Stride into the Holidays: A Five-Week, All-Levels Challenge to Benefit Heart Strides


As we round the corner into November, a kind of lethargy sets in.

Doesn't matter if you've just finished your first half-marathon (elation!) or you're coming back to running after healing a injury (jubliation!) or you've just found running and the road is your

There's something in the air—the dark, cold air—that combines with the craziness of the season (wait: I promised I'd host Thanksgiving this year at last year's dinner?) that makes enthusiasm, time, and energy for the miles wane.

At some point, you'll glance up at the calendar—it's mid-December already?—and your running shoes are hidden in the pantry, beneath a pile of spilled powered sugar. Never mind where your GPS or running tights are. Just the thought of running a mile feels like a marathon.

Not this year, friends. You won't lose your running shoes or your mojo; in fact, you'll lace them up regularly with Stride through the Holidays, a five-week plan that will keep you moving with a spirited community of like-minded women and smart, doable workouts in the small pockets of time you have.

[Begin the Q+A portion of this post.]
Why hold a Challenge that starts in the darkest, busiest time of the year?
Exactly. Stride through the Holidays is here to strongly encourage you to keep moving as you baste turkeys, hang a wreath, light the menorah, decorate cookies, shovel snow, and otherwise carry on through the most festive time of the year.(read: stay sane, keep smiling, burn some calories) In this season of giving, we also wanted to spotlight Heart Strides, our non-profit partner, and, in doing so, provide an opportunity to help all moms move, including yourself. (Win-win!) The entire profit of your entrance fee ($25) goes directly to Heart Strides.

What is Heart Strides?
A non-profit started by a Denise Dollar, a mother runner of two children including a son with Type 1 Diabetes. After her son was diagnosed, Denise let self-care—exercise, sleep, good nutrition—sink to the bottom of her to-do list, despite realizing how important her own health is. She also realized how financially draining extensive healthcare can be to a family budget. She founded Heart Strides in 2014 to remove one hurdle of self-care by providing new running shoes and gently used exercise apparel for moms with children who are critically ill or have a special need. 

Casey and Zoey, who recently turned four, is fighting a DIPG tumor, which is inoperable and likely fatal. "I was never been a runner until a few years ago," says Casey, her mom. "Running trails in my town helps clear my head, simultaneously gives me peace and energy, and gives me space to have conversations with myself. Love the shoes! I wore them this morning."
Casey and Zoey, who recently turned four, is fighting a DIPG tumor, which is inoperable and likely fatal. "I was never been a runner until a few years ago," says Casey, her mom. "Running trails in my town helps clear my head, simultaneously gives me peace and energy, and gives me space to have conversations with myself. Love the shoes! I wore them this morning."


Denise and her tribe of 50 ambassadors have been busy since then. Today, Heart Strides is close to their goal of distributing 500 pairs of shoes nationwide by the end of 2016. "Our mission continues to focus on self-care, expanding our support by also providing yoga apparel and gear like journals that encourage stress reduction," says Denise, "We also distribute handmade overnight totes which include lavender lotions, calming teas, fuzzy socks and other items that help a mom ease into a night in the hospital during their child’s stay."



"Our relationships with multiple Ronald McDonald Houses continue to thrive," Denise adds, "In the past year we have gifted items to houses in Denver, CO, Rochester, MN, Seattle, WA and more recently, Austin, TX and Pensacola, FL. We continue to provide shoes to moms on an individual basis, some applying on their own behalf or nominated by a friend or relative. Locally, in Boulder, we provide shoes and other items to moms within the There With Care organization."

What are Stride through the Holidays workouts like?
We’ve pulled together five weeks of unique, fun workouts. (Hello #BAMR Bingo!) The shortest workout is 20 minutes, the longest is 60-90 minutes (one longer run on the weekend), with most sessions clocking in around 30 minutes. Stride through the Holidays has you sweating five days a week, with an option for a sixth day if your schedule allows. It also has quick, helpful cues for self-care so your mind + spirit hum as your legs run.

The workouts will have you primed and ready to tackle a traning plan—or another Train Like a Mother Challenge!—when the calendar turns to 2017.

If you are training and running by heart rate, you can definitely continue doing that with this plan. At least three of the weekly runs can be run easy effort.

Heart Strides Ambassadors and Founder Denise Dollar (middle back) at the Eau Claire Marathon.
Heart Strides Ambassadors and Founder Denise Dollar (middle back) at the Eau Claire Marathon.


What equipment do I need?
None, save a good pair of shoes and a supportive sports bra.
You can complete all the workouts either from your home or in your home. Of course, you can always add weights or use a treadmill, but they’re definitely not necessary.

What level of runner do I need to be to participate?
Any level works. If you’re a beginner just starting to find your running groove, this will help you dig it deeper. If you’re coming off a fall marathon, this will keep you moving without burning you out. And if you fall somewhere on that sliding scale, Stride through the Holidays will also be a fit. Also, the plan works well for walkers and run/walkers. Forward movement, not speed, is the key element.

How is Stride through the Holidays different than the usual Train Like a Mother Challenges?
This five-week Challenge is all about forward motion, fitness, accountability and community, not about training for a specific race. The workouts are one-size-fits-all, and there is no swag, tee or medal. (That said, there is the reward of maintaining your fitness and a Secret BAMR option...see below.) It is not linked into Training Peaks and there is no weekly newsletter. Instead, you'll get a PDF of the plan when you register, and we will post workouts daily on the Facebook page.

Another difference: 100% of profit from your entrance fee goes directly to Heart Strides. (We only deduct the registration processing fees.) Finally, Stride through the Holidays does not end in a race. Instead, the final weekend culminates in a mother of a Pile of Stride Miles, with AMR donating $1/mile to Heart Strides for every cumulative mile logged. (Up to $1,000.)

Shoe delivery!
Shoe delivery!

What support will be offered?
Once you join Stride through the Holidays, we invite you to join a Strava Private Challenge club to track your miles, as well as a private Facebook page. On the Facebook page, we will list the workout daily so participants can comment on it, cajole each other to get it done, root each other on, share pictures, and otherwise engage that entertaining, time-killing, helpful way Facebook allows.

How much does it cost?
$25, and 100% of the profit of entry fee goes directly to Heart Strides.
If you want, you can increase your donation by donating directly to Heart Strides here.

When does it start and end?
We'll start as a group on November 14, stride and sweat for five weeks, and end on December 18.
If those dates don't slide neatly into your schedule, you're welcome to join us anyway and re-jigger as need be. (And you can easily take the workouts and repeat two weeks for the final two weeks of 2016; we'll keep the Facebook and Strava groups open.)

Anything else I should know?
There will be an optional Secret BAMR (badass mother runner) gift exchange.
Once Stride through the Holidays starts, we’ll ask if you want to participate in it. (No pressure.) If you do, we’ll connect you with another mother runner and her address, and you’ll send her a gift (no more than $20) to encourage her to keep striding through the holidays—and into 2017.

Ready to Stride through the Holidays and support Heart Strides?
Sign up today!

Have questions? Ask them in the comments below or
email us at tlamclub[at]gmail[dot]com and we'll get 'em answered asap!

9 responses to “Stride into the Holidays: A Five-Week, All-Levels Challenge to Benefit Heart Strides

  1. Wondering if she’s thought of looking into Charity Miles – the app that you can use to log in miles and $$ for non-profit organizations? not sure how it works and how you get your non-profit hooked up with it but I’ve run a massive amount of miles and $$ for many a charity – like Cancer Foundation, National Parks, Wounded Warrior, Girls on the Run, things like that!! This would be so awesome if she could get her program hooked up with this awesome app!!! It would be worth the looking into and maybe could be even more of an eye-opener to other people out there! The app is directly connected with Facebook and Twitter too! You are able to post your milage and $$ earned to both accounts. Just a little info to put out there for her. Way to put your feet to the pedal and earn some bucks! Such a great cause!

  2. Hey ladies! Are all of the workouts in this challenge running workouts, or are there any strength workouts mixed in? My last half of the year is this Saturday, and I’m looking for motivation to keep running, but also to get into a strength routine as well. Thanks!

    1. Hi LeeAnn:

      There is one strength training circuit we repeat 4x during the Challenge, as well as one Stair Circuit, which is a blend of strength and stair climbing. There’s also an Yoga/Pilates/XT day, where you can easily strength train. Hope you’ll join us! —Dimity

  3. I’d love to join this challange but I am currently training for a half. Will the stride plan work with a half marathon training plan or is it better to wait and join this challenge next year?

    1. Hi Melissa– Depends on how flexible your half plan is. The STRIDE plan has long runs of 60-90 minutes on Saturdays, so you could extend those to make sure you were getting your miles. The rest of the week’s workouts are about 30-45 minutes, so again, really depends on the plan you are on and your goals for your race. One thought: You could join and do the workouts when your schedule allows, and then do your own workouts the other days. It’s really a fun group with a good vibe and good cause, so might be worth it just for motivation. Thanks for asking! Dimity

  4. I’m interested, but I am planning to start training for an early March half marathon at the end of November. How would this plan mesh with the “Finish it” plan from Train Like a Mother? Would I be better off joining one of the spring half training groups?

    1. This would definitely get you teed up well to start the finish it plan, Hop, and you could do the final two weeks of STRIDE and then get onto the Finish It plan. The workout lengths are pretty similar. Hope you’ll join us! Dimity

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