Tracey Mullan, PT, is Torrance Memorial Medical Center’s director
of Turpanjan Rehabilitation Services; she spends her days overseeing the
hospital’s programs that increase the fitness and functionality
of patients recovering from illness, injury or surgery. Tracey’s
been with the 95-person department since 1986, but she also knows—from
her own experience—how difficult it can be to sustain a healthy
lifestyle. “I was a person who really strug- gled with my weight
all of my life,” she explains. “It always went up and down.
But about 10 years ago, I really got exercise ‘hardwired’
in. Before that, I’d get into a pattern, but then I’d fall
off. I started running again, and I don’t know what snapped for
me, but now it’s hardwired for me. If I don’t exercise enough
times a week, I feel awful.”
What’s your routine?
Tracey Mullan: I’m a morning exerciser, and my favorite exercise
is running, but I’m a huge wimp: I don’t like running in the
dark, so during the winter I exercise in the gym a lot—a combination
of running on the treadmill, and riding the cycle and the elliptical.
My usual run is about 6 1/4 miles.
What is it about running?
TM: I ran cross-country in high school, so it was familiar. Plus I think
I get the most bang for my buck; I burn the most calories. You don’t
need a lot of equipment and you can do it anywhere. If I go on vacation
I can always find a trail to run on. It’s nice to be outside too.
I run along the esplanade at Torrance Beach; it’s a beautiful run
down there. There’s some kind of lift I get when I see dolphins
swimming along, and sometimes there’s a flock of pelicans. I just
love seeing them. Running is a boost. It’s great stress relief before
I get in to work. It’s funny how many people I see from the hospital
at the beach. There’s the same group down at the beach with their
dogs, and there’s another group at the gym.
What’s kept you running?
TM: When I started running again, I also started journaling my exercise.
Now I have little notebooks at home that go back about eight years. Just
keeping track of everything is its own reward. I set a goal at the beginning
of the year for how many miles I want to run over the entire year. Last
year my goal was 1,000 miles, and I ran something like 1,050 miles. I
also run a half marathon each year although 10K races are more my normal distance.
Why half marathons?
TM: It gives me a goal; I’m a goal- oriented person. The half marathon
is perfect. It’s not too long and it adds to my training, but the
extra training doesn’t take up too much time. When I’m signed
up for the half, I do kick my mileage up beforehand. It’s really
fun to be with all of those people running, and it’s awesome to
see people out there supporting runners they don’t even know. Watching
the people who really compete and win those things— they’re
amazing. For me, the challenge is mainly just trying to get a better time
What do you do to minimize the wear and tear of running?
TM: I haven’t had knee problems, but I have had some back problems,
so I started taking yoga classes through Torrance Memorial. My mom is
huge into the exercise classes here at the hospital—she takes six
classes a week. On Saturday mornings I take yoga with Mom, and since I’ve
done that I feel a lot a better. I have an SI (sacroiliac) joint issue,
and all of the breathing and stretching has helped with that. So I do
stretching and yoga, and now that I’m a little bit older I don’t
run every day. I do vary my routine: during the summer I run 25 to 30
miles a week, but in the winter it’s more like 15 or 20 miles. In
the gym I pretty much do the elliptical or ride the recumbent bike. On
those machines there’s no impact really.
Do you have to watch your diet?
TM: Yes, I do have to watch what I eat. I wish I could eat whatever I wanted!
Exercising more regularly makes me want to eat more healthfully, so I
eat pretty well all during the week, and then on the weekend I eat more
treats. I love ice cream—any chocolate flavor—and I love Mexican
food. But I’ve also just discovered Brussels sprouts. They’re
my newfound thing. I never ate them until about six months ago, and now
I love them, roasted. Sometimes I add a little bacon—but only sometimes!
What’s the most memorable place you’ve run?
TM: My husband is from the Bay Area, and we’re Giants fans. Last
year I ran a half marathon that ended in AT&T Park, the Giants’
stadium. That was really cool. And my daughter is a student at Virginia
Tech. I run the Huckleberry Trail there at least three or four times a
year when I visit her. It’s six miles and a really nice run. She’s
graduating this year so I guess I will have to run it one more time before