Winter Running – be prepared


It took me a good while to wrap my head around winter running. Here in Southern Ontario we get some deep freeze temps, snow and ice that make running dangerous and really uncomfortable. What I’ve found is if you’re prepared for the elements, you can run safely and comfortably.  With a lot of trial and error I finally figured out what gear and clothing works best for me and I want to share them with you.

Please keep in mind that my winter gear has been collected over a few years and not all at once. It’s expensive so I tend to buy just one or two quality items a year or slowly upgrade to higher quality.

Let’s start from the head and work our way to the toes.

Headgear


To keep my head and ears warm I use the the famous Buff on all my runs. This tube like head gear (the ones that the TV show Survivor uses) can be worn so many ways. I normally wear it folded once and worn over my ears like a thick headband and sometimes I wear it over my ears and face to keep the wind chill off.

Check out their website but be careful because you’ll want them ALL. They also make them with merino wool 😍

Of course any cozy wool hat is sometimes needed too.

Noxgear!!! Light Vest. < strong><<<<<<<<<
ssential for all my dark runs. This vest is pretty incredible, so light weight that you forget you have it on, fits snug so it never moves, easily worn over a hydration vest or running jacket AND you can choose a different colour every time you wear it, make them flash with an easy press of a button. It takes 3 AAA batteries and they last forever.

Join my Noxgear group "My Fitness Hobby" and get a 30% off coupon code. http://www.noxgear.com/noxgearnation/ always see runners and cyclists out wearing these, I’ve been told I look like a running alien!

Leggings and Pants When shopping for winter legging you want them to have a brushed interior that’s extremely warm and comfortable. Made from stretchy, durable high tech materials that won’t stink up your closet. A great material to look for is Merino Wool!!

Most of the big box stores like Sports Check, The Gap, MEC , REI and The Running Room all offer a good selection. Although expensive,  I buy most of mine through LuLuLemon, I find the quality is very high and the items just last me for years. When I’m putting in some serious miles, I need my gear to work and not fail. I also don’t want to replace them very year so buying quality is key.

When the wind is high and it’s pressing -20c I use an outer shell over my leggings. MEC has a great selection, my go to by MEC are the Pearl Izumi Thermal Barrier Pant.

This outer layer will keep your thighs and bum from freezing as you run through the wind and wet snow.

Base Layer and Jacket! always lean towards a Merino Wool blend long sleeved shirt. Believe it or not I’ve found all my base layer Merino Wools at COSTCO!  For more information on this material check out https://www.smartwool.com/discover/why-merino-wool/merino-wool-101.html<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
ade winter running jacket by New Balance. Mine is 2 years old but much like this jacket I found online. https://ca.shop.runningroom.com/collections/reflective-jackets/running-room-unisex-printed-reflective-jacket-156560.html<<

Most big brands sell amazing jackets that will block the wind, offer reflective elements and breathable. Also, buy a size that will allow layers underneath!

Feet and Footing!If your feet are cold and wet and your falling all over the place, you’re going to be super uncomfortable, ya?

My feet don’t tend to get cold unless they get wet so I avoid the slush as much as possible. I have yet to master the dry feet.

My go to socks is the Woman’s Ankle Copper Sole Sock found at Marks Work Warehouse.

When I’m out running in the winter and the roads and trails are ice, I want traction so I feel confident, I bought a cheap pair of tracks from Costco for $14 very similar to these found on Amazon.

They come in size small, medium and large, depending on your shoe size. They just slip right over your running shoe. They take a bit to get used to but they’ll give you all the confidence you need on icy roads or trails.

My best advise is to follow this chart based on temperature.

Dress for it and you’ll love it!!

Nathan’s Vapor Shadow Review 

It’s only been a month or so since I bought this hydration vest but let me tell you, I’m already in love. It’s so freeing not having a belt around me.

I am no ultra runner (yet) but I am a Marathon runner and this vest will be amazing for this summer’s heat and trails this. This light weight vest is so pretty, don’t you think? the colours are so bright and happy!

This has been designed for the female body, it fits snug in all the right places. It fit perfect snug, “bounce-free”. I was afraid it wouldn’t fit over my not so small chest, but no issues there.

All the amazing features are endless and way more then what I need, but it’s all I need and I feel so ready in the vest. I’ll never need to replace it and never have that clumsy waist belt to deal with! This vest has so many pockets! Front pill pocket, extra front water bottle pocket, front mobile pocket, two pockets on either side by your waist, a whistle, a zip up pocket at the back, hidden pocket for an ice pack!


The various pockets are many but are suited to different usages, once you figure out where everything is, the pack is quite intuitive.

Oh, all the straps! I had to wrap them around the vest to keep them from flapping around. A bit annoying but I’ll fine tune them as I go.


My first long run was sub zero, -17c…. freezing! Sadly my hose froze. So maybe the colder months are not ideal? I read that if you blow the water back into the bladder after each sip there shouldn’t be freezing but, no. I was just told that you can wear the vest under your coat and run the water hose down your arm sleeve, I’ll try this next time.
I was worried that the 2 litres of water would feel like bricks on my back but I was pleasantly surprised. The weight was nothing, very evenly distributed. I didn’t even feel it after a few minutes of running. The sloshing water noise was a bit new but again, didn’t even notice it after a few minutes.

I can’t wait to have at it this summer on some serious runs and fill up my pockets with snacks and all the things!

So far, this was a smart purchase and so happy I spent the money on such a well made and thought out design 10/10 Nathan’s !!

My Journey

Before and during
Fitness goals evolve over time. Mine look different than they did when I started in 2014.

Before finding my fitness routine, I felt tired, unattractive and frumpy and grumpy. I just wanted to fit in my clothes, not take hours to choose an outfit and stop feeling so down all the time. I wanted to look good, feel energetic again and stop hiding behind layers of clothes.I really needed to lose some weight that I had gained after having two gorgeous babies.

Not sleeping well for years, not paying attention to what I was feeding myself and being inactive created a woman I didn’t recognize. I was just too tired to care and it spiraled into me just not feeling like me anymore.

Before and during (1 year later)
Early in 2014 I saw this advertisement for a 90-day challenge on my Facebook page. It was a free 90-day workout plan that I would actively do with a community of moms that were feeling like me. It’s called Bikini Body Mommy, and I’m sure you’ve heard of it! It was starting that upcoming Monday so I got myself all pumped to start.

I opened up an Instagram account and searched for Brianna, the lead of the challenge. I started to follow many of the moms that were also doing the challenge – some of us still keep each other accountable to this day. The accountability with the Bikini Body Mommy community was so powerful!

My workout space was my bedroom, I had some hand weights and I killed that challenge man, KILLED it. For 20 minutes a day for 90 days! I lost my first 15 pounds, I was hooked.  I continued with Brianna’s next 90-day challenge and lost another 5 solid pounds, 20 in total.

I started to look around for something new and more challenging, I found Fitness Blender. Oh man, I was terrified and excited to try something new, but heck, I was in my own house with no onlookers, I can do anything! Fitness Blender gave me all new stuff to work with. Guys, they are such a motivating and real couple to workout with! Their website and YouTube channel is filled with FREE at home workouts of all kinds and very user friendly. They offer everything from low impact, boxing, HIIT, strength training and so much more. I can’t tell you how much they have changed my life.

I used their free programs for about a year and bought my first 8 week program for $10!!!!! TEN BUCKS for such an amazing 8 week program that I own and can do over and over again. (I now own 5 of their programs). They have several programs you can buy and they are all amazing! Or use their free ones!

You can build your very own monthly workout by using their website calendar all for FREE.

Fitness Blender Calendar

If you are looking to start something and unsure of where to begin, start with Fitness Blender and work out in your own home. All you need is some weights and some dedication. Results take time, so just keep at it.

My new home gym space
Cross training  with Fitness Blender  and my running has been the best thing for me. Having the at-home workouts and running gives me a ton of flexibility, which is important to a busy stay-at-home mom.

Now that I’ve lost most of the weight that I set out to lose, I often get asked what my next goal is. To be honest, I don’t have any set goals. Ideally, I just want to fit into the clothes that are in my closet, I want to be strong and run long distances without injuries and create a healthy home. I want my kids to see and learn from me. And above all, I don’t want to go back to being that depressed mom.


In all, it makes me a better person, a friend, a better mom and wife.

Fitness is health! Find what you love and go with it.

This is living.

Kelly

Find Your Tribe 

Let’s face it, winter running sucks hard most of the time, especially when you need to do it alone. There are days that I would skip if I didn’t have someone depending on me. Having a race booked and a training schedule to follow helps too, but the one thing that gets me out there in this bitter Canadian winter is my running tribe. I love them dearly.

You need to surround yourself with like-minded people – people that hold you accountable and push you and challenge when you think you have nothing left.

I’ve been so fortunate to have met an amazing group of women in my community that love to run just as much as I do. They depend on me just as much as I depend on them. You really need to enjoy your running company, because 2 + hours on the road with someone that isn’t your cup of tea makes for a looooong run! Also, there are many TMI moments out there, so pick your tribe wisely.

If you are new to this running thing and you want to pursue it further, I highly suggest you network your community and rally some troops. You need a running tribe that will set their alarms at 5am and meet you on the corner with their headlamps on. There is nothing more badass then a group of strong woman with headlamps giggling through the streets.

Today was one of those days when I really didn’t want to run. The sidewalks were iced over and so were most of the roads. While I was contemplating to run or not, Linda reached out at the right time and we talked each other into it. Off we went!

Peer pressure at its finest.

Kelly

My Next Race!


This will be my second year of endurance running, and my husband and I are both training for our next big race, our second Around The Bay race. My good friend Amy, who lives just down the street, is also training for it. You really need a good support network to keep you motivated during these cold winter months.

Around The Bay is a 30k race around the Hamilton Bay of Lake Ontario. People travel from all over to participate. Did you know that Around The Bay is older then the Boston marathon! ?

The first 20k is an “exciting”, scenic, and fast route through Hamilton Ontario. The final 10k treks through rolling hills along the scenic North Shore Blvd. It’s a challenging course, but the energy of the people that are running it and the people that live on the course give an extra boost.

One thing that always stresses me out is the unpredictable weather. Race day is March 26th, and here in southern Ontario the weather is dicey in March and April – winter is still lingering but there are hints of spring in the air. Maybe it’s a girl thing, or maybe it’s a runner thing, but dressing with the right gear is so so important.  Too little clothing and you freeze your butt off for 3 hours, or if you dress too warm you sweat then freeze your butt off. The Weather Network becomes your favourite app for the week leading up to your race, and pretty much every hour up until race time so you can fine tune your layers. Since this race changes directions a few times, the wind and temperature can change quickly. I will most likely have three outfit choices for the morning of and decide at the last minute based on the expected weather.

I’ve learned that you need to be prepared to remove layers as you’re running and be able to put them back on once the temperature changes again.

That waiting time at the start line can be long and cold. Some runners buy heavier layers at the thrift store to wear over top of their normal gear, then toss them aside when they’re all warmed up. I saw a ton of retro jackets along the streets of Hamilton and dollar store gloves that runners tossed when they were done with them. The city picks them all up and it’s all donated.

What I also learned from last year was at the start line you need to keep up with the pack because you’ll get trampled. It’s a huge field of racers, but once the pack thins out, you can find your own pace.

45 days and counting. 5 more long runs to complete.