Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Winter running

Anyone who has known me for more than two seconds knows how much I loathe the winter. I tolerate December because of Christmas, but after that I'm done. I like a snowfall or two, fires & hot chocolate. These things do not need to last for 3 months. Or 4. But this winter, just like all of them, will not end when I would like it to. I do have to say that usually by this time I am ODing on Vitamin D, but I am using exercise & Essential Oils instead and I have not had to increase my Vitamin D just to get through the day. So there's that.

Unlike previous winters, I actually HAVE to do my long run (on the treadmill, no way) because of that May thirteener I have coming up, so I need to get over my extreme aversion to the cold and just get it done. Over the years I have bought various things to help me with that. Some have worked, some have not.

Right now what's working for me is:

Warm leggings from Target (maybe these?) that I got on sale for less than $15. If they had more than one in my size I would have gotten them all. They are warm and comfortable and I don't have to wear anything else (I have not run in negative temps with them but I don't plan to. I have limits.)

I recently bought a thicker pair of Injinji socks. I will only run in Injinji socks. Before I bought the thicker pairs my toes were freezing. I doubled up one day and that worked out well. But the mid grade ones seem to be working ok on their own. I run in minimalist shoes which are great but don't have a lot of extra material to keep my delicate toes toasty.

My mom got me the base layer shirts from Target to wear underneath my running shirts. I've one that is a smooth dry wicking material and one that is fleece. They both work well but I save the fleece for really cold temps. I have thicker running shirts as well, but I've found that when it's really cold I'd rather layer. So I wear the base layer, a thinner long sleeve running shirt and then a jacket that I got from, you guessed it, Target. This has been working for me this winter. 

I used to run in gloves and my fingers would freeze. But I don't like mittens because I have less control over my fingers and I often have to blow my nose. So I compromised with these gloves. I can wear them as mittens or pop the top off and expose my fingers. They are really warm.

The highlight is the face mask I just bought (Amazon). I LOVE it. It has a ponytail spot for extra lovability. Even while wearing a hat my forehead would get cold, my cheeks, my nose. If I focus too much on my face hurting I don't focus enough on running. With the face mask my head and cheeks are protected and I can choose to cover my mouth and nose, or just my mouth, or nothing. I have yet to find a satisfactory solution to fogging sunglasses (that I wear to protect against wind or sun) so I sometimes cover my nose and sometimes don't. If it's super cold I'll wear a hat too, but the face mask is enough in regular cold.

Face mask and jacket from Target. 

I've always been interested in yaktrax but they're pretty expensive and I'm not sure how well they would work with my minimalist Merrel's. So when I saw these in the grocery store--that's right--for a wicked cheap price I figured why not. I haven't used them yet but they fit on my shoes. I'll let you know if they're cheap crap or actually worth it.

I ran in 6 degrees a couple of weeks ago and while it was cold, I didn't die. I can't say I was warm but I was able to do 6 miles mostly because of all this stuff. I never use to run if it was below freezing before, so this is a pretty big step for me. 

When I run in the treadmill I wear capris and short sleeves but changing into them and out of my warm winter wear is often the biggest hurdle to my weekly running. So this winter I have done something different and not changed. When I get dressed in the morning I put on my exercise clothes, whether it be for running, biking or crosstraining, and then my "day clothes." When it's time to exercise, I just have to take my outer clothes off, put on my Injinji socks and shoes, and I'm good to go. This has the added benefit of acting like long johns or thermals so I'm not as cold during the day. Boom.

I'm finishing up my biking right now and I will diffuse some Citrus Bliss later today. It'll take the sting away, but I'll still be dreaming of summer tonight. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Farther and faster

The kids have been on school break all week and have had various playdates and activities but I did not miss one scheduled run (or bike)! I did skip a couple of Jessica Smith videos I intended on doing, but that was because I pulled a muscle in my shoulder/back when I increased the weights I used on Wednesday. (A little Deep Blue oil & I'm all good).

Yesterday was the first day in weeks that the temperature was above freezing. It was amazing how much of a difference it was in my running. The sun was strong, the wind was low, and I felt my toes and fingers the entire time. I planned on running 8 miles with an 11-11:30 average page. I've been doing a run/walk method and walking for just one minute at the very beginning of each mile. It's making a huge difference. Last week I was supposed to run 7, but I could only do 6 because of time, and I was concerned about jumping to 8. But doing the run/walk meant no problems. Breaking the run down mile by mile and knowing that I have that walk coming up makes me feel more energized and capable of running faster the rest of the time. I have a friend who swears by this method and she has cut her half marathon time down significantly!

I misjudged how far I had to run so I would up with 8 miles before I got back to my car. Instead of stopping I continued running another .73 (I wasn't really paying attention or I would have done an even .75). I felt so good I could have continued running. I wound up doing a 10:37 average pace. I did do a couple of sprints but for the most part I was running easy. It was such a good run and I even forgot my water at home but had no bad side effects. I ran farther than I did last weekend and much faster and I really think it was the sun & warmer temps. Sadly, we're right back to frigid. But having this run in my mind should help me out later. If I can run strong in 34 degrees I know I can run stronger in May! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Essential Oils

My last post (Believe) leads me right into this one...

I'm a pretty big skeptic. I don't believe a lot of things. I don't believe in ghosts, I don't believe in religion, I don't believe most things unless they are confirmed in multiple places by independent unbiased sources. Which is why it took me so long to look into Essential Oils. A couple of friends of mine have been selling them (visit Essentially Happy Living to buy yours) for a while now, but I resisted. Until this winter from hell when I decided I was ready to try anything.

I still believe in modern medicine. I still believe in vaccines. But I believe in Essential Oils now too.

My own personal evidence:

Over the last couple of years whenever I've gotten a headache Tylenol wouldn't work. The only thing that did was Naproxen Sodium, which is not great for kidneys. I'm not talking migraines, just regular headaches. Over the last couple of weeks when I had a headache I used a blend I made of lavender, peppermint & frankincense. The first time it did not get rid of my headache BUT when I took Tylenol it did. Since then if I use it as soon as I feel something I don't even have to take the Tylenol. Once again, these are your run of the mill headaches, not migraines. I haven't had one of those in a long time.

Last weekend my throat started to hurt. I gargled with salt water and oregano oil twice and it went away and never developed into anything. It was gross and I think I burned my upper lip a little, but I just put lavender oil on that and it's all good. 

I stopped taking my allergy pills and started sneezing again (yes, year-round allergies, joy). I use a blend I made of lavender, peppermint and lemon every day now. Sometimes I'll use a stronger blend  called Breathe. No more problems.

The Princess also uses the same allergy blend every day. At night I put Breathe on her chest and in a diffuser in her room and I haven't heard her snore. She was on allergy pills and a nose spray and STILL snored. 

In addition to these medical benefits to oils, there are also emotional ones. Now, here is where my skeptical nature has a hard time. I'm not sure I believe that rubbing oils can help emotions on a cellular level. But I do believe that smelling uplifting oils can help. And I am a HUGE believer in the power of the mind, the power of positive thinking. If my kids believe using oils can help them snap out of a bad mood, I don't care if it works on a cellular level or not. If they believe, it'll work. I made the Princess a Be Happy blend in her own roller bottle. When she feels like she's losing control, she can use it. She hasn't had to yet. When she gets going with a tantrum there is no stopping her. No logic. No threats. She needs to get herself out of it and this is a tool to help her do that. All she has to do is believe it will work. At least, that's my theory. Since I made her the blend she hasn't had any out of control tantrums. Maybe it's working already.

I've been using a diffuser in my room at night as well and I have been sleeping much better. No more coughing, fewer wake-ups. No more feeling like I will never fall asleep.

It may have taken me a while, but I'm a believer now. If you're interested in learning more about Essential Oils, visit my friend's website: . She'll make a believer out of you too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Most winters I just run whatever I feel like, whatever I can do, and don't stress too much about missing runs because of snow or ice or negative temps. I've been doing that this winter until I realized a couple of weeks ago that I should probably start training for a half-marathon I signed up for in May. This will be my first spring thirteener, so it kind of fell off my radar. Luckily I thought of it in time. I only had to cut one week off my 16 week plan and I had unintentionally run exactly what I needed to for the first week, so it worked out well. I printed up my fridge plan, as I always do, but it didn't feel quite right.

Back in the fall I bought Lauren Fleshman's Believe journal for myself. I've always been a spreadsheet fridge plan girl and not a handwritten journal plan girl, but Lauren Fleshman could write some notes on a dirty napkin and I'd buy it. When I got it I read through all the helpful tips and chapters but I didn't dare write in it. It was just too pretty. Too special. 

But now that I am doing more than just running and checking mileage off on a spreadsheet, my fridge plan is not quite enough. So I grabbed a pencil and transferred my plan to the journal. I wrote out all the mileage for the entire 15 weeks, leaving room for both planned and actual mileage. For the next 2 weeks I've also written in the Jessica Smith workouts I plan to do, as well as my biking workouts (not just idly biking anymore either-- doing actual workouts on the bike to improve my running speed). I figure I'll do that 2 weeks at a time because my cross training is always up in the air...

Like I said, I've always been a fridge plan girl and I still have it up on the fridge. But I am LOVING using the journal. Yesterday I had planned to do my favorite speedwork workout, Fast 40:

10 min warmup
4 x 30 secs 10k pace / 90 secs easy
4 x 60 secs 5k pace / 60 secs easy
4 x 30 secs 10k pace / 90 secs easy
Cool down

But I needed 4 miles and I don't usually get it doing this because I normally walk all the recovery parts. My initial plan was to just tack on more to the cool down to get to the 4 miles. But when I finished the planned workout, I decided to add on another 4 repeats. 

10 min warmup
4 x 30 secs 10k pace (9:01) / 90 secs easy (2 of them walking, 2 easy run)
4 x 60 secs 5k pace (8:39) / 60 secs easy (walking)
4 x 30 secs 10k pace (9:01) / 90 secs easy (2 of them walking, 2 easy run).
4 x 60 secs 5k pace (8:39) / 60 secs easy (walking)
Cool down

It was awesome. I decided to slow down my fast paces instead of jumping right into my goal 5K pace... And it was the best. I was still running faster than I normally do, but instead of quitting or holding onto the arms of the treadmill, I ran strong and SMILED. Yes, I smiled. It was such a great run. I was able to run some of the recovery instead of just walking. And I couldn't adequately express that on a spreadsheet! But I could in the journal. I meant what I said in the yearly goals-- I'm not going to define myself by my race times. But I'm still going to try to do my best to break those PRs. Being able to look back and see those little added notes will help me Believe that I can do it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

January stats

Running and Biking

I had every intention of getting into a good routine this month and really upping my running and biking miles. 

You know what they say about intentions right?

It's not entirely my fault. I started out the month sick and I ended the month sick. And someone was sick in the middle. In fact, someone has been sick in one way or another since November. I've just gotten my first delivery of Essential Oils and am getting some diffusers soon so I am hoping to stop the sickness. I'll let you know how it works out. I am a natural skeptic, but I will say that during LightRunner's illness I rubbed some oils on his feet and never once had to give him tylenol or ibuprofen. So there's that. I thought I'd do something nice and take the girls to the movies at the mall and I was rewarded with the flu. I didn't go to the doctor and get diagnosed. But I haven't been that sick in 16 years. I was in bed for 16 hours. That does not happen. Ever. It knocked me off my feet, literally. I missed runs, biking, cross training. That big ol' gap in the graph up there is my flu week. I did nothing but sit on the couch and watch Thomas the Tank Engine. I couldn't even focus enough to read. It sucked. 

It's also been wicked cold and snowy. You know, winter. Bah, winter. My long runs have not been long. Whine, whine, whine. The highlight was being able to do a couple of runs with friends. I really need to do that more often.

January was not the best. But onward and upward right?


Mileage: 40.7 miles
Runs: 11
Races: 0
Bike: 54 miles
Rides: 6
Crosstraining: 6 days. I think.

February will be better.