2016 Boston Marathon Recap!

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I don’t post here every day but I share my running and other daily happenings on instagram!

I have so much to say about the entire weekend, but will try to focus just on the race here and save the rest of the weekend for another post!

Nutrition
My nutrition stayed the same for most of the week. I tried to not deviate too much from it – so I ate the same, had popcorn and wine at night and snacked like I normally do – when I felt like it.

I started increasing carbs Friday night – pasta and a baked potato and then over Saturday and Sunday increased it a bit more (bagels as snacks, pasta for dinner Sunday evening, etc).

I also took more rest days this week than I ever have before. I talked about how I felt off in my last post – and so I tried to take as much time off and focus on sleep and nutrition so that I could feel good on race day.

But I think the increase in carbs coupled with the decrease in running made me feel really tired and lethargic as the weekend went on. I had spent 4 months of running almost every day – and I think going from that to virtually no running for 8 days was not the best decision. I’ve already made a mental note to not do either as much as I did this cycle.

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    2016 Boston Marathon: Celebrating a Breakthrough Cycle

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    Monday was my third Boston and the 14th marathon finish line I’ve crossed. It was the most prepared and in shape I have ever been before even though the results don’t necessarily show that.

    I finished in 3:25:53. I positive split like a champ. 1:33:17 through the half. And 1:52:xx the 2nd half.

    Of course I am disappointed. I didn’t bust my butt for months to run 13+ min slower than I did in the fall. But, some days, you’ve got it. And some days you don’t. And there’s no way to plan it so that you race on the days you have it.

    But like I have said the last few weeks – this training cycle was a huge success – regardless of what the finish line clock says when I cross it – and I still believe that to be true. It was truly a breakthrough cycle for me and I’m grateful and excited for what I was able to do the last few months. And regardless of anything else, it’s a pretty darn good day when I can finish a marathon!

    I plan to do a full recap later this week. My husband, mom and I returned home almost immediately after the race (I went back to hotel, took a bath and then we were on the road by 3:15pm). I took off on Tuesday but I stayed off my computer and social media and spent the day with my little guys – lunch, Barnes & Noble, basketball and soccer in yard and then dinner. So no time has been spent writing down my thoughts yet.

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      Can You Really Balance Family, Work and Running?

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      For years, I remember seeing women who juggled successful careers, families and running and thought they had the kind of balance I hoped to one day have.

      I returned to work full-time this past fall after almost five years of being home with my two children. I’ve learned that (for me) there is no balance.

      I don’t know if it can ever be balanced. There will never be enough time in the day. And I believe the phrase “doing it all” is misleading.

      I would love to spend every possible moment with my boys and not miss a school pickup or a soccer practice on Wednesdays.

      I would love to not feel heartache when I am at work late finishing a project for a deadline. Or feel that I should have stayed longer at work rather than rushing home to see my boys.

      I would love to have more time to cross-train, stretch and recover properly from the miles I do run.

      And I would really love to sleep more.

      But I have found a balance in the imbalance. And here’s what I learned:

      I can’t give 100 percent of myself to everything all the time.
      But I can still give 100 percent all the time. It’s just that the 100% is now divided.
      And I can focus 100 percent on what I’m doing THAT moment, whether it’s work, housework, family or running.
      I have to be okay with “good enough” rather than perfection.
      Priorities can shift from one month or week or day to the next. The closer I get to the Boston Marathon, the more important my workouts are. I’ll choose a run over folding laundry or vacuuming the house. Offseason? Running isn’t as high a priority as to other aspects of my life.
      I have to be kind to myself.
      Sleep is always a priority.
      Sometimes, it’s best to do what will make me happiest, even if it may be viewed as selfish.

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        Last Long Tempo – The Run That Almost Wasn’t

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        Last week was a pretty off week. Crappy, actually. What should have been close to a 70 mile week ended with 50 which included one unplanned rest day, an extra “easy” day and a 4.5 mile day instead of 8 miles. Not the biggest deal but after a string of days where running didn’t feel good, the little doubt demons started to enter. I initially chalked it up to not enough sleep, but after waking up Saturday morning (after a decent night’s sleep) feeling worse than I had all week, I began to worry that maybe I was bordering on overtraining.

        My alarm went off at 4:30am with the plan to be out running by 5:15 or so. I knew this run was going to be tough and I just wanted to get up and get it over with. Plus, the forecast was calling for the winds and rain to pick up as the day went on. Not ideal for a long tempo.

        At 5am, I was pretty close to pulling the plug on the long tempo. My head hurt and I just didn’t feel “right”. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch under the covers. As a last resort, I decided to just down a ton of water and see if that helped. I knew I had drank much less water than usual this week but I assumed what I had consumed was enough.

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          Having a Short Term Memory with Failed Workouts

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          Tuesday morning I had an 8 mile wave tempo (11-12 total miles). I was pumped for the workout because I LOVE wave tempos (more on these workouts in a coming post!). But after the 2 mile warm-up and then the first 2 mile wave, I didn’t feel great and decided to pull the plug.

          After a crappy workout or one where it gets cancelled, I try to spend a few minutes to determine what the root cause could be. These are the questions I ask myself:

          Have I drank enough water?
          Have I gotten enough sleep?
          Did I fuel properly yesterday/today for this run?

          95% of the time, it’s one of those three things for me. If it’s not one of those, than it could be a sign of overtraining or your body needing a day off.

          But after those few minutes, I forget about the workout. I move on.

          Bad workouts happen. Period.

          I shared this photo on Instagram yesterday and was blown away by the positive response I got.

          The reality is that I often talk about feeling tired and pushing through or not having a great workout but still finishing. And that is what happens sometimes. BUT, there are days, like yesterday, where my mind wins and my body just does not want to do the workout. I wanted to share what happened because nobody will ever nail every workout and it’s misleading to only share the good.

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            Treadmill Running Tips + Workouts to Make the Time Fly

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            This post originally appeared on Women’s Running.

            Whether it’s the dark mornings, the below freezing weather or the icy roads, many of us may be forced into treadmill workouts over the next few months as training for spring races begins to pick up.

            Treadmill running has a stigma of being boring and monotonous – and it definitely can be – but there are ways to make the time on the “hamster wheel” challenging and even fun! Below are some tips to help you get through your treadmill runs followed by a great hill workout and a handful of butt-kicking workouts from a few of the Saucony 26 Strong coaches. These speedy ladies have all logged their share of miles on treadmills and are pros at making the time pass quickly while getting an awesome workout in. I also post a bunch of workouts I complete on the treadmill – you can find me here.

            Variation: I try to mimic running on the roads when I am on the treadmill. I never run on a flat terrain and/or the exact same pace for more than a few minutes. Play around with the incline and/or the pace, even if it’s just picking up or slowing down the pace by a few seconds. This does two things: it keeps me distracted and it helps change up the muscles I am using.

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              Running By Effort – and Why It’s Working For Me

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              I don’t post every day, but you can find me sharing my daily running and thoughts on Instagram!

              I shared in my race recap that I ran Sunday mostly by feel – and not by pace. But how do I do this and what does it really mean?

              So, I still race with my Garmin and GPS on – mostly because I want the data post-race but also because it does keep me honest about going out too fast. My Garmin will provide me my mile splits – if I want to see them, I just need to glance down when I feel the vibration. As I’m racing, I can only see the total time I’ve run. (On Sunday, I forgot to do this before the race, but was able to change the view so I only saw the current time.)

              I did this for the first time two years ago for the NJ Marathon. After a series of sub-par marathons, I did some serious self evaluation and came to the conclusion that I was letting the pace dictate the race. Race goals and paces were controlling me during the race. I would spend almost the entire race staring at my watch, obsessing over the pace. I was forcing the pace rather than letting it come naturally. And if/when I started to see the paces slow down, it would psych me out.

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                2016 NYC Half Marathon Race Recap: 1:28:10

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                Sunday’s race was truly one of the best racing experiences of my life. Of course a part of that is obviously because I PR’d (and set unofficial PRs in the 10k, 15k and 10 miles enroute). But a large part of it is because I followed the race plan and was able to negative split – for the first time ever! I was patient in the beginning of the race and then still had energy to fight hard the last few miles.

                THESE are the races you dream of having. Not the ones where it feels like a death march the last few miles. But instead, where you are tired but still have that little bit of fight left. That last gear that you’ve been saving to shift to when it’s the right moment.

                For me, that is the definition of a successful race. Paces won’t always be there. You can’t control weather. But having the strength (mentally) to keep fighting and pushing when you are getting tired is the way I dream about racing.

                Race Morning
                Sunday started off at 4am for my husband and I. He and the boys were dropping me off at the start and then after breakfast would be at the finish! The NYC Half is a point to point race – starting in Central Park and then after a loop, heading south through Times Square then over to the West Side Highway all the way to downtown NYC.

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                  1:28:10 Half Marathon PR!

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                  I am literally on cloud 9 this morning. Yesterday was one of the most amazing running days of my life. I will go into a full recap later this week, but wanted to pop in and share the good news (in case you don’t feel me on Instagram or Facebook!).

                  I went into the race with a 1:31:57 half marathon PR that was set 2.5 years ago at the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia race.

                  I knew that I was more than trained for a PR. A 1:32 is ~7:00 min/mile pace. My long tempos (6-8 milers) have been closer to the 6:50 range – on tired legs – so I knew that if I ran smart, I had a chance to run that pace for 13 miles.

                  Coach’s race plan for me was to start conservatively in the park, pick up the pace through Times Square and West Side Highway and then hang on and finish strong. The course fits very well with the way I’ve been tackling tempos – most of my recent ones (last year or so) have been negative split tempos, so I knew that if I just stayed patient early on through the hills in the Park, it could be a good race.

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                    Warming up during a run + NYC Half on Sunday

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                    Hello, hello!

                    Happy St. Paddy’s Day!! Our house had a little visitor last night!

                    This week has been a tough one. I find it odd since the previous two weeks were much more demanding at work and I was running higher mileage. This has been a bit of a taper (because of NYC Half on Sunday) and work has been more normal hours, but I’ve felt tired and just not thrilled with waking up early to run.

                    I’ve learned that Sunday evening into Monday sets the condition for the rest of the week. When I start the week off on not enough sleep, the rest of the week is tough because there’s no chance of making up the sleep until the following weekend. It’s like starting a marathon without being fully charged and rested.

                    The result was sleeping in on Tuesday (I reset the alarm to give me an two extra hours) and putting off a workout until Tuesday evening – which turned into a mostly easy run because I was just feeling too tired and “blah” after a day at work.

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                      2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-8, T-7, T-6)

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                      Three week update coming at you today. Life, family and a lot of work got in the way of the last two week’s updates. Work has been nuts. But in a really good, challenging and rewarding way. I’m filling in a good number of the responsibilities of a coworker while she is away on vacation – so the days have been packed and long. By the time I get home at the end of the day, spend some time with my boys, have dinner and put them to sleep, I’m ready for bed. I don’t even open my laptop during the week!

                      And the weekends have been filled with lots of family time. My entire family came over last Sunday for an informal dinner and then this past weekend we were in NJ both days – celebrating my mom’s birthday on Saturday at my sister’s home and then taking all the kids to see the Easter Bunny at the Menlo Mall on Sunday.

                      I’m at the point in training where things are clicking, the mileage and intensity feel tough but sustainable (for the short term) and I am experiencing some big fitness gains. My reaction is always to put my head down and keep working. It makes sense, right? But my coach had other plans for me two weeks ago. We skipped a long run in lieu of some extra down time. I think it worked well. I feel energized and rested the last couple of weeks and was ready to run hard for the 1 mile race. Only 4 weeks of hard training left.

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                        2016 Forest Avenue Mile -> 14 Sec PR!

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                        Last year was my first time racing (or even running) the Forest Avenue Mile. It’s a local one-mile race that takes place immediately before the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade – a hugely popular parade the runs along Forest Avenue in Staten Island and attracts 50,000 spectators each year.

                        I ran a 5:42 last year in less-than-ideal racing weather. Headwind and almost-blizzard like conditions – but it was an automatic PR since it was the first time I had ever truly raced a mile.

                        Initially, we had planned on doing a long run this week – likely Thursday – and then a quick recovery in time for Sunday. But, after a successful cycle so far, coach and I decided to skip the long run and use this as a cut-back week in mileage. I had a 3×3 killer workout on the schedule anyway, so we upped the warmup and cooldown a bit to make it a touch longer in lieu of a long run.

                        I can’t predict the future, but I feel like this was the best decision we could have made. I didn’t need a cutback week (yet) BUT it’s a good way to stay ahead of peaking too soon or overtraining. I still have 6 weeks until Boston, so plenty of time to make some more gains in fitness before race day.

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                          2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-9) + Break from Marathons + Benefit of Long Tempo

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                          Last week was the second week in a row where I went 5-for-5 with early morning wakeups (before work). I feel like I’m in a good groove with the mom/work/running balance. I know it won’t always feel like this so I’m trying to make the most of it while things are working well.

                          I’ve begun to look ahead and think about fall racing plans. I am leaning towards skipping a fall marathon this year. There are many reasons for this. Truth is, usually about 6-8 weeks out from a marathon, I start feeling like I will take a break, but the excitement and happiness from race day is usually enough to have me signing up for the next one. So I know part of my current thought process is affected by my current feelings towards long runs and the amount of time I’ve been dedicating to Boston.

                          But one of the biggest reasons is that I (currently) do not want to dedicate Saturday mornings for long runs. Now that I’m working out of the home during the week, our weekends, especially during the warmer months, will be when we do things – go to beach, go on day-trips and so on. I don’t want my training to infringe on those plans.

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                            2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-10) + How to Do Speedwork on Treadmill

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                            I hope you all had an amazing Valentine’s Day with the ones you love! My guys and I got to spend the evening out – all dressed up. It was a great way to spend the holiday!

                            So we are 9 weeks out from race day. After a less-than-ideal couple of weeks of training, last week was a solid and strong week back. 63+ miles over 7 days of running. Coach and I have left one day mid-week as an optional rest day. Last week was the first week in months where I felt that I didn’t need it. I usually take it because I’m tired from not enough sleep. But, everything flowed so effortlessly last week that I didn’t feel exhausted or that I needed a morning to sleep in. So I skipped the rest day and did an easy run. I definitely think that if time or sleep were not an issue, I would be able to run 7 days a week for a stretch of time. My body responded well to that in the summer/fall. But the reality is that not every week will look and feel like last week did.

                            Here’s how the week broke down:

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                              2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-12, T-11)

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                              Well, after a solid week of training (T-12), last week was the training week that wasn’t. My whole family got hit with the Norovirus. It knocked us on our backs for days. And it wasn’t until Friday where I felt ready to run again.

                              My husband and I started having symptoms at almost the same time on Monday. He was working from home, I was at work in the city when we started texting each other. We both felt off from the early morning (I actually had dressed and intended to run. Ran to the end of my block and realized something wasn’t right, so came home), but attributed it to what we ate the day before. By lunch-time, my husband wasn’t keeping anything down.

                              By 4pm, I had gotten sick at work and was on my way home. I was hoping that I would be in the clear for a window of time. Unfortunately, that window only lasted about 45 minutes. I got sick on the packed bus, which will likely remain on my list of embarrassing life moments (thankful my coworker handed me a garbage bag as I was heading home). We spent the next 36 hours in bed, with the most intense stomach pains I’ve ever experienced.

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                                2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-13)

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                                Some weeks running and training are seamless and each run goes as planned. Other weeks it takes lots of moving of the puzzle pieces to get the runs in. And other weeks, those puzzle pieces may not fit so perfectly and something has to get tossed.

                                This past week was the 2nd. I got all the runs in that I planned to, but it took a bi t of finagling and shifting of when and where the runs happened.

                                6 days of running with a weekly mileage of 60 miles – highest since mid-September. The constant hunger has returned and so in case my mileage didn’t indicate the return to marathon training, the endless calories and meals are a good sign.

                                There was a lot of treadmill running this week. Not ideal or how I hoped to spend my weekend, but as always, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to still run even when the roads are less than ideal – or the child-watching situation makes it impossible.

                                As many of you, we got hit with a ton of snow Friday evening into Sunday morning. The last report I saw had Staten Island with the most in the tri-state area – at 31.7 inches. It was a lot. But life went back to normal on Monday – school for the boys and roads mostly open. Running outside is day-by-day right now depending on the temps. If it’s sub-freezing, then there’s too much ice on the shoulders for me to run. Here’s how the week broke down:

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                                  Boston Marathon (2016) Training (T-14)

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                                  Happy Tuesday! Another solid week of training is in the bank. It was a bit of a cutdown week, in regards to miles, but the intensity and effort was at or slightly higher than previous weeks.

                                  But most importantly, my sister had a baby boy this week!! I am an aunt to a beautiful, happy, healthy little boy!!

                                  5 total runs (1 planned rest day, 1 unplanned) for 49 miles. I’m two weeks in to long runs on Fridays – and so far, they are working. I’m still trying to figure out the logistics of longer long runs (for instance, this week I have 18-19 miles so I would need to start around 4am). Not sure about where I’m going to run the miles (maybe break up inside/outside), but I’ll have the details ironed out by the end of the week.

                                  This Friday’s run required a 3:40am wakeup – which was tough because it’s at the tail end of a long work week, BUT, knowing that once it’s done, I get the entire weekend to sleep in and relax with my boys in the AM makes me energized to suck it up and get it done. I tell myself that I can deal with being tired one more morning – and the reward makes it worth it.

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                                    Boston Marathon (2016) Training (T-15)

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                                    Running tends to mirror other aspects of my life. If I have a stressful week, running typically doesn’t go well. If I’m having a good week, running usually adds to the happiness. This past week was filled with so much family, happiness and love – and I feel like my running really showed that.

                                    6 total runs for 57 miles with one planned rest day. This was the first week where I made the decision at the start of the week to take a mid-week rest day – and man, did it feel GOOD. Sleeping in felt great but more importantly, I felt energized for Thursday and Friday’s morning runs, not exhausted or dreading them. So, for the time being, I’m sticking with a rest day (planned for Wednesday but staying flexible with the day).

                                    Here’s how the week broke down:

                                    Monday, Thursday, Saturday – easy miles in the bank
                                    6, 8, 6 miles – all easy paced/recovery runs. Monday’s run was garmin-free and the other two were with my garmin (I averaged 8:18 and 8:20 paces for those two).

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                                      Boston Marathon 2016 Training (T-16)

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                                      Now that I’m formally training for Boston, I figured it was time to bring back my weekly training updates. I like typing them out here. It helps keep me accountable and affords me the opportunity to look back on my training – highlighting the good and bad – as a cycle comes to an end and then again, after the race. I take note of what worked so that I can repeat it and what didn’t work so I make some changes.

                                      After about two months of “coaching” myself, I made the decision to return to Coach Mark Hadley. I had great success with his coaching the last 12 months. He helped me lower my marathon PR to 3:12 – and I know that I have a faster time in me – so I’m hopeful that with his guidance, I can get there.

                                      We are 15+ weeks out from Boston Monday – still a load of time. But I also know how fast these weeks can start to fly by. My focus for the next few weeks is to find what is sustainable. I am so appreciative of all the feedback I received from last week’s post. I read every comment and email – and had some really great suggestions and ideas. In the end, I’ve decided to try the Friday long run for the time being. That, coupled with an optional rest day on Wednesdays and I’m hopeful that the plan is feasible.

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                                        Winter Running Necessities: What to Splurge and What to Save

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                                        Running clothes and gear are not cheap. It can be a bit overwhelming if you are newer to the sport, and see all the expensive gear that comes out season after season.

                                        Winter running is no different. Between jackets, vest, hats, gloves, mittens, pants and so on, you can easily go for broke if you jump at every piece of gear that you see advertised.

                                        But dressing for winter running takes some finesse. You need to wear enough layers to stay warm, but not too much where it’s cumbersome or weighs you down. (I shared my clothing tips for winter running ).

                                        The truth is you don’t need to spend a lot of money to run through the winter, but you do need to ensure you have the necessities. So where should you spend your money and where/how should you save?  Below are my recommendations. (Keep in mind that I live/run in NYC so my winter may be different from yours!)

                                        Splurge

                                        • Gloves/Mittens: I started long distance running when I was stationed in Texas and deployed to Iraq. My first winter back in NYC was a huge shock for me. I ran a 15k in Central Park one winter day and can remember actually crying after the race ended because of how cold and numb my fingers were. I had worn the thin gloves that I used while I was in Texas. Lesson learned. I have no qualms these days with spending the money for a thick, insulated pair of gloves and/or a warm pair of running mittens. Protect your extremities!
                                        • Outer Layer – Jacket: Other than your shoes, this is probably the most expensive piece of running gear you will own. In years past, I assumed a few thin layers would do the trick, but my core always felt cold. I had nothing to protect me from wind, rain or snow. Last year, I bit the bullet and purchased the Saucony Reflex Jacket. At $110, it’s not cheap, but it’s wind and water resistant. So far it has kept me warm on 10+ mile runs in 20 degrees and rain+sleet in 30 degrees.
                                        • Hat: Again, for years, I assumed that a non-running cheap earwarmer would do the trick and keep my head warm. It didn’t. I was losing so much heat from my head. Once I started sweating, the band got wet and cold. My trick these days (thanks to Jess!) is to wear a running hat with a winter hat on top. It keeps my head and ears toasty warm without being bulky.
                                        • Good Pair of Tights:  Your legs will only have one layer so ensuring that it’s a good, protective layer is vital!

                                        Ways to Save:

                                        • Use What You Have: A lot of your summer or fall running gear can be used in the winter. They work just fine as layer pieces. Short and long sleeve shirts, shorts or capris work on the warmer days. Use these as layering pieces to keep your core warm.
                                        • One good piece: If you run 5 days per week, there is no need for 5 jackets. Purchase one (or two) good ones and use them over and over again. I have one heavy duty jacket, two pairs of tights, gloves, mittens and two hats that are my staples for this winter.
                                        • End of Season Sales: Amazon and some running sites (such as RunningWarehouse) often carry last year’s line of clothes for a fraction of the cost. Or get in the habit of purchasing ahead. Look to buy next year’s necessities when the brands put them on sale at the end of this season.

                                        (From now until Dec 31, if you use the code “26STRONG”you will get 20% off your entire order of full-priced items from Saucony.com,excluding the EVERUN and Life On The Run products)

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