult experience of moving every year since I graduated from college. So far, I’ve lived in Somerville, Cambridge, Brookline, JP, and Fenway–where I have thankfully signed on for a second year of my lease. Even though moving is THE WORST, one of the pluses is that I’ve gotten to explore lots of different running routes in and around the city. Below is an overview of my six favorite runs in different neighborhoods, with some photographic temptation to help get you out the door. I’ve also included some notes on where to find water fountains and restrooms… so hydrate it up for those long runs!

11356970_404836979724246_630599518_nIn JP, head to Jamaica pond and the Arnold Arboretum, which are both part of the Emerald Necklace. This gorgeous series of parks/green spaces around Boston provides an incredible backdrop for your runs! When I lived in JP, I ran around the pond almost every morning and absolutely loved it. If you want to get your hill training on, head to the arboretum, where the well-marked paths will lead you up a couple of pretty steep hills (keep an eye out for some sweet skyline views). Major bonus–there are tons of water fountains in the warmer seasons! Public restrooms are also available at the pond 🙂

  • Hilly: Yes
  • Separated path: Yes
  • Cleared in winter: Sometimes 

    Pictures of strangers are cool, right?

In Brookline/Brighton, I love the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. This little gem is a 1.5 mile dirt/gravel loop around a reservoir, just outside of Cleveland Circle. The separated path gives your knees some welcome relief and the views just can’t be beat. Bonus tidbits: this is a really easy add-on to a longer run up Beacon Street from Coolidge Corner, and it can also continue up Commonwealth Avenue to the Newton hills (see below). Hit up the Starbucks in Cleveland Circle for an easy bathroom option.

  • Hilly: No
  • Separated path: Yes
  • Cleared in winter: No

If you want a challenge in Coolidge Corner, head up Summit Ave. One of the steepest hills in the area, Summit will get your heart pumping and your quads burning. If you want to attempt this one with a group, November Project runs free workouts here every Friday. There’s a super clutch water fountain at the top of the hill.

  • Hilly: YES
  • Separated path: No
  • Cleared in winter: Sometimes

    Good lookin’ even in stormy weather

In Cambridge/Boston, you can’t miss the Charles River Path. One of the most iconic runs in the city, this path is endlessly customizable and offers some of the best skyline and sunset views in the city. Click here for a helpful map with distances and bridges noted. In season, there are plentiful water fountains/bathrooms and the esplanade section is well-lit for nighttime runs.

In Somerville/Arlington and beyond, I love the Minuteman Bike Path. A fantastic route for your longer runs, this path runs 10+ (mostly flat) miles out to Bedford. Click here for maps and other info. I did both my 18 and 21 milers along this route and really appreciated the shade in the summer! If you veer off the path there are restrooms at lots of businesses along the way, along with public restrooms at the turnaround in Bedford.

  • Hilly: No
  • Separated path: Yes (but watch out for cyclists)
  • Cleared in winter: No

    Blue skies, clear hearts… can’t lose!

In Newton, head up the famous Newton hills. If you’ve heard of a little race called the Boston Marathon, you’ve probably heard of Heartbreak Hill. What makes Heartbreak so tough is that it’s part of a series of hills stretching from mile 17 to about mile 21 of the race. Even if (like me) you’re not training for Boston, this is a GREAT place to run! The separated “carriage lane” on Comm Ave is pretty much taken over by runners on the weekends, making for a really fun atmosphere all year long. There is an awesome private home with a water fountain just past Lowell Ave. and restrooms at the Newton Public Library.

  • Hilly: Yes
  • Separated path: No, but when you run in the carriage lane it can feel like it
  • Cleared in winter: Yes

Where are your favorite places to run in Boston? Let me know where I should check out next!

p.s. If you like these photos and want to see lots and lots of running sunset shots (and more), follow me on Instagram @leahohh!

10 lessons I learned running my first marathon

Sometimes big accomplishments take a while to sink in. Basically, my thoughts have been running in a loop over the past few days that goes something like this: I just ran a marathon. Did I just RUN a MARATHON??? I JUST RAN A MARATHON.IMG_7848

I’m working on a full race recap post, but since I get teary every time I try, I thought I’d start with a list of the top ten things I learned this past weekend. Some were total surprises and some reinforced what I had expected–but they all were funny, powerful lessons on just how wonderful people can be if you let them.

  1. Be selfish: New York is one of my favorite cities, so planning a weekend away without a lot of museum-going, city-strolling, or bar hopping with friends was a struggle. My takeaway was to just own the weekend and be incredibly appreciative that my parents, boyfriend, brother, and cousins all were there to support me–crazy meal schedules, hydration planning, early bedtimes and all. Be selfish, it’s YOUR marathon!
  2. IMG_7833Beware what you wear: Spectators will yell whatever you have on your shirt, over and over, for 4+ hours. I got all hometown proud and decided to wear my Boston Strong t-shirt with my name stuck on below. I didn’t quite realize I’d be hearing “woooooo Boston!” and “go Pats!” for most of the day on Sunday. So just beware, people will read and yell the biggest and boldest thing you’ve got on your chest. Choose wisely.
  3. Do not underestimate the power of having family and friends along the course: looking for friends and family is the number one best way to pass time during the most painful parts of the race. I’ll let this video speak for itself in terms of my enthusiasm level the first time I saw my personal cheering squad. Goofball central!
  4. Staten Island Ferry viewsMost runners people are really, really nice: My most frequently asked pre-marathon question was: are you running it alone? And the answer was yes. Like most runners, I think, I like to run races solo so that I’m not beholden to anyone else’s pace. Being by myself made me even more appreciative of all of the support from friendly fellow runners: Sarah from San Francisco who showed me the sights from from the ferry (check out that sunrise!), my fellow #teamglutenfree runners who kept me company during the stressful last few minutes before the race, everyone who made noise during the long, painful slog up the Queensboro bridge, and more–you made me feel like I had a running buddy holding my hand all day. Thank you. 
  5. The last 5 miles will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced: in equally good and painful measures. My body did some tricky things at this point in the race–muscles I didn’t even know I had threatened to cramp up, dehydration set in, and sweat flowed–but I also felt like I had an invisible hand pushing me forward. That’s what those months of hard training are really for. I knew I could run 21 miles, but I built up to be able to get myself through “the wall” and across that finish line.
  6. You are a rock star (for a few miles, at least): the high that is running down fifth avenue about to accomplish a huge life goal with thousands of people screaming your name has to be experienced to be believed. Pure marathon magic.
    Hey! I'm almost done!
    Hey! I’m almost done!
  7. Marathons are emotional roller coasters: Highs, lows, frustration, tears, pain, euphoria–all emotions were on tap on race day. But the disappointment and frustration of cramping up and dropping below my goal pace paled in comparison to the complete sense of accomplishment I felt when I knew I had done it.
  8. There’s a reason people say your first marathon time goal should be to finish the race: Watching my time goal slip through my fingertips was really hard–I had a sub-4:00 time in my grasp and then just lost it during the last five miles or so. I’m glad I had a secondary goal in mind and am incredibly proud of my 4:05, but this was a lesson I learned the hard way.
  9. The post-finish line trudge will be the longest walk of your life: NYC is notorious for making you walk pretty far after you finish the race, and the rumors are true–my achy, cranky legs had a 20 minute walk ahead of them before I could leave the chute and find my family. This is supposedly good for you, but those were probably the longest 20 minutes of my life.
  10. The next few days will hurt: I’m usually pretty diligent about stretching/yoga, foam rolling, and getting back on my feet after a race. Post-marathon recovery, however, is a whole different beast. It took me 3 days just to be able to walk down stairs properly, and running probably won’t be happening until this weekend at least.

What lessons have you learned from accomplishing a big goal–running-related or otherwise?

Thinking out loud Thursday: my running must-haves

I’ve been getting a lot of good thinking done during my runs recently, especially since I’m trying to do less running with my headphones. Oddly enough, most of my thinking while running is about… you guessed it… running! Thinking-Out-LoudSo I’m linking up with Amanda from Running with Spoons for Thinking Out Loud Thursday to share my latest musings 🙂

The NYC marathon will be my first long (10k+) race in a year or so, and it has been fun breaking out all of my favorite running gear. Over the course of the past few years, I have a few pieces that have been indispensable to my training. Here are my top five favorite items:

  1. Fuel belt (or other hydration conveyance device): Hydration is incredibly important for distance runners–and finding a comfortable way to carry your H2O around is no small feat. Luckily, there are lots of options out there to lug water around. I happen to have a small handheld single bottle for shorter runs and a fuel belt for longer ones, but I plan to test out a small Camelbak this season. Whatever you choose, be sure to stay hydrated, especially in the summer heat.
  2. Reflective gear: Unless you don’t have a job (and you do have incredible time management skills), you will probably end up doing some running in the dark–so make sure you’re as visible as possible (and those teeny reflective stripes on your sneakers are NOT gonna cut it, sorry!). I love my Amphipod vest because it doesn’t bounce around, but anything reflective will do.

    Rockin' some sweet shades on top of Mt. Moosilauke
    Rockin’ some sweet shades on top of Mt. Moosilauke
  3. Comfy sunglasses: Getting caught without any eye protection on a particularly bright or windy day is the worst–and cute everyday stunnah shades are going to get old really quickly. I recommend snagging a pair of lightweight sport-style sunglasses for running. No need to spend major $$ here–I got mine for $15 off of an LL Bean sale rack. Not the most fashionable but an absolute lifesaver.
  4. A foam roller: Distance running does some… shall we say… interesting things to your muscles. You’ll be feelin’ it in places you never expected. My IT and I spend quality time pretty much every night with my foam roller and it has done wonders–it’s like an at-home deep tissue sports massage. Hurts SO good.
  5. A running ID: Thanks to my running bestie Bry for bugging me to finally get one of these. It’s a little bit scary to wrap your mind around, but you should always run with ID in case anything happens to you when you’re on the road. I got a Road ID that attaches to my shoe, so I never have to think about it, but there are lots of great options out there.

Runners, what gear can’t you live without?



6 things that will happen when you run your first half marathon

Greetings from the couch, where I’m resting up from my sixth half marathon. I ran the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half this morning–congrats to any other runners for completing a tough and sweaty race!

Running is a funny thing. Most (all?) runners have a love/hate relationship with the sport–myself very much included. I forced my way through plenty of treadmill slogs in college with the vague goal of “getting in shape” and hated every second of it. Something flipped for me a few years ago, though, and I actually started enjoying running. The fresh air and sunshine, the endorphin high, the increased endurance and overall fitness–I was hooked. Pretty soon, I had a couple of short races under my belt and I was ready to take the plunge and sign up for my first half marathon.

My first Boston Athletic Association half marathon--still smiling at mile 7!
My first Boston Athletic Association half marathon–still smiling at mile 7!

For all you running newbies (and veterans), here is my very unscientific list top six list of things that might happen to you while you’re training for your first half.

1. Spit, sweat, and snot: Let’s get the gross stuff out of the way right at the beginning. Running is a gnarly sport. Moving your body pretty quickly, especially in the extreme heat and cold, will lead to spitting, sweating, and nose blowing galore. Just be prepared for this and make sure you look behind you before you hawk a loogie. Welcome to the glamorous world of running!

Spitting like a lady, always.

Source: Buzzfeed

2. Second (and last, I promise) gross one: chafing, blisters, and missing toenails. This stuff just happens when you engage in repetitive, pounding motion for a couple of hours at a stretch. The bright side here is that once you get the right gear and especially the right sneakers, you’ll be able to mostly avoid these problems. Be sure to buy your sneakers at least a half a size larger than you normally would to avoid ugly black and blue toenails and even uglier toes sans toenails. Also, invest in proper running clothing (no cotton) and bodyglide.

3. Money, honey: Running is awesome because it’s free, right? Strap on your sneaks and hit the open road! Or… not. Start factoring in race registration fees, running shoes, insoles, techwick shirts/shorts, high viz/awesome neon layers, compression gear, fancy bras (well-endowed ladies, you feel me), foam rollers, fuel belts, GPS watches, running apps, etc. and you’re going to be out a pretty penny. Keep an eye out for an upcoming post on my must-have gear for new runners!

4. Unflattering photos: Heads up–there are generally several photographers stationed along racecourses who will be snapping pictures of you as you run. If you happen to get a flattering photo like this guy, it’s an awesome souvenir. But most of these photos are horribly unflattering and may make you look like you are about to pass out on the pavement even though you were actually feeling awesome. My advice is to be prepared! Keep an eye out for photographers, and when you see them, stand up straight, smile (if you can), and even flash em a quick thumbs up or fist pump.

Left side: typical race photo. Right side: lookin' like a runner!
Left side: typical race photo. Right side: lookin’ like a runner!

5. Eating all of the things: Running is serious business cardio, and with cardio comes a monster appetite. I’m pretty much always hungry all of the time anyway, but even more so when I’m training for a half. Keep this in mind and plan accordingly. I tend to get ravenous about 45 minutes after I finish a run, so I have a meal ready to roll by then. Also, I won’t eat less than an hour before I run (cramps are the pits) but if you can, try to eat something with carbs and protein (like toast and peanut butter) at least an hour before a long run to fuel up. Click here for much more in-depth advice from the pros.

Gluten free post-race crepe at Paris Creperie in Brookline
Gluten free post-race crepe at Paris Creperie in Brookline

6. You’re going to want to do it again: My biggest and most important tip is this–you might actually learn to love running. It’s possible you’ll want to keep on doing it, and maybe even doing more of it. You may find that running clears your mind and makes you feel powerful and strong and free. You might lose a few pounds and gain a few friends. You might be counting down the days until your next race 🙂

All smiles at the Disney Princess Half Marathon
All smiles at the Disney Princess Half Marathon

I want to hear from you: do you have a love/hate relationship with running? What surprised you most when you first started running? Any other tips for first time half marathoners?

Happy running!