The Best Gear for Winter Running

by Jess on January 10, 2017

I have to confess, I once was a seasonal runner.

Yep, that’s right. I avoided running outside from December through April.

Let me tell you how completely miserable I was back then during those months of the year. I’m the type of person who thrives in spending time outdoors and because I didn’t know how to dress myself for winter running, I simply just didn’t run in the winter.

Silly, right?

One day, several years ago when I was suffering from a bad case of winter blues, my husband pleaded with me to go outside for a run. He knew I really needed to just get out of the house and out of my head. Begrudgingly, I went out into the cold.

And it backfired.

I came back from that run even more miserable than I started because I didn’t have the right running gear. Even though I was angry about the situation, I knew deep down he was right. I needed to get outside and run! I just needed to invest in the right gear so that I could run outdoors and do what I love best.

I’ve been running outside during the winters ever since! I do hit up the treadmill from time to time, but I get outside at least once a week.

Here’s a list of gear that can help keep you running outside all winter long!

  1. Asics Storm Shelter Jacket: adds a layer of protection from all the elements (rain, snow, wind) and keep is warmer than it looks! Runs true to size.
  2. Athleta Windy Peak Tight: I have a different version of these pants than the one list here, but these are a lifesaver! The front wind resistant panel keeps my thighs from going numb. Sizing can be a bit tricky with these, so be sure to try them on in the store!
  3. Lululemon Run Fast Neck Warmer: This is a piece of gear, I never knew I needed. It keeps my face warm on those blistery cold winter days.
  4. Sweaty Betty High Intensity Run Bra: Okay, so maybe this isn’t an absolute necessity since your regular sports bra functions just fine, but I love the high neck on this bra and feel it adds a little extra warmth. Every layer counts when the wind chill is 9.
  5. Hybrid Running Gloves: These are the best style of gloves for people who have exceptionally cold hands. The two-layer system keeps your hands dry. I have this brand, but I’m not sure how easy they are to find since I bought them a few seasons ago.
  6. Thermal Run Top: Bonus points if this layer has a high neck, thumbholes and a 3/4 zip. All of my thermal tops are from several seasons ago. Winter gear might be expensive, but it lasts for a really long time! This one from New Balance looks great!
  7. Features Merino Wool Socks: A quarter length sock can make all the difference in the winter. These wool socks are simply amazing. I was sent these to try out and they’ve quickly become my go-to winter sock.*
  8. Lululemon Run With Me Ear Warmer: This is the perfect layer to where under the hood of a weather resistant jacket.

Are you running outside this winter? Tag your winter run photos on instagram with #racepacerunner. We’re all in this together.

This is not a sponsored post. I did receive samples of some of the items mentioned in this post.

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10 Things To Write in Your Training Log

by Jess on January 9, 2017

A training log is one of the easiest tools you can use to become a better runner. If you wear a GPS watch or use a running app during your workouts, you most likely already have an online log of your running routes, paces and distances. This is a great way to start tracking your progress. However, you can get more out of these training logs by taking the time to add a few notes. I’d even suggest taking it one step further by recording your runs in a separate training journal or app that isn’t associated with your GPS tracker or watch.

The reason for this is that at some point down the road you’ll likely stop using that app or GPS watch and start using a new one. At that point your run history will be located in several different places, which can be annoying.

A few years ago I was a devoted dailymile user. Since then, I’ve tried out a few different training logs including Strava, MapMyRun and Garmin Connect, sometimes all at once. In the end, I keep going back to my handwritten training log. because I find it’s much easier to locate specific dates and information than scrolling through a bunch of workouts.

Handwritten training logs aren’t for everyone, but regardless of what type works best for you, you should be recording more than just the numerical stats. Numbers only say so much and definitely don’t show the whole picture.

Below is what to record in your training log to get the most out of it. By doing this, you’ll be able to look for trends in your training that are helping you reach your goals and trends that are hindering you.

  1. Distance ran
  2. Time ran
  3. Average pace and mile splits if doing a specific workout.
  4. Hours of Sleep
  5. Any unusual stress
  6. Colds/Allergies/Illness
  7. How you felt during your run i.e. old, hot, sluggish, fast, unstoppable
  8. What was your perceived effort level during the workout?
  9. Weather conditions
  10. Route terrain details i.e. trails, pavement, hills

Lastly, if you aren’t convinced training logs are for you, start calling it a journal and write something in it after every run. In the years to come you can look back and recall a specific run that left you feeling a specific way or that you enjoyed with a good friend. Keeping a running journal is a great way to document your life as a runner.

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Setting new running goals for the New Year should be easy, right?

But, it’s not that simple.

I’ve found there are two types of runners. Those who play it safe and those who aim for the fences.

It’s okay to play it safe if that’s how you really want to live your life, but I’m guessing you really don’t want to play it safe, do you? I know deep down you really want to take a chance and push your limits.

On the other hand, dreaming big is almost never a bad idea, but you have to be realistic about the timeframe you set for your biggest and most bold running goals. They might take years to achieve.

No matter which type of runner you lean towards being, you need a road map that will lead you to achieving both your short term and long term goals.

But, how do you know if your running goals are realistic or not? Or how to set specific running goals?

I’m going to tell you exactly how! Here are seven steps to take to make sure you set goals that are inspired, challenging and attainable.

Step 1: Look at the data and your running history.
Have your paces consistently dropped over time? Stayed the same? Are you better at racing shorter distances or longer distances? Based on this information, you will likely see a trend regarding what race distances may suit you best.

Step 2: Write down your dream training week.
Imagine you have all the time in the world to train. How will you spend the majority of your time? Will you run for hours on end or head to the track for shorter speed sessions? This step helps you to determine what race distances you likely have the most passion for.

Step 3: What are you willing to do in the upcoming year, that you haven’t done before?
Run higher mileage? Try a new training plan? Train for a new distance in relation to what you’ve always trained for? In order to conquer new challenges this often means getting outside of your comfort zone and trying something new. This step helps to identify if you’re ready to take this step in your training and racing.

Step 4: Based off your answers to the above questions: What race distance do you have the strongest desire to PR at in the upcoming year or what new distance do you want to conquer?

Step 5: Research your ideal race.

Step 6: Chart out a big picture training cycle leading up to the race.
For example, January – February, focus on getting strong and building a base; March – April, focus on building speed and running short distance races; May – June, build up the weekend long run and race a half marathon; July – October, marathon training; November, goal marathon race; December, off season/recovery.

Step 7: Write out three to four specific goals you’d like to accomplish in 2017 and how they fit into your big picture training cycle, along with what it will take to reach each one of them.

Now that you’ve figured out your specific running goals, click here to learn how to write your own training plan.

And if you are struggling to know exactly what goals to set right now, email me to set up a goal setting session and together we’ll figure it out.

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How to Write Your Own Training Plan

by Jess on December 30, 2016

There are hundreds of training plans available in books and on the internet, yet it can still be difficult to find one that is your perfect match. The plans you’ve found might have too many days of running, too much mileage or don’t include cross-training days.

Since you’re an educated runner who knows what you need out of a training plan but can’t find one that works for you, you can either hire a coach (which I highly recommend!) or you can create your own training plan.

Creating your own training plan is a great way to include the things you know work well for you and leave out the things that don’t work well. It allows you to build a realistic training schedule that works with your life.

Building your own training plan might sound a bit overwhelming, but if you follow these ten steps, you can build a plan that will lead you to success.

10 Steps For Building Your Own Training Plan

  1. Review your past training logs. Make a list of the workouts that made you feel confident and strong. Make a list of workouts that challenge you the most.
  2. Determine how many weeks you need to train for and then add on one more week to that number as a cushion. If you get sick or life gets extra busy one week, you’ll still have time to build the fitness you’ll need for race day.
  3. Look at your personal schedule for the time period you’ll be training for. How many days per week can you realistically train? How much time on each of those days can you block off for training? This will determine how many days per week you run, cross-train and rest. Make sure your schedule includes at least one rest day and one strength training day.
  4. Create a spreadsheet in Google Docs or Excel and start typing out your schedule. Make a weekly calendar of workouts for the number of weeks you’ll be training.
  5. Block off any dates or days you know you cannot workout or train and make those rest days.
  6. Fill in any tune-up races you have scheduled.
  7. Sketch out your long run build up and include an easy week every fifth week. To play it safe when doing this, refer to a few different training plans written by reliable sources to help you know how to properly progress.
  8. Schedule the key workouts you identified in step number one.
  9. Add cross-training days to the schedule. Remember an extra day off running and skipping strength training is not advantageous in the long run.
  10. Fill in the remaining days with easy runs and rest days. At least 50 percent of your mileage should be easy and one day per week should be a rest day.

Using established training plans from reliable sources to frame writing your own training plan and then applying these steps will allow you to write yourself a personalized training plan that works well with your life and your goals.

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Can we chat about food guilt for a minute?

Am I the only one who is annoyed by the constant clamor surrounding the holidays and weight gain?

The truth is, as a runner and health-conscious person, my weight matters to me year-round. I’m not obsessed with my weight the way I was in my youth, but I do know that I feel my best and run my best when my weight is where it should be and I’m not eating potato chips straight from the bag on a daily basis.

I don’t obsess about the scale, but I do notice when my clothes no longer fit comfortably. I also notice when I hold on too tightly to the ideals I set up for myself in regard to eating, working out and reaching my running goals.

I care about the quality of the food I eat and how it fuels my body, but when I decide to go for a second slice of pecan pie on Christmas Day or skip a workout in lieu of attending a holiday party, I have zero guilt.

The truth of the matter is, I am a runner with very specific goals. I will eat more food than normal during the holidays. I will probably skip more workouts than normal. And I will probably gain a few pounds—but I don’t care. When the holiday season is over, I’ll get back to my normal routine and with time those extra holiday pounds will melt away.

Letting go of trying to do and be everything is hard in all aspects of my life, but this holiday season I’m letting go of the guilt of having another glass of eggnog.

I’m embracing the season, eating healthy foods when I’m not at a holiday party and already looking ahead to crushing my goals in 2017.

*A version of this post first appeared on Women’s Running.

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Philadelphia Marathon: The Miles Change You

by Jess on November 30, 2016

Two weeks ago, I ran my 10th and slowest marathon to date.

I had a new running partner and friend by my side for the entire 20 weeks of training. Things didn’t go as well as either of us would have liked but, we stayed focused.

My goal going into this training cycle was to get close to my marathon personal record (PR) time or better yet, set a new PR.

I ran easy. I ran fast. I ran long.

I foam rolled. I strength trained. I stretched.

I went to physical therapy. I rested. I trained my brain.

I foam rolled some more.

On paper I did everything right during this training cycle.

Philly Marathon

My outlook on this race changed a week and a half before the race. After putting so much time, thought and heart into training, suddenly the Philly Marathon just didn’t seem so important. The week before the race, I adjusted my goal to something really simple – to run a negative split without any sort of time goal.

It’s possible things went south weeks before this though. After only missing two training runs in the first 17 weeks of training I had to take a dramatic taper. Instead of being confident in my abilities, I was just hoping to be able to make it to the start line without an injury. At this point I was struggling to get my mental act together.

After cheering on everyone who ran the New York City Marathon, I found peace with where I was and how I thought things would go down in Philly. I was excited to run. I was excited about my new goal.

Obviously, things did not go my way in Philly and I’m okay with it. I’m still processing the experience, but I know there are more lessons to be learned.

Running has already taught me that I can do hard things like run the last 12 miles of a marathon on a sprained ankle in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon (read that story here). When I was a kid it showed me that I could feel good about myself and brought me hope when I felt hopeless.

Why I run and what I get from running happens in the day to day. Occasionally that occurs on a single day – race day, but those single days of glory were the result of hundreds and thousands of runs added up over time.

Race day was not a good day, but all of a sudden I don’t care anymore. I’m grateful for the experiences that led me to that day and I’m grateful for the unpredictability of what life throws at me.

As someone once said, “The miles change you.”

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30-minute-running-workoutsWelcome to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season!

This year I want to make sure you’re armed with easy to execute running workouts throughout the busy holiday season.

These workouts I’m giving you to try this holiday season only take 30-minutes but are just as effective as longer, less challenging workouts.

They will challenge you, but leave you feeling refreshed and energized for your holiday festivities.

Give these workouts a try between now and December 31st or anytime you only have 30 minutes to run.

run-strong-challenge-workout

need-for-speed-30-minute-run-workout

fartlek- workout

mix-it-up-30-minute-run

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4 Advanced Glute Exercises For Runners

by Jess on November 15, 2016

advanced-glute-exercises-for-runners

Take your standard glute exercises up a notch with these advanced variations.

  1. Reverse lunges with rotation
  2. Bent knee single leg deadlift
  3. Straight leg clamshells
  4. Single leg squat with leg reach

reverse-lunge-with-rotation-left

Reverse Lunge with Rotation: Start standing with both feet together. Step one leg back and bend both knees to 90 degrees. Extend arms straight out in front and rotate towards the front knee. Bring the back leg forward to meet the front leg as you rotate your torso back to center.

bent-knee-single-leg-deadlift

Bent Knee Single Leg Deadlift: Start by standing on one leg. Take a medium-sized bend in your standing leg. Hinging forward at the hips with a flat back, engage your abdominal muscles and reach towards the ground with both hands. Use your abdominal muscles to come back up to a standing position.

straight-leg-clamshells

Straight Leg Clamshells: Lie on your side with your hips stacked and abdominals engaged. Bend both legs towards your chest at 90 degrees. Extend your top leg out in front of you, keeping it inline with the bottom knee. Turn your foot so that your heel points up and your toes are pointed toward the ground. Lift your straight top leg up about 4 inches, then return it to the starting point.

single-leg-squat-with-lateral-leg-reach

Single Leg Squat with Leg Reach: Start by standing on one leg. Bend the standing knee to perform a single leg squat. As you do this, extend the resting leg out to the side of your body with a straight leg. Tap your toes on the ground. Press through the heel on the standing leg to come back up to a fully upright, standing position.

Include all of these exercise in your next strength training workout or incorporate one or two of them. Each exercise (except the clamshells) will not only strengthen your glutes, but will also challenge your stability by firing up all those little stabilizer muscles in your feet and ankles.

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Recipe: Runner’s Recovery Bowl

by Jess on November 3, 2016

*This is a sponsored post written in partnership with Fresh Direct and Health Warrior.

We all want fresh, easy to make meals that are nutritious, don’t take a ton of time to make and can be made in advance. Being in marathon training means you probably don’t have a lot of time to make meals, but also want to make sure you’re eating correctly to recover between runs.

We’re all too familiar with having  a post-run recovery smoothie or smoothie bowl, but what are you eating for lunch at your desk during the week? Making a high-quality nutritious meal for lunch during the week can be just as easy as making a post-run smoothie.

runners-recovery-bowl-recipe

I created this recipe with three things in mind:

  1. It had to be simple to make (very little time spent chopping veggies, quick cook time, little clean-up, etc)
  2. It had to be high in both protein and nutrients.
  3. It could be made once, but eaten for multiple meals throughout the week to simplify healthy eating.

Here’s what I came up with – A Runner’s Recovery Bowl. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

If you live in NYC you can shop all of these ingredients easily from the FoodKick App for same day delivery in select areas in NYC or they are also available on FreshDirect.com for next day delivery.

Recovery Bowl

 

Runner’s Recovery Bowl

Make this for dinner one night this week, then take the leftovers to work all week for a nutritious homemade lunch.

2 tablespoons olive oil
10 ounces diced & peeled sweet potatoes
1 bag Path of Life Organic Quinoa and Brown Rice or 3/4 cup of cooked brown rice and 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
4 garlic cloves minced
1 inch grated fresh ginger
1 bunch lacinato kale de-stemmed and chopped
1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
1/2 bag Ocean Mist Farms Shredded Brussel Sprouts steamed in bag or 1 cup steamed shredded brussels sprouts
salt to taste

optional: one fried egg per person if served immediately after preparing

Directions: Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add diced potatoes to pan. Cook for approximately 20 minutes and stir frequently. In the meanwhile, steam the brussels sprouts in the microwave, then heat the frozen quinoa and brown rice. After the sweet potatoes are soft add the second tablespoon of olive oil, ginger and garlic. Cook for one minute then add kale. Stir ingredients and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in chick peas and cook for 3 minutes or until chickpeas are warm. Remove from heat. Mix in brussels sprouts, quinoa and brown rice. Add salt to taste.

If serving immediately, top with a fried egg or hot sauce your choice!

If you’re making it for lunches at work, divide mixture up into 4 separate containers.

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3 Mini Band Exercises for Runners

by Jess on November 2, 2016

One of the most important pieces of strength training equipment that every runner should own costs less than an almond milk latte. This inexpensive and easy to travel with essential item can help you build a stronger core.

A mini band is a small, unassuming piece of equipment, but it can be the key to building strength for a strong core and glutes. The band increases the intensity of your core exercises and allows you to take your workouts to the next level without having to go to a gym or buy expensive equipment.

Here are 3 exercises for runners using the mini band that will challenge both your core and glute muscles.

Side Plank with Leg Lifts

side plank with leg lift - mini band

Plank Jacks

Plank Jacks with Mini Band

Forearm Plank with Leg Lifts

Plank Leg Lifts with Mini Band

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