You may recognize Heidi Jones as an on-air personality from ABC’s Good Morning America. If you live in the New York tri-state area, you definitely know her as a member of WABC‘s weather team. Recently she has become the host of Live Well HD Network‘s new program Gotta Know. What you may not know is that she’s an accomplished marathon runner. Popdose caught up with her and conversed about many topics, but most importantly we wanted to get her advice on how to get, and stay, active. This one is for some of our readers — and definitely one of our writers (ahem).
Many of the readers will know you as an on-air personality for ABC’s Good Morning America. You’re also part of the New York affiliate WABC-TV. While technically that is considered a “local” market, the New York tri-state area is huge and clearly influences the outlying regions like few others. What is it like to be part of such a large broadcast area?
Working in NYC for WABC-TV is like working for a network, not a local affiliate. The reason is because so much happens in the tri-state region that becomes a national story. New York City is the epi-center of finance, fashion and television which most definitely necessitates covering the news on a larger scale than just local. WABC-TV is not on the number one rated station in this area, but we get the highest ratings in the entire country as a whole. It’s a lot of responsibility, but also instills massive pride in those of us working here, because we have such a revered name.
While being a New York broadcaster is prestigious, it’s also presenting to a pretty tough, sometimes vocal market. Sometimes the very best meteorological data and plain old nature do not see eye to eye and the most informed hypothesis goes south. Have there been circumstances where you’ve had to deal with these sorts of occurrences? Do you think the New York viewership is harder, easier or pretty much on-track with most community reactions to such things?
The job of predicting and delivering the weather is greatly misunderstood. I write this with a smile on my face, because I totally get the reaction from people when mother nature doesn’t deliver on what was promised out of the mouths of forecasters. It’s a testament to the unpredictability of weather–a statement that I don’t think is given enough credit. Even with all the latest tools, predictors, and modern methods we have today to predict the weather, it’s not always full-proof. There are scientists whose only job is to study the effectiveness of models and tools to better the accuracy rate of forecasts. That’s their job! To me, that says a lot about the sheer grandeur of weather and what we still have to learn.
You’re the host of Live Well HD network’s new show Gotta Know. It focuses on gadgets and technology. How did you come to be the host of the show?
Host of the show Gotta Know … basically because they asked. I have done a lot of hosting for Good Morning America‘s online show, GMA Healthy Living. The powers that be here watch that show and believed I was a natural fit.
Do you consider yourself to be tech-obsessed or more as the entry point to people who aren’t?
I am tech obsessed in a very informal way. I don’t talk geek-speak or read the latest blog about the newest operating system for Dell computers, but I love gadgets and technology that help streamline our life. I love the latest phones, cameras and computers whether a necessity or just a luxury! I recently went to the MacWorld 2010 conference in San Francisco for the show. One of the cooler gadgets was called Paper Show. It basically allows you to write on a tablet of paper with a special pen and then it magically appears on your computer. I don’t ‘need’ that for my daily life or for work, but I DO want it!
Of the segments you’ve done so far, which was the item or point of information that really caught with you?
Of all the segments I have done so far, the topics on how everyday people are using technology to start a new career stand out the most. I love the whole chapter of ‘mommy bloggers’ who have gone from sharing their thoughts online to making it a business to help others out there.
Technology, more than ever, is front and center in our modern lives. Where, in the past, it had an effect on the populace, now we interact with it like never before. A show like Gotta Know fits a need in that, with changes coming so fast, having some kind of primer is very helpful. Even so, as the host of a show like this, are there things in your life where you absolutely prefer the old analog way? (Full disclosure: a) I do not have a cellphone. b) I do not want a cellphone. Verizon can stop sending me junk mail to change my mind, thanks much.)
I actually don’t prefer the analog way. Even when I go out for live shots for WABC, I don’t carry the typical ‘reporters notebook.’ I just take my iPhone and Blackberry with me and that’s what is in my hand when I’m wrapping a story live. I’m ready for the chip implant where we can just choose tasks from a drop down menu that my eye controls and selects!
You are a marathon runner, have a self-professed love of running and in case there was ever need for proof, your blog is called Run With Heidi, not All About Heidi. How did you get involved with it and what is it about running that does it for you?
I began running when I was 9 years old with my dad. We lived in the country and ran from telephone to telephone poll, increasing our distance on the country roads of Indiana. It was a bug that caught me–I was hooked. My entire family started running and we entered every Sunday race we could growing up. Then, I just never stopped, running through high school and competitively through college. Post college, I needed a goal and I found it through running marathons. However, something happened when I moved to New York City. I decided to help train a team for a half marathon that ABC sponsored. I got a running and strength trainer, a nutritionist and put together a team of 4-6 people–people who had never run before or were overcoming some adversity. I called it ‘run with Heidi.’ It was and still is a giant success. It was my endeavor to show everyone that ‘anyone’ can run, and I did just that. However; something happened that I didn’t expect–running suddenly became more than just my obsession with bettering myself–it became about giving back. I have been so inspired and changed by the people on my teams from a blind runner who had never run more than a few miles to first timers who are in disbelief they are now ‘runners’ –that my P.R. suddenly became irrelevant. I know what it takes to run–the pain, perseverance and dedication–but to be able to showcase this through average people is so much more rewarding than the number of marathons or half marathons I have done. It’s become my personal hobby or mission.
What was your personal best (longest distance and/or shortest time?)
I have never ‘trained’ for a marathon. I simply run them. I know I have the potential to run a 3 hour marathon or even sub-3, but to date, I just do them when they come up. For example, I was training the last two years for the NYC Marathon–training to really ‘race’ the event. However; during this period, my brother decided to run his first ever marathon in Chicago. So, I pledged to come out and run 18 miles of it as a training run with him, and then walk the rest, as New York was only 3 weeks away. Well, I didn’t do 18. I ran the entire race with him. It most definitely sacrificed my race in New York, but it didn’t matter. Seeing my brother reach this massive accomplishment will always be better than being fully prepared for my ‘own’ race. The second year he decided to run Chicago, I again pledged to just come and cheer. Well, you can surmise the outcome. I laced up and again ran the entire race and then ran NYC 3 weeks later, and have never regretted it.
Ten years ago I was able to bike 20+ miles without even thinking about it, and oh, how the mighty have fallen. The next few questions are for all our readers looking to resurrect those once-dead new year resolutions – but mostly for me because I’d like to get back to my old, better habits. The first obstacle is getting beyond the “buts” (But I’m ten years older, but it’s too hot/cold outside, but I need to watch the rest of the Maury Show to see if that guy is not the father…) Have you ever wanted not to get out and do it, and how did you break out of that mindset?
Many don’t realize that I struggle with the same ‘head games’ regarding getting my butt out the door for my run as do most. Just because I have run since I was 9 years old, doesn’t mean it comes easily. However, what I do know that keeps my, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow,’ excuse at bay, is the feeling after I have finished my run or workout. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that competes with that feeling. I can head out the door for my run feeling tired, sluggish and not motivated, and when I finish, I am more rejuvenated than when I began. In fact, more than rejuvenated. I feel on top of the world and indestructible. I’m telling you, if you can just begin your run or your workout, you will see what I experience–and that tug to get you out the door weekly takes over.
The second thing that stops people from getting active is that they get too active to start with, blow out all their muscles, ache for days and give up. What is your warm-up regimen?
I’ll be honest, I have not always been the best person to ask about warming up. However, after a few injuries, I realize an extra 10-15 minutes does make a difference. Now, I begin my running warm-up with a light 10 min jog, which is in addition to my workout. I don’t stretch a lot before, but spend sometimes 20 minutes after stretching all the muscle groups involved in the workout.
What are the best goals to try to shoot for, in general, when starting a new activity plan? What would you consider an overreach too soon?
When beginning a new workout program, make small goals. The goal can be just ‘doing’ the workout. Don’t focus on the end result or you will just get frustrated. Baby steps are the key. Once you have reached the goal of just getting started, then depending on your workout set manageable goals that you know you can reach. You will then readjust your goals as you get stronger and they will grow with your workouts.
What was your worst running injury and how did you get over it?
My worst running injury is one I am dealing with right now. It’s called Oseitis Pubus–a rare, but not so rare overuse injury. Physical therapists have heard about it but it’s usually associated with kicking sports (soccer and football)–and some runners. Think of the pelvis like this: all your lower ab muscles, hip/butt/leg muscles attach in your pelvis. If there is an abnormality or weakness in one set of muscles, they begin pulling where they attach in the pelvis. For me, it was enough friction that the bones of my pelvis became inflammed, thoroughly putting a kibosh on running. It’s a very hard injury to heal from and I am still healing. However, it will forever change how I now approach running because I never want to go through this again. I will be extra diligent to ensure there are no known muscle imbalances and that my flexibility is top priority.
Another thing that tends to break good physical activity habits is, after doing something, the person will get home, sit down and start to cramp up in all the underused muscles. What is a good post-activity regimen?
Best post activity regime is most definitely stretching. Bar none.
What foods/liquids do you suggest before, during and after activity to avoid having bad reactions?
Eating before a workout is an important issue. You should eat things that are easily digestible and give you the energy you need. My go-to pre-run meal is oatmeal either plain or with a little peanut butter in it. You can try a small handful of pretzels or a banana. I try to keep it to 200 calories. Carbs are your friend because your body turns all your food into glucose, some at faster rates than others. The most easily converted source of energy–carbohydrates–should be the main component of your pre-workout meal. Afterward, it’s important to fuel your body with protein and carbs, NOT fat. Fat slows down the digestion of carbs and protein–the exact opposite of what you want to happen. The carbs will give you energy and the protein will help repair your muscles. I love a peanut butter and honey sandwich or some granola after a long run. Also, eat within the first 30-60 minutes when your muscles are most receptive.
To tie this back to Gotta Know, what are some of the more intriguing new gadgets/gear that might go well with new habits involving physical activity?
I like the Phillips Activa music player for new runners or those just getting back. If you like music, you will love this. It basically scans your music library to match songs to your aerobic intensity. It even shouts feedback on your progress, encouraging you along the way! Check it out! I think you will like it.
Special thanks to Heidi Jones for her help in this week’s post. You can catch Gotta Know on the Live Well HD network, her weather forecasts on WABC-TV New York and as a frequent contributor to Good Morning America. And to make sure you have something to listen to during your new springtime health plan, Heidi has suggested the following:
Outkast – Hey Ya from Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below (2003)
MGMT – Electric Feel from Oracular Spectacular (2008)
Passion Pit – Sleepyhead from Manners (2009)
Paramore – That’s What You Get from Riot (2007)
Bloc Party – Banquet from Silent Alarm (2005)
Papa Roach – Last Resort from Infest (2000)
Chemical Brothers – Galvanize from Push the Button (2005)
Daniel Bedingfield – Gotta Get Thru This from Gotta Get Thru This (2002)
Coldplay – Viva La Vida from Viva La Vida Viva La Vida (2008)
Shiny Toy Guns – Le Disko from We Are Pilots (2006)
Keri Hilson – Get Your Money Up from In a Perfect World… (2009)
Unk – Walk It Out from Beat’n Down Yo Block (2006)