Our family spent last weekend in Columbia, SC, participating in a trail race series (50k for my husband, 25k for myself) and hiking with the kids and dog. On Saturday morning, the kids and I set up shop by our car to cheer for the runners as they began the 50k trail race— tailgate open, camping chairs, coolers for a picnic, books, blankets to stay warm, dog bed for the dog— we were going to be there all day! After the runners took off, breakfast completed and a game of bean-boozled, the kids and I set off hiking hoping to run into my husband, Chris, along the course. After a 5-mile hike through a beautiful pine forest, we finally ran into Chris after the 14-mile marker. The kids were excited, but I was frozen like an icicle and ready to get back into the car. The kids cozied up with a pile of blankets in the back of our car with the dog (on the dog bed) and watched a movie. Not only did they look warm, they requested I open the car windows because they were too hot— I, on the other hand, was still frozen like a gallon of ice cream that was stuck in the back of the freezer for months and set out on the kitchen counter to melt. Just when I began to thaw, Chris called to tell us he had about 5 miles to the finish. I bundled the kids up again, and off we went back into the forest— meeting Chris with .5 miles left in his race, our oldest ran him to the finish line. It was a fun day; however, all of the time hiking and playing outside in the cold left me feeling exhausted.
I woke up the next morning feeling grouchy and dreading the 16 miles of cold I signed up for — I did not want to run and was trying to think of reasons to instead hang out in the warm hotel room. Unable to come up with a good excuse to defer my race number, we soon arrived back at Harbison State Forest with what I thought was just enough time to grab my number, use the good ole’ porta-potty, and start running. This time around, I was early…super early, and waited an extra 40 minutes in the cold (Chris thought the start was at 8:30 when it was actually 9:00) — “UGH” was my inner monologue. I bounced around to the music playing over the loudspeaker to stay warm in the meantime.
The race began with a horn blast, a few barking dogs (especially ours), and spectators cheering along the trail’s edge. My brain immediately focused on a few bothersome sounds— the gravel crunching beneath hundreds of feet, the heavy mouth-breathing from the runners around me, my hydration pack’s water spout bouncing against my number, and the water sloshing as it tossed side-to-side on my back. Early on in the run, I looked down at my watch to see my pace and I face planted in the dirt. Needless to say, I felt grumpy! Yikes! I looked down at my watch (again) and I was only at mile 3. I needed to turn things around and fast!
I began thinking about the kids, Chris, and the dog— they were probably off at a park having a great time playing, or maybe hiking again in the forest and picking up pinecones.
I recalled the last time I ran this same race— it was 2020, right before Chris left again for the Middle-East and before COVID hit. My friends drove up early on a Saturday morning to run the 50K. This was my second ultra-marathon. I remember the encouragement from my friend, Beth, as I arrived at the halfway mark during the 50K and how her words and presence boosted my spirits. It was uplifting seeing Jess as we realized the course distance was longer than 32 miles!
I thought about a Stroller Warrior friend from Ramstein. Molly and I ran the Jungfrau Marathon together in 2019. Our families enjoyed a pre-race meal the day before the Jungfrau that included a pot of fondue from a mountainside restaurant— one of the most delicious meals of my life! I am incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful friend who also enjoys racing up tall mountains!
I reminisced about a fun team road race in 2019 with my Stroller Warrior friends from Fort Belvoir. A bunch of us organized teams of 4 and split 26.2 miles. I ran about 10 hilly miles before I passed the tracking device to my team mate. One Stroller Warrior ran a double leg totaling 17 miles to replace a sick team member! Afterwards we all enjoyed a post-race celebration in a gymnasium where many of us SW members- families included- talked about the racecourse. It was a fun race with amazing friends and the longest run I had completed postpartum!
Before I knew it, 13.75 miles of trail had passed, and I was at an aid station getting some Pepsi to help push me to the end. These happy memories helped me break through the running wall that I hit very early during the race. This experience helped me realize the importance of not only physically training for athletic endeavors, but also training the mind to stay positive. I am grateful to have incredible memories with my Stroller Warrior friends and family that help me overcome obstacles.
How do you overcome hitting a wall during a race? Please share your stories!
:The New Year always inspires people to change, but this desire to change doesn’t always come to fruition- commit to simple yet satisfying goals for 2022 and you’ll find yourself happy with the results. I’m committing to simple and achievable goals whilst living in a rapidly changing military environment with three very active kids and an energetic and faithful furry K9 running buddy!
Have realistic and obtainable goals:
Our former neighbor is currently tackling an athletic feat of strength— he and three other adventurers are literally rowing across the Atlantic Ocean (over 3000 miles) in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. I thought it would be a fun goal to row 3000 miles throughout 2022 on my C2 Rowing Machine at home…then I did the math— I would have to row over 8 miles per day…yikes! Time for a new (realistic and obtainable) goal! I can commit to at least 30 minutes of daily running, walking, biking, rowing, or strength/functional fitness training!
Looking for a fitness goal? Stroller Warriors currently has the Run the World program for 2022. Committing to X number of daily/weekly/monthly miles is a great way to obtain realistic and obtainable fitness goals.
I am registered to run a 25k trail race this weekend. My husband mentioned the rainy race day forecast and my first thought was “maybe I don’t want to run this.” However, I am healthy, injury-free, and I must weather the storm…literally. Life can always throw a curveball with injuries, sickness, or other commitments, so it’s best to “seize the day” sans kids despite the rain!
Continue to build resiliency with a pivoting mindset:
In a recent blog piece, I mentioned journaling about 5 positive aspects of daily life to be thankful for —these can be big or small, it doesn’t matter. I have found this helpful in creating resiliency. This reaffirms positive thinking, and it directly correlates into ways to overcome the “dark place” or “hole” that challenging races might put you in!
Change my running sneakers more often:
You may have all read the blog piece about my “quacking” sneaker (yep, it was only one of them):
I was long overdue for a new pair of trail sneakers. Changing out your sneakers can be a bother, but I always try to capitalize on my favorite sneakers when they’re on sale (purchasing multiple pairs for future use)!
Wishing everyone many enjoyable miles in 2022—be it trail or road!
Giving back is an important part of the Stroller Warriors® mission. Over the years, our members have supported, participated, donated and fundraised for many causes, groups, and organizations. In addition to tangible goods and volunteer hours, our efforts include awareness campaigns using our social media resources to reach our vast network of military spouses, their families, and our friends.
For the month of November, Stroller Warriors participated in a global initiative in support of Soldiers’ Angels.
Founded in 2003 by Patt Patton-Bader, Soldiers’ Angels carries an important mission of supplying aid, comfort, and resources to the military, veterans, and families. Patt’s personal story is the reason behind the creation of the organization— while deployed in Iraq, Patt’s oldest son, Staff Sergeant Brandon Varn, noticed that he was one of the few service members receiving care packages. With this news, Patti gathered a group of friends and neighbors, and began sending packages to her son’s whole platoon.
As more packages were received, it was brought to the group’s attention that requests for help were needed for soldiers, hospitals, and families at home. Patti, her friends, and neighbors knew there was a continued need for help. They also knew there were more people willing to help! Patti used technology at home to create a means to match the specific requests from soldiers to willing volunteers. In a few months Patti went from sending a few care packages to thousands across the world.
Soldiers’ Angels has grown exponentially since its start and offers programs for deployed troops, families, veterans, and wounded. To this day their Deployed Support team remains popular— sending thousands of cards, letters, care packages and other requested items to service members deployed all over the world.
Please check out the wonderful ways our chapters gave back to this amazing organization.
Stroller Warriors Okinawa, Japan donated seven boxes to deployed troops thanks to the deployment support team. These boxes are packed full of great hygiene items, snacks, magazines, a pillowcase, and other great items. Every box is unique based on what items they happen to have in stock, so no box is identical, and it is unique to each recipient.
Stroller Warriors Iwakuni, Japan was honored to support the Soldiers' Angels Global Outreach Event for the month of November. They had 11 runners who collectively ran 405 Miles for the month. This also included a dedicated 10 mile run on Saturday, 11/20. This also happened to be a SW Mileage Incentive milestone run for two of our Warriors reaching 500 miles for the year.
Stroller Warriors Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii hosted a run on November 12th and dedicated miles to Soldiers' Angels. We ran a total of 49.39 miles that day as a team!
Stroller Warriors Twenty Nine Palms, California had 7 members collectively dedicate 435 miles for Soldiers' Angels over the month of November.
Stroller Warriors Scott, Illinois kicked off the month by collecting leftover Halloween candy for Treats for Troops, a program put on by Soldiers Angels. In all, they compiled a massive 27 pounds of candy.
On November 15th, Stroller Warriors Fort Belvoir, Virginia hosted a dedication run. They collectively dedicated 14 miles.
As always, our members went above and beyond supporting this wonderful organization. Congratulations Warriors on a job well done!
If you are interested in learning more and supporting Soldiers’ Angels please visit their website at https://soldiersangels.org/.
Winter break is upon us— holiday travel is happening, kids are on school vacation, visitors are coming from out of town. Lots of wheels are turning, but I still make it a point to prioritize fitness. How can we make fitness happen over the holidays? Here are some examples on how to integrate your fitness schedule into holiday craziness…
1). Include your children in your fitness routine. This is something that Stroller Warriors do so well! Throughout the school year, many of us have older children at school during the day. As for me, many of my runs and workouts include my youngest in the jogging stroller (and our dog) right after I drop off my older kids at school. During holiday break, I am shifting gears to ensure that I get in my daily fitness with my older two children home from school— planning running routes that are scooter and rollerblade friendly, adding a park pit-stop midway when I decide to do a longer run, opting for a shorter run to a local coffee shop and a walk home through the town square (the Christmas decorations in our town are lovely).
2). Coordinate a solo run. Even on non-school vacation days, it is splendid to have 30 solo minutes running. I will coordinate with my husband’s work schedule to run before or after work. In the past, I coordinated with my fellow Stroller Warrior friends— half of us would run, while the other half would watch the children at the park. This is a wonderful time to lean on your Stroller Warriors community!
3). Diversify your strength training. Strength training does not have to happen in a gym setting— it can happen anywhere! As I was in the middle of cooking dinner a few days ago, I set my workout timer on the EMOM function (every minute on the minute) and for every minute for 60 minutes completed 10 air squats. This past weekend while doing yard work, I pulled my barbell out from the shed and completed 8 rounds of 5 heavy deadlift in between shoveling leaves into giant paper bags.
4). Make hotel workouts quick. I am not a fan of running endless miles on a hotel treadmill. Create a workout that keeps you engaged. Here are a few examples:
- 1 minute intervals on the treadmill for 20 minutes (1 minute fast, 1 minute decreased speed)
- 4 rounds of a 400 meter run at an incline with 25 sit ups between each run.
- 10 rounds of 10 jumping lunges, 10 push ups
It is a festive time of year, so remember to keep running and fitness enjoyable and merry!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year— children are creating and mailing their Christmas and holiday wish-lists (this year, my wish-list includes a pair of Altra trail running sneakers), and the Stroller Warriors® community is in the middle of a virtual running holiday scavenger hunt. Oftentimes, non-running family and friends scramble to find a fitting and useful gift for their avid running loved ones! Race entries are always a fun choice, but it can be hard to choose useful and dynamic running gear! Below is a list of items put together from the Stroller Warriors HQ team—from headlamps to cookbooks— these items can be a recipe for a lovely weekend morning run (I’m envisioning a pre-sunrise trail run with a headlamp and walking into the house to a quick and easy hot breakfast).
Night-time running gear
-Nitecore HC60 Head lamp
-Nox light up vest
-Nike reflective running vest
-Camelback Chase bike vest
Cold weather running gear
-Hot Hands warmers
-Yaktrax Pro Traction system (for snowy runs)
-mont·bell Cross Runner pack 15
-Osprey Packs Dyna 6
-YETI water bottle
-Balega blister resist running socks
-Lululemon Swiftly Tech shirt (short or long sleeves)
-Patagonia Synchilla fleece
- She Explores: Stories of Life-Changing Adventures on the Road and in the Wild (Solo Travel Guides, Travel Essays, Women Hiking Books) by Gale Straub
-Breath by James Nestor
Did we miss anything? What would you add to the list? Please share! Cheers to the running over the holidays and striding into the New Year!
Disclaimer: Stroller Warriors® does not endorse any of the above products. These are the personal views of Stroller Warriors members.
Stroller Warriors®, Friends, and Fans:
I am extremely excited to say that we have made it through another year. 2020 was challenging for the Stroller Warriors community— the COVID Pandemic rocked the world and drastically reduced the capabilities of each chapter. However, in true Stroller Warrior fashion, running and gathering as a community continued in several dynamic formats— hosting virtual meetups via Facebook Live or Zoom, setting goals through online challenges, communicating and posting running pictures on chapter social media outlets, continually hosting virtual C25K sessions, getting creative with ROM workouts, etc. Stroller Warriors shined with brilliance during trying times.
I am always proud of our Coordinators and Chapters. I am in awe and motivated by their resilient and optimistic demeanor, which transfers to all our members. Thank you for being a beacon of light for so many within the Stroller Warriors community.
Here I have for you a showcase of the incredible accomplishments from the Stroller Warriors community during 2020. The Stroller Warriors HQ leadership would like to extend our utmost gratitude to our vendors and supporters within our community— your continued support helped the Stroller Warriors community thrive!
Without further ado, I present to you SW by the numbers 2020!
2 B210K Sessions
8 Gift of BOBs
9 Chapters participated in Team Relay Races
12 Chapters participated in the Stroller Loaner Program
19 B210K graduates
39 C2C finishers
46 sessions of C25K
65 meal trains provided
89 Special events Coordinated by Stroller Warriors Chapters
137 hours of manpower donated
162 donations to warriors
181 mini miles finishers
193 C25K graduates
216 Volunteers (not including Coordinators)
273 Mileage Incentive Program participants
735 active members who regularly attend workouts.
1,576 Items donated to various charities
3,194 miles ran by mini warriors
$11,761 donated to various charities.
161,400 miles ran together as a team
Unmeasurable: The positive impact of Stroller Warriors, not just on its members, but also positive ripple effect the Stroller Warriors mission imparts on each family, our military members, and the surrounding community!
ABOVE: Joy L., Valeria D., and Shandira P. of SW New Orleans volunteered at a local high school to provide free meals to students. Initially, the group began delivering breakfast and lunch to over 50 children on base. By early April 2020, the number soon grew to nearly 600 students. Joy L. also coordinated meal deliveries with a local community organization call Crescent City.
ABOVE: As a way to say thank you, Members of SW Elsewhere created signs for health care workers. Additionally, many of our Elsewhere members created signs for the elderly in their community as a way to lift their spirits.
ABOVE: SW Patuxent River collected salad dressing for St. Mary’s Caring Soup Kitchen. This initiative was led by an ambitious and compassionate Mini Warrior. In total, they collected 168 bottles of salad dressing- enough to supply salad dressing for 20 weeks!
ABOVE: SW Lackland collected food, clothing, diapers, and personal hygiene items for two local organizations- St. Stephen’s Care Center and The Texas Diaper Bank.
ABOVE: SW Pearl Harbor, Schofield Barracks, and Kaneohe Bay held a multi-chapter community philanthropic event— joining forces to organize an online silent auction to benefit Project Hawai’i, Inc.
Stroller Warriors took part in dedication runs and workouts for the following causes:
Run for Steph
Dedication Run for the Tidwell Family
Memorial Day Virtual Run
Children of the Fallen Patriots
Hope for the Warriors
Purple up for Military Children
Wear Blue: Run to remember
Black Lives Matter Workout
Miles of Smiles
A HUGE Thank you to these vendors, businesses and organizations. They have provided excellent support and partnership with our Stroller Warrior Chapters:
Sabrina's Unique Boutique
Friends of Sarah’s House
Want Different Do Different
Leave No Paws Behind USA
Keesler Airman & Family Readiness Center
Katie's Coldpress Juice
Coast to Coast Sugar Cookies
Shimazu-san - Okinawan Glass Medal maker
VA Fisher House
City Of Saginaw, TX
I want to close out this chapter of SW by the Numbers by sharing some of the messages from our Coordinators.
“We've all had an exceptionally challenging year, what with COVID and the restrictions placed upon our chapter. However, our Warriors have persevered!” -SW Miramar
“This year was hard! Looking at it by the numbers, it doesn't feel like we did much. And actively, as a chapter, we really didn't. By the summer everyone was burnt out with virtual workouts. But we did all support each other as friends through texts, calls, FB messages! And Stroller Warriors is what brought us all together, and for that we were all so thankful for!” -SW Oak Harbor
“We Survived 2020!” -SW Pensacola
“It was a difficult year for all! I am proud of the SW here who kept showing up even virtually.” SW Lakenheath
“Our chapter stayed busy despite COVID. We came up with monthly challenges, craft times (aka no run fun day), and chapter check ins to keep our chapter engaged with one another virtually. “ -SW Fort Meade
Thank you Stroller Warriors, Friends, and Fans for enduring with us through a challenging year. We look forward to the future and seeing what other good we can do in the world. Not just for us, not just for the military, but for our entire community and the world.
Running the London Marathon has been a goal of mine! I began the application process for a London Marathon bib number even before our family received orders to come to England. The London Marathon is one of the six world major marathons (the other five being New York, Chicago, Boston, Berlin and Tokyo), and in 2017 I made a goal to complete all of six world major marathons.
On cold afternoon in February 2021, 8 February to be exact, the Virgin Money London Marathon began the email notification process for ballot selections. Many lucky applicants received fantastic congratulatory news of their entry selection to run the 41st London Marathon later in the fall. Unlike previous years where hopeful marathon applicants would receive a magazine in the mail, this year hopeful runners had to click a link in order to receive a notification if selected or not.
I was mid-run on the treadmill when I opened the email that read “You’re in!” I screamed with excitement, as this was my fourth attempt at trying to obtain a bib number for the London Marathon. Several Stroller Warriors® members from SW Lakenheath also applied for bib numbers for London Marathon. I instantly sent a message to Christina, Staci and Sarah to find out if they were selected. After a few hours of waiting on results, it was looking as if only Sarah would be joining me. I was thrilled that a SW friend and I both received numbers, yet disappointed that all four of us did not obtain the same news. Staci and Christina both applied to run for charity. After some wait time, they were both accepted to run for the Children with Cancer, UK marathon teams! The four of us were training for and running the London Marathon! This was our second marathon all together, with the Athens Marathon 2 years priors. Even more exciting—, Andrea, also a member of SW Lakenheath, would be training with us as she geared up for the Manchester Marathon the week after the London Marathon!
It was time to hit the ground running with training and fundraising! Getting together for training was hard. In true military fashion, there were many bumps and scheduling conflicts-- a deployed spouse, TDY’s, etc; however, we always tried to have a long-run partner each week. We ran with members of Stroller Warriors Lakenheath ran during the week and it was lovely to have the company and support of fellow Stroller Warrior members. The weeks quickly flew by, and we finally made it to the end after about 16 weeks of training. Additionally, through posting on social media outlets and sharing our fundraising efforts with family and friends, we were able to raise over £2000 for Children with Cancer, UK!
Race weekend had finally arrived. The Saturday before the race we all took the train to London from Lakenheath to pick up our bibs, relax and run a Sunday morning victory lap! The weather was nice—with some rain mid-day during the run. The day of the race, the course was lined up the whole way with crowds of spectators cheering for us! Such an amazing experience! Never have I cried at a race until this day! Prior to this race, I had completed 4 marathons and was always happy to finish. But this race was different. At around mile 8 of the London Marathon, I was overcome with joy and could not hold back the tears of happiness. So much time lost from the previous year during the hard lockdowns in the U.K. that it just felt so surreal to be running with so many people— as if life was as it should be! This marathon experience was one for the memory books!
London was truly amazing, if you get a chance do it!
Emily L. left home of the Bay Area at 19 to join the Air Force. After finishing a 6 year enlistment, she is now a military wife of almost 15 years. She has two girls ages 6 and 3. When not running, Emily enjoys travel, coffee and wine! Emily began running distance almost 10 years ago after getting out of the Air Force. Her favorite race distance is the half-marathon. She has completed 6 full marathons and 25 live/in person half marathons! This year she has set a goal of completing a half marathon every month! She is mid-streak of 10,000+ steps a day and 1 dedicated mile a day run or walk for over 565 days now! Emily is plans to get into the Chicago or New York marathon in 2022.
After the unbelievably heartbreaking loss of thirteen service members in Afghanistan during the evacuation of US citizens and Afghan Nationals, Stroller Warriors® chapters and members from each stretch of the globe ran in support of the 2/1 Ghost Company and Tragedy Assistance Program Services (TAPS).
TAPS serves an important mission aiming to give comfort, care, and resources to individuals grieving the death of a military loved one. Since 1994, TAPS has provided 24/7 services through a national peer support network and connection to grief resources-- all at no cost to surviving families and loved ones. Throughout September, many Stroller Warriors chapters ran in honor of the 13 service members who lost their lives and in support of TAPS. Running in honor of the fallen was a powerful way to show support to the grieving families and our military community.
Stroller Warriors chapters accumulated mileage throughout the month-- tallying the cumulative miles run by SW members; while others hosted a weekday SW run or organized an online event in support of TAPS. The mileage between participating chapters totaled an astounding 2,505.25 miles.
On September 10th, Stroller Warriors Okinawa held a dedication run honoring TAPS and remembering all fallen service members, especially those we have lost recently. Leadership asked members to wear red and to post sweaty selfies if they could not make the event. As a chapter, SW Okinawa collectively ran 100.22 miles on September 10th!
Thank you to every Stroller Warrior who dedicated miles. Your support and dedication to those around you never ceases to amaze.
Gabi P. is a mom of 4 awesome kids and an Air Force wife. She's been a part of Stroller Warriors Ramstein and Yorktown coordination teams and is currently a regional mentor on the SW HQ staff. Her hobbies include listening to podcasts, working out, and of course running!
Planks are Great! BUT do you know why planks are a brilliant strength exercise? Or the massive impact a well-executed plank can have on running form? When done efficiently, planks are a serious bang for your buck exercise— obliques are on, deep core engaged, pelvis positioned to bring hamstrings to the party, and breath work in this position can be beneficial. Not to mention the added bonuses that come with the endless options of plank progressions and variations. However, none of this is possible if the traditional plank is not solid.
Have you ever performed a plank and wondered why you cannot feel the work in your abdominals, but in other areas? This is your body shouting that your plank is not in the optimal position. The core cannot work as intended if your ribs are stuck forward. It is common for the low back muscles, hip flexors, quads or even calf muscles to activate and try to assist for what the obliques are not able to do. Incorporating strength training exercises that help facilitate the optimal positioning of a plank is a great way to create a change in the core stability that will carry over into running.
Our obliques play a significant role in running— helping rotation and managing core pressure and breathing. The obliques aid with these functions by allowing one side of the rib cage to go forward while the other stays back— one side expands while the other side compresses to load or unload each foot. For these oblique functions to go smoothly during gate, the ribs must allow for expansion and compression. The obliques simply will not have leverage to do their job if the ribs are stuck forward or if the necessary areas do not compress or expand.
Let’s break down what should be “on” during a plank— working from the outside and meeting in the middle:
1). Head and Neck should be in slight extension with gaze slightly beyond fingertips. This helps to keep the sternum long and encourages full breaths. When tucking the chin and looking towards the toes, the sternum with scrunch and the position of the diaphragm and pelvis with change, therefore impacting the breath.
2). Hands should be pushing the ground away. This helps facilitate shoulder blade protraction and engage serratus anterior muscle, which is what makes breath work in this position incredibly efficient. The goal is to allow full expansion of the back with inhales. Elbows should be soft and facing forward, not locked out to brace the upper body.
3). Knees should not be locked out. Locking out the knees will not allow the hamstrings to help position the pelvis correctly. The goal is for the hamstrings to work with the abdominals to set the pelvis in a neutral position.
Think of your pelvis as a bowl of soup— the goal is maintaining the neutral pelvis, or not spilling the soup. It can be very tempting to squeeze glutes to maintain a neutral pelvis, but the goal is train hamstrings and abdominals to work together. The core will be ready to work when the pelvis is in a neutral position and the hamstrings are working in balance with the abdominals!
Molly O. has been a member of Stroller Warriors® since 2015 beginning with SW Ramstein where she volunteered as a Workout Leader and a Chapter Coordinator. Currently, she is a member of SW Elsewhere. Molly has worked as a Physical Therapist Assistant for 8 years and 5 years as a Certified Personal Trainer.
Thank you Molly for contributing your knowledge and experience to strengthen the Stroller Warriors community!