Winter Blues ….

There is only one heartbeat in this house who still has any love for the cold, snow and winter in general.  And she has 4 legs. 

Meadow_Loves Winter

I need to channel Miss Meadow’s love of the outdoors, embrace the cold knowing that it has to leave eventually and go outside and run.  I promised myself that I’d run outside this weekend and I’m already trying to figure out how to avoid it.  Normally, I’m all about the winter running.  NOT.THIS.YEAR.  I’ve turned into a total wimp.  A very soft & squishy wimp who hasn’t been running much at all.  I should be ashamed but the bottom line is that my foot needed a break anyhow.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Smile

But I’m going OUTSIDE to run this weekend.  I promise.  I need to get out of the house.  I need to run.  I need to get reacquainted with the winter weather because it feels like it will never leave.  So who’s going with me?

If You Wait For Perfect Conditions

Beware, if you live within a 50 mile radius of Auburn, IN then I may beg hit you up to go running with me.

As a reminder to myself, I’m going back and read a couple of my previous post about running in the winter.  It’s like research as I try to gain courage to suit up to go outdoors.  Here are a few links if you feel like YOU might also need some courage to get out the door.

Okay, I think I’m ready.  I’m going to try to run outside BOTH days this weekend.  Yep, Saturday & Sunday.  That’s the plan.  I’ll layer up and make it happen! 

If you need MORE motivation, sign up for a race.  I currently have a giveaway going for the Sunburst Races Marathon & Half HERE.  I still have a 30% off discount code for the Marion Rotary Marathon For Shoes, code is:  MARION201515.  AND I have a 10% off discount code for any Spartan Race in the country, code is:  SPARTANBLOGGER. 

** I’m Going to Kick the Winter Blues ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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The Sun On My Face …..

Despite the warm up we had last week, the cold returned to the Midwest before any of us could even get used to any possible spring like conditions.  It was nice while I lasted?  Maybe.  I’m not even sure at this point.  However, I did decide to haul it up and out on Saturday morning to put in some real miles.  On the road.  Away from the safety of my treadmill.  It was  a balmy 20 something and while I wasn’t frozen, I was none to warm either BUT the sun was shining and that was a big win!  It was a glorious day and I was happy to be outdoors and running with the wind some good friends!  It was so much fun that I decided to go take a peak at the trail, hoping that the two spring like days we had last week started a massive thaw cuz I want our trails back!  Some thawing occurred, yes.  But we have a long way to go as you can see below.  That’s hard packed ice.

Old Plank_Frozen_2-22-14

I dug in the archives to get a historical perspective of trail conditions around this time over the last couple years.  Same trail, about 3 miles east on March 6, 2013 is pictured below.  That’s a fresh dusting of snow.  Runnable.  Pretty safe.  Beautiful.  I remember last year being on the trails most of the year.  I also remember calling the Village of Frankfort and the OPT committee to ask if we could get a section plowed.  I’ll spare you the details and just let you know that the trail will not be plowed.  Ever.  They are committed to leaving the trail “natural” in whatever state the conditions provide so that it can be used for seasonal activities. Respectable.

Snow OPT_black white_3-6-13

Another section of the same trail, 1.25 miles east of the snowy black & white is pictured below on March 7, 2012.  Now that looks like it was a good winter to run.  Smile

Old Plank_3-7-12

I know that eventually the snow and ice will melt away on the trails but as for now, I’m dreaming of springtime.  Not running in circles in a subdivision.  Not running every single mile on the treadmill.  Just long stretches of open trail that is clear and dry.  Until then, I’ll just be thankful for the sun on my face and all of those amazing runners who run outside every week,  no matter what.  I even took Aby out to join them on Sunday so that she too could get an outdoor run under her belt in prep for the upcoming track season.  It was only 11 degrees and the sun was hiding so wore our brightest outfit to make sure that traffic could see us at all times.  Hehehehe!

Me & Aby_2-23-14

** Dreaming of Spring ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Run OUTSIDE? In the Cold? Are You Nuts?

It’s holiday time.  It’s chaotic.  It’s cold.  It’s snowing again.  The weather makes the treadmill look mighty inviting. However, there are some positive aspect to getting out the door for an outside run!

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First, have you noticed that you can still hear your kids fighting, screaming and hitting each other when you are plugged into the treadmill?  It doesn’t matter how loud the music or movie may be, you can still hear them screaming “MOM” at the top of their lungs as they torture one another.  A lot of the mental benefits of running are lost when you are constantly leaping off the treadmill to beat chase down your little angels.   My hubby used to ask me why I would go outside in negative degree weather to run.   Alone.  In the dark.  In rain.  In the snow.  In the sleet.  He doesn’t ask why anymore because he is too busy chasing the children around to break up their fights

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According to an article in Men’s Health, here are a few other benefits to running outside in the cold:

  • You burn more calories in the cold because your body not only expends energy for exercise but also to keep you warm.
  • Combats Seasonal/Winter Depression by keeping your serotonin levels high.
  • Increases “toughness” both mentally and physically.  Your body adapts to the weather/temps and your mind realizes that new things are possible. 
  • Your body learns to use oxygen more efficiently.

A few things I do to force myself out the door on those cold mornings:

  • I commit to a group run or meet up with friends:

image  Me_Aurelia_Dawn

  • I pick a new or different venue to explore.

image  Snow at WFG_Dec 2013

  • I have a race lined up that will force me to keep logging miles outside so that I will be accustomed to the elements.
  • I sometimes treat myself to coffee or breakfast after a particularly cold, dismal outdoor run.
  • I keep things light, fun and disregard pace. 
  • I take a long hot bath when I get home and think about how happy I am that I’m not shivering in an ice bath.  Smile
  • I will occasionally buy a new piece of winter running gear to get me excited about trying it out in the cold, like those Athleta PolarTec Power Stretch 2 tights that I’m loving right now (and also wearing in every photo above).

How about you?  What do you do in the winter to keep yourself focused and heading OUTSIDE for your runs? 

** Disclaimer – If it’s icy or the weather conditions reduce visibility, stay inside for safety reasons!

** I Run Outside ALL Year Long**  Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Cold Weather Running Gear

I normally don’t do a “what to wear” when it get’s cold post.  So many bloggers do and I try to avoid redundancy when you can find what you need in every corner of the blogosphere.  However, Chicagoland has been blasted with cold, wind and sub zero temps for weeks now and I’ve been feeling as if I need to address it.  If you are part of the F’N Running Club or follow me on the TTF Facebook page then I glanced over it when it was 6 degrees last weekend but here is a full length version in the event that you or a friend need some additional guidance. 

Temps Drop But Running Wont Stop

Base Layers – Possibly the most important cold weather investment.  Super important.  Don’t skimp here and go to a discount retailer, I buy the real stuff from Under Armour because they “do” cold weather and they “get” the fact that we are going to be OUTSIDE doing what we love, no matter what.  I personally prefer the mock or turtle neck style to get a little coverage up on my neck.  Under Armour ColdGear Fitted Mock Neck ($49) below.   I also wear a long bra top (form fitted running tank with shelf bra), any brand.  I have a ton and buy them everywhere from Target to Kohl’s to various online retailers. I put those fitted tanks (or a tee would work) UNDER the Mock Neck when it’s super cold, like now.  

                       image     image         

Outer Layer – Preferably a wind jacket or heavy-duty, quality half of full zip.  My wind jacket is from Athleta, the Headwinds Jacket ($99), which I think is on clearance now ($85).  I’ve had it for probably 5 years and every time I wear it people think it’s new.  Love it and it really holds in the heat and keeps out the wind.  I’m sure other wind jackets would work, I’ve heard that New Balance has an amazing WindBlocker line but this is what I own, mine is red from who  knows which year:

image   Waterfall Glen_Black FRI_2013-me

I also own an amazing heavy duty Under Armour Base 3.0 quarter zip ($79) which really fights the cold!

Me Susan Nicole_2-3-13

Legs – This super tricky for me because I have LONG legs.  Only long tights fit me.  I’ve tried various brands but always come back to the fact that if I want every part of the tights to be where they need to be, then I have to go with long length.  Athleta is the only place that I buy long tights.  I just purchased a pair of the Polartec Power Stretch tights ($79) in long and am IN LOVE with them.  I wore them in 6 degree weather last week, as a single bottom layer, and didn’t feel cold at all.  They are super soft and cozy without feeling bulky.  In the past, I have used thinner tights like the Athleta Relay Tights ($79-$89) and then added a second layer with the Runabout Pant ($69).   Photos below:   Polartec Power Stretch Tights, Relay Tights & Runabout Pants (all from Athleta cuz they have Talls!). 

image  image  image

Gloves  – Don’t forget the gloves!  I wear Manzella Sprint gloves.  I have 3 pair and just ordered my 4th pair this week cuz I wipe my nose on them and need to wash them a lot.  I love the fit, and the reflective prints on the palm of the hand for night running, plus they wick sweat fast.  I can wear them from 20 to 40 degrees without anything else on my hands.  Once it dips below 18 or so, then I add another layer of gloves or go to a heavier version.  Some people like mittens, it’s kinda about personal preference but your fingers are super sensitive so pay attention and keep them warm!!

Kankakee River State Pk_ Fence_Nov 2013  image

Don’t be afraid to add hand warmers to your gloves if you have poor circulation or just can’t keep your fingers warm.  I picked up a few at Walgreens this morning, a 2 pack is $1.

Hot Hand Warmers

Headbands & Hats – My gosh, don’t think you’re too cute for a hat or ear/headband or you might get frostbite on your ears.  This is serious business.  As you probably know, the majority of body heat is lost thru the head so COVER IT UP!   I have a couple ear/headbands, one from North Face that’s pretty heavy-duty and one from Athleta that I wear most of the time.  The pink ear/headband from North Face is on the left, the Athleta Polartec Power Stretch ear/headband is on the right.  I’m good with the thin one from Athleta most of the time til it drops down under 18ish degrees, then I go heavier and add a hat!

image    Schubert Woods_me_athleta headband_Dec 2013

When it super cold, I wear both a hat and an ear/headband, and you may even see me add a balaclava to protect my face.  Trust me if you see my face covered,  recognize that it’s cold, windy and “possibly” dangerous! 

balaclava   group_12-10-11_balaclava

Socks – Please cover those ankles!  I like to move to a crew length sock that will protect my skin and cover the gap between my shoe & tights.  Smartwool, or socks with more natural fibers do best to keep you warm.  Here is what Athleta has in Smartwool socks but you can get them just about anywhere.

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The bottom line is that you CAN run outside in the cold but you need to be smart, have good gear and also know that if you just can’t get warm after 2 miles, pack it up and go back home.  Never be afraid to call it quits if you don’t feel safe no matter how crazy everyone else may be.

Did I miss anything?  What’s your go to cold weather gear?  Please share! 

** Run Smart & Safe In The Cold ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **