A publisher whose business is fitness

Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and provides behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism is born.

Molly Mirhashem is used to running in circles, literally.

Six days a week, Ms. Mirhashem runs near her home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Much of her weekly mileage takes place on the same approximately 3.5-mile loop at a nearby park. Her training will come in handy: This weekend she will run the Buffalo Marathon in upstate New York. It will be the ninth time she has run 22 kilometers since she first became passionate about the marathon in 2017.

Ms. Mirhashem, a fitness editor at Well Desk, came to the New York Times last month from Outside Magazine, where she spent eight years assigning and editing articles on health and wellness, among other responsibilities.

One of his goals at The Times is to reach readers who dabble in fitness but want a little extra guidance.

“There are the beginners, who we talk to often, and then there are the experts who are looking for the smallest, most marginal gain in their marathon,” he said in a recent interview. “I think there is room to serve those readers in the middle ground.”

Here, Ms. Mirhashem shares what motivates her to start running – in her new job, that is – and the fitness world's biggest challenges. These are edited excerpts.

Have you always been interested in fitness?

I'm a lifelong runner. I started running in youth track and field and continued to do so through high school. I ran track and cross country in college, and then tried marathons.

When did your love for fitness merge with your passion for journalism?

For a short time after college, I worked in political news media in Washington. Then, in 2016, I moved to Santa Fe to work at Outside as an editorial assistant. That was the first time I started blending my personal interest in health and fitness with my work. At Outside the business went beyond just fitness: I worked on all kinds of health and wellness stories.

What does a fitness week look like for you?

A lot of people think that because I'm an editor who works in the fitness industry, I take a ton of supplements or take all kinds of crazy workout classes. My routine is pretty simple. I run six days a week. I do some light mobility work and bodyweight exercises, though not as much as the research says I should do.

What's the biggest challenge in your beat?

Fitness advice may seem boring and repetitive, but a big part of fitness is finding a type of movement you like, practicing it consistently, making sure you get enough rest and drinking enough water. Many people simply don't have time for that. Finding new ways to present the basics, in a way that's appealing to people who aren't necessarily enthusiastic about exercise or running a marathon, is the biggest challenge.

Where do you find article ideas?

I read a lot of newsletters in the health and fitness space, so that's one place. Also, because I've been running for so long, a lot of my community and friend group are runners or people just interested in fitness and exercise. So conversations happen organically between people I know, and then I have to do the work to test whether certain ideas are solid or just anecdotal. At Outside, I also had a fantastic stable of columnists and reporters who were in the field, keeping up with new research and constantly having conversations with people.

Is there an Outside article you're particularly proud of?

I ran a column for about seven years called “Sweat Science,” written by Alex Hutchinson. He has covered emerging science in endurance sports and exercise science. He has a Ph.D. in physics and is an elite runner, but he had such a talent for distilling takeout. Working with him really informed my whole philosophy about the role of service journalism in this space and how important it is to have a skeptical eye, but also be empathetic.

I've also worked on many stories about the gender gap in sports science research and how little research is done on women. Many of these stories were written by Christine Yu, who went on to write a book about how many training and nutrition protocols are based on small studies that intentionally do not include women, and what this means for female athletes.

What song is on repeat in your workout playlist?

I don't listen to music when I run.

Oh. Why?

I like to be aware of my surroundings and the outdoors. Even if I'm doing the same lap around a park for the millionth time, I like feeling like I'm soaking it up. Also, on a more technical level, I find it harder to gauge my effort level if I'm listening to something.

So you're just listening to your own internal monologue?

Yes unfortunately.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *