Gimme a Beat

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in NJ, it’s finally staying lighter later and that makes me one happy runner!

giphy (1)

I swear I’m part plant for how much I love the sun.

Tuesday night I decided to make the most of this new brighter evening time and went for a run after work. It was chilly but manageable, but overall, it was a super 4 miles, mainly because I had the right running tunes.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably know that music plays a huge part in my life, especially in my running. New music gets me motivated for training runs when I’m burnt out. A perfectly paced song keeps my legs turning over at the right speed and prevents me from slowing down when I’m in the middle of a brutal long run. And at the end of a tough race, I rely on music to send a fresh surge of adrenaline through my veins and carry me over the finish strong. In short: music is my LIFE. So when the folks at Spring Moves shot me an email, I was intrigued.


Spring Moves is an iOS app that tracks your running cadence by Steps Per Minute, and plays music to match your pace. I was skeptical at first – would it eat up my battery (nope), would I be able to skip songs (yep), would it be crappy music I’d never heard before (nope)? Besides, I’d tried to make my own BPM mixes before and found that the pacing was never consistent enough, and I’d burn out trying to keep pace with music that was too fast. All that skepticism went away after a few runs with Spring, I’m pretty sure I’ve found my magic bullet.


Not to mention some fancy Spring headphones!

To start, you select as many genres of music and artists you like. To be sure I’d get a good mix, I went crazy and picked metal, alternative, rap, remixes, and electronic. With more than 25,000 songs in their database, I wasn’t disappointed! Since I started using the app I’ve covered about an hour’s worth of music and only skipped a handful of songs. It’s all stuff that I enjoy but wouldn’t have considered running to because I wasn’t sure of the pacing. But once I got going and the beat kept me moving? Look out!


How can you be disappointed when they play Nirvana?

Over the course of my runs, I heard System of a Down, Ingrid Michaelson, Black Sabbath, Eminem, Gorillaz, and more. The songs were all originals, slightly tweaked to match my footstrikes at around 164 SPM. In turn, the tunes pushed me to keep turning my legs over even when I felt like slowing down going uphill or towards the end of my run. They even left the curse words IN, you guys! I know it’s not for everyone, but I LOVE when they leave the curses in – there’s nothing like hearing Kendrick Lamar really lay into a beat while I’m pushing up a tough hill – but if that isn’t your thing you can eve change the settings to exclude explicit songs.


And they even cheered me on when I finished!

Because I was so impressed with the app, I signed on to be a Spring Influencer to share the love with you guys. Want to try Spring for free? Text JESSRUNSHAPPY to 41411 and get one free month of workout music tailored to your pace!

The best part is that it’s not just for runners, either – if your arms are moving, Spring will pick up your pace and play tunes to match you. That means you can even Spring when walking. On those days where you don’t really feel like getting out there, this is a great way to start putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where the music takes you.


And it took ME to an awesome 11:23/mile pace even after a full day of work.

I can’t wait for my run tonight knowing that I get a fresh selection of new tunes to keep me going. Interested in Spring? Get a free trial here (or here if you’re on desktop) and let me know what you think!


My Favorite Running Playlist

For as long as I can remember, music has been a solid part of my life. My father has played in a band since he was old enough to hold a guitar, rocking on everything from guitar to bass to singing too. He instilled that love of music in me from day one – hell, I’m even named after an Allman Brothers Band song! He brought me up on every different kind of music you can imagine: Madonna, Van Halen, BTO, the Monkees – nothing was off limits.

Because I was raised on such a musical foundation, I’m always looking for new and different music to score my every day life, including my running!

My “RUN” playlist is constantly in flux as I grow tired of some songs and discover new ones. But to discover more, I figured I should put some of my favorites out there to see if it’ll get you in the sharing mood! So here’s a snapshot of my current running playlist – take a listen and see if you can’t find a new favorite!

Now that you’ve heard some of my favorites, what are some of yours? I’m always looking for new tunes, and can’t wait to hear what gets you moving and grooving!

Right Back to Where We Started From

I have no excuse for the last 2 weeks.

Well, no running-related excuses. Just a lot of life happening around here. And while I’ve slowly worked training back into my schedule, it hasn’t been my focus. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, I am more than just a runner. I’m a wife, daughter, employee, friend – and lately I’ve found that life is more about balancing those different roles than focusing on one.

However! This is a running blog, right? SO. Let’s take a look at what’s been going on in my running world lately 🙂

When I last left off, I was bouncing back from a bout of hand, foot, and mouth disease (I refuse to call it coxsackie on principle alone) and I was also nursing a tender knee. After my last post, the foot blisters eased up in time for my return to running on my birthday, July 31st!


Full disclosure: I ran just to earn the Nike Plus badge.

My knee felt surprisingly great – the unexpected week+ off from running because of my illness gave the rest of my body the chance to heal up, and while I stayed cautious on downhills and stopping/starting, the sharp pains I had experienced the week or two earlier were nowhere to be found. Score!

Later that day, all I wanted for my birthday was new running shoes and cake, so we went to RoadRunner where I had my gait analyzed again, and discovered that all of my cross training and lifting has helped strengthen up my legs so I don’t need as much stability in my running shoes as I used to! Second score!!

IMG_6261The new babies!

And when I broke in my new Asics Gel Nimbus 16’s on Saturday, I felt like I was running on air! Don’t you just love the first run in the perfect pair of new shoes? There’s nothing like it 🙂

Later that night, I went to a Soundgarden/NIN concert with a group of friends and let me tell you – Trent Reznor is still as hot as ever, and I will fight you to the death over him.

photoI love you guys. But seriously? I will cut a bitch over those biceps.

He was my very first rock ‘n roll crush – and while I was too young to see them live when my obsession was at its peak, the nearly 20 year wait was entirely worth it. So much so, that I matched my running shorts *and* my sneakers to my music as I rocked out to some early NIN on Monday’s run:

IMG_6342I like to think Trent would be proud.

The rest of the week went by, with 3 progressive runs of 2.5; 3.1; and 3.5 to get my knees back into working order, with the goal of a long run of 5 miles on Sunday. Which I succeeded at. Just barely.

Because I set out too late in the day, it was hot. Like 90 degrees in the sun hot. I also only got about 6 hours of sleep, didn’t fuel very well, and drank just a bit too much on Friday, so my system was NOT long-run ready. But I tried a new route at the park near Rutgers, with a nice path that goes along the Raritan River, near the RU Stadium, past a little zoo, and under a couple of cool bridges. I’m all about switching up the scenery, and this did not disappoint – I will most certainly be going back there again!

photo 1I mean, come on! Look at it!

But even though it was beautiful there, I struggled. I took a lot of walk breaks to deal with the cramps and side stitches I kept developing, but I powered through until mile 4.5. I passed a field were a pretty serious soccer game had just wrapped up and slowed to a walk to deal with a new cramp. The teams and their families were all packing up and chatting near the path, when one guy nudged another as I passed, pointing and laughing at me. I had one headphone in so I could only hear snippets, but once those two laughed, the rest of the group they were with all joined in too.

And it really hurt.

I took off running at full speed and kept pushing til I hit my 5 miles, then ran right for the bathroom where I had a little moment. I can usually brush off meaningless immaturity like that, but I was at a pretty low point to begin with, and that just pushed me over the edge into a full on meltdown. My confidence as a runner was tenuous at best, especially after the run I had just shuffled through at a snail’s pace. I was feeling weak and not very prepared, and frankly the thought of running a full marathon in just over 2 months actually makes me laugh because I think it’s that ridiculous and impossible.

But I couldn’t hide in that bathroom forever, so I sniffed it all back and repeated my favorite new mantra a few times: “One run at a time”, snapped an attitude-packed selfie because I was proud of how my legs looked in my shorts (#sorrynotsorry) and headed home for a shower and a big-ass cheeseburger. Because I’m a runner and that’s what runners do. We take it one run at a time and keep moving forward.

photo 2Hi, Haters!

So how was your weekend? Tell me about it – is your training coming along nicely?

Winter Running Motivation

Here in New Jersey, we are in the throes of a bitch of a winter. There is no nice way to put it – that crotchety old man winter has us over his bony knee and he is spanking the hell out of us, over and over and over again. Now that I’ve put *that* horrible image in your head, please accept this photo of a kitten reading a bedtime story to make up for it.

I can’t promise I won’t do it again though.

I can’t promise I won’t do it again though.

As runners, we know that these polar vortexes and deep freezes just make us more resilient. Mentally and physically, we grow stronger with each slippery step. But at a certain point, even the toughest runner has to throw their hands up in the air and cry uncle.

so much ugh.

so much ugh.

I’m sure there are more seasoned, harder runners that may look at this path and think “HA! You can still see blacktop, that’s nothing! -15 degrees with 20mph wind gusts? Child’s play! 2 inches of fresh fallen snow? Nothing like it. Bring it on!” If that’s you, I tip my hat to you. You’re a tough cookie! I, on the other hand, am more like a wad of unbaked dough with a brand new ACL. My ass is not taking a risk on unstable ground, especially not after a year of rehab and physical therapy to get that new knee back in working order.

I managed to slip and wipe out 3 times in a half a mile on that icy path you see in the picture above before getting so frustrated that I screamed at the top of my lungs, punched a snowdrift, and trudged through another half mile of 8 inch-deep snow back to my car. To say that I hate the winter is an understatement.

But, as a runner, I have to find a way to get those miles in. Much like many of you probably did, I signed up for a spring race to keep me active through these frigid months. The biggest challenge I’ve faced is finding the motivation to do just that.

I’ve explored lots of different motivational tactics. Some are really effective, and others… well, let’s just say sleeping in your workout clothes to get out the door easily for an early morning run just makes it harder to get *out* of bed because the blankets are that much warmer when you’re wearing running shorts.

Here are some of my favorite motivational things to get pumped up for a workout when I’ve got about three pounds of Valentine’s Day chocolate in the cabinet 10 feet away from me, and about 5 inches of perma-frost outside just waiting to slip me up:

1. New gear – sometimes you just have to embrace your inner mallrat and shop for inspiration! Admit it. A run just feels easier when you’re wearing a badass new tank with parrots on it.


yes, parrots.

2. Switching it up at the gym – or even joining a gym in the first place! After 4 years of embracing the streets and the living room as my workout spaces, I finally bit the bullet and re-joined a traditional gym this winter, and I couldn’t be happier. Knowing that I can disappear in a warm room filled with every kind of workout equipment known to man for as long as I want – there’s nothing like it.

3. New music – When those long runs are breathing down my neck (these days, mostly on the treadmill too), I take to Facebook or Google to find a batch of 5-10 new songs to mix up my running playlist. This recent find turned out to be an awesome middle-of-the-run “get it done” song that I find myself replaying over and over again:

4. Involving a friend – This one is my favorite! A month or two ago, I started going to our local Lululemon for free yoga classes on weekend mornings, and now I’m going with two other friends and having a blast! Knowing that one friend has been up since 4am taking care of her sick 4-year old and doing an Insanity workout before yoga? Yeah, I’ll do my damnedest to drag my hungover ass out of bed and meet her there. That’s motivation.

These are just a few of my favorite motivational tactics through these cold winter months. Do you have any other go-to’s? Instagram feeds, inspirational quotes, etc? Share the love in the comments!

Weekend Recap: A Frozen Run, Yoga, and Whiskey

This weekend has certainly been an adventure! After celebrating Valentine’s Day Friday night, I woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday for the Manasquan Mid-Winter 2-Mile Beach Run. It was a huge surprise to wake up to clean pavement – they had predicted 2-4 inches overnight and I was dreading a snowy run. Yes, it’s been a full year since my ACL surgery, but I’m still so scared of doing something to damage it – or to hurt my good knee! – that I take extra care when it comes to the snow/ice.

But, the weathermen were wrong (in other news, the Pope announced he’s Catholic), and we had a nice easy drive down to exit 98. Then just before the start of the race, the rain decided to join the party. In a big way. With some sleet. And whipping winds. While we waited for the gun, I popped my headphones in and wouldn’t you know it, my new favorite run-dancing song came on and lit up the day:

I’m gonna paint you a picture. Imagine if you will: you’re standing in a herd of soaked runners, icy rain pelting you from all angles with each wind gust. You think to yourself, “Why do I do this? I’m paying to do this?? I must be a special kind of stupid…” When suddenly, the girl in pigtails and an over-sized snow parka standing next to you jumps up into the air and lands with a shimmy, shaking her hips as she points to each of her neighbors and urges them to “clap along if you feel like a room without a roof”.

No, seriously, that's exactly how it happened.

No, seriously, that’s exactly how it happened.

As you can see, I pretty much smiled like a fool the whole time. Even with the skies raining Liquid Ugh (TM) all over us for the full 2 miles through puddles, potholes, and over frozen sand. Ordinarily I would have complained. But this was a whole new experience, and since I’ve technically never “raced” at this distance, I set a brand new PR for myself too!

Then, in keeping with this weekend’s active theme, I woke up nice and early again today for free yoga at our local Lululemon. This is about as perfect as it gets, because hey, free yoga, and hey , post-yoga shopping spree! I met up with a few friends and had a blast. But the three of us are clearly not allowed to take the class next to each other again, because we couldn’t stop pinching each other and giggling when one of us ate shit when tumbling out of crow pose. While we did have fun, I currently can’t feel my calves or remove my hoodie without tears of agony thanks to spending what felt like 80% of the class in down dog. So, mission accomplished?

After class I picked up a cute new post-practice wrap sweatshirt and finally joined the local YMCA too. Given the approximately eleventy billion tons of white bullshit covering every square inch of hope outside, I seriously doubt I’ll have clean pavement to run on before my half marathon in April. Add this ridiculous weather to the fact that I’m seriously afraid of slipping and twisting my knees on the ice, and my training situation is getting pretty dire. So $24/month later, I’ve now got a great little gym around the corner from my house that has a great view of the waterfront and a nice Olympic-sized pool too!

this blog post wouldn't be complete without a ymca selfie & obligatory cat picture

Clockwise: ymca selfie, new lulu shorts & mula bundle wrap, furry friend Emma, Cocoa Diablo & BWW time!

The rest of the weekend was normal weekend-y-type stuff: MarioKart (I suck), laundry (it sucks), Buffalo Wild Wings (does NOT suck!), etc. I even met up with my parents this afternoon and joined them for a Cocoa Diablo, or a highball of hot cocoa spiked with about 3 shots of Fireball Whiskey. It is about as delicious as it sounds, and twice as potent as you’d expect. Which brings me to now!

So how was your weekend? Did you manage to stay active? Tell me all about it 🙂

Run Dancing

My name is Jessica and I have a confession to make: I’m a run-dancer.

Actual footage of me run dancing.

Actual footage of me run dancing.

I wave, wiggle, point, jazz-hands, hip-pop, shimmy, bob and weave in time with whatever fun song that happens to pop up randomly on my ipod during my run.

But I’m not ashamed. Nay. I am proud of my affliction. I look forward to my next run for a number of reasons, one of them being the fact that I can rock out to some song or another with my headphones on and feel invincible as I run.

It may seem shameful, but I know I’m not alone. In fact, I’ve found quite a few fellow runners that admit to incorporating some sweet moves into their run, especially when the topic of running with music comes up. You know you have found a kindred spirit when you start trading songs:

“Have you ever run-danced to Pharrell?”

“OMG Yes! But I really love it when Lenny Kravitz pops up.”

“What about Sean Paul?!?!”

It’s truly the tie that binds, run dancing.

So, with that said – are you a run-dancer? If so, what’s your favorite song? PLEASE share so that I can freshen up my playlist!