Getting back to running after being sick

by Meghan Reynolds

This winter was a doozy - lots of work hours, work travel, some life hiccups and getting sick (twice!). Something had to give and it was training for a marathon for me.  Getting two colds this year really wiped me out as well and I knew that I needed to rest in order to fully recover. I kept my running short and easy and focused on building strength and stretching.

Now, after two months of craziness, I'm back and getting ready for fall marathon training. It's tempting to just dive back into my 12-14 mile long runs and regular paced runs. But, I know my body isn't ready and I don't want to get discouraged. To avoid the pitfalls of checking off miles and pace, I started running for time. So, 30, 40 or 60 min runs. I started this about 3 weeks ago and am just now starting to wear my watch on runs. This does two things for me: 1) hides my pace so I don't freak out if I'm slower and 2) allows me to just run! I run out for 15 or 20 mins and then come back. For the longer runs, I explore a different neighborhood until my watch says 60 mins or a loop that takes me about an hour.

I've found that this makes running more enjoyable and not so task oriented of hitting a set number of mile or a set pace. So, if you have had a doozy of a winter, don't despair. Start slow and start without miles or pace goals. Aim to hit total time running goals. Within 3 weeks, you'll be back and ready to go!

When Racing is Fun

It's been a hard year for me when it comes to running. I was injured most of last summer and fall. I spent the winter focusing on rehabbing my leg and doing lots of yoga. Physical Therapy was great and I learned a lot - about my body, why I was breaking down and why I was not getting faster. When I started running again, it was slow and short. I got stronger and faster and thought I could race a half marathon this fall. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Life threw me some obstacles and, of course, right around the time of the race! My July half marathon didn't go as planned and it took a little bit to get out of the funk. I was totally bummed- it was one of my slower half marathons. However, I have found some great running friends here in Seattle and they helped me get out of my funk; I ran Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage and just this past weekend, the Woodinville Destination Races Half Marathon. I did both of these events as fun runs and ended up with fast times and feeling great.

Sometimes you need to shift your focus and make races less about a time or a PR and more about the experience and the joy of running. I was able to wave to people on my half, enjoy the scenery and the post race wine and beer tasting event. I'm now ready to run again and focus on specific workouts and racing. I just needed a little fun in between. So, if you find yourself in a running funk or just can't get faster, take a different approach. You might even surprise yourself with the result!

Woodinville Half

Staying motivated

Training for a marathon isn't an easy endeavor. There are early morning runs to avoid the heat, lots of long weekend runs, speed workouts, cross training, and to add to it, sleeping, eating and your non-running life! It can be hard to balance everything, especially during the summertime when we are taking vacations and enjoying the nice weather and longer days. Losing motivation or finding yourself skipping runs is a natural by product of training. When you find yourself in this predicament, try these 4 tips. They've helped me and Jessica out of a few ruts.

1. Meet a friend, or a group, for a run. Use your easy or recovery days to run with a friend. Use the time to chat and keep yourself honest with your pace (this should be your slower run). Group runs are great because of the different paces; one week the group pace might challenge you and another week, it's might help you hit that slow, easy pace.

2. Pick a destination. Use your running time to reconnect with friends and then continue the conversation over drinks, brunch or coffee. Or, head out by yourself - plot out runs that end at your favorite brunch spot, new coffee shops, or your local wine bar and reward yourself at the end.  Don’t forget your money (we keep our money and IDs in a plastic sandwich bag- it works)!

3. Change of scenery.  Keep things fresh or re-inspire your running by exploring new routes through your city. Hop on a subway, train or drive out to a park or lake you haven't run around.  If you’re traveling, look online for local running spots instead of leaving directly from your hotel. 

4. Accountability. Find a coach, a buddy, or a family member to hold you accountable. Give them your training schedule and ask them to ask you about your runs.  If that's too much, print out your monthly plan and tape it to the mirror in your bathroom or leave it on the fridge so you'll see it everyday.

Spring Reboot


Now that we have longer days, it's time to get back out there for some runs and start training for some summer races. Begin adding in some speed on your weekday runs - your summer racing times will thank you.

Here is an easy plan to begin building up your speed. Always warm up before doing any speed work. We recommend warming up for at least 10 minutes and cooling down for 10 minutes.

Here is a progression:

1) 10x 30 seconds fast with 1 minute reovery

2) 5 x 30 seconds with 1 minute recovery, 5 x 45 seconds with 1 minute recovery

3) Pyramid series: 2 x (30 seconds, 45 seconds, 60 seconds, 60, 45, 30) with equal recovery

4) 10 x 1 minute fast with 30 seconds recovery

5) 5 x 2 minutes fast with 1 minute recovery

The "fast" part of each workout is not a full on sprint. Instead, you want to run about 70% of your max, which is being able to say 1 word every 4-5 breaths. The speed interval should feel challenging but doable. Run the rest of your weekly runs at your normal pace.

If you are training for a race and you want to improve your time, run a 2 mile time test before starting any speed work. This will give you a baseline.

Back to Fitnesss - 4 Simple Tricks to Get Back on Track

Rescuing Your New Year’s Resolutions - Get Back on Track with Four Simple Tricks

We’re well into 2015, and chances are many of you have already slipped up or fallen

off the wagon completely with your New Year’s running and exercise goals. It’s

understandable given the extreme cold and snow we’ve gotten throughout January and

February, because who wants to leap over snowbanks to get to the gym? Well luckily there

are a few simple tricks you can use to get yourself back on track and on the road to a fit


Pump Up the Jams

We all know that listening to music is a great way to motivate yourself through a run

or workout, and now there is real science to prove that music does, in fact, positively affect

your results. One of the world’s leading researchers of exercise music psychology,

Dr.Costas Karageorghis, has gone on record after nearly 20 years of research on the

subject saying that music is “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.”

Now if that doesn’t convince you to incorporate some music into your run I’m not

sure what will. Of course, there are specific types of music that have been shown to

positively impact performance better than others. The study found that songs with beats per

minute (BPM) that fall between 125 and 140 were the ones the exercisers prefered, as well

as the ones that showed the best correlation to improved performance. Of course that

means nothing to many of us, but luckily there’s a website - - that has a database of

tens of thousands of songs with their BPM listed. This means you can build your very own

running playlist where all the songs fall within that 125-140 BPM sweet spot.

Take a Coffee Break

There have been numerous studies done during the past decade that have proven

the benefits of consuming caffeine both pre and post workout. Not only has a jolt of caffeine

before your workout shown to improve endurance and performance, but a study published

last year found that it increases the amount of calories you burn after you’re done working

out (known as “after burn”) by as much as 15%. So, not only can coffee snap you out of that

afternoon slump when you first start thinking about skipping the gym, it will also help when

you’re actually at the gym and during your workout recovery as well.

Distract Yourself

While it’s important to be paying attention to your body while running, if you’re like

me, running on a treadmill in the winter is slightly tortuous. I’m definitely someone who

thrives while being able to get outside and run, so remaining stationary in a confined space

while trying to not stare at the timer on the treadmill is nearly impossible. Luckily we live in

2015, and with our cell phones and tablets we can be entertained 24/7.

If your gym has WiFi consider bringing your tablet, phone, or E-reader with you on

the treadmill to catch up on some movies or TV shows while you run. You might not need to

subscribe to Netflix or Hulu to do it, as many providers like DirecTV and networks like NBC

and HBO offer apps that give you free mobile streaming of their programs. Do be careful

though, as you don’t want to hurt yourself or strain your running form while craning your

neck to see the screen.

Mix It Up

Sometimes the monotony of the gym can be a drain on your motivation and

performance, especially in the bleak winter months. That’s when you mix up your workouts

with something new. Many gyms offer free exercise classes to their members like Zumba or

yoga, both of which can be beneficial to runners. It certainly isn’t going to hurt you to stop in

and check out a class to see how you like it. Beyond that there are more and more studios

and trainers offering specialized classes like Pilates or barre method, and many offer

newcomer promotions or have deals on sites like Groupon making the financial risk

relatively low. If you don’t have the time to check out some classes there are tens of

thousands of workout DVDs, online classes, and websites with exercise videos that range

from strip tease to yoga with your pet and everywhere in between. With the unlimited

resources of the internet on your side, there’s no excuse to not find a different workout

that’s right for you.

Marathon Training - Week 7


I'm almost half way through training and feeling strong. I did my leg strength work 2 times this week and it's making a difference. My hamstrings are still sore but not like before and they recover much faster.

I had to shift my training days (once again) because of a 3 day trip. I did a fun, fast 7 miler on Monday morning along the waterfront and a 9 miler on Thursday morning. My 9 miler included 2x1 mile repeats and coffee with Jessica and Lucia.

On Friday, I did an easy 4 mile run and then timed Jessica and Marie in the Dual Duel - a crazy, fun 10 mile race on a track. Each team member runs 5 miles but in 400 meter increments. I ran it last year and loved it. Of course, you hate it on laps 13-16 but it's amazing to do and you come out feeing strong. I couldn't find a partner so I said I'd time it.

On Saturday, I went to Multonmah Falls and hiked to the top. It was a pretty steep hike but worth it for the views. Jessica, Marie and I met on Sunday morning for our long runs. We ran in Forest Park and focused on minutes run instead of miles. Marie reminded us that 15 miles in Forest Park on the trails is very different than 15 miles on the road. Her approach is to focus on minutes so that you are getting the same amount of time on your feet (as opposed to more when running trails). We did a fun route that I hadn't ever done before. Those girls are fast and they pushed me which was great. I ran for 2.5 hours and needed a nap!


Marathon Training Week 4 - Highs and Lows

This week was a long one because of work, life stuff. It brought a low point and then a very, very high point (more on this later...) and then I repeated that pattern during my Sunday half marathon. My Monday run was a great one along the waterfront until I got a blister at mile 3.5. It was a 7 mile run so I had to get back. I haven't gotten a blister in a year and the last time was when I wore a pair of Saucony's (after wearing Mizuno's for 3 years). This pair, the Asics Gel-Electro33's are great because I slightly pronate but my foot was having none of it past 3 miles! I was able to continue running all week and it healed quickly.

I signed up for a half marathon with some girlfriends a few months ago. We thought it'd be a fun activity for us and there was the added bonus of wine tasting at the end. It was the first half marathon for one of my friends and I trained her. She did an awesome job - followed my plan to the T!

I was using the race as a training run because it was a hilly run. I had NO idea how hilly it really was. It was kinda ridiculous! There were over 10 hills and most of them were so steep. My body hates hills! I definitely need to go back to the hill repeats that I use to do. I finished but it was the worst half I've ever run. I stopped and helped a woman who fell, I stopped and talked to a friend who came to cheer us on and I was texting with my boyfriend during it. It was pretty funny but it definitely put my hill running ability into perspective. I'm committed to hill repeats now!

It was a great lesson in not giving up and a huge reminder how mental racing is. I had to talk myself through many of the hills. Don't give up - even when the situation sucks and the hill seems insurmountable! (There's always wine on the other side!)

Motivation Monday - Week 3 of Marathon Training

Week 3 brought my first hot, sweaty runs and hiking as cross training. Monday was an easy 5.5 miler, Tuesday I did 3 miles and the Hot Bird Running workout. Wednesday was our last Forest Park trail run. It was another hilly one! It was a great way to end the series. I felt much stronger than I have in past weeks.

Friday, I woke up and ran 14. Friends joined me for 10 of those miles which was great and needed! It was hot! I was doing great and keeping the pace to a nice 8:05-8:10 until about mile 12 when I started to slow down. By mile 13, I was down to about a 9 minute pace and looking for water. I've found that my body is just kinda done about 1 mile before my long runs end. Going to have to fake myself out in future runs!

I stretched, used my Tiger Tail roller and had a great day walking about Portland and eating well. I was ready for bed by 11pm that night though!

Saturday, I went to the coast and hiked Neahkanie Mt with some friends. It was a beautiful hike. Jessica was down below running with her Dad and baby, Lucia. We met up after for some drinks, food and a little smashball on the beach. 

Week 3 was great - I didn't do everything on my plan but I felt pretty strong and ready to tackle week 4 and the half marathon on Sunday. 

Interview with a Runner

This week's runner, Nicole O'Donnell not only helps athletes cross the finish line, but also helps fight Parkinson's Disease in the process. Nicole has always wanted to help people and make a difference so she embarked in a nonprofit career.  Recently, she started working at the Michael J. Fox Foundation as the Team Fox Athletics Officer (dream job!) which is how the Hot Birds met her. Nicole lives on Long Island with her husband, Sean and their dog, Mabel. She's a health freak and vegetarian, loves to travel and is obssesed with cooking. She is also loves running now thanks to Team Fox and the NYC Half! Thanks for inspiring us to do what we love, Nicole!

When did you start running?
I have to be honest, prior to this year, I was not the biggest fan of running. But then I gained entry into the NYC Half marathon through Team Fox! I wanted to run in honor of my father-in-law who is living with Parkinson’s. This whole journey, from training to crossing that finish line, was truly an amazing experience and my love for running has blossomed.

Who or what inspires you to run?
Working in nonprofit, I have meet so many amazing people that have overcome various obstacles in their life. Each person I have met has inspired me in ways I could never fully articulate into words – they not only inspire me to run but to live life to the fullest.

What is your favorite running route? Why?
Around my neighborhood – it’s good motivation to keep going or pick up the pace…at any moment someone you know might pass by!

Favorite post-run meal?
Peanut butter! I always eat a teaspoon right before and after a run. This ritual came to fruition while training for the NYC Half marathon – Why? No clue but any excuse to eat Peanut Butter is fine by me.

Best piece of running advice?
Listen to your body. Don’t be caught up on the amount of miles you are running but focus on your breathing, your pace and just enjoy the moment.

Are you running for fun or sport?

Who would you love to run with (doesn't have to be a runner)?
Anyone who is willing to run with me.

Favorite way to sweat other than run? 

Motivation Monday - week 2 of marathon training


Week 2 brought changes and the realization that my body really, really needs an easy, warmup mile before attempting to run fast. After a really crappy 10 mile run on Saturday and an easy 3 on Sunday, I was totally refreshed and ready to go Monday am. I felt great running the waterfront loop. It's a 5.5 mile loop that sometimes can feel like forever. This past week, it was the perfect temperature and my running partner and I just talked and talked the whole time.

Tuesday was an early morning spin class because I had an event after work. On Wednesday, Jessica and I met for a sustained hard effort run. I don't want to say tempo because I'm not at the point where I can run a sustained tempo pace. I wanted to run 7:20-7:30s for 20 minutes. However, I started off with Jessica and allowed her to set the pace. Full disclosure - she is faster than me. I did the complete opposite of what I wanted to run - running faster and then having to slow down. I prefer to get faster each mile or sustain. After the warmup, I did a 7:07 and then a 7:30 mile. It was rough - I would have prefered to run the opposite times but lesson learned.

Thursday was my strength training day. Friday was my rest day. On Saturday, I tackled the Terwilliger hill for my 12 miles. I'm definitely a long run person because the first two miles felt terrible! I actually felt better running uphill on the 3rd mile. I stopped and took a picture at the top, got water, refueled and prepared for the downhill. Sunday was an easy 4 miler.

One of my favorite aspects of running in Portland is the fact that there are water fountains everywhere. Terwilliger is popular route for runners, hikers and cyclists. It's a great route with sidewalks, bike lanes and water fountains. I was disappointed to see runners littering. It's not hard to put the empty wrappers back in your pockets or run over to the garbage can that was about 100 feet away. Respect where you run and pick up after yourselves. Of course, I know that none of our friends or clients would litter :)

Motivation Monday - 1st week of marathon training

It's been 2 years since I've trained for a marathon. I'm running the Portland Marathon on Oct 5th and going for a PR. My goal is to finish the race in under 3:20. This is 5 minutes faster than my previous faster marathon and I know the training will be challenging. I'm looking forward to it because I love how it feels to get faster, to hit times, to conquer hills and enjoy slower runs!
This past week I did hill repeats, a hilly run and 10 miler. I got into Forest Park to tackle the hilly run and found a new spot for hill repeats (missing the Brooklyn Bridge!) My recovery runs were just that - slow and easy. My body definitely felt the hills and the upper mileage. I'm not worried about my pace at this point. I'm looking for consistency on the hill repeats and a strong finish on the hilly runs. I hit my small weekly goals, slept a lot and am looking forward to week 2!

Happy National Running Day

By Jessica Green

Since 2009, the first Wednesday in June has been declared National Running Day. With the purpose behind the national call out being an opportunity for runners everywhere to "declare their passion for running." As a "passionate" runner myself, you can guarantee I'll be out there today declaring my passion and celebrating my relationship with the sport and love for hill running by participating in a trail race that's part of the Portland Trail Series.  

As a coach, it's our clients who continue to inspire me day in and day out and remind me that there a million and one ways to be passionate about running. As a result, I'd like to take this day to celebrate each and every one of our clients' accomplishments, however big and small. For some it's just getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other while others have PR'd marathons and overcome major injuries.  Whatever it is, each success is driven by some type of passion for running and we are so honored to be a part of it! 

So, today (and every day), remember that running can be a social outlet or a solitary, restorative activity. It can be the hardest thing you'll ever do or a nice casual break from the daily grind. Running encourages weight loss, a healthy mind, and personal accomplishments at any age. Running connects you with nature or the city you live within or are visiting. A run sweats out the toxins you consumed the day before and it's an excuse to walk around in workout clothes for half the day. Running makes us stronger and gives us that sore feeling we've learned to love. Running is whatever you decide you want it to be. Now is the time to define exactly what that is  . . . or is it? You decide! Either way, get out and run today . . . and don't forget your strength work!

Motivation Monday - Running & Being Sick


May was suppose to be my base training month. I wanted to get my mileage back up to where it was in the winter (I took a few months off and focused on spinning, pilates and this crazy megareformer class), get faster and feel fit heading into marathon training season. That plan was seriously derailed as I got sick not once but twice. Now, I don't get sick. I lived in NYC for 5 years and got a few colds during that time. Being sick 2x in one month is not fun and it's made running really hard!

I got food poisoning and had to stop all activity for 3 days because I had zero strength and was dehydrated. The risks didn't outweigh the benefits in that scenario. Next, I got a sore throat/cold. I was tired and stuffy but I knew that sweating would make me feel better. I did a spin class, I did yoga at home and I ran. Jessica and I had decided to do a hard/fast run last week and I wanted to do it because I hadn't been able to push it on a run in a few weeks. I was sick and not feeling great but I headed out with her, figuring I can always slow down and walk if needed. We did our warm up mile and then started chatting and boom, we were running fast. I kept up for a mile or 2 and then had to back it off. After the run, I felt great. I hydrated, stretched and got a good night sleep.

This month gave me a lot of insight into running while sick. I don't always recommend it; it's definitely a choice that each person has to make because, ultimately, you know your body the best. The difference between the 2 sicks "illnesses" is sleep and hydration/nutrition. I didn't sleep for 2 nights with food poisioning (it didn't last that long, but I still felt terrible the 2nd night) and didn't eat for almost 2 days. Running on empty like that is NOT recommended. Taking days off is the best choice there. With the cold/sore throat, I was able to sleep (more soundly at least) and eat. I had calories in me, thus, felt that a run or a spin class (it was a slow spin day!) was beneficial. It helped work out some of the stiffness and soreness you feel when you are sick. Plus, with the run, just being outside, in the sun and fresh air, helped.

Next time you are sick, and asking yourself "should I run when I'm sick?", make sure you take into account your sleep and nutrition, as well as, how you feel. Being fueled and rested is a huge part of any trianing plan while healthy, thus, it could be the determining factor in whether you run or not. And, ultimately, skipping a few days, won't hurt you in the long run.

All Runs Are Not Great


Not every run is going to be a great one. To be honest, some runs just plain suck - you are tired, your legs are sore, it's rainy, it's windy, it's too hot, etc. The good news - it's okay! The bad runs help us realize how awesome a great run feels. It's also a sign that you are over training and your body needs to rest.

If you are scheduled to run and one of the above applies, first figure out if the run is going to cause you pain. If so, it might be best to skip it; if you are just generally lethargic and using the weather as an excuse, lace up those sneakers and go! The easy run might be what you need to snap out of a funk.

Here are my tips for getting through a not-so-great run:

1. Put on some good music - music is a huge motivator and can help to distract you.

2. Enjoy the scenery - look up and see where you are running.

3. Slow down - you don't have to run hard or fast. Take it easy.

4. Phone a friend - have a friend meet you for a social run.

5. Stop and walk - if the run really isn't happening, don't force it. Sometimes, a run just isn't what your body needs.

Strength Workout: Phone a Friend

By Jessica Green

Eight months have passed since I had my first child in August. For the last seven and half months, I attempted to do core work on a daily basis. I failed . . . miserably.  Finally, I phoned a friend for some serious accountabilty. My friend, like myself, gave birth to her son in August and had grand plans to do core work a couple times a week, but was struggling to make it actually happen. On our runs we discussed this problem regularly with myself frequently complaining that I had zero core support on the downhills or when trying to pick up the pace. Both of us have fall marathons on the calendar and believe very strongly about the value of proper strength before and during our training. So, it was time to get serious. For the last two weeks, it's worked and I've done my core work almost every night. 

I know that each week I present you with a new suggested strength exercise telling you it's as easy as one move a week. Well, sometimes we need more than a blog post telling us to do something. Sometimes we need a friend texting us in the middle of bathing our child that she just did her ab workout and it's time for you to do yours too. Perhaps it's the competitor in us that makes us do it. Or the real time reminder. Whatever it is, it's working! 

If you are struggling to make time for strength work (or any type of workout), then I challenge you to pair up with someone and start keeping tabs on each other this week. It works!


Monday Motivation - Training Inspiration


After a marathon hiatus, I'm ready to train for one again. I start my base training phase today, in preparation for a fall marathon. Over the weekend, as I created my goals and plans, I was looking back at my old training plans for inspiration. I kept detailed notes during my 2010 marathon PR and my not so stellar 2012 marathon. I needed to look back to understand key learnings and to figure out what worked and what didn't work.

I realized that I incorporated a lot more cross training workouts in 2010 and that I was much more diligent at doing very specific workouts - namely, speed work and tempo runs in 2010. Thus, I'm concentrating on tempo runs over the next 7 weeks in order to prepare myself for the faster runs my marathon training is going to require. I wish I could just jump back into the workouts and crush those 800 meter repeats like I use to but my body isn't there. I'm stronger and can do more pushups than I could do in 2010 but I haven't practiced turning over my legs so that's my base training focus.

It's easy to write it down and say I'm going to do it; it's the actual doing that is the hard part :) So, to keep me inspired, I wrote out my goal and put it on my fridgerator. I printed out pictures of me during the NYC marathon and I recruited friends to run with me on different days - they will hold me accountable!

Additionally, my Dad is a source of inspiration. At 70 yrs old, he started running and committed to running 3 miles last summer. He did it and I couldn't have been prouder. This picture sums up how great he felt and sums up how great I want to feel after PRing in my fall marathon!

If you need help coming up with a plan or need inspiration - contact us. We have a great marathon special going on right now - $249 for a 16 week personalized training plan.


Monday Motivation - Small Steps

A race training plan, especially a marathon training plan, is made up of several different training periods. Each period corresponds to your ultimate goal. Remember, that each workout is in your plan for a reason; it's there to make you a stronger runner up the hills or understand how to push through fatigue.

In order to reach your runnng goals, it's important to remember that each workout is a step towards that goal. You'll accomplish great and lofty goals by doing the work (the small, yet tough, workouts).

How to Train for a 10k

If you want to crush your next 10k race, there are a few key things to remember. 

1) Give yourself ample amount of time to train. I recommend about 12 weeks if you are a beginner or new to running.

2) Set up a log book to record your runs and your workouts. Aim to run three times a week and then have one of your runs be a longer run so that you gradually work up to the 10k mark which is 6.2 miles.

3) Strength train. Two key exercises that you want to implement during your training are squats and opposite arm/leg extension. So when you are doing a squat, you want to have your feet about hips width apart and you want to sit back as if you were sitting back onto a stool. Come down all the way or just do a modified one if that hurts your knees. Gradually work up to two sets of 25 squats, two or three times a week. The opposite arm/leg extension is great because it builds up your core muscles and gives you balance. To do the opposite arm/leg extension, come down into a tabletop position and extend your left arm out and your right foot back. Inhale and then as you exhale, bring your elbow and your knee together, hold for a two second count and then inhale and extend all the way back out. Do that ten times on each side. That exercise is safe and effective to do every day.

Follow those 3 steps and you'll be on your way to crushing your next 10k race!

Monday Motivation - Working Out on Vacation


I'm on vacation in Paris and while I know I will be walking around a lot, I still want to get my runs in and exercise because, let's be honest, I am going to consume way too much champagne and bread. Walking won't cut it plus, I know myself and exercise is an outlet for me. Traveling, regardless of how easy your companion is and how relaxing the setting is, there can be a lot of daily mini-stressful moments.

In order to stay on track, I'm doing my daily plank exercises, and I've come up with my tips for working out while vacationing.

1. Be realistic. if you workout 6 days a week at home, aim for 3-4 days on vacation.

2. Create an in-room workout. I like the NTC app for quick 15-30 minute workouts. If you don't have that or won't have your phone with you, write down an easy series. Here's my fave: 25 squats, 10 pushups, 30 seconds Russian Twist, 2 minute plank series, 10 squat jumps. Repeat!

3. Bike or Run Tour. Pick a day to rent a bike and explore or see the city/area by foot. Bring a small backpack, water and money. Stop along the way to enjoy the sights. This is a great way to see smaller neighborhoods and an excuse to eat more - gotta fuel along the way!

4. Do your homework. Know if your hotel has a gym and, if you are a runner, check Map My Run for routes. Or, look up local running clubs. Many are free and welcome visitors, especially foreigners.

5. Use your surroundings. Look at getting in your exercise with what is around you. If you are at the beach, try swimming, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. If you are in a city, rent a bike. If you are in the mountains, take a day hike or, if you are ambitious, hill repeats!

6. Enjoy. So you skipped a workout - it's not the end of the world!

My advice is to create a gameplan and then have fun with it. I'm going into my 9 day vacation with a game plan, ideas and a relaxed attitude.

Interview with a Runner

This week's runner, Jerami Garcia Ramadan, chose one of the worst winters in history to start running and she perservered! Jerami was born and raised in AZ and is now constantly freezing in DC.  She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), married to a fellow RPCV she met while in Peace Corps who happens to be Jessica's cousin. She's the oldest of 8 and currently works for USDA's Food and Nutrition Service. Over the last 16 weeks Jerami has transformed herself into a true runner with sports bra chaffing, track workouts and 9+ mile runs to prove it. Cheer Jerami on this weekend in her first race ever - the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run in DC! You go girl! 

When did you start running?
I started running this past year as part of a 30 b4 30 goal list. Before I started, I'm pretty sure the last time I ran was when we were required for PE in high school. I've always wanted to get into running because I know it can be really good for you, but it's always been a struggle. By signing up for the Cherry Blossom 10- mile race here in DC and getting coaching from Hot Bird, I've been able to tap into some of my other motivating factors to get me out there!

Who or what inspires you to run?
I wish I had some sort of really noble inspiration like some of your other runners, but honestly I'm just trying to treat my body well. I'm really thankful for my health and don't want to take it for granted. I know there are a lot of people that would give anything to be able to throw on some shoes and take a run around their neighborhood without a second thought. I guess a big inspiration for running is my family. I'm always thinking about setting a good example for my siblings and my previously inactive lifestyle was not a good example.

What is your favorite running route? Why?
I don't really have a favorite running route yet. Anything that is close and doesn't require a lot of stopping (in the city can be hard). I really like running routes I've previously walked (b/c it obviously goes much faster) or that I've previously ran because I know what to expect. DC is all about running so there are a lot of great spots around that I'll explore when the weather stops being my worst enemy.

Favorite post-run meal?
It's funny because I think the only times in my life when I am not hungry are when I am asleep or right after a run. I do try to drink a green smoothie or some protein powder with nut milk when I get home, but I usually just eat whatever we are having for dinner later that evening. I do make sure to go out to one of my favorite restaurants on my long run days.

Best piece of running advice?
Um, everything Jessica tells me. Seriously though, it's so nice not having to sift through the massive amount of information out there on how to run properly or how to train for a race. I constantly get feedback on specific things that I am having trouble with as a new runner.

Are you running for fun or sport?
Neither? Signing up for the race was more about having a tangible date to work toward and I don't think I can call running "fun" just yet. Ask me in two week after my race.

Who would you love to run with and why (doesn't have to be a runner)? 
I'm pretty happy with my current running buddy, my husband. But I would love to run with my sisters (all teenagers). I miss them so much and their energy would definitely keep me on my toes.

Favorite way to sweat other than run? 
I'm a huge fan of Jillian Michael's videos - so convenient and they really make you work. I also love bikram yoga, but I don't get out to a yoga studio to do it very often.