Twin Cities women are getting inspired to run — together

Moms on the Run is the Official Training Partner for  Women Run The Cities 2015.
Moms on the Run is the Official Training Partner for Women Run The Cities 2015.

More and more women are running. In fact, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, the number of women running has outpaced the number of men since 2012. Women in the 25-34 age group category lead participation totals with more than 5.6 million in 2013, while women in the 35-44 age group rank third with close to 4.1 million. The Twin Cities and Minnesota reflect the national trend, with more and more women tying up their laces and hitting the road.

Why are so many women running?  Everyone has her own reasons for deciding to start, but one thing is clear – many women are tapping into the benefits of running with other women. Running doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor — women have discovered the motivation, camaraderie and accountability that comes from running with other women. A commitment to a running group or program makes a big difference in success rates, especially for women new to the sport. It’s easier to make it to a training session when you know there are friends waiting for you.

Minnesota is home to Moms on the Run, a private fitness group that offers the benefits of running with women, along with a structured training program. Moms on the Run has grown to 42 locations in six states—including 34 in the Twin Cities—since Founder and CEO Karissa Johnson began franchising in 2012.

Moms on the Run is all about “Fitness, Fun and Friendship” and is open to all women, not just moms. The signature offering is a learn-to-run 5K training led by certified coaches that includes strength training, stretching and education. Moms on the Run curriculum provides a variety of affordable fitness options for all ages and levels. “Our program packages an efficient, effective workout routine for women who are balancing busy lives,” said Johnson. “The built-in support system is an added bonus. We help women embrace their ability to lead healthier lives and be role models for their families.”

Signing up for a running event or race can be a great motivator for runners at any level or stage. While there are many races in the area, only a few are women-only events.  Events focused on women tend to provide participants a very encouraging and inspiring environment. In the Twin Cities, the annual Women Run the Cities (WRTC) event was ranked by ESPN as one of the top five races for women in the country. Designed to encourage women of all ages and abilities to engage in a healthy and active lifestyle, it’s also a great chance to network with other women.

WRTC is an event open to all experience levels and features a 10-mile run, 10K run, 5K run/walk as well as a 1-mile fun run for young girls. This year’s event is scheduled for September 27 and registration is open at

“This is an event that invites women of all ages and abilities, from experienced runners and walkers to women just beginning their fitness endeavors, to physically challenge themselves in a non-intimidating environment,” said Women Run the Cities race director, Meghan Huber. “We love to see women motivate and empower one another to achieve their goals.”

From those running for the very first time to those training for a marathon, more and more women in the Twin Cities are taking advantage of the benefits of running together. Whether it’s a couple of friends getting together or a formal program with coaching, there’s more to running together than being active and getting fit. It’s about making connections, being motivated, and getting and giving inspiration and support.

For more information and to register for Women Run the Cities, visit

For more information about Moms on the Run, visit

June Inspiring Mom

Julie- June insp.

This month’s inspiring mom is Julie, in her third year with the Roseville, MN, franchise. As her 40th birthday neared, Julie (pictured on the far right) resolved to run her first 5K. But she was intimidated and didn’t see herself as a runner. Since her first class in April 2013, she’s run about 20 races, including two 10Ks. “I never dreamed I could run more than 10 minutes, let alone 6 miles,” she said. Today, as the new marketing and communications manager for Moms on the Run corporate, Julie leads the national brand strategy, among other duties. “To me, the MOTR brand represents what I’ve found the strength to accomplish, with inspiration from other women, just like me.”

Representin’ at Ragnar

june-ragnarCongratulations to members of Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, WI, Moms on the Run who ran the Ragnar Relay Chicago, June 12-13! This team of 12 superheroes covered the roughly 200-mile journey starting on Lake Monona in Madison, WI, and ending in beautiful downtown Chicago. They ran into Moms on the Run from several other cities during their journey! Best of luck to all our teams training for the Ragnar Great River Relay, Aug. 14-15, from Winona, MN, to Minneapolis!


Our May 2015 member spotlight belongs to Esmer, a member of the Hudson, WI franchise. Esmer started in the Learn to Run program in 2014, has steadily progressed and is now a coach this season. She proudly ran her first 5K “without stopping” this month at the Mother’s Day 5K in Andover, MN. At left, Hudson Coach Sue Farmer congratulates Esmer at the finish of the 2014 Mother’s Day 5K.

Meet Christine, our April Inspiring Mom

biggest losers 2014 banquet
Christine began her journey with Moms on the Run in 2013 and is a member of our St. Paul Como location. She has lost 54 pounds through diet and exercise and tied for MOTR’s biggest loser last August at the banquet!  Since the end of last summer, Christine trained for and completed her first triathlon and placed 2nd in her division!  She is a true believer in the program and has taken every class her coach Katie has offered since hearing the radio ad two years ago.  She loves her new running friends, the pride of running outside no matter the season, and her new muscles! Way to go Chrisine, we are so proud of you!  Photography by Emily Marie

2014 Annual Address: Celebration Banquet in St. Paul, MN

Head Mom Karissa Johnson addresses the crowd at the Twin Cities Annual Celebration Banquet in St. Paul, MN
Head Mom Karissa Johnson addresses the crowd at the Twin Cities Annual Celebration Banquet in St. Paul, MN

On Work/Life Imbalance: Learning to not do it all

by Karissa Johnson, Founder of Moms on the Run

Tonight is one of my favorite nights of the year. It’s always so exciting for me to be here with you all to celebrate our season.   I did not get to all your classes this year or even attempt to, but it was very fun to get to all of our new locations. In Fridley I got to join Ingrid for her first time ever running 8 minutes straight in her life. And then in Bloomington it was Rebecca, her first time ever running 10 minutes!  Those were exciting moments for me. I regret that I can no longer get to all the classes, and that I can no longer keep track of everyone’s names. But I do treasure every interaction I have with you, and You all inspire me more than you’ll ever know.

I actually drew a little blank this year when thinking about what to say to you all tonight, So I asked some of you what to speak about. Which was a mistake! The only feedback I got, coming from more than one person, was to discuss work/life balance, and what it’s like to be a mom and a business owner.

The truth is, it’s been a hard year. I’ve moved twice and I’ve been in two car accidents. I’ve spent countless hours in treatment for injuries, negotiating with insurance companies, and dealing with incorrectly sewn tank tops. So, feeling completely out of balance, my initial response was to brainstorm something else completely different to talk to you about.

Work/life balance certainly isn’t a strength of mine, I don’t have any answers here, and those who know me best know how much I’ve struggled in this area.

But then I realized that maybe that’s okay. And not just maybe, but probably, it is refreshing to hear someone admit that they don’t have it all together. And what if we all came together, as women, to be honest about how hard it truly is to keep up with the standards we set for ourselves?

I might not have answers, but I hope to offer encouragement tonight by sharing what I’ve learned throughout this difficult last year, and one simple realization has helped me come a long way in reducing my stress and anxiety. So if anyone else here has battled through the daily project of trying to be all things to all people, I pray tonight I can speak uplifting words to you.

You see the thing I had to learn this year, was that you can’t make everyone happy. It sounds cliché, but it is a statement that has had profound impact on me this past year.   I had to get to a point of extreme burnout, and reality had to be forced on me.

Perhaps I’ve realized this to some degree before, that you can’t please everyone, but I wouldn’t accept it. I was certainly not going to go to my grave without trying. I don’t know if that’s something that’s difficult for you, for everyone here, but I suspect it is for many. Maybe your daily overwhelm is caused by a to-do list that couldn’t possibly be achieved by anyone in 24 hours, but the fear of disappointing others motivates you to try. Perhaps you have a hard time making exercise a priority in your schedule because of what someone else needs. And just maybe, your working mom guilt OR at-home mom guilt is due to someone else’s expectation of what you should do with your time.

My son said to me at the race yesterday, “why don’t you stop your business and run with us?” (Heartbreak! Tears!)

But I also think he is proud of me, because he asked me earlier this year if I was in the Guinness Book of World Records.

I had to get to a breaking point to accept that I wouldn’t be able to please everyone.  I had to be shown through outside circumstances that it’s not even possible to get it all done. Time limits required me to let go of things many other people felt I should have done, to focus on the most urgent tasks. And I also had a lightbulb moment, of realizing not everyone wants the same thing anyway! Some of our customers want our summer program to be just like our fall program. Some of our customers want our fall program to be just like our summer program! So you see it is, really, the most elusive goal, to try to make everyone happy.

And when I began to realize that there is no such thing as “caught up,” I then began to start spending more time with the kids, stop working late at night into the wee morning hours, and even start running more again.

When my blood pressure went up about 20 points in 2013, it was quite the reality check. I’m happy to say it is back down now.

I am reminded, that I teach you guys, that it is okay to take care of yourself. It’s not only good, it gives us so much more that we can offer to others. Women running on empty isn’t good for anyone.

Part of what has helped me to accept my constant guilt over the inability to keep up this past year is seeing the good in others. I see the grace that you guys extend to each other when you face challenges in your lives. I’ve met amazing women in this program from all walks of life. Women that wouldn’t naturally click maybe in a business setting or typical social group, have come together in every city to form a unique bond. The support I’ve seen you offer each other through difficult times is amazing to me.

I started out this business with a simple mission to inspire other people; I had no idea how much I would be inspired by you. You don’t feel like running sometimes, but you GO. And afterwards, you’re so glad you did. And I know for sure, you don’t feel like dealing with cancer. Or the challenges of children with special needs, or an addiction, or losing a loved one, or a weight loss goal that maybe seems impossible. But you do it. With determination, and perseverance, and loyalty to the women around you, who are all fighting battles of their own.

You see I knew you would learn to run. But I didn’t know that you would become best friends, and I didn’t know you would change each other’s lives. And I didn’t know you would show me how much FUN it is to RUN.

Meet Rebecca!


“Weight has always been an issue for me. After having my second baby, I decided it was time for me to get healthy and be a positive role model for my little boys. Since I have started running I have lost 80 pounds, dropped 7 pant sizes, eat healthier to fuel my body for all the running, have run 10 5Ks and signed up for my first 10K race for this Fall. I have way more energy to play with my two little boys, and just feel much healthier. It has been awesome to be a role model for my family’s health as well. My mom has lost 40 pounds with some inspiration from me. My (now) 4 year old thinks running with mom around the block is super fun and wants to be a runner when he grows up. I’m also spreading the running bug to students at the elementary school I work at this Fall as we start a running club. Moms on the Run has completely given me the inspiration, motivation, and accountability I needed to be successful in my goal of becoming a healthier person.”

So how does this work? Tell me more.

Does the hint of spring in the air have you excited to get outside and get moving? It might be just the right time to try running for fitness and recreation! Are you looking for some support and friendship on your journey? Perhaps even some accountability, helpful coaching and encouragement to complete your first 5k? Moms on the Run can help you train for your very first race or improve your speed, endurance and fitness level as a runner, all while having fun with new friends!

Minnesota is the original home of Moms on the Run, which has now branched out into 27 locations in 3 states in the last 5 years. Read on to find out what makes MOTR unique and why it is growing so fast!

Why is Moms on the Run different?
Unlike other exercise classes, we combine an effective workout program with a fun and supportive social environment. And unlike other running clubs, we offer an educational structure and interval programs that cater to all levels, even those who are brand new to running. Our tagline ‘Fitness, Fun, & Friendship’ really does ring true. For most women the desire to get in shape is what brings them to the group, but it is the bonds and friendships developed along the way that really keep them involved and help them be successful. To find out how MOTR is different this year than in past years, please read on to the next blog.

How is class structured?
The class involves around 30 minutes of cardiovascular interval work preceded by a dynamic warm-up and followed by a walking cool-down. Strength training and stretching exercises finish out the class hour for toning and injury prevention.The structured progression of intervals is a safe, gradual way to build up endurance for running a 5k.

What if I’ve never run before?
Moms on the Run is designed just for you! Our beginner program is really aimed at ladies who have never run before (or have been away from running for some time). The 18-week program progresses slowly, starting with manageable run/walk intervals and progressing over the summer to a full 5k. Each runner is encouraged to go her own pace and take things at her own speed.

How does the program work with runners at different speeds?  There are a variety of workout schedules available and each participant is encouraged to run at her own pace. Don’t worry, there will likely be someone who shares your pace. We all start running at the same time and turn around after the same number of intervals; this allows us to all finish as a group as well. The interval structure encourages runners to increase their speed, while the distance training option improves endurance as the season progresses.

How can I get involved?
Visit for more information. On the website you can choose the city and program in which you are interested in participating. Spring registration is currently open with an early bird discount through April 5th.

Aim to Maintain: the MOTR Healthy Holidays Challenge is Back!

This time of year it’s a fact:  Red and green tin foil wrappers make chocolate consumption mandatory in the name of being festive.  And a workout is sure hard to squeeze in on a day that already holds a school concert, dance recital, and family holiday gathering… all at the same time!  Back by popular demand from last year, here’s your solution for accountability this season.

EVERYONE is welcome to participate, MOTR membership is not required.  This includes men, although they may have to give up their prize to a lady :).

Here’s how to participate:

Step 1:  Find the Facebook post announcing this contest and share with the world that you want in!

Step 2:  Get a tracking spreadsheet from your local franchise owner. If you are new to MOTR or do not know who this is, please contact

Step 3:   Record your weight on November 21st or whatever date you start. This is for your information only. Your goal is to earn points for healthy lifestyle activities and to maintain this weight over the next five weeks. (Let’s get real and save those weight loss goals for January!)

Step 4:  Post a comment each Wednesday with your weekly points under the challenge check-in post. Watch for these November 28, December 5, 12 and 19. (If you don’t get to it Wednesday it’s okay to check in later in the week.)

Step 5:  Take your weight between Dec. 26 and 28 and post your total points by Dec. 28. Everyone who made it to 125 points will be entered in a drawing to win a MOTR and “There She Goes” Prize pack, details below. An additional prize will go to our top scorer! MOTR coaches are welcome to participate. I will participate too, and if I win somebody owes me a prize… Invite your friends! More prizes awarded for more participants!

Here’s how to get points! The following activities are all worth one point each:

~ 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (this could be a brisk walk, gym machine, run outside, etc.)
~ 10 minutes of strength training
~ 5 servings of fruits and veggies in a day
~ Make it through a day without sweets.
~ 8+ glasses of water in a day
~ 7+ hours of sleep in a night

~BONUS POINT OPPORTUNITIES! Check in with us on facebook regularly; there just may be bonus point categories! :)

Add 10 points at the end if you maintained your weight!*

*If you are underweight or pregnant and it is medically recommended for you to gain weight, you can still get the bonus points if your weight goes up as it should.

Holiday Prize Packs, each worth almost $200!

The more participants we have, the more we’ll give away!

brought to you by Moms On The Run and There She Goes

* $50 cash  *Pullover or jacket from the Moms on the Run          (style availability varies by size)

* Cute Armwarmers, Headband and Socks set from There She Goes

* MOTR charm necklace with sterling pendants on leather cord. 



Who’s in?!*

*Please note that facebook is no longer giving much screen time to business pages!  If you want to see all of our posts related to the challenge it is important to hover your mouse over the “like” button on our page and select not only “show in news feed” but also “add to interest lists.”  Then create an Interest List (you’ll have to name it). To make sure all of our posts are showing up in your news feed, select that Interest List on your home page on the bottom left.


Do I really need to lift weights?

Many women will skimp on the strength training portion of their workout routine. Sometimes it may be because they have a fear of getting bulky, or sometimes it may be because they think they need to get rid of the fat first before they can appreciate any muscle tone. The problem with either of these trains of thought is that 1) strength training as you age is necessary just to maintain the muscle you already have, and 2) strength training is a highly effective tool in helping with the fat loss.

Strength training is not optional if you want to:
~prevent age-related muscle loss
~prevent a slowing metabolic rate as you get older
~lose fat instead of just muscle in a diet program
~stay strong as you age for daily living activities
~prevent injuries from your running/other exercise activities
~reduce your risk of osteoporosis, arthritis or diabetes
~burn more calories each day!

If you are new to lifting weights, start with one exercise for each muscle group just twice a week. You can get this done in just about 10 minutes! Consider joining a group exercise program such as Moms On The Run Boot Camp or hiring a qualified trainer to help you develop a safe and effective routine.