Morning Routine

Erica Hill's morning routine: How TODAY anchor trains for the New York City marathon

As a weekend TODAY anchor, Erica Hill's weekend starts on Monday. Right now, as she trains for the New York City marathon in November, she uses the day off to hit the road for a long run. Here, she shares her morning routine from a recent Monday, when she ran over 20 miles.

Samantha Okazaki / Today
Weekend TODAY anchor Erica Hill at her New York home.

I set my alarm for 4 a.m. I'm not always up this early on my days off, unless I'm doing a long training run. I start well before the sun is up so that I can get home in time to bring my boys to school. Before I run, I drink about 16 oz of water, half of that mixed with one scoop of Vega (a plant-based energizer) and a packet of Emergen-C, which helps with the taste.

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On the left, a mug with Erica's son Weston at age 2, holds her morning coffee. The pre-workout energy powder and Emergen-C are mixed with water for a boost.

I also have a cup of coffee (Trader Joe's Organiz French Roast) with milk and eat a banana. Over the years, I've realized I can't have too much in my system before a long run. I like to give myself about 40 minutes before heading out so I have plenty of time to warm up and get things moving, so that I don't need to worry about it while I'm running. 

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To get in a long run on Monday, Erica Hill hits the road while it's still dark outside.

I start running at 4:45 a.m. I run with my neighbor, Rebecca, around 5:15 a.m. We run together year-round, but once it hits 20 degrees, we opt for morning spin classes inside! If I'm doing a long run, we'll do 10 or 11 miles together, at about 10 minutes a mile.

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"We're lucky," Erica says of the sunrise view she gets on her morning runs. "This never gets old."

The stars give way to a beautiful sunrise around 7 a.m., and I drop Rebecca off a few minutes later — she lives right across the street. I have another eight miles left, but I make a quick stop at home to say good morning to my husband, run to the bathroom, and fill up my water bottle.

At home with TODAY: Erica Hill welcomes you for a visit on her porch

After running just over 21 miles (in 3 hours, 32 minutes), I'm home a little before 8:30 a.m. to grab a sweatshirt, more water, and then hop in my car to go meet my kids at school.

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Erica and her son Sawyer, Flashing "L"s for Liz.

My in-laws were in town and escorted the boys on foot for "Walk to School Week." Here I am with my son Sawyer at around 8:45 a.m. He's flashing an "L" for my friend Liz Shuman, who has cystic fibrosis. She's also a runner, and one of the many people who inspire me to push through on my long runs. Another friend, Nicole Burke, started a Facebook group last spring, OutRUN38, which now has more than 5,000 members around the world logging their running, walking, biking and swimming miles in honor of Liz and her fight against CF. My older son Weston always asks me now if I'm running "for Liz," and both kids like to log their walks to school for her too, hence the "L." They each contributed a mile this Monday.

Running with purpose: Erica Hill joins the fight against cystic fibrosis

After getting the boys settled, I'm home around 9:15 a.m. for some stretching. I injured my Achilles and my plantar fascia over the summer, but thanks to a great podiatrist and physical therapy, I'm in much better shape! I do have to be diligent about taking care of myself though, and doing my exercises, especially after 21 miles. For my plantar fascia, I always travel with a golf ball, and keep one at my desk to roll out the arch of my foot. 

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Erica's post-run meal includes eggs and avocado on a whole wheat bagel.

After the stretches, it's time for a hot shower and breakfast! By 10 a.m., I'm at the table with one of my favorite morning meals: one half of a Trader Joe's whole grain, high-fiber bagel with smashed avocado and scrambled eggs (one egg and one egg white). I try to get as much color into each meal as I can, so I added some cantaloupe and strawberries on the side. I'll also have a second cup of coffee — I use 2-percent milk in my coffee or half and half (I can't do skim milk) and a dash of cinnamon. And more water! Hydrating after such a long run is really important. 

I took advantage of the quiet house to finish "What Alice Forgot" for my book club. After breakfast, it was time to tackle that never-ending "To Do" list. 

What's on Erica's running mix:

My running playlist is totally random, and I keep it on shuffle, but here are some of the songs that give me an extra boost:

  • "I Will Wait" by Mumford and Sons — always makes me think of my cousin Dana, who I run with whenever I'm home in Connecticut.
  • I recently added the Marshall Tucker band, "Can’t You See." It makes me think of my dad. I'm running the New York City Marathon on Nov. 2 with Fred's Teamin memory of him.  
  • Katy Perry's "Roar" — those lyrics are an instant source of adrenaline!
  • Phillip Phillips' "Raging Fire" and "Gone, Gone, Gone," are two of my kids' favorites, which we belt out in the car. Whenever one of the boys' favorite songs comes on, it's an instant motivator. 
  • Coldplay's "Every Tear is a Waterfall" and "Sky full of Stars."
  • One Direction "Best Song Ever."
  • "Empire State of Mind," which really gets me pumped as I think about running through the five boroughs of NYC for the marathon.

Get your morning started off right with more TODAY morning routines here.

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