Run Your First Marathon

While traveling to a race is extremely exciting, it can also be very nerve-wracking. For months before the race you’ve spent your time perfecting your routine of eating, getting dressed and warming up before your long runs. You’ve figured out exactly what to eat the night before the race. You’ve rehearsed everything you need to do during the race in training.

Unfortunately, the one thing you can’t practice is doing all of these things when you are away from home. When traveling for a race, this may mean doing these things in a hotel where you often don’t have a kitchen and are only equipped with a tiny coffee machine and mini-fridge.

However, If you follow this list of do’s and don’ts of traveling to a race, you’ll be prepared for anything.

Do’s Of Traveling

Pack your running shoes in your carry-on luggage.
Wear compression socks.
Bring travel-friendly snacks (think trail mix, nutrition bars and fruit).
Stick to your regular eating habits as much as possible.
Pack any food you may need to eat before the race if it is not easy to find.
Make dinner reservations in advance if it’s a big race—remember, most runners will want pasta!
Make—and follow!—a packing checklist.
Foam roll and stretch before you leave for the airport and again when you check into the hotel.
Bring your own pillow if you aren’t a good sleeper.

Don’ts Of Traveling

Sit still for a long time period while in flight or waiting for your flight.
Eat anything out of the ordinary.
Wing it when it comes to food, transportation or getting to the expo to pick up your bib.
Wait until the last minute to make a hotel reservation.
Panic if you forget something—most likely you can find what you need at the expo or a nearby store.
Skip your pre-race rituals just because you are in a new environment.
Spend too much time exploring the destination on your feet before the race.

Need a packing list for your next race? I’ve got one for you here!


* This post first appeared on Women’s Running.


How to Avoid the Taper Tantrums

by Jess on October 12, 2016

Are you running a race this fall? If yes, keep reading. If you’re not, bookmark this post and comeback to it the next time you’re tapering for a race.

Surviving the taper and handling this time period with grace is sometimes easier than doing the actual peak weeks of training. However, if you plan for the taper as well as you did for the other weeks on your training schedule, you’ll reduce your chances of a throwing a taper tantrum.

I’ll admit it, I’ve thrown one or two more taper tantrums than I’d like to admit.


What exactly is a taper tantrum? It’s when your mind and body start to freak out about everything you did during training and every little thing about race day.

Being nervous about race day is normal, but don’t let those nerves take control of your thoughts.

Here’s the number one thing I want you to do during your taper this fall:

Train your brain.

I know, you’ve been doing this all summer already. However, now is the time to really take control of those thoughts so that nothing will stop you on race day.

Here are 6 things to do during the taper to train your brain to have a positive mindset:

#1. Make a list of every hard workout you successfully completed during this training period. This list is separate from your training log. Keep it beside your bed or in your bag and refer to it every time you start to doubt your abilities.

#2. Bookmark and read race recaps from the runners that inspire you the most. Only read positive posts and start to block out any negative information.

#3. Write out a list of phrases or words that you will say to yourself during the race when things get tough (and trust me, things always get tough!).

#4. Read two of my favorite articles on being mentally strong.

#5. Meditate or lie in savasana and breathe or say one of your go-to race day mantras over and over again.

#6. Agree to let go of the outcome. Holding too tight of a grip on what may or may not happen when you cross the finish line can be paralyzing. Instead of being focused on the “what ifs,” focus on what you can do right now to reach your goal.

Staying focused on these things will help you avoid the tamper tantrums.


We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of a training cycle and suddenly you have a hiccup in your plans when a minor injury takes you out of the running game for a few weeks. Although running might be on hold for a week or two, you can still maintain your fitness level so that you are able to start back training without missing out on much.

If you have to miss more than a week or two of training mid-training cycle, you may still need to alter your goal or choose a different race. However, if you are sidelined for a week or two you can still maintain your cardiovascular fitness.

What Injured Runners Can Do

Here are some ways to effectively maintain fitness:

Aqua Jogging

If you have access to a pool and the pool is too deep for your feet to touch the ground while your head is above water, purchase an aqua jogging belt to keep you buoyant and upright. Aim to run for time and not for distance.


Outdoor cycling is a great way to maintain cardiovascular fitness. As a runner, you may find that your quads fatigue quickly if your legs aren’t adapted to cycling. Riding out of the saddle correlates more to running than riding in the saddle. A good place to start when cycling in place of running is to bike two miles for every 1 mile on your training schedule. You can easily add in intervals on the bike.

Indoor Cycling

If you do not have access to a road bike, then indoor cycling is a great option. The same rules apply to indoor cycling as to outdoor cycling. The only difference is that it is easier to stay out of the saddle during the workout than it is when riding outdoors. Make sure you have enough resistance on your bike so that your legs are in charge of how fast your legs are spinning and avoid using too much momentum.

Elliptical/Arc Trainer

The elliptical and Arc Trainer are great because you are in an upright position similar to running while moving the legs and upper body. The challenge is keeping your heart rate high enough to have a positive training response. Use a heart rate monitor for these workouts and try to stay in a cardiovascular heart rate zone. Spend the same amount of time on the machine as you would while running outdoors. Instead of holding onto the rails of the elliptical, pump your arms in the same motion as you do when running.

Alter G®

If you are fortunate enough to have access to an anti-gravity treadmill then you are in luck! Used by many professional runners when injured, the Alter G can be found at some physical therapy clinics, gyms and sports performance centers. The Alter G treadmill allows you to run at your normal intensity levels, but at only a percentage of your body weight. Work with a PT, run coach or other specialist to design a short term program for staying on track while using the Alter G.

*If you live in NYC, my physical therapist’s office has two Alter G treadmills available for use in Chelsea. Call (212) 486-8573 to sign-up and be sure to tell them I sent you!

If you are a classpass user you may now sign-up for sessions on the Alter G at Finish Line PT! Not a classpass user yet? Use my referral link to sign-up and we will both save $30 off a month of membership.


This post first appeared on Women’s Running. Catch my weekly blog posts here.


Week 13 of training for the Philly Marathon was a good eye opener. For the most part it was an easy week capped off with a half marathon, which was not easy.

My approach to training for the next week is changing a bit. I’ve been doing some preventative work with my physical therapist over at Finish Line PT. So far I’ve been able to avoid injury, but I’m not 100% in the clear.

My lazy left leg basically takes a nap during every long run, which leaves my type A right leg left to do all the work. As you can imagine, my right leg is getting pretty grumpy and tired from carrying the load. It’s been sending me signals all season that it’s unhappy with this situation, so I’ve been working on managing this imbalance.

For the next few weeks I’m taking it one step further and cutting down to three runs a week and including other forms of cardio to make up for the missed runs. My right leg needs more time to recovery between runs. My left leg needs more strength work and needs to learn to do it’s fair share of the work. This means I’m going to do very little strength work on my right side and put all my attention towards waking up my left leg.

Greta's Great Gallop

The key workout of the week was done at Grete’s Great Gallop. A half marathon in Central Park. It’s the exact same course as the More/Shape Magazine Half Marathon. The goal for the run was to run at marathon effort level, not pace. Marathon effort/pace runs are difficult, but especially challenging on the rolling hills of Central Park. The rolling hills also mean that my mile splits were bit all over the place.

The race was a great chance to practice race day logistics and learn what I need to improve upon. Mostly, I need to work on my race eve food choices and hydrating during the race. I also ran a slight positive split, which by now you know is NOT the goal! Running and drinking water from a cup did not go well, so I need to decide if I want to carry a water bottle or stop for a  few seconds to drink water. It feels really free to run without a water bottle attached to my hand, but feeling hydrated might be worth the annoyance.

I have lots of running left to do in this training cycle! I’m excited to see how it goes.


There’s a lot of talk about negative splitting a race. It’s the ideal way to execute a race strategy and is a proven confidence booster.

Run the second half of a race faster than the first half and BOOM! You’ve accomplished something many runners aren’t able to do – run a negative split.

It sounds simple enough, but in reality it is very difficult to execute on race day.


Here are three simple to execute workouts to include in your training so that you can nail a negative split on race day

#1 Fast Finish Long Run

This is a really simple, yet challenging workout to execute. Never underestimate the effort it takes to run fast during the final miles of a long run.

Run the last half mile to two miles of your long run fast.

What does it mean to run “fast”? This depends on your fitness level and training experience. Here’s a simple guide to follow:

  • Beginner level: Run all your miles except the final mile of your long run at an effort level 4 or 5. Then run the final mile at effort level 7 (here are my effort level guidelines).
  • Intermediate level: Run all the miles of your long run at effort level 5. Then run the final mile at effort level 8.
  • Advanced runners: Run all the miles except the final two miles of your long run at an effort level 5. Then run the last two miles at effort level 7 or 8.

How to run a negative split

#2 Long Progression Run

This workout can be a bit intimidating, but it is a great confidence booster. Start your long run at an easy pace or effort level 4. Over the course of your miles, gradually start to pick up the pace.

Here is a sample progression run based on effort level:

10 Mile Progression Run (best for half marathoners, but also good for full marathon runners):

  • Miles 1-5 at effort level 4
  • Mile 5 at effort level 5
  • Miles 6 & 7 at effort level 6
  • Miles 8 & 9 at effort level 7 (tempo pace)
  • Mile 10 at effort level 8 (just a smudge faster than tempo pace)

#3 Goal Race Pace Run

A great way to nail your goal pace on race day is to get comfortable knowing what that pace feels like. While you will not run the total race distance at race pace before race day, incorporating miles at race pace during training is important. There are several ways you can do this, but the workout below will help you nail race pace and a negative split.

  • Total distance for the workout: 7 miles
  • After a dynamic warm-up, run 5 miles at what feels like goal race pace, then run 2 miles at 15-20 seconds faster than goal race pace.

Are you running a marathon this year? If so, check out the New Balance x Strava Back Half Challenge. Runners who successfully execute a negative split at a USATF sanctioned marathon race this fall can be rewarded with free pair of New Balance running shoes. Check out the details here.


Marathon Training: Weeks 11 & 12

by Jess on September 27, 2016

Since we last caught up, I feel things are finally turning around. I’ve been putting in the work and listening to my body. Week 11 was a much needed cutback week and week 12 included the longest run I’ve completed in two years!

By the time I reached this cutback week, I needed a huge mental break. I let go of stressing about my training and decided to stay focused on the fact that I’m not missing workouts and I’m not injured.

East River Sunrise

Cutback week workouts:

Monday: Elliptical 45 minutes & Pure Barre

Tuesday: Easy 4 miles

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Shake out run 2.5 miles (wasn’t feeling great, so cut the run short)

Saturday: 10 miles at MGP

I wasn’t sure exactly what would happen during this run. I didn’t exactly nail race pace, but was happy with the pace. It was the fastest ten mile run I’ve ran this year. I also practiced my race day fueling to see how well it would work while running at this effort versus at an easy effort

This past week was a normal training week. My legs felt more tired than the the ten mile run than I anticipated, but overall I felt pretty good physically and felt great mentally.

Weekly Mileage Total = 16

Bronx 10 mile race

During week 12 it was time to finally cross of that eighteen-miler from my to-do list. The last one was a bit of a fail because of the heat, so I made sure to set myself up for success and not let a last minute schedule change derail me from having a good long run.

Monday: Elliptical 45 minutes

Tuesday: Tempo (2 easy, 3 tempo, 2 easy) = 7 miles

A pretty standard tempo run. I needed to get in some miles that were faster than marathon goal pace. I started out not feeling great, but decided to push those thoughts to the side and just go for it. It can be hard to forget that I don’t have to feel great during every workout. I just have to do the work.

Wednesday: Easy Run + Strength 3 miles

I’ve been slacking a bit on strength training, so I cut this run short by two miles so I’d have time to workout after my run. I’m glad I made this decision instead of being greedy with mileage.

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Easy Run + Strength + Normatec Boots = 4 miles

I was originally suppose to do my long run here, but my plans changed last minute. Since I was already up and ready to run, I took advantage of it and headed to the East River to catch the sunrise.

Saturday: Rest

I really should have foam rolled more on this day!

Sunday: 18 miles (10 at the Bronx 10 Mile Race)

The weather finally cooled off! I ran 5 miles before the Bronx 10 mile race and 3 miles after the race. It was good to run somewhere different for a change and practice running in control while in a race setting. I had a little too much time in-between running before the race and when the actual race started, but other than that this was a confidence boosting run.

Weekly mileage total: 32

The next several weeks of training are going to be big. I just need to stay the course and make sure I don’t sprain my ankle between now and race day. Considering I tripped and fell on my face while walking down the street today (no, I was not on my phone) this won’t be an easy task.


10 Steps to Having Your Best Long Run Ever

by Jess on September 22, 2016

If you have a long run on your training schedule for this upcoming weekend, then this is especially for you! I want your next long run to be your best long run ever.

I have all the steps you need to follow in order to make that happen.

Long Training Runs

10 Steps to Having Your Best Long Run Ever!

1. Have a strong mental game

Treat the long run the same way you do a race. Start thinking about the workout a few days in advance. Visualize the route you have planed. See yourself running the route while smiling both internally and externally while working through the harder sections of the workouts.

2. Be organized

Plan your route ahead of time. Lay out your clothes and gear the night before. Write out an itinerary for your morning routine.

3. Get up, get ready, go!

Wake up early enough to eat, digest your food, get dressed, warm-up and get to the start of your running route. Don’t leave time for lingering or time for questioning anything you’re doing during your run. Get out the door relatively quick after getting ready.

4. Make a game plan for fueling

Before the run decide what time or mileage increments you will be taking in fuel. Also, make a mental note of where you’ll stop for hydration along the route.

5. Refuse to Quit (unless you’re injured, suffering from heat exhaustion or have any physical symptoms of illness)

If you reach a portion of the run when your brain gets fatigued and you start thinking about quitting the run, think about how you’re going to feel during the last few miles of your race. In a race you wouldn’t quit or back off. You would keep on pushing through until you reach the finish line. Let go of the idea of quitting or backing off and embrace the idea of putting one foot in front of the other until you reach the end of your planned mileage.

Long Training run tips6. Know it will be difficult

Long runs are not easy and that’s 100% okay! Acknowledging this ahead of time is important so that you don’t feel disappointed in your performance when it starts to feel hard. Telling yourself it’s okay if it’s hard, might sound silly, but it actually can help you get through the tough parts of the run.

7. Do a warm-up

Foam roll, do dynamic stretches, and or do a short walk – warming up prepares the body for motion. You’ll start off feeling ready to run by taking 5 minutes to warm-up.

8. Do a cool-down

Walk for 5-10 minutes after your run. Then once you get home foam roll and do your dynamic stretches again!

9. Eat for Recovery

After your run eat something nutritious and delicious within 30 minutes to 1 hour. A healthy smoothie with fruits, veggies, and protein is a great way to get nutrients into your depleted body.

10. Take notes

Write down what went well during the run and what you need to do differently next time. There are only a few opportunities to rehearse what is going to happen on race day. The long training runs are really the only times you can figure out what is going to work for you.


Are You Questioning Your Fall Running Goal?

by Jess on September 15, 2016

I have a question for you.

Okay, actually a few questions.

When you wrote out your original run goal for the fall of 2016, was it realistic?

Did you truly believe that you have the power to grind it out every day during training in order to achieve your goal?

If the answer is yes, are you questioning that goal right now for any reason?

Progress does not happen on a linear curve. It happens over time and at its own pace. The only thing to do is keep moving forward and keep giving your all.


If you are feeling frustrated or aren’t seeing results the results you want, ask yourself these questions:

1. When I set this goal, was it realistic?
2. Have I been giving this training block everything within my capabilities?
3. Has any life event or injury derailed my training for more than a week or two at a time?

If you answered yes to the first two questions, then let’s agree to dig in deep, stay steadfast and trust yourself, your training plan and your abilities.

Do not give up on your goals for this fall.

Continue to do the work and trudge forward knowing you gave it your all even if it doesn’t go according to plan.

If you happened to have answered yes to question number three, then try not to be afraid of being honest with yourself about your goal and your situation. It’s okay to change your goal or save your goal for another training season when life isn’t getting in the way as much.


Smack dab in the middle of marathon training is when the roar in my stomach cannot be tamed and I start to get more careless with my diet. I grab whatever is around me, or let’s be honest—whatever my husband is eating at the moment that hunger strikes.

Before I’ve realized it, I’m eating all day long and no longer making the healthful choices I’d really like to be making. Deep down I know I want to fill my body with healthful foods so I can repair, rebuild and run more miles. But there often seems to be a mismatch between the choices I make and the goals I make for myself when it comes to dealing with hunger and marathon training.

It’s easy for me to push during hard workouts, run my easy miles slow and take my rest days seriously. What’s the most challenging for me is not reaching for a bag of chips after a long run or justifying that second glass of red wine at dinner. However, the past few weeks I’ve been trekking over to Trader Joe’s once a week to stock up on healthy, easy to make foods. Going there takes a lot more time than I’d like for it to but so far it’s been worth it. I’ve been eating more home-cooked meals and been better able to keep my runger under control lately.

Here are the runner-friendly foods I’m stocking my kitchen with from Trader Joe’s.

Healthy Food at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Ancient Grain & Super Seed
My favorite way to eat these is cold with blueberries, unsweetened almond milk and a little maple syrup.

Trader Joe’s Organic Baked Tofu
A great way to make a simple stir fry to take to work for lunch for a few days. It’s a little high in sodium and the ingredient list isn’t short, but I still think it’s a good item for me to have on hand for quick meals.

Organic Riced Cauliflower
Since I’m marathon training, I’m not trying to limit my carb intake. I do however like mixing this in with regular brown rice or quinoa when making stir fry’s for lunch in order to get in an extra serving of veggies.


Organic Chia Seeds
You can get chia seeds nearly everywhere these days, but the price at Trader Joe’s is better than anywhere else in my neighborhood. I usually toss these into smoothies or sprinkle them on top of a rice cake slathered with nut butter.

Picky Bars
I love the fact that I no longer have to order these online. I always have a drawer full of them at home ready to grab and eat before or after a run – when I don’t have time to make anything.

Organic Coconut Water
I’m not a huge fan of coconut water on its own, but I love it in smoothies. Throwing this in my cart while at Trader Joe’s saves me money. The bodega on my block sells coconut water for twice the price.

What are your favorite items from Trader Joe’s?

*This post first appeared on Women’s Running, where I blog weekly.

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Marathon training was rough last week. I gave my best, but I certainly did not get my best results.

I just have to keep hoping that despite the fact that I’m basically seeing zero progress, that the work will eventually pay off.

I also have to be honest with myself about the impact the relentless humidity in NYC had on my training last week. To say that I’m over hot weather running, is an understatement.

Philly Marathon Training

Regardless, here’s how last week’s workouts went.

Monday: Elliptical 45 minutes

If Meb can use an elliptigo, I’m not too good to use the elliptical. It’s cheaper and more convenient than going to spin class, therefore my extra day of cardio each week is happening at the gym. I really love the gymtime sessions available via classpass. (Sign-up for classpass using this link and we’ll both save $20)

Tuesday: Easy 5

Nothing special to report. I thought if I postponed my speed workout to Wednesday it would go better.

Wednesday: 3×1600 = 8.22 miles

This was horrible. These were quite possibly my slowest mile repeats ever. I set my watch on the interval mode for repeats which means I cannot see my splits. Thank goodness for this feature, because if I had been able to see the splits I would have quit.

I ran these around a partial loop of Central Park and not on the track or on a flatter section of the park, which means they were a little hillier than they had to be. Overall this workout made me question everything.

Thursday: Upper Body + Core

Friday: 17 miles + 1 hour in the normatec sleeves

At 6:00am it was 82 degrees with 80% humidity. I wasn’t looking forward to the amount of sweat I was going to produce during this run, but I was excited to check my 18-miler off my to-do list. After struggling from mile 12-17, I called it quits a mile early. There was no way I could eek out another mile. I was completely drained and over it.

I feel all of my long runs except one have been pretty brutal, but this one was the worst so far. I’m really, really hoping they don’t get any worse than this.

Saturday: 2 miles

I felt like crap and every quarter-mile felt harder than the last, so I called it quits and walked home from the west side of Central Park. The heat on Friday really took a lot out of me, and I knew going home would be more beneficial than pushing through.

Sunday: Rest

Total mileage: 32.3

Pretty crappy week of training. You win some, you loose some. Regardless, I’m going to keep trucking on.