Grunty Crush of the Week: Dawn Michelle Marathons For Change


Dawn Michelle is a publicist and literary agent that I met at some point during my journey as a journalist over the past few years. I can’t pinpoint exactly when or how we met but what I do know is that Dawn’s pleasant demeanor stuck with me. It’s not always common to come across genuinely nice people in my industry so when you do find such people, you keep in touch!

A few months ago, I attended a birthday get together for Dawn. It was a milestone birthday and I was floored by how amazing she looked, because she could easily pass for a mid 20-something. After deeper conversation I found out that she leads an active lifestyle and has a passion for running among other activities. I couldn’t resist featuring her and the timing is perfect because this CrossFit and strength training enthusiast is training for the upcoming TSC New York City marathon. Check her out.
When did fitness become part of your life? Were you active as a child? 

I joined my local YMCA in February 2007 because I wanted to lose 10-15lbs for vanity purposes. Once I lost the weight I needed something to keep me coming on a consistent basis. I enjoyed working out, but I needed a new goal to stay committed. When I was in High School I was extremely active all year around. I participated in Track and Field both indoor and outdoor, played Volleyball in the spring and was cheerleader for basketball and football season. During early spring I was engaged in all three sports.

How did you get such amazing abs? 

Amazing abs?! Oh gosh girl. I’m two short of the six pack I dream about. It’s forever a work in progress. Abs is about the planks, burpees, mountain climbers, leg raises, weight training and cardio. The combination of those along with eating clean is what will allow them to show up in photos. I once did a workout where a medicine ball was dropped on my stomach. Crazy, I know. I like ab work. As a runner having a strong core is important.


What’s your diet like and why does it work for you?

I don’t diet. If I wanted Fried Chicken today, I would have it. I do fast 2-3x a year for at least 7-21 days during which I eat either one meal after six or only eat chicken fish and veggies. I also eat clean, no processed, fried or wheat based foods when I am dining at home. I save the guilty, rich foods for social dining with friends and family. I once paid $75 for dinner and was fasting so I only ate veggies, never again. I learned from the Whole Life Challenge through Crossfit that when you remove the dairy, wheat, sugar and processed foods from your menu it reduces the bloating and makes digestion easier. This means that if I do a combination of 200 leg raises and crunches in the morning and eat clean the rest of the day my muscle tone won’t be blocked by bloating.

What are your preferred methods of staying fit, physically and mentally.

I like running, CrossFit and lifting weights. As I increased my miles in running, I began to take up yoga. The stretching is amazing! When I have stressful days, running helps me think clearly and relax. I started running after having a broken heart. A friend encouraged me to run until I turned my tears to sweat. I worked my way from one mile to now training for my first full marathon.



Tell us about the marathon you’re preparing for and what inspired you to enter?

I’m running the 2014 TSC New York City Marathon with Team For Kids though New York Road Runners. 26.2 miles was the next level in my running endeavors. My first race in 2009 was a 10k and in 2013 I did a couple half marathons (13.1 miles). Every additional mile that I have run since my first 1 mile run on the treadmill in 2009 has taught me that physically and mentally I can accomplish this run. I like to challenge myself. My goal is to raise $2600 for Team for Kids and to cross the finish line with a smile and not be in agony because I have build the strength and endurance needed. The New York City Marathon, is the world’s largest 26.2 mile race with 47,000 plus finishers. I want to be in that number.

What’s your marathon training regimen like? 

I am following a modified version of the 18-week training program from Hal Higdon for novice marathoners. For crosstraining a combination of spin, kickboxing, crossfit and some bikram yoga. It sounds like a lot but I give myself options so that I am never bored and my muscles are always on shocked.

Where can people donate to help your cause?

Thanks for asking. Team for Kids has set up a fundraising page for me. I need to raise $2620 by Oct 1. Dawn Hardy is running the 2014 TSC New York City Marathon. Team for Kids raises funds to provide free or low-coast health and fitness programs to kids who would otherwise have little or no access to regular physical activity. The programs they run serve more than 200,000 children each year in more than 800 schools and community centers in NYC, across the nation and around the world. TFK is one of the largest charities in which NYC Marathoners raise funds for participation in the race without running the 9+1 events the season prior. Every donation is greatly appreciated. Gym was a requirement when I was in school, it’s not anymore so TFK is a much needed entity to help end child obesity nationwide.

How do you balance your busy career with finding time to train?

As a book publishing professional I telecommute on Mondays and Fridays which allows me to have longer weight training and cross training sessions at the beginning and end of the week. I do my long runs on Sundays. I try to run top of the morning two times  during the weekdays. As summer concludes I am putting my workouts in my calendar as appointments because the 4th quarter is always a very busy season. Staying focused can be hard at times, but then I remember that I am running this race alone in a sense. Only I can get myself across the finish line so I must commit to myself before partying and socializing. I do try to balance by working out with friends that are into fitness so we can spend some time together. Some have even taken up running. Together we do yoga, spin, kickboxing or small runs.

Share some advice for the busy women who want to learn how to be happy and fit.

Be quick and intense. For those who have crazy schedules and just can’t seem to get to the gym, there are thousands of workouts that take less than 15 minutes and will have you sweating and grunting like a beast. Try this for starters: 20 squats, 10 squat hops on each leg, 20 pushups and 10 burpees (repeat this set 3x) This focuses on leg, chest and core. Should take about 8-10 minutes based on fitness level. I did this workout with two Chris Brown songs playing. I was done by the end of the second song.

During your favorite TV show, do sets of 30-60 second planks during commercials. Good core work.

Follow @workouts_and_exercises on Instagram, they post great regimes.

There are tons of fitness meetups and bootcamps for those looking to get physically fit. You can find some great workouts on Instagram and YouTube that take less than 15 minutes. Just get started. Start small and build. Try 200 jumping jacks and 200 situps. Broken down into 4 sets of 50/50 each, first thing when you wake. Early morning, quick workouts will motivate and build confidence. No gym membership needed. Ladies if you are in the gym, please no make-up it is not good for the skin. Grunt in the gym and glam it up after you leave.


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Starrene Rhett Rocque is a former member of Dumbledore's Army who now enjoys gallivanting at pole, yoga and dance studios. She also occasionally fantasizes about becoming a shotgun-toting b-movie heroine.