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

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!); you're coming back to running after healing a injury (jubliation!); or you've just found running and the road is your new.best.friend.

There's something in the air—the dark, chilly 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. 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 into the Holidays, a five-week plan that'll keep you moving with a spirited community of like-minded women and smart, doable workouts in the small pockets of time you have.

In addition to keeping your own groove, you'll also benefit a charity that promotes health + healing through forward movement. 100% of all profits from Stride into the Holidays goes to one of three charities of your choice: Girls Thrive; Mile in My Shoes; or Reason to Run. When you register, you'll pick the charity you'd like to help keep striding.

Why hold a Challenge that starts in the darkest, busiest time of the year?
Exactly. Stride into 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 that 100% of profits go to the charity of your choice:  Girls Thrive; Mile in My Shoes; or Reason to Run.

Why did you pick those charities?
First, we wanted to support charities that know the benefits of forward movement apply to every living being, no matter her age, economic siutation or personal circumstances. We all know we're a better version of ourselves after we've gone a mile or two and let our pores pour and our head clear. We love that these charities have that perspective as their foundation.

Also, we wanted to focus on local organizations that may not have the ability (personnel, finances, etc.) to spread their messges far and wide.

The three charities we have chosen for 2018 are:
Girls Thrive, based in Helena, Montana, offers comprehensive programs that get girls moving in a variety of sports from running to Nordic skiing to mountain biking; in doing so, participants grow roots for self-confidence, self-esteem, and positive body image.

Mile in My Shoes, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, connects running mentors with new runners who are experiencing homelessness or are living in a transitional housing facility.

Reason to Run, based in Wilsonville, Oregon, introduces female prisoners to running via weekly training programs (Bunk to 5K)—and then supports them with run-release care packages (sports bra, shoes, socks, etc.) upon their release.

Wait: What happened to Heart Strides, your original recipient?
Heart Strides closed earlier this year; Denise Dollar, the founder, has returned to graduate school. While we all are understandably bummed, we certainly understand the need to focus on her studies + her family.

What are Stride into the Holidays workouts like?
We’ve pulled together five weeks of unique, fun workouts. (Hello #BAMR Bingo! Who's in?) 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 -40 minutes. Stride into 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 training plan—or another Train Like a Mother Challenge!—when the calendar turns to 2019.

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.

Stride Workout: Pacing and Negative Splits!

What equipment do I need?
None, save a good pair of running 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 into 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 into 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. It is not linked into Training Peaks, and there is no weekly newsletter. Instead, you get a PDF of the plan when you register, and we post workouts daily on the group's Facebook page.

Another difference: 100% of profits goes directly to charity.

Stride Workout: Did someone say BAMR Bingo?

What support is offered?
Once you join Stride into 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 facilitates.

How much does it cost?
$30, and 100% of the profits go directly to the charity of your choice.

When does it start and end?
We’ll start as a group on November 12, stride and sweat for five weeks, and end on December 16.
 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 2018; 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 into 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 $25) to encourage her to keep striding through the holidays—and into 2018.

Ready to Stride through the Holidays?
Sign up today!

Have questions about this holiday running program? Ask them in the comments below or
email us and we'll get 'em answered ASAP!

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