To Run A Good Race, You Need The Right Shoes: Here’s Where To Get Them


There is a lot of buzz these days about Buy Fresh, Buy Local.  I am 100% for buying local from our farmers and growers. I also think it is important for us as consumers to support our local specialty shops as well.

When I was 13, I started running competitively for my high school track team in Chesapeake.  This is also when I learned about a local running store in my area. Our coach directed us to go visit Mike Robinson at Running Etc. for training shoes and racing spikes. Mike, owner of Running Etc, has been serving the runners of all ages in our community for over 27 years. Mike and his staff are known for expertly fitting runners from all over with the perfect shoe. Running Etc has two locations in South Hampton Roads, one in Norfolk and one in Virginia Beach.

Last week I knew it was time for me to get new training shoes. Mine were on their last leg after the Crawlin Crab 1/2 Marathon in Hampton earlier this month. Every 3-6 months, depending on my mileage, I make a visit to the team at Running Etc for new shoes.   Friday I paid a visit to the Virginia Beach location. This was also the perfect opportunity for me to sit down with Mike and talk more about the store and the importance of  buying local.  Mike and I took a seat in the meeting room to chat before I began my custom running analysis and fitting process. We began our conversation by talking about the 2 store locations and his amazing staff. By the end of our chat, we had covered topics like local races, the importance of having a great race director, love (Mike met his wife years ago when he fit her for shoes) and the trends of shoes over the years. As we chatted, customers popped their head in from time to time saying hello. One thing was inherently clear throughout our time together. Mike has a love for the sport of running. This passion transcends over to his staff , who have been hand selected,  as well.

The staff at Running Etc has superior knowledge and experience with running and it is very important to Mike that his patrons are not intimidated when walking or running in the door. Runners of all shapes, sizes, and speeds are welcomed. Mike wants to help individuals no matter where they are on their running journey. To him, it is important for a runner to have the right shoe, no matter if they are training for their 17th marathon or their first 5k. As a patron of Running Etc. for over 20 years, I know the attention you receive when selecting a pair of training shoes. I witnessed this stellar service and attention to detail again Friday evening during my visit. The store was booming! Full of runners from all walks of life. A new mom, a business man, a husband and wife, and many others were all enjoying a fitting session. Each client was met with a warm greeting. All runners were asked a series of questions to help in their pursuit for finding the right shoe.

“What are your goals? Have you had any injuries?”

Soon after a short interview of running history,  the boxes of shoes would come out. The customer would try them on and do a demo run down the track in the middle of the store.  The staff member would carefully analyze their steps and industry buzz words would linger in the air: pronate, supinate, neutral, stability. In some cases, the video camera and the treadmill were brought into play for further screening. This analysis would continue until the runner and the staff member were both completely satisfied with the shoe. The fit, style, and even price were all kept in mind when outfitting each runner.  Patrons were leaving the store that rainy evening with smiles on their faces and bags in hand.

The time and dedication that was given to each runner was as if they were the next Steve Prefontaine.  This attention to detail does not happen at your big box stores. It is rare to even find a sales person in those stores and when you do, they may not have the knowledge and expertise that is so important in this process. More than likely, that will have you leaving the store with the wrong shoe. Then you may become frustrated with running and possibly quit.


Mike Robinson, Owner of Running Etc
Jess Horton, The Fit Petite

Running Etc. is a staple in our running community that serves Hampton Roads on a daily basis. Mike and his staff can be found helping runners at local expos as well. If you are serious about having the best shoe for you, take a drive and visit the team at Running Etc. at one their locations in Norfolk or  Virginia Beach. Take the time to find the right shoe, get your questions answered and keep the money in your local economy.


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How To Prepare For Your First Half Marathon

When I meet with a new running client, there is one thing I always tell them about their newly accepted challenge of 13.1 miles.

“If you have a little voice inside telling you that you can, then you will”

Our inner voice is a driver that motivates us to take on more challenges. With the appropriate training and the desire to succeed, 13.1 miles is possible.

Why do you want to train?

Do you enjoy running?

What is your goal for the race?

How much time can you devote to training?

You may have asked yourself many of these questions and now you are feeling overwhelmed or even unsure of what to expect. Here are some tips to ease you into your half marathon training.

GET REAL: Be realistic with your goals and your training. When setting your goal for the training towards your big day, be sure to be realistic in your training schedule and about how many days a week you can consistently devote to running. Consider joining a local training group or running at a weekly meet-up. Weekly appointments help with accountability and it gives you the opportunity to chat with others in the same boat. Running may be an individual sport, but the energy you can pull from other runners in training can be crucial to your success. Consider getting a coach. (TFP Coaching)  Many training plans are more affordable than a monthly gym membership. With a coach, you will have access to an expert who has been in the trenches. This can be beneficial especially if you are attempting your first double digit race.

FOLLOW THE PLAN: Have faith in your training plan and have faith in yourself. Most half marathon training cycles are 12-16 weeks. If you have sought coaching, regular communication will be important in keeping the plan rolling. If you are tired, say so and equally if you have a great run, mention that as well.

BALANCED FITNESS: Be sure to cross train during your half marathon training. A strong core, back, and arms will be important for your overall health and for your running. (Core Exercises)

EAT APPROPRIATELY: You will be hungry all the time and might even gain weight. Yes that’s right. Even with all the running, the number on the scale may go up. Your body may begin to loose inches but increase in lean muscle mass. With your new found running appetite, be sure to fuel your body with healthy meals. Like a car, your body will perform based on the type of fuel it receives. With all the running, you will want to be operating at an optimal level.

KNOW THE COURSE: Familiarize yourself with the race course. If you live near the course, build in some long runs there. By doing this, you will feel more comfortable on race day. During Shamrock Half Marathon Training, our group practiced running the final mile of the race several times before the big day. The possible anxiety you may feel at the finish line will be met with confidence instead.

Area Half Marathon Course Maps

Rock N Roll Half

Crawlin Crab Half

Richmond Half Marathon

Harbor Lights 

REST: Obey the rest day. As you begin training, many runners notice an increased energy level and are tempted to run more than needed. Be sure to have sufficient rest time in your weekly training schedule for your muscles to recover. Long distance running can become a mental game and your mind will also need a break. Massages, yoga, and splurge meals can work wonders on days like this.

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Be Proud When Accomplishing Your Goals

“You killed it!”

“You were a beast out there”

“Way to go, you did awesome”

While praise makes all of us feel good, how should we as chicks handle words like this. There is a fine line between celebrating a win and bragging about our accomplishments. As a woman, I sometimes struggle with accepting a compliment and even acknowledging my own victories. Being an active chick in the fitness industry, I often wonder about this. After much thought, I think it is time for us to OWN our goals and be proud. Take those compliments with pride, but remain grateful. Accomplishments on the race course don’t just happen by accident. We were bold and daring enough to dream about the goal. We took the time to train for it. We were brave enough to come to the starting line and attempt a dream with 100% determination and 100% heart. We are daughters, mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters, professionals, entrepreneurs, and domestic goddesses. We are a group of tough chicks who have fought hard for these fitness goals that are ours alone. No one else is making you run, swim, or train. There is satisfaction in the fact that this is a goal you can claim as your own.

As a little girl I was taught to be humble and grateful. I was also taught to be a leader. With my experience in coaching others, I have learned the importance of letting your clients see you as vulnerable. It is ok to have a bad workout, a bad run, or a rough training week. It’s ok to have a bad day and talking about it somehow makes it easier to shake it off and get back to it. I notice that when I am honest enough to admit my own training challenges, my athletes are more trusting and forthright in communicating their own struggles with me as well. Ultimately, this turns out to be a gift. We can tackle training challenges together and overcome any issues they may be having to get them back onto the right training path. I think it is equally important to share wins, victories, or accomplishments with your friends, teammates, or clients. A win does not happen in every race, so when the training aligns and everything goes according to plan, it should be celebrated.

This past Saturday, I had that day. I participated in the Allen Stone Run Swim Run for the first time. In years past I have easily taken on the 5k, but this year my inner fitness voice crept in and urged me to take on a new challenge.


Accomplished my first run/swim/run at Allen Stone and took an age group finisher award. I had a blast!!!

When I registered for the Run/Swim/Run a few months back, I remember having that same nervous feeling  I had when I signed up for my first 1/2 marathon nearly 10 years ago. I have several friends who participate in the Run Swim Run every year. After spending several weeks in the pool working on my swimming skills, I reached out to them and decided to break out of my comfort zone and take on some open water swim practice. This group was made up of guys and gals of all fitness levels. Everyone in the group was motivating and encouraging. They were instrumental in making my training and comfort level  improve.


Allen Stone Run/Swim/Run Training Group


Congrats to fellow Allen Stone Training Group participant Jennifer Acey Laffkas who took first place in age group!!!


Fellow training group participant and dear friend Robin Kassir throwing it down for Team Hoyt, not only competing for herself, but for those who can’t on land and in sea. She is one bad mother runner!

The best part of the day was logging on to Facebook after the race to see my other fitness gal pals smashing their goals in different races locally as well. I am shouting out their successes from the roof tops and giving it up for these physically and mentally strong women.

***To my Shamrock Training Group friends, we started a journey together so many months ago, and look where we have come***


Bridget was the biggest cheerleader of the day, selflessly setting her own racing goals aside and pacing another athlete on to a high victory. Then graciously coming back to cheer on the Run/Swim/Run athletes. Her cheers and positivity were essential in our success!!!

Congratulations!!! Be Proud!!!

Be sure to SHARE this post on Facebook with your own Badass Fitness Friends

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Hey Girl, Yes You… You Are A Badass


~~~This post is dedicated to all those badass fitness babes who are attempting challenges they never thought they would before~~~


This summer has been a slightly different training cycle than usual. I started the summer by registering for three events that were meant to bring me slightly out of my comfort zone.

13.1 Trail Run Half Marathon


5 Mile Mud Run

The goal for each of these events was to complete each one with the highest level of determination.  The first of the three events was completed this past Sunday. I ran the trail half in 2:25 and was thrilled with my performance. I ran the entire race, took water as needed, felt healthy and finished strong. Just last summer I ran the Rock n Roll Half in 2:26 and began a new training and coaching cycle that led my to my first sub 2:00 half this past March and gave me the confidence to take on the trail half. The next challenge of the summer will take place this Saturday. This will be my first time competing in an ocean swim. I use the term competing loosely. Over the past few weeks I have completed a few open water swim workouts and no matter how long it took me to accomplish the swim, I felt like a badass each time. The final event of the summer is the 5 mile mud run which I haven’t done in years. The run is more of a hot, sweaty, sand filled challenge on the mind and the legs. I look forward to tackling it in August with the goal being to finish better than I did so many years ago.


Sunday after the trail half, I celebrated with friends over some beers and tacos. I suddenly had an urge coming over me of feeling like a true badass. Half marathons are one thing, but taking on one in the middle of summer on the steamy, muddy, beat up trails is another. Between the 13.1 miles and the practice swims I had accomplished over the past few weeks left me feeling strong.  The nerves and anxiety I felt when I first signed up for the run/swim/run had suddenly changed into empowerment.

Over the past few weeks I have had several conversations with fitness friends of all levels. There is a common theme that reigns out of each discussion. Each girl I spoke with has struggled with her inner anti fitness demons. Each girl struggles with taking on new challenges. Every girl went all in on the challenge at hand and never gave up. Women all around me from elite runners, college girls new to fitness, and the runner who puts in 20 miles a week are all stronger than they were six months before. The are defying their own odds and adding impressive accomplishments to their personal fitness resumes.

Channel and celebrate your inner badass. Be proud of the workout, the race, or the swim. You’ve earned your bragging rights. And you’ve earned the title…BADASS!!!


Run/Swim/Run Practice

Some impressive stats to backup this badass theory.

  • Since 2000, the number of half-marathon finishers in this country has quadrupled (482,000 to 1,960,000) or an impressive increase of 307%. ( Source Running USA )
  • For the first time in history, 61% of U.S. half-marathon finishers were females (approximately 1,196,000, a record), the highest proportion of any race distance. (Source Running USA )
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Splurging Brings A Healthy Balance: Have The Ice Cream


Pj’s on  and I am in my bed with my computer and a bowl of ice cream…a little surprising? I am settled in for yet another session of OITNB.  While I tend to stick to a mostly lean, clean and organic diet, I enjoy my splurge meals and indulgent treats. I never buy ice cream at the store or even keep it in the house, but twice this week I have thoroughly enjoyed this cool summer treat.

I wrote last week about smart summer snacking. In that article I wrote about avoiding processed foods made with chemicals. I don’t believe in diets, and I never have. I simply love food too much. I enjoy eating and I enjoy cooking. For these reasons I stock my kitchen with healthy real foods to support my snacking habit and fuel my body accordingly based on my fitness goals. Real food like fruit, hummus, nuts, and this week an ice cream container with real ingredients on the label.

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I am often asked about my nutritional practices and “diet” plans. My answer is simple. I live by the 80/20 rule, 80 percent of the time eat lean and clean. 20 percent of the time, no rules. It is similar to “All Things In Moderation” minus the processed foods.  For over a year I have been living this way and have kept up my JWFNS personalized nutritional plan and maintained the same weight. The plan includes indulgent/splurge meals. Deprivation has never been a sustainable solution for anyone, including myself. On the other hand gluttony isn’t either. I find when I give in to the occassional cravings, they go away and my body gets what it needs not wanting it as often. Moderation is sustainable and when you eat the sweet treat you don’t feel the shameful “guilt’ for falling off the wagon. Instead you feel that you deserve it and need it to continue your success.


Sweat hard, eat smart and every now and then…have the ice cream. After my 13.1 mile trail run on Sunday, I spent the next 24 hours splurging my life away. Last week I completed an AMRAP, 2 ocean swims, ran a 5k, did a modified cross fit workout, and hit the trails. I am going to HAVE the ice cream. I encourage you to have the ice cream too.

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