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Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

I’m going to tell you a story.  It’s going to be a little personal and I’ll probably over share, and right in the middle you’ll be wondering why in the world I’m telling you this, but in the end, you’ll totally see how this is related to running.  I promise.

My road to a career in selling running shoes was a long and strange one.  I didn’t go to school for a business or management degree.  I got my Bachelor’s degree in English and Paralegal Studies.  I was interested in law and politics, and because I knew that if I had kids, I’d be a stay at home mom, the paralegal field just seemed like a job that would be a way station into my real, actual adulthood.

I got a job straight out of college (pre-recession, mind you) in the paralegal field and I couldn’t have been more miserable.  Go figure.  I hated my job.  I hated sitting at a desk.  I hated staring at a computer screen all day.  I hated only talking to people on the phone and never having much human interaction.  I didn’t have a window. Feeling of fulfillment: 0%.  I started gaining weight.  I thought it was just the type of law I was doing (personal injury) and not the career itself, so I started thinking about what could come next.  But the more I thought about how much better a different job would (of course) be, the more miserable I was at my current job.  I kept wanting to leave, but I just couldn’t make the leap.  I was laid off before I could leave on my own terms.  Which made me more miserable.  In retrospect, it was the best thing that could have happened to me, but of course I didn’t realize that then.  And it always sucks to loose a job, no matter how much you hated it.

For several weeks after that day I sat around in my living room and watched t.v., moped, and ate.  I probably gained 10 pounds.  I refused to file for unemployment.  Finally, I got myself a job hawking electronics at an office supply store.  I liked the job and I was good at it.  But wouldn’t you know it – I was miserable.  I thought I should be doing something better with my life than “working retail.”  Again, the job was just a way station on to something better.

That “better” came in the form of grad school.  Looking back on it — not actually a better option.  Like many people my age during the recession, I went back to school because I didn’t have any real career prospects.  I knew I didn’t want to sit in an office any more, but that was all I knew about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  Getting my Masters degree in English Language and Literature seemed like a good enough choice.  Theoretically, my MA should have given me the opportunity to teach undergrads entry level English, but nothing is as good as it seems in academia.  Job opportunities for people with M.A.’s are limited, and since I didn’t have the option to move, my job prospects amounted to absolutely zilch.

Again, miserable.  And also about 30 pounds heavier.  While I was in grad school I lived in Rochester, but my school was in Winona, about 40 minutes away.  Most of my classes were at night and I taught, tutored, and studied during the day.  Lacking options for lunch, dinner, and sometimes even breakfast, I usually stopped at McDonald’s on my way home in the evening.  That, combined with a complete and utter lack of exercise, tipped the scales in an ever easterly direction.

My next job also seemed like a good idea at the time.  And while I loved some moments of my job working as a advocate at the local Women’s Shelter, it was also stressful and horrible.  It made me miserable.  I gained more weight.  I stressed about my job when I was home, when I was in bed, when I went shopping, when I bought a car… every single moment of my life revolved around that job, because domestic violence is not limited to Monday through Friday 8-5. While I was once again having an internal battle with myself over my miserableness, I couldn’t make a change.  In the end, a difference of opinion with those in charge led to my being let go.

Over the previous four years I had been miserable every. single. second. And my body suffered because of it.  By the time I decided to do something about my weight, I had gained over 50 pounds.  And it wasn’t just my physical body that had suffered.  My mental health suffered too.  I was tired all the time, my anxiety went through the roof, and I felt like a failure.  I had to take drugs just so I could sleep at night.  I started taking an anti-depressant.

This time I applied for (and received) unemployment benefits, and I made the decision that this time, I was really going to take my time making a decision about what I wanted to do with my life, rather than just taking the first job that came along.  Before I left the shelter, I had trained and competed in my first triathlon.  The decision to finally do something about my poor health was a result of watching other people race.  But I had been waiting for that tipping point for at least four years.

With a little running experience behind me, and cashing in on my previous shoe sales experience (my first job was slinging shoes at Roagan’s and I met my husband while I was working at Foot Locker), I was hired as a sales associate at the Running Room.

That choice was supposed to be temporary.  I was terrified of someone from high school coming in to the store and saying, “Oh, so you just work in retail now?” or having to explain to my parents’ friends why I wasn’t doing anything with my degree.  Even though I was in better health than I had been in several years, I was still depressed.

But this is why: For years, I had been making decision for my life based on what I thought other people would expect from me.  I was supposed to have a “real” job where I made “real” money, a picket fence, a house, kids, a dog.  I didn’t think I could be happy until I could be proud of myself.  And I couldn’t be proud of myself because, in my mind, I was a failure.  A failure who couldn’t find a job, who had mountains of college debt, and several useless degrees to show for it. I spent so much time thinking about what other people thought of me, that I never stopped to really consider whether or not I was actually happy. I wanted to be happy, but only if I could have a traditional job, with a traditional house, and a traditional family, because that was what was expected.

But that was not what would make me happy.  It took me years to realize that.

I always thought I would have 2.5 kids because that’s what people do.  I always thought I would have some kind of desk job, because that’s what people who are middle-class and live in the suburbs do.  And when that wasn’t happening, it made me miserable.  But I wasn’t miserable because I was actually unhappy, I was miserable because my perspective was way off.

If I had just taken a moment, years ago, to really look at what I wanted to do and had the guts to make the changes that I knew I had to make, without worrying about what other people would think, I would have been so much better off.  But now you can learn from my mistakes.  I know I don’t want to have kids.  And while some people may think that’s the worst decision a woman could make, for me, it’s the right one.  I know I don’t like sitting at a desk.  I like working retail and I’m good at it.  I like meeting new people every day and inspiring other people to achieve an active lifestyle.  I like getting my hands dirty and hard work.  And what’s wrong with that?  Nothing, is the answer.  Nothing is wrong with that.  That is me.

Four years ago I was trying to be a version of myself that wasn’t pure.  I was running at 30% me.  I was making myself unhappy.  It wasn’t as if people were actually coming up to me and disparaging my retail job.  I just imagined that they would.  30% Me was trying to be something to the world that didn’t actually exist.  So the 70% of me that I was hiding made me miserable.  Do you know how tiring it is to pretend to be someone else?

When I made the decision to be happy with the life and career that I had created, when I actually accepted what I wanted, and stopped worrying about what other people wanted, when I stopped trying to make other people happy by being someone else, that is when I truly found my happiness.

My life is so much better now.  If you think retail isn’t a “real” job, then you have never worked retail.  And if you are going to look down on me for having a retail job, then I think you’re the one with the problem, not me. I stopped worrying about trying to loose “enough” weight, and instead starting thinking about my over all health.  If people wanted to talk about my weight, then I felt sorry for them, because they didn’t have anything else to do than to criticize someone else.  I stopped looking at other people’s lives and wishing I was more like them, and instead started looking at my life and realizing how incredibly lucky I was.  I stopped worrying about what people would think about me being child-free by choice, and just decided that I DIDN’T CARE.

Really.  I know so many people right now who are so miserable in their lives.  They go to work and they are miserable.  They come home and they are miserable.  And I just want to yell at them, “Stop doing this to yourself! If you hate everything about your life, so change your life!” Some of these people don’t actually hate their lives, but they’ve fallen into the same trap that I did, worrying, worrying, worrying all the time, frustrated and complaining about how miserable they are, which just leads to them being more miserable.

I told you this all would relate to running, so let me bring you back to the main purpose of this blog.  Whatever you do in life, be 100% Pure You.  In your job, in your home life, with your kids, with your family… stop trying to be someone you aren’t.  The same is true of running.  People come in to the store all the time, disparaging themselves, worrying about how slow they are, or that they look funny running, or what they look like in their workout clothes.  These people are expending so much energy on worrying what other people will think of them, that they can’t just be happy with who they are.  Right now.  Today.

You can only run for half a block?  Good for you. That’s what you can do today.  Don’t worry about tomorrow.  Be 100% Pure You, in everything you do, and you will be so much happier, I promise.  Be the runner you were meant to be, not the runner you think you should be, or the runner you think other people think you should be (see how exhausting that is?).

That is not to say that there is not always room for improvement.  But rather than focusing on what needs to improve, focus on today, focus on now.  Plan for the future, but if that future doesn’t pan out, your life is not over — make a new plan.  Be happy today, with who you are today.  Be 100% Pure You.  And if someone in your life can’t handle it, remember that is not because of you, it is because them.  They are the ones who don’t want to see the real you. So if your running buddies make fun of you when you have a rough day, look for new running buddies.  If you struggle time and time again with the half marathon distance, stop trying to be the runner you think you should be and focus on a new distance.  If you can’t do speed work, embrace the long slow run and do a marathon.  Run because you like it, not because you think you should like it, or because other people expect something out of you.  Run because you like the feel of the wind on your face, and the crunch of the gravel under your feet, and the sound of your breath struggling in your chest because that means you are a warrior. Run for you, not for someone else.

If you are 100% Pure You, you will be 100% happier, because you are no longer expending half of your energy on being someone else. Take a step back from your life and gain some perspective and when you jump back in, be who and what you were meant to be.  Trust me.

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If you’re like me (and most runners I know), a couple of weeks before your big race, you start obsessively checking the weather, and mentally planning out what you are going to wear.  Because weather changes so quickly around here, most of my running friends end up changing their minds about their race day outfit at least a dozen times.  At the store last week (before Des Moines Marathon and Mankato Marathon), dozens of folks came in asking about jackets, hats, arm warmers, and warm tops.  We all know that you should never wear something new on race day, but that didn’t stop these folks!

Amusingly, I’m about to commit that faux paus as well.

I’ve been thinking carefully about how I am going to approach the Monster Dash.  My training hasn’t been as good as I would have liked (my max distance before Saturday will be 9 miles), I’m going to be starting the race with a friend, and the weather has gotten exponentially chillier over the past two weeks.  The Monster Dash is also a Halloween themed race, so costumes are encouraged.

I will not be wearing a costume, fyi.

Planning your race day is where all of your training and preparation pays off.  You’ve learned from your mistakes and can approach the race as prepared as possible.  For example, after my disastrous half marathon last August, I learned that I need to really think about my hydration and nutrition.  Since then, I’ve purchased a water belt and over the past several weeks I’ve been training with the water belt and with the nutrition (Jelly Belly Sports Beans) that I plan on using race day.  I definitely will not be over-hydrating this time!

After running in this cold weather the past two weeks, I’ve also figured out my best bet for a race day outfit.

Here’s what I’ll be wearing:

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Brooks Infiniti Headband

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Saucony Guide

 

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Nike Epic Run Tight

 

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Brooks Infiniti Anorak

 

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Enell Sports Bra

 

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Injinji NuWool Socks

 

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Brooks Equilibrium Base LS

 

I may end up changing my mind about the base layer, depending on the weather at the start, but that Equilibrium top is such a great temperature regulator, I think I’ll be fine wearing it, even if it ends up being a little warmer.  That Infiniti Anorak will be a new jacket on race day, but with the base layer under it, I don’t think it will matter.  The Anorak jacket is great though, because it unzips almost down to the waist, and it’s very light while still being wind resistant and water resistant in case it’s raining or snowing.

Besides planning your race day outfit, you’ll also want to have a plan of attack for the race itself.  As I said, I’ll be running with a friend at the beginning.  She will be running her first half marathon, and wanted someone at the start with her, which is why I decided to do this race.  She is quite a bit slower than me, but that will be to my advantage at the beginning of the race since my training wasn’t great.  My plan is to run the first half of the race with her (at a 13:30 min/mi) and then take off for the last half (at closer to a 10:00 min/mi).  I’ve reviewed the route map, and apparently the course is downhill almost the entire way.  So I’m actually thinking I’ll have a good race, perhaps even beating my first half marathon time (calculating the time out, and assuming I actually end up running the pace I’ve planned on, I should finish in 2.5 hours, which is about what I finished my first half marathon in).

Next up is nutrition and hydration.  Because this is a race, hydration will be provided along the way, so I won’t be bringing my water belt (why have that additional weight if I don’t need it?).  But I will be bringing about 3 packets of Sports Beans.  While I anticipate only using two, I learned from my first half marathon that you always want to bring one extra, just in case.

I hope that my penchant for obsessively planning will pay off this time, with a good finish time, and at the very least, a good time!  I’ve come to realize over the years that your finish time doesn’t matter nearly as much as how much fun you had while running the race.  A great finish time will always be overshadowed by a terrible race (though the two don’t usually go hand-in-hand).  My goal this race: have fun — And because I will be driving myself home post-race, don’t injure myself!  If I can achieve these two goals, I will be happy.

Keep your eyes peeled for a post-race report!

 

 

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I changed jobs last winter.  I went from one running store to my current place, but unfortunately, all of my current winter running clothes have the name of my previous employer plastered all over them.  So, I’m in the process of purchasing some new pieces for fall/winter.  Because money is always tight, I’ve been thinking very carefully about the best pieces that will be versatile enough to get me through a variety of weather conditions.  If you’re a new runner, you might be in the same boat, trying to decide what you actually need for running through the winter and what is just fluff.

So I thought I’d share what I’ve been thinking and which pieces I have bought or am going to buy.

First thing you have to consider when deciding what to purchase is whether you run hot or cold.  Some people are always cold, some people are always hot, and obviously, whichever one describes you will determine which pieces you need to get for the winter season.  I usually run a little warm, but my hands and ears get really cold once the temperature dips below 50*.  So keep that in mind as I talk about the pieces I am investing in.

Remember that the best way to dress for winter is in layers.  You’ll want a good base layer, a mid layer, and an outer layer, plus protection for hands, head, and feet.

Jacket or Vest: There are great jacket options out there if you are one of those people who runs a little cold or who runs a lot in snow or rain.  You want to look for something that is water-resistant and wind resistant.  You also want to find something that has a lot of reflective details for this darker time of year.  I don’t run a lot in snow and rain and since I run hot, I’m going to be purchasing a vest.  I’ve narrowed it down to two choices:

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Brooks Nightlife Essential Run Vest

Smartwool PhD Divide Vest

Smartwool PhD Divide Vest

I’m trying to decide between the two.  I already have a running vest from Brooks that I really like (but is too big).  However, I’m really interested in the extra warmth that the Smartwool vest would provide.  It’d be great to have both, for different weather conditions, but that is not always an option.

Here is a good option for a jacket.  I like this Saucony one because it is stretchy and breathable in the back, while still providing wind protection where you need it most.

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Saucony Women’s Kinvara Jacket

Base layer: Fortunately, I already have a great piece for this, and I want to share it with all of you, because it is literally the best article of running clothing I own.You might not be able to tell from the picture, but this top actually looks like a fisherman’s net up close.  The tiny holes in the fabric trap heat when used as a base layer under a technical top, and, when used on its own, it regulates body temperature like nobody’s business.  Despite being full of holes, the shirt is really quite warm.  I’ve worn it twice now.  The first day I wore it on a 50* morning, with a wind-resistant vest over the top.  It was a little too warm for that weather, but interestingly, I discovered that I actually felt cooler with the sleeves down than with them pushed up.  The second time was last night, when I wore it under a jacket.  It was misting and chilly, but I still ended up pushing up the sleeves of my jacket, which shows how warm this top actually is.  I probably won’t need anything else for the rest of the season because I can see this top being incredibly versatile.

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Brooks Equilibrium Base LS

While you don’t have to spend the money on this top, you’ll definitely want to invest in something that is moisture wicking and is fairly tight.  The base layer is the most important one because this layer will be right next to your skin.  Make sure to pay attention to the seams (you don’t want chafing!) and fit.

Mid layer: A mid layer piece can be worn on its own or with a base layer, depending on the temperature.  You can find a good mid layer pretty much anywhere (even Target or Costco).  Again, pay attention to the fit and seams, and make sure it has moisture wicking properties.  My favorites this year?

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Smartwool NTS Light 195 Printed Zip T

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Nike Element Half Zip

I like a half-zip because you can unzip it if you get a little too warm, which, if you remember from the beginning of my post, happens a lot.  But basically, you are just looking for something that is going to give you a little extra warmth over a base layer.  Being moisture wicking isn’t as important with this layer, (since, hopefully, you will have a technical top as your base layer) but it doesn’t hurt!

Tights: I’m sure someone could make a reasonable argument for wearing pants for winter running, but you’ll never convince me.  I like a tight for several reasons.  First, it doesn’t drag on the ground, getting wetter every minute you are out there.  Second, it won’t allow wind to sneak its way up through the bottom.  Third, because it is tight next to your skin, it prevents chafing and bunching.  In some situations you might want to do a base layer tight (like a Smartwool long john) under a warmer pant, but I’ve never been in a situation that calls for that.  I have a pair of tights like this Nike pair below, but it has my old employer’s logo on it.  I’ll probably invest in this Nike pair for this winter.

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Nike Element Shield

Although again it’s hard to tell from the picture, this tight is great because it has wind panels built in to the front.  During winter running you’ll probably notice that your thighs get really cold, really fast.  This tight protects your thighs from the wind and the rest of the tight is a nice thermal weight.

I also already bought this tight for the not-so-cold days:

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Nike Epic Run Tight

Remember, you’re going to be most concerned about keeping your core and extremities warm, so a really warm pant or tight probably isn’t that important.  I find that I’m plenty warm most winter days with just a light tight.

Undies: Weird, right?  You wouldn’t think that underwear would be something you’d want to be concerned about.  But trust me, without undies for the winter, you’ll discover soon enough why they are vital.

Personally, I wear underwear during the winter to keep from chafing and give me an extra layer of warmth.  But running undies aren’t just for ladies.  Guys, you will definitely want to invest in a pair too.  Many of the men’s undies have wind protection on the crotch, which I imagine would be helpful.  I’ve heard horror stories about guys getting frost bite down there, and that is definitely not an area you want to take any risks with.  My favorite pair of running undies is from Road Runner Sports.  For men, I would suggest either of these two options:

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Smartwool Men’s PhD Lightweight Wind Boxer Brief

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Brooks Men’s Equilibrium Wind Brief

Hands, Head & Feet: Obviously, you want to protect your extremities whenever you’re going to be exposed to cold and wind.  I like an ear warmer/headband because it still allows the top of my head to breath.  When it’s really cold I’ll go with a hat (and ladies with long hair, look for a hat with a hole in the back for your ponytail — it makes life so much easier!).  I’m currently thinking about this option:

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Smartwool PhD HyFi Training Beanie

You may also want to consider a neck gaiter or a balaclava for really cold days.  I like a neck gaiter, because I can pull it up to cover my mouth and nose if I get really chilly.  I’ve been eyeing this one at the store, mostly because I think it’s super cute. 🙂

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Smartwool Pattern Neck Gaiter

For my hands I like a glove for warmer days and a mitten for when it’s really cold out.  If you’re planning on running through the worst of the winter, you’ll want to look for something with wind protection as well as warmth.  My favorite mitten for this kind of weather is the Saucony Run Mitt.  It’s really warm (we’re talking <20*) and it has plush cloth on the thumb and along the inside of the glove for wiping your nose (I know!  Running companies think of everything!).

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Saucony Run Mitt

Finally, don’t forget your feet!  When it’s chilly out, your feet can go numb with the cold.  You also want to think about the fact that you’ll likely be running through snow and/or puddles.  A cotton sock would be the absolute worst choice for this because once it gets wet, it stays wet, and then your feet will get even colder.  I like a merino wool blend sock for winter.  Merino wool is a great temperature regulator and once it gets wet, it will dry really quickly.  When wet, merino wool will also keep your feet warm.  Since you know I like toe socks, my options for the winter are Smartwool toe socks or Injinji toe socks in NuWool.

So there you have it.  Key pieces for building a winter wardrobe:

  1. Base layer
  2. Mid layer
  3. Outerwear (jacket and/or vest)
  4. Tights/Pants
  5. Hat/headband
  6. Glove/Mitten
  7. Warm, wicking socks
  8. Sunglasses (Ok, so I know I didn’t talk about this, but for me, sunglasses are a key part of my running wardrobe at any time of year.  During the winter I find them especially important because of the snow and rain, as well as sun reflecting off the snow.  This is something else I’ll have to be investing in here shortly, because I accidentally ran over my good pair of sunglasses with my car.  I’m probably going to get a pair of Smith Optics sunglasses with interchangeable lenses.  Once I get a pair, I’ll definitely be posting a review, so stay tuned!)

For those of you in Rochester, most of these pieces can be found in our store!

 

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Hiatus

It’s been a while, I know.

First there was the family vacation, then the broken refrigerator, then our dog got sick and we ultimately had to euthanize him, and finally, I had a biopsy on a mole on my back (which was negative for cancer, btw).  What that ultimately meant was a couple of weeks without running much at all.

It happens.

Life gets in the way of training sometimes.  What’s important is what happens after the hiatus is over.

That’s why I love running.  You can always pick it back up.  You might not be as fast or able to run as far as you did before you took a break, but you ultimately know that given a couple of weeks and some hard work, you’ll be back to your old running self.

A hiatus sometimes means though that you have reevaluate your goals and plans.  Realistically, I’m not ready to race the duathlon in September, so I’ve put that race off for this year.  Perhaps next year I’ll be able to do it.  But I’ve signed up for the Monster Dash Half Marathon (October) as well as the Disney Princess Half Marathon (February), so I know I have to get back on track with my long runs.  Prior to all of this chaos, I was up to a 9 mile long run.  It’s unfortunate that I’ve now lost all of that progress I made, and I’ll probably have to start back at 6 miles for my long run.  But I have time, and all it takes is some effort.

Game on.

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By now, you probably know that every one of my posts will start with something like, “Be sure to visit your local running specialty shop….”

I feel like I sound like a broken record, but whenever you are looking for products to help you with a problem in your running life, your local run specialty shop should be able to provide some answers.  But prior to shopping, a lot of people like to know their options and that’s where I come in.  Today I’m going to talk about a few products that are a necessity for running in the dark, twilight, or early morning hours.

prod_wristid_int prod_wristbandFirst things first, no matter when or where  you are running, you should carry some form of ID on you.  This way, if you are in an accident and unable to speak for yourself, a first responder will have all of your vital information available.  Road ID is a great option for runners.  Instead of carrying your driver’s license with you, which won’t give your emergency contact information, the Road ID can be worn on your wrist, ankle, or shoe.  You can add any information you’d like to the RoadID.  I have my name, date of birth, two emergency contacts, my blood type, and that I am an organ donor.  You can add an inspirational saying if you don’t need all of the space for your own info.  Many styles come with reflective stitching or bands, which would be great for running in the dark.

Next thing you are going to look for are clothes with reflective strips.  Almost all technical running clothes will have at least one small reflective strip.  Often the logo will be reflective.  Other places to look for reflectivity will be the zipper, zipper pull, pockets, down the center of the back of a shirt, and on the bottoms of pants.  But usually this small reflective strip will not be enough.  That’s when you look for accessories that will light you up on the trail or road.

446_lg_0 450_lg_7 473_lg 492_lg_1First up are Amphipod‘s visibility accessories.  From left to right is an LED visibility vest (great for Ragnar), a basic reflective vest, reflective bands, and LED reflective bands.  LED lights on top of 3M reflectivity will really make you visible on the road.  Sometimes the LED light is a requirement for running on the road at night.  The reflective bands are great because they can be worn anywhere, not just on your wrist or ankle.  You could strap the reflective band to your backpack or bike.  If you already have an Amphipod water belt, you can add reflective tabs directly to the belt.

Nathan also has great visibility accessories.  In addition to many of the same products that Amphipod has, Nathan also has reflective tape that can be literally be attached to anything.  If you wear a jacket at night that could use a boost in visibility, add a reflective strip and you now have a high-vis jacket.  You could add reflective tape to shoes, bikes, helmets, and other gear.  From left to right is Nathan’s Streak vest, reflective tape, clip on strobe LED light, and the lightweight LED light spur which attaches directly to your shoe (like a spur, go figure!).  Nathan also suggests wearing the light spur when cycling.

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All of these accessories will make you easily seen by cars on the road, but you still need to see what’s in front of you.  Great options for this are a headlamp for runners and the knuckle light.  Petzl makes some great headlamps for running that are lightweight and won’t bounce as you run.  The Knuckle Light is another great option for lighting your way.  It attaches to your hand and is lightweight and in the perfect position for lighting the road in front of you.

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Finally, make sure you stay safe when you are out in the dark by following safety rules for runners like running on the left side of the road (facing traffic).  Also make sure to tell your friends or family where you are going and when you expect to be back, as well as what route you intend to follow (and then, stick to it!).  Read more road rules here.

Stay safe out there, folks!

This is the third post in a series of FAQs for runners.  See other posts here and here.  If you have suggestions for other topics you’d like me to cover in this series, message me by clicking on the Contact Me page or by leaving a comment on this post.

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Last night was the final class of my spring Learn to Run session.  I am always a little sad when these things end.  I’ve spent the last 12 weeks getting to know these ladies, encouraging them, and running with them, and now that the class is over, I have no idea if I will ever see them again.

Chances are, I will see many of them again and they will regale me with stories of races they’ve done or ask me serious questions about training or come into the store to get new shoes or gear.  But still, I have mixed feelings about the end of a class.

To celebrate the end of the class we went on a three mile run and then had a little something to eat and drink at ZZest.  Unfortunately, only two of the ladies in my class showed up for this final run, so it was just the three of us making our way down the trail.  It was a beautiful night for a run, so the trails were busy.  The pace was very slow for me, but that’s the purpose of these runs with the class.  I don’t want to injure them by pushing them too hard too fast.  After we finished the first mile, one of my students commented that it was a record pace for her: 11:55 minute mile.  She was so excited.

About half way through our run we were passed by a runner dude probably doing a 7 or 8 minute mile.  When I say “passed” I really mean he pushed his way through us without saying a word.  Now, runner’s etiquette will tell us that a runner approaching a group should call out his presence so that the group is aware of him and will move over.  Granted, we were running three abreast which is also a no-no for running on the trail, but had he called out “Runner on your left!” we would have moved over with plenty of space for him to go around.  As it was, he bounded right between all of us, (giving us a little bit of a scare I might add as we didn’t even see his shadow approaching) and continued on with his Flash Gordon pace.  One of my runners commented on his form (see how much they are learning!), “I hope someday I can run with my feet kicking my butt.”  We used the opportunity to talk a little bit about form and getting faster.

But after he passed us I couldn’t stop thinking about how miserable he looked.  Yes, his form was great and he was definitely moving, but he didn’t look like he was having any fun.  And yes, running is supposed to be fun.

For serious runners, of course there will be days when your training is not fun.  Nor is it really designed to be.  You are doing hills or speed work, and pushing to get through that last mile of a 20 mile long run, and you feel a little like you signed yourself up for torture.  But not every run should feel like that.  Every once in a while, you need that slow, social run with friends to remind you why you love to run.

Yesterday was that run for me.  The ladies that I was running with are about twice my age and this class was their first time running.  Listening to them brag (with good reason, I might add!) about their fastest mile ever or their longest run was a reminder of what it felt like when I first started running and saw those kinds of accomplishments come fast and swift.  Post-run we hung out at the cafe, sipping on cold drinks and eating fresh, local food.  The ladies chatted about their lives and told me some amazing stories about the places they’ve been (China! Singapore! London! Mexico! Nigeria!) and the things they’ve done.  When I got home, I felt good.  Not just, “I’m glad I went for a run today and didn’t stay home sitting on the couch eating potato chips” good, but “wow, my body and soul feels amazing” good.  I haven’t run that nice, slow pace in a while, and boy did it help me get my mojo back.

Running has been good for me.  It has given me a purpose in life, goals to accomplish, and two great jobs.  It has taught me important life lessons about perseverance and hard work.  I’ve also met some amazing people and made new friends.  I needed to remind myself of that, and last night’s run was just the ticket.

So thank you, Robyn and Pat, and for being great running partners last night and for reminding me that sometimes, it’s okay to slow down.

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Shopping for a new pair of running shoes can be stressful.  You don’t want to spend $120 on a new pair of shoes only to discover a few weeks later that it isn’t very comfortable on long runs.  As a result of this stress, I notice that some people panic when they are forced with making a decision on a pair of shoes.  “How do I choose?” they ask.  With an array of colors and styles in front of them, they just want someone else to make the decision for them.  I will gladly be the decision maker for an apprehensive customer, but not every sales person will do this.  And what happens if you don’t have the benefit of a footwear specialist to help you?

In this blog post, I will guide you through the shopping process, and hopefully relieve any anxiety you might have about running shoe shopping. (more…)

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