30 Something Father Figure ~ Happy New Year Everyone!

What better (or more cliché) time to write about getting back into shape than the first minutes of the New Year?  Actually I started guest-writing here 3 weeks ago, so it counts for something more than a short-lived resolution, right?

Clarke Blog Post 1

Things are going well actually. I’m keeping the momentum rolling despite the distraction of the holidays.  I was able to go mountain biking twice in the past week, and I plan on going for a New Year’s day ride.  It will be crisp out, but I have gear to keep me warm. I think I’m starting to notice a difference when riding– as in, I’m not getting as winded as a month ago after the steep hills. It’s a great feeling!

I’m still doing lunges on days when I don’t ride or otherwise work out.  I’m noticing a difference with those too, and I really want to stick with them. Lunges are such an easy way to strengthen a bunch of muscles, especially the ones I use for mountain biking and skiing (quads, hamstrings, and glutes).

Speaking of skiing, I’m scheming to head up north in the next few days, even if I have to battle hordes of vacationers and icy conditions. I’ll take any chance I can get to put on the boards and hurl myself down a mountain. I have a number of plans in the works, for getting my ski days in this year.

Clarke Blog Post 2

Although I didn’t join the Cape Cod Ski Club yet, they’re open to anyone; and I have a local friend who is up for some trips. It’s always nice to have someone to drive up with, since I’m way out on this peninsula. A group of my Rhode Island friends is always up for skiing, as they don’t have kids to hold them back. I’m also hoping to visit some of my cousins who live in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Finding a place to stay is huge, since the skiing itself is expensive enough!

That brings up another big issue that many of us young dads might face– a lot of the best ways to get (and stay) in shape cost money. Of course it’s a worthwhile expenditure, maybe even more important than my Thai food obsession… but certain activities can definitely impact the family budget.  Skiing is obvious, but even racquetball costs money.

I’m seriously considering the training facility that one of my friends on the Cape told me about, but cost will probably be a factor with that. In the end, I know I can find enough to do without sacrificing the kids’ college dreams. :-) I have all the biking gear I need for now, and once I get some new ski boots I’ll be good to go for another 15 years before updating my equipment!

I know all you runnerds are thinking: “it doesn’t cost anything to run!” but I need to enjoy whatever I do for a workout. I’m much more likely to stick with something if I have fun doing it, and that won’t be the case with running. Everyone is different though, and while you probably get the most bang for your buck (and in less time) with running, I’d rather mountain bike for an hour or ski for a day or play racquetball with friends.

I hope everyone enjoys the day off today, and kicks off the New Year with some motivation to git ‘er done!


Where to Find Free Online Running Plans

Where to Find Free Online Running Plans

As many of us are setting our running goals for 2015, you may be wondering which training plans are out there, if there are free online running plans, and if so, where to find them! The good news is that there are many training plans available on the web that you can use to train for a 5k, 10K, half marathon or marathon.


Hal Higdon, author of a ton of running books and writer for Runner’s World, has a number of plans online that you can use to train for all distances from the 5K to the marathon. His plans are broken down into novice, intermediate, and advanced levels. Higdon’s training plans feature a combination of strength, stretching, easy runs, cross-training, and long runs. There are also accompanying apps for iPhone and Android available for $9.99.


The Cool Running website also offers a combination of programs for varying distances. Most plans are 12 weeks long and vary according to the distance. The plans include a variety of speed workouts including fartlek and interval workouts.


Jenny Hatfield is a running coach that often contributes to Runner’s World (in addition to a number of other publications!). She offers a variety of free training plans (in addition to paid personal coaching). You can preview the plans on the web, but you need to provide your email address to download a PDF of the plans. She provides training programs for the very beginner, 5K, 8K, half marathon, marathon, and 50K. Her plans use perceived rate of effort (RPE) for completing most workouts, i.e. easy, moderate, hard effort.


You can find this beginner running program for the 5K online. If you would like a more in-depth description of the plan and why I think it’s the best beginner running program, you can check out my article HERE.

Have you found any free training plans to add to the list? 


Motivational Monday ~ What Are Your Running Goals for 2015?

Motivational Monday


The New Year is almost here, and it’s time to set some running goals for 2015!

Setting Running Goals

There are few things more satisfying than setting a goal and totally dominating it! :-) The nice thing about running is that it allows you to set precisely measured goals, i.e. beat 22:00 minutes for the 5K distance. It’s pretty easy to determine whether you achieved your goal or not! There are so many different goals you can set. You can aim for a mileage goal, race PR, number of races, etc. There are so many possibilities!

A, B, and C Goals

One tactic I like to use is setting A, B, and C goals. It’s a way of making your goals reasonable and achievable. Training doesn’t always go as planned, injuries happen, and sometimes things just don’t work out the way you thought they would. It helps to have your “A” goal– the goal you most want to achieve, your “B” goal– a goal you would be happy with if you didn’t hit “A,” and your “C” goal– this is the goal you will strive for if something like an injury pops up in your training.

Measuring Your Progress

Once you have decided on a goal for 2015, make sure you have a way of tracking your progress. You can use one of the many running apps out there to track mileage, race times, etc. If you don’t want to use an app, you can create your own spreadsheet or keeping a good old-fashioned running log! I have some sample pages you can print out to create your own training binder.

Celebrate Your Goal with a Reward

Decide on a reward to give yourself for achieving your 2015 running goals. You can pick something like new running gear, race entries, or wine/beer whatever you think will really motivate you! You can choose one big reward on small ones for mini milestones along the way. I like to celebrate small goals to keep myself motivated. It’s what works for me, but everyone is different, so figure out which would work better for you.

What are YOUR running goals for 2015? Let’s hear ‘em! 


The Best Running Program for Beginners

Best Running Program for Beginners

If you are a soon-to-be beginner (or beginner) runner, check out my Running Resources page for more valuable training articles and make sure you sign up for the biweekly Training Tips Newsletter. You can sign up using the form below this post or HERE.

It’s the New Year and time for New Year’s resolutions. Cliché I know, since many people never make it past January. I am so passionate about running and getting people healthy that I feel compelled to share a running program for beginners that I firmly believe works. Why does it work? There are a number of reasons (that I will explain below), but the most important is that it eases you into a running program. Just like lose 10 lbs in 10 days plans don’t work in the long-term, neither does run 10 miles in 10 days! ;-)

First Steps– Just Make it Off the Couch!

Honestly, this is a big step! Simply making the decision to get fit and start a running program is HUGE and something to feel really good about! You want to harness all of the motivation and positivity you have when you make this decision to help carry you through training. Get excited about your new routine and think about what your life is going to look like as a runner. It helps to visualize the positive changes you expect to see as you get fit.

Next Steps

One of the most important things to do when starting a running program is to make a plan. Here’s where the best running program for beginners comes in. In my opinion, Couch to 5K is the best training plan to transform a non-runner (or former runner) into a runner. The first thing you will want to do is print out a copy of the Couch to 5K plan that you can find HERE. You may also want to purchase the Couch to 5K app ($1.99) for your smart phone.

The Couch to 5K app will provide you with prompts for your walk/run intervals. You can use the app with or without music. If you use it with music, you will simply hear the prompts over your tunes. You can choose from 4 different “virtual” coaches, use the GPS feature to track routes, chart your goals, and share your progress with your friends on social media networks.

Why I Think Couch to 5K is the Best Running Program for Beginners

There are three main reasons I like the Couch to 5K program best. First, it’s a reasonable period of time for a goal. Nine weeks is totally doable for your first 5K. While it gives you the time to ramp up your training, it’s short enough to keep your eyes on the prize! Secondly, there are three workouts each week. In my experience as a busy parent, I have found that 3 workouts is realistic for an average week.

Four or five workouts each week can feel like you’re pushing it, but three workouts a week is easier to squeeze into your schedule. It also gives you adequate rest days in between workouts (you will be thankful for this if you’re really out of shape!). Last, I think that the walk run program helps ease your body into running. Rather than an all or nothing approach, it’s a gradual transition. So, what are you waiting for? If you aren’t yet a runner (or you used to be), start the Couch to 5K program and hit the road! When you complete the program, you can read up on what to do next.



30 Something Father Figure ~ All I Want for Christmas is to Exercise

Christmas Eve is already upon us and another week has gone by – time to fill everyone in on my astounding progress with getting in shape!  Queue the sad trombone…This whole journey is about how difficult it is as a working father to find time to work out regularly.  If it were easy, I’d have nothing to write about!

Peterson Farm

Here’s my day in a nutshell: wake up to my alarm, willing to donate my year’s salary in order to sleep later. Set a land-speed record driving to the train station.  Read, catch up on work emails, and doze off on the train to Boston. Consult architects and engineers on all kinds of interesting projects. Walk quickly/jog/sprint to the train station, depending on how little time I’ve left myself.

With a 35 lb laptop bag, this may actually qualify as a workout…Walk into a quiet, peaceful house sh*t storm and relieve my wife from an exhausting day balancing her work, housework, and taking care of three boys and a dog. Hold the baby while riding the older boys to finish dinner and pick up their room and get into bed. Don’t get me wrong, we have fun too – reading books, wrestling – but by 9 pm I could pass out quicker than any one of my kids.

It’s ok, you can put away the tiny violin; I love my life, I just wish that there were more than 24 hours in a day, or that I only needed 4 hours of sleep– not the 6 that I get normally! Speaking of that, I finally made progress on my goal to go to bed earlier. Everyone who knows me well knows that I stay up really late most nights. This week I was in bed before 11 three nights in a row! Not coincidentally, it was the nights after I had exercised during the day.

Clarke MTB

Saturday I went for a mountain bike ride, this time exploring some less technical, but more hilly trails.  I got a great workout and also popped my tire with a thorn.  It’s ok, I fixed it and am ready to go again this week.  Sunday and Tuesday I did more lunges. I just keep visualizing the end of a ski day when I want to get the most out of the ticket I financed bought, but my legs feel like dead weights. Monday my usual racquetball partner couldn’t play, but I spoke to another friend who wants to start playing soon. Then I heard from someone who had read this blog, who is also looking to get back into shape.

Amazing what social networking can do… I found someone else on the Cape who wants to play racquetball, so starting in the new year I’m hoping to have at least two days of racquetball per week, plus 1-2 mountain bike rides. I might get really ambitious and check out a local training facility with one of my friends. I’ll share more details on that once I look into it.

So far, it’s all about not giving up. I’m not giving up on finding time to work out. I’m not giving up on finding other people to work out with– something I think is key for me. I’m as motivated as ever to get back to being an athlete. I just need to be creative with my schedule (thanks in large part to my wife supporting more time away from the family) and stay committed to myself.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Our Visit to Edaville USA!

On a holiday related note, we made it to Edaville USA on Sunday night. Thankfully it had rained earlier, so we only had to deal with a few sprinkles! I LOVED what they have done with Edaville since our last visit. The boys had a great time, and they were so excited to see the new rides!

There were so many more lights than I remember last time. We had a great view of the displays from high atop the Ferris Wheel. My 4-year-old adrenaline junkie couldn’t wait to hit the Ferris Wheel and spinning rides. My much more conservative 6 year-old stuck to the train ride and the airplane ride (I think I traumatized him by convincing him to go on Thunder Mountain when we went to Disney World last month!).

Edaville View from Ferris Wheel

Collin Carousel Edaville

They had two trains running at night, which was great because it meant that we didn’t have to stand in line waiting at all. They added more light displays, and we also got a sneak peek of Dino World (it looks very cool!). Before leaving, we headed inside to check out the rides there. I love that they added some rides for really young children up near the ball pit.

James in Car Edaville

Edaville also added bumper cars downstairs–we opted not to wait in line, since it was the end of the night for us! We had a really great visit, and the boys were so happy to see all of the holiday lights and rides. I am so happy that it’s a tradition from my own childhood that I will get to share with them!


So Excited to be a Rock n’ Roll Blog Ambassador for 2015!

I’m a Rock n’ Blog Ambassador!

First off, I am SUPER EXCITED to be a Rock n’ Blog Ambassador for 2015. As a Rock n’ Blog Ambassador, I will get to share all sorts of cool information with you about Rock n’ Roll races, including sweet discounts! I am already planning the stops for my 2015 Tour Pass! You can check out all of the other ambassadors (what AWESOME company) HERE.

I Want YOUR Opinion! 

I started this blog back in 2011 to connect with other mother (and father!) runners. I love sharing information that can help you along in your running and parenting journey, and I would LOVE to know more of what you would like to see in 2015. I would really appreciate it if you could fill out the brief survey below to help me provide better content for you in 2015! There are 4 questions–just scroll down. :-) Thanks again for your help!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.



Motivational Monday ~ 10 Running Bloggers You Should Follow!

Motivational Monday

For this Motivational Monday, I’m going to get sappy for a minute. Just bear with me! I am so happy to have you as part of my little mother runner tribe! When I first started this blog, I had no idea that it would still be around 3 years later! Through blogging, I have connected with a lot of other wonderful mother (and non-mother) runners, many of whom are also running bloggers. I wanted to share some of their blogs with you and encourage you to check them out, if you haven’t already! Here they are (in no particular order).

  1. Living the Dream– How can you not love Nancy? She’s literally one of the sweetest runners I have met. She blogs about life as mother runner at Living the Dream. Nancy is also a fellow Cape Cod runner and ZOOMA Cape Cod Ambassador. Her blog provides a lot of inspiration, and she keeps it real! :-)
  2. Weight Off My Shoulders– I’ve met Dani on several occasions (as a ZOOMA Cape Cod Ambassador), and she’s a fabulous inspiration for those looking to get fit and transform their lives through running and other fitness activities. She is a Weight Watchers team leader and has lost 80 pounds and kept it off! Talk about motivating! You can check her out at Weight Off My Shoulders. She also has a great Instagram profile (with many from the 52 races she has completed this year!).
  3. Happy Fit Mama– Angela is also a fellow ZOOMA Cape Cod Ambassador. She is a mother runner to twins and an ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist and RRCA Running Coach. Angela just got back from a trip to Hawaii, during which she mentored a runner for her first marathon, courtesy of Saucony’s 26 Strong program. How cool?!?!
  4. Organic Runner Mom– Sandra is a mother runner who hails from New Hampshire, where she is part of her husband’s family business – Pete and Gerry’s eggs (organic, and I LOVE them!). She is a former collegiate rower (at Colby), who discovered a love of running during her aerobic training. She provides great gear reviews, in addition to tasty recipes!
  5.  NYC Running Mama– Michele is a mother runner to 2 boys and a West Point grad and Army veteran– not to mention a kicka$$ runner! I love following along on her journey to manage high level training and motherhood. Michele also offers running coaching.
  6. Keeping Mommy Sane– Her name is also Jessica, therefore she must be cool too. In all honesty, she is! She is a mother runner who works to balance a full-time job with her running. She blogs about all different aspects of parenthood, work life balance, travel, and everything in between. She is also super fun to hang out with–love her bubbly personality! :-)
  7. Running Escapades– Amy is a forty-something mother runner I also met through the ZOOMA race series. She is an avid racer, and I love her most recent post on 2014 Race Awards. When she’s not running in New Hampshire, or at the many races she runs, you can find her in the classroom teaching high school English. Her husband is also a fantastic race supporter (also a runner). I have had the pleasure of hanging with them both at ZOOMA Cape Cod!
  8. For the Love of Running– Michelle is a forty-something mother runner who burns up the roads in Southern Rhode Island. A regular age group award winner and Boston Marathoner (she qualified again at the Philadelphia marathon in November). Michelle is also a running coach and avid supporter of youth running. She is also a mom to 3 boys! :-)
  9. Sweat Once a Day– I have followed Emily’s blog for several years. Being from New England, I truly appreciate sarcasm. Emily manages to tell her race recaps and training updates with a hefty dose of witty sarcasm, and I often find myself laughing out loud while reading. She is a fantastic distance runner (now competing in ultras). She is a Vermonter who now lives on the West Coast in Oregon.
  10. Miss Zippy– Amanda is a running coach and mother runner from the Mid-Atlantic. She started competing in endurance sports in 1998, and she has completed a ton or races including 12 marathons and an Ironman! Amanda is a huge supporter of natural running, and she is a GREAT source of advice if you find yourself wanting to move in this direction. I also love her gear reviews!

Year of Running 2014 (thanks Miss Zippy!)


I recently read Miss Zippy’s Year of 2014 running post, and I loved the idea so much, I joined the link up! Here’s how my 2014 year of running went down:

  • Best race experience? ZOOMA Cape Cod was my best race experience this year for a number of reasons. First, it was my first half marathon back after William’s birth. Second, I ran with two of my favorite running bloggers: Nancy and Dani. Running a race with friends is such an enjoyable experience, and I definitely recommend it if you haven’t done so yet. Lastly, the race is in my beautiful hometown and follows some of my favorite running routes.
  • Best run? My best run (although not the easiest!) was my first run after giving birth (4 weeks postpartum). Anyone who has had to take an extended break from running knows exactly what I’m talking about!
  • Best new piece of gear?  I have a tie in this category. It has taken me quite a long time to find a pair of shoes I’m 100% totally in love with, and I think I finally found them. Note to ASICS: Please keep making the GEL-Pursue! These shoes are so comfortable, and they are a perfect accompaniment to my orthotics. My feet haven’t felt this good for as long as I can remember. The other item would be my GORE Running Wear Active Lady Jacket. In my opinion, it’s the perfect jacket for fall wind and rain, without the weight. The hood is great and stays put. I know it’s going to have a long shelf life in my running wardrobe!
  • Best piece of running advice you received? Cliché, but totally worth repeating: Listen to your body. Giving birth is a physically and mentally exhausting experience that you need to recover from. Your body will guide you in your return to running. As long as you listen to your body, you will have a successful return to running.
  • Most inspirational runner? Kayla Montgomery. She is one tough chick!
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? A continuing journey…

Colds in Infants and Toddlers – What Can You Do?

The opinions in this article are my own. I do not work for, or with, any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have any official relationship with them.  I have a relationship with GigaSavvy, for whom I create original editorial content.

One of the most frustrating things about being the parent of an infant or toddler (and any age for that matter!) is seeing them sick and not knowing what to do for them. It’s hard when they can’t communicate with you and explain exactly what it is that’s bothering them. Since we have entered the winter season, colds are sure to pop up in your family (if they haven’t already!). We have already been through several in our family now that the older kids are in school.

Treating colds in babies

My 7-month old recently had his first cold, and I felt so bad seeing him congested and frustrated because he couldn’t breathe through his nose. While you can’t cure a cold, there are some things you can do to help your children feel more comfortable and manage their symptoms because healthy children make happy children!

  • Offer your child fluids as needed to prevent dehydration. If your baby is nursing, allow him/her to nurse as often as needed–breast milk also has immunological benefits for baby.
  • To help get rid of the extra mucus that can result from a cold, use a bulb syringe or my personal favorite, the NoseFrida to suction your infant or toddler’s nose. Be sure to clean the nasal aspirator after usage to prevent the spread of germs.
  • You can use saline nose drops to help thin nasal mucus and make it easier to get out with a suctioning device.
  • Use a humidifier (we have this one) in your child’s room to help keep the air moisten. Colds often strike in the colder months, when the heat is on inside and the air is drier. Moistening the air can help nasal congestion. Just make sure you change the water daily to prevent mold from growing in the humidifier.
  • Encourage your child to rest as much as possible!
  • Use a natural vapor rub (3 months and older), instead of the ones that can contain petroleum and parabens. Apply the rub to your child’s chest, neck, and back.

What are YOUR tips for helping babies and toddlers fight colds?