This Philly-Area Run Coach Has Spent Quarantine Doing What She Does Best: Logging Miles
A week in the socially distanced life of Vanessa Peralta-Mitchell, run coach and liaison for Girls on the Run.
Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money people invest in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one area resident to spend a week tracking everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who I am: Vanessa C. Peralta-Mitchell (@vcpmitchell), 40
Where I live: West Norriton
What I do: I’m a certified RRCA run coach and work for Life Time in King Of Prussia. I’m also a run coach and regional liaison for Girls on the Run, a mentor for the Queen of Prussia 10K, and an ambassador for the Montco Trail Challenge. I also bring my love for running, creativity, and community in the virtual group runs I lead, and will host my first solo event — the All Women’s Run Panel — in a post-social distancing world.
What role healthy living plays in my life: I’m constantly on the go, so healthy living is a way of life. It not only gives me energy for my running, but also energy to stay active with my family. But healthy living is more than just eating clean and staying active, it’s about consistently making the time to take care of my body and my mind.
Health memberships (and what they cost): Life Time King of Prussia — free as an employee.
6:20 a.m. — It’s Monday! Or at least I think it is. Quick mental check. Yep, it’s Monday! Before anything, I sit up and bow my head to pray in gratitude for another day. I take a quick look at my weather app so I know what to wear on my run: 57 and cloudy.
6:50 a.m. — After a change of clothes and bathroom stop, it’s time for my daily foam rolling — my way of giving these legs a self-induced massage-like experience. Just the right mix of pleasure and slight discomfort, but oh so worth it. Few sips of water.
7 a.m. — MUTU time! MUTU is short for Mummy Tummy, which is an exercise program for women with split abs. Since my core has never been the same after three kiddos, consistency is key. My abs are permanently split — ‘diastasis recti’ if you want to get technical — but I’ve learned how to deal with it so I’m functional in a way that’s right for me and my body. For today’s MUTU, I just need my mat, weights, exercise ball, loop, and band.
7:32 a.m. — I finish some more water, and grab my run belt to carry my phone and my buff to use as a mask while I run. Kiss my husband to wake him up and tell him I’m heading out for a run, and leave the house feeling excited! I’m meeting up with my runner friend, Megan. It’ll be the first time running with someone else since the pandemic started.
7:40 a.m. — I walk the 1.1 miles to Norristown Farm Park to warm up my legs.
8:01 a.m. — I see Megan and I couldn’t be happier! After a few minutes of sharing initial thoughts of how our worlds have gone upside down, I do some dynamic warm-ups and then we’re off to conquer six miles as planned.
8:06 a.m. — We start our run and talk about everything: family, kids, Girls on the Run, friends, multi-racial families like our own, our goals, our feelings.
8:25 a.m. — Stop to take a quick pic of some beautiful purple flowers for my #runventures IG stories and snap a pic of the two of us, too.
9:03 a.m. — Six miles completed but instead of high-fives, we smile and say good job. We do some post-run stretching and continue our conversations. I end up sharing with her a clip of my audio guided run and my heart pumps in anticipation like a kid showing a friend a new toy. We chat it up some more but soon realize that we both have to head out. I walk the 1.1 miles back home.
10:02 a.m. — Get home, say hello to the fam. No surprise, kids are still in their pajamas. I make sure everyone has something to eat and make myself my go-to breakfast: oatmeal with bananas and peanut butter.
11:44 a.m. — Okay, gotta start getting these BBQ dishes ready. Chopping up various ingredients for avocado salad, mango salad, burger sides, rice, and quinoa. My husband, Braheen, is cooking a delish churassco on the grill, plus burgers and hot dogs. Throw in some chopped up fruits and veggies and we’ve got ourselves a BBQ. I snap some pics and a quick “how to pit an avocado” video because these dishes are too yummy not to share on IG.
2:43 p.m. — Quick change of clothes for me and my daughter, who is three and not there yet to do her own hair and get dressed. But we’ve got quite the surprise in store for her and our two sons today, so I pick out her outfit strategically.
3 p.m. — My parents-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephew arrive. But luckily no need for me to clean up inside as we’re having a socially-distanced get-together on our deck. Time to unveil the surprise: a WATER SLIDE! Although, it’s more like a water park standing nearly nine feet tall with two slides, a basketball hoop, and a climbing wall. Still shaking my head about the purchase, but with no pools and no camps, this was certainly the best alternative.
4:07 p.m. — Late lunch/early dinner time! I fill my plate with churassco hot off the grill, freshly cooked quinoa, avocado salad, and a lettuce bacon cheeseburger. Wait, have the kids even eaten?! “We’re not hungry!” they scream from the slide.
5:15 p.m. — I have to mix in a few moments to prep for tomorrow’s virtual group run. So I grab my laptop, rejoin everyone out on the deck, and send out the zoom link. Easy peasy. Air hugs to our fam and it’s cleanup time. How did that dish pile get so high?!
7 p.m. — Time to post! I add my run journal — “Thanks @runhouse. Today I ran 6.14 miles and I felt CONNECTION” — and I also add my #runventure pic challenging others to find something purple on their next run to my IG stories.
8:30 p.m. — Let’s get homegirl to bed! Putting Catalina to bed is a process, which honestly puts me into bed mode, too. Bath time, read a book, sing a song, prayers, second round of potty time, extra blankets, and the final “I’m stalling” type questions from my baby girl makes the whole thing take about an hour.
9:30 p.m. — Time to prep for tomorrow. Typing out the message and the workout for tomorrow’s group run. I’m excited!
10:30 p.m. — Hanging out with my husband before I decide it’s time for a shower.
12:12 a.m. — Bedtime!
Daily total cost: $0
Daily total distance: 8.2 miles
6 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I’m tired but looking forward to the virtual group run. Send my prayers up, check the weather — 63 degrees, nice! — and put my phone down. Rule of thumb: I don’t check my phone again until after I complete my morning routine.
6:28 a.m. — Foam roll and MUTU.
6:54 a.m. — Prep for the virtual group run some more. Today’s message is all about connecting with each other and conquering our run so we can conquer our day.
7:20 a.m. — Head downstairs to set up. Eeek! Chase, our blue nose pit, puked on the carpet. Not on the darker carpet in the living room, but on the nice cream carpet in the sunroom. Ugh! I grab the disinfectant wipes and go to work QUICKLY to clean it up. Not my best work, but will definitely have my oldest son go in for a second round of cleaning.
7:30 a.m. — Moving stuff around in my basement so it doesn’t look like a complete playground. I realize that some of this stuff can actually help me out, so I grab the tall laundry basket, flip a boogie board on top of it for a makeshift table, place my laptop on top, and use the basketball hoop to tape today’s warm-up for easy viewing.
7:45 a.m. — Virtual group run begins! Super excited to see everyone who is a mix of runners I’ve ran with or coached. We log onto Zoom and immediately begin to catch up — I miss these women! I lead a dynamic warm-up for everyone and give them the run workout, and then we all run on our own — but at the same time — for 30 minutes. After, we log back onto Zoom for post-run stretching and to share our wins from today’s workout.
9 a.m. — With the virtual run done, it’s time to wake up the crew. I still have our kids get dressed and ready for school even though that looks completely different now. Braheen — also my husband’s name — is a high school freshman and has Zoom calls all day long, Dez is in second grade and gets assignments from Google Classroom, and Catalina is in preschool and relies heavily on me for structured schoolwork.
10:45 a.m. — Oatmeal breakfast! This time, I use blueberries and muesli to complement my oatmeal, and of course add peanut butter. Now time to wash some dishes, which is a never-ending part of my daily life.
11 a.m. — Our kids are 14, eight and three, so I’m getting questions like, “Mom, where’s the square root button on the computer?” “Mom, what’s an open syllable?” “Mommy, can we paint now?” Being a teacher, professional, wife, and mom all at once has me going up and down the stairs all day long making sure assignments are done, homework is turned in electronically, and education videos are watched — because you know questions about it are coming. Amidst this, I also post my run journal and #runventures on social media real quick.
12:30 p.m. — Our oldest comes up for air. Since he’s on Zoom calls for school all day long in the basement, we don’t see him until he comes up for lunch.
2 p.m. — Lunch for me! I chop up the leftover burger sides — lettuce, tomato, and onions — mixed with churassco strips and quinoa. Got myself a homemade steak quinoa bowl! Back to answering more schoolwork questions that Google helps me with.
3:30 p.m. — Food shopping time. I normally don’t go this late in the day, but my husband is back from work and we’re down to little to no snacks, which is my red flag that I need to go. I grab a water, my mask, and gloves, and mentally prep for the strange experience that has become the norm at supermarkets. Before arriving at the supermarket, I call my mom, Carmencita, and we talk about our day, the family, and how she’s doing.
4:45 p.m. — Back home, put the food away ($129.25), and prep some fruit for the fam.
5 p.m. — Snack time! My eight-year-old has challenged me that it MUST be yellow. So I grab the tostones chips and the mango salsa from yesterday and boom, challenge met.
5:15 p.m. — Weather check: 84 degrees. Water park time! Quick communication between one of my runners and a local run store so they can virtually help get them the correctly-fitted shoe.
7:30 p.m. — Dinner prep. Catalina loves to help with the seasoning, but Mama still has to supervise to protect our salt intake.
8:25 p.m. — Dinnertime. I use the leftover quinoa and avocado salad, but add homemade oven-roasted chicken and sweet potatoes.
10:45 p.m. — After bedtime prayers with my youngest son, I head downstairs to hang out with my husband.
11:20 p.m. — Shower and then bed.
Daily total cost: $129.25
Daily total distance: 3.68 miles
6 a.m. — Wake up, pray, bathroom, get my water, and tidy up the kitchen.
6:28 a.m. — Foam rolling and MUTU exercises!
6:54 a.m. — Working on script for my audio guided run. Excited to be piecing this together so I can be an empowering voice and guide to my ladies looking for motivation as they pound the pavement. Check the weather: 63 degrees and foggy. No rain though. Perfect.
7:45 a.m. — Leaving to head out for recording. This audio will not be me guiding runners while in the comfort of my home; I’m recording while I’m doing the run myself. Tell my husband I’m leaving, grab my run belt, my buff, my headphones for recording — otherwise I never listen to music while I run — and off I go! I walk a little over one mile to find the ideal area: little to no cars, no construction or lawn mowers, and not many people outside. After about 10 recordings, running, playbacks, and experimenting with voice inflections, I head back the one mile to go home, making for about three miles total.
9:30 a.m. — I literally walk in to take my 9:30 a.m. phone call right on the dot. My call is with one of my Chi Upsilon Sigma sorority sisters, Cristal, who reached out to me for a letter of recommendation for the Board of Trustees. We catch up, discuss her strategy and plans, and I ask questions about her new desired role. We even exchange run stories as she’s been running more recently.
10 a.m. — School time! Today was what I call the Shark Shank Dilemma. Dez is having trouble coming up with a story for his Great White Shark project. We spend the morning brainstorming while getting some Elmo worksheets done with Catalina.
11:15 a.m. — Late breakfast as schoolwork took over a bit but gotta eat my oatmeal. This time I add crushed walnuts and honey to my bananas and peanut butter toppings.
12:30 p.m. — The Shark Tank Dilemma continues as apparently every suggestion I give is met with a rebuttal. But I have to prep for my Girls on the Run Connect call, so I give everyone lunch and then head upstairs to prep in peace for a bit.
1:15 p.m. — Lunch time for the kids. No time for me, so I eat some tostones chips which are the best! I’ve got a thing for crunchy, but I’m not a big potato chip eater, so these Aurora Natural tostones chips are right up my alley.
1:30 p.m. — My husband had to drop off his work van at the auto shop and asks if I can pick him up. I’m on my way! He owns his own commercial furniture installation business, so often times it’s a family affair type thing. I drop him off, grab a few rice cakes, and head to BJ’s where I do the heavy lifting type shopping.
2 p.m. — I find our essentials at BJ’s ($131.78), load the car, and head out to make my 3:30 p.m. GOTR Connect call. Ugh! I hit a detour driving home. I give my co-coach the heads up: I’ll need her to facilitate the first part. She’s onboard, great! But she’s having technical difficulties logging on … not so great.
3:15 p.m. — I call my oldest son, tell him the game plan. He’ll unload the groceries while I jump on the call as fast as I can.
3:30 p.m. — I anxiously sprint upstairs, grab my laptop and materials — thank goodness I prepped before — and see my two sons headed outside to grab the BJ’s items. I log into Zoom. Whew! Today’s lesson to the girls: finding the positive/seeing the bright side.
4:15 p.m. — I come upstairs from the basement and see everything has been put away. Go team! In all the rushing, I didn’t get a chance to eat more than just snacks, so I make myself a turkey club sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and hummus. I try to get Catalina to try it, but all she wants is the turkey.
5:30 p.m. — Leaving for a birthday parade as my friend Jamie is turning 40! There’s a bit of waiting which I had anticipated, so I take out E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber to read a few pages. I’m a bit of a “runtrepreneur,” so I have to be smart if I’m going to succeed at keeping my passion my purpose.
6:05 p.m. — Parade starts, almost my turn to share the love for the b-day girl and I’m just filled with so much joy for all the genuine love I see in the car line-up. I give my love from the car as Stevie Wonder serenades “Happy Birthday” to her from my speakers.
6:30 p.m. — I’m back home and do a quick cleanup. How does the house get so messy?! I wasn’t even gone that long.
7 p.m. — Log on to support one of my girls, Wally, as she’s facilitating a “Coping with Grief and Loss During a Pandemic” workshop. She does great!
8 p.m. — Workshop done, so I join my fam who’s outside playing. Luckily my husband encouraged outside time since I had a bit of things to do throughout the day. As we’re sitting on the front steps, Dez says he’s going to make a snack for everyone. I haven’t even started dinner yet, so I take him up on the offer. He cleans enough fruit for each of us and in the process spills all the blueberries all over the kitchen floor. At least his heart was in the right place!
9:30 p.m. — Dinner is done: turkey hash complete with my go-to carb, sweet potatoes. I do what I can to eat clean as often as I can, but eating sweet potatoes instead of pasta has definitely been one of the biggest things I’ve done differently as a runner.
10:30 p.m. — I try getting Cali to bed, but a quick game of catch with Daddy becomes a must — with Mommy’s exercise ball, nonetheless. Afterwards, one of the very few times I intentionally watch TV. We watch The Challenge with our teenage son and tonight it’s DOUBLE ELIMINATION. Who will win? Couldn’t tell ya because I fell asleep before it was even midway. Thank goodness for DVR!
Daily total cost: $131.78
Daily total distance: 3 miles
6 a.m. — Wake up, it’s a rainy morning.
6:15 a.m. — Foam roll and MUTU. No running today, as it’s a rest day for my legs. Sipping water throughout morning.
6:47 a.m. — Continue reading E-Myth Revisited some more.
7:30 a.m. — Social media posts: Facebook — got pulled into a 10-day mom challenge and it’s day 10, so I post a pic with me and all three kids) —Queen of Prussia 10k FB Group, where we post our workouts for community and accountability, and Latinas in Motion, where we post our workouts to build connection and motivation as “sole” sisters.
7:45 a.m. — Reach out to local fitness business about leading a virtual group run next Wednesday for Global Running Day. They say yes! I’m excited because it’s a women empowerment fitness business.
8 a.m. — Time for breakfast! I’m eyeing a banana that’s on it’s way out so instead of oatmeal, I mash up the banana with two eggs to make banana pancakes topped with fruit, walnuts, and honey. Yum.
8:40 a.m. — Log into B-School by Marie Forleo. There’s that runtrepreneur thing again. Today’s focus is on researching those in the industry who are currently doing what I’m doing and to research the road they took to get to their success.
9 a.m. — Son’s alarm goes off. Ever try to wake up a teenager who sleeps on a loft bed? Double whammy for this 5’4” mama! I grab the closest pillow and practice my aim.
10 a.m. — Whoops, got carried away with B-school. Time for everyone to get up and get the trash out. While I set up the Zoom link and send to the fitness business, Catalina asks, “Mommy can I wear my glitter sparkle shoes?” We’re not going anywhere fancy — just staying home again — but eh, why not?!
10:30 a.m. — Head downstairs only to see remnants of what looks to be a tennis ball. Ugh! Dog threw up again. Quick clean and help my younger son log onto his speech class. The whole time my youngest is in my face asking for more Cheerios. I grab a few figs to snack on throughout the morning.
10:45 a.m. — Exchanging texts with a core group of my run friends. We’ve been through Ragnar and Lola, a three-day race series in Puerto Rico. COVID is kind of like the third survivor event we’ve been through together, so we’re heavy on the daily texts and check-ins.
11 a.m. — Changing the shower curtain because, well, it’s way overdue. Trying my best to make it in time for trash pickup. Were we really showering with this thing?! Eww!
11:36 a.m. — Did I mention it’s a no TV day? We try our best to implement a day where the kids don’t use any device or watch TV. Needless to say, this also means they lean a little heavier on us. While I wash the dishes, my husband is playing soundtracks from Frozen as he and our daughter dance around the living room.
12:10 p.m. — Prep lunch for my two younger kids and snacks for all three so I can take a Gluteous MaxOut class. Gotta work out the glutes — my main source of power for running.
12:30 p.m. — Gluteous MaxOut virtual class begins and I already know I’m going to feel this tomorrow.
1:30 p.m. — Mix of emails for virtual group run opportunities and kids’ teachers.
2:15 p.m. — Lunch! I take the turkey hash leftovers and make some homemade sweet potato fries. My attempt to get fancy with the plating as the whole thing looking like an edible sun … sort of. I also slice some oranges. Did I mention I only drink water? Yep, so with every meal I’m drinking a water bottle or at least I try to because for some odd reason I’m one of those people who can eat a whole meal without drinking anything at all. I’m aware, though, so I definitely push my water intake.
2:45 p.m. — Our oldest son asks me for two toasted bagels as he finishes his school day but our youngest son has more homework. We tend to go a little heavier, so Friday is either freer or close to free from schoolwork. Breaks in between are him and his little sister riding scooters in the house while I communicate with various runners about my next round of virtual group runs via text and messenger. It’s a balance!
3:15 p.m. — Help my youngest son with a bit more homework and work on the number 10 with our daughter.
3:50 p.m. — I’m sitting as still as I can. After all, it’s not everyday you’re getting a self-portrait painted of yourself! Move over Picasso, Dez the artist is taking over. As his work of art dries, I change clothes — looks like I’m going running after all. My husband is taking the kids to the open area at the high school, so I opt to run and meet them there.
5 p.m. — What was originally a no run day all of sudden turned into impromptu speed work, except I’m being joined by my younger son on his bike. He does not take it easy on me. Get my fastest mile in with him at 6:59, but he seems less than impressed.
6:30 p.m. — Arrive home and foam roll. Even though there are currently no races, I am enjoying the freedom of running for simply the love of it. Now, time to get dinner ready. Tonight we’re having pollo guisado, otherwise known as chicken stew.
8:20 p.m. — Social media — a mix of IG and FB groups — while I wait for food to finish cooking.
9:20 p.m. — Dinner. I know the time is late, but it’s our reality. After I have a second plate, I take Catalina for bath time and prayers. No book reading tonight.
11:30 p.m. — Shower and eventually bedtime.
Daily total cost: $0
Daily total distance: 5.14 miles
6 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I’m tired. My legs still want rest from yesterday, so I actually lay back down. Ahh, extra sleep … all two minutes of it. Our bedroom door opens, and it’s our eight-year-old. He waves good morning from the door. I guess no TV day yesterday has him on a mission today.
6:05 a.m. — Getting up and ready. Pray and look at the weather because I’ve got a 5K to run for Girls on the Run. 72 degrees and a 30-percent chance of rain.
6:35 a.m. — You know the drill: foam roll and MUTU exercises.
7:24 a.m. — I work on that letter of recommendation for Cristal and then cut out my race bib. This is the one of the new racing practices due to COVID, as tomorrow would’ve been the actual race.
8:18 a.m. — Letter of recommendation sent! Social media check. Dynamic warm-up and one last bathroom stop.
8:45 a.m. — As I run the GOTR virtual “5K Your Way” out on the road, I actually see a fellow GOTR coach pounding the pavement, too. We exchange waves from across the street. It starts to sprinkle, but at 72 degrees, the rain feels refreshing! Instead of an out and back, I made sure to complete my 5K at the Farm Park to take some quick pics. I can’t help but think of our 31 girls who we were coaching and how they’d be out completing the race with their families. I can almost hear the laughter and craziness of us all together in my head. But then my alarm goes off … yoga in 15 minutes. I run about another two miles to get back home while logged in to the beginning of yoga, thanks to Tula Yoga in Delaware ($16). I get home, grab my mat, a water, and my wireless speaker.
10:30 a.m. — Definitely needed that yoga relax and stretch class!
10:45 a.m. — Time to eat that oatmeal! On the agenda for today is a mix of going over my son’s great white shark project, entertaining my daughter, and sending my husband some insurance info for his business.
12:45 p.m. — Somehow I’m duped into signing a contract without reading any of the fine print. Totally not like me. But seeing how the contract was written in pencil, I think I’m okay. The “DC contract” — stands for Dez’s Contract — has me committed to helping him with his project. We talk about various questions for him to set up his story and then I tell him to go with that much so far and write about it.
1 p.m. — Tell the kids I’ve got to get some computer stuff done upstairs. It’s a mixture of promotion for the upcoming Queen of Prussia 10K virtual group run I’m leading, posting on my IG stories, and putting together a collage of Girls on the Run 5K pics to represent our Norristown Area School District since we all can’t be together in person for one big group pic like we did last year.
1:30 p.m. — A dear friend of mine calls with a serious situation. I drop everything and listen intently.
2:20 p.m. — Lunchtime, which today is a toasted sandwich with turkey and bacon. Surprise visit! Outside hangout time with my mother-in-law, Nema, and nephew Tristan. I run back and forth inside to finish up eating.
4:43 p.m. — I have the kids call their cousin for her birthday, and post a happy birthday on social media to her. And then randomly my husband brings home a box of salmon and shrimp. Yep, a BOX of it. Time to make room in the freezer.
6 p.m. — Kids are playing outside. Amazing what a Home Depot bucket filled with water and some squirters can do in terms of entertainment. We like to be resourceful around here!
6:30 p.m. — My friend Colon calls to say thanks for joining the yoga class and we catch up because that’s just what girlfriends do.
7 p.m. — Okay, kiddos, let’s shut off the TV for now.
7:30 p.m. — Dance party in the living room because why not?!
8 p.m. — My husband checks the weather and looks like rain is coming in. So what does he do? Takes the party outside! From muddy puddles, to football, to body slamming —okay, that was more the boys — and water splashing, it makes for a moment that we will never forget.
9 p.m. — I heat up leftovers, mix them with some quinoa and add those tostones chips. My husband and I sit by ourselves at the table. Catalina and Dez come to relive how much fun that was outside. After we eat, I work some more on the collage.
10:30 p.m. — Finished it! Time to get ready for bed and call it a night.
Daily total cost: $16
Daily total distance: 3.11 miles
Money spent: $277.03
Workouts completed: 11
Total miles logged: 23.13