winter

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?

Had another productive week, logging the miles on my training plan and doing most of my cross training. I even used the foam roller and stretched. Yes, that big of a good doobie.

The trend continued this morning when my runner friends and I headed out for four, five, eight, 10 miles on a snowy, windy day with a 19-degree windchill.

Brr doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The sidewalks were mostly covered in ice, making the run even more fun.

There was a lot of ice on our run this morning.

There was a lot of ice on our run this morning.

We soldiered on through the Michigan State University campus and eventually reaching semi-plowed paved trails.

lachicaruns msu river

On the banks of the Red Cedar…

With our favorite statue.

With our favorite statue.

I should admit that we almost turned around at the two-mile mark but we were feeling pretty good and kept going. Good thing, too, because the schedule called for 10 and we did catch up to — and run with — some of our favorite Team Playmakers runners. The rest of the week is taper.

And this is why we went 10 miles today.

And this is why we went 10 miles today.

Now here I sit, still trying to thaw out but glad we got our long run in before next week’s Gazelle Girl Half Marathon. In the meantime, I’m trying to adopt this attitude:

different kinds of good weather

I did plan next week’s meals, so I have that going for me. If you’re new, here’s how I make my list.

  • Spanish rice (with tomatoes, green peppers and onions), garlic toast. Here’s a similar recipe.
  • Goulash, green salad. Here’s a similar recipe.
  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn
  • Pizza (yes, again)
  • Chicken fajitas (I thaw frozen chicken in a zip-top baggie with Zesty Italian dressing, grill it and cut it up for the fajitas. I also cut up onions with red and green peppers, wrap them up in foil and grill them. Serve with cheese, salsa, guacamole and tortillas.)

What’s on tap for next week? Have you tried any new recipes recently?

Someone recently said winter can’t last forever. I need some assurances that she is telling me the truth because there’s currently a bunch of white stuff falling from the sky.

The week was a bit ho-hum and featured a head cold, a couple of snow days for el husbando and the offspring plus some walking on the treadmill, a great night run with my sister-from-another-mister and an early morning run with el husbando (although I suspect he was mostly out there in case I fell and broke something since the roads are so icy).

Thankfully, my training plan for my first race (the Gazelle Girl Half in Grand Rapids) called for 5K as my long run, which I hope to accomplish tomorrow on the trail.

But I digress. I suspect you came here looking for the week’s meal plan so you can go grocery shopping, so here it is. And remember that this is how I plan our meals. Have a great week!

  • Burgers on the grill, baked fries, corn
  • Tacos, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole, salsa
  • Bowtie pasta, meat sauce, green salad, rolls
  • Enchiladas, shredded lettuce, tomatoes
  • Cranberry chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans

RECIPE (Source: www.workingmom.com):

6 boneless chicken breast halves

1 can (16 oz.) whole-berry cranberry sauce

1 large tart apple, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup raisins

1 tsp. curry powder

Optional: 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Place chicken in 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish coated with spray. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine other ingredients. Spoon over chicken. Bake uncovered, 20-25 minutes.

What’s on your menu this week?

Let it snow…I guess

by lachicaruns on

Singer-song writer Tom Lehrer once said: “Bad weather always looks worse through a window.” I’ve spent the past 20-plus winters behind drawn curtains, trying to shut out the winter outside.

Until very, very recently winter meant scraping car windshields, driving slowly and hibernating from November through May. There was nothing pretty about the snow, the ice or the low temperatures.

And while I’m still not enthralled by its charms, I have to say that one of running’s many gifts has been a building appreciation for my least-favorite season. Last year, I met up with friends many a Saturday morning to run a few miles on pretty clear and salted paved trails.

With my new-found commitment to try trail running, I still kept my weekly date to run on the Woldumar Nature Center‘s trails. Unfortunately, it coincided with a 6- to 8-inch snowfall overnight so several of my friends who typically show up declined.

Thankfully, my friend Corey braved the weather and served as my guide since he knows the trails intimately and took us around, pointing out particularly beautiful scenery.

lachica woldumar field snow lachica woldumar lake

The run was a great opportunity to test my brand-new Brooks Cascadia trail-running shoes and I have to say that I’m in love. They feel a lot like my Brooks Ghost 7s and held up really nicely throughout, whether we were running through 4 inches of snow or an inch of slush. And they kept my toes warm, despite getting soaked.

lachica woldumar snow trees horizontal lachica woldumar snow trail

Running through fresh snow was completely new and I felt awkward, sometimes taking such big steps that I felt more like a sasquatch than a human.

We walked little, mostly so I could catch my breath going up some nice inclines, and finished strong just a bit more than 5K in all. It was so peaceful and beautiful that I hope to both experience this again later this season and share it with more of our friends.

lachica corey woldumar

The running-in-the-snow festivities didn’t end there. I also had a hot date with el husbando and week 1, day 2 of Couch to 5K.

We set off through our neighborhood, dodging both black ice and deep snow. While the temperatures were still in the 20s, we bundled up and comfortably walked/ran more than two miles without falling or looking at the app on my phone nearly as much as just two days ago. And there was almost no swearing. Progress already.

lachica with tony and snowman

Guess it’s time to fling those window curtains open and step outside once in a while. As long as I’m wearing my Cascadias.

What’s winter running like where you live? What’s the worst weather you’ve run in?