running in the winter

“Disclaimer: I received four Brilliant Reflective strips packs to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

To say that I truly needed this product is an understatement. A group of chicas and I run very early in the morning (read: when it’s still o-dark-30) and are always worried about cars pulling out of driveways or coming around corners and not seeing us. We all wear headlamps and/or gear with some reflective features, but have continued to worry about our safety.
Until now, that is. As part of being a BibRave ambassador, I’ve been testing these strips for the past couple of weeks. The company provided both stick-on and iron-on strips, which I promptly applied to the following:
  • The dog’s collar
  • The back of all of my running shoes
  • The back of my winter running jackets
  • The back of my winter hats
  • My winter running mittens
  • The front and back of my hydration vest
  • The back of my favorite running Skirts Sports skirts

The strips include very clear and thorough application instructions inside the packaging.

I still have some strips left, so I will do another round of pasting/ironing on in the coming days. A chica can’t be too careful.

Application is super easy. For the stick-on strips, you peel the back and place on the item. These are best used for things that don’t go in the wash, like the aforementioned shoes and hydration vest.
The iron-on strips took a little more time but are also more durable for washable items like jackets, tights, hats and mittens/gloves. Here’s how I applied mine:
Step 1: Separate the strips.

Brilliant Reflective strips come in several colors, including black.

Once you open the package, the strips are easily separated. Choose the proper size for your item or cut it down to size.

Step 2: Place the strips on your item

I placed my strips on the back of my favorite running jacket.

The company recommends placing the strips in spots “recreating the human form with motion.” That includes placing the strips so they’re visible from all sides of your body and on your head, shoulders, knees, elbows, hands/wrists and feet.

Step 3: iron on using a paper towel

Even the back of my hat got the Brilliant Reflective treatment.

The company recommends making sure to use a paper towel when ironing on the strips and using a slow continuous iron movement over the towel while applying a bit of pressure. This process took about 30 to 40 seconds.

step 4: remove the clear plastic covering

Make sure your strips are cool before removing the clear covering.

Once the strip cools, you can remove a clear plastic covering. Mine came off easily and quickly.

step 5: BE SEEN

My back now lights up when I’m running or walking in the dark.

Thanks to my new Brilliant Reflective strips, I now light up beyond just my headlamp. I am a lot more comfortable running or walking my dog when it’s dark outside.

I genuinely can’t think of any downsides to the product, except for any user error like when I accidentally put the strip down incorrectly and accidentally ironed the strip to the paper towel. Oops.

If you want to light up on your run, you can save 25 percent off all Brilliant Reflective multi/assortment packs with code BRP25. Or click here to automatically get the discount at checkout.

What do you do to make sure you’re seen when it’s dark on your run? What other spots should I consider for additional strip placement? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Yes, my obsession with finding ways to make winter running less miserable continues. This may be evidence of why I’ve been accused of having a one-track mind. But at least I’m using my powers for good and finding ways for all of us to run outside when mere mortals (ie, nonrunners) are home in the PJs, drinking coffee by the fire.

Misery loves company.

I have been trying to crack the winter-running code for the past couple of years and have made incremental progress. I still don’t recommend running outside when it’s icy, sleeting or otherwise dangerous. But I have gotten to a place where I can run short distances when it’s in the teens or single-digits.

Even when that means looking like Ralphie’s little brother Randy in A Christmas Story.

I already tweaked previous years’ attempts this winter and I’ve also shared what not to do, but I made a little more progress this week and wanted to share what I learned.

This weekend, for example, we had frigid temperatures again, but I’d committed to pacing for our running group on Saturday and returning to our Sunday-morning trail route schedule, so I bundled up.

This is what I wore both days:

  • Two SmartWool long-sleeve base layer shirts, base layer tights, hoodie and socks
  • A Nike winter running jacket, and a Skirt Sports Ice Queen Ultra winter running jacket and tights. And because we were walking the trails on Sunday, I threw on a down Columbia winter jacket at the last minute
  • A winter-weight Buff ThermoNet
  • A Skirt Sports beanie
  • My favorite Manzella Wind Stopper mittens with hand warmers

Overall, my core and hands stayed comfortable for both outings. I wasn’t shivering either day and I wasn’t overly sweaty. So, I think I’ve found the right mix of gear for my comfort level. Surprising that I need so many layers when I typically have trouble keeping cool the other three seasons.

I felt like the Michelin Man with all of my layers today.

But my poor feet still need some help. They were OK on our Saturday morning run, but the thermometer had dipped to below zero on Sunday and my SmartWool socks were just not nearly enough. My footsies were so cold that I gave up about 1.6 miles into our walk.

I swung by our local Target immediately afterward to pick up more hand warmers and grabbed a bag of toe warmers in the hopes that it’s the missing item that brings it all together. My friend Shannon suggested putting duct tape to cover the mesh on my Brooks Cascadia trail shoes.

Sometimes, the view makes up for the cold temperatures.

I did load up my Contigo thermal bottle with steaming homemade cafe mocha, which was waiting for me in the car. A hot shower and warm clothes at home and I’m no longer a shivering mess. Progress indeed.

What do you do to make winter running suck less? Do you have any tips for keeping my feet warm? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Around this time last year, I wrote about a run so cold that I was still shivering hours later. I’m glad to report that, thanks in large part to your suggestions, I’ve made progress in the dressing-for-winter-running department and will share my lessons learned. But, first, an acknowledgement that I’m still not quite there yet.

Take yesterday’s run. It was 12 degrees when we set off a little before 8 a.m., technically allowing me to follow my rule of no running in single-digit temperatures.

I wore:

I was cold — but not ridiculously so — and warmed up enough to make the 1.5 mile run bearable. And then we stopped for about 15 minutes to catch up with more friends.

This was my biggest mistake . Being warm enough to run in the cold means lots of layers, which means some sweating. Stopping allowed my now-wet clothes to make me feel even colder. Next time, I’ll keep running and loop around to meet up with friends instead of stopping to wait.

After the stop, I just couldn’t quite get warm again. My head, hands, legs and core were cold, but my feet were so cold, they felt like they would shatter when I stopped running. After a little over three more miles, I called it quits. At just-under 5 miles, I was happy that I’d gotten out in the first place, but am not currently following a training plan, so didn’t have a goal distance for the day anyway.

Thankfully, I had listened to advice from several of you who suggested I drink a hot beverage and change into dry clothes to help me warm up immediately after my run.

And, also thankfully, my good friend Sue gifted me an awesome insulated Contigo bottle that kept some hot chocolate I stashed in my car super hot. Just in case, I’d also wrapped the bottle in a down jacket, which I threw on top of all of my wet layers.

With that and my toasty car butt warmers, I wasn’t nearly as chilled as usual by the time I got home and jumped into a very hot shower and wrapped myself in a blanket to watch Star Wars A New Hope with the familia.

While I still don’t enjoy winter running, I am getting better at being slightly less miserable and hope you can adopt some of these tips yourselves. In the meantime, I’ll be the one researching ways to keep your toes warm.

What are your favorite cold-weather-running tips and gear? What can a chica do to protect her toes? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

For the past couple of years, late fall and winter have been a time to wind down from high spring and summer mileage.

The weather is colder and more treacherous, plus the days are just plain shorter, leaving me less motivated to head out after work and more comfortable watching reruns of The Office, covered with a blanket on a comfy chair.

I’m OK with the cycle of cutting back just as the leaves have left the trees and the sidewalks start getting coated with white stuff.

Two or three weekday runs at 5 a.m. plus a longer run on the weekend suffices. Until a woman you’re friends with mostly online suggests you get together for a run on a Sunday morning to talk about blogging and running.

Don’t mind if I do!

I snuck in two miles with el husbando who is already on his third week back with Couch to 5K and doing great, thankyouverymuch, before heading out to a new-to-me park in my hometown of Holt, just south of Lansing.

At the corner of Keller and Pine Tree roads, Valhalla Park is bigger than I expected at 45 acres with wooded paved trails, fields, a large pond and a small lake.

I was looking forward to the run, but a little nervous as sleet started hitting my windshield and after remembering that Barb is a much-faster runner than me.

was sucking wind a bit, but she graciously slowed down and even stopped a few times to let me walk off an intermittent and annoying side-stitch that I now suspect is a rib out of place. (Gonna have to go see Dr. Awesome for that.)

The flooded trail under the I-96 bridge meant we had to do a little off-roading.

We easily covered seven miles while talking about our families, backgrounds and running journeys. It’s been a while since I’ve gone running with someone I don’t know well, and the experience reminded me of why it’s such a good idea.

We got around the flooding, but I almost hit my head several times.

Barb was much better at this than me. Plus, she had those styling neon shoes!

Other than my painful side and the flooded trail, the run was uneventful, warmer than I expected and gratifying after getting to know yet another cool, accomplished woman.

We quickly headed to a coffee shop to talk about the boring side of blogging and warm up with some yummy drinks.

Still smiling afterward, but I suspect Barb never imagined she’d be running with someone dressed as a Q-tip.

After five years (FIVE!) as a runner, meeting other runners remains my favorite part of the sport. It’s a special tribe and one I’m forever grateful to belong to.

When was the last time you went for a run with someone you didn’t know well? Did you run together again? Do you have any tips for Barb as she starts her own blog? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

The weather.com app calls for 45 degrees and 70 percent chance of rain. I don’t like it. Let’s look online.

It says 45 degrees with a 35 percent chance of rain. A little better, but what does the newspaper weatherman say?

He’s calling for 46 degrees and 46 percent chance of rain.

Who’s right? At this point, what really matters is that it’s probably going to be raining, but since it won’t be too cold, I’d be willing to head out as long as I dress appropriately (read: wear a hat or visor to keep the rain off my face and a rain-resistant jacket).

Weather checking and fretting. That’s what the night before a run looks like in the fall and winter, leaving me on the fence on whether to suggest to my friends that we meet up for a run. I’m often the instigator, suggesting that we get together for three or four miles at 5 in the morning during the week or at 8 on weekends.

There have been a handful of times when I didn’t check and we all paid dearly. Rain, snow or even sleet. Frankly, I’m surprised any of them agree to run with me between November and March.

Runner friends who freeze together stay together.

Now I never text without checking the weather, sometimes over the course of a couple of hours and after checking several sites.

My extreme-weather tolerance is on the high side, but only when at least one friend agrees to join. That said, I’ve learned some lessons and have set some general rules:

  • Absolutely no running in single digits. Too miserable.
  • Check multiple sources before making a decision. Once in a while, one source is way off.
  • Always provide the forecast when suggesting a run during questionable weather. A few friends won’t run in the rain except for race day; others will want to meet earlier if it’s going to be warm.
  • Dress warm and remove items once I get warm. I am too miserable if I’m remotely cold.
  • Never run if it’s icy. I have heard one too many tales of serious injuries due to slipping on unseen ice, especially on bridges. That’s why man invented treadmills.

In the end, I may be what we jokingly call hardcore, but I also try to be thoughtful so that my friends will keep turning out. Because who wants to run in the rain by herself?

What are your rules when deciding when to run in questionable weather? Who makes the call if you run with others? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)