Run This Town Training Program: My Story

One runner shares how a coach, a training plan and running buddies can help beginner runners.

I moved to NYC approximately 2 years ago, having spent the previous 4 years in San Diego completing my postdoctoral fellowship. While living in San Diego, I discovered that I really enjoy hiking, regular gym workouts, and adopting healthier eating habits. Although I had never been severely unhealthy, it was during my time in San Diego that I decided it was important to me to be proactive in incorporating healthy lifestyle habits into my day-to-day activities. As a result, when I moved to NYC in April 2011, I found that physically I was in pretty good shape (probably the best shape I’d ever been in).

So, I decided that I would sign up for a 5K — my first one ever. With minimal preparation for the race, I achieved a time of 31:11 in the Sesame Place 5K (Memorial Day, 2011). I felt satisfied.

Since then, however, adjusting to NYC living and lifestyle has been quite challenging, and so two years after moving back east I found myself out of shape, stressed, and, frankly, a little lonely. In May 2013, I decided that I needed to do something to “pull myself out of my funk.” So, despite having done minimal exercise in the last 2 years (i.e. no hiking, no running, occasional gym workout), I decided to run in the NYCRUNS Ice Cream Social 5K held on Memorial Day. I achieved a time of 36:18. Although I definitely felt proud just for having finished the race, I was also a little disappointed with the time.

After that race, I decided that I wanted to try and pursue running more consistently, as this could be a way to help me get back in shape and generally feel better. I figured that since city-life is more amenable to running than hiking, I could try and make running my new “go-to” activity. So, I started running a little more regularly on a treadmill (1-2 times/week, by myself). I next did the NYCRUNS Firecracker 5K on July 4. I finished in 33:23.

At this point, I decided that I definitely wanted to commit to running, as I could envision myself pursuing this hobby for the long-term. However, in order to do this, it was important to me to make sure that I pursue this activity in the right way. I wanted to make sure that I learn the proper ways to build speed and endurance, and prevent injury so that I could enjoy this activity for many years to come.

Run This Town Training Group New York Running Co Eastside

Photo Credit: Brett Cohen

Right around this time, I visited the New York Running Company Eastside store to purchase some new running clothes, and — fortunately — I saw a flyer for the “Run This Town” training program. This type of class seemed to be exactly what I was looking for because it offered a coaching program designed for novice runners in a group setting. The $50 fee seemed like a perfectly reasonable price for what was being offered in return. I left the store that day feeling optimistic and excited to participate in this class.

The “Run This Town” program culminated with the NYCRUNS Labor Day 5k on Sept 2, 2013. Suffice it to say “Run This Town” has far and away exceeded my expectations. This is without a doubt due to the exceptional coaching provided by Brett Cohen. Brett has been an outstanding coach, instructor and teacher. Among other things, I’ve not only learned about the importance of stretching (both pre- and post-race), but also about the proper way to actually perform the stretches. I’ve also learned about the importance of recovery, and how to do interval training to build endurance and speed. I’ve learned about pacing, and how to start and finish a race with confidence.

Throughout the 6-week program, Brett routinely kept us on track via weekly emails and guided instruction on what to expect each week. I felt that Brett prepared us very well for race day. It is also important to note that throughout the entire 6-week program, the class environment was always kept very friendly and supportive and this is something I appreciated very much. The “Run This Town” program has provided a great way to meet new people and make new friends, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie. In summary, for a multitude of reasons, this training program has been a very valuable program that suited my needs perfectly.

Run This Town Training Program Labor Day 5k Finishers

Jodi, on the left, and other Run This Town Training Program Labor Day 5k Finishers.

My time in the Labor Day 5K was 32:28. At the end of this race, I felt pleased that I was able to improve upon my time from the Firecracker 5K. I’m certain this improvement was due to many of the techniques acquired in the “Run This Town” classes.

For these reasons, I would most definitely sign up to participate in this training program again. My current goals are to continue to improve my endurance and speed (I’m determined to reach and/or surpass that 31:11 time set in 2011!), and continue to meet people with a shared interest in running. I feel that the “Run This Town” program can help me achieve these goals in an instructive, supportive, and friendly manner.

Jodi E. Gresack, Ph.D. 


Very recently, since writing the letter, I smashed that 31:11 time, achieving a 29:59 in the Shoes4Africa 5K in NYC! It felt amazing and was absolutely due in large part to the continued guidance and support provided by Coach Cohen and the running buddies.  No signs of stopping me — I recently signed up for the Chicago Half Marathon in Sept 2014.

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  1. says

    Thank you Jodi for this beautiful letter.. What Jodi left out, since it came after the blog was written, is she broke the 30 minute mark in a 5K on 12/1 finishing in 29:59.. That’s a whole 6:19 faster in just 7 months!! WOW..

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