Marathon Mama: Top tips for running with others

runinng with others

By Beth Gallini

Whether you’re a new runner or an experienced runner, you have likely received an invitation to run with someone else or momentarily considered a group run hosted by a running store. If it hasn’t happened yet, it will!

While part of you may think that sounds like fun, a larger part of you may be overcome with fear of running slower than your friend, not running as far as everyone else, being the only one who needs to stop, or any other concern that suddenly makes you feel really self-conscious as a runner. I know, I’ve been there and I have had all of those same fears!

However, more often than not, those fears are not things you need to be concerned about in reality and, instead, there are many reasons to run with others.

Here are some reasons why you should say “yes!” next time someone asks you to run with them or, better yet, why you should be the one to arrange the group run:

Pace is not as important as you think. When runners are looking to run with others, they typically are not worried about pace, unless it is specifically discussed ahead of time. Many group runs are easy runs and this allows for runners of different abilities to run together at a comfortable pace and have fun. If you attend a larger group run, the ones often held by running stores, runners may naturally spread out and form smaller groups running at slightly different paces.

You can become a stronger runner. When you run with someone else, you’ll both naturally push and motivate each other to go further, faster, or push through a tough run. This means you’ll keep running when you may have otherwise stopped, you may inch up your mileage, or you could find some new-to-you speed in your legs.

It’s okay if you need to stop. You might worry about stopping to use the bathroom or for a walk break if you are running with a friend or group. However, many of the same points regarding pace apply here as well – most runners won’t mind a brief stop during an easy run.

You’ll skip fewer runs. If you’re waking up at 5 am to run by yourself, it might be easy to find a reason to stay in bed and you’ll risk missing your run. But if you know your friend is waiting for you, you won’t want to be a no-show and you’ll get up to meet her.

You’ll become a smarter runner. You’ll get to learn from others and have a venue to ask questions about training, nutrition, gear, or any of the other things you may be curious about.

Safety in numbers. You’ll always be safer in a group. This is especially true if you run while it’s dark outside.

It’s good for the soul. Something special happens when you find a good running partner. It’s hard to put into words and it’s best to experience it yourself, but it is worth trying to find someone who is a good fit for you. Running with others further unites two people who already have a lot in common, it can unify people who might otherwise not cross paths, or it can be the initial bond between people that leads to a great friendship. You are outside together doing something you both love, endorphins are up, barriers are down, and it’s a good setting for a good conversation.

FYI: The Hogeye Marathon is offering two group runs on Saturday mornings for runners of all abilities and we would love for you to join us!  Check out our Facebook page and look under ‘events’ for more details. If you’re thinking about registering for one of the Hogeye races, do so soon – prices go up again on February 17th.

Beth Gallini runningAbout Beth: Beth is mom, runner, running coach, and the blogger behind RUNNING around my kitchen.  She and her husband adopted two boys who are a month apart and are 1 year old. Beth serves on the board for the Hogeye Marathon and is interested in helping other moms with their training and answering any questions you have.   Be social, connect with other Hogeye runners, and let them hear from you by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  #hogeyemarathon

Baby Gear & Gadgets: The best swings and gliders for newborns

By Liz Emis, mama of 1 and 1 on the way

Happy New Year! With a new year and a new baby due in May, my husband and I decided we would resolve to watch our spending and only buy what we thought would be most important for bringing a second baby into our home.

Jack will be almost 19 months when Will is born, so the following product suggestions are both for Will and to help this mama maintain some sanity!

Since Will is arriving in the throes of Jack’s toddlerhood, and our son already is a climbing machine, I first recommend getting some kind of rocker or swing that’s elevated. It will, well, it might, make it easier for me to get things done around the house while also keeping Will safe from his big brother’s poking and prodding.

After a ton of research, I’ve chosen the Graco DuetSoothe Swing and Rocker.

This swing allows me to rock the baby either back and forth or side to side. It has a myriad of music and speed options. But the best part? If Jack is just a little too interested in the new baby, the seat easily detaches from the base and rocks on its own.

This way, without interrupting Will, I can place him on the dining room table while I cook or bring him with me into a different room. It also has a vibration mode in case Will prefers that motion to the swing.

swing use

Graco also sells a similar model swing that becomes a bouncer. While I considered this one, we already have a bouncer from when our first son was born, so it’s truly up to you. This retails for $179.99 and can be found at Target. Come late May, I’ll let you know if it was worth every penny!

Next up: a nursing chair. I bought one when Jack was born, but I wasn’t pleased. My back hurt from bending over to nurse in the low chair, and neither Jack nor I were ever really comfortable.

Anyone will tell you that if you’ve got the money, there’s no better nursing chair than those at Pottery Barn, but $1,000+ is out of my price range.

I honed in on a model by Little Castle, available at both Target and Amazon. Little Castle gliders and recliners are designed specifically for nursing mothers with thick cushions, wide arm rests and tall backs, allowing you to rest your head and lean comfortably.

They come in modern and traditional designs and colors and at Target, range from $450 to $600. You can also find matching ottomans for propping your feet as well.

Here’s a shot of the one I’ll be buying to match Will’s navy, white and orange nursery color scheme. (Their website is very detailed as well, showing you dimensions and fabric options.)

chair use

This next selection is purely for second children and beyond. Jack hasn’t even noticed that my belly has gained 20 pounds, but he will surely notice when his needs are met a little later than usual. So to make the transition easier for him, John and I bought some books to read to him about bringing a new baby into the home.

Most books about being a big sibling are for older children, say three years old or older, but we found one that’s highly rated for children under two. It’s called My New Baby with artwork by Rachel Fuller.

It’s a short board book with only a sentence or two per page, perfect length for an 18-month-old. And the illustrations are of daily life in the house: having lunch together, the new baby nursing and the big sibling eating a sandwich, or the family taking a walk and then preparing for bedtime. It’s a great introduction to what life will be like using moments that Jack already recognizes.

You can find this book and others in the series at local bookstores and Amazon for about $5.

baby book use

With these items and a bunch of diapers, I’m hoping we are set up for success. Fingers crossed, and I’ll update you on what worked once William makes his entrance in a few months!

liz-boch-emisAbout Liz: Liz Emis has spent more than 12 years in the communication industry. Beginning on the East Coast as a reporter for outlets like The Boston Globe, Orlando Sentinel and The Baltimore Sun, she moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2004 to write for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Three years later, she transitioned to public relations, branding and marketing, working on both the agency and client sides. In 2010, she added product development to her résumé, spending more than three years at Tyson Foods, Inc. in Springdale, Ark. Liz welcomed her first child, Jackson Gaines Emis, to the world in October 2013, and now uses her communication and organization skills as a stay-at-home mother to her eight-month-old son. As a domestic engineer, Liz has added financial analyst, counselor, chef, project manager, teacher, diagnostician, comedian, housecleaner and efficiency expert to her skill set. She can be reached at

Mom review of the new trampoline park, High Rise

Everybody jump now

Guest review by Kathleen Villar, NWA mama of 3

Recently the Fayetteville MOMS Club had a meetup at the new trampoline park in Rogers, High Rise. It was about a 20-minute drive for me to get there.

After looking at the website, we decided that the Kid Jump Hour Mon-Sat from 9-10 am would best fit our group. Kids 6 and under pay $10/hour to jump and the accompanying adult is free. See their website for all fees and jump times.

We got there ten minutes early in order to check in and sign the waivers. They were cleaning all the trampolines and floors prior to us jumping, which was nice to see. There are kiosks at the front door to use to sign the waivers and then you pay admission at the front desk where you receive a colored bracelet.

foam pitOurs were white and although they fit the adults, they kept coming off the smaller kids (one disappeared in a foam pit to the child’s dismay). There were plenty of employees to get us all checked in and they are easy to spot because of their referee shirts.

Before we entered the trampoline area, one employee went over the rules with the group. You must take off your shoes and socks to jump, no double bouncing, etc… There are little cubes to stash your shoes and belongings in, but I didn’t see hooks for coats.

The kids bounced and bounced and bounced. They had so much fun sliding, running and flinging themselves into the foam pits. The hour flew by quickly for me since I was chasing my child everywhere and all the kids in our group were dismayed when the hour was up. They announced over the loud speaker that all jumpers with white bracelets needed to exit.

We did use the restroom while we were there. It was clean and had a changing station which was nice. Also, get a frequent flyer card punched and earn your way to free flight time.



1. Great way to expend energy with little ones this winter. Cora was EXHAUSTED after just one hour and I know she wanted to stay longer.

2. The Kid Jump Time is amazing and to me a must if you have small kids. There was plenty of employee supervision for the small number of people who were there too.

3. Very clean and the equipment looked to be in great condition.


1. It’s a little pricey. If I brought my 6 and 4 year old together, it would be $20 for one hour. Jumping during regular hours is not better price wise either. It is fun to spend some time with your kids, but I am not sure I would drive all the way up here for one hour at that price.

2. I can’t imagine jumping when it is crowded and there are larger children and adults around. It seems like it would be dangerous. I would not bring my little kids to an open jump time till they were much older (8-10) or I knew it would not be crowded.

Note from the mamas: High Rise is not a Motherlode advertiser and Kathleen wasn’t given anything free at the trampoline park to write this review. The opinions are her own. :)


Non-profit Soldier On Service Dogs helps NWA vets, looking for families to raise puppies

sosd golden

We recently heard about a non-profit that helps veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder — or traumatic brain injury — by pairing them with a service dog for free.

sosd logoMany of us know a veteran and can understand why the work of this NWA-based organization is so important. We asked Shanthi Steddum, a puppy coordinator with the local Soldier on Service Dogs group, a few questions about the organization so we could all learn more.

One of SOSD’s needs is local families who are willing to raise puppies for the program.

Read more about Soldier On for ways to help and info on upcoming events:

Who started Soldier On Service Dogs and why?

There are a few founding members like Angie Pratt and Sharon Gruetzmacher who started this organization to meet the needs of our local veterans. Angie’s son in law was really her introduction to the reality that there are several so many veterans that would benefit from a properly trained service dog and very few organizations, nationwide, to fill that need.  She wanted to address our local veterans needs through our program.

How many soldiers are in need of service dogs right now in Arkansas?

SOSD black labIt is probably safe to estimate that number to be in the hundreds.  Each veteran suffers differently with their ptsd.  We know that not all of those diagnosed are appropriate for a service dog. Some function better than others, some are still trying to stabilize their lives and emotions once back home.

We are in the process of accepting applications from veterans with ptsd and assessing their needs with the guidance of psychiatric professionals.

Do you provide service dogs to other states?

Currently we’re looking to provide service dogs to our Northwest Arkansas veterans. Since we’re a new organization I can’t say if we will branch out to serve others. One can hope we will develop programs that will offer help all who have served.

How can volunteers help your nonprofit?

There are a variety of ways. Currently, we are organizing volunteer opportunities for the upcoming year such as fundraising events, booths at local festivals, reaching out to local businesses, public awareness and education as well as the fact that we need people to raise puppies for our program.

CLICK HERE to see all the volunteer positions that are available right now. Maybe you can help!

What if people can’t donate their time, but would like to donate money?

We invite everyone to go directly to  Every penny helps.

Do volunteers receive training?

Yes. As of this moment we are still defining our needs but we anticipate training all volunteers so that they may accurately educate the public about the program as well as fill a need for our organization.

When is your next fundraiser/event so people can find out more in person?

We are planning an event for February 22nd at Mount Sequoyah Conference and Retreat Center.

SOSDWe’re doing evaluations for the AKC Canine Good Citizen for $10. Profits go to SOSD. Click here for more info. We will also take that opportunity to have an informal open house where people can learn about our program.

Where do your puppies come from?

Puppies are selected from approved private breeders who adhere to our standards for health and temperament. They are what is referred to as “purpose bred” puppies.

Which breeds are you looking for?

We, like many other service dog organizations, feel that Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are the most ideally suited for this type of work.

What is the ultimate goal with Soldier On?

Of course our ultimate goal is to provide service dogs, free of charge, to all qualifying PTSD/TBI veterans in the Northwest Arkansas region as well as educate the public about the difference between a service dog, therapy dog, comfort dog and pet dogs.

For more information, call 479-521-9301 or click here to visit the SOSD website. Click here to like them on Facebook and follow their progress.

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