Meet Sara, the running addict and certified coach behind the blog Running In Pink. What began as a way to stay healthy and participate in an activity that her mother loved developed a life-long addiction for running and participating in a variety of events — anything from a 5k to an entire marathon. Running for reasons that range from being able to eat more cupcakes to raising awareness for Crohn’s disease and colitis, Sara is just the inspiration you’ll need to start gearing up for your own race. If you opt to run Philadelphia’s upcoming Rock ‘N’ Roll Half-Marathon like Sara, she’s got all kinds of stellar recommendations for Philadelphia cheesesteaks and the city’s best brunch spots!
1. Why did you first start running?
My mom has been running my entire life and would sign me up for local 5ks so I could run with her. My senior year of high school, she had a bad back injury and we weren’t sure if she’d be able to run anymore. For whatever reason, this sparked something that made me want to run more. Go figure, right? Throughout my entire childhood, she wanted me to run with her and, now that she couldn’t do it, I wanted to. Hundreds of miles later, here I am. My mom eventually did run again and, whenever I visit her, we try to get in a run together. It’s been an amazing experience to have someone I look up to so much share an interest that has become such a big part of my life.
2. What do you love most about running, and why do you continue to race?
It’s hard to pick just one favorite thing about running. It’s what keeps me sane and lets me blow off steam after a rough day at work. It’s the time I get to myself when I can just think. It’s also time I get to spend with my husband when we run together. I love that there is always something else to aim for and achieve whether it be a new distance or a new time — you’re never really done. I also love running because I can eat more cupcakes and drink more wine! Knowing that I have a race coming up also helps me from skipping runs or slacking on a particular workout.
3. What’s the hardest thing about training?
Finding the time! In a perfect world, I’d like to be able to run more days out of the week — but let’s be honest, it’s just not always possible.
4. How do you decide which events to tackle?
I like races that are close to home. I’ve done quite a few destination races, but they’re not usually my immediate go-to. Lately, I’ve been really into 5ks. I usually look for races based on a specific date. Then, I usually check out the course. Does it look hilly? Flat? Is it a road or a trail? And lastly, is there some kind of wine party or beerfest at the end? Because what’s more fun than gathering with a bunch of tired, sweaty people (who woke up insanely early to run a bunch of miles) to enjoy a drink at 10 a.m.?
5. What do you love most about the Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon Series in Philadelphia and why do you do it year after year?
I’ve been running this race since it was the Philadelphia Distance Run. It’s probably the race I’ve run the most times and one I can’t get away from. It’s close to home and at the perfect time of year. I love the crowd, the course and the after party that Rock ‘N’ Roll puts on!
6. How do you stay motivated?
Life is just too short to be stressed out or miserable or both. I try to look at things in terms of, “look what I get to do today,” instead of, “ugh look what I have to do today.” That includes running. Thinking of it as something good helps me fit in it. I also stay motivated by setting goals I know I can’t reach unless I put in the work — and then share them with the internet! Seriously, there is nothing that will hold you more accountable than telling everyone you know and then some your goals. I also write them down on Post-It notes and stick them up at work where I have to stare at them all day long.
7. Have you ever competed for a cause? How did that impact your training experience?
I trained with a charity program (AIDS Marathon training program in San Francisco) for my first half marathon. I had such an amazing experience doing something I loved and helping out a good cause. A few years later, I found myself wanting to get involved in a cause that was closer to me personally and I discovered Team Challenge, which raises money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. My husband (then boyfriend) has had Crohn’s since he was a teenager and I knew I could run a half marathon, so why not run while helping a cause that meant something to me? Being part of that group and raising money and awareness for a cause so important to me was an epic experience. I wasn’t just running for me anymore. I was running for all the people suffering (some of whom were even training right alongside me) and the people who had generously donated. And when I was running out of energy, I had a reason to keep going. I am really excited to hear that Rock ‘N’ Roll is partnering with everydayhero, so that participants can raise money for whichever charity is important to them. It’s great when people can participate in a training charity program for some of the bigger charities out there, but there are so many great causes that just don’t have the means to create a race training/fundraising program that need support, too.
8. What do you love most about being a coach?
I absolutely love to help people reach their goals. I love getting text messages and emails from clients telling me they ran their longest distance or achieved the race time they were aiming for. Being a coach has made me more accountable for my own training. I can’t exactly tell people they have to fit in the training If I can’t do that myself! I work with clients whose schedules and lives are twice as busy and full as mine, so if they can do it, so can I. I’m also trying more new things now, using myself as a guinea pig for a lot of training ideas or speed workouts.
9. Why did you start your blog Running In Pink?
It’s funny because it wasn’t always called Running in Pink. When I first started blogging, it was Just Don’t Quit. Ever. I started writing way back in 2008 when I was training for my second marathon. I would be out on my long runs every weekend, without music or anything, and I would just “write” in my head. After I came back, I’d think to myself, “Oh, I have to write that down!” And I just started logging it all. I also was taking my training a little too seriously at the time, and Just Don’t Quit. Ever. seemed too intense for what I wanted to put out there to the world. I like running. I like pink. I’ll just be Running in Pink and it all just kind of snowballed from there.
10. If someone is visiting from out of town for a race, what would you recommend they see and do while in Philadelphia?
First of all, if you’re going to come to Philadelphia you must have a cheesesteak — but skip Pat’s and Geno’s and go straight to Jim’s (on South Street). When I was in college, all my friends swore the best cheesesteak ever was with cheese wiz. I now have to respectfully disagree, as provolone is where it’s at. I also love people watching in Rittenhouse Square, grabbing a drink at Tria or getting brunch at Sabrina’s orHoney’s.