Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How I Got Over My Fear of Running on Ice

Like many of you, we had our first snow of the season last week. While it's mostly gone now, it is snowing like crazy in the mountains and I know winter is not far off.

I feel there are basically two types of winter runners - the runners who retreat indoors to the treadmill or cross training till the spring thaw, and the ones that embrace the snow and cold like school kids on a snow day. For a long time I refused to run outside if temps went below 32 degrees unless it was for a race, but since moving to Colorado I've learned to love running in the winter. There's something so calming about it and I now see it as a challenge!

The only aspect of winter running that I continued to struggle with was actually running on snow and ice.

Here in Colorado, snow tends to melt pretty quickly thanks to the strong sun, but as soon as the snow gets packed down it becomes pretty slick and sticks around. I'm a natural klutz so the snowy and icy patches have been my kryptonite.

Last winter I'd watch in awe as a group of much faster runners did laps around Wash Park practically gliding over the ice and snow as though they didn't even touch the ground. I on the other hand, would practically slow down to the pace of a turtle every time I'd get near the stuff.

The big secret to how I got over my fear of running on ice? I just kept running and didn't think much about it.

The good thing about the first snow is that it's a fresh start. So when I came up on this icy snow packed section of trail, and the others after it, I just went for it. And guess what? I didn't fall. It's a miracle!

All jokes aside, it wasn't that bad. A little snow is better than sheer ice, but loose snow can be a bit like running in sand. I just kept going without slowing and practically glided over it like those other runners. Or so I'd like to think!

I have been working on my balance and core a lot lately, and have added some agility work to my routine, which may help me stay light and balanced on the ice. I am still nervous about black ice and I won't be running in the dark on icy days, but I'm feeling much more confident in my ability to run on ice and packed snow.

Lisa running on an icy patch of trail

Now, if you still just don't like running in the cold, here's my advice for that: bundle up and you'll be toasty in no time. Layers, warm mittens and a hat will do the trick. Be in the moment, enjoy the fresh air, and a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate when you get home!

Do you love or hate winter running? * The Runner's World Run Streak starts Thursday! Are you taking part?

Friday, November 18, 2016

7 Tips for National Running Safety Month

With November as National Running Safety Month and the sun setting much earlier now, it's easy to equate safety with darkness. However, and unfortunately, it's much more than that.

You may recall back in August hearing the deeply sad news of three women who were killed while running. I know of at least one other incident around the same time period of a woman who was seriously injured when hit by a car while running. Not to mention the harassment and physical assaults women have regularly reported over the years. It's not just women either, men also are at risk out on the roads.

And let's not forget, dangerous situations aren't always caused by someone else. We are running, and with that can - unfortunately at times - come injuries or other situations that require us to seek help.

Oiselle Team Run

We run to find peace; to clear our heads; to connect with friends; to go after tough goals. I'm going to take a wild guess that based on the millions of people who go out for a run every day, the vast majority end without any incident. But, that doesn't mean we should take precautions to be safe.

Here are my top running safety tips that I hope all of you will adhere to.

Tell someone where you're going and how long you think you'll be gone. Then let them know you've finished. Matt and I don't always run together, but we always tell each other where we're going. Whether it's someone you live with or a friend several states away, it's good practice to have someone you trust keeping track of where you are.

Mix things up. By running the same route day-in and day-out, not only will you get crazy bored and probably start to loathe running, but you'll make it easy for others to know when and where you'll be. Mixing it up is good for your safety, your mind, and your body.

Run with someone. Power (and safety) in numbers. It's as simple as that. Bonus: it's a great way to catch up with friends and plot out your next running adventure!

Be aware. This can be hard to do listening to music or deep in thought, but it's important for us to be aware of our surroundings. We have a better chance of protecting ourselves if we are alert and not caught off guard.

Take your phone & list someone as ICE in your contacts. I know, a lot of people don't like running with their phones, but especially if you're running somewhere new, far from home, or will be out for hours, it's good protection in case you get in any trouble. Did you know ICE stands for "In Case of Emergency"? Having an ICE contact in your phone is helpful for first responders. Let's hope you never need it, but good just in case.

Wear a Road ID. This is even more important if you refuse to run with your phone. Road IDs are inexpensive and can save your life. There are several styles to choose from and mine is so lightweight I usually forget I'm wearing it. Go here to get one.

If you're running at dawn, dusk, or in the dark, wear lights & reflective gear! I would be rich if I got a dime each time we saw runners at dusk that were hardly visible. If you're at all questioning if you need reflective gear or a light(s), do yourself a big favor and wear them. It's incredibly difficult for drivers to see us during these times of day, and they're not often looking for us, so just don't risk it. A hand lamp not only makes you visible, but also helps you see the way and avoid cracks and holes that could derail your training.

Lisa wearing a reflective vest
You can find many more great tips here. Please, use your common sense and enjoy your run!

How else do you stay safe on the run?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Where to Volunteer Around Denver

Please excuse me while I take a quick break from talking about running, hiking, etc...

To say this week has been unusual would be an understatement. In the midst of the fog, my friend Lindsay and I have been talking about ways we can get more involved in our community, from recurring donations to organizations we care about to offering our time and womanpower, so I started doing a bit of research and am taking steps to start volunteering with at least one organization soon.

be the reason someone smiles today

Below is a list of organizations in the Denver-metro and surrounding areas that can use volunteers. I'm including organizations that request regular commitments from volunteers and ones that need help periodically; some offer both options. I've tried to organize in a way that makes sense, but clearly some fit in more than one category. This is not an exhaustive list but I plan to update it as I learn or think of others.

Feel free to suggest other organizations in the comments - in Denver or elsewhere! The more we can do, the more people who get involved and help others, the stronger our communities become.

The Arts

Colorado Symphony serves more than 250,000 people from all walks of life, performing a range of musical styles, from traditional to contemporary.

Dairy Arts Center - provides the Boulder community diverse opportunities to create, learn and participate in high quality performing, cinematic, and visual arts.

Swallow Hill Music - provides Denver-area residents music lessons and music classes, and offers incredible concerts in Denver year round.

Girls on the Run of the Rockies - Transformational physical activity based positive youth development program for girls in 3rd-8th grade.

Food & Nutrition
Food Bank of the Rockies - feeds the hungry in Colorado and Wyoming.

Food for Thought Denver - Provides PowerSacks of food to children at Title 1 schools in Denver each Friday to bridge the hunger gap between meals they receive at school.

Metro Caring - Denver's leading organization working towards hunger prevention and food waste reduction.

Project Angel Heart - Delivers nutritious meals to improve quality of life, at no cost, for those coping with life-threatening illnesses.

9Health Fair - The largest volunteer-driven, non-profit health and education program in the nation.

Outdoors & Environment
Volunteers for Outdoors Colorado - An environmental organization dedicated to motivating and enabling Coloradans to be active stewards of their public lands.

Social Services
The Action Center - Provides basic human needs and pathways to self-sufficiency for Jefferson County.

The Gathering Place - Denver’s only daytime drop-in center for women, children, and transgender individuals who are experiencing poverty or homelessness.

Come back later this week for another running post.