As NBC’s Today Show news anchor and third hour co-host, Natalie Morales spends most her mornings entertaining millions of viewers from Studio 1A in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza. But she’s also become known as the go-to anchor for tackling any number of on-air fitness challenges: like climbing glaciers in Alaska, playing “futevolei” (a Brazilian spin on beach volleyball) in Rio, or learning to surf in Hawaii. Here at Women’s Health, we’ve seen her inspiring fit skills up close: Last year, we met up to train like Olympians, and this year, as one of our Next Fitness Star judges, she tested each of our finalists with a one-on-one workout session!
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Off-camera, her fitness resume may be even more impressive: This busy wife and mother of two somehow finds time to complete triathlons, has cycled more than 100 miles for breast-cancer awareness, and cross the finish line at six marathons (with a super-speedy PR of 3:31, no less!). We sat down with the TV personality to ask her about her running habits—and get a few tips you’ll want to steal.
WH: If you could go on a run with anyone, who would it be and why?
Natalie: My whole family. My boys run for sport [they play soccer] but otherwise don’t see the point in just going for a run. My oldest [Josh] is finally starting to see the benefits of being a fast runner, though, and will run with me occasionally. I want them to see how freeing it is to find enjoyment in something that is so easy and good for the body.
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What is typically the toughest part of a marathon for you? What’s your strategy for getting through it?
Training for it. It’s always a time crunch getting marathon-ready, and I find I’m always cramming the last-minute long runs. Because my schedule is so crazy, I also never know if I will be able to stick to the plan. So if I blow the plan one day, I try and make up for it over the next few days and run the miles I didn’t do.
#bostonmarathon memories! Great day and so many incredible moments!
You’ve had to deal with a number of injuries. What have you found to be the most helpful with preventing and treating aches and pains?
I have had to learn the hard way that the best therapy is injury prevention! Strengthening and building the muscles around the knees and joints is so important, and now I try to do more exercises to prevent injury. Jump squats, lunges, and stretching after a run are all good building blocks to a healthy foundation.
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What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your ambitious fitness accomplishments?
That the only thing I have to fear is fear itself. For example, my first triathlon, I was petrified of the ocean swim. I’m an okay swimmer in the pool, but the ocean is a whole different ball game. The morning of the triathlon, sure enough, the surf was rough and there were jellyfish. A friend told me to use any stroke and to just try and stay calm. He told me to break it up into steps. One buoy to the next. So I counted it out stroke per stroke and made it fine.
What has been the most rewarding fitness experience of your life and why?
That triathlon. It scared me and challenged me, but made me realize if I could overcome my fear, I could try anything. I may not always succeed, but I love trying new, challenging things.
Speaking of new challenges, what’s something still on your fitness bucket list?
Doing a half Ironman maybe for my 50th birthday.
Don’t forget to go to thenextfitnessstar.com to vote for your favorite Next Fitness Star finalist (you can vote once every 24 hours until August 3).