Friday, February 5, 2021

Embracing Cold, Dark Runs

 It's winter. Cold, dark winter. Most of my running life has been spent in Las Vegas. Don't get me wrong, Vegas does get cold. It's just not New York cold. With over 2 feet of snow that dropped this past week, it seemed like the perfect time to update everyone on my quest to be less miserable in the cold weather!

I've been working my way through Run the Year 2021, which means some long runs outside. I just can't put down 8 miles on a treadmill, especially now that masks are required at the gym. I'm also working my way down the thermometer. I've currently survived the 20-degree temps. Not sure how much lower I'll actually go. Hopefully Spring comes early and I won't have to keep this up too much longer.

What have I learned? In short, winter running is not cute. Nothing matches, because it's all about function and layers. I've also learned that gear is important. Here's a few notes of what's working for me:

Clothes: I got a vest from Kohl's a while back (not even for running, but just because it was cute), and it's working perfectly! It's a loud yellow color and keeps my core totally cozy. I will occasionally pull up the hood when needed. Beyond that, I layer up a tank, long sleeve, and jacket for most runs. If it's a bit warmer (for cold weather), I ditch the long sleeve. I still need to master the pants, and just getting new, thick socks was enough for my feet for now. 

For my head, wearing an ear muff headband is working well. I have a few, and while the thicker one is clearly warmer, I found my cheep one from Amazon works best with my Aftershokz. My fleece buff also has come in handy. I have old gloves, but that's another upgrade I need to make soon.

Lighting: It's not only cold, it's also dark, so I got a headlamp from Home Depot on a black Friday sale. Works great so I can see where I'm going. For the cars to see me, Katie got me a Noxgear vest. That thing is amazing! So lightweight and bright. I'm much more comfortable running at odd hours now. I highly recommend it!

Shoes: Here is another upgrade, but I don't think I'll be taking the leap right now. Many runners will run in ice and snow, so that usually also means a different shoe to have better traction. I haven't gotten there yet; maybe next year!

Hydration: I have yet to bring hydration with me (I've only gone up to 8 miles), and this is another place where I can improve. Your body just doesn't give you the same signals when it's so cold. I hydrate before and after. This weekend, a 10-miler is on the plan, so hydration is a must. I plan to carry my regular belt, but will also be sure to regularly sip so nothing freezes. One tip I read (can't take credit) is take a sip every 5 minutes. That is enough to be sure ice crystals don't start to freeze in your water. 

What are you favorite cold weather running tips? I'm sure I can use more! Leggings? Gloves? I have a few more things I need to add to the arsenal! Stay warm out there :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

My Not-So-Dopey Challenge

Dopey 2014
When Dopey went down, I was crushed. I think every runner had "that race" that finally broke them in 2020. For me, it was the reality that the turn of a calendar year would not magically restore our lives back to normal. I had reworked my goals so many times already, but this one felt different.

I knew I wouldn't take the virtual option. I also knew my training would be halted. I just don't have any desire to do all those miles without the live race. I'm truly in awe of anyone who is!

I couldn't let this week go by, though, without doing something to pay homage to what should have been, so I've taken on the challenge of 4.86 miles per day to get me back into the consistent habit of running. As the days tick by, in some ways it's helping to ease the pain. I've gotten through the "I should be on a plane" day and heading into the "I should be at the expo" day today. 

As crazy as this all sounds, I can't help but notice my Run the Year tracker also yelling at me, because I'm already behind on the mileage! 2021 miles is a lot! What did I get myself into?

Are you headed down to the world to run some virtual miles? Doing something at home? Sitting and waiting until the next registration day? Tell me about it!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Making SMART Goals for the New Year

I wrote this for the gym's January newsletter (I do a small article each month as the Fitness Director). Since it's all about being SMART, I'm working smarter and sharing it here too! Go set some SMART goals!

I love the gym in the New Year. Really, really LOVE it! As someone who has worked in fitness for 20 years, this is the most exciting time for me. People are motivated. They are willing to try something new. They will make resolutions, promises and goals. Health and fitness are on everyone’s mind! 

I’m sure you’ve heard of SMART goals. This acronym has been around forever in hopes of helping people make solid goals that can be followed. I challenge you, whether you are new to the gym or have been coming for years, to make at least one SMART goal for your health and fitness this year. 

Follow these guidelines:

  1. S-Specific: Be clear about your goal. “Getting healthy” is a pretty broad goal; but saying you want to lose weight, exercise more, drink more water, or keep current on well visits with your doctor are all more specific tasks.

  2. M-Measurable: To add more clarity, make your specific goal measurable. What is “more”? How about adding a numeric value to know when you hit that goal. Lose 10 pounds. Exercise 5 days a week. Drink 50 ounces of water a day. 

  3. A-Attainable: Being realistic is key. Don’t set yourself up for failure or disappointment. Losing 30 pounds in January won’t happen (at least not in any sort of healthy way). 

  4. R-Relevant: A goal is only good if it’s important to you. This time of year, many people focus on improving their health, and if 2020 taught me anything, it’s that our health is really the most important thing.

  5. T-Time-Bound: Add that time stamp. Give yourself a deadline. Write it in your planner or put it on your digital calendar (I’m a paper planner girl; don’t try and change my mind!).

If your goal is BIG, like for the whole year big, make smaller benchmarks along the way. I’m always in this with you, so here’s my big goal for the year: I will run 2021 miles in 2021. It’s specific (just about running) and relevant (I love to run). It’s time bound (I have 365 days to do it) and measurable (I’m tracking miles on my watch). Attainable? Well, that’s still unknown, and to be more realistic, I’ve actually set 2 goals: 1021 miles & 2021, because I wanted an A-goal and a B-goal. 

Share with me! What’s your goal for 2021? Make it BIG! Make it a little scary. But most importantly, make it SMART!