Category Archives: winter running

Week in Review: 2.6.17 to 2.12.17

Monday: First day back in the hospital. 6 mile early morning workout with 10 by 1 on, 1 off.

Tuesday: 3.25 easy run in the early morning snow.

Wednesday: 5 mile treadmill hill run.

Thursday: 7 mile progression run, starting at 6.1 and ending at 9.1.

Friday: Post-call, prorated off day. 4 miles.

Saturday: Nordic skied in the morning, downhill in the afternoon.

Sunday: 6 mile run plus arms and core.

Total Miles: 31.3

First week back on service! The good news is that I did a good job of getting up and getting my run done. The bad news is that I didn’t get a lot of lifting in and I missed my long run this week. I had intended to do it on Friday when I was post-call because I expected to be done around 1 but didn’t leave the hospital until 5. I coached on Saturday and I am back at work today. I got up early to fit a run in but felt miserable so just did an easy run and lifted.

We’re heading into a big storm cycle today which is going to be GREAT for skiing and snowshoeing but less good for running. I’ll be on the treadmill for my workouts this week but hoping to get outside for my easy runs and hopefully by next weekend, there will be enough clear roads for a long run.

In general, it’s working well for me to have workouts scheduled without prescribed mileage because it changes my perspective to be grateful for any effort. I am of course frustrated that I can’t seem to string together any real training but I’m working on being grateful for the running I can get in.

Finally, I got to try my new Lumo Run  this week and will admit to being a little nervous to see what it said but my initial run was very positive. The pace was off because I was on the treadmill but all of my markers looked good except for braking. I’m so excited to see how this project goes and how I can tweak my running form.

Treadmill Workout: Stamina Progression Run

I LOVE this run for a winter workout on the treadmill where I need to build fitness AND not go nuts on the treadmill. This is a 7 mile version but you can extend as you want by adding to cooldown or adding another mile progression segment. If you’re short on time, you can always just do a continuous progression with a short cool-down but that’s a different workout purpose.

The goal of this workout is to progress throughout your run, ending at what should be your tempo pace. It should never be over-the-top difficult, but should feel like you’re cruising smoothly through most of the workout and working pretty hard by the last mile. For each segment, you speed up through most of the segment then finish out the mile at the top speed for that segment. When the next minute comes around, you start progressing again. By doing this, you’re getting a little extra time in each zone but not as focused on holding tempo pace/effort continuously.

Right now, I start at 6.0 and go to 9.0, then cool down for a mile at 7.0. (10:00, 6:40 and 8:34 paces respectively). Pick whatever pace is very easy to start that gets you into your tempo range by the end! The example below is based on my paces, adjust as needed.

Mile 1: Starting at 6.0, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 6.5. Finish the mile at 6.5. (Warmup)

Mile 2: Starting at 6.5, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 7.0. Finish the mile at 7.0

Mile 3: Starting at 7.0, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 7.5. Finish the mile at 7.5. (By now, you should be warmed up. Good time for a stretch break if you take them)

Mile 4: Starting at 7.5, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 8.0. Finish the mile at 8.0.

Mile 5: Starting at 8.0, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 8.5. Finish the mile at 8.5.

Mile 6: Starting at 8.5, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 9.0. Finish the mile at 9.0.

Mile 7: Easy mile at 7.0 pace.

Product Review: Powerlift Tight

I was recently at an interview where the Program Director commented that I was not the person he expected to be the tallest based on our pictures. At 5’10” in flat feet, I am way over 6′ when I’m in my interview shoes and am almost always the tallest woman in the room. All of that height, however, is in my limbs. My torso is short and in a chair, you can never tell how tall I am. As great as long legs are for running, skiing and hiking however, finding running tights that fit is a perpetual pain. If they are long enough to reach my ankle bone, they are falling off the top and if they fit the top, well, I’m on trend for the 7/8th tight.

Regardless, I have a closet full of “close enough” tights but really wanted a pair that was long enough AND warm enough for most winter running days. I don’t run outside below zero because of my hands but I’m generally happy outside otherwise. I checked out Athleta*** because I heard that they made tall tights. Imagine my happiness, however, when I found out that even their regular tights are long! (29″ inseam versus 26 to 27 on most normal tights). I tried on their Powerlift Tight and was instantly impressed. The small regular was both long enough, incredibly comfortable and warm. I think the small long would have been slightly better but they didn’t carry it in store and I was completely happy with the fit of the regular.

To be clear, not me. Just the tights that I bought.

I put them to the test almost immediately in Kalamazoo but they are WAY too warm for 30 degree temperatures. When I was in Minneapolis and it was barely above zero, however, I was warm and happy in just one layer of tights. I have worn them for many runs here, regularly nordic ski in them and also have them on under my downhill ski pants. They hold their shape through many days of activity, are extremely warm and best of all, actually hit my ankle bones. I also bought a pair for my six foot tall aunt who lives up in Northern Maine and she is raving about them as well.

The bonus of these tights are that they come with two well-made pockets on the side of the tights that hold keys, phone or anything else bounce free. They also feature a thick waistband so that you can tuck a shirt in for winter-proofing. Unlike some tights, they also allow for almost unrestricted movement which makes them useful for outdoor winter workouts.

At $98 (although now on sale for $78), these are not a small investment but if you are a cold weather sports person, I can’t recommend them enough. I plan to invest in another pair of lighter tights from them for mid-range temperatures and toss out the rest of my “almost” tights.

***All on my own, I received no compensation of any sort for this review.

Week in Review 1.23.17 to 1.29.17

Monday am: Thanks to odd January weather, actually made it to the outdoor track for 5 by 800 at interval pace. Enormously humbling to be struggling along just a bit faster than what I consider my usual tempo pace but felt great to get it done. Legs after.

Monday pm: 45 minute skate ski with the team.

Tuesday: 4.7 mile run in the snow/sleet/ice storm. Stayed upright, which is all a girl can ask for.

Wednesday: 5.65 miles while the car was getting inspected. Sidewalks still a little hairy but trail shoes did the trick. Skied with the team in the afternoon, probably 20 minutes or so of real skiing and a lot of coach standing.

Thursday: No run. Had I known how busy the end of the week would get, I would have run on Thursday instead of taking it as a scheduled rest day but I was trying to be good. I downhill skied all day and the conditions were INCREDIBLE.

Friday: 7 mile progression run on the treadmill. Massage in the afternoon.

Saturday: All of the activities day. 3 mile recovery run, 30 minutes of nordic skiing plus coaching then 5 hours of downhill skiing then three rounds of bowling.

Sunday: Got slammed by my schedule (and my own bad planning) and didn’t get any run in, let alone my long run. Disappointed but trying to view my accessory activities as deposits into the fitness bank.

Total Miles: 33.1

The good? I got two solid workouts in, lifted a lot and got a massage which did wonders for my glutes, hamstrings and back. The not so good? I didn’t do a good job managing my schedule and messed up my long run. My senior research abstract is due on Friday and I’m still scrambling to review charts. Interview season and HIPAA made it impossible to do this project on the road so I’ve been working hard to get through it since my travel wrapped up.

I still didn’t manage to get 20 minutes of yoga in this week, which is more a reflection of my prioritization than schedule. I need to make this investment, period. My DQS was > 15 on 5/7 days and even the days it wasn’t, I was making good food choices. Planning meals on Sunday makes a huge difference for me and surrounding myself with good choices for fueling makes it easy to get to 15.

This week brings my LAST interview. Wahooo!!! I’m headed to the Windy City where I’ll get my long run in on Friday, hopefully along the Lakefront Trail if there’s not too much snow. Will has shoulder surgery on Thursday and will be out of commission for 12 weeks so I’ll also be trying to pick up more of our household stuff that he usually manages. Finally, this is my last weekend before I go back on service on Monday for my Medicine Acting Internship. My AI will be a great test for my workout plan during Residency and my goal is to just get my workouts in (including that long run!!) and be at least at 40 miles a week. Everything else is gravy!

Week in Review 2/1/16 to 2/7/16

Monday: 5.25 mile run plus 300 abs. Took a great sliding fall outside and spent the rest of my run covered in mud.

Tuesday: 6 miles with 4 at tempo pace on the treadmill. Felt super comfortable. Legs after.

Wednesday: 6.5 easy outside. Core challenge after.

Thursday: 7.1 mile run.

Friday: Didn’t get good sleep on Thursday night so thought I could run after mid-call but didn’t get home until after 8 so unplanned day off.

Saturday: 5 mile progression run on the treadmill before long call.

The benefit of working early mornings is that you get to see some incredible sunrises.

The benefit of working early mornings is that you get to see some incredible sunrises. Saturday morning’s show.

Sunday: 8 miles on the treadmill plus arms.

Total Miles: 38

Really happy with this week of training. I added a couple new races to the coming months including a return to the half marathon in May and had an awesome tempo run on Tuesday that made me feel like I was getting back to normal. Starting a new clerkship isn’t easy and Medicine is a 6 day a week schedule but I don’t have to be in until 7 and get out early afternoon on some days, which is definitely a recipe for better running.

Now that the snowshoe race for the All Terrain series got changed to the Northeast Snowshoe Championships in March, I need to get my spring training schedule ironed out. Ultimately I’d like to put in a decent performance at the half in Plattsburgh but I also need to have serviceable performances at the trail run in April and the mountain run in July. Given that this is a bit out of my usual comfort zone, Will and I are doing some research to figure out how to get me ready for these events. As that gets ironed out, I’ll share what we’ve learned on here.

Feel the Burn

No, this isn’t a political post even if I’m from Vermont and Bernie Sanders was in fact a bit of a track star.  This is about that burn that we all chase as endurance athletes, the one that part of us shrinks from and the other part of us reaches for.

It’s not that I can’t get good lung burn when I run but I’ve been doing it long enough that it’s rare for me to really hurt during most workouts. On Saturday, however, I remembered what it’s like to suffer. I started the day by skiing. In a normal year, I ski most days of the winter and besides the first couple days, I’m generally happy except on the steepest of hills. Thanks to surgery this winter, however, I’ve only been on my skis a handful of times. As such, I put myself in a bit of an exhausted hole by the end of the races on Saturday morning. Then I head out to run on my snowshoes. I wanted to try it before the race and with another melt on the way, it seemed like Saturday was my best bet. I set off at a good clip (read: in motion) across the fields at MMU with the plan of running our new XC course a couple of times. By the time I had climbed the first big hill, I was gasping for air and looked down at my watch: 4 minutes. Shit. As the run went on, I got more efficient and learned how to run hills without totally going into oxygen debt but one thing is for sure: snowshoe running is no joke. I’ll be thrilled if I run 11 minute miles next weekend.

And this wasn't even deep snow!!

And this wasn’t even deep snow!!

On the way home, I was invigorated in a way I haven’t been after a run in a long time. Yes, I was humbled and exhausted, but I was also so excited to be challenged and to find a new way to expand my fitness.

What activity have you done lately that humbled you? What’s your surefire way to make your lungs burn?

Week in Review 1.18.15 to 1.24.15

Monday: 5.25 miles with 3 by 5 minutes at tempo. Legs afterward.

Tuesday: 4.2 mile recovery run. Arms after.

Wednesday: Off day.

Thursday: 6.3 mile progression run with hip core afterward.

Friday: Full workday plus our biggest MMU Pursuit ever! Lots of running around the course but no real run. Up for 22 hours…

Saturday: 9.5 mile long run. Flipping freezing out!!

Sunday: 7 miles with 10 by (1 minute hard, 1 minute easy) on the track. The hard sections were about 5:30 pace which I was psyched about. Legs after.

Total Miles: 32.2

Another solid week! I didn’t intend to take two days off but with the Pursuit on Friday, there was a ton of administrative work to do that meant I was up later than I wanted to be on a couple of occasions. Despite that, I fit in three quality efforts, plenty of strength work and another > 30 mile week. I also did much better on bringing my own food for the week which made me feel a lot better than eating cafeteria food (even if our cafeteria food at UVMMC is pretty amazing).

I’m at the end of the Surgery clerkship tunnel, with the oral boards and national shelf coming up at the end of this week. I should then have another hour in the morning which is just awesome. Hoping to push my mileage up towards the 40s as that happens. Also trying to figure out my racing schedule for February and leaning towards getting both my 3K indoor race in and the 7K snowshoe race as part of the All Terrain Runner series. I haven’t done this series before but with lots of different events that I would otherwise not enter, it seems like a great idea for a year where I don’t have the optimal training schedule.

Race Report: First Run 2016

Whelp, I can already check the box under “gain more race experience in 2016”!!

Short Version: 15th overall, 1st woman, 18:47.

Slightly Longer Version:

My absolute favorite part of this race is getting to see almost all of the Burlington running community out and about on New Years Day when everyone is full of hope for the coming year of running. I got to visit with a bunch of people who were instrumental in me getting serious about running when I first moved back and connect with other area runners that I don’t see enough of with my crazy schedule.

As mentioned above, I also got a chance to work on building race experience ten hours into the New Year. Due to the overwhelming popularity of First Run this year, 700 runners showed up and bib pickup was a little crowded so there was a start delay of 15 minutes (I’m sensing a theme). However, I had anticipated this AND they announced it early and often and instead of letting it rattle me, I just did a second warm-up and set of striders (Lesson 1). It was only about 36 degrees at the start so I was a little chilly in shorts but took it out patiently (Lesson 2) until my legs felt nice and smooth.

Unlike last year where I was in about 10th for women at the half mile mark, I had passed the only woman ahead of me by then and just worked on putting as much space as I could ahead of Christine because I knew she could absolutely kick my a** if it came down to a kick. I went through the mile in a comfortable 6:01 and starting working the challenge that is Mile 2 of this course. Although I felt a little clunky for the first couple of minutes, I felt downright smooth and strong going into Mile 2. I tried not to fight the hill and just worked on picking men off as I went. When I passed Erin just before the 2 Mile mark, she told me there was no woman in site so I was able to mentally relax a bit, which was great timing because the 5K I’m going to vomit feeling was settling in. I went through Mile 2 in 6:12. (For comparison, last year I went through 1 in 6:10 and 2 in 6:30, so I slowed down a lot less this year.)

Once we crested the hill, I tried to get control of my breathing and take advantage of the downhill. I still felt smooth but was definitely aware that I haven’t done any frank speed work in a while and struggling to keep my turnover nice and snappy. Once I turned onto South Union for the last 3/4 of a mile straightaway, I tried to convince myself to pick it up but wasn’t overwhelmingly successful at this. I went through mile 3 in 5:53 and knew I would break 19 so just tried to convince myself to keep kicking through the finish. I broke the tape at 18:47 and called it good.

I’m always blown away by how gutting the second half of a 5K is and although I’m totally thrilled with my race today, I am frustrated that I wasn’t particularly motivated to kick the last kilometer of the race. I’m sure some of this was that I wasn’t under direct threat from another woman and some was that I haven’t done much real speed work, but I still want to work on the mental approach to kicking regardless of the surrounding situation. That being said, I’m really psyched that I handled the start delay and the colder temperatures well.

What was your first run of the year? Do you like to race or run or just recover from New Years Eve on the couch?

What to Wear for Winter Running: Men’s Edition 2016

Let me brag about my friend Carl for a moment. Carl is the quintessential athlete and I’m pretty convinced he’d be successful at any sport he tried, but he claims to not be a “real runner.” Ignore the fact that he once ran a 1:35 half marathon off almost no training or that he regularly runs with me at any time of day. Anyway, since Carl really is up to run any time, he enthusiastically agreed to join me on some pre-surgery 3 am runs…if I helped him build a winter running wardrobe. Hailing from southern California and going to school in New Haven, his wardrobe leaves him wanting for the months of November through April. So for Carl and for everyone looking to run outside as much as possible as we start 2016, here’s the rundown of what you need to run outside comfortably. None of this is sponsored and all comes from years of running, skiing and living in Vermont.

Baselayer: What you put next to your skin matters. The better the baselayer, the fewer overall layers you’ll need to wear and the less you’ll resemble the kid in A Christmas Story.

Warm? Yes. Conducive to running? Notsomuch.

Warm? Yes. Conducive to running? Notsomuch.

Windbriefs: Do not underestimate the importance of these. Every single winter, one of my male athletes will forget theirs or insist they don’t need them and spend many miserable minutes doubled over in the snow after a race. If you buy one piece of winter gear, MAKE IT THESE. My pick? Craft makes amazing stuff and it’s worth the investment for these.

Midcalf Socks: Another rule of winter running is creating multiple ways to tuck in your clothing and thus keep wind, snow and slush out. In my opinion, you can’t beat Darn Tough for running socks. Yes, they are pricey upfront but they have a lifetime guarantee. Literally. I send back many pairs a year as they wear out and they send back brand new pairs within a week. Well worth the $18. For winter, the material of choice is wool or wool blend.

Top and Bottoms: You can spend an enormous amount of money on baselayer and if you’re going to be a professional downhill skier or spend days in the back country, that’s probably a good call. If you’re going to run for 45 minutes a few days a week, it’s overkill. I spend a ton of time outside coaching and love Hot Chillys Pepperskins for their high cost-to-effectiveness ratio. Note: if you are planning on wearing a looser pant, you should invest in a pair of bottoms. If you are planning on wearing running tights on the bottom, you are probably good with just a top baselayer.

Tops: This is where temperature, wind and precipitation starts to matter. If it’s sunny and 30, one of your summer running teeshirts plus a long sleeve shirt or your jacket will be plenty. If it’s an active snowstorm, windy and 15, you’ll need a baselayer plus long sleeve plus jacket. In general, if you’re warm when you walk outside, you’re overdressed. Aim to be comfortable by 10 minutes into your run and you’ll generally be happy.

Long Sleeve Top: You’re looking for a medium thickness top that is fitted but big enough to fit over a baselayer. My pick in this category is the Skechers Godri Seamless Half Zip. It has thumb holes so you can create a nice barrier between your gloves and your skin, has mesh on the back to vent you and has a half zip to dump heat if you overdress. The price is also extremely reasonable and conducive to stocking up on an item that you’ll likely wear the most in your closet. The half zip long sleeve is my most commonly worn winter item; when you find one you like, buy two so you can wash them once in a while.

Jacket: There are tons of jackets on the market but again, Craft takes the cake here. Will has this exact jacket and I’ve stolen it on a few occasions. It’s windproof without being stiff and water resistant. Be warned: this jacket is WARM. You won’t want it when it’s above about 25 so if you live somewhere a bit warmer, consider a vest instead of a jacket.

Bottoms: A bit of a personal choice for most men. I spend a lot of time with distance runners, so I’m used to men in tights but I know lots of men balk at the idea. Thankfully, they make great option in both loose and tight pants, so buy what you think you’ll be happy to wear. Again, it takes a little experimentation to find out what layers make you comfortable in given conditions.

Loose Pants: Unfortunately, the best men’s pants ever seem to have been discontinued. Thus, if you can find a pair of Brooks Spartan Pants in your size on a discount size, do it. They are so comfortable to run in and perfect warmth for 30 degrees with shorts or around zero with a baselayer. Sporthill SwiftPro and Saucony Boston are close in style to the Spartan.

Tights: The market for men’s tights is a little disappointing, as this is one area where they seem to just adjust women’s tights for men’s proportions. That being said, Saucony Drylete is a great all-around option for men with a zipper ankle (allows a nice tight fit around your socks, see above) and mesh behind the knees to shed heat as you go. I have the women’s equivalent of this tight and find them to be the best in terms of allowing natural movement.

Extras: Don’t be the dummy out running in your baseball cap with bare hands. Not only will you feel miserable, but your body will be wasting precious energy trying to keep your extremities warm rather than pumping oxygen to your muscles.

Hat/Headband: I actually prefer a headband because of the ear coverage but regardless of style, I’m totally and uttery sold on Skida.  They fit well, they are extremely warm and they hold their shape with as much washing as you want to do. Of note, the Alpine line is lined with fleece (my favorite) while the Nordic line is unlined.

Buff: I am more likely to wear a Skida neckwarmer on days when I’m doing a coaching/skiing hybrid but if I’m doing a workout on skis or on foot, I’m in a buff so I can manage my snot better. Sorry, but it’s true. Buffs are fantastic (but you should never borrow someone’s because of the snot issue) for giving you neck coverage, rolling up into a headband or stuffing in a pocket to cover changes in temperature.

Gloves: This is one place where I’m the wrong person to ask because I wear gloves when it’s 50 out, but these gloves are well loved by my team and my other running friends for “normal” hands.

So there you have it: the basics you’ll need to run outside all winter long. If you’re a winter runner, what brands and items do you love? Would you rather be a little cold or a little warm on a run?


Product Review: Night Runner 270

I bought these shoe lights as a part of a Kickstarter campaign last spring. After another frustrating winter run, a woman and her husband conceived of the idea of a running shoe light that lit up where you were going, not just the bob of your headlamp. As I run in the dark for almost half the year and loathe running with a headlamp, I was excited to try these out.

Sleek, professional packaging.

Sleek, professional packaging.

These were my first ever Kickstarter purchase, so I’ll admit that I was surprised when they arrived looking like something I would buy in a running store. The package includes two lights, a charger for the rechargeable battery, a bag to store the lights in and simple instructions. The lights themselves are sturdy and feature three different levels of light: low, medium and flashing. There is also a red light on the back for people coming up behind you.

I tried this out on a run with Will at 6 pm the other night, which took us from dusk to full darkness. They were easy to get onto my shoe, although I was anxious about whether they would stay on as they just slide over your laces. I didn’t change anything about my stride, however, and they stayed put for the whole run. I didn’t realize it until we got home, but I did the whole run with the lights on low, so the review is even more positive.

From the first few steps, I absolutely loved them. The light beams do bounce just like a headlamp but are aimed at the ground ahead of you, which allows you to be more sure-footed than when you are just hoping you’re stepping high enough. They also make you extremely visible. Cars were staring at my feet at every intersection and other cyclists and runners kept commenting on how awesome my shoes were. When we hit the totally unlit bike path, Will and I were both able to run with great visibility even though only I had the lights on. The only time I didn’t have great visibility was when we were facing oncoming traffic while the bike path ran along the road, but there’s nothing any light can do to stop car blindness.

As we go forward into the winter, I plan to only use the Nightrunners and my Nathan reflective vest. My guess is that most people will also want a headlamp, but I absolutely hate running with them and felt much safer with the Nightrunners than I ever have with a headlamp. At $59 with totally rechargeable batteries, these are a must-have for anyone who runs at dusk or in the dark.