Running into the Holidays & Cold: A Guide for Runners & Gift Ideas

My alarm went off at 5:28 am this morning and after doing a quick glimpse at the freezing temp and windy conditions the bed beckoned me back to sleep until 6:15 am. It’s not me giving up my speed work, it’s simply delaying it until the conditions are slightly more favorable. Unfortunately today, favorable doesn’t seem to be in the vocabulary, and despite the fact that after tomorrow we get a slight reprieve from freezing and windy it’s time to face the music: COLD IS COMING, RUNNERS PREPARE.

Now some people love to run in the cold and that is all well and good, you go do your thing. I however, need everything in a streamlined order to tackle the harsher miles. Proper pre-run fueling, correct layers, and warm recovery techniques, so without further ado my favorite cold weather gear & products:

Cochran Mill group

1. Pre-Run Fuel: Cinnamon spice oatmeal. There is nothing like some hearty oatmeal to get your whole food carbs before  you hit the outdoor conditions. You have to plan ahead, but like with anything it’s worth it to get the whole nutrients this gives. Here’s a quick recipe:

Homemade Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal 

1/2 cup steel cut, gluten free oats (I like Vitacost brand)

1/2 organic Gala or Honey-crisp apple 

pinch of salt and cinnamon 

On low-med heat add a dab of butter to a fry pan and let it coat the base. Once melted down add you diced up apples, cinnamon, and salt (sometimes I add some pumpkin spice as well). Mix apples until coated with spice and let simmer on stove for 10 minutes. In the last five minutes add your 1/2 cup of oats with 1 cup of water and let it cook on low-medium heat until water is removed. Add in your spice covered apples and let it simmer on low heat for two minutes. Enjoy! 

2. Layer Up: Nike and The North Face have the best base layers in my opinion, but you also need to accessorize. Here’s all my favorite gear I ran in during the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon which was a crisp 36 degrees, no windchill.

3. Carrying on those longer runs: 

  • Hot Hands – usually despite gloves the wind still whips through, these long-lasting hand warmers will keep your fingers from going numb.
  • Nathan Handheld – when it get’s cold it’s hard to motivated to hydrate, but it’s important nonetheless. The 12oz is my favorite, but you can range from 10-18oz
  • Foxelli Headlamp – we obviously know it’s darker for longer through the winter and while my husband doesn’t love when I go it alone solo there are opportunities for group night/morning running and that means headlamp. This one is basic, but comfortable and does the trick!
  • Nuun Hydration – This is one of the biggest ways to help get you those electrolytes without having to fumble around for salt sticks, or different fluids. Just drop a tab into your handheld and keep going.

4. Recovery:

  • Nourishing Food – I’m going to bring it back up again, but Run Fast. Eat Slow will fit the bill for this every single time.
  • Foam Roller or R-8 Roller – you might be familiar with a foam roller, and can get a basic one off Amazon here. The R-8 Roller is a more advanced system that you can move to those hard to reach areas while on the go for a more active recovery. They are pricey, but the work wonders in recovery.
  • Yoga Classes – Corepower is probably my favorite with a broad range of hot-yoga offerings, but I’ve heard great things about YogaWorks (formerly Infinity Yoga) as well. Wherever you may be geographically (there are lists everywhere of great yoga studios), I have found that a consistent yoga practice keeps your muscles healthy, your core strong, and your stress down. Gift a membership to really anyone – we probably should all yoga more.

 

Do you feel more prepared already? Does this help with gift ideas? Do you have any different suggestions? Let me know!

Jordan

 

 

Hello Holidays, Hello Physical & Mental Health

Hello Monday!

We had a great weekend with the Grinch remake on Friday night (we would recommend), the Atlantic Station Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Saturday, and the live recording of the Passion 2019 album Sunday, but now Thanksgiving week is here and it’s going to be good. This blog post has things from workouts to best mental health practices through the week.

As I’ve mentioned before Dave and Rachel Hollis do a #last90days challenge and even though pushing the restart button is the norm it’s great to have some clear goals to end the year with, and this week is easy to get lax on those. One of those goals is working out 30 minutes every day, which heading into Thanksgiving & Black Friday shopping can sound overwhelming, but you find time for what’s important for you. Maybe you are responsible for the Turkey so you can’t hit the gym, so here are a few at home 20-30 minute options that will get you moving.

  1. The Peanut Butter Runner – I found her through a box subscription a couple years ago and have loved keeping up with her workouts + recipes. This link takes you to her workout page where you literally kind find ANYTHING.
  2. Nike+ Training App –  When the sky is just too dark to hit the pavement before work I can click on a 15-30 minute workout via the app to get moving for the day! They have fun celebratory workouts to mix it up, yoga routines, and HIIT workouts. Just download it, you won’t be sorry.
  3. And you won’t ever be sorry to grab a friend or family member for a walk around the block or neighborhood.

Speaking of workouts, Thursday will be my 20TH Half Marathon. In 2013, with an 18 degree windchill, no thank you, I crossed the finish line of the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon with a time of 2:06. My ultra competitive and slightly impatient self would have loved to break two hours for my first half, however, that would come a year and a half later. Now exactly five years later and I’m still nervous to run a distance I’ve done more times than I can possibly count if you include training runs and full marathons, and I kind of love that about it!

When you run, the first mile is ALWAYS hard. Yes always, no matter how long you’ve been doing this, but there is also ALWAYS something new to experience, something to see, something to gain – courage, strength, relationships – and it makes it ALL worth it.

Now for the harder part. This week is meant to be full of joy, but sometimes this week feels the exact opposite. There are several friends that are struggling in this season with broken families, or losing a loved one, but there are also circumstances like mine where eat til you drop is a cause of major anxiety. So here are a few ways to keep the spirit of gratitude and enjoy the moments we’ve been given even when it can be hard.

  1. Allow yourself to have space to feel. Maybe it’s your first holiday without your mom or dad and the idea might be to stay busy and distracted, but it’s okay to feel. It’s part of the process of grieving and healing. For a situation like mine (and probably so many others) its the space to walk out for a moment if I get too overwhelmed by any given situation.

 

Experienced But Not Easy – Cochran Mill Half Marathon

This weekend made 19 half marathons, 3 full marathons, a handful of 10 milers and 15Ks, 9 10Ks, and more 5Ks than I can count, and as much “experience” as I’ve had running, Saturday was the hardest day of competition that I can remember.

Every half marathon is memorable for one reason or the other. In 2014 I got to toe the line in front of our nations capital building watching the sunrise, in 2016 my first taste of runDisney magic at the Princess Half Marathon, in 2017 Rock N Roll Nashville supposedly my fourth full marathon became somewhere in the line of my half marathons because of the severe heat, and just this past May the torrential downpour unlike any other that swept across the coast of the Carolinas made for a sopping girl for all 13.1. They all have stories, but when it comes to strength and fatigue I think of the physical highs and lows. Saturday was different, Saturday was mental.

Trail running is something I regularly enjoy, maybe because the opportunity doesn’t present itself enough for me to get tired of it, but 5-6 miles has always been my max. Dirty Spokes is a GREAT trail race series around North Georgia and most of my trail experience is thanks to them. Of course, I thought with the trail experience I had coupled with my half marathon experience a trail half marathon would just make sense. I was wrong.

Let me preface this all by saying this was 100% worth it. Tony and Lisa at Peak Racing have been friends of mine for several years now and I love getting to support their races, they do a terrific job. But Saturday was hard, it was mentally grueling in every way.

The start was cold – like mid 30s cold – something we aren’t quite used to here in the south. My sweet husband was there at the start so I could throw off my layers at the last minute before we took off, and then it started. Taking off with the group towards the tree line was the easy part, and then leaves and trees everywhere you looked. The sun peaking in through the canopy as we winded through the woods, over hills, and through creeks (literally through them, adds about 10 lbs in weight with wet shoes), no mile markers, very few people: just you and the trail ahead.

When I say I roller-coastered through every emotion I am not joking in the slightest bit. The first mile or two were tough, but nothing I wasn’t used to. As I got into my stride and thinned out from the racers around me, the regular uncomfortable stretching happened, but then I found my legs and the pleasure of being out in the woods with very little distraction took hold and the smile danced on my face.  After 45 minutes I was mostly alone, scanning the vast opening in front of me to try to keep the trail in check with the two guys that were just a bit ahead, bad idea. Fall #1 happened somewhere around mile 6-7; at this point I was already feeling slightly drained. I was frustrated to say the least, no I was angry – I could tell my body was starting to fade, but my will power to keep at my current pace over took. Trip, slip, tumble, lose the trail: my pattern for the next 30-45 minutes and I was over it.

As much as I’ve raced and as tired as I’ve gotten, quitting has never been in my vocabulary. This was the first time I wanted to raise the flag in surrender and be rescued by helicopter and taken to the snacks at the end. Then I realized that I wasn’t getting out of this and it was a chance to challenge and strengthen myself mentally in a brand new way. So after taking a breath and a moment to refocus, I found my rhythm again and found the joy in the sport I’m so fond of. For the next 40 minutes I focused on my own steps, not those of the people ahead of me or behind me, but those right where I was. Taking steps slower if I needed to and allowing myself the freedom to push just as long as I could be safe and stay upright, and then I used the space to think of EVERYTHING I had to be thankful for. It made all the difference.

After 2 hours I was exhausted physically and mentally but I could hear the finish in the distance as people were cheering and music was blaring. I was “home free”, and at the end after hugging my friends and husbands necks – gratitude.

A few things I learned over those few hours:

  1. You have to stop focusing on where other people are, or you might face plant in the place you are.
  2. Just because you’ve done training in one way, doesn’t mean you can easily adapt to any circumstance. You have to train your mind, body, and soul in whatever goals you hope to achieve.
  3. I should run trails more often and always carry a handheld water bottle!

Thank you to Peak Racing Events (Tony & Lisa), Big Peach Running Co, Pure Kneads (can I get a whoop, whoop for gluten free peanut butter sandwiches at the end), Quest Nutrition, Nuun Hydration, Allison Lerer, Wade Coleman, Chris Dillon, and Jennifer Butz for everything you brought to the table as sponsors, hosts, and teammates!

And to my #1, my crew chief, and partner thanks for helping me through the highs and lows and letting our dogs have some fun in the process!

Trails taught me a lot, and I will be back!

Be thankful today friends.

Jordan