Inspired by Refinery29’s Money Diaries and The Cut’s Sex Diaries, welcome to The Runner Diaries, where we’re sharing a behind-the-scenes look into a week of training with runners of varying ages, paces and GPS coordinates.
This week, we have 23-year-old Paulina Pascual — a Janji Corps ambassador, dedicated member of November Project Boston, and Somerville resident. Below, she shares how she balances early workouts, a 9-to-5 office job, and a family vacation to Canada with training for two 10ks — one being a trail run with a fair amount of elevation.
Name: Paulina Pascual
Location: Somerville, Massachusetts
Training For: The North Face Endurance Challenge Series Marathon Relay at Wachusett Mountain (June 10) and the BAA’s 10k (June 25)
Occupation: Administrative assistant
Goal race? Maintain a consistent and earnest pace for my first 10k road race
Following a training plan? Yes; I combined the BAA’s Level Two 12-week 10k training plan and Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 8-week training plan to fit in my fitness and running clubs.
Part of any running communities, clubs or training programs? I run with November Project’s Boston tribe, Janji’s run clubs and Boston Brunch Runners
How long you’ve been ‘a runner:’ Two years
Goal weekly mileage: 25 miles
By day I work a desk job at a bank, but by morning I run around Boston, turning the city into my playground. I started running almost by accident when I began working out with November Project, and it’s been the best accident to happen to me. At the time, I just finished an undergraduate program at one of Boston’s many colleges, and the regular challenge November Project brought to my weekly routine was a welcome. It held me accountable and allowed me to set goals in my new post-grad world.
Since I’m still new to running, I’ve never had any formal training. I’ve relied mostly on the Internet and my running clubs to source and review training plans. While I still have a lot to learn—send your recovery and nutrition tips to me!—I’m tickled to have four 5ks, two marathon relays, and one half marathon in the books. And a full marathon on the horizon!
This week is a bit atypical from my usual routine, as I went on a to Montréal with my family who live in upstate New York. But I’ve noted what’s different as those changes occur.
Monday, May 22 // Day One
5:12am — After hitting snooze on my various alarms multiple times, I finally get out of bed. I didn’t hit my sleep goal (only 6 hours of sleep!), but my body feels rested after a light weekend of running. I go to the bathroom, get changed, and chomp on a “crunchy rice roll”—a rice cake made with sushi rice—to keep my stomach appeased before heading out the door.
Since I’m still figuring out what sort of running and fitness schedule works best for me, I use Mondays as a circuit training day with November Project. For the Boston tribe’s Monday workouts, you’re typically expected to run, bike, or walk to the workout location (which changes every week). I usually have to shove off to the office following Monday workouts, so I usually take public transit to accommodate a cumbersome change of clothes.
This morning, though, I’m lucky. I’m meeting my friend Kat to run to today’s “Destination Deck” location, which is near a courthouse in Boston. We both live in Somerville, and she’s a short one mile run from me—albeit, up and down a gradual hill. From there, it’s a little more than 3 miles to this morning’s workout location.
5:41am — I hit the road carrying my Camelbak with my stuff for work. (Fortunately, I left some outerwear at the office so I don’t have a ton to carry.) At 5:56am, Kat joins me and we continue to East Cambridge, eventually crossing the Charles River into Boston. We maintain an average mile pace just under 10 minutes, chatting about our weekend and upcoming week.
In my training schedule, this is just an easy “bonus run,” and I log it as such in my training journal.
Run deets — 4.1 miles
6:22am — Kat and I run up to the courthouse with minutes to spare before NP_BOS begins their warm-up of bouncing and hugging promptly at 6:29am. The co-leaders review today’s workout: a circuit of tricep dips, push-ups, box jumps, sprints, burpees, and something they’re calling “butt wipes.” (Basically, just a twist on leg raises!)
7:15am — The workout is wrapped up after some birthday booms for a fellow tribe member and a group picture. I skip the optional 6 minutes of all-out burpees as the forecasted rain has started to fall in earnest, and Kat and I take a short walk to a nearby Cuppa Coffee to warm-up with lattes—almond milk for me.
7:32am — Kat and I head to the subway where we part ways as we head to work. For me, that requires a detour to a gym in Boston’s downtown where I end up in the sauna for a short 5-minute breathing and relaxation exercise before showering and changing. Then it’s another short walk to Boston’s financial district for the daily 9-to-5.
8:45am — The work day begins! While I know I should eat breakfast shortly after my runs and workouts, on most days that start with November Project I don’t eat until I get to the office. And since I’m still figuring out the best portable (and healthy) breakfast options, I usually end up at the mercy of nearby eateries and my office’s pantry.
Today, I have instant apple and cinnamon oatmeal. Not the worst, but certainly not the best. I supplement the lackluster breakfast with snacks throughout my morning: almonds and caramel rice cakes.
1:21pm — In my excitement to run to this morning’s workout, I left my lunch at home—classic. I munch on a cereal bar while I order a side of roasted brussel sprouts from the closest b.good on their mobile app. I spend my lunch break at b.good reading Yvon Chouinard’s Let My People Go Surfing. It’s not the most wholesome lunch, but the brussel sprouts are drizzled with maple syrup, balsamic glaze, and more almonds. Delicious!
5:47pm — I finally escape the office and book it home. I ended up spending the majority of my afternoon on the phone arranging travel plans for my professionals while curbing my growing hunger with honey wheat pretzels and two Milano cookies. (The cookies were more of a treat to get through a stressful end to the day…). I opt for a subway and bus connection home, as I’m eager to cook dinner and proceed with my evening.
7:32pm — Dinner at last! Tonight, it’s vegetarian sloppy joes from a Home Chef box I received last week (I try and eat meatless on Mondays). A filling end to an otherwise unhealthy day. I read more Chouinard while trying to tune out my roommates watching Supergirl in the other room (I didn’t watch last week’s episode, so no spoilers!).
After eating, I clean the dishes and prepare for tomorrow. I find it helpful to lay out my clothes for next morning’s run in hopes that it makes waking up easier. While the technique doesn’t always work, it’s become routine at this point.
9:20pm — Time for sleep. After setting my alarms for tomorrow, I listen to my meditation app to help me tune out my roommates, who are now watching Jane the Virgin. Aaand the sleep comes quickly enough.
Tuesday, May 23 // Day Two
6:02am — While I got an ample amount of sleep, this is not the wake up time I was hoping for. Good thing I set my clothes out last night! I also took the initiative of writing today’s workout on the back of my hand so I wouldn’t have to check my training plan before my body and mind have warmed up.
6:33am — Tuesdays are for intervals at the nearby track. After a warm-up jog and some dynamic stretching, the following is written on my hand:
- 2 sets of 1 mile at half marathon pace w. 2 mins of rest between each
- 3-4 minutes of rest
- ½ mile at 10k pace
I’m not looking forward to this workout, as I prefer shorter repeats (and my legs are feeling tired). I start out too fast and have to push through the rest. I jog the 12 minutes home as a cool down run.
Run deets — 5.8 miles
7:47am — I’m back home, out of my running duds and into the monkey suit. I tread myself to a nutritious breakfast: I’ve toasted a slice of homemade oatmeal bread topped with Icelandic blueberry skyr, local granola, and honey. A glass of water and more Chouinard accompanies breakfast.
8:09am — Leaving a bit late for the morning commute, but that’s what I get for a later wake-up and a more filling breakfast. It’s than a 15-minute walk to the subway, which leads to a half hour or so subway ride to the office.
8:56am — Mo’ work, mo’ money! As an administrative assistant, my job is mostly sedentary, save for brief walks around the office due to my committed relationship with hydrating and the natural consequences of that habit. Getting a morning run in makes me feel like I’m being productive for myself, and then allows me to justify my snacking habit at work… More almonds and caramel rice cakes! And a cup of coffee: one sugar with almond milk.
1:32pm — I didn’t forget my lunch today! Although it’s just a humble peanut butter and jam sandwich. I don’t like eating a large lunch during the work day because being too full makes me feel sluggish… but then, I constantly snack (two Milano cookies, a granola bar, and another cup of coffee…the usual). I end up walking to Marshall’s to look for discounted workout clothes, but don’t find anything. Moving my legs is worth it, though!
5:16pm — I leave work on time and take the subway home, which is about a 7-minute walk from my office. The commute goes by quickly enough, as I listen to Anna Faris’s podcast: Anna Faris is Unqualified. She’s a riot and never fails to make me laugh—and the long-form podcast is good for long runs!
6:37pm — Dinner time! I have leftover cod with succotash from a few nights ago, which was cooked en papillote so it’s a healthier option than my usual pan-sear for fish. I still feel a bit hungry, so I have some pita bread with spicy hummus, and two Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mints!).
I have some time to burn before a call I have scheduled for a Quidditch organization I volunteer with, so I begin baking some chocolate chip cookies. While the butter for the cookies soften, I shower and change into my pajamas (for some reason, I like baking in loungewear). Unfortunately, I misjudge how long the cookies will take and end up juggling a call with cookie sheets. (The cookies are delicious, though, and the call was productive!). I clean up the majority of my dishes and after sampling a cookie, prepare for bed.
10:03pm — A later time hitting the hay than I wanted, but the cookies were worth it. My clothes are set out, my bag is packed, my alarms are set—I’m all good to drift off to sleep.
Wednesday, May 24 // Day Three
4:37am — Waking up on Wednesday mornings will never get easier. I go to the bathroom, get changed, and munch on another crunchy rice roll while sitting at my window waiting for Kat to pull up. She drives to November Project’s 5:30am workouts on Wednesday, and earlier this year I started grabbing rides with her. The earlier workout time is not ideal, but there are usually less people at the 5:30am group than at 6:30am, and I’ve started bringing my camera to take photos of the latter group and practice my action and sports photography.
5:29am — ”Let’s get a little bounce!” Today’s not just any Wednesday at NP_BOS—it’s yearbook photo day! The workout is #RobotMan3, which means we’ll climb up the large seats of Harvard Stadium and down the small crimson steps from sections 37 to 19 before looping back underneath the stadium and repeating the loop two more times. I’ve never completed a full #RobotMan3, but I do manage the loop twice—the equivalent to a full tour of 37 sections at Harvard. My yearbook photo is taken in the midst of the workout, and before I know it the workout is over.
6:34am — Instead of sticking around to take pictures at the 6:30am group, I grab breakfast with some friends at the nearby Swissbäkers. While I know I should eat something more nutritious, I can’t resist a raspberry berliner and cup of coffee with cream and sugar.
7:21am — After breakfast, I walk with my friend Amy to the subway while we chat fitness and nutrition. We both head downtown and I go through my usual post-workout, pre-work rigamarole of showering and changing at the gym.
8:43am — Another day, another dollar. Unsurprisingly, I’m still hungry after my raspberry berliner, so I pour myself some honey nut Cheerios and almond milk. I’ve found I like the flavor of unsweetened vanilla almond milk much more than any dairy-based milk, and I’m happy my office keeps some in our pantry. I have a banana as well, as I figure the potassium is a welcome addition to my haphazard food choices.
1:21pm — PB&J sandwich for lunch (again). While not the best choice, it’s not the worst either. I read more Chouinard, then go on another walk—this time to TJ Maxx and the Gap. Nothing doing, again! Once I’m back at my desk, I succumb to the siren sound of Milano cookies and my afternoon cup of joe. And more caramel rice cakes.
5:11pm — On my way out of the office I grab another bag of caramel rice cakes (oops!) and head towards Newbury Street. Earlier this afternoon, Amy had sent an SOS message for ice cream to myself and my friend, Nishat. Since I didn’t have too much to do this evening, I respond to the plea for ice cream. The walk from my office to the FoMu on Newbury Street is around a 30-minute walk, and it’s nice to stretch my legs.
5:47pm — Ice cream time! Vegan ice cream, I might add. FoMu has some of the best ice cream—the fact that it’s vegan is just a great bonus for ice cream lovers of all diets. Amy’s favorite is their peanut butter mud pie, which we both get, while Nishat grabs f’Oreo.
6:34pm — I say goodbye to Amy and Nishat and head home (via two subway connections with short 5-minute and 15-minute walks bookending them).
7:23pm — Dinner is leftover steak wellington with roasted carrots—another Home Chef creation, as I don’t usually cook meat at home (other than fish). I catch up on a bit of Supergirl and have a chocolate chip cookie while drafting a packing list for this weekend’s trip to Montréal. Once dinner is cleaned up, I pack and prepare for tomorrow.
10:22pm — Sleepy time.
Thursday, May 25 // Day Four
6:12am — I hit my sleep goal and I feel well-rested! Cue morning routine, including token crunchy rice roll and waiting by my window for Kat’s yellow Mini Cooper to roll up.
7:03am — On Thursdays, Kat and I run with a small and casual crew that meets at Longfellows, a local café in Cambridge. Janji—the Boston-based running brand I’m an ambassador for—helps facilitate the club while Longfellows provides a space for runners to leave gear and gather afterwards. It fits in well with my training plan, as I use the club as a moderate run to work on pacing. The crew usually settles on a pace quicker than one I’d normally choose, which keeps me on my toes.
Today I’m aiming for 4.5 miles, but I know the route I’m planning to take will be a bit less. I end up chatting with another runner for the latter half of the run, and instead of tagging on a few extra strides at the end I end the run at Longfellows. Disappointing, since I was feeling pretty good, but fine in the end—I need to be to work early today. I grab a coffee with almond milk and sugar, then say goodbye to Kat et al. before walking 10 minutes to the subway.
Run deets — 4.2 miles
8:46am — After swinging by the gym, I’m at my desk and ready for another work day. I didn’t have the foresight or time to prepare and eat breakfast between Longfellows and the office, so I grab a Greek yogurt from the office pantry and a banana. I work on some reports and reward progress (and my hunger) with almonds and caramel rice cakes. What can I say—I like having a routine!
1:34pm — It’s gotten rainy, so instead of going on a walk during my lunch break, I tuck in with my PB&J and Chouinard. Once I’m back in the office, it’s back to my reports and a few more snacks before the workday is up: honey wheat pretzels, two Milano cookies, and coffee.
5:16pm — Before I head out of the office, I grab a snack for the road—a dark chocolate and nut KIND bar. My usual walk, subway, walk is brought to you by an old episode of Freakonomics Radio.
6:18pm — Dinner! Leftover vegetarian sloppy joes—just as delicious as on Monday—while watching Parks and Recreation with my roommate. Then it’s time to pack for this weekend’s trip to Montréal. Somewhere in the midst of my packing I have a chocolate chip cookie, and then I pack up for tomorrow and prepare for bed.
9:56pm — Actually went to be on time tonight! A+ for me.
Friday, May 26 // Day Five
5:37am — Rise and shine! Or, rather, roll over and squint at my clock. Morning routine, check. Crunchy rice roll, check. Kat’s Mini, check. I chat with Kat and our other Friday carpool members on our way to Brookline, where November Project’s Friday workouts are. We run up and down Summit Ave, a hill just long and just high enough to be a versatile location for workouts. In my current training cycle, I treat these Fridays as easy runs, although I don’t always remember that…
6:32am — The bounce has been bounced and the workout is laid out: Yacht Music Surely Blows. It’s an anagram for York, Mason, Short, and Beacon—four cross-streets that mark the sprint-style workout. Starting at the top of the hill, we run to York, then turn around and run back to the top. The next one we turn around at Mason, etc. I complete seven vertical climbs, which is not the best I’ve done for this workout, but I didn’t push too hard so hopefully that meant I took it easy enough.
Run deets — 3.5 miles (maybe more?)
7:34am — All done! Someone has brought croissants for post-workout snacking and I grab one without a thought. Dang it, Paulina! You need to try harder than that! Kat, Amy, and myself head to Temptations, a nearby café where the tribe usually gathers after Friday’s workout. I get an almond milk honey latte before hopping on the subway, swinging by the gym, and heading to the office.
8:51am — At my desk with a bowl of honey nut Cheerios and almond milk. It’s a quiet day, and I munch on more caramel rice cakes while reviewing upcoming meetings for the office.
1:47pm — Another day, another PB&J. And more Chouinard. It’s a dense, non-fiction tome all about Patagonia, so it’s been taking some time to get through. It’s all fascinating, though, which is why it’s taking me a while. I don’t want to skim over anything! I also run an errand in downtown crossing before I return to the office.
3:48pm — Since it’s the day before Memorial Day weekend, not much has happened today and eventually I’m released early. Woohoo! I rush home, finish some last minute packing, and then I’m in my car driving to upstate New York where my parents live. I eat a second PB&J on the road, downing a Red Bull while singing along to a playlist on Spotify.
8:39pm — Despite traffic, I make good time on my drive home. My two siblings live at home, as one just finished with undergraduate studies and the other is only thirteen. My parents review plans for Montréal on Saturday, and I rearrange my run schedule to accommodate my mother’s wish to run with me (I’ll do my long run on Saturday before we leave, an easy run on Sunday in Montréal, and my tempo run on Monday.) However, a PB&J does not make a good night-before-a-long-run dinner, so I chow down on some Mini Wheats and almond milk, as well as a bagel with garlic hummus while watching Attack on Titan with my brother.
10:28pm — Full and tired and ready for rest before an early morning. Hmm, sleeping in my childhood twin bed is… Cozy.
Saturday, May 27 // Day Six
5:44am — Guh. I like long runs as much as the next person, but the earlier wake up call is a bit rude today. My brother and I suit up, and I grab a water bottle to leave on the front porch. Today’s run is supposed to be 9 to 11 miles, which I figure I’ll tackle in three 3-mile loops, and one 2-mile loop. My brother joins me for the first one, then the next two I run solo. I grab a swig of water between each loop, and for the final 2 miles my mother and sibling join. My sibling is new to running, though, so it’s more of a run-walk approach for them.
We all make it back to house in due time, and I refuel with a bagel topped with garlic hummus and chicken, as well as some Greek yogurt. And a chocolate chip cookie—I brought them home to share with my family, and I’m surprised they made it that far.
Run deets — 10.3 miles
9:58am — After dropping off a four-legged family member with his puppy-sitter for the weekend, my family is on the road and heading north to Montréal. We stop a bit before the border to stretch out legs and have some food—another Greek yogurt for me—and then before you know it, we’re in Canada! Well, almost. We’re stuck in long lines to cross the border, but once we make it to the front it’s just a few minutes before we’re on our way again.
2:34pm — The car is parked, the bags are in the hotel, and I’m grabbing an iced almond milk latte at a café next to where we’re staying. From there, it’s a short 5-minute walk to Quai Jacques-Cartier, and I scope out tomorrow morning’s run route while we enter the big top for this weekend’s main attraction—Cirque du Soleil’s newest show, Volta. Before the show starts, we make a dinner reservation, and the evening is underway. The show is great, with a simple plot and amazing athletic feats!
6:46pm — We’re hustling to our dinner reservation at 7pm, which is a 13-minute walk away from Quai Jacques-Cartier. We make it in time, and I have a salmon and shrimp burger with a side of coleslaw and a beer from the brasserie we’re eating at. I don’t usually drink on weeknights, so when I do find something good to drink on the weekend I enjoy it!
Once dinner is wrapped up, my family meanders back towards Old Montreal and I drag everyone to a crêperie so I can end the evening with something sweet. Inspired by the jars and jars of Nutella at the touristy spot we end up at, I order a strawberry and Nutella crêpe. No complaints, though—it was delicious!
We poke our heads into a few shops, then end up near Quai King Edward where an audio-visual performance in honor of Montréal’s 375th anniversary is being shown. You need tickets to have a good view of the outdoor performance, so we stick around for a little bit before my yawning leads us back to the hotel.
Sorry not sorry! This running fiend needs her sleep.
10:25pm — I barely manage to get ready for bed before I pass out on the pull-out couch in our hotel. I neglect to set any alarms—a mainstay of my evening routines. Oops…
Sunday, May 28 // Day Seven
6:43am — Unsurprisingly, my usual early mornings leave me a-okay to wake up at a predictable hour today. My brother and I get ready for today’s fun run around Vieux-Port de Montréal and plan to meet our family back at the hotel around 8am.
7:25am — My brother and I match pace pretty well for my easy runs, which is fortuitous since we both get something out of the run. This run has an ulterior motive, of course, and that’s getting my brother to take some photos of me wearing Janji gear. He humors me and obliges, so our run has more starting and stopping than ideal. Whatever! It was just for fun.
Run deets — 2.5 miles
8:11am — After showering and changing, my family is off for the morning. We stop for coffee and a bite at the nearby café, where my brother and I split an açai bowl while I sip on another iced almond milk latte. From there, we walk towards Chinatown where we grab some groceries, pastries, and boba while browsing more shops.
10:46am — Back at the hotel to check out before heading to our car and driving to Mont Royal. There, we park near a 24-hour poutinerie for some Quebecois fare. My mother, brother, and myself split a southwestern-inspired poutine topped with red onions, bacon, onion rings, guacamole, and chipotle sauce. One of my Top 10 poutines, I think!
We walk around Mont Royal for more errands, buying tea and bagels, and I swing by a Ciele Select store to buy a new Ciele cap. I PR’d my 5k back in April, and I promised myself a new cap when I PR’d. But then I forgot to actually get one. Good thing I ended up in Ciele’s hometown shortly after!
2:34pm — The family is back in the car heading back to New York, and this time when we cross the border there is no line. My mother and I split a bagel, and the family finishes off the chocolate chip cookies—finally!
6:47pm — Back at the house after picking up our four-legged family member and pizza is waiting. We overzealously ordered two: one with pepperoni, mushrooms, and roasted red pepper and the other with chicken, bacon, and ranch dressing. (I have a slice of each.) My father, mother, sibling, and myself split a large bottle of beer, and once dinner is wrapped up my mother and sibling have a surprise—mini carrot cakes for my father’s birthday! Granted, his birthday is in a few days, but they thought we should celebrate all together while I’m home.
We play Apples to Apples while drinking tea and eat the carrot cakes, and after two rounds (I won!) we tidy up and wind down for the evening. My brother and I, though, watch more Attack on Titan before finally calling it a night.
11:25pm — Whew! What a full weekend. Sleep comes quickly, and I forget to set an alarm. Again.
A Look Back — Reflecting On The Week
While this week was slightly atypical for me, it’s largely representative of what my weeks have looked like for the past several months. My current training schedule doesn’t encourage rest days, even though the option is there, so I’ve focused on turning my workouts with November Project to be easier and more social so I’m not tempted to push myself. I’m also trying to pay more attention to what my body is saying, so I do take rest days when needed. But writing out what I eat every day is a wake-up call—my diet is trash! So please, send advices and resources my way.
Paulina Pascual currently works as an administrative assistant at a bank and is a proud Janji Corps ambassador and November Project Boston tribe member. Before she started running, she played quidditch in college—yes, based off of the sport in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. No, they don’t fly.