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Life of a Runner: Sarah's Blog


My perspective on running has changed a lot in the past year. A while ago, I was able to thrive as an All-American runner on a national championship winning team, a school record holder in steeplechase, and as a leader as the captain of the cross country team. Although I appeared to be successful and happy, I was not at peace with myself. I became self-absorbed in my identity as a runner- until everything fell apart. I suffered a concussion at the conference meet, fractured my hip, and lost the ability to run for a long time. Through recovery, I let go of that mindset, and it has been so liberating.  While I still always give my best effort, I don't dwell on the little things and I definitely enjoy running a lot more now.

We all need the attitude to chase our dreams by doing what we love to do- It's a great way to look at life, especially since we should not take anything for granted. If we stress about the little things, or sacrifice relationships and other passions, in order to focus on narrow-minded pursuits of success, we will forget about what truly makes us happy. It's never been more evident how we really need to seize every opportunity & take chances because you never know where it will lead you.

That being said, running is an amazing way that brings communities together- for a great charitable cause, personal growth, and limitless opportunities. So many runners have inspired me lately- cheering on others who achieve their goals brings such joy & a lot of smilesJ Witnessing runners’ genuine passion for the sport, redefining limits, going above and beyond what was thought possible is what makes the sport of running so incredible and empowering! For now, I just look around me & smile, remembering how grateful and privileged I am just to be able to run! I hope my story along with More Miles More Smiles inspires you to enjoy running free and happy! :)


*Sarah Fisher is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*

by Mark Spewak

Elise's Winter Running Tips

For many runners, the winter season is a time for rest. A lot of runners consider winter to be the “off” season, the time between fall and spring races.

But I’m different. I prefer to run right through the winter and take time off in the summer, when the heat and humidity keep me from being motivated to leave the comforts of air conditioning.

So if you’re like me, and you find running in the summer to be a drag, consider doing your training in the winter! There are many great reasons to train the winter: getting outdoors during the holiday season can be a great escape from the stresses of the season; running in the snow is a magical experience; it’s a lot easier to stay warm in the winter than it is to stay cool on a hot summer day!

If you’ve never called yourself a winter runner, fear not. Here are a few tips to get yourself out the door on the next snowy day:

Get the right gear

Every winter runner needs the right gear. You should have at least one pair of running tights, and another pair of heavier sweatpants that fit over your tights. Most days you’ll be fine just wearing the tights, but on really cold days, you’ll be happy to have that extra layer.

On top, you’ll want to wear a tech shirt that wicks moisture away from your body, as well as a coat to layer on top. I have two fleeces that I alternate between, and sometimes I’ll throw a lighter jacket on top of that if I want an extra layer of warmth.

Finally, you’ll need gloves and something to cover your ears, whether that’s a hat or a headband.

Once you get used to running outdoors, you’ll figure out what combination of gear works for you. Be sure to check the weather before you head out, and note the temperature and how you warm you felt on your run, and adjust your wardrobe accordingly in the future.

Consider your route

In the summer, trails and sidewalks are all clear for you to run on, but in the winter, these same paths can be icy! If it’s snowy or icy where you live, take it slow on the sidewalk or park trail until you know that you’ve got good footing.

Or, even better, consider running on the roads, which are usually plowed and salted, leaving them clear for cars—and runners.

Remember, you’ll warm up eventually

It usually takes me about 10 minutes to really start to feel warm on a winter run, no matter the temperature. So use the “just-get-out-the-door” rule: run for 10 minutes, and if you’re not yet starting to warm up, feel free to turn back around. But I’d bet that won’t be a problem.

Don’t forget to drink

Just because you might not be sweating as much doesn’t mean you don’t need water! Make sure you’re drinking some water during runs longer than thirty minutes, even if it’s just a sip or two. If cold water doesn’t appeal to you, heat it up before you fill up your water bottle and it’ll be nice and warm when you take a drink.


Running in the winter is a great opportunity to get out of the house during the dreariness of the season! Take a chance and try out some winter running today.


                               (Me running a winter 5-mile race last January. I was nice and warmed up by this point.)




*Elise Moser is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*




by Mark Spewak

The Running Story: Becky Cutright

In early December or late June you can expect to see 28 year old Becky Cutright running out on the roads or trails. When you pass by her she may just appear to be another runner sacrificing her body in the early morning light. However, Becky’s story is different. Today we feature an incredible running story about Becky Cutright. Read our interview with her below and be prepared to be inspired!


MS: What got you into running?

BC:After losing about fifty pounds on my own with healthy eating, I hit a plateau. I had more pounds to lose and realized I hadn’t really incorporated much exercise into my new lifestyle. A friend mentioned the Couch-2-5k program and said she wanted to give it a try. I was hesitant because I disliked running a great deal when I was younger. But I had heard great things about the program so I joined her in the spring of 2012 to try it out for myself. Our goal was to do The Color Run at the end of the program and we did! I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed running. I loved being outside and running in new places. I went on vacation in the southwest in the weeks leading up to The Color Run and it was really exciting to do some of my training with the mountains of Santa Fe in the background! I saw sites I would have never seen otherwise. After that, the running bug officially bit me and I was hooked. I started training for a half-marathon shortly thereafter in the spring of this year and completed my very first 13.1 miles last month at Disneyworld!


MS: What was your first initial weight loss goal?

BC: I had been heavy my entire life and was not successful with weight loss in the past, in part, because I always put too much pressure on myself to reach a certain weight loss goal or number on the scale. This time around the goal was about getting healthy versus losing weight. I knew if I made healthier eating choices and starting incorporating exercise that the weight would naturally come off, which is exactly what happened! Two years and 112 pounds later, here I am, happier and healthier than ever! I do hope to lose another ten pounds, but I have no specific timeline for that. When I reach the goal, I’ll reach it. And then the lifelong goal will be to maintain my new weight and healthy lifestyle, which I am enjoying so far! Running has definitely contributed to my weight loss; as well as keeping me motivated to make healthy eating choices. It’s a lot easier for me not to overindulge when I know I have a long run or a big race coming up.


MS: What's been the easiest part about the sport for you?

BC: The easiest part about the sport for me has been sticking with it, which might sound lame, but in the past I have had trouble sticking with a certain exercise for an extended period of time. I would eventually lose interest or lose motivation, but not with running.


MS: What's been the hardest part about the sport for you?

BC: Making myself run in cold, windy weather! Even with all of my warm gear, I have trouble catching my breath in the winter. But, it’s something I’m working on!


MS: Did you start training with friends or do it alone?

BC: When I was first getting into running I trained with a friend. Now that I’ve made running an integral part of my life, I typically train on my own, only because I have to fit it into my busy schedule. As often as I can I try to do group runs at Big River Running Company on Monday evenings. My husband just graduated from college and now that he’ll have more time I’m excited for us to start running together, as well.


MS: Where do you see your running in 10 years?

BC: I’m not so sure about 10 years, but I do have a 2-year plan. I’m 28 years old now and just completed my first half-marathon. Next year, after I turn 29, I would like to complete my first full-marathon. And by the next year when I turn 30, I would like to run 30 miles on my actual birthday. After that I’d like to continue running on my own for exercise and good health, and participating in races throughout the country as I can!


Thank you for reading Becky's amazing story. Check out a cool before and after photo of her below!


by Mark Spewak

Mark's Winter Running Tips


Running in the cold can be a challenge. Read our winter running tips below! Hopefully this will help keep your running motivated this season!


Purpose: Have a purpose for why you are running! For example, training for a particular race will motivate you to get your runs in. Training for a race doesn't have to be the reason. Running to stay in shape or keep the holiday weight off are great reasons too! We all run for different reasons. It's up to you find what your reason is! You are the only one who will be able to successfully keep yourself accountable.


Mark's example: I'm training for a spring marathon right now. What gets me out the door is knowing I need to be aerobically fit for when the race comes around. I also am someone who prides themselves on staying fit all year long. I know if I stop running I would be a living a life that I wouldn't be happy with!


Consistency: Staying consistent with your running when it's cold outside is extremely difficult. Often it's easy to choose a hot shower or hot coco over a frigid 6 am run. We personally recommend planning your week around your runs. Find a consistent schedule for your running. Your body and mind will start to become familiar with the structure on a weekly basis. Structure makes consistency :)


Mark's example: I run 6-7 days a week. I always make sure I get my runs in the morning. It helps starting the day off with a run and having the rest of the day to focus on other objectives.


Reward: Have a reward or incentive for your daily run! Reward yourself with whatever you want. Having something to look forward to after the run makes running that much easier! Treat yourself to a warm shower or holiday cookies! Whatever you choose, make sure you can have them if you complete your workout that day!


Mark's example: I always have a cup of coffee and a hot shower waiting for me post run! No better feeling grinding out the miles in the snow and then rewarding myself to my run goodies!


Group Runs: Finding a group to train with will help your running tremendously! Find a few people who are willing to meet up a few times a week. Pick a new place every so often. A change of scenery keeps things fun and different! You can even plan something social after the run to keep people accountable for showing up. 


Mark's example: I am fortunate enough to have a lot of different people who are willing to meet up for a run. The easiest way for me to get my runs in is with a group. It's much easier showing up for a a chilly morning run when you know other people are waiting for you.


Dress Code: Dressing appropriately hands down may be the best piece of advice we can share with you! Visit your local running specialty store and see their winter apparel selection. Having the appropriate amount of clothing on will keep you from being uncomfortable. Dressing in layers is always the best option. You can always shed a layer!


Mark's example: I personally over dress. I make sure to wear the appropriate amount of layers. When the weather is in the teens I will wear a jacket, two layers under, and a nice pair of tights. I always make sure to have warm gloves and a hat on. How I dress in the winter is all relative to the weather outside! I make sure to check the weather and feel the temperature outside before running. I never leave the door unsure if I will be warm enough!



If you have any questions or need motivation running this winter contact 

by Mark Spewak

Steph's Photo Essay: Six Snowy Miles

Stephanie Hussman put together a beautiful photo essay of her last run through the snow! Check it out!




by Mark Spewak

Eric's Blog: Chasing Moments

A few weeks ago I was in Seattle for work. My co-worker, Steve, and I decided to head out for a long run towards Discovery Park in the late afternoon. As we got close to our turn around point, I looked at the street signs and realized that we weren’t too far from the park, so we decided to make our run a little bit longer, just so we could check it out. It seemed silly to do a run to Discovery Park and not actually make it to the park because it didn’t perfectly mesh with our training. Boy, am I glad we continued on. As we ran into the park, we were greeted with towering trees and a maze of dirt trails snaking off in every direction. We picked one and just went. Our talk quickly turned from work and girls, to how unbelievable Discovery Park is. I even quipped, “You know what’s sad? This city is full of hundreds of thousands of people who are missing out on this.” Our breathtaking surroundings distracted us from the fact that the trail we picked was a switchback, gently leading us higher and higher into the trees.

Only the quickening of our breathing hinted at the climb. Suddenly we crested the hill and were nearly stopped in our tracks as the forest gave way to an open field sloping down to the water. Our pace slowed, as we were in awe of the scene before us. With the trees gone, we could now see people out hiking or running on the trails in the open field. The field spilled down to the water, where a single sailboat was lazily gliding back to shore. We looked across Puget Sound to see the sun setting behind the mountains of Olympic National Park. The sky was a watercolor of purples, oranges, and reds – a masterpiece painted by one of the greats, never to be replicated. We slowed, stopped, and took it all in. At times like these I wish I ran with a camera. I think about that often.

Whether I’m exploring a new place in a new city or just catching another amazing sunrise while running with my friends at home, I wish I could capture those moments. I think there’s a part of me, of all of us, possibly, that wants to hold on to moments like those and never let them go. I want to capture those moments, in case no moment is ever as perfect or beautiful as the one I have right now. I’m trying to learn, however, that you can’t hold on to a moment, because no matter how hard you try, it’s already gone. The consolation we have, as runners, is that we’re out there every day – running, exploring.

The odds are in our favor that we will, indeed, come across more moments like this: another beautiful sunrise; another run with friends where you’re not sure if it’s the pace that has you breathing hard, or if it’s all of the laughing. We’re sure to come across more moments like this, because we put ourselves in a position to come across more moments like this. So I try not to lament the fact that I can’t capture these moments. I try to enjoy them, knowing more are sure to come along. Besides, what good would it do for me to post it to my Facebook or share it on Instagram? A moment like that can’t truly be experienced while you’re sitting on your couch and scrolling on your laptop.



*Eric Mellow is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*

by Mark Spewak

Matt Sampson Blog: College Running Insight



Senior year of high school was an amazing year for me.  With tackling the SATs early and taking on a light course load, I was free to enjoy my last year of high school and put more focus into training.  I had always been serious about my running, but finally seeing some success on the track at the end of my junior year brought a new level of desire and drive to see how far I could go in this sport.  Having a dad who ran in college (and still runs when he can) and having an older brother who ran for a Division III school, I received tremendous support from my family.  Mom and Dad were my biggest cheerleaders at my meets.

As the fall cross country season progressed, I reached out to college coaches all over the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York area.  I was never the best cross country runner; track was where my real value lied.  And that’s what I told coaches.  I let them know how hard I was willing to work and what my realistic goals were for the upcoming track season, specifically in the 800m and 1600m.  Some coaches expressed interest and some didn’t.  

With a team that consisted of many recreational athletes and a handful of dedicated runners, I spent most of my time training with the latter.  We put in many miles running all around our coastal community and surrounding towns.  Not having big parks or trails in the area, running on the boardwalk was always a peaceful, scenic place for me to do my runs.  My teammates and I pushed each other in workouts on our prehistoric 330 meter cinder track.  If you could hit times on that, it made you feel like you were flying once you spiked up on a real, modern track.

In the indoor season, I was able to drop some time in the 800.  With breaking the two minute barrier and qualifying for the New Jersey Meet of Champions, I received more attention from college coaches.  Getting my time down to 1:56 at the end of the outdoor season, I knew I had to continue running competitively in college.  Coming from a small high school without any heavy training regimen, I knew I could do better and isn’t that what this whole sport is about?  Other than competing against a slew of other young guys in similarly short shorts, you are competing against yourself to see how hard you can push yourself to test the limits of you can physically do.  

Deciding to run at the collegiate level was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  All my best friends I’ve made at school are on the team.  It is great to be able to run with a group of guys who share your dedication to being the best athletes they can possibly be.  Having my teammates there makes it much easier to survive each grueling long run and each gut wrenching workout.  I have also developed a great relationship with my coach.  Coach Hamer has been tremendous in not only developing my athletic talents, but acting as a great mentor in offering a world of wisdom as I get older and prepare to take on the real world in a short matter of time.

As a senior, I’m starting to reach the end of the road in my collegiate running.  I’m so fortunate to have met so many great people throughout my running career through different teammates, coaches, and runners all over the East coast.  If anyone is not sure about running in college, I strongly recommend doing so.  Although it hasn’t been easy balancing school with running, the experience has been truly worth it.  Dedicating yourself to academics and athletics will prepare you for life after college when you are faced with many responsibilities that come with being an independent adult.  Despite collegiate running being nearly over for me, the journey is far from over.  Although I may not continue to train at such an intense level, I plan to continue running for as long as I can.


*Matt is a senior on the Rider University Men's Cross Country and Track and Field team. Follow him on twitter @DirkSampson*


by Mark Spewak

The Running Story: Billy Hackmeister



If you don’t believe Billy Hackmeister was destined to run, just ask his third grade gym teacher. From an early age, he knew distance running was going to be a monumental part of his upbringing in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

“I started running in 3rd grade. We had this program called the Lunch Bunch Club. We would meet three times a week and run around the playground for 20 minutes,” Hackmeister said.

At 9 years old, the legend was born. Billy found himself enjoying the sport as if he had been doing it in his entire life. A lot of the credit can go to his nationally recognized gym teacher, Joanie Lepage who took it upon herself to promote the sport in a positive manner.

“Joanie Lepage was the person who really inspired my running career. To this day she still continues to support my running. She was a fitness fanatic and a positive role model for the kids to have on the playground.”

Now nearly a decade later, Hackmeister finds himself still running but in a different role. He is a senior on Rider University’s Men’s Cross Country and Track programs. Rider is a small Division One school in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, located just outside of Princeton, New Jersey. He now adjusts to a different setting and is now settling into an important leadership position on the team.

“I made the right choice on choosing Rider. I love my teammates and really admire Coach Hamer. My career is winding down but I wouldn’t have done anything differently.” Hackmeister said.

Like any good fairy tale, Hackmeister didn’t get from the Lunch Box Club to a Division One program overnight.  In the sport of running, there are many steps you must take before reaching the higher levels. In Hackmeister’s case, he saw the higher level right off the bat: He was a part a part of his high school team’s National Championship in 2006.

“It was phenomenal being able to be a part of it and being a runner up. We worked so hard and we were determined.”

However, Hackmeister was determined to build his own legacy. Throughout his high school career, he made himself in a top contender in the state of Pennsylvania. For most runners, they start in their early teen years. In Billy’s case, he was a true veteran by his senior year of high school.

“My senior year of high school I was poised to be a top 25 runner in the state. Three days before the conference meet I got the stomach virus. I was never the same after that. Running was going well to that point.” Hackmesiter said.

“It was very difficult and I felt like I was letting the team down. I never really got over it until after my freshman year of college.”

The damage was done. Billy finished up his high school career on a negative note but knew he had much more to prove going into college. Bob Hamer, the head coach of Rider’s Cross Country and Track programs took Billy in and embraced him with open arms.

“Although I was disappointed with the way I ran senior year, Coach Hamer did a great job accepting me onto the team without any problems. He and the team was the main reason I continued to train my senior year.” Hackmeister said.

After a disappointing senior year, Hackmeister was ready for redemption in his college career. In the running world, the toughest adjustment can be the high school to freshmen year of college transition. Not only are you running at a different level, but you are also living in a whole new environment. Luckily for Billy, he found himself right at home.

“I was back to my old ways.  At William and Mary that spring I broke 16 in the 5k for the first time. It was a barrier for me and being able to achieve that was phenomenal. Knowing I could get better and building off that made me feel good,” Hackmeister said.

Just when things seemed to be on the rise for the successful freshmen, he found himself once again in another hole that summer.

“The summer before my sophomore year, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. It’s something I have struggled with my whole career.” He said.

It is very fitting that his favorite quote is from the late Jimmy V, “Don’t give up. Never give up.”

What is truly inspiring about Billy is his pure determination and resilience at the adversity at hand. Although he has struggled with Lyme Disease, he is now starting see there may be a positive ending to his career after all.

“After not being able to run the past few years when I have wanted to most I have found myself mentoring younger guys and leading off the track.” Hackmeister said.

Billy is now on track to graduate this spring with a degree in education. His ultimate goal is to be a math teacher. Don’t count running out in his future either. He has high hopes of becoming a coach as well.

For now he may as well be enjoying his new found passion for the sport.

“I was on a run and I planned on going 20-30 minutes and it turned into an hour run.  I couldn’t stop thinking about More Miles More Smiles. I appreciated it. I have the ability on my free will. You shouldn’t go out to run because you need it should that make you smile. I smiled every mile I was doing. This is what I love to do.” Hackmeister said.



by Mark Spewak


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by Mark Spewak

Mark's Blog: Why I run

It's been almost 2 months since my marathon debut. On purpose, I chose to take my time reflecting on the incredible experience in Duluth, Minnesota.  However, these past few months I have gotten a lot of flak for what happened that morning.  Finally, I have sorted through my thoughts and I am ready to explain. Ultimately, my hope with this post is to not only show you what running has done for my life but what a commitment in a long term investment can do for yours. Running isn't for everyone. I do believe there is something for everybody out there. I am just lucky enough to have already found it. I hope after you read this you are inspired to find something that’ll help you sustain your happiness.

As many of you know, I am an avid distance runner. It started off pretty simple. I was an out of shape 12 year old kid trying to find my path in life. My family had a culture around running. It only made sense that I would follow in their footsteps. Once I started, I was addicted.  After a run this morning with a friend, we both wondered the same question. "Why are we okay with running being a long term process? However, everything else in life we want to rush through." Whether it's getting a good job, making money, getting married, having kids, our society for some odd reason seems extremely rushed. I understand the phrase, "life is short make the best of it." Trust me I do.  But, if there is anything running has taught me, it's to appreciate the good and bad days. You won't reach your goals overnight.

I have come to terms with being a mediocre distance runner. As a high school kid, my only goal was to run well enough to get the attention of different colleges. I believed if you work harder than anyone else you will achieve your dreams. Running on a Division 1 team didn't seem impossible in my eyes. In retrospect, it's not impossible by any means. Just the expectations I set for myself and the goals I was driven towards were probably not as realistic as they should have been. I managed to run on a State Championship Cross Country team my senior year of high school. We all ran the races of our lives that day.  After that, the motivation to be better wasn't there. I never found that gear again.  Track season senior year was a bust and I won't even mention my freshman year of college. This is where I stop you and ask you this. What would it mean to you if you loved something but you were not putting in a full effort?

After an upsetting freshman year of college, I sat myself down and asked myself the same question. What's the point of getting out the door every day and running if I am not going to be anything great in this sport?  I made the decision to commit to running 100 percent. No plans, no goals, and no expectations.  My commitment this time wasn’t for glory, the scholarships, or the fame.  It was for improving my everyday life.  I decided I was going to run because that's what makes me happy. I am not going to miss runs to drink. I am not going to slack off. I am going to drive myself to be healthy human.  Being healthy is relative for everyone. I truly believe I was put on this earth to run. Running makes me happy and helps the overall quality of my life. If my running is consistent, my life is consistent.

A year and half ago was when I went back to the drawing board and reinvented my running. Since then, I have been on fire. This past year, I set many personal records and trained for my first marathon. After the incident in Boston, I felt I owed it to myself to run my first one.  10 weeks later, I stepped on the line at Grandmas Marathon. The weather was frigid.  It couldn't have been warmer than 45 degrees at the start. For the first time in my running career, I stepped to the line with no thoughts at all.  No nerves, no anxiety, no nothing. The gun went off and I cruised through the rain and wind. I finished Grandmas Marathon with a time of 2:53:46. However, forever that will be an unofficial time. Here is the thing, at the majority of races there is a chip you put on your shoe to ensure you get an accurate finish time.  The race coordinators require it to be worn to have an official time.  I was that idiot who forgot to wear it. My only goal was to race that day to get my spot at the Boston Marathon. I knew I was going to do it. Many thought I was over confident going in. I just knew it was my day to achieve that mark regardless of it being my debut with that distance. I proved everyone right. I didn't qualify for Boston. Because I didn't wear a chip, that's an automatic disqualification. The race cannot take times that were never officially recorded. I wore a GPS watch that tracked my distance and time. There were also photos and videos of me on the course starting and finishing.  The evidence was there. There was a lesson for me that day. Follow the rules. There are no exceptions.

This was a test to my maturity.  It would have been easy to make excuses and mope around. Many people told me after the race I was an idiot.  I lost respect for a lot of people who had such nasty things to say to someone who achieved great things that morning. They asked, "How could you forget something so easy?" I have heard it all. I know what I did that day was special. Although I didn't qualify for Boston, the time I ran was nearly 11 + minutes over the qualifier for my age group. I would be lying to you if I said I don't care about forgetting my chip. Often, I'll tell people that to get them off my back. The truth is it sucked. It sucked a lot. The reality is running isn't paying the bills for me. No race is going to define me as person. I am just blessed to say I can go out every day and pound the pavement or trails. My running has been consistently healthy for a year and a half. I have met incredible people along the ride and cherish the connections I have and will continue to make in the sport. I will continue to run. Running is the love of my life. I will be back and I will qualify for Boston another day.

 For about a year I have been struggling with depression. I love to be open about it and thank the people who have helped me get through the hard days.  Running is the sole reason I am still on this earth today. I pride myself on wearing my heart on my sleeve. If you judge me for that, that’s fine.  I am who I am and I will never change.  I can tell you this; this blog means much more to me than me just expressing the way I feel.  I feel as if the things I am experiencing can help inspire others in my life. Thank you for reading. I appreciate the support.


by Mark Spewak
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