5 Winter Running Must-Haves

“Well, that happened quickly”

I thought that as I found myself layering up for a recent outdoor run. Like, full-on layering. Yes, in what feels like the blink of an eye, it’s already winter – well, technically it’s not, it’s only a few weeks into the fall. But with temps in the mid-30s and morning frost, it sure feels like we skipped right over fall and dove headfirst into winter a little earlier than even I’d like.

Burton and I dig winter running

No matter how soon or unexpectedly quick it comes, we always know winter will show up. And, for those of us who still love our outdoor runs, it means a new wardrobe strategy.

In my years of running in the, shall we say “brisk” North Dakota winters, here are the must-haves I’ve found for enjoyable winter running. And if you need help getting excited about the season, here are my tips for winter running.

1. Base Layer
I can’t overstate the importance of a good base layer to stay warm and dry – both on top and bottom. Obviously, the rest of your clothing is important but the base layer is key.

Make sure your base layer is clothing that is intended to be a base layer, particularly, moisture-wicking. Yes, it’s cold, but you’re still going to sweat. Choose tights or pants that allow the legs good movement and keep them toasty. Same goes for the top, make sure it’s snug so layering over it is easy, yet allows movement.

2. Beanie
We all know we lose some obnoxious amount of heat through your head, at least that’s what our parents told us throughout childhood to make we wore a hat. But it’s good advice.

A good, warm hat is essential for an outdoor winter run. Ideally, choose a beanie that’s long enough to fully cover the ears, too.

3. Glove Mittens
Obviously the hands need to stay warm on a run. It’s also nice to give your fingers the option to still work.

Prob my fave piece of winter running gear

Gloves (with fingers) are an option and leave your fingers still able to function. Mittens (fingerless) are an option and usually a warmer one. Both come with drawbacks so a better option is combining the two. I’ve found the best solution is the gloves with flip-up mitten style covers.

4. SmartWool Socks
Not only is winter cold, it often comes with snow. And, chances are, some is going to make its way into your shoes.

Getting your feet wet during a run is unpleasant, especially when it’s cold. SmartWool socks make those moments suck less.

5. Fleece Neck Gaiter
In Fargo, it gets windy. When it’s cold, that can make the great outdoors downright brutal. Even if you don’t live in a city where wind is the norm, the slightest breeze feels biting when the temps are chilly.

A fleece neck gaiter is a good wind barrier, and keeps sweat and moisture from freezing to it and becoming uncomfortable. A fleece scarf does the trick as well but I’ve found scarves come loose and slip out of position easier than a neck gaiter so the latter is my top choice.

With these basics, you’re ready to get out there and enjoy running outside this winter.

What are your winter running must-haves? Or do you forgo outdoor runs and stick to the treadmill until spring? Comment or tweet me @LindsayIRL.

When Bad Workouts Are Good

“Celebrate the good, yet embrace the bad”

No one wants to have a bad workout, am I right? There are plenty of reasons you might have a bad workout & there’s the possible way to avoid a bad workout by making sure you take a rest day, both of which I’ve blogged about before.

But as I was thinking about it recently, I realized I failed to recognize one of the reasons we might have bad workouts – a good reason, a productive reason. Especially in the case of training for an event, like a race or triathlon, a bad workout is actually a good part of training.

Celebrating – and hydrating – after a hot, humid run done

Event days are rarely perfect. From unexpected weather to crowds to the obvious fact you’re probably doing the longest version of said event for which you’ve been training, there are plenty of surprises that can be thrown at you on the day.

If every long run, bike ride, or other workout was always picture-perfect, you lose out on that element of overcoming an unexpected challenge. I recently had to do this twice when I was preparing for my first half marathon since having my son. There was one long run that was bad, simple fact was it was hot and I don’t do well in hot weather. Then there was one that was so, so bad, I told my husband I probably shouldn’t have finished it. I was honestly worried that it was so bad, my form probably went to shit a few miles in and I may have done some damage by continuing (I was fine, just feeling a little dramatic at the moment).

Luckily, I survived both and going into race day, knowing it would be hot and humid, I reflected on those runs and told myself I was prepared for this, I could do it. And I did.

So next time you have one of those tough workouts where something – or everything – goes wrong, embrace it and remind yourself it made you stronger.

I tend to anticipate at least one, if not a few, really bad workouts when training for an event – how about you? Do you try to take the benefit from a bad workout or does it just get you down? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

The Power of the Post-Workday Workout

“Relax, chill out, and unwind”

Last week, I had the rare opportunity to run outside after work. Nowadays my post-work activities include picking up Abel from daycare, hanging out with him, feeding him, and catching up with my husband. With this new family routine, my once-cherished evening run routine is a distant memory.

My favorite accessories

To be fair, I absolutely could go running after work most days. Chris is super-flexible to forgo the gym, and pick up and hang out with Abel after work if I want to run. But I don’t necessarily want to run after work anymore…I mean, I do, but not as much as I want to enjoy time with my son and husband.

So anyway, last week after a particularly frustrating and stressful day, I ducked out of work a little early – not so I could go home and zone out on the couch, but because I needed the cure, the stress relief, and the unwinding that comes with a good run.

I swapped my earrings and necklace for my Garmin, kicked off my dress flats and laced up my Asics, then hit the pavement for a nice 5k, my fastest one in awhile – apparently burning off a tough day has a way of making me run fast. It felt great! Cleared my head, put things into perspective, and helped me feel better about my day. And, bonus, I still got to pick up Abel and enjoy our evening together so it was a pretty perfect end to an otherwise not-so-great day.

True, life has changed and I don’t often get to unwind with exercise after a long day anymore. And I do miss it, no doubt. But I wouldn’t trade my new normal for going back to the old life. Now, what’s most important is that I make time to work out, both for myself, and for everyone around me, including my son. So I’m still committed to working out and I do enjoy it…it usually means getting up at 4:30, which can be tough, but it’s also worth it.

What’s your favorite time to work out and why? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

5 Things Wellness and Parenting Have in Common

“There’s no such thing as perfect so just be real”

Last time on the blog, I admitted that things have changed in the way I didn’t anticipate. While this still isn’t a parenting blog, the topic has snuck its way into several posts throughout the past few months, because I write my best when it’s what I know.

Now that I’ve made it clear I can’t help but write about this new thing in my life called parenting, while remaining true to my love of writing about all-things wellness, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to really combine the two.

Throughout the past ten-plus years of my wellness journey, I’ve learned a lot. Throughout the last five-plus months of my parenting journey, I’ve learned a…little bit.

“Don’t rock your baby to sleep or let him sleep on you,”…I don’t give AF.

Here are five things I’ve learned that are true to both wellness and new parenting.

Do What’s Best for You
The Keto diet. Meditation. Crossfit. There are a ton of wellness activities out there. At least one person swears by each one and raves that it’s the best or only solution. That’s simply untrue. What works for one person might not work for another – or, quite frankly, might not be of interest at all. You have to do what’s best for you; what makes you happiest and helps you achieve goals.

The same is true in parenting. Just because sleep training worked wonders for your friend and her baby doesn’t mean it’s the right strategy for you and yours. Someone might tell you to wait three hours in between feedings but, some days (or weeks), your baby might be hungry every hour. You have to do what’s best for you; what makes your baby happiest and thriving.

Trust Your Gut
There have been times I’ve wanted to skip a workout, not due to laziness or lack of interest, but because something just didn’t feel right. I’ve learned that it’s best to trust this feeling – forgo the workout and move on to the next day.

The same is true in parenting. Every child is different and none come with an instruction manual. While there’s no shortage of articles out there on every parenting question imaginable, sometimes you simply have to trust your gut. As a first-time parent, I didn’t do this nearly enough in the earlier weeks of my son’s life and, looking back, I should have. I may not know what I’m doing but I know him. Now, I trust my gut on most things.

Embrace the Suck
Some days, trying to eat your best just sucks and, worse, indulging and having a day that makes you feel badly about yourself can suck just as bad. But neither one is the worst because tomorrow’s a new day to get back at it. Some days, a workout is going to suck (um, hello long training run that is so awful it makes me cry), or even just one part of a workout (yep, I’m looking at you, lunges). But they’re worth powering through because they teach us something and make us stronger. Embrace that suck!

The same is true in parenting. I think most parents would agree, as wonderful as it is having a child, there are some moments that honestly suck. As badly as I wanted my son and grateful I am for him, there were moments I thought he was broken, or he effing peed all over both of us again, or I was just too exhausted to properly function through any of it. Looking back on it, I learned from every one of the low moments, the things that just sucked. And I think the experiences make me a better mother. Embrace that suck – because, at their simplest, getting peed on is actually kind of funny. Parents of boys, you feel me.

Celebrate the Good
Maybe you didn’t PR at your last race but you just made it through 20 minutes on the Stairmaster (or whatever cardio you loathe most).
Maybe you didn’t meal prep for the whole week but you hardboiled eggs and cut up veggies for easy snacking.
It’s easy to forget these small things really matter. It’s easy to brush them aside, only concentrating on where you fell short. Acknowledge and applaud yourself for those small victories because the small things really matter.

We love sleep – baby Abel is still learning.

The same is true in parenting. My son wasn’t sleeping through the night at seven weeks like some babies but I remember a day it took less than 10 minutes to get him down for a nap. I gave myself a mental high-five and it encouraged me to keep working on his sleep. Celebrate those little golden moments.

The Power of Sleep
Gwen Jorgensen, the Olympic gold medalist, newly-turned marathoner, and mom of one-year-old Stanley, is one of my idols. In addition to sharing life as a working mom and mother runner, she often shares one of the biggest parts of her training: sleep. Whether it’s a long afternoon nap after a tough workout or getting enough zzzs at night, sleep is an important part of wellness, both mentally and physically.

The same is true in parenting – though, I know how ironic I’m being, as sleep is basically nonexistent the first few weeks, even months of parenting (and likely, years). What I’m talking about is the importance of sleep for babies. My son was not a good sleeper in his early weeks. He was often cranky and overtired because he wasn’t one of those babies who would just sleep when he needed to, I had to work really hard to teach him to fall asleep and get a schedule established so he would learn when it was time to sleep. While he sleeps like a champ at night now, getting him there, and naptime in general, is often still a struggle for us. But I know how important it is so it’s worth it. And good sleep for him means good sleep for us parents!

In what areas of your life does wellness seem to coincide? Comment below or tweet me @LindsayIRL.

Staying Strong and Running Outside

“#MilesforMollie”

Can I just start by recognizing how wonderful the running community is? While none of us knew Mollie Tibbets, we felt like we did. Because she was someone who enjoyed running. She was one of us. Simple as that.

Lately I’ve been thinking about all the runners who have been attacked on their runs – too many of those stories the past few years. Today, like many runners, I joined in running #MilesforMollie and dedicating my run to Mollie.

It was a particularly foggy morning and it was still dark at 6 a.m. Chris was leaving early for a golf tournament so I knew I couldn’t wait for the sun to come up; I needed to get out the door, and be home and showered by 7 to see him off and be ready for Abel’s start to the day.

Luckily I was planning a shorter run so, even though it was humid and warm, I was able to take Burton with me. He’s 25 pounds and more bark than bite but something about having him with me makes me feel safer. I enjoy running without headphones and haven’t used them for years so that wasn’t a worry. Chris knows my typical short morning routes and knew when to expect me home so I had that in my head.

Yet, even with all this, I still found myself looking over my shoulder far more than usual.

I honestly never used to feel unsafe running outside. Only within the past year or two, as more and more stories have been shared of runners being attacked, have I been a little scared each time I run outside.

Burton – protects Abel, protects me…sort of

Scared enough I avoid some of my favorite trails because they’re too secluded.
Scared enough I go through an escape plan in my head of where I’ll sprint to if someone were to approach me.
Scared enough I run at a pace that gives me enough energy that I could sprint at any given time, if needed.
Scared enough I put my hair in a bun because a ponytail or braid is easier to grab.
Scared enough I’m seriously considering running with my phone or mace on every run.
Scared enough that I’m no longer afraid of being hit by a car, I’m afraid of being forced into one.
Scared enough that I have a jogger stroller but I’m not sure I even want to use it (mess with me, okay but mess with my son – oh HELL NO).
Scared enough that – while only once – I’ve skipped an early morning run because my gut told me it was a bad idea.

While I no longer have the 100% safe feeling of running outside that I used to, I refuse to stop doing it altogether. I love running and I love running outside. If the opportunity to continue doing it means I have to look over my shoulder more often, stick to boring main roads and well-lit neighborhoods, and carry mace, I’ll do it.

What I won’t do is be scared into giving it up. Runners are strong. We’re a community that supports each other, even if we don’t know each other. We’re going to keep going.

Have recent years made you more fearful of running outside? Do you take new precautions you never thought you would? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

A Fitness Blog – and a Mommy Blog

“Write what you know”

Ever since I started blogging four and a half years ago (that’s a long time but it feels like even longer!) I’ve enjoyed it. I love to write, and I love to run, work out, and be well – and, most of all, I love to write about things I love to do – such as running, working out, and wellness.

In addition to writing about things I love to do, one of the reasons I believe blogging continues to be a positive experience for me is that I write what I know – again, enter running, working out, and wellness. Which brings me to something new that I know and my topic of this post.

Maybe I should have Abel become my blogging assistant…

When I announced I was pregnant late last year on the blog, I clearly stated this wouldn’t become a mommy blog. While it hasn’t, totally, I’ve realized it’s unavoidable to a certain degree.

I’m a mom now. It’s perhaps one of the biggest roles I’ll play in life so it’s natural that it has become a big part of who I am. I may not know it all but it’s my new normal. As a writer who writes what I know, it’s also only natural a lot of my posts have a parenting twist.

While I do my best to keep my thoughts from being completely parent-wellness-focused for my non-parent readers, it’s not always possible. This is now who I am, this is now what I know.

For those of you who have read this blog awhile and are still here, thank you. I hope you still find good info, humor, and enjoyment in the reading. And for those of you who come across this blog searching topics like, “Is it safe to work out when I’m pregnant?” or “Getting back to running after having a baby,” welcome! This is going to be a great place for you now, too.

What’s something major in your life that has altered the way you look at fitness and wellness? Please share it in the comments or tweet me at @LindsayIRL.

Running a Half Marathon Post-Baby

“Nothing is impossible – the word itself says ‘I’m possible’”

On Saturday, a hot, hazy August morning in Fargo, I lined up at the start for the GoFar Woman Half Marathon. This race was extra-special for me, being my first half back since having Abel and my first pacing gig since last fall. Despite the warm, sweaty conditions, it felt so good to be back out there doing something I love.

Pacing and running with one of my lifelong BFFs (Maggie, on the left)

I was incredibly eager to run my first half post-baby – some might recall my recent blog expressing the joy I felt when I was able to get back into running. So it might come as a surprise to those who know me when I say it’s going to be my last half for awhile.

While I’ve adapted to getting up early to do my runs before Abel and Chris are up for the day, some days those 4:30 or 5 a.m. wake-up calls are tough.

Having a baby, no matter how good he or she is or how great a sleeper at night, is tiring. It’s a different level of tiring. And some days, as much as I love running and having that “me” time, I’m just not up for it.

Then there’s the mom guilt. Even though I do most of my runs before my son is awake for the day, I have this weird sense of guilt for leaving him. I’m worried something might happen to him or I might miss out on something – all because I went running.

I know running is important to me, both for my mental and physical health, so I’m not giving it up. Not at all. But I think I’ll scale it back for a bit, stick to the more manageable 2-5 milers. At least for now…until I get that itch to pace or do a longer race again ☺

Fellow parents, do you feel it’s tough – or any guilt – taking time for yourself to work out? Comment or tweet me @LindsayIRL.

Running In and Reviewing lululemon Clothes

“Fashion, turn to the left. Fashion, turn to the right”

In early May, I had a pretty cool opportunity. My running pal, Jake, who’s also an Ironman and has been featured on the blog, approached me about working with lululemon in Fargo. And when I say “working with” what I mean is demoing some running clothes and providing my feedback.

lululemon Fargo is having a grand re-opening this fall.

While I had only just begun getting back into running, of course I was onboard – and pumped. I mean, how cool, right? Getting asked to participate in anything running-related is always awesome, plus I had been wanting to try out lululemon stuff since the store arrived in Fargo but when I was pregnant I knew nothing would fit well. Even after having baby Abel, things still don’t fit great and I’ve been busier than usual…

Anyway, schedule and still-a-bit-larger-sized-than-normal aside, I eagerly met with the manager and picked out a pair of shorts and a tank to test out. After running much more regularly now, training for my first half back post-baby, I’ve been able to get quite a few miles in them. Here’s what I have to say:

Tracker Short IV
These have become my go-to running shorts, my favorite pair, my must-wear for long runs. The fabric is light and moves well (no chafing!), while giving a loose enough fit to be comfortable around my giant quads. There’s a little pocket on the side which I haven’t used yet but I could see being handy during a race (perfect size for a gel).

Breeze By Muscle Tank II
While my lululemon shorts are close to running perfection, the tank top hasn’t been the best fit for me – literally. I love the fabric and the feel, but the design isn’t ideal for my body shape. The design includes a thick elastic band at the bottom which, for someone slim, likely sits perfectly. I have a larger midsection and butt, so the tank rode up and bounced as I ran. The good news is, because it’s super-comfy and breathable, it will become a great go-to lifting tank for the gym.

Style
Even though I’m a believer in function over form, it’s always nice to have workout clothes that are practical and still look good, and lululemon stuff definitely looks great. I know most people probably tend to choose based on looks versus practicality so I think that’s worth mentioning.

Runners, have you tried lululemon? What pieces do you love? Comment below or tweet me @LindsayIRL.

Working Hard to Work Out

“Gotta work harder”

I have a confession to make. Throughout the first few weeks of my pregnancy I had FOMOR – Fear Of Missing Out on Running, which I’ve blogged about before. I saw someone out running or posting about a race on social media and I wished I could still do that.

Oh, I love my son and loved all the time I had with him in those early weeks, but in a small way I longed for those carefree days when I could go running basically anytime I wanted.

Waking up before sunrise so I can have more time with him – worth it

Needless to say, I was thrilled to get the okay from my doc to start running after my 6-week postpartum checkup. But running didn’t come back so easily.

Sure, I was tired from caring for an infant. Of course, I was out of shape. Yes, I was trying to keep up with housework, laundry, and everything else. But it wasn’t really any of those. As much as I love running and always enjoyed that time for me, now I hated losing that time away from Abel.

Spoiler alert – I’ve been running about three times a week and am training to pace a half marathon next month. To help ease the guilt, I’ve discovered I need to plan ahead more, often it means getting up super-early and running before my guys are up. But I can do it and I should do it.

This makes me wonder now, every time I see someone out running – maybe that person doesn’t have it so carefree and easy. Maybe he or she is working hard to make it work.

How do you make working out a priority? Do you rise extra early, squeeze in a workout over lunch, or pass up happy hour to hit the other bar? Comment or tweet me @LindsayIRL. Or, share your workouts on Twitter or Instagram and use the hasthtag #wellirl.

How to Meal Prep – Baby Style

“Meal prep is the new fast food”

Something occurred to me recently. As a new mom, I’ve spent probably hundreds of hours breastfeeding. Up until I went back to work a few weeks ago, I pretty much breastfed exclusively, with the exception of the nighttime bottle we introduced so my husband could join in on the fun of feeding our son.

Liquid gold, folks – liquid gold

Since going back to work, my life changed from feeding on demand to pumping as regularly as I can. Pump, bag milk, freeze it for later – pretty standard stuff for most working moms.

As I was getting Abel’s bottles ready for daycare one day, pulling out bags of frozen milk from the freezer, it dawned on me – this is meal prepping at its finest!

My husband is a champion meal prepper, and I try to do a few things here and there but have had trouble devoting time to it since Abel’s arrival. Either way, meal prepping is definitely a staple in our household. Maybe that’s why I equate pumping and storing milk to meal prepping. If I can’t do it for myself, that’s okay. But I love that I’m doing it for my son. And, as many of us know, breastmilk is essentially liquid gold in a nutritional sense!

As for adult meal prepping, how many of you do it on a regular basis? What are your go-tos or best tips? Comment or tweet me @LindsayIRL. Or, share your meal prep winnings on Twitter or Instagram and use the hasthtag #wellirl.

4 Ways to Work Out Outside This Summer

“Sweet summertime”

Hello, summer! Weekends at the lake. More daylight. Going outside without a coat. Even though winter is my favorite season, there’s a lot I enjoy about the summer.

One of the downsides of summer, besides uncomfortable heat and bugs, is it’s really easy to slack off on workouts. Between vacations, R&R, and the opportunity to be outside, it’s a little tougher to spend time in the gym. But there are great ways to be outside and get your fitness on.

It gets hot but it’s great to run outside

Here are my four favorite ways to take your workout outside.

1. Running
Okay, obviously this was going to be on the list. Sure, sometimes it’s uncomfortably hot and, yes, I will be the first one to bitch about how hot it is (but I never complain about how cold it is so that makes it okay ha ha) – but there’s really no better way to enjoy a nice day than going for a run outside.

2. Walking
You don’t have to be a runner to reap the rewards of outdoor exercise. Walking is a great way to get your heart pumping, burn some calories, and soak in some Vitamin D. Bonus, it’s a much more social workout than running so get a crew and make a date of it.

3. Yoga
Within the past couple of years, Fargo has really gotten onboard with outdoor yoga. Nearly every week in the summer, there’s yoga in the park, rooftop yoga downtown, or other outdoor stretch-fests. If your city doesn’t offer group classes, go ahead on your own. Especially after a run, I love doing my stretches outside.

Yoga and paddleboarding – two of my summer faves

4. Paddleboarding
I’m lucky to have more than one family lake home within an hour of the city. My favorite water activity is paddleboarding. After a hot run, I’ll jump right in the lake, cool off, and keep the burn going on the paddleboard. Other mornings, I’ll wake up and cruise for an hour down the beaches. Just last year, I finally tried paddleboard yoga – it’s tough but fun! I’m definitely no expert but have enjoyed trying. If you’re new to it, here’s one of my blogs with 3 paddleboard yoga poses for beginners.

Do you also love to do any of these activities in the summer? What are your other favorite outdoor workouts? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL. Share your summer workout pics on Twitter and Instagram too, and be sure to use hashtag #wellirl.

What to Expect – from Workouts – After You’ve Been Expecting

“Great expectations”

After what feels like a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it several weeks, I’ve started back at work. Overall, maternity leave was great. Don’t get me wrong, it was no vacation – it was much harder than my “day job” and much harder than I thought it would be. But it was also pretty great spending all that time with my son, getting to know him, letting him get to know me, and helping him adjust to his new world.

As someone who thrives on routine, I was excited to get back to work…and a little sad. I know virtually every parent has that bittersweet mix of emotions when going back to work, but I know it will be good for Abel to spend time with other people, learn new things from experts (first-time mom here so I’m no expert!), and get into more of a routine of his own.

While I definitely didn’t get back into the swing of working out during maternity leave as I maybe imagined or hoped I would, I did get back into it a little bit, to the tune of walking, EFXing and light running a few days a week. Now with going back to work and everything new that’s going to come with Abel, from adjusting his schedule to his next growth spurt to teething, I don’t see it getting any easier – but that doesn’t mean I’m not still going to try! And a big part of that is changing my expectations of myself and my workouts.

Workout or time with this face…easy choice!

I remember back in the day if I “only” did 30 minutes on the EFX or lifting, it seemed like a waste and I’d be hard on myself about it. Today, I managed to squeeze in a 20-minute run and felt glorious. So I’m happy to say that my expectations have already begun to shift a bit – though, I admit, sometimes I long for those days when I could knock out a 10k on a Monday night, get in leg day and an upper body lift, plus a little extra cardio, all before a Saturday long run.

Yes, I still crave the runner’s high and feeling of a good, long sweat sesh. But seeing my son smile and giggle, that’s something I really can’t get enough of. And something worth keeping workouts short – or skipping them altogether some days – so I don’t miss a second of his awesomeness.

Do you have any good, quick and effective workouts you love? Or tips for making short workouts really count? Please leave a comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

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