What to Wear for Winter Running

Also knows as "My Favorite Things: Winter Running Gear Edition"

I went for a run today.  It was 15* and wind gusts up to 40mph.  I didn't last long.  But I was grateful for all the running gear I've accumulated over the years.  It kept me from getting frost bite and also kept me from falling down on the ice. 

Shirts and jackets - I wear different combinations of shirts and jackets depending on the temperatures and the level of wind. 
UnderArmour Fitted Long Sleeve Mock - The purple shirt

  • Nike Women's Running Jacket which Mom got me for Christmas one year.  I'm sort of shocked at the price tag, for what it is.  It's a light windbreaker style jacket, but fits well for running and wicks water away, in addition to wind protection.
  • UnderArmour Fitted Long Sleeve Mock - or the purple shirt that appears in every other picture of me on this blog in the winter.  The fitted long sleeve shirt has a fleece lining and is a bit thicker than this next one.
  • Women's Cold Gear Compression Mock There's no fleece lining, although the compression situation usually feels really good on my cold skin for some reason.  Compression gear is flattering on exactly no one.  If it's a warm cold, I don't care if you think I'm fat because I'm probably running farther than you.  If it's a cold cold my jacket is on over the shirt and you can't see what I look like.

Pants and Tights - Sometimes I just wear winter tights, sometimes just winter running pants, and sometimes a combination of both depending on the temperatures.

Nike Cold Weather Running Pants and Brooks Launch Shoes - I don't have many pictures of my pants.
  • Brooks Utopia Thermal Pant are the newest addition to my winter-running wardrobe.  All I can say is "welcome to the team".  These things fit really well, not like a pair of tights, but a closer fit than my Nike pants. 
  • Nike Cold Weather Running Pants or whatever they're called now, were my first foray into winter running.  I have a black pair and a gray pair and both seem to be indestructible.  Keep that in mind when you see the price.
  • UnderArmour Fitted Leggings I absolutely love but wear infrequently because they do not have a drawstring.  Mom got them for me for Christmas and they were a great gift.  I hadn't taught her the draw string rule yet so it was my fault. 
  • Frank Shorter Running Insert Tights are fleece lined tights.  Frank Shorter is an often overlooked brand for running gear.  They tend to show up at Marathon expos and have stuff marked way down, which is how I got my hands on these things to start with.  I love them.  They fit like a tight but have enough room in the, um, 'crotch and bum area' so as not to be unflattering, and that "ankle gripper" feature is ten times cooler than you think.

Feet- everything I need.
YakTrax on a super old pair of Brooks.
  • I usually wear flats for running.  Sometimes in the winter I want just a little more shoe.  I use Brooks Launch if I know I'm getting into something really cold, wet, or the footing will be really bad.  Big thank you here to Brooks for not killing the Launch like you'd planned.  I appreciate the change of hear.
  • Socks that wick water away from my feet are important so my toes don't freeze.  I like Smart Wool and have a few different models and pairs.
  • I seem to be the only person on the planet who's heard of Sock Liners which are also super important.  The sock liners aren't that thick, and shouldn't really change how your shoes fit.  It's amazing something so thin can add so much warmth.
  • YakTrax Pro is the model I use and I've talked about them quite a bit.  They make a model specifically for runners that I've never tried. The spikes scared me.  YakTrax are great on snow packs, falling snow, or ice.  They suck on concrete, so I have to know what the footing is like when I decide to wear them or not.  YakTrax are also not compatible with racing flats, which is another reason I keep a pair of the Launch around.

Everything else
Nike Jacket and UnderArmour Hat, also Sony earbuds and ice on every visible surface
  • Gloves - I like gloves but don't really have a favorite pair.  I use a super thin pair that my Team:Work friends got me one year but before that I used the stretch gloves you can buy at the dollar store.  If someone has an awesome pair, let me know.
  • UnderArmour Beanie - I'm going to be honest and say I think I have an older version and a men's version of this hat, because I do not have the flap for the ponytail in the back.  My hat is blue and also pictured in about a hundred places on this blog.  To wash it, I throw it in the shower with me after a run.  If I'm not good about washing them my hats get really gross.
  • Reflective Vest - It's dark like 20 hours a day here people.  Wear your gear.
Wear your reflective gear!
Just a note here - this is all stuff I have, and I've paid for it all.  Although if my friends at Brooks or UnderArmour or any place else want to send me a Thank You note for the free advertising, I'm happy to receive.  In the meantime, I'll be out running and enjoying your gear.


Lake Nokomis Winter Running

I woke up this morning, not late, but just on time.  First order of the day was to go clean the crap off my car from all the awesome snow we got last night.

The thought process for running went like this:  It snowed a lot last night.  The side walks will be a mess. The best place to run would be Lake Nokomis because the paths will be plowed.  If I run at Lake Nokomis I have to go in the middle of the day when it's light.

I worked from 8am to 3pm and then hit the trails.  It was about 100% humidity, and the trails seemed to have been plowed one way but not the other.  (I guess they're waiting for the rest of the snow to fall tonight?)  Still, everything was in much better shape than if I'd run in the neighborhoods. 

The run, as my neighbor described it "white on the bottom, stripe of color, and grey on the top".  That's how all of Minnesota looks at the moment.  I did see an awesome bird of prey (red tail hawk I think); and got close enough to snap a nice picture. 

I was moving along pretty well at one point on this run. That was only seconds before I noticed there was no oxygen in the air (because it's all water vapor?).  Then I had a "don't poop your pants" moment or two as well.  Even so, I ended at a fairly honest pace.  

3-Way Challenge Training:
Goal for the week is 23 miles - 6.4 miles as of Monday night.
Long run of the week is at least 5 miles - DONE.



Weekend - in pictures from my new iPhone!

Friday is the first day of my weekend.  Since everyone else is working that day, I typically use it for boring things like going to the grocery store and running errands.  Friday night I got to talk with the birthday boys on Skype. 

Saturday I headed over to the gym in the morning for a run and then Zumba.  I spent a fair amount of the afternoon napping (win for me!) and then headed out for the evening.  We hit Solera for dinner.  It was really good food, but our group was way too big to handle the whole tappas experience.  My advice is go there with a small group, like four people.  Twelve is too many.  Then we headed over to The Cowles Center to hear the 25th Anniversary Concert of One Voice Mixed Chorus.  I'd never heard them before and I really enjoyed it.

Sunday is forecasted to be ice-pocalypse or something.  I went to Hot Plate Diner with Sue, whom I hadn't seen since October.  We had a good talk about the drama, or repairing of drama going on in my life, and I found her input quite helpful.  After breakfast we took a short stroll around Lake Nokomis.  Both of us would've been happier wearing hats but at least the storm hadn't started yet.
As soon as I got home I headed out for a quick run, also before the storm started.  I tested the Nike+ running system.  My initial reaction is Endomondo is better, but I'm going to give it a little while before I totally decide. 
I took opportunities at Lake Nokomis and on my run to also test out the 8MP camera rocking inside my iPhone.  (How excited am I?)



Winter Storm Warning - Before and After

We're having a bit of a Winter Storm here.  It's not so much as a storm as wet snow at a temperature that's causing all kinds of ice and slippery issues.  I made it out to breakfast this morning, before the chaos started, and then headed out right before sunset to get some 'after' shots.  (Because I have a new camera, so I must play.  That's why.)

Sidewalks - before and after.

 Me - before (running) and after (notice the coat?)

Shoes: Before and after.  (Really happy about my decision to put on a pair of boots this.)

 Plant life - before and after.

 The courtyard before, right when the snow started (action shot), and after.


Weekend Workouts

I'm finally training for something again.  Last week I signed up for the Flying Pig 3-Way challenge, sat down and made a training plan.  Goal for the week was 20 miles with at least one 5-mile run.

View from the track at the gym.  However cold it looks, I assure you, it was much worse.
Sunday - 5 miler track workout at the gym, half hour on the bike.  (I may have mentioned this one before, but I've decided from now on that weeks start on Sunday and not Monday.)
Monday - 2 mile warm up on the track, 15 mile ride on the trainer bike.
Tuesday - 4 miler, must have been at the gym because I think it was too cold to be outside.  Ever.
Wednesday - 1 mile, decided to stop whining and suck it up.
Thursday - Circuit, one mile on the track, Zumba.  I love Zumba.
Friday - 1 mile fun run on the treadmill (I kept speeding it up ever .05 miles for 1 mile), 5.5 miles on the elliptical.  Legs = spaghetti.
Saturday - 1.5 miles on the track, the most laps in a row I've done on that track in what must be years, Zumba.  !Zumba!


Switching from Andriod to iOS - my initial thoughts

My old crapper of a phone finally died.  (I had an HTC My Touch 3G, relevant that it was a special edition because it meant the regular cases didn't fit it either.)  Like all good phones that aren't an iPhone, this boy ran on Android.  Reading this article made me want to tell you about the experience of switching.  (I originally chose Android because I wanted a phone with GPS and T-Mobile hadn't yet made peace with Apple and the iPhone.  I can see how, after reading the article, you're going to make assumptions about my economic position.  It's cool.)

What I liked about Android
  • Everything integrated with Google.  Gmail.  Calendar.  Contacts.  Reader.  Everything.
  • Swype.  It took me a while to get comfortable with it, but it's slick as shit.
  • Widgets on my home screen - so I could see the weather, the time and my calendar and had one touch shortcuts for things like calling my dad.
  • In some ways, I actually had access to more apps, including being a beta tests for a couple.
  • I had turn by turn navigation integrated, for free, the entire time I had my phone.  (If only the GPS didn't crash the damn thing.)

What I didn't like about Android or that phone (sometimes its hard to tell where the issue lay):
  • Try syncing music from your computer onto your phone.  Go ahead.  I dare you.
  • GPS crashed my phone on a regular basis, from driving to tracking runs.  (I believe that was either a hardware issue or a sim card compatibility issue.  Either way, suck it.)
  • No one else knew how to use my camera, so I have very few pictures of me and my friends with that phone.

What I like about iOS and the iPhone
  • I can sync music to iTunes in a way that's not stupid.  I am so happy.
  • It's so fast.  Programs open quickly and work right.
  • Web browsing is fast too.  Just.  So fast.
  • Web browsing works better.  Pinch to zoom.  Thank you.
  • "Fine my iPhone" - relevant.
  • The 8MP camera.  I'm going stir crazy inside in the cold just waiting for a chance to use it.
  • The ability to chose which apps can use my location without turning locations services off entirely.  Maps - yes, you need my location.  Facebook - no way on god's green earth do you need my location.  Kare11 - just go away.
  • It's just a better phone.  Sorry.  It is.
  • My phone bill is about $40 less expensive per month.  That's not the phone, that's purchasing the thing up front.
  • Siri - I'm tentatively putting Siri in this category.  We are not BFFs yet, but I'm getting to know her.

What I wish I'd known ahead of time:
  • Specific to switching FROM Android, pull contacts from your Google account, not your SIM card.  The SIM didn't necessarily transfer contact photos, addresses or weird things like Skype names but syncing with Google will get stuff right.  I'm still cleaning up my contacts.
  • It's a big phone.  Seriously, measure it.


Paper or Plastic?

True story - I almost never carry cash.  I prefer to make my purchases with either a debit card or credit card.  Why?  Because I'm lazy.  My pay check (thankfully) direct deposits into my bank.  I almost never go to the bank or to the ATM because it's just too much work on my end.  The money's on my debit card. I can just go to the store.  Why do I need to make an extra trip for cash?

Where I wish I had cash, or make the effort to get cash ahead of time:
  • The Farmer's Market - The vendors will take EBT cards but I haven't seen any that will take credit cards yet.  (My understanding is it took of logistical work to make sure EBT cards work at farmers markets across the city and I think it's fantastic.)
  • Going out in a big group when I know I'll have to split the tab - Most restaurants are awesome about separate checks.  The bar/happy hour situations tend to get much murkier.  One person orders some food to share.  How do we divide the cost?  And what if I want to leave early and only have a card, but the tables not ready to close out the tab?
  • The No Coast Craft Show - although if this year was any indication, I might not need to make the effort too much longer.
  • Parking Garages - a couple of hospital parking garages (United Hospital - I'm looking at you) are cash only.  Instead of putting up one of those automatic machines and taking credit and debit cards all hours of the day and night, they actually staff those parking booths and only allow cash.  Welcome to 1982.
  • Restaurants that only take cash - These are getting more and more rare.  Ever MayDay Cafe finally started taking credit cards a couple years ago.

Where I typically use plastic:
  • Grocery stores - although my Co-op famously won't take American Express.
  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants - I always put my tip on my card too, becuase I want to make sure the servers claim it as income.  (Your social security benefits will be based on how much money you earn over your career.  You should be thanking me.)
  • Any bills I can set to "auto-pay" options
  • Anything on the internet (obviously)
  • Basically everywhere

Where it gets a little weird
  • Caribou/Starbucks/Etc - What is the deal with the tip cup? If I don't have cash on me for a tip, does that make me a bad customer?  When I go through Caribou's drive through I can't even see a tip cup.  Same for Chipotle.  People who've worked in the industry, please explain.
  • Any place that doesn't like AmEx - just, why?  The whole "they don't take AmericanExpress" thing became relevant in the Twin Cities at the moment Delta bought out Northwest Airlines and we all had to change credit cards to keep getting airline miles.  Delta famously partners with American Express so there was an explosion of AmEx subscribers around that time.  And then we found out all the places we weren't welcome.  Sigh.
  • Places that have a minimum amount to use cards - which is legal now.  (There was a time it was against the rules.)  I run into it sometimes at smaller establishments like family run restaurants.  I guess there was a reason they finally started allowing businesses to set that rule.


Running in the freezing cold

An hilarious, awesome, and yet utterly predictable thing happened on my run tonight.  It's been really cold here the past few days.  Not quite record setting but the coldest in four years (if you believe the weathermen).  We all know how I feel about going to the gym in January (please, no!) but I needed to get my mile run done.  What to do?

The best weather of the day was around 2pm when I was at work.  I left work when I could, around 5pm, got home and headed out for my run straight away.  15mph winds for a wind chill of -19*.  That's not so bad.  Right?
Right.  I had two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks, and ran in a fleece coat for the first time ever.  I also had gloves, a hat and a gator over my face.  (Try breathing through that sucker when ice forms over your mouth and nose.)  I'm all "it's only a mile, frost bite can't possibly set in that quickly".   Turns out its long enough for your eyelashes to freeze.  I stood still barely long enough to get that photo before bolting for the door. 

When I synced my iPod, I had this little gem from my run waiting for me.  How cold was it?  So damn cold I run the fastest I've ever run, for at least a little while.
It's not the fastest mile I've run for a few reasons.  First,  I can run faster on the track than outside, especially since it was really icy on the sidewalk in a couple places and I slowed down so I could live.  Second, some of my runs at my parents house end with a mile descent and those get pretty fast.  Third, my iPod is hilariously jacked up and it thinks I ran a 7:19 mile one day.  I have no explanation but it's never happened.
One day, I will really run a 7:19 mile and earn that badge.  Then I will either collapse or celebrate.  Hard to predict which.


Running - How to Stay Motivated for Newbies

If you're starting to run right now, as a New Year's Resolutionist or January Gym Rat, it can be really hard.  When you show up at the gym it feels like everyone else is skinnier than you, in better shape, knows exactly what they're doing and you're the only new person around.  That alone can be really discouraging.  Add to it that running is hard, and takes a lot of time and effort to make progress and things can seem hopeless.  I've been running since 2006 when my friend Qat Lady signed up for a 5K and I asked if I could join her.  She never really fell in love with running the way I did, but she's been encouraging me ever since.  How did I start up the running habit?

First - set realistic goals.  I know at the gym everyone else has their treadmills pumped up to ten, or is passing you on the track and it feels bad to have to stop and walk after two minutes.  Be gentle with yourself.  If you feel bad about your current level of fitness (lack of fitness?), forgive yourself for where you are and get to work.

The best goal/workout plan for new runners is the Couch to 5K Plan.  It's what I used when I started.  It's also what I use when we train with Team:Work.  Some people will be able to work through the plan as it's written.  Some people will want to double the time frame and do two weeks of the week one workouts before moving on to week two, then stay at week two for two weeks before moving on to week three.  Some people will want to add a "pre-week 1" of 30 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking.  Wherever you are, and whatever you try is a good place to start.

There are some other plans for people who are new to running including the Runner's World 8 Week Plan, Women's Health Beginner Runner Plan, or the Hal Higdon 30 30 Plan.  You can see they are fairly similar to the Couch to 5K plan and emphasize a combination of walking and running to build stamina.

Second - measure your progress.  If you're following any training plan, it's pretty easy to measure your progress.  (Last week I could only run two minutes at a time and this week I ran five minutes straight.)  There's lots of meaningful ways to measure progress, including how many minutes can you run, how far can you run, how fast can you run, how much weight have you lost, are you less sore than after the last workout, etc.  As a new runner I tended to focus on how many minutes I could run because it was something really easy to track with a watch or phone.  As my 'running times' increased, so did my confidence.

Third - Find what you like about running and keep it in mind.  If running is for you, there will be a reason you like it. Here are some of my reasons.
The great outdoors.  For me, running is all about getting outside.  Winter is pretty rough here because being outside is miserable; there is no scenery, no color, and very little daylight.  Winter running for me is about staying in shape so I can rock spring long runs.   Scenery choices at home include rivers, lakes, downtown, and a state park.  I am lucky to live where I do. 
Friends.  When I look at my groups of friends, running is a common theme among several of them.  Run with people you like, even if they're faster than you.  If your friends really are faster or stronger, they'll make sure they invite you on shorter runs, or runs where speed isn't important to them so they can enjoy your company.  Runners are typically friendly and encouraging and will try to make you feel welcome.   I've made some great friendships from running.
All I notice is that  everyone else is in their running shoes and I am rocking the flip flops.
Losing weight.  If this is why you run, I understand.  Running is a great way to lose weight because it burns a ton of calories.  Feel like you're slow and overweight?  Take heart! You're still burning lots of calories.  Here's an example using the Runners World Calorie Calculator.  Imagine I hit my goal weight of 140lbs (not today) and I can run a 10:00 mile (also not right now).  If I run five miles, I'll burn 529 calories.  Now imagine I'm a brand new runner is 175lbs and runs a 12:00 mile (more like me when I started), I would actually burn 662 calories for the same 5 miles.
Listening to music.  There's about a billion posts here on what music I listen to while I run; I find it super relaxing.  I know some people prefer podcasts, books on tape, etc on runs.  Live it up.

Finally - be proud of yourself for every little thing.  There's a couple of running sayings that are relevant here.  One is you're lapping everyone who's sitting on the couch, no matter how you feel.  The second goes like this:
Me: Know what they call the person that finishes last at the marathon?
New Runner: What?
Me: A Marathon Finisher!
Ask me about coming in almost last at my first marathon.  All my marathons really.
 If you try running, no matter how it feels when you start, be proud of yourself for every little thing you do.  Every runner that passes by you will have something nice to say, because we all remember how we felt on our first run.  And we're happy that you're out here with us.  


Weekend Workouts - It's Too Freaking Cold

I'm slowly coming back into workout out.  Or I was.  Before we had record cold temperatures blow in.  Boo. 
Monday Quick 1 mile run.
Tuesday Expected 4*, got 14*; 4 mile run with Beth.
Wednesday Quick 1 mile run.
Thursday - 1 mile on the track (swear I ran a 9:00 mile), Circuit with a jacked up shoulder, 1 more mile on the track, Zumba.
Friday - Too freaking cold.  1 mile and then a "finisher" of knee repeaters and supermans.
Saturday - Still too cold.  1 mile and then a "finisher" of bicycle crunches and squats.
Sunday - Waaaay too cold.  5 mile descending workout on the track.  (Run 6 laps, walk 1, run 5, etc.)  30 mins on the bike.


What To Wear for Cold Weather Running?

Since the weather is about zero degrees with a chance of blizzard here, "what the hell do I wear?" seems like a good question to answer.

Upper body
Sports bra (for the ladies) - do what you've always done.
Layers - there are some keys to layering. 
  • Base layer (the one closest to your skin) - should be a wicking material that will "suck" water away from your skin.  Cotton is your sworn enemy.
  • Middle layers - decide how many of these you need.  The more wicking the better.  Also, the more zippers the better(they go up and down).  Climate control.
  • Outer later - Should be wind proof.  It does not have to be super heavy or thick.  Zippers are still a good idea.
For anything above 40* I just wear a normal running shirt.
30*-40* I wear either two normal running shirts, or a heavier winter running shirt similar to a sweat shirt.
Below 30* I add the jacket.  As it gets colder I add more and more mid-layers.
I honestly don't wear arm warmers when it's this cold.  Those are more for the "I could be in a tank-top at the end of the race but a little chilly right now" temperatures.  

Regular running pants are not super thick, but obviously pants.
Winter running pants are expensive as hell but completely worth it.  They are thick and more wind proof than normal running pants.  They tend to fit better for running than normal sweat pants.
Running Tights  come in two flavors: fleece lined and not.  I recommend both flavors, not worn at the same time.
Underwear - should be a wicking material if you're wearing it.  Some pants and tights are meant to be commando. 
Long underwear - I tend to prefer tights to long johns but if you have strong preference in this direction, I recommend polypropylene long underwear.  Polypro is a wicking fabric, they also tend to fit the best for running, and have the unusual bonus of being pretty affordable.
For anything above 40* I either wear capris or maybe regular running pants.
30*-40* I tend to wear regular running pants too.  I am hot.
25*-30* - I tend to wear just winter running pants or fleece lined tights.
Below 25* - I start with combinations of not-lined tights and winter running pants and increase to fleece lined tights and winter running sweat pants as the mercury falls even farther.

Socks should be wicking, just like everything else.  Options include wicking sock liners or smart wool socks.  Doubling up on socks is an option, just try it on a short run first so you know how your shoes, socks and feet will cooperate with each other.
Shoes Those super light shoes that are all mesh on the uppers can work, but they are going to be cold.  Shoes are more dependent on the footing than the temperature.  In 5* and bare sidewalks, I wear my regular running shoes.  In 25* and snow and ice, I wear a shoe with better grip and more support. 
Yak Trax or similar These things are great in very specific conditions.  They are great on packed snow, freshly fallen snow, and all kinds of ice.  They are horribly painful on concrete/asphalt/etc.  So I only wear them when I know I'm going to have a snow pack to run on, or the snow is still falling and no one's sidewalks will be shoveled.

Gloves are a good idea.  Frost bite sucks people.
Those shirts with the thumb loops - also legit, and at some warmer "cold" temperatures, you may be able to get away with just those and no gloves.

Head and neck
Hats - seem to come in two varieties.  Fleece and wool beanie.  I wear both, wool beanie if it's a little warmer because I can feel the breeze come in and fleece if it's freezing too cold and I want no air of any kind touching my head.
Ear bands - some people prefer them to hats in the warmer cold temperatures.  Anyone who ran the 2012 Twin Cities Marathon has a new ear band they're probably dying to try out.  Between the hat and the ear bands, you'll know which you like.  Just go with it.
Neck/face gators - I rarely wear them, but every once in a while I'm glad I have them.  I have a fleece kind that is wind proof and I can lower it during the run as my face and neck warm up.

Reflective Gear - it's basically night all the time here.  Wear your reflective gear!
Music - yes, I still run with my iPod, even when it's this cold.  No, I'm not worried about it freezing, although thanks for putting that image in my head.


What's Your Favorite Television Show? - Cable

Honorable Mention: Leverage which had its last show on Christmas Day, and Merlin which also ended on the BBC on Christmas day.  (If you're watching Merlin in the USA on SyFy, you still have one season left.  Enjoy.)

News - done funny:
The Daily Show is the classic example of watching a comedy show to learn about the news.  I find the show more relevant since working at a Jewish organization becuase I understand even more of the jokes.  The Colbert Report is the slightly less classy younger sibling of the Daily Show, although just as awesome.  This clip is my favorite thing that Steven Colbert has done.  I don't actually get the Comedy Channel anymore, but I enjoy watching these shows on Hulu.

Which Aaron Sorkin Show am I watching: The Newsroom is a behind the scenes look at what is basically CNN.  I love Aaron Sorkin.  I think I love him a little too much because I can tell which of his material is recycled at this point.  I didn't think I'd like watching a behind the scenes news show telling me news story from two years ago, but I've found some of the stories really engaging.  The Newsroom is on HBO.

Best show from our neighbors to the north (that's Canada for all the geographically impaired Americans out there): Continuum is a Canadian TV series that had its first season last year.  I think in the US it will eventually air on SyFy, but I'm not clear about air dates.  This show is totally a SciFi.  I'm finding the characters and their back stories quite engaging.  I'm finding the science/tech part not so distracting I can't enjoy the story.

Best Cop Show: Psych.  If you haven't seen Psych yet, I mean, come on.  The basic premise is a guy with eidetic memory fakes being a psychic to get out of trouble and winds up consulting with the police department to solve crimes.  And it's hilarious.  This guy who takes absolutely nothing seriously shows up every day to work with people who take things waaaay too seriously.  Hilarity ensues.  Also, this is on a cable network, but is about to reach 100 episodes.  Does that mean it will be sold in syndication to other cable networks?

My other favorite sci-fis - you knew any list of cable TV shows was going to be heavy on Sci-fi right?
Warehouse 13 finds a good use for US Secret Service agents, to track down artifacts that do bad things to people.  And to keep it all secret.  As with all good Sci-fis, it's really about the characters.  I can't tell you who my favorite is because I like so many of them.
Alphas technically takes place in the "Warehouse 13 Universe" but is it's own wild can of worms.  I don't know the story of the X-Men, but I think this is similar.  Outcasts from society because of unusual abilities make friends with each other and try to help the world.


Ab Workouts for Runners

I did this workout yesterday and now I can't move.  Serious.  It hurts when I sit up.  It hurts when I lay down.  It hurts when I sneeze.  On the upside, it feels great when I run.  Running is more about the core than you'd think at first.  When I went out for my mile at the end of the day, my abs were all "hey, we've been used recently, we're nice and strong" and I could feel them working it tonight.  Tonight's run was cold and dark.

The workout I did yesterday is a finisher.  It can be done on its own after a short warm-up, or it can be done at the end of a workout.  The three exercises are:
  • Mountain Climbers - Count only when your right foot touches.
  • Pilates Roll Up which is like a situp with more direction and safer for your back and neck.
  • Goblet Squat or a Wide Squat.  I did not use weight because I'm not a body builder.

To do the Finisher at the end of a workout, start with 10 of each exercise (that's 10 mountain climbers, 10 roll ups, 10 squats), then do 9 of each, all the way down to 1 of each.  Do the exercises for time.  It will give you a total of 55 of each exercise.

To do the Finisher as its own workout (after a reasonable warm up people, no injuries): Start with 20 of each exercise, then 19 of each, then 18, etc all the way down to 1 of each.  Do the exercises for time.  (It took me around 28:00 because the sit ups killed me.)  This will give you a total of 210 of each exercise.

Then, let me know how you feel. 


Weekend Workouts - Warm to Freaking Cold!

Monday I ran my measly one mile.  Then headed to work.

Tuesday I hit the road with the St Paul ladies.  It was cold and somewhat icy which made the run more exciting.

Wednesday One more mile.

Thursday was a big day.  Run 1 mile on the track.  Circuit Class.  Run 1 more mile on the track.  Zumba.
Friday I ran 7 miles.  It was an auspicious run.  It was 40*, no "rain" on the radar, but it was 100% humidity so I was drenched anyways.  I got spectacularly sick at the end of the run.
Saturday 1 mile on the track, then Zumba. 

Sunday 1 mile warm up, outside.  It was 3*.  (I am not kidding.)  Finisher, which nearly killed me. Mountain climbers (only count when the right foot touches), Roll-ups (sit ups), and Goblet Squats.  Start by doing 20 of each, then 19 of each, all the way down to 1 of each.  It took me 28:00.  The mountain climbers sound the hardest but it was the sit ups that did me in.

Yes, I'm am still running every day.  I don't know why, but I don't feel like stopping yet.


What's your favorite television show? - Networks

Honorable mention: The Voice is a particular favorite of my mothers.
I have watched before and enjoyed it but confess to not being a regular.  It's one of the singing competition shows.  I like it that the judges are typically very positive and encouraging to the contestants.  It's also given me a new respect for Blake Shelton.
Airs on NBC on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Comedy: The Big Bang Theory.
Funny looking nerds are completely my type.  (Please, tell me you already knew that.)  Funny looking smart nerds are even more attractive.  I love that I've seen just enough of the Star Wars, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings trilogies to get all the jokes.
Airs on CBS on Thursday nights.

Sci-Fi: Fringe.
This show is in it's final season with fewer than ten episodes to go.  They will get to 100 episodes and presumably get picked up in syndication.  If you haven't started watching yet, it will make more sense if you start from the beginning (or read the wiki or something). I love the actors on this show.  There's a general consensus that John Noble is the most emmy-snubbed actor in existence and I quite agree.  Sigh.
Airs on Fox on Friday nights (or just DVR it if you're out).

Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Cop Show: Grimm.
I accidentally started watching this show, thinking I was going to find it not interesting and switch channels.  Several episodes into the second season, I'm still around.  Like Fringe and all good Sci-Fi, this will make more sense if you know the back story.  The plots tend to be engaging and the bigger story arcs are also really interesting.  Many of the characters are still enigmas which keeps things interesting.
Airs on NBC on Friday nights (again, use the DVR).

Cop show: Bones.
I refer you to the above comment about smart funny looking nerds. This is one you can pick up in the middle and enjoy it.  Like most of the shows I love, the characters are really engaging and after eight seasons most of them are very well developed (although I preemptively disagree with Cam and Arastu dating).  And there's Booth who is well developed eye candy.  We all need a character we can identify with I guess.
Airs on Fox on Monday nights.  (I want to say it used to be on Thursdays but moved to Monday this year.)

Cop show/Dramedy/Whatever: Castle.
This has been my favorite show since I found it.  I fell in love with the show when I watched summer re-runs and how much the show focused on "this guy doesn't make sense as a suspect because if I was writing the story there would be these three plot holes".  It's like a back door tutorial on writing, characterization and plot development.  Plus, Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic.  Enough said.
Airs on ABC on Monday nights.  Make time.


Sunday - Easy 4 Miles

I know.  It's been a while.  Let's pretend it hasn't.  I'll tell you all about my life and mental health in another post.  (Or not at all, which seems more likely.)  For now, just take my presence here as a good sign.

I'd like to thank Steve in a Speedo for this awesome post.  I'm not that nice to people at my gym.  I'm all "congratulations on your resolution and your hope; why are there so many of you and when will you give up?"  For the regulars, it just means everything is crowded.  Classes are crowded.  Machines are full.  The track is full and people don't understanding passing.  The parking lot is full.  The parking lot may actually be the worst part.

Obviously,  it took about three seconds into the new year for me to eschew the gym almost entirely and head outside for a workout.  It was about 25* and sunny.  I decided on a 4-mile run, then I decided not to wear my yak-trax (which I avoid whenever I can).  Then I tried to remember what the hell I do wear on these runs.

I wasn't too sure how the footing was going to be on the run.  Sidewalks in front of people's houses varied from "just haven't bothered to clear it" to "basically clear" to "random sheets of ice have crept in here".  The ice was the most dangerous part (and not the fault of the homeowners, it has to do with ice dams).  Most of the time I just ran in the road.  Around the lakes, the park board clears the "bike" path and expects runners and bikers to cooperate for the winter, which works pretty well.  The paths cleared by the park board were generally in good shape, very wide and no complaints.  Also, no bikers.

Since I left my house around 3:30pm, it meant the sun was already going down for the day.  Sunset is around 4:30pm.  The views were pretty special.  I ran without headphones and it was really nice to enjoy the scenery, cross country skiers, people playing on the lake, etc.  (Not sure how 'no headphones' helped me see the sights better, but trust me.)  I had a couple good miles where I really wanted to run and to hurt, which I did.  I also had a couple nice spots to snap photos along the way. 

After the run I decided to 'plank to failure' again, in honor of my core muscles.  I did a 1:00 plank followed by a 0:30 plank, which is good considering I haven't been doing that for a while. For those of you keeping score: Yes - that is frost on my hat and face.