Staying Motivated to Run During Winter

Living in the northeast the weather come winter gets cold, dreary and very snowy. For some people, this is their favorite time of year. For others, it’s the worst. If you’re like me, you love the snow and holiday cheer in the beginning of the season but come January 1, I’m done!

It’s also hard to get through the winter if you are trying to stick to a relatively strict training program- especially if it involves running outdoors.  But don’t fret! It’s not impossible. All you have to do is set some goals and guidelines to follow and you’ll cruise through the winter months with no problems!

  • Set a short term AND long term goal- For me, my short term goal is to get faster. How am I going to accomplish this? Well I started a sub-50 10K training plan with a goal race at the beginning of February. This way, I’ll have a plan to follow throughout most of the winter months and I’ll also be working toward something I want for myself. My bigger picture long term goal is to run a full marathon in 2013!! (Ahhh!) To do so, I need to stay focused this winter and maintain my long runs.
  • Buy some new gear- nothing gets me more motivated than scoring some flashy new running gear (like this Saucony top I bought on Black Friday!). Hit up your favorite local running store and buy yourself something nice. Think of it as a pre-reward for all the snowy, cold long runs you’ll need it for!
  • Add in your favorite cross training you can’t do when you’re really training hard during racing season (i.e. Spring, Summer and Fall)- This week I added in a boot camp session instead of cross training on the elliptical and it was great! It’s good to switch it up a bit to exercise all muscles, not just the ones you need for running. So, go take a yoga class or maybe try CrossFit? Whatever it is, now is the time to do it!
  • Register for a winter race- Winter races are really fun (even though they are VERY cold) and everyone is supportive because you’re all just as crazy as the next person!
  • Run with friends- If you like running with a partner or a group, winter is the perfect time to take full advantage of this support. Running with a group or a friend will help to keep you motivated, especially on those mornings when you really, really, really want to stay in bed.
  • Help someone else learn to run- I have to admit, I can become a bit self-centered during racing season, but I think that’s just because I am focusing on goals for myself. Winter is a great time to motivate a non-runner friend to run, especially if you’re not busy with a training plan or race schedule. Try to get a friend out with you at least once a week. Start off slow and make sure you run at whatever pace is most comfortable for them.
  • Don’t be afraid to indulge a little- Winter is holiday season and it’s a time for great company of family and of course, delicious food, so don’t be the weirdo who skips out on the yummy cookies your Grandma makes every year. You run, you’ll burn it off! Also, be sure to spend time with your family as well. If you’re like me, my parents and sister (and my BFF Sydney!) are the ones who take the time to come to my races and support me, so it’s just that much more important to take the time during the holidays to enjoy their company. If that means cutting my long run short, so be it!

What are your favorite tips for staying motivated during the holidays? 


Week 3: Sub-50 10K Training

A beautiful Thanksgiving picture from my sister Georgia and myself :)

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and is gearing up for the holiday season!- I know I am! My training this week went really well although I missed two of my training runs for very good reasons.

I knew my training was going to be affected this week because I traveled back to Massachusetts to be with my family for Thanksgiving. In preparation for this I mixed up the earlier part of my week by cross training on Monday but then doing my speed work on Tuesday. My speed work went really well and it was a much harder workout than the one I did the previous week. This workout called for 5×800 meter intervals at race pace (8:02/mile) with 400m easy pace in between.

This. Was. Hard.

But I did it! Although it was really challenging and I REALLY wanted to stop after the fourth interval, I felt really great after finishing the workout. I was extremely proud of myself for not stopping when my legs were begging me to do so and couldn’t believe I was able to run 4 miles total at an average pace of 8:32! I’m getting there!

I planned to wake up early on Wednesday to do my 3-mile tempo run before getting in my car and traveling up to Massachusetts all day. The morning came and I woke up a half an hour before my alarm ready to run! I checked the weather and the thermometer read 27 degrees. Burr! But that didn’t discourage me and I was out the door at 7 a.m.

The run itself wasn’t so great. I didn’t hit the goal pace but I was having a hard time breathing because it was just so cold. My nose was runny and my mouth was filled with mucus but I was still proud of myself for getting out there and getting my miles in before a long car ride up to New England.

I left my apartment in PA just after 9 a.m. and arrived back in Massachusetts around 2:30 p.m. My mom came running out the front door and greeted me with a huge embrace. I know I’ve only been away from home for just over a month but it’s felt like ages and I was just so happy to be home.

I had planned on running 6-miles on Thursday (Thanksgiving) but when I woke up and sat at the breakfast table with my family while we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade I didn’t want to leave. I was having such a nice time with my family and my mom asked me to help her cook so I decided to skip my run and spend some quality time with my family instead. I was able to squeeze in 30 minutes of power flow yoga though before it was time to head to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, but honestly I’m glad I decided to forgo my run and spend time with my family- being away from home has made me realize how important my time with them is.

I had a lovely Thanksgiving with my extended family and woke up on Friday feeling great and ready for a run. I got in 6 miles at 9:30/mile pace around the neighborhoods in my town. It was really great to get out on the roads in my town again after having run in PA the past few weeks.

This was my last run of the week because I decided to spend the rest of my time at home with my family. Although I’m disappointed I missed out on my last two runs of the week, I was happy to have the time with my parents and sister. If anything, being away from home and then coming back made me realize although running is really important to me there are other things that are much more important.

I’m not worried about this impacting my training at all either. I have an extra week at the end of my training before my goal race so I can play catch up then.

Have you ever skipped out on a training run to spend time with loved ones? Tell me your story in the comments below!

I’m a FitFluential Ambassador!

FitFluential Is Fitness Found

Seriously, could these last few weeks get ANY better (knock on wood!)? I am very excited to announce that I have been accepted as a FitFluential Ambassador! This means I will become a member of another amazing community of health, fitness and wellness bloggers who share common goals in spreading the good word of health to their communities and readership.

If you’ve never heard of FitFluential than I suggest you take a look at their website asap because it’s filled with a directory of other amazing fitness and health bloggers! Also, if you’re on social media I’m sure you’ve seen the hash tag #fitfluential used by some of your followers. Well, that is just one of the many ways FitFluential reaches out to the larger fitness community. According to the FitFluential website:

We deliver positive messages of health and wellness, but we also promote maintaining a healthy balance. Too often, people view fitness messaging as restrictive and harsh. We showcase how anyone can incorporate habits that will improve their overall health and well-being.

Fitness is all about fitting in to your LIFE. We’ll focus on four primary areas in everything we do: Eat, Sleep, Move, Enjoy.

I’m very excited to be a part of this community and look forward to connecting with more FitFluential Ambassadors! To stay up-to-date with me and my running escapades, follow me on:


Twitter: @FitHappyGirl

Instagram: @HannahMcGold


Monday Motivation: Running is Fun

Sometimes we forget that running is actually really fun! I was reminded of this when I had an utterly fantastic long run last Saturday. I felt so happy as I was running and I felt like I could go on forever. It was the best feeling I’ve had in a long time. Then I saw this graphic on Pinterest and I couldn’t help but share it. I remember running around outside when I was a little kid and there was nothing better. Especially in the fall, my little sister and I would run around our back yard through the leaves and we were just in complete bliss. It’s important to remember that running really is fun. Although we may train and really push ourselves to our limits, never forget why you fell in love with running in the first place. Run happy!

Week 2: Sub-50 10K Training

This past week was another great week for training. I’m nervous to get too excited about how my training is going because, in the past, I’ve had problems with injuries/soreness but so far so good! That being said, it’s only the second week so I’m taking it day by day.

It’s been really great though to run five days a week. Most training plans I did before had me running four days a week, sometimes only three, but I really like running more often. I’m a strong believer in the fact that the more you run, the better you become. Which, is really starting to prove true in my times and how I’ve been feeling on my runs.

The week started off with cross training on Monday. I went to the gym after work and did two miles on the arc trainer (elliptical type machine) and then did a bunch of strengthening exercises- squats, lunges, lifting weights and ab exercises. I also made sure to stretch a lot too because I want to avoid any muscle tightness-related injuries.

On Tuesday, I had a 2.5 mile tempo run at 8:12/mile. I did this run during my lunch hour and nailed the pace time which felt amazing. It was fast but my breathing was really steady and my legs felt strong.

Wednesday was an easy paced 5 mile run. Unfortunately I had to do this run on the treadmill but I got it done. I ran 5 miles at 9:50/mile. When I first got going, my ankles were really bothering me for the first mile. I think this is due in part to the treadmill but after the first mile I felt really good and finished the run with no problems.

Thursday was my speedwork day and I had to do 4x800m at race pace (8:02/mile) with 400m resting in between. This was a 10 percent increase from last week’s speedwork but I was able to finish it and feel good. Eight hundreds are HARD, there’s no doubt about that, but I am really seeing results in my long runs and easy runs.

Friday was a complete rest day!

Saturday was my long run of 6 miles. According to my training plan I was supposed to run 6 miles at an easy pace (9:50-11:05/mile) but, instead I ran at 9:23/mile average and my fastest mile was at race pace (8:02)!! I was so happy on this run but I just felt amazing. I actually really wanted to keep running but I need to stick to the training plan to avoid injury. I don’t know what it was- the speedwork, my tempos, running more frequently- but I felt amazing on this run. Also, this was the first time in a VERY long time that I actually ran on the road with music. I always listen to music when I run on the treadmill but I usually don’t when I run on the road. However, I think this had something to do with my faster paces because I was jamming the whole time!

After my long run I came home and did some post-run yoga stretches and foam rolled.

Sunday (today) I just did an easy 4-mile recovery run. I ran at 9:27 pace and felt really good. It was a bit colder out today but I felt comfortable and strong. I also did some post-run yoga after my run today and was home in time to congratulate my cousin on finishing her first full marathon!

Training is looking good this week as well, although I’m a little concerned with when I’m going to get all my runs in because I’m traveling home for Thanksgiving. I may have to juggle the training plan around to accomodate my travel plans and some much needed family-time.

Also I officially signed up for my goal race 10K and it will be on February 3- it’s a Superbowl 10K! This actually gives me an extra week of training so if my schedule gets messed up because of the holidays, I have some wiggle room on the outset of the training program. I hope y’all had great training runs last week and I know everyone will run happy this week because it’s finally the start of the holiday season! Happy running!

Running the Race for Recovery Virtual 5K/10K

Yesterday as I was browsing through Twitter I came across a bunch of tweets about a virtual 5K and 10K dubbed the Race for Recovery to raise money for relief efforts for the destruction in NY and NJ caused by the monstrous storm, Hurricane Sandy.

As I started to read more about the virtual race, hosted by Michele, author of the running blog NYC Running Mama, I knew I had to take part. I have been looking for a way to get involved with some of the volunteer efforts but because I don’t live in New York or New Jersey, the only option was to simply donate money. While that’s a really good option, I wanted to do something a little more proactive to show my support.

I also felt a need to support Michele in her efforts. She decided last weekend to begin organizing this amazing effort and has been able to raise almost $5,000 already. Michele reached out to different running brands and running companies, including my amazing place of employment, Runner’s World, to donate prizes for race participants.

As soon as I finished reading her post, I was on her Crowdrise page before I knew it. Michelle has set it up so all of the money donated will go towards the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, a foundation focusing on clean-up efforts on the NYC, Long Island and New Jersey coastlines- the areas most severely affected by Sandy.

All you have to do to register for the virtual race is as follows:

1. Make a donation here!

  • Make a minimum donation (your race entry fee) of $20 on Michele’s Crowdrise page.
  • This money will also be your entry into the more than 40 different giveaways.

2. Register for the virtual race here!

  • Date- Saturday, Dec. 8 (Can’t run that day? No problem. Run whenever you want!)
  • Where- Anywhere!
  • Distance- Michele is asking people to run, walk, bike a 5K, 10K or both!

3. Download your race bib here!

  • Oh yeah, this virtual race even has race bibs! Download yours and where it on your run to let everyone know you’re supporting the Race for Recovery

4. Complete a 5K and/or 10K- also don’t forget to snap a pic and tweet it to Michele (@NYCRunningMama)

5. Enter your race results here!

  • Michele will use the results to randomly select winners of the giveaways.
  • Finish time is not important. This is about raising money for a good cause and having a little fun while we’re at it!

6. Have fun!

Oh yeah and I forgot to mention, the grand prize is a dream visit to our very own Runner’s World headquarters in PA! We’ll give you a tour, go on a run, bring you to our test closet filled with goodies and so much more! According to Michele’s website, the grand prize will be awarded to whomever raises the most money. So, if you’re planning on running on Saturday, Dec. 8, or really any other time, why not do it for good? It’s only $20 (a lot less than many “formal” races) and you’ll be helping out countless people affected by Sandy.

I know I’ll be out there on December 8th running a 5K and a 10K, along with some other RW staffers and maybe a few folks from Men’s Health. If you need more details please visit

Have you ever done a virtual race? Will you do this one? (Pretty please!)

Week 1: Sub-50 10K Training

Last week was a week of first in the life of Fit Girl Happy Girl. For one, I became a Greatist ambassador and it marks my very first ambassador-ship as a blogger! Also, I ran my very first lunch run and PR my mile time (according to my Garmin at least). Another first, which really wasn’t a first, but I ran five days last week, something I hadn’t done in a little over a month (I’ve been sticking to three or four times a week). And, to top it all off, I feel great!

As you may or may not know, I’m following a new training plan that will hopefully get me on track to run a 4?:?? 10K. I’ve never officially run a 10K race, although I have definitely run 6.2 miles (plus!) and know I can do it in under 60 minutes. Naturally, my next goal was to run it in under 50 minutes.

I’m following a training plan I saw in this month’s issue of Women’s Running. The plan has me running five days a week, cross training one day a week and taking one full rest day.

I started the plan last Monday and Mondays are cross training days so I hit the gym to do 20 minutes on the elliptical (really an arc trainer) and strengthening exercises afterwards. I want to get better at strengthening my leg muscles to avoid injuries so I’m hoping with this new plan, and the extra down time that comes with winter, I’ll be able to focus on that.

Tuesday I had a tempo on tap and I was determined to run my first lunch run. At my knew job, most of my coworkers go running during their lunch hour, so I thought I had to try it! Well, I LOVED it! It was great to not only get my run out of the way in the middle of the day but it was also amazing to get outside and get some fresh air! What made the run even better was I nailed my tempo pace of 8:12/mile and felt really great.

Wednesday I had to do 4-5 miles at an easy pace of 9:50/mile. I did a little over 4 because I was exhausted from work that day and my legs felt a little tired.

Thursday was by far the hardest day because it was speedwork. I hadn’t done a track workout in a few weeks and since I’m still new to the area, I don’t have a track to workout on so I had to do it on the treadmill. The plan called for 3 x 800m at race pace of 8:02/mile, with 400m easy pace in between. This was my first time doing 800s and they are no joke! I finished the workout and was pooped but glad I was able to power through it. (According to the plan, I increase this workout over the next 11 weeks!)

Friday was my full REST day! Phew!

Saturday was my “long run.” I put long run in quotes because according to the plan, I only had to run 5 miles at easy pace, which is nothing compared to the half marathon training I just finished up. I felt good on this run except for a little knee pain towards the end but I finished strong.

Sunday was a 4 mile recovery run at an easy pace but I ended up running about a 9:09 average mile. The weather was so beautiful and I felt great so I thought I’d kick it up a bit.

Overall I thought the week went really well and I’m excited to see what’s in store this week!

Are you training for something? If so, how did you runs go last week?

Monday Motivation: Fortunate to Run

Sometimes there’s really nothing better than hitting the road, clearing your mind and forgetting all of the stresses in life. At least that’s how I feel when I am stressed and need to forget about it all. It’s important though to remember that some people don’t get to do this and don’t have the fortune to run. This week I’m going to remember this more than ever and be thankful that my legs and feet have taken me as far as they have. I hope you do the same. Run happy!

#imagreatist Ambassador!

Phew, is this big announcement week for me or what? I am pleased to announce I have been chosen to be an ambassador for Greatist, a super cool, shiny and new fitness website out of New York City. I’ve been following Greatist since the beginning of my “journey to fit” and they never cease to impress me with their material, workout guides and of course, their amazing infographics.

In fact, one of the millions of reasons I started running was because of Greatist! I found their couch to 5k plan and was immediately hooked on anything and everything the site had to offer. Want to know a little more about them? Here’s a snip-it from their “About Us” page:

Everyone has a choice to be more fit, healthy, and happy. And though our goals and ambitions are often similar, each person is unique, every story different. A greatist is someone who chooses better to improve their fitness, health, and happinessAre you a greatist? is the trusted health & fitness source for the young, savvy, and social. Health and fitness is hard. We want to make it easier. And, for starters, we believe you deserve better content than what’s out there now. So while our posts are short, fun, and relatable, they’re also as high-quality as it gets: every fact is cited (by a PubMed study), every sentence meticulously verified, and every article expert-approved. So, be inspired and get informed on Greatist. Then, together, we can start informing and inspiring the world to make one healthier choice per week, you know, to be greatists like us.

I am very honored and excited to become a part of the Greatist family and look forward to being an ambassador! If you want to get involved, tell us on Twitter why you’re a greatist by using the hashtag #imagreatist!

Registered for my second half marathon!

Exciting announcement folks! I have registered for my second half marathon! Literally before I even crossed the finish line at the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon I kept thinking, I cannot wait to sign up for another 13.1. Well, as of yesterday morning I am registered for the St. Luke’s Half Marathon in Allentown, PA on April 28.

I’ve heard really good things about this race already. For one, it is in the town next to me so it will be really nice to not have to travel far for a race. Also, it’s a scenic course through some of Allentown’s parks. The race is about medium sized with a 4,000 runner limit and has a course time limit of 3 hours so it should be pretty competitive.

Why did I sign up? Well, I’ve come up with a semi-informal race schedule for 2013 that will (hopefully!) end in a full marathon in the fall. My plan is to first work on some speed by training for a sub-50 minute 10K, which I’ll run in January. Then, I want to run two half marathons in the spring/early summer before I start training for a full.

I realize this is a little bit ambitious but if all goes as planned I know I’ll be able to have the endurance to run a full marathon and with any luck I’ll lower my half marathon time. While the St. Luke’s Half Marathon is about six months away, the 14-week training plan, designed by Runner’s World’s own Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso, begins on January 19- the weekend after my 10K (perfect timing, right?). So for now, I’ll focus on my 10K training until it’s time to ramp up for the half!

Have you been thinking about your 2013 race schedule? What’s your running goal?