Continuing with our weekly column, “That Girl”, we are celebrating the accomplishments of real women who make health and fitness a priority because we know that true athletes come in all shapes, sizes, ages and athletic abilities from around the world. So this week we’re celebrating Gia Alvarez, an amazing marathon runner, mom and running coach who says investing in herself and her fitness makes her feel strong, confident, energetic and proud.
Thousand Oaks, CA
31 years old
Twin mom, running coach, marathon runner
Fitness/health accomplishment you are most proud of:
The New York City Marathon, 2011. It was my first marathon back, one year after having twins and I had the race of my life, I felt amazing the whole way and shocked myself with a 5 minute PR. It. Was. Epic!
Throughout my 10 year running journey, I have never been as excited about a race as I was on Sunday November 6th, it was my comeback race and I was pumped. NYC did not disappoint, the city came to a halt to support the sweat and tears that 47,000 runners put into 26.2 miles. 3 Million spectators shouted my name and encouraged me but the best cheering squad was my family at mile 23. I was greeted by the healthy, smiling faces of the twins, they were enthusiastically waving signs and ringing bells. I was brimming with pride.
What inspires you to get fit every day?
Fitness IS my inspiration. I run to be inspired. some days inspiration comes simply from a great long run or a shiny new running skirt. Other days I have to struggle to find the inspiration, but I remind myself that for me, being the best mom I can be means making the time for fitness. It isn’t always easy, but its always worth the trouble.The boost of confidence that I get from taking the time to exercise is inspiring. Lacing up my sneakers and heading out the door I know that I’m getting stronger and that makes me confident. I’m investing in myself and its a beautiful feeling.
What do you do when you don’t feel like working out?
I recruit others! Invariably if I’m not motivated to work out, being around others who are motivated is infectious. I really believe that you should not go on your fitness journey alone. No one is motivated 100% of the time, you need others to bring the motivation when you just don’t have it. For me, a great running buddy is priceless. My RB helps motivate me, supports me, distracts me with her stories … and I do the same for her. Teamwork, people!!
Favorite energizing meal:
Um, am I allowed to say coffee? Kidding. Give me scrambled eggs and a sliced apple with peanut butter and I’m a happy girl!
What’s your favorite way to chill post-workout?
For some odd reason 13 month twins just don’t understand the concept of being tired from a long run. Weird. So while I dream of sipping on a protein shake and resting my legs in an ice bath … that never actually happens. What I do is take a moment. I turn off any music I’m listening to, take a few deep breaths, stretch out my muscles and let the delicious endorphins that I just produced bring a huge smile to my face. THEN I go about my day!
What is your top kick-ass workout?
Running with the jogging stroller! Pushing 25 lb twins in a stroller while running is seriously hard! I read recently that running with a jogger burns 200 more calories per hour than running alone and I believe it! Its a completely different workout than running alone, I have to dig deep within my quads to get all 3 of us up those hills in Central Park. I have a goal to get to 10 miles pushing a jogger. So far I am up to 6.
Where is your favorite/most unique place you’ve ever exercised?
On our honeymoon we went to a tiny little island called Sumba. Its off the coast of Bali and basically undeveloped except for a quaint surf resort. Each morning as the sun was peeking up over the horizon I would run on my own private piece of paradise. The cove was about 1.5 miles long and my footprints were the first marks in the sand every day. Heavenly.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through sports?
Variety is the spice of life. While my heart belongs to running, I have to keep it interesting … ballet, weights, yoga, walking all in addition to running. Ensuring fitness variety prevents my mind from getting bored and my body from getting injured. Fitness is like a puzzle, you have to put together all of the pieces in order to get a completely healthy picture.
Calling all female athletes (that means you!): Do you surf, ski, swim, climb mountains, mountain bike, compete in races or stay fit with any other sport? We want to inspire other women with your story. Send an email to editor@Blisstree.com with the subject “That Girl”.
Photo: Gia Alvarez
Twitter handle – @rungiarun