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. Get The Runner Diaries delivered to your inbox, here.
This week, we have Willa Tellekson-Flash, a 21-year-old runner, writer, and student at New York University. Follow along as she balances her senior spring semester course load, an internship, a whole lot of fitness and peanut butter, and training for a spring half marathon.
The Run Down:
Name: Willa Tellekson-Flash
Location: New York, NY
Training For: NYCRUNS Ladies’ First Half, March 2018
Occupation: Student, Writer
Following a training plan? I have a fabulous running coach 😉
How long you’ve been ‘a runner:’ Around 5 years
Goal weekly mileage: Currently around 30 mi
I always hated running as a kid. I got a terrible side stitch, dreaded the timed mile in gym class, and was convinced that I just was not cut out for it. It wasn’t until I joined the crew team in high school that I started to use running as a way to try to improve my endurance, and to stay in shape when I spent a year in France and wasn’t rowing. I haven’t looked back since, and even though I don’t race very often, running has become a huge source of joy for me since moving to New York for college about 4 years ago.
Day One | Monday
6:30am — I wake up and have a glass of water and a ginger shot before my run. Everyone has the flu in New York right now, and I’m doing everything in my power to make sure my cold doesn’t turn into the flu. By 7am I’m out the door for a run. I have an easy 45-60 minute run scheduled for today, so I run 6 miles at a comfortable 8:30 pace, and finish with some striders and stretches.
8:30am — I have a jar of overnight oats for breakfast that I made last night since I’m in a bit of a rush to head to class. Since I’ve reached a point in my training where I’m running more miles than my non-training norm, I feel like I’m hungry all the time, so I add a big scoop of coconut butter to my oatmeal to keep me full until lunch time. I also have a concoction of hot water, lemon, apple cider vinegar, and marine collagen that I make every morning before breakfast. I don’t like coffee, so this is my version of the drink that makes me feel set to start the day.
9am — Off to class! This semester, I’m working on my creative thesis, which consists of me writing a Sex Ed curriculum that is far more concerned with students’ emotional well being than simple biology instruction, and I have to give a presentation on my project this morning. I grab a bottle of Pressed Juicery Green Juice No. 5 from my fridge (a splurge… they were having a sale!) to sip on throughout the day.
11am — I don’t have class again until dinnertime tonight, and I find the library at school extremely sad, so I’m always on the hunt for places to work that don’t require me to purchase $7 matcha lattes. A friend and I head to Hub Seventeen, a free workspace in the Flatiron lululemon store to get some work done.
12:30 PM — Lunchtime!
One of the best parts of working at a space that isn’t a café is that I can bring my own lunch, too. Using food that I meal prepped yesterday, I packed a bowl of steamed kale and green beans, roasted sweet potatoes and carrots, hard boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, and a peanut dressing that I made. I’m in general quite a healthy eater (I’m one of those lucky humans who loves vegetables), but I haven’t always had the healthiest relationship with food, so I try not to adhere to any specific diet too closely to avoid too much rigidity. That said, it’s easiest to describe me as a pescetarian. I do a fair amount of meal prep each weekend too, which helps keep me fueled and saves me a ton of money. I like to think carrying around my lunch and dinner tupperware counts as strength training too… 🙂
1:30pm — I pop up a block to Athleta to exchange a pair of running leggings for a different size. They have the best return policy… even though I bought these leggings a month ago, they let me exchange them no questions asked for not only a different size, but a pair with better pockets!
3:30pm — After a very productive afternoon, I walk home, have a snack, and do some more reading. I’m trying to take advantage of my last semester of college and the days when I have a little more flexibility in my schedule, so I curl up in bed for an hour with Bird by Bird, a great book on writing that I’m reading for a creative writing seminar, and a mug of vegan yogurt, granola (if you haven’t tried Purely Elizabeth’s Chocolate Sea Salt + Peanut Butter Granola, you haven’t yet lived… it’s that good), and blueberries. I do a little stretching and spend some time on my foam roller too, which is a bit of a challenge in my apartment as I seem to always knock something over, but my calves appreciate my efforts.
6pm— Back to school! My creative writing seminar goes from 6:30 to 9, so I bring my dinner with me to eat midway through class. It’s not all that different from lunch, but still tastes pretty darn good. I try to change it up a little, though, and have a bowl of quinoa, kale, green beans, carrots, turmeric tofu, peanut sauce, and sunflower seeds.
9:15pm — Today feels like it’s been a long one. I make myself a mug of peppermint tea, lather a rice cake with peanut butter and add some banana, and do a little more work for school.
10:15pm— I’ve started putting technology away between 10 and 10:30 so that I can properly wind down before I go to sleep. It’s tough to get myself to do it, because lying in bed and scrolling through Instagram can be rather tempting, but I’ve been sleeping so much better. I also diffuse lavender essential oil in my room at night, which makes the whole going to bed thing extra calming. My lights are out by 11.
Total Miles: 6
Day Two | Tuesday
6:45am— Wake up, have a glass of water, and head out the door for my run. It’s snowing this morning, and I worry that this will mess with the footing of my run since I’m running mile repeats to build speed, but it doesn’t end up being an issue. (And to be honest, I kind of like running in the snow!) My warm up is much slower than usual, but I surprise myself and run each mile between a 7:15 and 7:25 pace, and am all smiles by the end of my run.
8:45am — I make my hot lemon water concoction and pull another jar of overnight oats out of the fridge. This one is a PB-Banana version (I have the recipe posted on my Instagram), and I add a handful of blueberries and raspberries too.
9:30am — Today I’m at my internship. I’m an editorial intern for Here Magazine, which is a travel publication that’s part of the luggage company Away. I spend the morning writing and going to brainstorm meetings.
12:30pm — Lunchtime! My stomach is growling. My lunch is basically the same thing as yesterday—steamed kale and green beans, roasted sweet potatoes and carrots, turmeric tofu, sunflower seeds, and a PB sauce. After that it’s back to work, because I have an article that needs to be finished today. Other than filling up my water bottle fairly frequently, I spend much of the afternoon at my desk.
3:45pm — I’m starting to lose focus, so I figure it’s probably time for a snack. I have two cheddar cheese sticks and a handful of baby carrots and keep plugging at the article I’m finishing. Today is National Plan a Vacation Day (apparently over 50% of Americans don’t take their paid days off), and I’m writing a piece on why it’s important to take vacation time.
5pm — I’ve been inside for way too long and am getting antsy. My boss and I have a touch base meeting, and we decide to go for a walk. It’s chilly outside, but the fresh air helps me refocus. Because I’m a student, I’m still getting used to full days in an office.
6:30pm — I head home and make quinoa fried rice for dinner. I sautée some veggies and add some PB sauce (can you tell I like peanut butter…??) and avocado on top. And if I haven’t had enough peanut butter yet today, I have Justin’s Dark Chocolate PB cups for dessert, which are incredibly addictive. I’m a huge dessert fan, and have learned to not care too much about how often I have something sweet. As long as I’m moving my body regularly and eating lots of other nutritious foods, I’m pretty sure I’ll fare okay in the end. I am a bit of a quality snob, though, especially when it comes to desserts, and have been known to shell out extra money for good chocolate or gourmet chocolate chip cookies.
10:30pm— After attempting to get schoolwork done, but mostly getting distracted, making lunch for tomorrow, and watching the State of the Union address, I shut off technology and get ready for bed. Lights are out at 11:15.
Total Miles: 6
Day Three | Wednesday
7am — I had my alarm set for 7:30 since I have a little more of a lax morning, but my body is so used to my normal schedule that I wake up before my alarm. I use the extra time to make my favorite hot lemon water drink and crawl back into bed for a tiny bit.
8:30am — Today is an off day from running so I take a yoga class at Sky Ting in Tribeca. ClassPass had a free five class promotion, which I’m taking full advantage of for yoga and cross training.
10am — My stomach is growling when I get home from yoga. I make a smoothie bowl with banana, spinach, squash, strawberries, SunWarrior protein powder, hemp seeds, maca, peanut butter, and almond milk. I add some more peanut butter and my favorite granola on top.
1pm — Off to my internship for the rest of the day! I have an afternoon of writing, pitch meetings, and building stories to publish on our website. I eat lunch at my desk, which is more of what I meal prepped for the week. I throw the ensemble in a Tupperware top it with olive oil and sea salt and it’s super yummy.
4pm — One of my coworkers and I take a quick walk to get some fresh air and wander over to Cha Cha Matcha for a midday pick-me-up. I get a ginger turmeric matcha latte with oat milk, and laugh at myself for how bougie I sound — but it’s pretty damn delicious, and the ginger kick is especially appreciated on a cold day.
6:15pm — I power walk to Alphabet City to meet a friend for happy hour. There’s a great bar called The Wayland that has $1 oysters and great deals on wine and cocktails during the week. We share a dozen oysters and I have a glass of wine, followed by a delicious cocktail. I may or may not have strategically scheduled this happy hour for a night that isn’t followed by a morning run… I’m a huge lightweight—your worst joke will practically make me pee my pants after two glasses of wine—and though I never drink enough to wake up the next day with a hangover (heavy drinking just isn’t my thing, plus drinks in New York are not cheap), I always avoid having anything more than a glass of wine or a cocktail if I’m running the next day. It’s one of my more grandmother-esque qualities, considering I’m 21…
8:15pm—I make a quick egg + veggie scramble at my friend’s apartment and catch up with some friends I haven’t seen in awhile.
10pm — I get home and have two peanut butter cups while packing my lunch for tomorrow and getting organized. I’m fairly wired, and I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t run today, or because of the late afternoon matcha. I shut my phone off, but am up for awhile journaling and writing because I’m wide awake. I don’t go to bed until midnight.
Day Four | Thursday
7am — Day two of waking up before my alarm goes off. I make my hot lemon water, do some work for the student magazine that I co-run, and clean my apartment a bit. I make myself the same smoothie I had yesterday for breakfast.
9:30am — I have an acupuncture appointment this morning. I’ve been struggling with digestive issues for the past couple years, and am just starting to find some relief. Acupuncture is a new addition to my efforts to treat it, but I love my acupuncturist and have found it to be effective so far. The time I spend meditating and focusing on my breathing during the session brings a refreshing sense of calm in the middle of a busy week.
11am — Back to school! I have a class on qualitative research, which is helpful for my senior project. We’re talking about different paradigms of research today, and the two and a half hour class goes by a lot quicker than I expect. We take a break around 12:30 and I lunch on (surprise!) quinoa, kale, carrots, green beans, tofu, sunflower seeds, and peanut dressing.
2:30pm — Time for a little cross training! Taking advantage of free ClassPass again, and I go to a Core Cult class at New York Pilates. I haven’t taken many reformer pilates classes before, and it’s fun for me to be a little out of my element. Plus, I can tell I’m going to have a sore core tomorrow.
4pm — I settle in at Hub Seventeen to get a little work done before dinner. It’s the perfect spot to get some reading done! I snack on a hard boiled egg, some Jilz crackers, and some of a juice from Pressed Juicery.
7pm — I’m home for dinner, and reheat some acorn squash soup that I made and froze a couple weeks ago. I make a grilled cheese sandwich to go with it and cozy up with my dinner and MasterChef. I spend the rest of the evening puttering around my apartment, doing some reading, eating a lot of dark chocolate, and watching some TV. I get sucked into the Hulu trap and don’t end up asleep until 11:45, which is a bit later than I’d like.
Day Five | Friday
6:15am — My alarm goes off and I’m tired. I’m glad that my run doesn’t have a speed focus today, and I head out for an hour-long easy-paced run along the West Side Highway. I’m listening to a fun book called Material Girl, Mystical World on Audible and the run goes by quickly.
9am— I bring a jar of overnight oats topped with crunchy PB and raspberries to my appointment with my therapist and eat during our session. All hail portable food.
10am — Today’s another day at my internship! I spend the morning doing photo research and building some stories that we’re publishing today.
12:15pm — After putting some time on my legs this morning, I’m hungry by the time lunch rolls around! I have my last big Tupperware of the food I meal prepped. I also snack on these nori-wrapped energy sticks that are filled with nuts and seeds and yummy spices, and then it’s back to work.
3:15pm — I’m in need of a break, and a little bit of caffeine. I head out of the office for some fresh air and end up at Cha Cha Matcha for another ginger turmeric oat milk matcha latte and bring it back to my desk. I have a PB GoMacro Bar too, and spend the rest of the afternoon writing.
6:45pm — I get home from work and a friend comes over for dinner. We make a recipe that I saw on a friend’s Instagram account this morning—a curry-flavored pasta sauce that we put on brown rice pasta and add some sautéed veggies. It’s spicy and super yummy.
9pm — I hang out at home with my friend, my roommate, and one of her friends. Not surprisingly, there’s a fair amount of dark chocolate involved!
11:30pm — Off to bed!
Total Miles: 7.2
Day Six | Saturday
7:30am — Even on the weekends, I always seem to wake up early. I make a mug of my hot lemon water concoction and crawl back into bed for a bit.
9am — Head out for my run. Saturdays are normally long run days, but today I’m running a timed 10K. I jog over to the West Side Highway to warm up, and then take off. My pace isn’t quite as steady as I’d like, but I’m happy with my overall time.
10:30am — I make myself a big smoothie and add some extra PB and granola on top before rushing off to meet a friend for a matcha latte at a great café in the East Village called Saltwater.
2pm — I meet another friend for a foot reflexology massage. One of the perks of living in NYC is that you can find stuff like that for fairly cheap, and $25 plus tip gets me an hour of having someone rub my tired feet and calves.
3:30pm— I get home and scarf down lunch. I make an egg + veggie scramble with a piece of toast, but also have some leftover pasta from last night.
7:30pm — A handful of friends come over for a little dinner party! We have wine and cocktails and for dinner I make a delicious peanut sesame rice noodle dish. We spend much of the evening eating and drinking. I make a few golden milk lattes too—my favorite cozy beverage—after dinner for us to sip on while we chat. By the time everyone heads home and I crawl into bed, it’s nearly 1 AM.
Total Miles: 6.2
Day Seven | Sunday
8:30am — I wake up and am glad that I don’t have anywhere to be for a bit. I’m sleepy and sluggish and lie in bed with my mug of hot lemon water for a while. It feels especially glorious to lounge in bed this morning.
9:15am — For breakfast I make myself another smoothie bowl. I’m someone who simultaneously loves cooking and trying new things, and also go through phases where I’m sort of obsessed with certain foods and make them on repeat. Smoothies and peanut butter seem to be those foods right now…
12:30pm — After getting some homework done and cleaning up after last night’s dinner party a bit, I make a little lunch. I have very little food in my fridge by the end of the week, so I end up snacking on a bell pepper, Nut Thins with cheddar cheese and some leftover avocado, and a dark chocolate peanut butter cup. We’ll call it lunch.
2pm— I jog up to a yoga class that a friend invited me to. She managed to talk them in to giving a group of us a free class at Y7 if she reviewed the class on her site, Follow the Ola, and I’ll never say no to a free fitness class… Having like-minded wellness enthusiasts for friends has its perks!
4pm — After jogging home, I inhale two nori-wrapped energy sticks and head to meet a friend at a coffee shop around the corner for tea and homework. It’s rainy and I’d rather just stay inside, but I lent her my foam roller yesterday and I should probably get it back and roll out…
6pm — I stop at the grocery store on the way home and spend a solid chunk of time meal prepping for the week. I make a batch of hard boiled eggs, some baked tofu, a pot of rice, some roasted sweet potatoes, roasted carrots, steamed kale, another batch of peanut dressing, and a few jars of overnight oats. I have some of the rice, tofu, and carrots for dinner with some sautéed spinach and zucchini too. I top it with the peanut dressing, some pickled ginger, and sunflower seeds and watch some of the super bowl while I eat.
8pm — I pop over to a friend’s apartment to watch the rest of the Super Bowl and take advantage of the delicious chocolate chip cookies that she ordered. They make up for the fact that the Patriots lose.
11:59pm — Note to self, go to bed earlier next week.
Total Miles: 2
Total Weekly Miles: 27.4 miles
A Look Back — Thoughts on the Week
This was a fairly typical week for me, training-wise. The mix of speedwork and longer runs that Erin has me doing has been helping me get faster and more comfortable putting more mileage on my legs. Since I’m usually more of a recreational runner, I’m really enjoying training for something and having a goal. This week I surprised myself with my speed during some of my runs, and I’m proud of that! I’m still in that training honeymoon phase where I feel like superwoman after my runs. My two “do-betters”? One, I need to be stretching and rolling out more too. My calves and achilles are dangerously tight by the end of the week. And two, I really need to work on getting more sleep.
About Willa Tellekson-Flash
Willa Tellekson-Flash is a college senior, writer, and wellness enthusiast living in New York City. She documents many of her adventures, musings, and turmeric lattes on Instagram, at @thecitybeet.