winter

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.)

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?

(You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

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.

(You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)