Are you looking for advice about running? Motivation? A virtual ass-kicking? Somehow, I've managed to stick with it for over fifteen years. Whether you're curious about getting started, running while pregnant, or running marathons, I can probably help. And if I can't, I'll make something up.

Email your questions to LawsonAmyB (at) Please put the phrase "The Runs" in the subject of the email, and at the very least, include your first name, your age, and your city. If you're lazy--and don't get me wrong here, I applaud that--you can leave your question in the comment section.

Please understand that your question might be posted on this page. And if your grammar (or your attitude) absolutely sucks, I reserve the right to correct it.


Hi Amy!

So here's my deal: I have 3 boys. The older 2 are 4 and almost 3, and the baby is 9 months. I have been pregnant or nursing for 5 years and I feel like such a blob. I had a herniated disc last year so I was doing PT for a while and just started back at the gym about a month ago. I can make it to the gym about 3 times/week between my work schedule, my husband's work schedule and looking after 3 kids who apparently are too young to be left home alone while I work out. What do you think would be the best things to do in my limited time? I don't want to re-hurt my back but I'd love to be able to run a 5 mile race this July at a not embarrassing pace. Maybe in the low 8 minutes. I think that's being ambitious. 8:30 is probably more like it but saying 8:30 makes me throw up in my mouth a little. I'm 34, 5'11" and 155 lbs so I'm not the skinny little runner in the underwear shorts. I'm the big, grunty one.

I'm not afraid of kicking my own ass. I rowed in college for a division 1 school and we worked out 10-11 times/week so I'm ok with hard work (that sounded very Al Bundy "remember the glory days" of me). Since I've been back at the gym I've been rotating between the treadmill, elliptical and rowing machine. That's all I can think of to tell you unless knowing things like I love crossword puzzles and can eat 17 servings of M&Ms in one sitting would help you.



Dear Amy,

Ahhhhh, the glory days. I fondly remember those, too. Sounds like you're a girl who's not afraid of sweating up a storm...I like that. I understand the limited time issue, I really, really do. In these last few months--winter, Maine, kids, work, broken treadmill--I've been forced to maximize my running time, so maybe I can offer you something here.

Since you have three days at the gym each week, I'd do a different type of run on each of those days. Like this:

Day 1: Interval training or HIIT (this, this, or this will give you an idea of what I'm talking around for more details). Sometime I even do intervals like this--run slow during the show, run fast during the commercials. Not too complicated.
Day 2: Longish, easyish run. If I were you, I'd work up to sevenish miles at a 9:30-10:30 pace. Don't let that intimidate you--start with one mile if that's what you've got. After I weened James, that's how I got back into running, literally one mile at a time.
Day 3: Tempo run. For you and your goal of a 40 minute 5 miler (which is so attainable for you!), I'd aim for a pace of 8:10-8:30. Now don't let this scare you, here's the deal....For you, a tempo run will be 2-4 miles. Start at an easy pace and gradually increase your pace until your running at 8:10-8:30. At the beginning, aim to sustain that pace for 3 or 4 minute and work your way back down. By the time your race rolls around, aim to sustain that pace for 10-12 minutes.

I like these workouts, too!

Please, please, please, remember to start wherever you are. If you can do one interval, great! If you can run for three minutes straight, great! If you're tempo pace is 5mph, great! Go easy on yourself and be patient. With your athletic background, I think you'll be really thrilled with how quickly you can gain fitness!

And then after you finish your run, I'd log a little bit of time with weights and stretching. And don't forget, you can do squats, lunges, push ups, planks, and all that crap at home. As far as the elliptical and the rowing machine go, I'd use those to supplement your running right now, not replace it. Since your running time is limited you've got to get it while the gettin's good. Elipticalling won't get you to your 40 minute five miler, but running sure will!

Good luck and keep me posted on how it's going!


Dear Amy,

I think you might have used the title, "The Runs" so you can laugh at everyone that writes an e-mail to you. If that is the case, I love you even more for it, because it is hilarious. I've been reading your blog for, I don't know, a year and a half? Or something like that. It's been a while. Anyways, my name is Shelby Lou. I live in Las Vegas and I am training for my first ever run, and it's a half marathon. I wanted to see if I could get some advice from you, since you are the queen of running. I guess my questions, if I could list some of them are:

1. I run 5 days a week. Is that too much? Is that just enough?
2. What should I be eating? Do you have anything that helped fuel after running, or before?
3. Are there certain clothes that you like more than others when running?
4. I'm not running this half marathon for time, but to say that I finished. I can't go for longer than 2 minutes without stopping to walk. Am I a sissy?
5. Is it better to run on sidewalk or pavement? Or does it matter?

Okay, so that's all I've got for now. I'd love a response, but if you don't have time just shoot me a quick e-mail wishing me luck or something! haha Thanks a bunch!

Shelby Lou

Hey Shelby Lou!

I'm very impressed by the organized fashion of your email, so I'll reply in an equally organized manner.

1. I think five days is perfect. Squeak out an extra day if you're dying to run, or rest an extra day if you're really dragging ass. But in my completely non-expert opinion, I think five days is great.

2. Oh hell, I have no idea. I usually eat something kind of light and carby before a run (a bagel with peanut butter and a banana, a Power Bar, some crackers...). After a run, especially a long or a hard run, I do know that it's important to try to get some carbs and protein in your stomach within twenty or thirty minutes. This helps with muscle repair, plus your metabolism is all revved up, so your body will burn your snack more efficiently than if you ate it two hours later. Good options are things like a protein bar or smoothie, peanut butter crackers, half of a turkey sandwich, a greek yogurt, or some chocolate milk (no, seriously). Aim for 200 to 300 calories.

3. I like tops that aren't cotton. I like the ones that wick the moisture away from the body. I usually get mine in the active section at Target or TJ Maxx--which happens to be one of the best places to buy running clothes on the planet. Always make sure you check the men's active section, too. I'm kind of partial to Brooks running shorts (the only shorts that don't give me a hideous wedgie), and the running skirts from I also like my Under Armor compression shorts (fancy name for bike shorts).

But really, as far as clothes go, it doesn't really matter. Make sure you're wearing the right shoes. That's the really important part.

4. No, you're absolutely not a sissy. Not even a little bit. You know who's a sissy? The guy on the sidelines who yells stupid sh!t like, "RUN!!!!" when you strop to take a walk break.

5. There are some many arguments over this and I really have no idea. Supposedly the roads are softer than the sidewalks? Personally, I run on the roads to avoid the sidewalk cracks that make me land on my face. Plus, we don't have a lot of sidewalks in my neck of the woods. Honestly, I say run where you're the least likely to get mowed down by an 18-wheeler.

Hope this helps and TONS of luck in your race! Send me an email to let me know how it goes!


More coming.....

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