Keep It Simple

Remember when you first got interested in running? It seemed so simple, right? Lace up your shoes and go.

But then you started learning more about running and getting “all the things.” The questions started:

What shoes should I wear? What should my pace be? What should my heart rate be when I run? Am I a heel striker or a midfoot runner? Is my GPS watch tracking my pace, distance and elevation correctly? Is my cadence high enough? How many times per week should I run?

Those are all questions I have asked myself over the years plus many, many, many more in my running life. It can be overwhelming. It can be exhausting. It can feel like it’s a losing battle because you are never doing enough or doing it wrong according to all the supposed experts.

Running, and exercise in general, should not be complicated. It should not stress you out. More days than not, I like to keep it simple. Life is complicated enough. Running should not add to the complication.

I was chatting with a newer client who wanted to get back to exercise after some time away. She was all in and was ready to bust out of the gate full speed ahead. “What should my heart rate be?” What should my pace be? and a million other questions. I admired her excitement for getting back to exercise but I had to have her pump the brakes.

Keep it simple.

Let’s get you moving first. Let’s not worry about pace or striving for a target heart rate so she can get into the “fat burning zone” – which to be honest, opens up a whole new can of worms.

Movement will lead to more movement and that’s what we want.

The rules of running are quite simple – put one foot in front of the other. It’s something we were born to do. When did running become complex?

I’m completely guilty of making running more complicated. I want to run faster, further and overall be a better runner. I spend a lot of time reading about running and chatting with fellow friends who are runners. I love it and want to learn more about it. There’s nothing wrong with that.

On the flip side, I’ve been wrapped up in thinking more is better because this person on social media does it or because a book told me I needed to run this much or eat like this to achieve my goals. Making things more complicated usually resulted in a training plan that didn’t work for me, eating stuff I didn’t like and ultimately an injury. That’s not to say that every tidbit I pick up is bad. It maybe wasn’t the right one for me or a case of too much, too soon for my body. Every body is different. There is no one size fits all, even in running. Don’t get me started on all the studies about running. Most of them are on men so why are women following the same running “rules” as men? Contrary to some beliefs, women aren’t just smaller men.

Running is a billion dollar industry. There’s always something new coming out that will make us faster because who doesn’t what to be faster? I mean, look at the Nike Vaporfly. At your next road race, take a look at how many people are sporting the Vaporfly just because Eliud Kipchoge’s sub 2 hour marathon. Does the average runner need a $250 pair of shoes? Ummm…no.

So what do you do if you have running goals? Keep it simple.

Build up your weekly mileage slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is your running fitness.

Don’t run the same distance or speed everyday. Have easy days and hard days.

Run by effort not a number that’s on your watch.

Strength train the whole body at least 2 times per week. Don’t think you have to be doing an elaborate, advanced routine. Keep it simple with exercises for all the major muscle groups of the body.

Because really, all you need in running is to just keep moving.

I don’t have the secret sauce to running. What I do know is that I don’t want runners to feel that running is complicated. I want to see more people running. To be honest, I just want to see more people being active.

Keep it simple and you’ll see improvements.

Trust the process and things will happen.

My Week in Workouts

My week in workouts started off a little rocky after stepping/falling into a hole (I think?) during last Sunday’s trail run. I didn’t run until Thursday when things felt 95% better. Amazingly enough, after the run, I was 100% better. Isn’t it weird how that happens sometime?

Monday

30 minute bike intervals

Strength training

Sunday night, while stretching/massaging my ankle that was hurting, I came to the realization that it wasn’t really my ankle that was bugging me. It was more of the posterior tib tendon. Of course, typical me, I started to panic that it was the deltoid ligament that I completely messed up 3 years ago by doing an eversion sprain since the painful spot was similar. After some poking around and consulting a PT friend, we concluded I strained my posterior tib tendon with the plan to lay low.

Tuesday

Morning Flow Yoga @ Bending Bodhi

I played it safe and took another day off from running. I’d rather spend a few days not running now rather than have something pop up when I’m in 30k training. Besides, spending 60 minutes on my mat was much needed and felt oh so good.

Wednesday

30 minutes ARC trainer hill intervals

10 minutes Stepmill

Strength training

My intention for Wednesday’s strength session were two things – PR in my squat and bench press. I’m happy to report both were an success. In fact, I think I could have gone up more. It’s a good feeling, feeling strong.

Thursday

5 mile road run with Kyle

It’s really a bummer when your weather app says it will be 18 degree for your morning run the night before but in reality it’s 12 degrees. Six degrees may not seem like much but it makes a HUGE difference in clothing. I picked the wrong pair of tights (legs were freezing!) and my Buff was completely frozen almost immediately. That’s not too pleasant for 44 minutes of running.

What was pleasant was talking mountain running plans for the spring as Kyle and I chatted about training plans and chasing vert. I love having friends to share the fun with!

Friday

Rest day

Saturday

6 mile trail run with Jill and Jenny

The weather turned warm, yet again, and the lovely snow we got last weekend is practically all gone. Jenny and I took Jill on her first trail run EVER. Jill was a total trooper but was probably swearing internally nonstop.

With the warm conditions, what snow we had left turned to mashed potatoes. Lots of slop that was tough to run in. It was like running in soft sand at times and then you were sliding sideways because it was so slippery. I give major props to anyone who wants to try trail running in the winter. It makes things complicated for sure but like my friend Lori taught me years ago – we run on trails no matter what conditions!

Sunday

8.3 mile road run with Jenny

After months of not having a training plan, I’m feeling an itch to train again. Maybe it’s the newness of a new year or because a lot of friends have begun training for spring races. I’m trying not to rush anything and enjoy the plan free freedom.

Since I’m such a wonderful friend, I took Jenny on a tour of almost all of the big hills around town. She may have been swearing at me but I just gave her the ol’ “hills make you stronger!” and “hills are speed work in disguise” talk. She still swore at me but then she said HILL YEAH! when we parted ways. I think we have a hill lover, people!

How was your week in workouts?

Linking up with the Weekly Run Down. 

Winter Trail Running Tips

A few years ago when I started to trail run more, I thought when the snow and ice came, it meant we’d abandon the trails for the roads till the spring thaw came along. The trails would only be a place to snowshoe or hike. We can’t run in that stuff.

But then a friend set me straight. Oh no, no, no. We run on trails ALL year ’round. With her help, I picked up the gear I needed to do just that.

I’ve had a few friends get the trail running bug in the past month. It seems like an odd time to try out trail running when the dirt ribbons are now snow ribbons but it inspired me to share my winter trail running tips. I’m by no means an expert. This is what I’ve found works best for me. Everyone’s comfort level is different so you may need to tweak things to see what works for you.

Dressing for a winter trail run isn’t too different than what you would wear for winter running if you live in a cold climate. Layers are key. It’s very tempting to put on ALL the layers before your run but you want to be chilly at the beginning of your run. I like to think of the old adage about jewelry – take one piece off before you leave the house. Do the same with your layers!

Here’s what you should be wearing from head to toe on your next winter trail run.

Head

If the temps are in the upper 20s to the 30s, I’ll wear a headband. It keeps my ears warm but lets the heat out too. If it’s any colder, I’ll wear a tech material hat. Skida (affiliate link) is my fave brand for both headbands and hats. They are made for sweat induced cold weather activity so you won’t end up with soaked frozen material.

Hands

My hands are always cold so I opt for mittens over gloves once the temps are below 30 degrees. If the wind is really blowing, I’ll double up with a pair of thin gloves under the mittens. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Popping hand warmers (affiliate link) in my mittens is something that always works. However, if the temps are in the 30s, I’ll pick a lightweight pair of gloves.

Upper and Lower Body

I’ve really fallen in love with Buffs (affiliate link) this year. If my neck is covered, I can get by with wearing less on my upper body. It also is handy to have for covering your mouth and nose to warm the air on the really cold days. Or you can pull the Buff over your head and turn it into a Balaclava. FYI – it took my forever to spell that correctly. HAHA!

Most days I’ll run with a base layer of a wicking material long sleeve shirt with a water resistant or water proof shell over if it’s actively snowing or raining. Long tights are a must. I am not a fan of fleece lined tights so I’ll stick with thicker material tights. Some of my go-tos are from Saucony and Athleta. If it’s really cold (single digits with windchill), I’ll throw a running skirt over the tights to keep my buns toasty.

Socks

I feel like having the right footwear is the biggest winter trail running tip. I will run with exposed ankles in the 20s BUT if it’s actively snowing and/or I’m wearing MICROspikes or running snowshoes, mid length wool socks. Merino wool is a must. Even though your feet will be soaked from the snow, the merino wool will keep you comfortable and surprisingly warm. Plus, taller socks will protect your ankles from the gnarly kicks you’ll receive from your MICROspikes (see below). 😉 My current merino wool faves are from Farm to Feet (affiliate link) and Darn Tough (affiliate link). Pro tip: pack another pair for after your run. You’ll want to get out of wet clothing ASAP post run.

Shoes and Traction

Water resistant or Gore-tex trail running shoes are nice if you are going to be logging lots of snow covered miles. However, it’s not completely necessary to buy a separate pair of trail shoes than what you’d wear any other time of the year. I will wear my Saucony Peregrine ICE+ (affiliate link) fresh snow that requires breaking trail. Trail shoes are a good idea thanks to the extra lugs for better traction.

Speaking of traction, Kahtoola MICROspikes are a life-saver. I’ve run across shear ice with zero fears of wiping out. Even when there’s fresh snow, MICROspikes will give you traction. Coil-type traction doesn’t give you enough grip. Trust me, spikes are the way to go. I’ve had a pair of Kahtoola (affiliate link) for years with zero rust issues. Just make sure you dry them off thoroughly before storing in between usage.

Other options for added traction are screw shoes (you can easily make your own with an old pair of shoes) or running snowshoes. You can check out my winter running footwear guide HERE.

Attitude

One thing I’ve learned from winter running that goes for the roads and trails is adjusting your attitude. You can’t control the weather but you can control your attitude towards it. If you switch it to a positive rather than a negative, it won’t seem so bad.

What would you add to the list?

Do you like winter trail running?