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.



As a coach, one of my jobs is to create a balanced training program that allows my runners to meet their running goals, while still being able to meet their professional and personal goals. Part of this balance is knowing exactly how much cross-training to do and when to do it. Cross-training is probably one of the subjects I get asked about the most.

In the age of ClassPass and the rise of the fitness class studio trend, it’s difficult to figure out how classes and cross-training work in with a marathon or half marathon training program. If your goal is related to running, you need to stay focused on the running portion of your program and not get too caught up in taking fitness classes.

cross training for runners

I know this sounds simple and to many of you may be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people have come to me for help during the middle of marathon training who don’t realize their cross-training activities are why they are struggling so much with their runs. Too much or too little cross-training can prevent you from reaching your goals.

Before we get any further, let’s discuss what counts as cross-training: Any physical activity or workout that is not running is cross-training. Yoga, spinning, strength training, barre classes, swimming and high-intensity interval training are all examples of cross-training workouts. Simple, right? What isn’t so simple is figuring out how to work these into your marathon training schedule.

 Follow these rules to get the most out of your cross training.


  • Complete 1 – 3 cross-training workouts per week.
  • Choose an activity that allows your body to move differently than you do while running.
  • Primarily strength training based workouts.
  • Make it an activity you enjoy.
  • Activities that are mostly low-impact.
  • Movements that focus on your running weaknesses (i.e. include single leg deadlifts in your routine to strengthen glutes so you avoid injury and run stronger).
  • Cross-train more often during the off-season.


  • Continue to do workouts that leave you so sore that you have to skip running workouts.
  • Prioritize cross-training over running.
  • Do sports that involve lots of running (i.e. soccer).
  • Avoid plyometrics.
  • Jump into a new form of exercise too quickly without giving your body time to adapt.
  • Increase cross-training activities during the taper.

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

If you haven’t tried Classpass before, use this link to sign-up and save $20 (Disclosure: I’ll also save $20 if you use the link). If you need help figuring out how to fit cross-training into your training schedule in a way that will benefit you the most, email me to set-up for a consultation session. I’d love to help you figure out a cross-training schedule that works for you!


Marathon Training: Workouts Week 9

by Jess on September 6, 2016

This was one of those weeks when I really had to talk myself into doing my runs. I’m committed to doing the work regardless of what my feelings are, so I did the work.

5th Avenue Mile

Here’s how things went down during week nine of training for the Philly Marathon.

Monday: Flywheel

Through classpass, I signed up for a spin class at Flywheel. I think I had the resistance a little too high because my legs were feeling it on Tuesday.

Tuesday: 5 x 800 = 7.6 miles + Core

I did not want to do this workout. I don’t like 800’s and I was curs
ing myself for putting them on my schedule. Reluctantly, I forced myself to do these. They felt slower than last week’s intervals, but they were actually a tiny faster.

Wednesday: Easy 5

My desire to run was even lower than the day before. My husband went with me and we ran all the major hills in Central Park. If he hadn’t been with me I probably would have only made it 4 miles.

Thursday: Rest (glorious rest)

Friday: Long Run – 14 easy + 2 tempo + 1 bonus mile = 17 miles + 45 Minutes in the Normatec Boots

This is the first run I’ve had all training season that actually made me think my goal for the race isn’t crazy after all. The cooler temps and lower humidity level made a huge difference. I still have a ton of work to do, but I’m feeling a little more hopeful.

I’m really horrible at doing math, counting or doing anything that has to do with numbers during a run. This was suppose to be 16 miles, but somehow I thought mile 16 was mile 15 so I decided to keep going. I’m not really sure how that happened, but at the very least it’s proof I don’t stare at my garmin during my runs.

5th Avenue Mile

Saturday: 5th Avenue Mile + 4 = 5 miles

I can’t explain how all these miles came together. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen or what my plan was for the Fifth Avenue Mile, so I went out and ran three miles earlier that morning. I was doing some coverage for Women’s Running, I wanted to make sure I got in at least four miles and doing this way worked.

Before the race I decided I needed to do a bit of a warm-up instead of start cold, so I jogged .98 (ran out of time). For the race I decided to start at tempo effort and ramp it up every 1/4 mile. I new I wasn’t in any condition to full out race after doing my long run on Friday. I ended up with a solid 6:29 for the race, which is my fastest mile since running the race last year.

Sunday: Rest again!

Total Mileage: 34.7

Weeks until race day: 11

I’m really happy with how things ended up this week. Despite the fact that I was reluctant to get out for my runs, I still put in a good effort. This week I need to focus more on what I’m eating and on strength training.

If you’re interested in following my exact training you can connect with me here on Strava.




Marathon Training: Workouts Week 8

by Jess on August 29, 2016

Week eight of Philly Marathon training was pretty uneventful, which is just the way I like it. Being as I have a full twenty weeks to prep for this race, the long run build up is very gradual. In fact it’s a bit boring.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 5.50.58 PM

Consistency over time with gradual increases in both mileage and intensity is the key to long term running success. My weekly mileage has always been on the lower end and will continue to be during this training cycle. I’ve been running for a pretty long time and rather than run myself into the ground by running a ton of mileage in order to reach a goal, I try to run just enough mileage. This might mean sacrificing a goal or not fully living up to my potential, but if it means I can run for another thirty years, it’s worth it to me.

Here’s what last week looked like:

Monday: Soul Cycle + Strength

Instead of adding in an additional day of running, I added in one day of spin. This will allow me to get in a easy steady-state cardiovascular workout without running. The goal is to improve my overall fitness by doing 45-60 minutes at a low heart rate.

I intentionally skipped barre class this week in favor of doing a strength workout at home. I did these glute exercises as part of the workout and this core workout.

Tuesday: Speed Session 4×800  total = 7.2 Miles

This was my first week of real speed work this training cycle. Even though I had set up the interval function on my watch for the intervals, I almost talked myself out of doing them during my warm-up.

I ran 2.7 miles as a warm-up then did 4×800 meters at what feels like 5k pace with 400 meters of recovery between each interval and cooled down with 1.5 miles.

The 800s went pretty well considering I haven’t done this type of workout in awhile. They were slower than my 5k pace was at this time last year, but they were significantly faster than my tempo pace. Not a great workout, but not bad either.

Wednesday: Easy Run 4.4 miles + Physical Therapy

This was suppose to be 5 miles plus strides, but I simply didn’t have enough time to do everything. I did push the pace a bit on the miles as an effort to fit in more miles. Not the best strategy, but oh well!

I’m going to PT right now for a little prehab. My right side does too much of the work while my left side is lazy AF. More on this later.

Thursday: Rest

Normatec Recovery Sleeves

Friday: Long Run – 15 miles + 60 minutes in the Normatec 

I have to be honest, the humidity is getting old! I have had sweat dripping off my finger tips and socks squishing in my shoes for every single one of my long runs. I love summer, really I do… but I’m done with this humidity.

Pre-run fuel right now is half a bagel with butter and 1 cup of coffee (why is it so hard to stop after 1 cup?). Five miles into the run both my running partner and I were struggling with everything so we made a pitstop and split a gatorade. I fueled again around mile ten with a salted chocolate gu.

This run was rather blah. We stopped more than we probably should have, but the humidity was eating us alive and I had a headache that had started back on Tuesday. Who wants to run fast with a headache? Not me.


Saturday: Recovery Run – 4 miles

There’s rarely anything fun about recovery miles. I slogged through them and got them done.

Sunday: Rest 

Overall it was a pretty standard week, I’m not fond of the headaches or humidity but these things will pass.

How is your training going?


Why is this so hard?

A big misconception is that marathon training should get easier over time. Reality is training for a marathon is and will always be difficult.

Over time certain elements become less daunting. For example, I know I am capable of running 26.2 miles. But, what I don’t know is if I’m actually capable of meeting the lofty goal I’ve set for myself.

While other elements of training – speed work, long runs, injury prevention and mind games are always a challenge.

I’m in the middle of my eight week of training and so far I’m not feeling like I’ve made much progress. My tempo miles are slower than they were this spring yet, I feel like I’m working harder than ever. The effort is there. I just hope the work translates to faster paces this fall.

My first seven weeks of training basically looked like this:

  • 1-2 strength sessions a week (1 barre class + something else)
  • 1 tempo run
  • 1 easy run
  • 1 long run
  • 1 recovery run

Week 4 was an impromptu cutback week due to some personal stress and lack of sleep.

I know that true commitment to training lies in being dedicated to the details. Last week I saw my physical therapist, started adding in core work after every run, added in strides once a week and recommitted to foam rolling whenever possible.

Now that I’m in the thick of marathon training, I’ll start to post regular training updates. I’m also tracking all my training runs on Strava. If you’re a strava user, let’s connect!


Marathon Training: Call Me Out on This

by Jess on August 22, 2016

I know that to some people, what I’m about to say sounds insane.

My marathon training plan is twenty weeks long.

I live and breathe by the philosophy that what works for one person will not work for another person. It’s how I coach my runners and why having a personal run coach is important. It takes time to figure out what works for you and it takes even longer to figure it out if you don’t have much experience or aren’t consulting an expert for help.

Figuring out what works is a dynamic process.  What works one year may not work for me another year. What I did while training for my first marathon 17 years ago, will obviously not work for me now.

Marathon Training

Can we switch gears for a second and talk about age?

It’s interesting how often I hear myself saying “I’m old”.

There have been quite a few time periods in my life when I felt old, yet I was literally only a child or only twenty-five. I don’t want to look back at my forties and wish I had viewed my current life situation differently. Instead, I want to make the most of this decade of life and just live without an emphasis on my age.

I don’t remember where I first read this statement, but saying “I’m old” has become the new “I’m fat”. Both phrases have a twinge of distorted thinking and I really am too old for this kinda crap. 😉 Promise me that if you hear me saying I’m old that you’ll call me out on it!


Okay, back to the main subject of marathon training.

I’m doing a twenty week marathon training plan. Why?

Because I know it works for me. I have plenty of time to relax, slowly build up my miles, increase speed and can schedule plenty of cutback weeks.

I thrive on having extra time built into my training schedule. Things come up and long runs or key workouts get missed. Having a longer schedule doesn’t intimidate me. It give me a sense of security knowing I can take cutback weeks to recover from hard training weeks while having some wiggle room for those times when a long run goes bad or I need to take an unplanned weekend off from running.