Thursday, September 1, 2016

Introducing...Push Through Training

My Mission:
My goal is simple. I want to use my knowledge (as an RRCA Certified Running Coach/ACSM Certified Personal Trainer) and experience as a runner (including 26+ half marathons, and 6 marathons) to help you push through your boundaries and help you reach your running goals. Whether that goal is to run your first 5k, or to PR at your next half marathon, I can help you achieve it. All of my workouts are carefully planned to suit your fitness level and your goals.

Why "Push Through" Training?
Everyone has their issues. Lack of self confidence, never taking a rest day, not pushing yourself hard enough in a workout, or maybe you're new to running and you're not quite sure what to do. Each of these are a barrier that you need to "push through" in order to achieve your goals. (It goes with the theme of my blog too!)

Personalized Training:
Live in NYC? Awesome! That means not only can I create a customized training program for you, but we can schedule in person training sessions, so I can correct your form, help you keep track of those splits, and motivate you throughout your workout too!

Don't live in NYC? Don't worry, I can still create the same customized training program for you, but instead of weekly workouts, we can email, GChat, tweet, Facetime, Skype or communicate how ever else you'd like to! I will always be available to answer your questions and review your workouts with you.

What are your training sessions like?
It all depends on YOU. Your goals, your fitness level. As a general rule, there's a warm up, followed by a specific workout, a cool down, and some core work. There will also be some days which are rest days, and some days that are XT (cross training)

Ready to get started? Or just have a question about rates and scheduling? Email me at: samantha AT pushthroughphilly DOT com

What people are are saying:
Samantha was great! I needed advice about my form, she watched me on the treadmill and recorded me so that I could see what I looked like. She had a lot of great suggestions that I'll be using going forward.

I worked with Sam over 4 months to get my time down for the Staten Island half-- this included an in person meeting once a month, and a weekly training schedule. She was always available for advice and support via email, and even came to race/keep me on pace during some long runs (including a 10 mile race). In short, Sam really knows her stuff, and is exceptionally down to earth. I definitely know that without her help, there's no way I would've gotten my pace down almost a full minute! I can't wait to work with her again this coming spring.

I'm really pleased that Sam is my running coach. I was coming off a running injury so my goal was to successfully train for a half without serious injury. I wasn't quite sure what i needed out of a coach but knew I'd feel better having some guidance along the way. Sam's been great in that she is able to flex to my needs and she has been thoughtful about my training. She put together a training program that she constantly monitors and adjusts based on my performance and any travel, health, work interferences. Sam recently ran part of a race with me and another client to help with our pacing and then to cheer us on. I'd definitely recommend Sam as a coach who cares about what she does and about her clients goals.


Coach Samantha was great. Very thorough and patient. I'm a new half-marathoner in my early 50s, and she had lots of helpful advice and guidelines for me to consider.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why not run fast?

I'm sure by now you've all read about Kayla Montgomery, the teenage runner with M.S, whos legs go numb at the end of the race, causing her to collapse upon crossing the finish line. If you haven't read the article, the NY Times did a great piece about it here.

I was reading this article the other day, and with the NYC Half coming up in just a few days, there was something that Kayla said that stuck with me.

‘Coach, I don’t know how much time I have left, so I want to run fast — don’t hold back,’ 

And I thought (in a somewhat morbid way) isn't that true for all of us? Why am I scared of going fast?  Why do I fear that by going fast I'll get injured? What's the point of racing when you're not letting your legs and heart be in it 200%? None of us know how much time we have left to run, and we shouldn't let anything hold us back from giving it our all every time we run.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Is there really much more to say? Winter.

I was tallying up my miles for January, and I realized more than 50% of those miles were done on a treadmill. A necessary evil. Training is going well, but I hope that in the next few weeks the weather calms down a little bit. At least for March 16th.

How are you all dealing with this weather?

Monday, January 20, 2014

A New Week

I'm really glad that Monday is the start of my training week. I'm in week 3 of my half marathon training, and I'm not sure what to expect. The first week was pretty good, but by Saturday night, I was feeling sick and run down. I spent all of week 2 being various degrees of sick (fever, sore throat, full blown laryngitis) but after three solid night sleeps, I am finally feeling back to "normal".

Even though last week was a complete disaster, I am trying to be positive about this week. It's only week three, and it is a brand new week. Yes, every run last week sucked, but it's got to get better. Despite the fact we are supposed to be getting another "Arctic Blast" I know I can workout at the gym. For most people that probably sounds like a punishment, but when the temperature is below 20 degrees, I'll take the treadmill. It also means I have no excuse to not do my leg/core exercises. And I also find doing speed work on the treadmill easier (relatively), because I have no other choice but to hit those splits. Otherwise I'll end up on my face. (Or ass. I've never fallen off a treadmill, so I'm not sure which end you end up on--but I never want to find out!)

So there are two positive things about my workouts for this week. What are you looking forward to this week, even if you're battling the elements (or yourself!)?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Happy New Year (right?)

It's only January 13th, so I think it's still appropriate to say Happy New Year....especially when I haven't blogged since....yeah.

There's lots of stuff coming up for me running wise this year, and I'm really excited to share it with you. Though, most of you know already, I got into the 2014 NYC Half Marathon! I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but this was my first time entering the lottery for this race (the last time I ran it was in 2010, when it was in August and not even a lottery) The timing of the race is perfect, and the fact that I don't have to pay for travel/hotel is nice too. So, I got extremely lucky, and I'm really excited to train for this race and feel like I'm back in shape again. I have an A goal in sight, and after a year of flop races, I am really looking forward to celebrating some new PRs.

Speaking of travel and hotel however, I did sign up to run the Atlantic City Fool's Half Marathon which is the first Sunday in April. I signed up for this race a few weeks back, before I even found out about the NYC lottery. Unfortunately in my excitement to sign up, I totally forgot that this race was on the same day as the Cherry Tree 10 miler in DC, which I really wanted to enter as an excuse to see my favorite cat Livia, and her human Tracy.

There's also some new stuff coming to the blog in the next few days. has to do with the fact I changed the header of the website!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Surviving the Philadelphia Marathon With A Smile...Again

This weekend was such a whirl wind, it's hard to believe I ran a marathon yesterday. The weekend started off great, my Megabus was on time, I got to Philly half an hour early and I was able to check into my hotel before noon. Philly is one of my favorite cities, and I loved being right across the street from Reading Terminal Market. I ended up meeting up with a few friends and we went through the market, went to the expo, and had a hearty pasta lunch.

Later that afternoon I decided to text Josh, and ask him what he thought my predicted time would be. It's sort of a joke at this point, because he can usually predict his athletes time within 60 seconds. Though I haven't officially been training with him this season, I wanted to get his opinion and test his powers. After all, I hadn't done much speed work, and I was going to run it stress free with no time goal. Just have fun.

Josh turned my question around on me and asked what I thought my time would be, to which I replied 4:30's, which was true. It wouldn't be a PR but I knew I could keep a 10:20 pace for the race. Of course Josh had a reply to that. "Really? I was thinking high teens" to which I laughed out loud. 4:18? 4:19?? I asked him what pace that translated to, and when I found out it was sub 10:00 I laughed again. Virtually every long run I'd done this year was on the other side of 10:00. Could I really pull off a 5 minute PR Sunday? We spoke a little more about how I needed to grow a pair of man-balls and race fearlessly. I admit I liked the idea. What's the worst that could happen? My legs would feel sluggish from the start and I would slow down. Best case? Shiny new PR.

I went back to the hotel room after dinner and made sure I had everything I needed for the race. I also grabbed a pen and wrote two things on the inside of my right wrist: STRONG. (The best mantra I've come up with is telling myself how strong I look and how I am so much stronger than I think I am.) MARBLES. (To remind me to grow a pair) And then I drew a little heart. (To remind me of my boyfriend, and how I knew he was rooting for me even though he wasn't with me)

Predictably, I did not sleep a wink that night. But that's okay, I know by now getting a good night sleep before the race doesn't mean much.

In the morning I met up with Jonathan, Eugene and Kate, and we all walked to the start of the race coffees in hand. The security line we were so worried about and warned about took us about 30 seconds to go through. (At least at 5:30am, when we got there) The porta potty lines on the other hand where out of control. We all decided to hop on line for a final time at 6:15, and unfortunately Kate and I didn't get into the corrals until 7:15. Yes, we waited an hour on line for the bathroom, and we were far from the last in line!

Starting the race, I felt great. I was trying my hardest to not look at my watch for pace because I didn't want to freak myself out, either way. I was just running with the group, my legs felt light, the air was chilly. Around mile 2 I looked at my watch and saw I was running a 9:38 pace. HOLY CRAP. I tried to slow down a bit as we were running by Penn's Landing. I kind of hoped there was a 5k checkpoint, so everyone tracking me could see how I was breezing through the first few miles (Ridiculous logic, I know) Finally around mile 4-5 I was able to settle in to a much better groove of low 10's high 9's.

My pace was fluctuating a little bit through miles 5-9, but I hit the 10k in just under an hour, and still felt amazing. The crowds on Arch Street were amazing. I try not to do too many high 5's, because I feel like it wastes energy, but I couldn't help it. My legs felt great, the endorphins were flowing, and I thought to myself, "Holy shit! I can do this!"

The zoo was slightly less brutal than I remembered, however coming back on MLK Jr. Drive was awful. It seemed never ending, and I hate to admit it, but my legs were starting to tighten up. My pace was still in the low 10's, but it was starting to creep up. I just kept trying to focus on my music, getting to the next mile where I'd take some salt or a gel, and just keep moving. I hit the half in 2:12 and I told myself that I was doing great and on track to PR.

If I thought those last few miles were tough, the way up Kelly Drive was brutal. By mile 16/17 my legs were so tight/dead. My left hamstring/piriformis was bothering me. I was tired. I knew the last 9 would be ugly, but I kept chugging along, trying my hardest to keep my walking to a bare minimum. I kept thinking about the turn around at mile 20 and just tried to focus on that. I hit the 30k in 3:13 (10:20 pace) and knew I had to try my best to not lose any more time.

The crowds at Manayunk were awesome, but I never got that huge surge of energy that I had gotten in 2010. I was miserable knowing I had six freaking miles more. I was grateful that my hamstring/butt had stopped hurting, because my quads were fried, and my lower back was aching. I tried to keep moving as best as I could. I stopped to stretch a few times but it didn't seem to make much difference. The worst part about it all is just watching the seconds slip away and feeling like you have no control over it. I mean, I know I am literally controlling the pace, but I think most of us know that feeling in a race where you just give up your goal, and force yourself to shuffle along, and if you walk you walk.

I must have had a burst of energy at mile 26, because it was the fastest of the last 7 miles, at a whopping 11:03 pace.

I crossed the finish line, giving Mayor Nutter a high five, and just started to cry. I was so upset. I was glad that I didn't have a friend waiting for me at the finish, and my boyfriend didn't pick up his cell phone on the first try, because I would have just lost it. I was so sad that it all fell apart in to what I would almost call a disaster. I cried because I was sad the race was over. I cried because I was ecstatic the race was over.

Having a little time to think about it, I realized I'm proud of myself for trying. Those first 17 miles were by far the best marathon start I've had. What difference would it have made if I ran 10:20's-30's the whole race and finished in the 4:30's? No PR is no PR. I'm glad I tried to go for it, and for all those miles I believed in myself and let myself believe I could do it.

This years giant medals vs the medal in 2010
This years giant medal vs MCM 2012

All the medals, all lined up

Monday, October 28, 2013

Priced Out

My mind has been on the Spring lately. I'm already thinking about a spring marathon or a spring half.  Immediately, when I thought of a great early spring race, I thought of the Atlantic City April Fools race that I did back 2012 with my friend Vee. It was close to home, flat, and I'd get to do a little shopping too!

I went to the website to look at registration, and I was floored. The fee was already up to $80! (from the base price of  $70) I checked back in my emails, and indeed I had a reason to be surprised. I had a receipt from dated 2/20/12 for a $65 race fee (plus a $5 processing fee) So, last February I was able to register about 45 days before the race for $65, and now it'll cost me $80 to register for a race in 6 months. For a better comparison, if I waited until February 20, 2014 to sign up for the race, it would cost $90.

I can't possibly be the only person who thinks race fees are getting out of control. I understand wanting to get races full earlier, but I've lost count of how many times I've been scared off by a $70+ race fee for a half. And then there's the possible hotel/travel fees. Sometimes it's just not possible to plan my life out 6-8 months in advance for a race, and sometimes I don't even learn about these smaller race until a few weeks before the actual race.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Fault In My Logic

This week has been fabulous. I did some yoga, ran a few easy miles, and tried to catch up on as much sleep as I could. By Wednesday I'd say I was feeling about 95% recovered from the marathon. Yet by Monday I realized, I can't do my usual post marathon pig out, nor could I take as much time off as I wanted. I was still in training. Shit!
Realizing that next week (ahem, the day of the NYC Marathon) was my last real long run was a little bit of a slap in the face. You mean I have to run another 19 miler? Shit! You must all think I'm crazy. "Samantha, how could you not have known you'd have to do another long run before Philly?" Well, dear reader, I guess I did. But I figured I could get away with something relatively short, like a 16 miler. Then I spoke with Josh, who said he would do a 19 miler. Obviously we are two different people, and what he would do is not nessecarily what I should do, but I guess it made me think I should try and go a little bit longer.
I'm excited to run the marathon, but running more trainng runs? Ugh.

Just a few more weeks.... 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Surprise! I ran a marathon this weekend

I see I've neglected to post in my blog since the end of what better way to come back than with a surprise marathon?

It all started early last week when I was trying to find a half marathon to run as part of my long run. Every race I came across was up in Syracuse, Albany, or somewhere that was at least a 5 hour drive. No thanks.

Then while searching on the Runners World website, I came across the Habmletonian Marathon and Relay in Goshen, NY, which is only about an hour of the city. Huh.

Do elevation charts mean anything to you? Because apparently they don't to me!

I emailed my friend Joe, thinking that running a warm up marathon before your goal marathon was something that would be right up his alley. (Have I mentioned we are both Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics?) There was a short email exchange between him and our friend/coach Josh, and by the end of the day we had both agreed to run a marathon in 4 days.

I must say, I was a little nervous before this run, mainly because my 17 miler last week started out so terrible. At the same time, I had no time goals, and I honestly wasn't even sure I would finish the race. My goals was to get 19-22 miles in that day, and whatever happened after that was a bonus. I did pay for that finishers medal though...

The Race

4:30am alarm. It must be Marathon Day! 

The drive up to Goshen was quiet lovely. I think I must have remarked at least three times how I'd like to live in that area, and then I realized, what do people do up there? And then I downgraded my thoughts to maybe just owning a "weekend" home.

We arrived to the race a bit later than we both had wanted. We basically had time to get our bibs, I dashed to the porta-potty line and hustled over to the start. Luckily all of these things were very close to each other. 

The first 6 miles were pretty lovely, and all in the low 10's/high 9's. ( If I would have kept up that pace I would have PR'd. I tried not to think about it, because I did remember a giant red bar on the elevation chart at mile 15) We saw a family of deer running through someone's front yard. Unfortunately, Joe was having some stomach issues around that time, and actually did a spectacular puke and rally and caught up with my by mile 7. The next few miles I started to slow down and settled into a mid 10 pace. I didn't know why my legs were starting to feel heavy, but they were. 

Starting to feel mile 10. Also, FREE RACE PHOTOS without watermarks.
My left hamstring/hip/glute was starting to get really sore and uncomfortable. Joe and I ran together till mile 11 or so, when I decided to take another gel, hoping that it would give me the energy to power on. Unfortunately, I kept feeling worse. Has anyone ever hit the wall at mile 13 of a marathon? I guess I sort of did. I felt awful. Everything between my lower back and left hamstring hurt. And I thought about all the upcoming miles (and hills) I didn't know how I'd even make it to mile 17. I walked so much. I tried to put on my favorite songs, but even Ke$ha couldn't get me going.

I texted my boyfriend at mile 15, basically saying I was so exhausted, I don't know how I'm going to do this. A few seconds later a got a little beep on my phone, with some encouraging words. I could feel a lump in my throat and cursed at myself. NO CRYING RIGHT NOW. Just move.

I hit that giant hill at mile 15 and just laughed. Think of that mile long hill in the Palisades, except shorter and steeper. I walked up the entire hill, and was still out of breath by the top. I told myself I had to run at least all the downhills, which felt a little better on my leg.

Mile 16. Mile 17. Started to feel a little better and forced myself to try and run more than I walked. Mile 18. Mile 19 we ran by a farm that smelled so badly of cow dung that I had to use my t-shirt to cover my face, because I feared I would puke. What can I say? I'm a city girl.

Mile 20 was pretty glorious, because by this point I realized I could shuffle my way to the finish, and that I would finish my 5th marathon that day. Mile 21. I celebrated. Mile 22 I texted my boyfriend to let him know where I was, and that I had kept going. The volunteers were amazing. I still walked a lot. Mile 23. Mile 24 I was starting to get bored on this little trail. I had miraculously passed a few people, and there was no one ahead of me. I saw what was either a beaver or a raccoon. Mile 25!! By this point my long sleeve shirt (that had my bib number on it) was off and tied around my waist, which meant when people saw me running they couldn't tell if I was part of the relay or running the full. (Relay had white bibs, the marathoners had yellow bibs) I hit the water station at mile 25, and as I passed them one of the guys said "She IS a marathoner!" and I did a lame attempt at a fist pump. I had long realized this race would be a PW but I didn't really care. Mentally I had felt really good, and I was so proud of myself. I realized it was a big deal to me that I finished another marathon, and honestly? Despite the fact the first half of my race kind of sucked, I had a lot of fun.

I chatted with runners as we ran/walked up hills. One woman had on a 100+ marathon singlet, one woman was running her first. I got people to yell "I love sweat too!" as I ran by. I had volunteers ask me if I was okay and if I needed anything. (I replied, yes, I need a nap, at mile 15.)

The last .2 of the race was on the Goshen Historic Track, which was really nice. It was softer footing, and I pretended like I was at a Tuesday night speed workout and I was busting out my last repeat. For what it's worth, I ran the last .4 of my race at a 9:13 pace.

Surprisingly, I don't feel too beat up today. However, I wish I could take a nap. With Philly in just under 4 weeks, I'm obviously feeling a lot more confident in the distance. I know I have a few weeks to try and strengthen up what's been bothering me, but with a flatter course, I'm hoping that maybe I can squeak out a PR after all.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Can I give more?" The answer is usually yes.

 The subject of this blog came from a quote by Paul Tergat, which was in today's "Daily Kick In The Butt" email from Runners World.

It's true. Often times when we're running, or racing, or doing whatever sport we choose, we can always give a little bit more. There are always those moments where we let up almost an imperceptible amount, but it's just enough to give us some relief.

Last night I ran the last of the PPTC 5k Summer Series. I had one (okay, two) goals. My main goal was to not hold back and race with everything I had. My second goal was to PR. I did 6x800's + 1/10 mile sprint on Friday to gauge where I was. My total time for the simulated 5k was 25:51 (8:20 pace) This is pretty much dead on my PR, which was interesting to see. and gave me a boost of confidence.

However, I almost bailed on this race before it even started. Sunday I had a slogging, fairly miserable 16 miler. Then I had the work week from hell (yes, I know yesterday was only Wednesday) I hemmed and hawed, and then told myself it would be more beneficial to just run 5-6 miles. I conferred with Josh, who of course told me I should race. "You'll learn something" he said. Well, fine.

It was humid and I got to the start of the race at 6:50. I had to pee terribly, but was afraid I'd get stuck too far in the back of the crowds, so I told myself I'd skip the bathroom. I'd probably run faster anyway, right? Luckily enough I spotted a porta-potty by the transverse of the park and ducked in.

I changed the screen on my Garmin so it only displayed my average pace, and my total running time. I told myself I wouldn't obsessively watch my Garmin, that I would focus more on running hard. In the past 3 weeks I've run the big hill in Prospect Park no less than 4 times, so it pretty much was my bitch last night. Mile 1 ticked off in 8:21. I was pretty satisfied, but I knew the hardest part would be to hold this pace and not slow up.

Of course, shortly after this point, my ankles started to hurt/burn?cramp(?). I've had this issue a loooong time ago, and it always came up when I ran too fast without a proper warm up, which is exactly what happened last night. I also wore a new pair of Ravenna's, and I don't think the laces were tightened quite as tight as they should have been. I knew the burning would go away in about a mile or so...but should I keep going? I could hear my feet slapping the ground with every step. I was afraid of getting hurt. Should I walk for a bit? Should I stretch? Should I keep going?

I decided to push through and keep going...mile 2 was 8:25, which wasn't too bad. I was annoyed that going down the big hill I couldn't pick my speed as much as I had planned on. I was breathing heavy, and my ankles were still burning. Mentally I knew I had to try and keep my pace up once we went around that turn by the tennis courts. That seemed to be the spot in past races where I've fizzled out. I finally switched screens on my Garmin to see I had less than I mile left! Hurray! I knew I was probably going to miss out on a PR by a few seconds, but I just tried to focus on pushing myself as hard as I could. Mile 3 was 8:19. I sprinted the last little bit going up the hill, feeling like I was going to die, puke, pass out etc, and crossed the finish line in 26:17.

I knew I was about 20 seconds off a PR, and that was certainly annoying, but I also realized I ran this race almost a full minute faster than I did a month ago. And I didn't give up when it was tough. So I'll consider this race a success,