Conditioning for Runners class starts July 24th

After a brief respite due to unforeseen life events, I’m back in my running shoes and ready to work you out! I’m starting back with my Conditioning for Runners for class. Join my July 24th for the eight week class at Beresford Park in San Mateo. Details are below. 

This hour-long class will get you into top shape and help you run faster and stronger. Whether you are new to running or a seasoned athlete, you work at your own pace. This progressively intensive workout is part track-based, participants run short laps at various speeds, and part boot camp, performing specific strength drills. 

To sign up, go to the City of San Mateo’s Park and Recreation Department page and click on eReg. The class is listed under Adult Fitness; Outdoor Fitness. 




Races on my radar


Andrew and I after last year’s Big Sur Half. Sweaty and eating soup.

Unforeseen life circumstances, such as birth, death and helping manage a farm, have made it difficult to commit to much other than diaper changes and cooking dinner. That said, I’m determined to get in the saddle … er  … running shoes again and train. A lot of people ask about my race schedule, so here is my official, unofficial list of events I pray to make this year ;).

Aug. 3: Santa Cruz trail race with Inside Trails. Doing the 10K. Beautiful, really beautiful place.
Sept. 29: Half Moon Bay Marathon. Doing half. Been hearing amazing things about this race and its promoter. Tried to do it last year and it sold out.
Oct. 26: Healdsburg Half. Doing half. I did the Vine to Wine its inaugural year and think alcohol and racing mix well.
Dec. 2: North Face Endurance Challenge. My friend did this series and loved it. I like to end my year with a trail race. Doing 10K.

MOTR free Sunday run is BAAAACKKKKK!!!!

IMG_0721Hey look at that group of hot chics before the Nike Half. We conquered a summer of Sunday runs together to race the Nike Half and we’re getting the gang back together. SO YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE. Join us on Sundays and train for whatever your goal.

Yes, that means I’ve decided to put the Sunday 5K/10K/half marathon program to bed. It’s become too much with the addition of the baby for me to commit to every Sunday. However, I do want to continue fostering a positive atmosphere for female runners of all skill levels to meet and train. We’ll run from Crystal Springs Reservoir every Sunday at 8:30 a.m. starting June 10.

Anyone can join and I hope to continue to connect mothers of similar paces and help you find training partners.

The Wednesday night class will continue at 7 p.m. at Beresford. It’s been an awesome location that’s opened up a plethora of challenging and unique strength training opportunities, including the use of swings, slides, the skateboarding park and even hills. If you are interested in that class, the next session starts in August (I know forever away, but I’m traveling a lot :).

I will continue to be available to develop running programs and personal training. If you are interested in these services, click here.

I hope to see you soon!

Exercising twice as difficult with two children




I hopped on a treadmill as eagerly as a racehorse dashes from a starting gate. Weeks had passed since my last workout and my clothing options weren’t the only thing suffering from my lack of exercise. My short temper and inattentiveness were mounting and manifesting unbecoming behavior such as snapping at my daughter for moving at a snail’s pace into her car seat and during dinner conversations day dreaming about running through the countryside. Normally, my daughter’s molasses pace irritates, but doesn’t cause irrational verbal lashings and I am generally the conversation started at dinner, not the dreamer. Exercise keeps me sane.

But ever since my 8-month-old son’s birth exercise has been more difficult to schedule than sleep. I’m employed as a personal trainer, running coach, journalism educator at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont and writer for various media. I do all this while remaining the primary caretaker of our two small children. If there were such a thing as a time deficit, I’d be accruing debt at an astounding rate.

On this particular day, I had reached a critical development in my efforts to workout: My son was now old enough for the gym’s daycare. I checked him in and bounced onto the treadmill. I had barely hit the start button when I heard it: “Jennifer Aquino please report to the kid’s club.”

“Ugh,” I thought as I hit the stop button and leapt off.

“He’s got a runny nose,” said the daycare attendant holding my son, whose face was red and blotchy from tears, at an arm’s length. I knew for a fact he wasn’t ill and the issue was the attendant’s unwillingness to hold a baby amid the sea of preschoolers trickling into the kid’s club. This isn’t going to work, I thought.

On my way home, I tried to figure out how I’d fit in a workout between preschool pick up, the grocery store, a conference call and a client later that night. I can multi-task, I thought.  My plan involved putting my end of the conference call on mute while I took the kids to the grocery store and squeezing in a quick run after my husband got home from work. This all depended on: A.) My kids behaving at the grocery store. B.) Not being asked to contribute during the conference call. C.) My husband getting home on time. I was foiled by a baby with a surprising wingspan and ability to grab earpieces; a 4-year-old who decided to rearrange the canned food section of Safeway; and a husband who ended up on a conference call at 5 p.m.

That night, I sank into depression. I motivate women to workout, giving them the tools to succeed yet I couldn’t do it myself? What was wrong with me?

“Two kids and too many jobs,” my friend said. “Simplify.” Last time I checked, there’s no repository at the library to return children like books (not that I’d want to). And the bouganvilla that scatters hot pink flowers across my dead lawn hasn’t sprouted Benjamins yet.  And dropping exercise? Not going to happen. In my well-researched opinion, exercise is the best medicine for women: It reduces stress; strengthens muscles and bones to meet the demands of the athletic job that is parenthood; and prevents a million diseases from diabetes to heart disease. So simplification wasn’t in the cards.

Somewhere in between a 2 a.m. feeding and a trip to the bathroom early the next morning I realized that what I needed was me, not the irrational, over-worked, mommy me, but the calm, collected, authoritative me who teaches. I needed that side of me to tell the other half how to establish balance. My plan involved creating predictability in my schedule from naps to dinner. I wasn’t willing to give up all my freedom, but I didn’t want to blow like the wind anymore. My plan also meant creating a workout schedule that would push me physically in a short timeframe. It had to be portable and versatile, meaning I could do it in my backyard as well as I could do it at the gym. It had to involve my spouse. If we were in it together, then there was accountability and a shared acknowledgement that we BOTH deserved time to be physically fit. It’s the I-scratch-your-back-and-you-scratch-mine theory.

My workouts were based on circuit-style High Intensity Interval Training two times a week in 45 minute stints and running twice a week. My husband and I agreed to go to Seal Point Park in San Mateo on weekends and take turns watching the kids while the other ran. On weekends when we couldn’t make it to the park, we traded off holding down the fort at home while the other worked out. I began bringing my exercise clothes to the office twice a week. I multi-tasked by eating lunch and grading (often times staining papers with salad dressing) then I changed in the bathroom and headed out on my short runs before picking up the kids from daycare. Lastly, once a week while my daughter was at preschool and my son napped I started working out in my backyard, setting up obstacle courses and using my daughter’s window markers to write my circuits on the sliding glass door into the garage.

Although this schedule wouldn’t provide me the competitive training that I once maintained it would give me fitness and, hopefully, sanity.  After several weeks of adapting, I started to feel more in control of my life. Yes, there were days when keeping everyone on schedule created more stress. And there were days when the baby wouldn’t nap or my work would pile up too high to allow for a mid-day workout or our weekends would jam with events. On those weeks, I let go and considered it a vacation. (In any good fitness program, you should take a week off every six weeks to allow muscles to recoup before introducing more challenging moves.)

The ultimate reinforcement came a month or so later when I picked my daughter up from school in my fitness gear.

“Mommy, did you do a workout,” she asked. I replied yes as I plopped her into her car seat and took deep breaths while she spent several minutes fidgeting into her shoulder straps. She started to cry.

“Mommy, I want to work out with you,” she said. “I want to play trainer.” Hmm, I thought, she recognizes that exercise is important.

When we got home, she dressed in her athletic gear and I set up the stroller in the backyard for the baby. I stuffed a million toys into his lap and waited for my daughter to come order me into shape. She skipped down the steps, grabbed her basketball and began issuing directives like a drill sergeant, giddy that she controlled me. I obediently skipped, posed like a tree and twirled with a basketball in one hand and a jump rope in the other. Afterward we sat on the steps and made faces at the baby. She turned to me and said, “Good job mommy. I really see you improving.”

Five ways to squeeze in a workout

1.)   SCHEDULE: Look at your life and figure out where you can simplify or multi task. Consider the parts of your day when you have the most energy and motivation is high. For instance, if you are a morning person, consider shifting your bedtime routine back half an hour so you can wake earlier for a short morning workout. If you don’t rise with the sun, like myself, consider working out on your lunch break or hiring a night time sitter so you can work out. You’re more likely to commit if you are paying someone to watch your kids. Be creative, write it down, post the schedule somewhere prominent and make every attempt to live by it.

2.)   BUDDY SYSTEM: Get a partner, whether it’s your spouse or your best friend or your neighbor. Even your child can serve as a motivator. You are more likely to work out if you have someone to hold you accountable. If you partner with your spouse, agree to a certain number of days and a time when each of you can workout while the other cares for the kids. If it’s a friend or neighbor, do work out play dates and take turns watching the kids while the other exercises.

3.)   SHORT, BUT SWEET: So many clients will dump the workout if they think they have less than an hour to squeeze it in. Go harder for a shorter period of time. For instance, after warming up for five minutes do 1 minute of squats, 30 seconds of push ups, two minutes of jumping jacks. Follow this by another circuit of three exercises. Repeat up to three times. Unless you have fewer than 10 minutes to workout I say it’s worth it.

4.)   SLOW AND STEADY: Create routine by starting slow. If you’re just getting back into shape, don’t expect to lace up your running shoes and peel off six miles or even one, for that matter. You are not only asking for physical injuries, but mental scars. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Lower expectations and start with small successes. If you set your goal at half a mile and achieve it easily, raise the bar to a mile. Don’t schedule yourself to work out seven days a week if you haven’t even been able to squeeze in one. If your job and family life are demanding, then do what you can. It may mean that you can only get a weekend day and one other evening or morning in a week.  Aim for that and re-evaluate in six to eight weeks.  As your routine and strength build, change your routine and add to it.

5.)   BE VERSATILE: You don’t need a gym to workout. You don’t even need shoes if you are into the barefoot thing. You only need your body. My backyard is the size of a postage stamp, but sometimes my workouts at home are more rigorous than my gym-based programs. I move quickly in between exercises and focus on moves that use my body weight: Push ups, squats, lunges, crunches, reverse crunches, plank, jumping jacks, high knees … I could go on and on. I use my daughter’s window markers to write my program on the sliding glass door. You could also use your child’s chalkboard easel to script out your workout, so you don’t have to pause to think up your next move or refer to a piece of paper.

Carbo-loading and Tapering before your big event

The weeks before your big event can be some of the most exciting and fretful. You are thrilled to be completing your program and accomplishing a goal you set your mind to, but anxiety-ridden about challenges that may arise. I remember the days before my first big race, guarding my body like it were The Constitution, afraid that stepping off a curb the wrong way would put my goal in peril.

Over the years, I’ve gotten better and more practical about dealing with this anxiety. There’s no need, as I’ve learned, to become phobic about germs, irrational about your diet or sedentary the week prior to a race. I’ve done all these things and still have had bad races. In the end, your best bet is to be rational and remember that there are some things you are not going to be able to control — like your child getting sick or your co-worker dropping the stapler on your pinky toe. Work on controlling the things that are within your grasp and understand the following principles. In most cases you’ll succeed AND enjoy it.

1.) Your workout plan: The week prior to a race, should be mellow, but include exercise to keep the body  loose. At this point, you’ve done all the hard work and your body knows what to do. To keep it tuned up, but not burnt out, you should plan to run during the week. Your goal here is to replenish and build up energy supplies in your muscles. One week prior to the race, I like to run about half the distance of the actual competition. I then run two other times during the week that are half that distance. These runs are at a leisurely pace and for pure enjoyment. For instance, if I’m running a half marathon, the week prior to the race, I’ll run 6.5 or 7 miles. During the week I’ll run two 3 mile runs and two cross training workouts. I will also incorporate some strength training in the earlier part of the week, but nothing new or unusual. So don’t pick this week to raise your weight stack on calf raises by 10 pounds. Unless you are a seasoned runner, take the two days prior to the race off. So your workout week might look like this:

Sunday: 7 mile run

Monday: Bike for 30 minutes, strength training 40  minutes

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: 3 mile run, strength training 40 minutes

Thursday: 3 mile run, Strength training 40 minutes

Friday: off

Saturday: Walk

Sunday: Race day

2.) Atkin’s nightmare: Your muscles feed off an energy supply known as ATP. This substance is created from glycogen, essentially carbohydrates. For most people who are beginning or moderate runners, you want to eat about 55 percent of your calories from carbs. If you are a serious runner or advanced, you should look to get about 70 percent of your calories from carbs the week prior to a race. Start incorporating more carbs in your diet three days prior to your event. Pick good carbs, such as pasta and rice and pair them with good, low-fat proteins, such as chicken or  low-fat cheese. Don’t eat anything new or things you’ve never tried before and don’t substantially increase your caloric intake. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies, but be careful of eating too much fiber. The morning of the race, choose foods that you’ve eaten prior to running in the past that you know sit well. Some people have a hard time eating early in the a.m. Oatmeal usually sits well with me. So I eat that about 90 minutes before an event and then just before heading out, I will eat some graham crackers with peanut butter. Oh, and skip the coffee, which is a diuretic.

3.) ZZZZZZZs: Get a good night’s sleep, especially the days before the race. Plan quiet evenings and start unwinding an hour before you go to bed. Don’t try and do your taxes or conquer the clutter in your cupboards just before bed time. Your body needs time to recharge in order to perform properly.

4.) Top it off: You really want to make sure you are well hydrated the week before your race. You should be drinking at least 64 ounces of fluid a day. Prior to your race, drink 16-24 ounces about 90 minutes before you head out. This will ensure that the fluids are through your system before you hit the road.

5.) Be a wallflower: This is not the week to try a new sport, such as fencing, or to venture into the new Chinese restaurant that opened down the street. I know it sounds unexciting, but it’s just for a week. You can do fencing and Chinese next week.

6.) Don’t stress: Finally, if you end up sick, with a pulled hamstring and food poisoning, don’t sweat it. Things like this WILL happen to you if you do enough racing. First order of business is healing yourself. The second order can be choosing a new race. There are always other events and most likely there’s one near you the following weekend.

Mothers on the Run spring training two weeks away!

It’s the first MOTR session of the season — so get your run on! In this session, you will have the opportunity to train for the Bay to Breaker’s 10K or the See Jane Run Half Marathon/5K. However, if you just want to run for the thrill of running or develop a new exercise routine, that’s fine too. You can also train for any number of other events; we’ll help you choose. If you are a former MOTR runner who wants the companionship of the group and some motivation, but don’t need the program, pay a $10 per class drop-in rate and come when you want! You must commit to at least six sessions.

If you are new to the program, find out what so many women last session discovered: The ability to run farther and faster than you thought. We don’t care what your fitness level is or whether you’ve ever run before. This is an inviting, supportive group set to help you get in better shape (re: We know you’re too busy wiping spaghetti sauce off your ceiling and locating matching socks to spend hours at the gym.)

  • 5k Program: Train to run 3.1 miles. It doesn’t matter whether you can walk or run. This program will teach you how to handle every new runner situation from the mental hurdles to the physical difficulties (breathing patterns and form). You will start off running/walking 1 mile and build distance each week through speed play. Each participant will receive a program to implement during the week. Class time is spent stretching, running and doing strength training. Class is held at Seal Point Park from 8:30 a.m.  to 10 a.m. Sundays. (March 11-May 13)
  • 10K program: Train to run 6.2 miles. It doesn’t matter whether you are the slowest runner on the planet or new to running or looking to increase your speed. This program will teach you how to build endurance. You will start off running/walking 1 mile and build distance each week through speed play. Each participant will receive a program to implement during the week. Class time is spent stretching, running and doing strength training.Class is held at Seal Point Park from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sundays. (March 11-May 13)
  • Half marathon programTrain to run 13.1 miles. You must be able to currently run/walk 5-6 miles in order to sign up for this program. You’ll learn how to run faster and farther, and get all the information and support you need to handle a half marathon. You will start off running/walking 6 miles and build distance each week through the principle of speed play. Each participant will receive a program to implement during the week. Class time is spent stretching, running and doing strength training. Class is held at Seal Point Park from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Sundays. (March 11-May 13 )
  • Conditioning class: Join and you might win a $50 gift card to LuluLemon! This class is an intense Wednesday night track-like workout that is based on the principles of interval training. You will mix sprints and high-energy cardio drills with strength training. This method will help build your capacity to run longer and faster. The person who shaves the most time off their .5 mile or 1 mile test run wins the $50 gift card. This class is now run through the City of San Mateo at Beresford Park from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. (March 21-May 23.)  NOTE: There’s a 15 person maximum for this class.

All Sunday classes include:

  • an individual assessment of your current workout program and fitness level
  • Strength training
  • Progressively longer runs built on your current fitness level.
  • Instruction and information to help you succeed on your own.


  • 5K/10K program …… $139 (you must sign up for the 5K program through the City of San Mate. See payment information below.)
  • Half marathon ……….. $175
  • Rerun club ……………..$12 per class drop-in rate for former MOTR participants. Come when you want and run with the group. You must pre-pay and commit to at least six sessions.
  • Conditioning class …… $97 (for San Mateo residents)/$122 out of city.


Send me an e-mail ( noting the following information:

1.) Your name

2.) Which program you are interested in

3.) Whether you will pay by check or PayPal

To pay by check, send money to: Mothers on the Run, 449 Highland Avenue, San Mateo, Calif. 94401

To pay by PayPal: Log on or set up an account at and enter my e-mail You will have to pay a small fee.

To sign up for the 5K and conditioning class programs, go through the City of San Mateo.

Upcoming races to lace up for

I updated the race guide the other day and found some spectacular races to get you running again. Here are my top picks for fall:

1.) Dec. 1o: Summit Rock Half Marathon; half, 20K, 5K; Sanborn County Park, Saratoga. Brazen racing is the promoter and they do some pretty spectacular events.

2.) Oct. 15: OctoberRun; Redwood City; 5K, half marathon; First half marathon on the Peninsula in years!

3.) Oct. 29: Marsh Madness; 5K, 10K, half marathon; Palo Alto Baylands; One of my favorite places to run!

4.) Nov. 5: Oakland Caribbean Sounds; Oakland; 5K, 10K; This is a new race and if the music is any indication on the Website, it seems pretty fun.

5.) Nov. 6: Run for the Jets; San Mateo; 5K, 10K, half marathon; Another run through Coyote Point.