Falalalala it’s December!

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For all practical purposes 2017 is gone and with it all my hopes and dreams of running the world. Drat! Not much I can do now but settle for having run a few States, since there’s always next year, which is only weeks away now anyhow. And so we’re left with Christmas looming, and me running to, and, oddly enough, from it.

To be clear, I adore Christmas. My only enduring complaint over the years has been the cold that it ushers in. As with all things though, I’m learning to deal and who knows, maybe this year I’ll even break new ground and like it. Plans are in motion for a snow run as I attempt to embrace this new, bold, count-your-blessings me. So here we are – December – and while it’s pretty late in the game, it wouldn’t be me if I weren’t trying to scrape a goal or two out of the few days left. In all likelihood, I’ll probably be left hanging with a few things that I wasn’t able to accomplish but no matter because I’m alive, healthy, and ready to grab 2018 by its proverbial horns – and mind you, that wasn’t even a goal. I’m slowly coming to that place where sometimes you just have to be thankful and accepting of what you can do.

Meanwhile, just for this month, in true dash-to-the-finish style, I’ve committed myself to a 5/6-day gym week and 4/5 days of various training runs for the next two weeks, though I can’t promise that even half of them will be done outside. It’s just too dark, and oftentimes too chilly, by the time I’m laced up and ready to go. With all of that going on, I still have a race or two left, depending on how I do this weekend, before wrapping up a year of running.

You can see why I remain torn in wanting to welcome those jingle bells but feeling a tad anxious about the expected surge of cold weather and the running that must accompany it. There’s also the impending, but standing year-end, 2017 goal tally that follows Christmas as the frost follows Winter. Gotta say I’m not lining up and ready to go on any of those right now. In all honesty, I’d have prefer to have spent a little more time in October, but again, in keeping with the new me, I’ll focus on the blessing of having made it to this point in what has been a tumultuous year all around. My reasonable response then is to embrace all that I have and do and run with it. And, cold or not, I intend to do just that. Bring it December!

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Stay Inspired and Running this Winter

Source: Rush University Medica Center

Source: Rush University Medical Center

Winter has to be the hardest time to stay committed to a running plan. I mean, there are so many challenges facing the inspired-new-year-goal-oriented person. There are those brutally cold and snowy days: days when all you wish for are PJs all-day long. Then there is the issue of shorter days: less daylight hours means less time to run especially if you’re going solo. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s still the issue of getting all cloak and dagger like and layering up, which is such a bother really. Add to that much more extreme weather and/or a fluctuating weather pattern, which is uncertain at best, and your chances of catching the flu or a virus become highly probable. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

There isn’t much more one can do but stay focused and committed. Sure there are a lot of hurdles weather-wise and many personal and physical adjustments to consider but this is one instance where the grass is really greener on the other side. During this time, more than anything, a runner needs to embrace his or her strengths and be flexible with the intent of adapting: time, effort, pace etc., to remaining on point for the duration. It can only help that lacing up and getting out is hell on the dreaded winter blues and puts runner’s joy on a whole new level.

As is often said, this too shall pass. Below is a video clip I discovered on YouTube by “Just Another Runner”  that explains why running is my happy place and may help to keep you inspired. Take a look.

Happy New Year: 13.1 reasons to stay running

new-year-2017-fitnessTwo Sunday’s ago despite my best intentions and feelings that day I couldn’t pull of the goal time needed to qualify for NYC’s marathon next year. Off the top, I could come up with a few reasons as to why – as there are always excuses when a run doesn’t go our way. However, this time I’m owning my failing and moving on. While I have yet to figure out how I’m getting into said marathon – you didn’t think I’d just give it up, did you? I’ve already set my sights on ways/runs to keep me on point with training for my next big goal in 2017. I figure if I ever needed to keep my running mojo happening during winter, then now is the time to focus and get my game face on. Perhaps you too may have found yourself stranded in the valley of indecision as it pertains to running in the cold weather. Here’s why you need to stay strong and focused:

  • Running this winter provides an opportunity to add cross training and other versatile methods, encompassing the treadmill among others, to improve performance.
  • Less crowded streets and parks to get your workout in. Amen!
  • Easier and more flexible schedule over the holidays to employ a training plan that will bring about the desired results.
  • A consistent running schedule and/or plan ensures maximum fitness for racing in the Spring.
  • Running is a great way to off-load those holiday calories and then some.
  • Running is convenient and mostly accessible to provide stress relief or as a means of getting away or even when seeking inspiration.
  • It’s a good way to meet people and make new friends, especially now to help carry out your new year goals.
  • If you ever needed motivation to get outfitted and be fit and healthy running is it.
  • Despite the cold weather associated with winter, running generates enough heat to give you a good sweat and keep your temps at a comfortable level leaving you better off than when you started.
  • They say summer bodies are made in the winter, they’re right. Put in the work now and reap the rewards when it counts.
  • Running is a great escape for winter blues. What better way to give it a well deserved kick than getting some miles under those shoes.
  • In a time that often comes with so much change and ups and downs, running can provide necessary routine and balance to your life.
  • Just in case you didn’t know it, people who exercise and run are known to be, aside from healthier, happier, more confident, driven and successful. Now this definitely is the way you want to step into this new year.

There’s no denying challenges abound, in society, our lives and the world at large. Our best chance at getting this right and making the most of life is to give it our best shot and we can only do so if we’re healthy and happy. Don’t think me bias if I say running may be the way to get you there.

Racing with the Snow

“Bid me run and I will strive with things impossible.” Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

I woke up this morning smack dab in the middle of winter! I exaggerate. Seems snow tends to make fools of us all since it’s been setting up like that for the past few days, and but for my head in the proverbial sand, I would have seen it coming. Oh mother of wisdom – to sign up for a race in this crazy weather. Oh well, deal with it, I’m told; that’s what runners do best anyway. So, here I am – well within my element I guess – if I could just get this ugh hair appointment out-of-the-way, get a cross-training class in and get on to the chilling out pre race day part. See, I have such great plans, they just have to work out that way.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m running a half-marathon tomorrow with which I hope to qualify for the New York City marathon next year. Since the qualifying window closes on Dec 31, it’s kind of do or die..well maybe not die, but close. I get no do overs, not this year at least. Am I ready? As much as I’ll ever be in this weather. I’ve been pretty constant with running and though I haven’t been in full-out training mode since October, I’ve maintained a minimum level, which I believe is enough to bring it home tomorrow. The unknown element remains the course and how it pans out after the snow and rain today.

In keeping with tradition, I’ve had the huge pasta dinner and after resting up some, I’m ready for bed. Pretty early for me, but again it’s all part of tradition and good sense. Wish me luck!

All I Need to Get Up and Keep Going

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They say a promise is a comfort to a fool. Hmm… I don’t know, maybe it depends on the promise? And the fool? All I know is the promise of Spring keeps me running. These winter days are numbered and so are all the layers that go with them. So in-between time, I focus on keeping myself motivated and getting in tip-top shape for the glory days.. heck yeah!

Staying focused, happy, confident and motivated is a lot of work; It demands many self-lectures and constant support mentally, spiritually and physically. Aside from that, there are a few things I just can’t go without, especially during this time. I find comfort, speed and my get-up-and-go attitude in these running must-haves:

Faith: in God and in myself. One depends on the other and I depend on both. I find strength and hope in the One who runs with me every day. His quiet presence and constant care helps me to rely on and trust in His love for me through all seasons and all things.        

My Running Group: this is how I get the majority of my speedwork in. Since the importance of speedwork to the competitive runner cannot be overestimated, I swear by these speedies, they’ve made me question the term “limits” time and again.      

Running shoes: my Mizunos are my road babies while on the trails Saucony gives me wings.                                                       

GU gels: for anything over 10 miles these gels have become a necessity for running efficiency. Half the time, I suspect age is the culprit. I never needed these things till recently.

Head/Ear band:  I only don’t wear these in the summer, in every other season they provide comfort from the cold and acts as a buffer from the noisiness of my surroundings.                                               

My Gamin/Phone: used to be a time not so long ago when I wouldn’t hesitate to leave either of these behind but it turns out I’m often competing with myself out there and they act as my time keepers.

My Nike Rain/Wind Jacket: I am the real deal and I even have a talisman to prove it. Lol. Really, since the cold has started, I have not been a day without it. Indeed I shudder to think of running without my second skin, I would not survive..I mean that.

As they are, they may seem a pithy list but in truth I don’t need much and I like to keep it simple as there’s only so much keeping up I can do – at least in this instance I’m a minimalist. On the other hand, what’s on this list actually have a big responsibility: getting me to Boston and beyond. So far they’re doing a darn good job of keeping me focused. My faith expects nothing less of course.

Running Through the Storm

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Supposedly, we are in for a bit of a nor’easter as a storm off the coast of North Carolina is set today to make its way through Virginia, Maryland, Philadelphia and Washington D.C (those states expected to get the worst of it) all the way out to Boston. Landfall is expected later tonight.

Exciting times for New Yorkers, as we head into the weekend and the grocery store, because who knows, we might be stuck inside for all of one day! Some of us are hoping anyway, though not really I think, New Yorkers are the least sedentry of people. We are a up and about lot for the most part and enjoy storms (not devastating ones) and such, which gives us the opportunity to stop for a minute – only from work – gear up and head out, whether to sled, skate, ski (out in the mountains) and, of course, run. The scences are those of reckless abandonment, purposeful fun and carefree gaiety to see the kids, kids-at-heart & dogs even, having a field day in the snow; with us, runners, valiently getting our run on amid the cherry winds and slush. I mean you have to see this – such a New York thing. That is, providing we have a wonderful snow storm, which is totally possible – the adventurer/optimist/rebel in me declares.

2 inches or 6 inches or even 10 ( hardly likely unless you’re way out on the island or upstate) is not enough to keep us down or inside. More than likely, there are those of us with plans ready on how to either get or make the most out of it, and who can blame us, anticipation is sweeter for its uncertainty. Regardless, winter wonderland holds many pockets of joy for its proponents and I for one am just about ready to get on with it already. It’s like I always say, if it has to be this cold, it may as well snow. That way I can be cold with reason ( not saying my reasoning makes much sense but whatever).

I’m not sure even I believe this, but I’m actually looking forward to a snow run! I mean, what the heck right? Gotta tell yah, I’ve come a long way and I’m proudest of me. Who would have thought – just about a year or so ago I would have been like “uggh..brr…” now here I am, ready to run. And I do mean ready – mind, body, spirit and gear all in one accord. LOL.

Life is indeed full of surprises –  and hope and potential and passion and so much good stuff. The secret, I believe, is our ability to let go of our inhibitions and embrace it regardless of how it is presented to us, knowing that we have the power to form it into what we will. So, go on ahead then, enter winter wonderland, enter at your own risk. I promise not to do you much harm only to wring as much fun out of you as I can. You make me feel brave. “Big wink.”

Character Traits of the Successful Runner

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Cold and brutal weather brings about varying responses from many of us. In the northern parts of the United States, many people are very tolerant of this kind of weather and even enjoy it. Maybe it has to do with their having settled here by choice or their having acclimatized easy enough; whatever the reason, you will find arguments for and against running in the worst of winter and runners enough in support of layering, lacing up and braving the elements.

In my view, it says a lot about the character of one who is able to put aside discomfort, unpleasantness, disappointment, inconvenience – snow storm and minus temps anyone – and a lot of other obstacles that define the running life while continuing to steadfastly pursue a course of action that sure enough has its inherent dangers, but also holds the promise of sweet success. Such a runner, in my humble opinion, is above average and subscribes to a set of defining traits and/or qualities that places him or her far above the rest.
The successful runner must have:
  • Passion – a desire and drive for the Sport of running that inspires excitement and commitment for follow-through even when the going is rough.
  • Perseverance – the wherewithal to patiently stay the course: sticking to workout schedules and training plans to ensure the desired outcome.
  • Confidence – an innate belief in oneself and one’s ability and in one’s coach and/or training plan.
  • Determination/Tenacity – holding fast to one’s belief and running MO through a demonstrated willingness to overcome obstacles and hindrances seeing them only as temporary setbacks on the part to success.
  • Focus – the ability to keep one’s eye on the goal at all times.
  • Resilience – that unique ability to bounce back after disappointments keeping focus and form.

There’s nothing like winter weather to draw us out, in many cases sifting us only to find us wanting.. or human.. though often enough it will find those of us who embrace the challenge of winter weather, using it to vilify us and our dreams of being counted among those who belong to that exclusive club of successful runners.

Essential Wear for Winter Running

Source: runnersforum.com

Source: runnersforum.com

My last couple posts would have seen to getting you ready for this season’s running; since I figure I’m sorta responsible for your up and out, it’s all I can do to make sure you’re properly equipped to do so by getting you in gear. While it’s all well and good to have a well-thought-out training plan and the right attitude, if you lack the proper tools to execute your plan, it’ll all have been for nought. The concept of dressing for success does not only apply to the corporate person but really speaks to anyone who seeks to win at what he or she chooses to do. Hence why running in winter requires paying due attention to wearing the right apparel.

Coach Jenny Hadfield, writing for Active.com, insists that your winter wardrobe should include running jacket,hat, headband, gloves, tights and long-sleeve shirts. Duh right? But you may be surprised how thoughtless we can sometimes be. Accidents and illnesses happen in most cases without warning and before you know it all your well thought out plans could be shot to hell in a careless run; our goal is to make sure you stay wise, warm, healthy and safe as much as we can. A general rule of thumb is to dress 20 degrees warmer than it actually is as the body generates enough heat while running to ensure that if you’re adequately covered you will be just fine. Slightly cool is a good place to start. Just make sure to layer up using more or less layers as the temperature determines. Adding to the above, wearing the right fabric is very important to wick moisture away from your skin to keep your body as dry and warm as possible.

My experience has taught me that I’m one of those “always cold people” and so I’ve found that depending on how cold and/or windy it gets, I may alternate, drastically sometimes, between as much as four layers on top; a vest, a base ( technical shirt) layer, sometimes a fleece top (vest) and jacket and double layers of tights and pants to just double layers on top and a tights and shorts at other times.  Mittens or gloves or two depending, a headband and a hat is understood. Very rarely do I wear sunglasses but always sunscreen as I try to do as much of my winter training runs at the time of day with the highest sunlight to absorb whatever rare amount of vitamin D that’s available, as well as to minimize exposure to the cold.

Also, I’ve never been out running in minus anything and used to think that I’d surely die if I did but I don’t know, I’m a different person than I was even two years ago, more tolerant, more adventurous, more determined – maybe more of a badass – I like to think anyway, so who knows what the very near future might hold. Let’s just say I’m open this time around and in honor of that I’ve decided to purchase a balaclava – a mask that fits over the head, around the neck and over to mouth to protect against the cold – hell I’m sure it won’t even have to get that cold for me to don it, but regardless it’ll join my wardrobe of running must-haves. Another must-have, at least if you’re planning on going out whether ice, slush or snow, is proper shoes. I swear by trail running sneakers with as little mesh as possible for traction on the ice and to keep my feet dry along with wool socks that wicks away moisture but keeps them warm. Another option to provide stability are those removable traction devices like, Yak Trax, that you can easily place on and remove when you get off running.

I’m sure to the average runner this sounds like a lot of fuss while to the untrained eye it may even seem unnecessary but those who live anywhere there’s winter, and I’m not talking mild cold here, such folks can relate to why we would go to such lengths to protect ourselves from the elements. As to why we would go running in that kind of weather is another question altogether. I can venture a few guesses: we’re of the typical crazy-runner-type, the outfits are super cute? it’s fun if you really think about it? I think I’m running out of reasons and so now you have to go shopping – the best part!

How to Run things this Season

Source: active.com

Source: active.com

“I succeed on my own personal motivation, determination and commitment. My mindset is: if I’m not out there training, someone else is.” – Lynn Jennings

Thursday gone was not the typical running day; rather it was windy, cold and dank, with the promise of temperatures getting progressively colder within the next few weeks. This is not strange at all but merely the signs of Autumn falling behind and Winter fast approaching; which then begs the question, If this is what it looks and feels like now, what will we do when Winter gets here? Since this is no simple question, it follows that the answer is not simple at all but should be more of a determined, precise and focused response to a challenge faced by many runners who live in seasonal climates, particularly that of Winter. A double challenge exists for those of us who, not only dislike the cold, but have Spring races lined up and must thus spend our Winter months in training.

Between the holiday festivities and the cold weather, I’d wager that training for a marathon or any other endurance-type race in not high up there on anyone’s wish list, mine least of all. But I’ve figured for some time now that being a runner  means one rarely gets vacation or even have off days. We are more likely to get a rest day in-between training, but really if one is in this thing competitively – even competing with oneself – then it’s pretty much open season on running. The truth is, after a while, it becomes a way of life and is no more scheduled than eating is; however, if you’re in that place where it’s still a bit of a chore then of course around this time it becomes the proverbial millstone. And ouch, that’s darn heavy. But, lucky you and me, we are not alone. Running, while often done solo, is at base a community sport and so wherever you may find yourself this holiday season, I urge you to link up with the local running community. This may take the form of a running meet up, running group, running club, a couple running buddies or a friend – those willing to share their run, experience or just company with you – will make all the difference to your cold, wet and even icy runs.

The more structure you add to your training is the more likelihood you have of it being a success. All this means is that you should add a training plan to your schedule, holidays included. This plan should be a guide to keep you focused and engaged taking into account the necessary rest days and dutifully rewarding you for your hard work. It helps if you either do this with a group or person for motivation and accountability and stick to a regular schedule as much as possible. For sure, we can’t always be certain how things will pan out especially with the weather; snowstorms, road blockages, black ice, loss of power, any number of things could and may go wrong. While we can’t control any of these, we are certainly resourceful and determined and so it’s useful to add a plan B to your training schedule as well as to ensure maximum leverage of this training period. The gym: cross training, spin or cycling or a conditioning or aerobic class and/or the treadmill or indoor track are good just-in-case options, at-home: You Tube workout video, jump rope, Pilates, yoga or even just hooking up with a friend for a jog around the block, park or a local school track if it’s crazy out.

You will find that, as it becomes more routine than novelty, those runs will inspire more challenge and greater effort. Aside from the bonus of staying fit and looking fabulous through Christmas and into the New Year, there will be no guilty pleasures, for everything you eat is well deserved and thus tastes twice as good. You may even find that you’re actually looking forward to getting out, nothing like the fresh, cold air and a training run to work up an appetite and leave you invigorated and ready to run the world.

Motivational Quotes for Winter Running

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It’s cold. You’re tired, It’s been a late night. Everyone’s inside having fun. You’re just not feeling it; the desire to lace up those running shoes and step out is nonexistent. You know you should, but really the thought of a snuggle is so much more inviting right now. What to do? How do you motivate yourself past that.. past a few more minutes of sleep, past the delicious tasting Apple Pie, that second helping of turkey or even your favorite Home Alone movie or worst, past the family and friends gaming and wining and dining to embrace the seclusion and quiet of a beautiful frosty day?

I so feel you! And because I do, I did some digging around and put together some of the funner ( my word), heartfelt, inspiring, kick-butt sayings/ quotes to help you remain fit, keep you focused, always smiling, and running this winter. Here goes…

1. The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. –Amelia Earhart

2. I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. –Stephen Covey

3. Either you run the day, or the day runs you. –Jim Rohn

4. Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. –Joshua J. Marine

5. The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself–the invisible battles inside all of us–that’s where it’s at.
-Jesse Owens

6. I do it because I can, I can because I want to, I want to because you said I couldn’t. -Unknown

7. Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. -Henry Ford

8. You don’t always get what you wish for, you get what you work for.
-Thumbpress.com

9. Think you won’t make a difference with one run, you won’t make a difference doing nothing.
-Thumbpress.com

10. If you run 100 miles a week, you can eat anything you want – Why? Because…
(a) you’ll burn all the calories you consume, (b) you deserve it, and (c) you’ll be injured soon and back on a restricted diet anyway. –Don Kardong

11. Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic. –Tim Noakes

12. You also need to look back, not just at the people who are running behind you but especially at those who don’t run and never will…those who run but don’t race…those who started training for a race but didn’t carry through…those who got to the starting line but didn’t get to the finish line…those who once raced better than you but no longer run at all. You’re still here. Take pride in wherever you finish. Look at all the people you’ve outlasted. –Joe Henderson

13. Today I will do what others won’t, So tomorrow I can do what others can’t. –Unknown

14. The task ahead of you is never greater than the strength within you.
–Unknown

15. Everything is funner with a runner because we can go long and hard, short and fast, and we even get pretty dirty sometimes (for mud races of course). Endurance is key, although everyone can appreciate a quickie, aka sprinter.
-Unknown

16. It starts about the time I walk out my front door. I reach the woods, smell the river and I just feel myself come to life again. It’s like yeah, I’m back.
-Unknown

17. I’m a drinker with a running problem. -Unknown

18. Mind is everything: muscle–pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind. -Paavo Nurmi

19. I run so my goals in life will continue to get bigger instead of my belly. -Bill Kirby

20. Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run! —P. Mark Taylor

I know! Pretty cool right? Thank me later.

Quick Disclaimer.. so not my words, wish they were but nope, some attributed to their owners others unknown.

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