Running Away from Problems & Grandma’s Life Lessons

We took a little summer break here at the Run Life Co. blog, but we’re back! How have you been? I hope everyone survived the heat. My running and outdoor workouts definitely took a toll over the past few weeks, but now that it’s below 90 degrees on the east coast, we can all rehydrate and get back out there!

Today I’m sharing something that recently came to my attention: running (literally) away from my problems.

This surfaced in a discussion with my grandmother over the weekend. My grandma has been my go-to counselor and advice-giver since I was in early high school. She has more insight into my life than I do and always helps me see the bigger picture when I’m upset over something small.

(I rollerblade or run next to her while she speeds around her neighborhood on her bike.)

When I was stressing out this weekend, naturally, I called my grandma.

While she gave me great advice on my specific situation (it’s a little too personal to share with the Internet), she brought up another important point…running (again, literally) away from my problems only works temporarily. That had been my plan on Sunday – to go for a run and forget about my problem at hand. I tend to use running or working out to distract myself from what is actually bothering me. We all do this in some form or another – Netflix binging, getting drunk, shopping (another one of my favorites), or exercise. But distracting yourself with these activities only provides temporary relief. While exercise over a long period of time is therapy in its own way, it can also be avoidance tactic.

I realized that I have been running away from problems for a large portion of my life. It works temporarily, but at the end of the day, I (and you) still need to confront problems head-on to resolve the underlying issue.

Other life lessons from my grandmother:

  • Be less competitive amongst others and work together to create cohesion, rather than needing the upper hand (I preach this same thing all the time, but it’s hard to take my own advice).
  • Less is more – keep life and your possessions simple. Fancy objects do not create happiness.
  • Spend time with your loved ones NOW, and appreciate them without taking them for granted.
  • Clear communication creates compatibility in relationships. Ask straightforward questions to get straightforward answers.
  • One of her favorites…if you have three friends that stay with you throughout your entire life, you have achieved success.

Life lessons will be continued in future posts, so check back. 😉

One more picture of my grandma on her bike, because I love her so much:

Grandma on bike

Now I’m giving everyone an assignment for today…

Choose three people or things in your life that you’re grateful for and write down why you appreciate having them in your life! Then read it over and over again until you’re in a super awesome mood.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone! Talk to you again soon. 🙂

Exclusive Interview with Nutritionist, Spartan Finisher, and Fitness Enthusiast: Rach Wagner

Today we are featuring one of my biggest personal inspirations, Rachel Wagner. Rach and I attended the same high school in a small town in the Lehigh Valley. She has always been athletic, but over the past year I have seen her take her fitness to a new level. I love checking out her social media pages when I need a little extra motivation.

This past weekend, she completed the Blue Mountain Spartan Race in an awesome time of 2:40.27. I interviewed her before her the race on how she became a runner. She has been a huge supporter of Run Life Co. and I cannot thank her enough for doing this interview.

You can follow her on Instagram for more inspiration and motivation at @rachhwagner

Q: When and why did you start running? Why do you love it?
A: Running was a given when it came to high school sports. I played field hockey, soccer, and ran track. I actually did most of my running with field hockey, believe it or not, and began to realize how much I liked it when I was the only one on the team who got excited for distance runs. After graduating high school and no longer being part of a team or sport, I picked up running because it was free, something I liked, and I knew it was a good way to keep fit.

I love running because it’s your legs against your mind. It’s a challenge, unlike any other. It’s time to yourself, to sort out your thoughts, or even forget them for the time being. It’s time to be one with nature, seriously, I can’t tell you enough how much I love having the D&L Trail three minutes from my house (fall runs are absolutely stunning). I love that running is something anyone can pick up or do, you don’t need to be taught how to run. I truly believe it is beneficial to your mind, body, and soul. Seriously besides the getting back into shape part, what’s not to love about running?!

Q: Do you prefer running with a group or on your own?
A: I honestly prefer running on my own. Like I previously side, it’s “me” time. Everyone needs that. You can go at your own pace and create your own challenge. However, I will say that it is nice to run with a group or partner when you want to be pushed and know that they will challenge you more than you would yourself. It is also a good way to socialize while getting exercise. 🙂

Q: What is your favorite place to run?
A: D&L trail is my absolute favorite place to run (going south). West Chester is my second favorite just because I trained for my half marathon while I was living there and really fell in love with the beauty of the town by running so much of it. Any place that gives me something to look at and admire is a place a like to run. I’d love to explore more trails, if anyone has any really beautiful ones to suggest, please let me know!

Q: Do you do races? What has been your favorite race?
A: I have done quite a few 5k’s and one half marathon, the Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon this past October. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to do their first race. I plan on doing another half marathon at some point in the future. My first one was a thrilling, awesome experience that I will never forget and definitely has me itching to do another.

Q: What running shoe are you wearing right now?
A: I run in Brooks right now! Love them. And have previously run in Asics. I am prone to shin splints so I need a shoe with a decent amount of support. If you plan on taking running seriously, highly advise either brand for a running shoe.

Q: What is your best pump-up song?
A: Hmm, I can’t think of a specific song. Truthfully, any rap or Beyonce is a go-to when in need of some pump up music. I listen to Pandora for my runs and the station always depends on what kind of mood I’m in. A lot of the time I like listening to relaxing music for a run, like country or some reggae (Rebelution).

Q: What other workouts do you do besides running? What is your favorite kind of workout?
A: I am currently really into lifting. I picked up on it more seriously this past winter break and stuck to it. I moved back home post graduating while figuring out my future and joined the gym Spillanesfit in Palmerton. Absolutely love it, and it’s become a huge part of my life now. I am contemplating going for that personal training certification! Favorite body parts to work are definitely back and shoulders!

Q: What are your hobbies outside of running?
A: Outside of running and the gym I really enjoy…not much, haha. They truly are my hobbies. I do like to cook. Tubing down the river, being outside, and taking my pup for a hike is what my days off consist of typically in the summer. I really love being with my friends AKA drinking with my friends. I’m a fun person, so I like fun things. Posting on Instagram might be a hobby, many might agree with that, haha. I also love the beach. That’s not really a hobby but I will drop anything to go to the beach. I hope to move near a beach within the next year or two.

Q: You just got your degree in nutrition — does your nutrition and health play into why you run and workout? 
A: It has definitely influenced my active lifestyle. After learning all the ways nutrition and fitness can affect your body, I feel like it’s essential for me to be a role model for those who are unaware of the information that I’m so lucky to have learned and know about. My knowledge in nutrition compliments my active lifestyle and enhances it because of foods’ ability to fuel and recover the body. I would definitely say that besides enjoying working out, my health is another reason why I do it. I know that in the long run it’s only going to benefit me.

Q: Have any tips for new runners or people trying to get back into running?
A: Do not give up! It sucks in the beginning. Anything worth having sucks in the beginning. You have to get past that stage. It all will be worth it in the end. Know that you are not always going to want to run or workout. That’s okay. Learn to discipline yourself. You’re not always going to enjoy exercise, that’s the reality of it. But disciplining yourself to exercise is the key to success when it comes to fitness. That’s what’s special about athletes, they push their limits. You become stronger not only physically, but mentally. Likewise, becoming mentally stronger makes you physically stronger.

Q: Anything else you would like to share?
A: I advise anyone and everyone to join the fitness community in some way. Its such an empowering foundation to a heathy lifestyle. I know it sounds cliché, but seriously consider surrounding yourself by uplifting, positive, encouraging people with similar goals as you. You will see and feel the difference in yourself. I have recently joined a fitness community, Alpha Pack Fitness, which sells gym apparel. But it’s not just about me promoting their clothing, I am part of a community of people that I just described above. They help me be the best version of myself in and outside of the gym.
I could go on and on about the benefits of running, lifting, yoga, exercise, etc., etc., but my true passion lies in spreading my love for it. I know not everyone is going to love it, but I feel like so many people would that just haven’t given it a chance. Fitness is beneficial to your life is so many ways, join the bandwagon and start your journey towards a healthier you!

Follow me on Instagram @rachhwagner for some flex Friday pics and updates on where my post grad life is goin’! 🙂

Thanks so much for the interview and for your inspiring story, Rach! I can’t wait to see where life takes you!

Interview with Temple Running Club Member Naomi Szanto

Hearing runners’ stories has been the best part about starting Run Life Co. This week we’re featuring Temple Running Club member Naomi Szanto.

Q: When did you start running? What got you into running?
A: I started running in middle school, when I joined the track team. At that time, I was small and could run fast. I was a sprinter through high school, and loved short distances and fast speed. Senior year of high school, I was convinced by my friends to join the cross country team… best decision ever! I would have never thought I would love long distance running so much!

Q: What do you love about running, or why do you run?
A: At first, I loved running because I wanted to see how fast I could sprint. Once I began running longer distances, my endurance and mileage increased. I run to discover new places. Moving to Philly was a big environmental change, but I quickly found my way on foot. Sometimes, I don’t even listen to music while I run because I enjoy the sounds of nature and the beautiful scenery.

Q: Have you ever stopped running? If so, how did you get back into it?
A: I did stop running. During high school I took two years off of all physical activity due to health complications. During that time, I had constant fear my body would not perform the same as it once did. Once I was cleared to get back to physical activity, I started to slowly regain my endurance. With the support of my fellow cross country and track friends, I was running PRs in no time!

Q: What is your favorite place to run in Philly?
A: Running around boathouse row and the “Philly boardwalk” near the art museum is my all time favorite place to run in Philadelphia. There are always people out exercising and the scenery is so beautiful.

Q: What has been your favorite race?
A: It has been a while since I have ran in a race, but this year I have volunteered for the Broad Street Run and loved it. Everyone has so much energy and excitement through such a great city. I hope to join in the fun next year!

Q: What is your most essential piece of running gear?
A: My GPS watch is my running buddy. I feel unprepared to run if I go out without it! Having a GPS on my wrist helps me track my time and distance. It keeps me on track and motivates me to improve every time I go run.

Q: What kind of workouts do you do other than running?
A: During college, I did not have time to run everyday so I got into lifting. I go to the gym everyday and accompany my running with some weight training. It has really helped with my running and I love seeing how strong I can get!

Q: How do you motivate yourself to run or workout?
A: I find it easy to motivate myself to exercise because I have enjoyment in doing it. Each day I chose a different part of the body to workout or a different course to run. Mixing it up makes working out seem less boring or like a chore.

Q: What is your favorite pump-up song for running or working out?
A: I usually listen to Pandora or Spotify while running, but “Lose Yourself” by Eminem is a good song to get pumped up.

Q: Do you have any tips for new runners or people getting back into running?
A: My only tip for new runners is to take it slow and don’t give up. It may seem like getting your endurance up takes forever but take it a step at a time and you will see improvements. For me, the best way to get back into running is by doing intervals. It helps with my speed and endurance and they are fun to do!

Q: What is your latest running goal?
A: I make goals for myself everyday in all aspects of my life. My current goal is to increase my mileage. I hope to run a half marathon in the near future!

Thanks so much for the interview, Naomi!

If you would like to be featured in a Run Life Co. blog post to share your running story, please contact us at

Life is an Adventure

Hi friends! It’s been too long. I took a hiatus from blogging to have some fun and get my life together. I’m almost there!

Here’s what I’ve done since we last talked…
Gave out hugs at November Project: 
Volunteered at Generation Run with Dan the Appalachian Man:
Spotted someone (Clare) in a Run Life Co. top:
Went to a BBG meetup:
Won some protein:
Hung out with this big polar bear, Atlas:
Went to Firefly Music Festival:
Silent discoed with some cool cats:
Hung out with old friends:
Saw a beautiful sunset:
Left the festival to be a bridesmaid:
Attended a wedding in the woods:
Watched my best friend get married:
Cried a few times:
Went BACK to Firefly:
Rocked out to Blink 182 with friends:
Closed the festival with a Mumford and Sons selfie:
Became a Students Run Philly Style camp counselor (this is how we dress there):
Ran a color run with our students:
Got a little messy:
Admired beautiful hair:
Met my mini me:
Sidenote:  You may notice that 99% of my pictures are with other women and young ladies. Our cabin theme at Students Run Philly Style camp (which was powerful in itself) was about lifting each other up as women, rather than competing with each other and pushing each other down. We were in a cabin of all girls and had a nice discussion with our students about this the first night. My co-counselor and I both strongly believe in that, which is probably we got along so well. This can apply to men as well…we should all be a community helping one another out. Remember that and lift up someone else today. 🙂 End of rant!
Ran more:
Hung out with 60+ students:
Bonded with our cabin:
Bonded with other running leaders and said teary-eyed goodbyes:
Made a new best friend (we were co-counselors and she’s awesome):
Tried my first Pilates reformer and rebounder class with a few friends (video on the Run Life Co. Instagram):
Had a blast and plan on returning to Freehouse for more classes:

That’s all, friends! Hope these adventures inspire you to try something new today. My agenda today includes November Project, lots of work, and stopping by a cat cafe. What’s on your plate?

We have a few interviews coming up from Temple’s Running Club team. If you or your organization would like to be featured on the blog, please contact me at I’d love to hear your running story! 🙂

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What have you been up to?

Have any fun plans for 4th of July?

Have you ever tried a Pilates reformer or rebounder class?

Have You Noticed? And Hydration Tips

Have you noticed how popular fitness has become? A few years ago, I noticed that running races were becoming more popular, especially adventure races. Now, I’ve noticed that all types of fitness events and styles are popping up.

Be Well Philly hosted their annual boot camp on Saturday, which reinforced this trend. The event was like a music festival for people interested in fitness. About 700 women and a few brave men came together to participate in the day of workouts, fitness speakers, cooking demonstrations, and tons of free samples! It was well worth the $50 for tickets.

The keynote speaker, Jayel Lewis, had me in tears with her story. Check out her awesome blog at

(Keynote speaker, Jayel Lewis, who also hosted the best workout ever – Beyonce bootcamp – that day.)

(A glimpse of Beyonce bootcamp)

(Finally tried Snap Kitchen as our free breakfast treat. It did not disappoint.)

(Parisa and I biked to Spruce Street Harbor afterwards to meet up with our friends and soak up some more sun.)

As promised, here are some hydration tips to keep you happy and healthy this summer:

1. Drink water all day long. This should be a permanent habit in your life, but it’s always great to have a reminder. Read the blog post about salad water for ways to make your water more interesting.

2. Eat fruits and vegetables. They’ll help keep you hydrated, plus they’re delicious.

3. Carry water with you on your run. I only do this on the super hot days, but if you’re running somewhere that doesn’t have a water fountain, it’s a good idea.

4. Work out inside. I’m a huge advocate for being outside, but if the temps are too high (for me, that’s 80 degrees or over), opt for an indoor workout and spend your leisure time outside instead.

5. Hydrate while you drink alcohol. This was a big mistake for me this weekend. We exercised for 3+ hours outside at bootcamp, started drinking shortly afterwards, and barely drank water. I definitely paid for this later.

 6. Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up. For hours during the night your body is without water. Help yourself wake up and get fluids to your body first thing in the morning. It’ll set your hydration habits for the rest of the day!

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What are your hydration tips for summer running?

Strawberry Picking and Other Outdoor Activities

Things are heating up on the east coast! Unless you’ve stayed inside for the past week, you know it’s been HOT outside. Hot weather = sweating = dehydration. So make sure you’re hydrating, everyone!!

Keep your best friends hydrated, too. Especially the extra fluffy pups!

Shoutout to the Conshy Running Group! I ran with them on Thursday and talked about Run Life Co. They’re some of the most fun, energetic, and supportive runners I’ve met. If you live near Conshohocken, I highly recommend joining them for a run. They meet on Thursday at 6:30pm at the Conshohocken Brewing Company.

I started doing the Bikini Body Guide (BBG) workout this past week. The workout includes four rounds of seven minute circuits. I made the mistake of doing my workout outside on Saturday morning in the 80 degree heat. I made it through three rounds (barely) and thought I was going to pass out so BE CAREFUL! Stay hydrated and wear your sunscreen outside. Our theme for June is “Summer Running Survival Guide,” so we’ll be discussing everything from hydration to proper attire to workouts suited for the outdoors. More on that soon!

(Me dying after day two of BBG.)

My cousin turned 18 on Saturday, which made me feel extremely old. I remember when he was born. That was my first experience with a baby. Now he’s 18 and graduating high school. Time flies.

(My younger cousins = my favorite people. 🙂

(And they do cool things like shoot bow and arrow. Their dad made the bow himself.)

(He’s also making these sweet guitars now.)

(My little cousin wouldn’t take a picture with me unless his new shoes could be in it. I guess love for shoes runs in the family.)

I caught up with one of my best friends from high school on Saturday night. Her dog is the cutest little girl:

(Mollie and I have been friends since 7th grade. She’s now a nurse and is always traveling to cool places. We’ll talk for hours and still have more to catch up on. She’s the best!)

For those of you who don’t know, my sister, Liz, is an organic farmer. She started her farm four years ago, and it’s been steadily growing. This weekend marked a new venture for her – the Blue Mountain Farm Market. The grocery store in the town of Slatington (our hometown) closed last year, leaving the area without a grocery store. Liz and a few other farmers decided to host a farmer’s market at the trailhead right in the middle of the town. It started this weekend and had an awesome turnout (from what I hear – sadly, I couldn’t make it). Liz and the market were featured in the local newspaper. You can read that and watch the video here. Be sure to stop by next Friday between 12-6pm or Saturday between 8am-2pm at the Slatington D&L Trailhead (across from Boyer’s Hardware) if you live in the Lehigh Valley.

I spent Sunday picking strawberries with Liz and seeing the progress of her other fruits/vegetables.


She’s making an herb meditation circle for an upcoming music festival, which will be super cool. Here’s a sneak peak! I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Here’s a little Monday motivation for you and a reminder that results come from hard work (from the Run Life Co. Instagram). Liz is doing all this cool stuff now, but I know she worked her butt off to get to this point and still works hard every single day. And like my cousin said this weekend, “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.”

On the opposite side of the health spectrum, I bought Federal Donuts for my friend’s last day of work on Friday. I’m not a big donut fan, but Federal Donuts are a whole different story. They sell fried chicken, too, so I’ll be trying that next.

Got a great run in on Sunday runday and stopped for some reflection along the way. 

Remember, tomorrow is your last day to take $10 off your Run Life Co. order with code MAYRUNNING.

Hope you make it outside today for some fun activities. Happy Memorial Day, everyone!


Have you ever had big plans for the day then before you know it the day is over and you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything? Me, too. But prioritizing has helped me realize that a) you can’t get everything done in one day and b) choosing the most important tasks and doing them first will make you feel more accomplished.

How do you prioritize your tasks? Another business owner told me that she prioritizes tasks by what will pay her bills, as in prioritizing by what will make money the soonest.

I tried that for a while and realized that I sacrificed a lot of my social life and happiness to do that. So now I’m prioritizing by health and happiness. Going to the gym, running, eating well, and seeing my friends on a regular basis is at the top of the list. Here are some things I’ve been doing…

I’ve been working out 5-6 days a week, and I can feel my body getting stronger. Strong body = happy Jess.

(Saturday morning Pilates = my favorite.)

(Got a great run and some sprints in last week.)

(I’ve been lucky to see a lot of dogs lately. This is Atlas, a big charmer at the UBB office. 🙂

(I met this little sweetie at Never Too Spoiled on 3rd & Arch. Such a lovely store!)

This weekend, I had a great reminder about eating well. On Friday night, Sarah brought her pup over and we dined on frozen pizza, veggie burgers, a lot of snacks, wine, and a chocolate cupcake for dessert. While it was delicious at the time, I felt horribllle all night and the next day. For the most part, I eat pretty “clean” – lots of fruits/vegetables, not so much processed food. My body knows what it needs and did not like that combination.

(All the delicious things that we had on Friday.)

I’ll be honest – almost all the food pictures in this post are from Mel. She makes me a lot of food and for that, I am EXTREMELY thankful. While eating healthy is a priority for me, cooking has been on the back burner (get it 😉 for a while. I typically eat simple meals – salads, veggie burgers, soup, EGGS, etc.

(Things that make my life exciting…adding strawberries to my salad.)

(This was delicious – definitely recommend to any vegetarians out there.)

(Quiche made with squash, corn, and red onion – sooo yummy! Mel’s concoction again.)

(Banana, pear, kale, peanut butter, and soy milk smoothie compliments of my awesome roommate.)

(One more from Mel – chocolate banana bread!)

(And she’s getting a bike soon so we can ride all around town.)

Speaking of social life, I’m hoping to take a weekend trip to a new city soon. Do you have any good recommendations? Cities in Colorado and Utah are high on my list. Some of my favorite places that I’ve been already:

Los Angeles//Malibu/Long Beach/Huntington Beach
San Francisco
Sedona/Flagstaff/Grand Canyon
New York City

(Flashback to my road trip home from California – miss that week.)

Let me know where I should go next! Hope you have a wonderful Monday morning and a great week, everyone!

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How do you prioritize tasks?
Make any great food this weekend?
What’s your favorite city to visit?