What do being a “short order cook” and the blizzard have in common?

I played “short order cook” for lunch today, which is definitely not the norm around here. Because, let’s face it, if given the choice, they’d probably always “order” belgian waffles w/ice cream & homemade whipped cream or something equally unhealthy.

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On a completely different topic, I know that snow removal can be hard work. My driveway is about 3/4 the length of a football field and our snowblower decided it’s belt was worn out during the blizzard.  So, trust me, I understand. And I also am fully aware that days off of school for the kids can certainly be an inconvenience. I work from home, so even when the kids are home, my “show must go on.”

So, what in the world do these two things, being a “short order cook” and the blizzard have in common??

I ventured out this morning for a 7 mile run after two days on the treadmill due to the blizzard. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I bundled up, put on my Yaktrax, and hit the sidewalks (well, what there was of sidewalks). I honestly didn’t want to do it. I even almost talked myself out of it. But, the thought of another mile on my treadmill sent me screeching out my driveway. Have I mentioned how much I dislike the treadmill? I was cold initially. It was dark at first. I hurdled icy spots. I climbed huge piles of snow at street corners. I backtracked to find additional sidewalk space that had been touched by a shovel. I even twisted my ankle. Thinking about the circumstances, I could have and maybe even should have been grumbling and had negative thoughts about how the snow has really been quite an inconvenience (goodness knows I’ve seen enough negativity on FB about it over the last few days to last me a long lifetime!!). But, by the grace of God (because I certainly know it wasn’t because of my own doing), I breathed in the clean brisk air, watched the most beautiful red sunrise come up over the glistening white snow, and listened to Amazing Grace. All I could think about was how thankful I was.

Fast-forward to lunch and having my littles home on this second snow day in a row. There have been plenty of times when I would have been pulling my air out, wishing for school, and hoping that the clock would tick more rapidly. But, today I looked at their smiles as I placed their special order lunch in front of them and all I could think about was how thankful I was.

How can we not all just be incredibly thankful for everything we have?! If it’s not the extra family time, or giggles in the snow, or the hot chocolate mustaches, or a cozy warm house, or a pantry full of food, or a body capable of getting out of bed to shovel, then it has to be the gorgeous sunrise over the glistening white snow this morning, or the helpful neighbor, or the little smiles that have been entrusted to our care that we get to see have another day of life.

Today, being a short order cook and the blizzard reminded me to pause, to pause and be still in the deep pool of thankfulness that sometimes gets filled with life’s clutter.

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What TO Wear

Did anyone else enjoy watching Clinton Kelly and Stacy London on TLC’s What Not To Wear?

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In that same vain, and now that we’ve hit “feels like -1” outside, here are some of my tips for What TO Wear while running in the cold weather:

  1. Compression tights: If it is in the 30s or below, I pull out my thick, cold weather, compression tights.
  2. Compression Mock Turtleneck: Once it hits the 30s, my cold weather compression shirts get a lot of action. If it’s in the 20s, the mock turtlenecks are a must! One tip – I have found that tucking at least my first layer of shirt into my running pants is a huge help in keeping my torso warm!
  3. Fleece: If it’s in the low 30s or below, I add a fleece layer to my compression shirt. My favorite is made by North Face.
  4. Windbreaker: For me, a long, oversized windbreaker is essential!! If you’ve seen me running in the winter, you’ve seen me in my bright orange/yellow oversized windbreaker. While it’s not the style Clinton and Stacy would recommend, here are my practical reasons for this essential piece:
    • Water proof
    • Wind resistant
    • Long to keep my ‘behind’ warmer
    • Air space between the windbreaker and the fleece heats up and provides an extra insulation layer.
    • And extra core layer. When your core is warm it readily releases blood to the extremities. When your core gets cold your body’s natural defense is stop sending blood to the extremities and keep it for vital organs and the brain. Therefore the best solution for cold hands and feet is often to heat up your core.
    • It has a high neck and hood which can go over head gear and scarves, providing an extra layer.
  5. North Face Thermal Band: This item goes around my head, keeping my ears covered. (If the temps are in the singles digits or below, I will swap out a my thermal band for a full ski cap, but I really prefer the thermal band, which has better ear coverage.)
  6. Scarf: If the wind chills are 15 or below, I typically wrap an oversized scarf around my head and face. While a Balaclava would provide the coverage and warmth of a hat and scarf combined, I like the flexibility the multiple pieces give me to layer and remove as my run goes along and I warm up.
  7. Socks: Surprising, my feet are generally not cold once I start running, so unless it is in the teens, with wind chills below 0, OR there is moisture on the ground, I usually stick with my normal pair of running socks. But, for those occasions when it is that cold and/or there is a thick layer of snow on the ground, I add an extra pair of socks to warm my feet and cover my ankles. I wear my wicking running sock layer first against my feet and then I add a wool knee sock over top. These add an extra layer of warmth to my calves.
  8. Running Shoes:  For the cold weather or wet weather, there are a couple changes or additions I make to my running shoes. If it’s wet outside, even in the summer heat, I pick an older pair of running shoes so I don’t ruin my latest pair. (Wet sneakers stink if you haven’t noticed!) If there is ice or snow on the sidewalks, I go right for my YakTrax, which have steel spikes and coils to provide stability on ice and snow. The YakTrax go over an older pair of running shoes.                                                                                                                  Yaktrax
  9. Gloves: I wear different gloves depending on the temperatures. Once the temps get down into the 20s and especially if the “feels like” temp is fierce, I wear two layers of gloves. A smaller tight layer goes on first and then I wear large North Face gloves overtop. Again, the layer of air that gets warmed up in between provides needed insulation and warmth for my fingers, which are generally the body part that gets cold first and has the hardest time warming up. There have been times that even two layers of gloves doesn’t cut it for extended outdoor time and so at that point I add hand warmers in between the two pairs of gloves and also pull my windbreaker sleeves down over my gloves (another benefit of that oversized thing!)
  10. Smile: There is no doubt I look ridiculous running in sub-zero temps and ice and snow with a million layers. And, while my face may be frozen, which prevents me from looking like I’m wearing a smile… inside I generally am. There is almost never a time I would choose a treadmill run over an outdoor run, even when it’s frigid.

As long as you know What TO Wear, running outside in the cold can be enjoyable!

Please make a donation in support of my efforts to run the Boston Marathon with Team In Training and help get us all closer to a world without blood cancers, http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston16/adourte

I should be doing what?!

Fartlek.  Every time I say the word, my kids laugh.  Okay, my husband does too. “Haha, fart, lick.” Yes, I live with 3 boys. I’m sure the first time I heard the word fartlek I did a double take and smirked too (at least in my head).

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Fartlek has “fart” in it because that is the Swedish word for speed. “Lek” means play, and so “speed-play” serves as a rough translation. It was developed by the national cross-country coach Gösta Holmér in response to the Sweden team’s poor performances against their Finnish rivals. Fartlek is not, however, a common word in Sweden either. But in running circles the world over, it is respected as a tried-and-tested training technique with proven benefits for speed endurance.

Unlike tempo and interval work, fartlek is unstructured and alternates moderate-to-hard efforts with easy throughout. After a warm-up, you play with speed by running at faster efforts for short periods of time (to that tree, to the sign) followed by easy-effort running to recover. The goal is to keep it free-flowing so you’re untethered to the watch or a plan, and to run at harder efforts but not a specific pace. The variable intensity and continuous nature of the exercise places stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

A simple example of what a runner would do during a fartlek run, after a one mile/8-10 min. warm-up, is to sprint all out from one stop sign to the next, jog to the corner, give a medium effort for a couple of blocks, jog the distance of four parked cars, and then sprint to a stop sign, and so on, for a set total time or distance and then do a cool down one mile/8-10 min. run. Runners can use mailboxes, trashcans or telephone poles as their “starting” and “stopping” points for their different speeds. Another way to make it fun is to use a song you’re listening to. For example – sprinting during the chorus.

There are many benefits to Fartleks:

  • First, they are easily adjustable. You can add an endless variety of intervals to keep you motivated. It’s possible to change the overall distance of the run, the length and speed of the bursts, the method you use to measure each component, and the recovery times. If you feel sluggish, limit the number of sprints you do, and take more time to recover. If you feel great, run the sprints hard, and sprint again maybe when you don’t feel totally recovered.
  • Fartleks, just like other speed workouts prepare any runner for a race. Alternating speeds works both the aerobic and anaerobic training systems while simulating the ebb and flow nature of competitive running.
  • Fartleks also keep muscles, tendons, and nerves at top capacity.
  • Fartleks can be done anywhere. They don’t have to be measured on a track. They can be on roads, trails, or even hills.
  • And, something we all like to hear… because of the alternating intensity of the workout, fartleks allow you to burn more calories than if you were keeping a steady pace.

Personally, I just started including Fartleks in my training plan. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have actually enjoyed them so far. Maybe it’s because I do them on my shortest run of the week :)?! Regardless, they have definitely added variety and I feel like I am getting a much harder workout than the short steady run I otherwise would be doing that day. Here is an example of a recent 5 mile fartlek run. I did a slow first mile to warm up, did miles 2, 3, and 4 ‘fartlek style’ and then did a steady last mile. I thought my 5th mile was a slower cool-down-pace until I looked at my splits. Turns out, after doing 3 miles of fartleks, running at a faster than usual cool-down-pace for me, that last mile came more naturally and felt easy.

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Have you Fartlek’d lately?