// January 10th, 2012 // 1 Comment » // Running

Running Outside in the Winter

Tips on Running and Gear

Well it certainly has not been much of a typical winter here in Chicago……we have been fortunate to have almost no snow (barely an inch) and warm days.  If you run  in the late morning or afternoon you have been able to get away with very minimal clothing in the warmer temperatures.  Inevitably we will be hit with some very cold, windy and snowy days before winter leaves us.  I absolutely HATE to be COLD!!  I used to be a wimp, not running outside when the temperatures dropped.  But there is nothing like getting fresh air mixed with the peacefulness of running in the winter.  It takes some planning and the right cold weather gear …and then you are set!

7 Winter Running Tips

  1. SWEAT You don’t realize how much you are really sweating when you run outside in the cold.   When you have a few layers on- the sweat will often evaporate during your run, especially with low humidity and the wind.  High tech fabrics help to keep us warm and dry, but you may not realize how much you have sweated, because it’s not running down your legs.  Make sure that you stay hydrated.  On runs longer than 1 hour, you may not feel “thirsty”…but keep hydrated.  If you do not drink during your run then make sure you drink after.  For more about what to drink and staying hydrated check out my article:
  2. THERMOSTAT Everyone has a different thermostat.  Figuring out what to wear for different weather conditions may take a bit of trial and error.  You always want to start out so you are pretty cold before you run.  Between 8 and 15 minutes you should be warmed up and feel comfortable.  If you are doing a run of longer than 1 hour, you will continue to get warm.  If you are doing a faster tempo run then you will be warmer than a slower run.
  3. WIND I always look at which direction the wind is coming from- if the wind is greater than 10mph- it will be a factor running…not just slowing you down but affecting your body temp.  If you know the wind usually comes from one direction,  like the North, then try to run East/West for the majority of the run.  Try to avoid running for an extended period into the wind.  If you have to run into the wind- then it is better to so in the beginning when your sweat is minimal.  Running into the wind for the last part of your run (when you are sweaty) can make you really cold.  If you have to run into the wind then I suggest doing a lot of zig –zagging every block or two, to minimize the extended distance of a head wind.
  4. SNOW can be ok if it’s not too slippery.  Choose to run on extra wide streets that have been plowed and salted (run opposite of traffic).  My winter routes are really boring….but I know the streets I can run on safely.  These streets are wide, well lit and clear.  If there is a lot of snow, you can wear trail shoes with gortex or the slip on grippers that go over your shoes.
  5. LAYERING helps keep the heat in.  When it’s 15 degrees or colder out, I layer a pair of light weight (unpadded) biker shorts under my tights- this really helps to keep the glutes warm!
  6. SAFETY is important, especially when you are running in the dark.  Choose routes that are well lit if possible.  Wear clothing that has reflective details and use a headlamp.
  7. TREADMILL When conditions are too extreme to run outside, then hit the treadmill. Use your winter treadmill runs as an opportunity for you to do intervals or speed workouts that you could not do outside in the winter.  This is a great way to improve your fitness and help with the boredom of the treadmill.

Recommended Products


  • Nike Winter Element Thermal Pant:  this is a nice option of a pant for women that do not want to wear a running tight.  These are nice fitting and the mid-weight fabric is comfortable.  These pants are moderately priced and could be used for more than just running.
  • Nike Element Shield Running Tight– mid weight tight with an overlay in front to block the wind and a back zip pocket in the waistband.
  • Lululemon  Run Free Pant:  This is a great mid –weight wind blocking and DWR water repellant pant that has a very cozy fine tech fleece lining.  You can move in these pants very well.  There is a back zip pocket, 2 front gel pockets (inside), side vents with  zippers and you can layer a pair of running tights underneath.
  • Lululemon Run for it Tight: The fabric is super soft, comfortable and moisture wicking- the inside layer of the tight is made of a very fine tech fleece.  The waistband is flat and does not “dig in”.  The legs have 2 side zip vents, there is reflective detailing and there are 2 gel pockets inside the waistband
  • Lululemon Run Stay on Course Tight:  Regular weight tight, very comfortable power luxtreme fabric.  There are reflective details, a back zip storage pocket in the waistband.  The  waistband is flat and much higher rise than regular tights… the tights don’t ride down when you run…..


  • Brooks Utopia 2 in 1 Mitten: Finally a fleece running mitten with a second shield mitten.  Either can be worn by itself or together in more extreme conditions
  • Sugoi Wind Mitt:  These are fantastic lightweight running mittens.  Surprisingly warm given how light they are.  I layer 2 pairs when it’s really cold out.  I prefer mittens to running gloves.  Keeping the fingers together keeps the hands warmer.
  • Due North Traction Aids– these go over your running shoes and are extremely comfortable and durable

  • Sugoi Mid Zero Thermal Tube:  This is a must have if you run in temperatures below 20 degrees.  It is a fitted neck tube that has a micro fleece on the inside that touches your neck and face- is light weight and moisture wicking.  I can pull this all the way up over my nose on those really cold and windy days.


Lululemon Run Swiftly short sleeve or long sleeve: These shirts are great for layering under jacket or mid-weight running shirt.  The shirts are made silverscent thread which is anti-stink.


  • Nike Vapor Flash Jacket: this is pricey, but very cool jacket is 100% reflective.  It is reversible, ventilated and has a hood.
  • Nike Element Shield Max Jacket: the high tech fabric is wind and water resistant.  It comes with a hood, dry fit lining and hand warmers attached to sleeves.
  • Lululemon Run Stay on Course Jacket: The exterior fabric is wind and water resistant.  Under the arms is breathable, wicking stretch luon so you can move when you run.  The inside of the jacket is a very fine brushed luon and the back of the jacket has a vent. The hand cuffs and side zip pockets make this an all around great jacket.  You can also layer under this fitted jacket.

Do You Give Yourself an Off Season??

// October 26th, 2011 // 2 Comments » // Running

Do You Give Yourself an Off Season??

Here in the Midwest, race season is typically from April or May through October.  That is the time of year when most runners are in their peak training, running a higher volume of miles and intervals.   If you train hard for races particularly half marathons or marathons, then you need an “off season”.

Why do I need an “off season”

  1. You need to rest your cardiovascular system (your heart and lungs).
  2. You need to allow your joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and fascia time to heal from all the stress.
  3. This is the time to work on postural and muscular imbalances.  If you have injuries or muscles tightness/trigger points that are “one sided”, then you have an imbalance that should be addressed to prevent future injuries.
  4. This is the time to hit the weights.  Strength training will help you to train harder and provide greater stability and strength to help prevent injuries.
  5. As we age, our bodies need more time to recover.
  6. If you want to continue running competitively for years to come, then taking care of yourself is important.
  7. You stress your adrenals by training hard, getting up early and racing.
  8. Endurance athletes tend to become catabolic- you lose lean muscle.

What do I do during “off season”

  1. Cut your volume drastically.  You can and should run 3-4 x per week for 30-40 minutes at an easy pace.  No intervals or speedwork.
  2. Do some yoga or tai chi
  3. Rest, sleep in, sleep more
  4. Plan your goals for the next year, pick your “A” races.
  5. Strength training 2-3 times per week.  This is the time to hit the gym hard and work on doing functional strength exercises with free weights, cables, barbells, swiss balls and balance boards- no machines!
  6. Weekly Soft tissue work sessions.  You have worked your body hard.  Even if you do not feel that muscles are tight, there are trigger points and fascia that need to be released.  Trigger points reduce the ability of the muscle to work (less power) which leads to compensation and the potential for injuries.  Specifically, NMT and myofascial release are excellent techniques that should be used.

After 4 weeks you can gradually begin to increase the number of days you run and your volume.  You can also add some easy speed work back in.  For example you could run 200’s at 5K race pace.  This will help your body adjust to doing speedwork gradually without over-stressing your body.  Keep the strength training and stability work in your program.  As you get back into more running, you should give yourself 3 months off from racing.  Racing places a lot of demands on the body… even though you may be itching to get back out there…..give your body a break, and it will  thank you.

Running Photos

// September 11th, 2010 // No Comments » // Running

Chicago Rock and Roll 5K- Colin got a PR!

Run from the Cops 5K- 2nd place in my age group

Ragnar Madison to Chicago 2011 – the Finish Line!

Ragnar Relay -baton hand off Allie to Karen (my last leg!!)

Chicago Half Marathon 2010

Heritage Classic 5K 1st Place Women Overall 2010