Children’s Gift Guide

‘Tis the season of giving! Taking a break from running-stuff to bring you kids’ gift ideas. After going through all of our things as we did some work on our home in the last few months, we cleaned out a lot of toys and donated them to various local charities and Goodwill. It provided an opportunity to teach my children (4 and almost 2) some life lessons, but now, it’s time to make like the post-’98 Bulls…and re-build. Check out what I’ve learned about kids’ toys from watching my own kids and doing so many hours of [late-night] research.

This holiday season, I’m rising to the challenge of being intentional with the gifts I choose- each one should have purpose, be of high quality, and not be made of toxic crap. The best toys for children are open-ended. They can be used in multiple ways, foster creativity, develop problem solving and/or motor skills, and are gender-neutral. Additionally, they require very little input/ interference from parents (score!). Nearly everything we’ve kept since the purge is open-ended and is used regularly. Here are some of the items on our gift list this year that posses the qualities I am looking for in a child’s play-things*:

Top Row:

The floor is lava? Pretend hike? Ninja Warrior obstacle course? Animal swimming pool (upside-down)? Playzone-Fit Stepping Stones can do it all. While I am usually anti-plastics, I don’t hate these. These stepping stones are made of polypropylene (which, along with ABS, is considered one of the “safer” plastics- if there is such a thing), have been tested against US and EU standards and are free of lead, heavy metals, BPA and phthalates. It’s one of the gifts I’m most excited for them to have this winter.

This Schleich horse will fit right in to our growing collection of animals, which get the most action of any toys we have (except Gerald– IYKYK). Bonus- he looks a bit like Elliot.

What kid doesn’t love building forts?! It’s one of Georgie’s favorite past times – she’s building one as I sit here typing, actually. She sometimes has trouble keeping the blankets and silks up, though. A set of Waldorf wooden play clips will help her solve that problem (I bought clips separately on the Sarah’s Silks website- we’ve already got some pieces of the kit shown in that link).

Middle Row:

Plentiful Elephant Grass from the Bolgatanga region of Ghana is used to make these incredibly useful and durable Fair Trade African Bolga baskets. We were in need of something friendly for child-sized hands that could carry child-sized toys. This fits the bill. It also eliminates the need for at least one Christmas bag/ box to wrap as it can hold something else (like a pirate hat and treasure map) in it while sitting under the tree. My only regret is not buying 2 of them!

Magnetic tiles are our jam. Georgie creates all kinds of structures with our Picasso tiles (made from the less-toxic, highly impact-resistant ABS), such as garages for matchbox cars or a barn for the animals. This add-on marble run will provide her and Johnny with even more opportunities for construction-induced fun!

Yo-ho, mateys away! A roll-up felt treasure map for the pirate inside all of us. Need I say more? Find it on Etsy. Then pair it with a hat, a telescope, and some pirate pjs, and you’ve got yourself an infinite amount of adventures in Neverland!

Bottom Row:

We have a tea set and a lot of play food in our kitchen. Both kids love pretending to cook dinner and try to serve it on tiny little saucers as the food overflows from their arms. This dish set from Hape will make their roles as chefs much easier. Mangia!

We have the puzzle-piece train set from Ikea that grows with us as we add on different parts from time to time. This bridge will re-ignite their imaginations as they pretend to travel from our basement to, probably, Disney World. Or outer-space (we won’t tell them trains can’t get there….yet).

Clockwise from top-left:

Dress-up and role play are having a huge moment around here. It’s not uncommon for me to find a fox and a hound or some Ninja Turtles running around the basement. It’s also no secret that we LOVE Hanna Andersson pjs in our house. I grabbed these on clearance a few months ago and have a few accessories to stuff in stockings that will compliment each set. Hanna’s got all of your favorite Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars characters, too! Highly recommend.

Our play kitchen gets a lot of action. Sure am glad I stopped to pick THAT out of someone’s trash! We’re in need of an update on the meals the kids can cook up, though, so this Hape bread basket and pizza set from Ikea will keep them busy for a while.

Also from Ikea is this doll bed for “Baby Sadie.” She’s used to being left in doctor’s kits, cardboard boxes and Tupperware containers. Talk about an upgrade…

With a handle on top and the ability to open and close, this dollhouse from Olli Ella (on sale at Anthropologie) can be easily moved around to suit the needs of any child. I’m sure it will double as a hotel for peg dolls, a hospital for injured Ninja Turtles or…you guessed it…a barn for the animals. It’s as minimal as I wish we were and holds a world of possibilities.

Last, but not least, puzzles and games!

Clock-wise from top-left:

Johnny is a big fan of shape-sorting and puzzles. This shape-puzzle from Plan Toys via Pottery Barn Kids will be right up his alley. Finding something your kids spend a lot of time on and adding a twist can boost brain development and keep them coming back for more.

Hop like a bunny. Stomp like an elephant. Could I have made these animal cards myself? Sure. I’m no stranger to the printer- laminator- paper-cutter trio. But these action cards I found on Etsy just looked so nice and saved me so much time, that I couldn’t resist. I like any game that builds upon prior knowledge, gets kids moving, and allows them to be silly all at once. Bring on the giggles.

Where are all my Bluey fans at??!!? I’m not sure we’ll see a Magic Asparagus, Daddy Walrus, or Veranda Santa in Bingo’s Bingo, but it’s sure to generate some interest and help teach my kids about following directions and taking turns.

Begin Again Toys is on a mission to help families move to plastic-free play and free themselves from screens. Their Safari Bowling Set can be used in multiple ways and will be an excellent addition to our new playroom.

We’ve also got a few human-powered musical instruments and a bunch of books coming our way-more additions to existing collections. Tell me- what kinds of gifts are you excited to bring your kids this year? Drop a message in the comments and share your best ideas with us!!!

*As an Amazon Associate, I have potential to earn a small commission from qualifying purchases you make by clicking on the links in my post.

Turkey Trot to Cure Cancer

Join me this Thanksgiving and support the mission of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to cure blood cancer.

Here’s how it’ll work:

Click here to donate $10 or more to LLS through my Team in Training Fundraising page.

Shoot me a message with your email and I’ll send you a digital race bib to don while you’re running (or just to keep as a souvenir).

Run a 5K (3.1 miles) on any course between Monday 11/23 and Friday, 11/27. Want some fun gear? Try a turkey hat like this one from Amazon.*

Get an official Run Fit Stoked Finisher’s Certificate and brag about it to all of your friends. Better yet- get them involved! Sharing is caring.

If you choose to accept this challenge, on behalf of blood cancer patients and our families, THANK YOU!

*As an Amazon Associate, I have potential to earn from qualifying purchases.

Get Through the Holidays 8-Week Challenge!

On the anniversary of her NYC win, I give you- the face that launched a thousand F-bombs… MAN, what a day! I still get goosebumps watching the replay of Shalane’s big finish. But rather than sulk and cry over cancelled races, let’s lace up, get out the door and re-build that base. Think of this as your warm-up to 2021.

I don’t know about you, but I am SO over 2020. I am craving connection and motivation now more than ever. And what’s more?… The Holidays are officially upon us. It’s a time of chaos- regardless of how cheerful- when we can lose ourselves in the hustle and bustle of the season, leaving us with an empty tank and a laundry list of new resolutions. Let’s approach things differently this year. Our friends and family deserve the best of us and as runners, we know we are the best versions of ourselves when we get miles in. We deserve to start a new year on more than just fumes- we need a solid warm-up. Welcome to the brand new Run Fit Stoked Get Through The Holidays 8-Week Challenge (don’t worry- you won’t have to hashtag all of that). Rather than a traditional holiday run streak, this challenge will provide you with the wiggle room for the occasional day off- should you need or want it. If you choose to join me in this challenge, you may find yourself less stressed during this holiday season and come out a stronger runner on the other side. Here is what you’ll get for 8-weeks:

The Commitment: Commit to run/ walk 80 miles in 8 weeks -OR- set your own mileage goal. You want to run 100 miles in each month? Do it! You want to streak? Then, baby, you streak! Printable mileage logs for all of these options will be included in your welcome email.

The Perks: Discounts on RFS swag, an invitation to our private Challenge Facebook accountability group, tips for creating good habits to improve overall health & performance, prize raffles, and happy hours (virtual or otherwise).

The Charity: A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through Team in Training.


Follow these 5 simple steps:

Step 1) Venmo $25 to @runfitstoked (anything extra will be donated in full to LLS). Alternate methods of payment can be arranged- just reach out!

Step 2) Complete the form below:

Step 3: Share this link with a friend! The more, the merrier. ‘Tis the season to be merry… (finish the line).

Step 4) Wait for your welcome email, which will come within a week. Please sign the waiver form linked in the email before actively participating in the challenge!

Step 5) Hit the ground running! If you want to take & post photos, please do so! Tag me (Erica Coviello, @runnercov) and use the hashtag #rfsHolidayChallenge. Be sure to check in with the FB group, emails, and my Instagram posts/ stories for updates and inspiration!

I am SO STOKED for you to start crushing this challenge! See you out there.

Lace up and get out! #rfsHolidayChallenge

Fastest 5K Challenge

Running coach, Oiselle athlete, PickyBars founder, and former pro-runner, Lauren Fleshman wrote an article in Runner’s World years ago that stuck with me. In it, she made her case about why the 5K race distance was “Freaking Awesome.” I’d love for you to join me in this 5K series with the goal of competing with your-own-badass-self. #5Kforthewin

Run or walk your fastest (or first) 5K with me!

Base Plan includes:

  • 3 x Virtual 5K Races
    • 1st 5K on Day 1 as a time trial for baseline data
    • 2nd 5K at 4 weeks as a tune up/ check in
    • 3rd 5K after week 8 as a true test of fitness. Your goal is to beat your 1st time!
  • Bib download for each virtual race
  • Finisher Certificate at the completion of the series
  • 8 weeks of the following:
    • Private FB group for encouragement and accountability
    • One speed workout per week for 8 weeks designed to push your pace (delivered via FB group).
    • You are free to choose how often/far you go during the rest of the week (though I recommend a few slow, easy runs plus a long run on the weekend IF you are already comfortable with the 5K distance. If it is new to you, build up to it gradually).
    • I also recommend 1-2 days of cross training plus 1-2 days of rest.
  • A portion of the proceeds will be donated to FLAG, which supports local restaurants and provides food to front line workers (shout out to Gina McGuire from Madison High School for creating the non-profit that went viral!).

Pro plan includes everything from Base PLUS a Run Fit Stoked shirt (choice of tank or T-shirt)*

*You must be able to pick up shirts in Belmar or please add $4 for shipping.

Complete this form to register for the RFS Run Your Fastest 5K Challenge

I am stoked to help you train for your FASTEST 5K EVER! If you choose to post pictures of your workouts or race results, please tag @runnercov, #runfitstoked, and #rfsFastest5KChallenge.

We’re Going Streaking!!!


Thank you for your interest. Please check back for more challenges in the future!

Here’s your opportunity to support local businesses, charity, and complete a badass fitness challenge all in one shot. Join the Run Fit Stoked Summer Run Streak!!! 


Run at least one mile EVERY DAY from Memorial Day to 4th of July

Cost: $10


  • Entry in a raffle to win cool prizes (i.e. gift cards to local businesses)
  • Accountability & support from a certified running coach & the Run Fit Stoked community
  • A Run Fit Stoked sticker

*A portion of all entry fees will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society*

Follow directions below to join the challenge today!!!

  1. Venmo $10 @runfitstoked.
  2. Fill out this form.
  3. Wait for an email from me with your daily log.
  4. RUN (or walk) at least one mile every day from Memorial Day to 4th of July. Then log your miles.
  5. Watch on social media for raffle winners.
  6. HAVE FUN!

When you join the challenge, you’ll be invited to join a private Facebook group where you are welcome to share photos, successes, gripes, etc. When you post pics on social media, be sure to tag @runnercov and use #rfsrunstreak. Sharing is caring! Hope to see you out there…

Top 10 ways to stay active with (or without?) your family while maintaining social distance…

As the weather turns (or will it?! NJ, you’re killin’ me!), you may be looking for ways to get yourself and your family moving outdoors. While it is still important to stay safe, maintain distance and comply with whatever orders are currently in effect where you live, physical activity is of the upmost importance. Most experts agree that exercise helps maintain a healthy immune system and increases endorphines, which are important for improving mental health. Here is my Top Ten list of ways for you and your family to safely stay active this summer:

  1. Take a hike. Almost everywhere in New Jersey is within a 20 minute ride to some parks or trails. Get out there and explore! It’s best to head out to less popular trails or during low-traffic times. Follow the guidelines on your state/county/ municipal park systems websites. Remember to wear your high socks, bug repellant, and check for ticks before you head back home.
  2. Ride a bike. With or without your family. Go long or short, fast or slow. If you have young children, let them learn and practice in the driveway or in your neighborhood. Need a balance bike for your toddler? We love this one!
  3. Go for a run. Inside on a treadmill if you’ve got one (and won’t hate your life doing it), or outside on a safe path, trail, boardwalk, etc. If you head outside, don’t forget your shades and be mindful of others. Off peak hours are still best for avoiding crowds. If you’re looking for a training plan to get some good base miles in, give a shout!
  4. Scavenger hunts. Create your own list (or find one on Pinterest) of things to search for in your house or neighborhood.
  5. Backyard (or driveway, in our case) bootcamp. Use what you come across in your own environment and turn it into fitness equipment. Got a bench or stairs? Do some step-ups or box jumps, incline push-ups, tricep dips, practice your pistol squats. Got a jug- milk, water, laundry detergent? Turn it into a kettlebell! Bodyweight, dumbbells, miniband workouts. Do them all.
  6. Yoga. Online/ YouTube/ local studio’s Zoom classes, etc. Got kids? Google kids yoga videos. They’ll love it.
  7. Freestyle Dance Party. Go all out solo or with roommates. Indoors or outside. Costumes optional, smiles mandatory.
  8. Take a fitness challenge. Bring Sally Up, Cha-Cha Slide plank challenge, Roxanne burpee challenge, Thunderstruck by AC/DC hollow rock-to superman challenge. They might hurt tomorrow, but they’ll occupy your time, add something fresh to your fitness routine, and can be fun! Check some of them out with a YouTube search!
  9. Family Stand-Up Paddle. Take advantage of insanely low pricing on some private one-family-at-a-time sessions on the water offered locally on the L Street Beach in Belmar. Check out to learn how they’re keeping you (and their staff) safe. Registration details coming soon.
  10. Look for shells and sea glass. Most NJ beaches are open- take a walk down by the water searching for tiny treasures to bring home. Just make sure to check the town website for your beach of choice to see what the rules are regarding badges, parking, and social distancing measures. Please be courteous and respectful to the people around you, the beachfront staff, lifeguards, and those of us who live here.

What are some ways YOU are staying active that didn’t make my list? Share in the comments. And don’t forget to wash your hands.

Qua-RUN-tine Scavenger Hunt Time!!!

Cancelled races and stay-at-home orders got ya down? Don’t let it curb your enthusaism for running! Instead of binge watching Tiger King, lace up, get out your door, and bring your phone to snap a few pics along the way. Check these items off as you go along and follow the rules below to be entered in a randomly -drawn raffle for a small prize! Happy hunting!!!


1. All items must be seen while on a RUN.

2. Credit for each item is only awarded with photographic evidence (posted to social media and tagged with @runnercov and #runfitstoked OR sent via one email to with attachments/shared google folder). 

3. All photos must be your own.

4. Social distancing and typical rules of the road apply. Please remember to be safe and protect yourself and those around you.

5. Completed lists must be in by 11:59 pm on Friday, April 20, 2020.

6. Rules are subject to change at any time.

Fitness in the Time of Coronavirus…

Gyms are closed. Studios are closed. Races are cancelled or postponed. Group fitness and running clubs have been cancelled or are enforcing strict guidelines re: social distancing, being sure to keep 6 feet apart (at least while posing for social media pics). How do you maintain fitness when your fitness world (never mind real life) is crashing down around you?! And do you even find the motivation to do so?

The answer? Virtual accountability. Some people have the drive to create and successfully execute a plan without making excuses. Many people, however, need the external motivation and guidance to keep training, keep moving, keep making good choices. In the current state of our world, online training is having a BIG moment.

What does that look like? That depends on your situation.

There are tons of free workouts listed all over the internet: blogs, Facebook groups, Instagram posts and stories, Pinterest, etc. I’ve posted some myself to get you started. You could screen shot/ save/ download a bunch of images and lists and patchwork them together to write yourself a plan. But if that is overwhelming to you or if you don’t have enough experience to know what is safe and/or effective in helping you meet your goals, perhaps you need a bit more.

Enter online trainers and coaches. They have the credentials and experience to help you set goals, program workouts, and more often than not, their online classes/apps/websites- however they choose to do business- keep you accountable to get your tush in gear. This morning, a bunch of “regulars” from my classes at the gym worked out with me live at 6am- from their own homes- via Zoom video conferencing. My runners received their workouts via text and/or email, ran the workouts on their own, and their data was automatically synced to an app I use to analyze it. No gym, no problem. Some paid apps (often with free trials) let you pick and choose workouts based on what you want to do that day or what equipment you have available. The possibilities are endless.

How do you choose what type of “distance workout” is best for you? The short answer is that only YOU can determine that. You know yourself better than anyone and know in your gut what your behavior regarding fitness is really like. If you need someone to hash it out with, talk to some friends and see what they’re doing. Or reach out to me and I will talk you through it to help you arrive at the best option.

If you are interested in a few free live classes (mostly at 6am), shoot me an email. If you’d like to talk virtual personal training, shoot me an email. If you’re looking to be a badass runner and run your first or fastest race, shoot me an email. In the meantime, here’s a workout you can all do at home! Keep moving forward.

Workout (from home)Wednesday

Comin’ atcha with another workout you can do anywhere! Share it with your friends who might need a little motivation to hit pause on the remote…

Use a chair, bench, step, or any sturdy platform for this one! Stay healthy and active during quarantine.

Thanks, Pete Genovese, for highlighting these reminders on how to keep moving and make wise choices now and any time we are bunkered down. Check out the story at