Last year, I ran several half marathons and a full marathon with a big, audacious goal to run my first ultra marathon. I was pretty good about training, printing off plans for each race and scratching of each day’s activities.

Enter winter in the Michigan tundra when sleet, ice and wind can put a damper on any day’s plan to run outside. Oh, sure, I’ve been running on a regular basis, but I’ve not kept to any particular plan and I have certainly not made eating well and cross training a priority.

I may have just inhaled some pizza and chocolate, but with my Team Playmakers group runs having started this morning, it’s time for me to make SMART goals and to focus on my training.

Photo of an icy stretch of trail at Hawk Island Park in Lansing, Mich.

Glad to see my Team Playmakers friends this morning despite the icy conditions on the Hawk Island trails.

So here are my 2017 running goals (with the caveat that I am starting a new job next week and have no idea what my schedule will look like):

SPECIFIC: I will eat better, get enough rest and work on my cross training this year so that I can run Grand Rapids’ Gazelle Girl Half on April 23, Munising’s Grand Island (trail) Half on July 22, the Run Woodstock 50K on Sept. 9 and either the Detroit half or full marathon on Oct. 15. I’ll also need to find a full marathon to use as my longest run before the September 50K. Last year, (with YUGE support from my runner friends) I ran all the loops of the Lake Lansing Marathon Relay.

MEASURABLE and MEANINGFUL: I don’t have any new distance goals this year, but I do hope to do a better job of training for the races on my schedule. I am not one to run for PRs, but hope to improve my times on each of the races. Mostly, I want to finish strong and not feel like I’m going to die.

 

ATTAINABLE and REALISTIC: I will turn to my trusty Hal Higdon half marathon training plan, except that now that I’m not a newbie, I’ll be using the intermediate plan. I’ve done this before, and am confident I can do it again.

I will have to spend a bit more time looking ahead each week to make sure I make the time I need for both my runs and my cross training.

 

RELEVANT: This is a transition year for me, both in running and professionally. I’ve been running since 2012, so I am definitely not a new runner anymore, so all of my goal races are very do-able.

 

 

TIMELY: I am looking more at consistency than big achievements because I want to be realistic about a year when I’m not just starting a new job, but also completely switching careers (from communications/public relations to foundation management/fundraising).

Looking forward to more running, less ice.

How about you: What are your SMART goals for this year?

 

This may very well be a post about what not to do to stay warm when the mercury drops and your crazy runner friends tell you to bundle up and meet them for a five-mile run on a Saturday morning anyway. But I will share tips from runners more experienced than me.

As I write this two hours later, I am still chilled even as I sit in warm clothes and dry hair underneath a warm quilt (thanks, Mom!).

This is just the second winter I’ve (insanely) chosen to run outside. Most days, it’s fine. I know exactly what to wear, don it and head out without incident. Today was not one of those days.

I wore a Champion winter-weight, long-sleeve shirt, a thick Reebok hoodie, my awesome Skirt Sports Toasty Tights, SmartWool socks, a Buff, Brooks Ghost running shoes, Manzella Wind Stopper mittens with foot warmers (they’re smaller than hand warmers) and the Skirt Sports beanie that makes me look like a Q-Tip.

It was not enough.

My head and face were covered, so I didn’t risk frostbite. My hands were decently warm. My core was cool but not cold.

But my feet and my thighs were so cold, they hurt. Like burning kind of hurt. Not a good feeling, two miles from the relative warmth of my car. After we got back, I was shivering. I did stop at the local party store to get hot chocolate (and, ahem, a dozen donuts), but my hands were shaking and I was chilled to the bone. The hot beverage helped, but I was still freezing by the time I got home, stripped all of the wet clothes off and took the hottest shower I could stand.

Don’t let the smiles fool you. It was cccccold.

I asked for tips on staying warm immediately after a run on a trail and ultra running Facebook group I belong to and got the following tips:

  • Get out of the wet clothes (including a sweaty sports bra), dry off and put on warm, dry clothes. A couple of runners said there are products that cover you so you can change in the car. Must investigate.
  • Eat and drink something warm (brought in a Thermos) to give your body fuel and to warm yourself from the inside.
  • Use a plug-in car blanket.
  • Change into dry socks and put on warm, winter boots and a warm coat.
  • Turn on the seat warmers if you have them and blast the car heater.

I need to figure out a way to change out of the sweaty running clothes immediately after my run, but the idea of standing in either a portable toilet or a freezing bathroom at our local park causes me to pause. Or, I guess, I could not go out for a run when it’s so cold that my friend Janet’s eyelashes and hair froze.

It was so cold during our run today that my friend Janet’s eyelashes and hair froze.

What are your best freezing-temperatures-running tips? Leave them below.

Skirt Sports trunk show

by lachicaruns on

It was Christmas in November for some of us today as we got to see, touch and try on the newest Skirt Sports gear at my fellow ambassador Jessi’s home.

Lots of Skirt Sports gear was available to try on at today's Trunk Show.

Lots of Skirt Sports gear was available to try on at today’s Trunk Show.

The concept is that a Skirt Sports ambassador gets the latest gear in the newest prints in all the sizes available so we could drool, I mean, check it all out. I was mostly interested in the winter line, which includes a Toasty Vest and Toasty Tights, which have panels in key spots to keep you warmer, especially in the Michigan tundra.

Here I am sporting the Toasty Vest over my Free Flow long-sleeve shirt in the color Razz.

Here I am sporting the Toasty Vest over my Free Flow long-sleeve shirt in the color Razz.

The Toasty Vest has a removable hood.

The Toasty Vest has a removable hood.

The tights were exactly what I was hoping for — they are true-to-size and soft.

I tried on the Skirt Sports Toasty Tights and was happy to see that they fit true to size.

I tried on the Skirt Sports Toasty Tights and was happy to see that they fit true to size.

The Skirt Sports Toasty Tights have panels in the front and back to protect the spots that get the coldest when out on a run.

The Skirt Sports Toasty Tights have panels in the front and back to protect the spots that get the coldest when out on a run.

I also was thrilled to check out the new Stargaze print, which I was lukewarm about when I saw it on the Skirt Sports website, but am completely in love with now that I’ve seen it in person. The blue is more of a teal in person that the blue that’s showing up here and the repeating pattern is much more delicate than how it appears on the website.

The Skirt Sports pattern Stargaze.

The Skirt Sports pattern Stargaze. That’s the Enchanted on the right, too.

Lastly, I also got to learn about a Skirt Sports neck gaiter, much like my beloved Buffs.

Skirt Sports neck gaiter.

Skirt Sports neck gaiter.

After trying on a bunch of things and getting to see all of the new items and patterns, I’ll definitely be asking Santa for the Toasty Vest, Toasty Tights and the Skirt Sports gaiter. I will be looking for a couple of items in the Stargaze pattern later on.

In the meantime, remember that you can always get 20 percent off your regular-priced Skirt Sports gear order (affiliate link) with my code, LCR20. Happy shopping!

Note: Remember that I am a Skirt Sports ambassador captain. That means that I represent the company and am compensated with complimentary gear to review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

If you’re like me and like to get a great deal on running gear either for your self or as gifts, here are a couple of options:

Skirt Sports (affiliate link): Why wait til Friday to shop? My favorite running gear is on sale for up to 70 percent off now with — bonus! — free shipping with your $40 or more order. I already ordered my favorite running skirt, the Happy Girl, in yet another pattern; this time in the very colorful Tantrum because it matches just about any of my race-shirts. I should note that it’s Skirt Sports’ longest skirt and has two pockets in the built-in shorties plus a zippered pocket on the back. I specifically bought this skirt to wear on our spring break cruise because I can wear it to go sight-seeing without having to bring a purse, then wear it on a run before I have to wash it.

The Happy Girl won’t be the only Skirt Sports gear I’ll bring on that trip. It’s the perfect double-duty option to save room when packing for a trip. Rolled up, it doesn’t take much room in my suitcase, it won’t wrinkle and I can hand-wash it and hang it up to dry to wear again. Consider Skirt Sports gear for your next vacation, or buy some for a loved one who likes to travel.

If you fall in love with something on the Skirt Sports site at full price, you can use my LCR20 discount code for 20 percent off. The Toasty Tights, for example, are on my short list for when I get some birthday or Christmas money to shop with. They have panels to prevent your thighs and butt-cheeks to keep you from getting frozen. These, too, have built-in pockets.

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Skirt Sports Toasty Tights.

Road IDI’m not affiliated with this company, but I would love to partner with them. I certainly talk about them a lot on my blog and with my friends because I don’t think any runner, biker or swimmer should ever leave home without wearing a Road ID.

Road ID already has an offer this week where you can get half off a Road ID with the purchase of one at full price, plus free shipping. I started out wearing their cheapest band, the Wrist ID Slim, and loved it, but took advantage of a sale and got the Wrist ID Elite because it can be adjusted, plus has a clip that lets me take it on and off much more easily.

My Road ID in black with the 26.2 badge.

My Road ID in black with the 26.2 charm.

And remember that you can get other ideas for gifts for your friends and family from last week’s Tuesdays on the Run link-up. As I do most weeks, I’m once again linking up with hosts MCM Mama RunsMy No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice. I can’t wait to see what deals the other runner bloggers share.

Happy shopping!

What are your best Black Friday deals? What’s on your short list of things you’d like to get for yourself or as gifts?

In the spirit of helping your loved ones find appropriate gifts for you (read: running related items) this holiday season, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions as part of this week’s Tuesdays on the Run link-up hosted by runner bloggers MCM Mama RunsMy No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice.

runner-gift-listBecause I know that most of us can’t afford $500 for the latest expensive gadget, I’m focusing on ideas for the budget conscious.

  1. Running store gift certificate. Your runner will love any denomination and will revel in the opportunity to browse the whole store and touch every new shoe, running jacket and sock in the place. Most stores have smaller items like the prerequisite 5K, 13.1 mile and 26.2 mile stickers or magnets for the car in addition to the high-tech gizmos of the season.
  2. Race photos. Did your runner have a recent race? Check the race’s homepage for information on race photos, which can be bought online and shipped directly to your runner. Many race photographers tag your runner’s photos by his or her bib number. If you don’t know their number, try the race website again; most will list race results by name and bib number. Or just check their Facebook and Instagram accounts since they probably posted selfies of themselves with their bibs before the event. Bonus points for a nice frame to hold the finish-line photo.
  3. Your interest and support. You don’t have to run to show your runner some love. Join your runner on a long walk on a rest day or show up at a race to cheer him or her on. I know you’re already spending an inordinate amount of time listening to him or her go on and on (and on and on) about their training. Go see them in their habitat and make them feel special in the process.
  4. Music to their ears. Build a song list for their next race. Doing so takes tons of time and he or she will appreciate getting a head start. You can buy the songs for them, give them a gift card toward music purchases or even create a Pandora station for him or her and hand over the log-in information.
  5. Support their race habit. Contribute toward a race fee or lodging at the next away race. If your runner likes to race, many races will allow you to pay for all or part of the race fee. Some have gift certificates. A gift card to a hotel at their next destination would also be appropriate and welcome.
  6. Non-stinky running clothes. Runners love gear and clean, non-stinky technical shirts, so those are always good ideas if you know your runner’s size. Places like Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx and Target have great deals on good gear. I absolutely love Skirt Sports for women (I’m an ambassador for the company). Or check out the website for one of their races; sometimes they sell race-specific gear like jackets, magnets and hats.
  7. Running magazine subscription. Your runner will think warm thoughts about you every time an issue shoes up. I’m partial to Runner’s World.
  8. A goody bag. It could be multiple samples of hydration tablets so they can try different flavors, or different types of protein bars or fuel (like Gu or SportBeans). Or create a pedicure set for your runner. We have notoriously gnarly feet.
  9. Recipe book. Put together some healthy, runner friendly snacks and meals. Most running magazine websites have tons of resources. Better yet, cook a runner friendly meal for your runner. We’re always “rungry”, so this will be a huge hit.
  10. Love and understanding, of course.
Regardless of what you decide, your runner will appreciate your thoughtfulness. Especially the part where you pretend to listen to us with interest when we’re talking our running.
What’s the best running-related gift you’ve ever gotten? Given?