winter

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.)

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

 

As the temps start to drop here in the Michigan tundra, some of us tend to hibernate. Sure, we dig our winter gear out of the bottom of the closet or drawers and still make most of our runs outside. But there are days when it’s genuinely too cold or too icy for even the craziest most-dedicated of us to run outside.

So it’s a perfect time to pretend to be concerned with our cross training because it’s typically something we can do inside. And that’s the topic of today’s Tuesdays on the Run link-up hosted by runner bloggers MCM Mama RunsMy No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice: our cross-training plans for the next few months.

thatd-be-great

When I genuinely can’t run outside, I turn to:

  • Yoga. It’s typically too slow for my taste, but I do the Runner’s World Yoga for Runners videos by Rebecca Pacheco. They’re short (about half an hour long), relatively easy to do and work on most of our trouble spots. Oh, and they’re free.
  • Walking. When it’s just too icy to run outside, sometimes I bundle up in snow boots, snow pants, a heavy parka, hat, gloves and a scarf. Think Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story. Or the Michelin Man. When that’s not do-able, I turn to the used treadmill el husbando got for me last year and walk while I watch TV shows the rest of la familia just don’t like. Justified is a favorite. Timothy Olyphant. Swoon.
  • Videos. If I’m feeling remotely ambitious, I pop in a Jillian Michaels DVD and sweat for 30 minutes. This is another great, quick option for getting in some much-needed cross training without having to leave the house or taking too much time.

The list is short, but realistic. I used to practice my tae kwon do forms in the hopes someday I would get to go back to the dojang and take my black belt test. It’s not looking like I’ll be doing that anytime soon, but I may pull out that DVD this winter just for variety’s sake.

Thankfully, it’s still relatively mild (if cold) outside, so I won’t have to give up outdoor running quite yet. But when I do, I have a plan so that I can continue to be active in the months to come.

sore-muscles-are-coming

What’s your go-to activity for cross training? How good are you at doing cross training in the first place?