Trail Running Motivation

Jessica and I are fortunate enough to live in a city that has a park with 70 miles of trails - yup, you read that correctly! Forest Park, in Portland, Oregon, is a magical, inspiring, incredible and sometimes, well  most of the time, a humbling place! The hills can be unrelenting depending on the trail you choose. It's worth the pain because you feel as if you are a million miles away from cars, phones and noise. 

We love running in Forest Park however, early in our training season, it can take a lot of motivation to get us there. To keep us motivated, we signed up for a hilly half-marathon in July, thus we need to run hills! We also signed up for a trail race series. It's a fun, casual race environment but what is great is that because there's timing and a group of people, we naturally run faster.

During our trail race last week (and Jessica's first trail race!), we came up with our top tips for keeping us and you all motivated to hit the trails:

1) Sign up for a series or a trail running group - strength in numbers!

2) Start small - no need to conquer an 8 mile trail run or the hilliest route on your first couple of runs.

3) Sign up for a hilly race - this will force you to train on hills.

4) Take your watch off - don't let your slower pace distract you. Just head into the trails and run.

5) Instagram your runs - you will make all your friends jealous!

Have fun in the trails!

Getting motivated to run

When you are a beginner runner or just starting to run again, finding the motivation to run or train for a race can be challening. We have jobs, kids, relationships, responsibilites and sometimes going out for that run doesn't fit into our busy schedules. One of the easiest ways to start running or training is to begin with run/walk intervals.

Starting off in this manner is highly beneficial because it:

1) Increases cardiovascular stamina, allowing you to exercise for longer than if you were to go out and only run;

2) Builds up your cardio without injury or discouragement;

3) Allows your body, especially your joints, to acclimate to your new endeavor.

How to Begin: Measure your intervals in minutes and figure out what works for you. If you are off the couch, start slowly- an injury will only hamper your progress. Your Run/Walk might be 1/3 (1 minute running and 3 minutes walking). If you are highly active, you might want to try 5/2 or 7/2 intervals. The goal is to exercise for at least 30 minutes. Aim for 3 days of run/walk intervals and 2 days of cross-training.

Effort: During your run intervals aim to be able to talk without feeling winded. If you start to feel like you are losing control of your breathing, slow down. Monitor how your body responds to the effort during training.  Start and finish each workout with a few minutes of fast walking.


  1. Aim for 3 days of run/walk intervals.
  2. Don’t run or run/walk 2 days in a row
  3. Do at least 2 days of cross-training per week – cardio and strength/flexibility
  4. Take 1 day off per week. Active recovery is okay (foam rolling, easy stretching)

Tools:  We recommend buying the Gymboss because it alerts you, via a beep or vibration, when the interval is up. You can set it for up to 99 intervals and clip it to your shorts or pants. No need to monitor time or remember numbers! 

Location: You can do the run/walk sets on the treadmill or outside. We suggest and encourage as much outside activity as possible because it’s inspiring, invigorating and it most accurately reflects race and real-world conditions. Stick to flat terrain for the first few weeks and add in hills once you are comfortable running for 10 minutes at a time.

We are leading group runs every Saturday at FitRight NW in Northwest Portland at 9am leading up to the Shamrock Run. We lead a run/walk group for those looking to run the 5k race. You get a coach and a group of fun women to run with!

Giveaway - Free Month to Barre3 Online Classes

We love being outside - running, biking, working out or doing yoga in the park. We create our gym in our local parks - using dog free lawns, benches and stairs. This is great if you know your area and park (the dog free lawn is key!) but what to do if you are traveling, short on time and still want to get your strength work in? We found Barre3, based out of Portland. Their online classes are one of our go-to workouts when the weather is bad, we are traveling or short on time and just want someone to tell us what to do!

We've been using their online classes since February. (You can read our review here.) Their workouts combine ballet, yoga and Pilates principles so you length and tone. They update their classes regularly and offer classes that range from 10-60 minutes with different focuses: total body, core, lower body, upper body, and pre-natal. It's only $15/month - much less than other products out there and the instructors are very knowledgeable. They offer modifications and show different levels. (As a disclaimer, we've taken just about every barre class you can image in NYC)

Barre3 was kind enough to give us a free month to giveaway to one of our lucky readers. See below for ways to enter. We'll pick a winner on Monday, June 10th at 9am EST and notify you via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC Disclaimer: Barre3 is giving us the free month to raffle off. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Interview with a Runner

Our runner this week is Whitney Norman. Whitney works at a veterinary clinic in Portland, Oregon and lives along the Willamette River in John's Landing where she has access to fantastic city river runs with mountain views right outside her door. In the beginning of 2013, she started working with the Hot Birds to whip her fitness and nutrition habits into shape. Whitney doubted that she would ever be able to say that she truly enjoyed running, but, as she told us this week, "[She's] now been converted to one of the fortunate ones that truly gets to enjoy getting out there and running." Keep it up, Whit! 

How do you know us - Hot Bird Running?
I have the pleasure of knowing the Hot Birds through my fiancé, Match, who happens to be Jessica’s youngest brother. Match and I are getting married in the winter of 2014 and I wanted to start getting in shape for the big day. Lucky for me, as an extra bonus, I will be inheriting a fantastically motivating running coach as a sister-in-law and the Hot Birds!

What are your current running goals? Are you training for anything? 
I haven’t ever been driven by the idea of running, but, unfortunately for me, I also know it’s the best way to get in shape for the wedding. In January of this year, I started Hot Bird's Running and Nutrition Program.

Who or what inspires you to run?
I use to describe myself, "I’m not the most enthused runner," because for the first two months of training I had to literally shove myself out the front door with the image of myself in a white dress posing for eternally existing photographs to get started on my run. I have been very fortunate to have Jessica as a running coach. She is really what has inspired me to keep going. It’s been an unbelievable help for someone like me who struggles with running, to have someone to talk to when frustrated with my progress, or to get that extra boost of confidence in my ability to keep on.

In the last month I’ve really started to enjoy my running experience. I think the first time I truly had fun on a run was last month when Jess, Match and I all went for a run in Tryon Creek State Park. It was one of the most challenging runs I’ve been on to date, but it was also the most rewarding. It was truly a running breakthrough for me and since then I’ve felt fantastic while running. I’m so grateful to have had the team of Hot Birds at my back to keep pushing me on. I truly don’t believe I would have gotten to this point without their support.

What is your favorite running route/place to run?
Now that I’m off and running, my favorite route has become my run in Tryon Creek State Park. I’ve gotten the opportunity to go several times a week and it is always as challenging as it was the first time. There’s something great about running in the woods that keeps you watching your feet while dealing with the changes in hills. I always feel completely beat at the end but in a satisfied and happy way.

Who is your favorite person to run with and why? 
I also love the Tryon run because it’s one that I get to do with my fiancé, Match. It must be something that the Elliott’s do, because they are some of the most motivating people I’ve ever met. My experience as a runner has been short with a bit of a rocky start but I feel so blessed to have had the support of both Match and the Hot Birds to keep me on track. I would have never been able to get to where I am now without them.

What is the best piece of running advice you ever received and who was it from?
The best piece of running advice I’ve ever received was to run in run/walk intervals. I purchased a GymBoss at the beginning of my running program, and it has been such an enormous help. It was great training for me starting at the beginning because I wasn’t discouraged about not being able to run far. I could have breaks and continue on again until I had reached my goal. For me it essentially took away quitting when I was tired as an option.

What is your favorite running gear/piece of clothing?
Apart from the GymBoss as being my favorite accessory I would have to say that I absolutely love the Ta Ta Tamer sports bra from lululemon. I am fortunately well endowed in the chest region and as a runner is was a painful experience at first. I really do love the support that it gives me while taking away the massive shoulder pain.