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

It’s here… our Inaugural Moms on the Run 5k!


MOTR 5k-inaug
We’re so excited to celebrate an amazing season with you all on August 23, at our very own event in St. Paul! You won’t want to miss the excitement of hundreds of women in turquoise accomplishing new goals with their supportive families and teammates there cheering them on.  Join us at Lake Phalen for fun family activities and a chip-timed 5k on a flat course. You’ll take home a custom logo tote bag and the kiddos will get MOTR cowbells to cheer for mom! Register early for the best price and for your personalized race bib. Special deals for men and kids too.

CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS: If you are interested in volunteering for this race, please sign up at:

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.

March Inspiring Mom: Betty Comiskey!


“I have always wanted to be a runner; at least, that is what I would say to myself. I never put the effort into it. I was always too busy with my sons and their sports and lives. Well now they are in college and it is time for me and my husband. I have always admired people who could do it, run that is. I have always struggled with my weight and staying focused on exercise. About 3 years ago I started having a lot of pain; it got to the point where I could hardly walk at times. After many tests and doctor visits I was diagnosed with inflammatory Rheumatoid Arthritis. I thought that was it. I can’t do anything anymore. Tried several medications that I was allergic to, finally had to resort to Prednisone as my treatment plan which is a steroid and tends to make you gain and hold onto weight. I also made some pretty drastic changes in my diet. Gluten and dairy is no longer a part of my diet along with some other things. The changes in my diet seemed to really help and I began to lose some weight but no exercise yet.

That is when a fellow Moms on the Run (MOTR) member and friend told me about MOTR and I decided, what the heck I will try it, that was the fall of 2013. I had a hard time running but I have stayed the course. I loved the fact that I could do things at my own pace and they were always there to cheer me on no matter how small the accomplishment. I have several 5k’s under my belt now. Most of them, I did not run the whole way or even most of it, but I was out there trying.

Last summer I ran a whole 5k with my son, he actually finished and came back and finished the race a second time with me. I turned 60 in October of last fall and did the Monster Dash. I plan to do a 7k in March which is the farthest I have ever run. I may not be very fast but I am out there. My goals for the future are to keep running and getting better at it. This group has become a big part of my life and I look forward to it every week.
My family is very proud of my accomplishments. My husband is my biggest cheerleader, he is at the finish line for most races taking a picture of me finishing. In the last 3 years I have lost over 50 pounds. My health is great; I feel great.

I would not be where I am without the support of this group, these women. I guess I can say I love them for giving me back my life. I can honestly say I am a runner now, something I always wanted to do. Thank you Roseville MOTR.”

We are proud of you Betty; thanks for sharing your story!

Heidi’s Story


“Two years ago I chose to join Hastings Moms on the Run simply to learn to run a 5K. I stuck with it, did it, and still can. But the consequences of that choice have changed my life! I no longer have pre-diabetes or high blood pressure. I no longer have plantar faciitis or knee pain. And I’ve lost 25% of my body weight (over 60lbs)! But my favorite consequence of that choice is how my spirit has learned to soar!

Thanks MOTR! This club can change lives!!”

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.

Have a Vacation Run

I remember a day when I felt vacations were a great excuse to take the week off from workouts. Now since becoming a mom and feeling my workouts are the most sane part of my day, I think vacations are for working out as much as possible!

So think twice before saving suitcase space by leaving out your running shoes. There’s nothing quite as fun as a vacation run!

Give yourself permission to have no expectations. Give up the preoccupation with pace and distance in favor of an exploratory adventure. Keep the GPS map for safety, but determine your route as you go. Feel Free!

This morning I did have a distance goal, as I’m training for the Women’s Half just a month away.  All else was up in the air! Here’s a play-by-play of my workout today, or should I say “mile by mile.”

Mile 1.  This feels great!  Wait a minute, 8:30 pace?  I’d better slow down if I’m going to make it 9 miles!

2. We don’t have hills like this at home!  I find great comfort in knowing what goes up must come down. I smile in anticipation of my final mile back into the campground.

3. I’ve never run on such a busy highway before!  The next back roads I can duck into can’t come soon enough.

4. This highway stretch is longer than it looked on the map! I find myself alternating between the loose gravel on the side to save my shins and the concrete on the road to save my ankles.

5. Off the highway! I finally made it to Lazy Road. More and more hills; nothing lazy about it! I imagine that final downhill mile and it keeps me going.

6. I am in the middle of nowhere. I take to the center of the road to avoid the slant.

7. The heat hits hard. No shade, no breeze, it’s now 95 degreew with the heat index…. but the last mile is all downhill! So I press on.

8. This farmer won’t mind if I take a swig off his hose will he?

9.  Where’s that downhill mile… my map is wrong!  I’m supposed to be headed back into the campground but instead I’m headed back up to that concrete highway.

10. Surprise! I have to run 10 miles. I haven’t run that in 10 years. At least I’m finally on that downhill.

Success! 9 miles, no 10, check!  Another fun vacation adventure run, in the books.

Strength: Before or After?

There are many opinions on the issue of whether to lift weights before or after your cardiovascular exercise, but the bottom line is it depends on your goals.  In general, it is always necessary to be warmed up before strength training in order for a safe and effective workout to ensue.  The warmup will reduce your risk of injury and get the blood flowing through your body. When blood delivers oxygen to your muscle cells, this actually makes the exercises you do more effective for strengthening and toning your muscles.

If your primary fitness goal is building strength or muscle, your pre-strength cardio should be limited to a brief warm-up with the majority of your cardiovascular exercise after your weights. If you are focused on improving your running, cardio fitness, or  maximizing your potential with the intervals, complete the cardio portion of your routine first while you have the most energy.

In MOTR we are focused on general toning,  improving our running and preventing injuries through our strength training.  Although we will modify as necessary for instructor and participant schedules, in general we choose to do strength after running. This increases the safety and effectiveness of our training and helps us be efficient with time and able to get the workout done in an hour. It also helps the women in our learn-to-run program have greater endurance for completing the run intervals.

Regardless of which you choose, getting your strength and cardio in on the same day is a great option for busy moms! It’s hard enough to squeeze a workout in; maximize your results when you get a chance!

Beginnermediates, the Speedster & the Caboose

We have a growing group of women in the program who are calling themselves “beginner-mediates.”

It’s a fun term, and expresses just one example of the broad spectrum of fitness levels we are trying to reach in our program.

MOTR may have two specific interval schedules we offer, but we certainly don’t have just “two levels” of customers.  Let me introduce you to the Beginnermediates, the Speedster and the Caboose…and everything in between!


We know that for all our runners who feel they fall somewhere “in between” levels it can be challenging to pick the appropriate workout. When in doubt, at this point in the season it’s better to play it safe and follow the learn-to-run schedule, allowing yourself to run some of the “assigned” walking intervals.  The schedules are meant to create a structure but not to enforce rigid guidelines.  If you are questioning how much you should be walking/jogging/running/sprinting at this point, please talk to your coach. We are here to help! We want to give you some suggestions on how to make the workout just right for you personally. Also let us know what your goals are, because “improving your metabolism” may result in a different workout than “running your fastest 5k.”

Learn to Run modifications and The Caboose

The same flexibility goes for everyone in the learn to run program. We are so proud of you for taking a big leap of faith and joining us wherever you are at with your fitness level this spring.  Perhaps at times you will need your own plan…maybe the schedule says 2 minutes of jogging and you are feeling like 30 seconds is the challenge you need right now. That’s okay! Talk to your coach to see what she recommends.

I want to give a special pat on the back today to the “caboose!” I didn’t make that up; I visited a class last year and met a friendly gal with a great attitude who called herself the caboose for bringing up the rear at each and every class.  If this is you – You are not alone!

We have 15 locations now and each and every one of them will have a “caboose.” You are probably all about the same pace, and will find each other at some of our metro-wide events if you are in the Twin Cities. Hang in there! You are an integral part of our team and we want to help you along to your personal best.

The Speedster

And then there’s that one gal up front that us instructors can’t even keep up with! We call her the speedster and there’s usually one of these in every city too. You are an inspiration to your team, and yes to your coaches as well! We know you’ll be off having to personally push yourself through some of the tough intervals, but are thankful to have you with us for the warm-up and cool-down and love that you are out here experiencing Fitness, Fun & Friendship with us! We want to encourage you in any way we can so let us know how we can help.

We are one team!  Encouraging each other benefits everyone.   Speedster and Caboose: you have more in common than you think! Cheer along  your teammates as they improve each week, no matter what level they are at.   This keeps the energy and momentum to keep going higher for everyone.