Erika Neola

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

That moment when you coding a computer program and it actually works :D. 

Been wanting to feature the goth runners, I thought it is such a cool initiative. 

On who you are… 

I’m 34, originally from Cleveland, OH, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. I graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2005 with a BFA in Film, Video and Photographic Arts. I am the Fine Art Print Director for a post-production photo/film company in Brooklyn, NY where I work with artists on exhibitions and publications. 

Hi! Here’s me after a recent run July 14, 2015:

On running…

Running plays a very important role in my life - it provides much needed moments of meditation during my hectic life in NYC. If you have a stressful day a good run can be just as meditative for the spirit as a good yoga session.

Running and other forms of fitness are great ways to not only stay healthy but also to maintain discipline and structure in my life. I like having goals to work for; goals give me a sense of purpose and when I feel sore after a workout, feel myself getting stronger, or PR a race that is a tangible thing that can be measured. Competing against yourself is always good! Stagnation = Death. 

On your first run...

I first ran in middle school on the XC and track teams. XC was 2 miles and on track I ran the 800m & 1600m events, as well as the 400m relay event. I was a goth in high school, became obsessed with photography and spent most of the next decade in the darkroom and avoiding sunlight. In college I picked up running again, but not very seriously.

Shortly after moving to NYC in 2008 I became very health-conscious in all areas of my life and running became a part of that. Balancing out a crazy work schedule became very important to help keep my sanity. After a few years of running for exercise I signed up for my first race as an adult, the inaugural Rock’N’Roll Brooklyn 10K in October of 2011. I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’ve run a slew of races since then including 9 half-marathons, 1 full marathon (NYC 2013) and various 5Ks, 10Ks, etc.

On running culture…

Despite how popular running is these days, plenty of people still hate it. It’s nice to open my Instagram and be able to connect with like-minded “crazies” from all over the world.

I started team #gothrunners as a joke, because at the time it was just me, just a hashtag, which was ultimately more goth than it being an actual “team”. The #healthgoth movement showed up, which got my instagram a bit of exposure and also helped connect me with other #gothletes. Unfortunately, even with all the running crews out there, not all of them are accepting and many are very elitist or meet at times that do not work with my schedule. Team #gothrunners is for anyone who feels like they don’t belong to the running elite because we aren’t fast enough, and don’t look or act the part. Most of us work in the arts and went to art school, so our common interests extend beyond the sport which is nice!

With my friend Tom, Team #gothrunners after the NYC Runs McCarren 5k, 2015. It was very hot:

On gadgets…

The only gadgets I use are my Garmin Forerunner 110 watch and Mapmyrun to track my runs and workouts. I don’t run with a phone, headphones or music. Running is a meditative time for me, anything external is unnecessary, extra weight and also makes running in the city dangerous. 

On injury…

I had a slew of injuries the first couple years I was running more seriously. I tore my psoas muscle during a treadmill run in shoes that were no good for me, had a stress fracture on my shin, plantar fasciitis, blew out my knee during a half-marathon, and am currently dealing with a pinched nerve in my right foot. Injuries are the worst, especially when you are training for a major race and the thought of stopping becomes very depressing. 

It is hard to stop running when it brings you so much joy, but proper rest is a crucial part of proper training and recovery. For those of us very active on Instagram, it can be hard to rest when we are constantly seeing people who are #nevernotrunning and being crazy active what seems like every single hour of the day. You start to measure yourself against that and overdoing it can be very damaging and sometimes cause permanent damages. I want to be running and active for many years, not just until my knees give out at 40. Rest days are an important part of your workout regime :)

On achievements…

The first half-marathon I ever ran was in Atlanta, GA. I ran with my brother, Scott, and my Uncle Ken. I felt so accomplished after I crossed the finish line (I also beat my brother by a few minutes which helped) and was also happy to have something to share with my family. I don’t get to see them a lot, but running is something we have in common. My Uncle is in his 60s and still runs almost every day. He was instrumental in getting me to sign up for my first race.

Running my first full marathon in 2013 was one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences I have had as a runner. All the qualifying races + training made it an almost 2 year goal - it was very hard to get out of the runner’s blues once that was all over. I was depressed for a couple months (winter didn’t help).

Taken during the ING NYC Marathon in 2013:

In 2014 I started incorporating speedwork into my routine to bring my times down and have since shaved nearly 10 minutes off my half-marathon time, so I am feeling pretty good about that!

On future goals…

My next running goal for this fall is a 1:41 or 7:45 pace half-marathon. I am stuck at 1:43 (about 7:55) now so for me that would be amazing to achieve, then I can focus on getting sub 1:40 :) I’d love to tackle a marathon again someday, so once I complete my qualifying races this year for NYRR I may have another go at NYC in 2016. 

I became Schwinn certified in April to be an indoor cycling instructor. I’ve been training with The Monster Cycle, an indoor cycling studio in Soho, for the past two months. I’ve been looking for more ways to incorporate my love of fitness into my life and part-time teaching will be a good place to start. The Monster Cycle is also my dream fitness studio: it’s very edgy, a little bit spooky and has some of the best teachers. I should be teaching part-time by August!


On your social media…

I have a few instagram accounts, @witchontherun is for my running and fitness related posts, @blacktidebooks is for my photography and art, and I have a private personal account. 

It’s nice to feel encouragement from the running community on Instagram, it reminds me of my teenage years finding like-minded music geeks in AOL chat rooms and on IRC. But as I mentioned earlier it can also be damaging if it becomes too time consuming or starts clouding your head with negative thoughts. It’s nice to take plenty of social media fasts during the year.

On Pink…


On Pain…

A little pain is good, encouraging even. I like feeling sore after a good workout or a new tattoo.

On women’s running (why women should run)…

Women should run to feel empowered and part of a community. To empower one another. 

For friendship! For fun!

After the Cherry Tree Relay 2014 (with the ladies of #gothrunners, Natalie and Jess):

On the Past you (what would you tell your non-running past self)…

I am pretty sure teenage me would never believe that #healthgoth would be a thing or that a team like #gothrunners would be possible. If I could go back and stick with it earlier on, I might be a better runner now. Or I may have burnt out on it, it’s hard to say.

I would definitely tell myself to start foam-rolling sooner.

When I die…

I want my body donated to science or returned to the earth in a natural way. I want my friends to throw a party and I hope to see everyone I love and have ever loved wherever I may end up. 

With my partner, Brenden, June 2015:


You Might Also Like