My Favorite Things: Winter 2014

My most recent training favorites as we head into 2014. Enjoy!

Newton Energy

normalMy injuries in 2013 helped shed light onto the fact that I supinate pretty decently on my right side. For as much as I love, love LOVE the Distance U, I switched to the Energy because it has a 5th lug on the forefoot of the shoe. Maybe it’s in my head, but I think the 5th lug makes a difference when my foot strikes the ground. I’m also just loving the general feel of the shoe. Rumor has it Newton is launching a version of all of their shoes with a 5th lug. I’m anxiously awaiting the 2014 line so I can alternate the Energy with my other favorite (the Distance U). Regardless, I’m glad my injuries forced me to change up my footwear, or I would have never tried the Energy. I’m planning to keep it in my rotation after the new shoes launch.

My Bike Trainer

20140115-093600.jpgFor Christmas, my parents got me a bike trainer to keep up with my cycling throughout winter. I thought signing up for a June half-Ironman was a good idea. Me, the fair weather cyclist now has to get on my bike before May. My new trainer is not fancy or extravagant: it’s a Travel Trac. In my not-so-expert-opinion, it rocks. Of course, I have nothing to compare it to. It’s reasonably priced and nice and quiet so I can watch TV while taking it for a spin. It’s set up in my living room for the winter and my husband is a really good sport about it. It’s gotten a decent amount of use so far, and I’ve been mostly using it before work. I wake up, drink some coffee, turn on the TV and hop on for an early morning bike ride. It’s a pretty nice way to start the day.

Yaktrax

20140115-093701.jpgA few winters back, I bought these and barely used them. I think I bought them at the end of the last winter that we got a significant amount of snow (2010, maybe?). I only used them minimally over the past few winters since we didn’t have too much snow or ice. This winter, they’ve gotten a fair amount of use. A week before heading out to Alabama, I had my final key workout: a seven mile run with two miles at marathon pace. Snow was falling, so I bundled up and headed to Lehigh Parkway and didn’t miss a beat that day. Pretty useful. I suggest the actual Yak Trax brand. I’ve seen some of the knock off versions (but haven’t actually tried them) and they just don’t seem as durable.

Dorky Headlamps

20140115-093729.jpgPossibly one of the most useful presents I unwrapped this Christmas was my brand new super nerdy headlamp. With the winter break from work and my recent bout with the flu, I haven’t actually used it yet. My early morning runs on Emmaus Avenue in the dark with cars flying by should be a little less scary with my new toy. Or after work, when I want to run on the Saucon Trail but it’s starting to get dark. It’s a safe enough trail that I’m not creeped out to run there as the sun is setting. Except as soon as the sun goes down, it’s really freaking dark. I’ve gotten caught out there a few times this year after sunset and you can’t see a thing. While I enjoy running at anytime of the day and particularly love the Saucon Trail, I don’t love tripping and falling on my face in the middle of the woods in the dark.  Not a problem anymore.

Nike + Training Club App

82c4apps-december-14-nike-training-club-121213This is definitely not something new, and I’m sure everyone is already using it or used it in the past. This program was actually released in 2009 as a supplement to the NikeWomen.com website, and was turned into an app in 2011.  With half-Ironman training, my yoga practice has been less than stellar. The occasional home  practice and hitting up the Bikram studio when I can get there is about it right now. I rely on yoga to keep my muscles strong, particularly my core. I can’t just abandon strength training altogether, so I’ve been doing some circuit training for my core and stumbled upon this great little app. There are tons of well-designed circuits to fit almost any goal, and I’ve been doing the 15 minute ab circuits daily. I don’t have the time or the desire to fit any other type of activity in my schedule, so this is a good solution while I’m slacking on my yoga practice and preparing for the race.

Salted Caramel Gu

20140115-093809.jpgYeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve gone off on a tangent about this before. I’m still obsessed. I feel like I need to buy all of the Salted Caramel Gu in all of the world before it goes away forever. It seems like it’s a 2013-2014 special edition flavor, and those are known to disappear without warning. I found them at the Marshall Marathon expo and haven’t looked back since.  It. Is. So. Good.

Bikram

BYLV-Logo-65pxSo my Ashtanga practice might be slightly inconsistent lately, but I’m enjoying the new local Bikram studio this winter. First of all, it’s warm there. Hot, actually. Secondly, I don’t feel like I am overstretching or overdoing anything when I attend class. I think it’s partially because I don’t really know any better, but also because of the teachers method of instruction.  For example, we do a version of Janu Sirsasana that doesn’t make my hamstrings hate me. The teachers instruct the students to start with a bent leg as a modification. There is no pressure to fold any further or straighten the leg, so I can get a good stretch without overdoing it. Since I do have a background in yoga, I am aware that excessive heat (like the heat in the Bikram classes) can really open up your body and make your muscles susceptible to overstretching and soft tissue injuries. Knowing that makes me approach this style of yoga with a great deal of caution and not attempt to push myself past my limits. It’s no substitute for Ashtanga, but it’s been a fun way to help stretch and strengthen while I’m super busy,

Luna Protein Bars

luna-protein-5-flavor-fan1I reeeaaaaaallllyyyyy love to cook and eat (maybe more than I love to run) so I don’t always do the pre-packaged snack thing. But the whole working a full time job, training for multiple marathons and a half-Ironman, spending time with my friends and family, teaching the occasional yoga class, and trying to maintain some sort of order in my house throughout the chaos means I sometimes have to settle. I was boycotting bars for awhile because they were boring and because I’m not into buying packaged foods with preservatives. These are not a new product but have been my favorite pre or post run snack lately. They are organic, high in protein, and (bonus) I can pronounce all of the ingredients on the label. If you go on their site, they list the ingredients and provide information on ingredients you may not be familiar with. Oh yeah, and did I mention the best part? They kind of taste like a candy bar. Of course, it’s no substitute for a Snickers…but they are pretty good.

What are some of your favorite things keeping you motivated during the winter?

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