Monthly Archives: December 2011

Improve your running with one simple exercise.

If you consider yourself an experienced runner, I’m sure those Runner’s World and Running Times headlines bug you as much as they do me.

  • “5 Easy Steps to a Faster Marathon!”
  • “The Three Best-Ever Speed Workouts!”
  • “The Nine Secrets for Staying Injury-Free!”

It’s not that there isn’t good information in the articles, but it is usually presented as if it’s so simple, that anyone and everyone can read the magazine and immediately maximize their potential with hardly any effort at all. More than one experienced running blogger has noted the absurdity in this proposition. (Here is one) They all know that you must work hard to improve.

So it is with great trepidation I present a “secret” that I believe can help almost any runner improve. It is easy, fast, and requires little or no financial investment. Although it is possible that other people know this secret, I hereby claim that it is my idea and that I was the first to use it. It was the primary reason I had any success at all in high school and, although I haven’t used this secret in a long time, it still benefits my running. And I am giving it away completely free of any cost whatsoever! (Please read a lot of tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top satire into that last line.) :-)

After such a dramatic build-up, you are expecting to be let down. Who wouldn’t? Nothing can be that easy and effective, too. Isn’t that what I said at the start of this post?

Well, here it is then… One simple exercise, described in  seven very easy steps:

  1. Obtain two items that fit comfortably in the palm of your hand and weigh between two and four pounds each; weight is dependent on your relative strength, but should not feel heavy enough to present any strain at all during five arm curls. These can be light hand weights, cans of soup, metal rods… even a plastic water bottle (filled) could work. Each item should not be so large that it prevents you from holding it comfortably in your hand.
  2. Stand in front of a mirror in which at least the top half of your body if visible.
  3. With your shoulders relaxed but not slouched and your arms held so that your forearm and upper arm are at approximately a ninety degree angle, begin swinging your arms. Don’t look down at your arms and don’t look directly at your arms in the mirror.
  4. Focus on your head as you begin swinging your arms as if you were running at a comfortably fast pace. You want your head relaxed but not moving dramatically either up and down or side to side. The same for your shoulders; yours arms should swing from the shoulder, not swing with them.
  5. Now, without dropping your head, glance down enough that you can observe the swing of your arms. Their movement should not appear stiff and robotic, but smooth and natural. Relax. There are four important things to check: First – your arms can swing toward, but should never cross the center of your body at any point in the swing. Second, your hands should not move up and down like a piston. That approximately ninety degree angle should not change more than a few degrees. But this should not make you stiff and inflexible. Third, your hand/wrist should be in a natural position in relation to your arm. (If you hang your arms at your side and relax your hands, this will show you the best position.) And fourth, on the forward swing of your arm, your elbow should reach a point even with your hips. On the back swing, your hand should go slightly behind this same point.
  6. Continue to swing your arms at a comfortably fast pace for as long as it remains comfortable, all the while monitoring your head, shoulders and arm swing. During the first few times doing this, it may be necessary to shake your arms out occasionally in order to make sure you are staying relaxed.
  7. At some point when you are confident that all the physical actions are being performed properly, close your eyes and imagine that you are out on the road running. Try to imprint on your mind how this correct arm swing feels. I recommend that you do this exercise just before bedtime and go to sleep dreaming about the perfect running form you are developing.

At the start of my sophomore year at Northwestern High School (we had three-year high schools in PG County, MD), my arms were the weakest part of my running. By spring outdoor track, teammates were calling me “Super Soph”. For a little guy, I think I achieved a lot and most of it was because, once I had run my little heart out and my legs were hardly more than quivering lumps of meat, my arms were pumping straight and true and getting me to the finish line.

If your arms are working efficiently with the rest of your body, you can propel yourself forward with less effort and a smaller expenditure of energy. This simple exercise can help you develop that efficiency. Do it enough, and your smooth, relaxed and efficient natural arm swing will stick with you the rest of your life.

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Why YOU should be proud of running

Unabashedly, I consider myself a runner. But it would be easy enough to substitute cyclist, or swimmer, or something else active in the post that follows. If you’re not a runner, feel free to do so! :-)

Yes, you are an inspiration!

I have a lot of my friends on Dailymile. They come in all sizes, shapes and speeds. Some inspire me with their high mileage (like Jonathan S) or incredible pace (like Susan). I am uplifted by other friends who may not run far or fast, but have faced daunting obstacles and remain runners (like Holly T). If you are one of these groups, I thank you for the motivation and inspiration you provide. You should be proud of what you are accomplishing.

But, if you are among the aforementioned, this post is not about – or dedicated to – you. This post is for the significant percentage who aren’t aware of the inspiration that they have become for me. They are sometimes missed by the Dailymile population at large, since they don’t log long miles, record amazing race times, overcome impossible odds, or carry run streaks that are three and four digits long. For some reason the members of the group I am referring to think what they are achieving is small and unimportant. Just getting out the door every day might be the toughest struggle they face. They don’t always overcome every obstacle; often life gets in the way of their running; their motivation is sometimes weak or non-existent, and inspiration hard to find.

But they don’t quit. They miss a day, or two, or a week… but they keep coming back. Many of them eventually move on to become “hardcore”; they start logging the big miles, adding days and months to streaks. Not all, though. Whether you make that transition or not, you should be proud that you call yourself a runner.

Running, as recreation or exercise, at any speed, anywhere, and under any conditions, is a challenge that you should not underestimate, with rewards you should not undervalue. Despite the “popularity” of running, the running population is still a small percentage of the total. Statistics are hard to come by, and vary from community to community. (In Boulder, Colorado it is the oddball that doesn’t run.) You might think that 50% of the population had run a marathon, based on the talk, the number of new races, and the large crowds. But, according to MarathonGuide.com, less than 2/10 of 1% of the US population recorded a finishing time in the marathon in 2010. If you consider that many of them were people who completed more than one, the number is far less. Stats for shorter races are even harder to find, but I suspect that less than 1% of the people in this country would call themselves runners.

The remaining 99% are becoming obese at an alarming rate. HealthyAmericans.org says in the last 30 years that adult obesity has doubled from 15% of the population, to 30%. Child obesity has tripled. If you are among those fighting this disastrous trend, then you should give yourself a pat on the back.

And I want you to know that you do inspire others, even if you don’t realize it. That 1.5 miles you log tomorrow has value. Those four days you ran last week are important. Keep doing what you do; dragging yourself out the door, feeling guilty when you miss… coming back and starting over. This post is dedicated to you.

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Paper Is Dead!… Really?

As you can imagine, I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past several months studying the book publishing and book marketing business. I’m far from an expert, and all of my research has been online, but one of the main streams of thought that I kept having to swim through during my educational efforts is the one that keeps repeating over and over again that PAPER IS DEAD!

These books don't look dead to me!

The End is Near!

According to some sources, we are only years (not decades) away from the end of books, at least those with heft. Yes, I said heft – as in weight… significance. The kind you can hold in the palm of your hand and judge how many wonderful evenings you’ll get from it sitting by the fire, the crackle of the flames almost – but not completely – covering the crinkle of one page as you turn to another, enraptured by the story.

I’ll admit to being of an older generation. But I’m only fifty-five, computer-literate and enjoy my fair share of technical gizmos. I run with a Garmin and track my workouts online. My writing is all done on a laptop. I have read a book on a Nook and would be happy to do so again. It is likely that, someday soon, I’ll actually own a Kindle.

But the feel of paper is still important to me. Most likely it is psychological, but I can get lost in the story easier when it is written in ink and the words are all there; physically in my hand, not hiding in a chip or out in the ether. I treasure the ease of glancing back to re-read a passage for clarity, or just because it was so beautifully written. No matter what they say, I don’t believe it is the same with a piece of plastic and computer circuitry.

Smart Writers Don’t Mess With Paper Anymore

I’ve been told that the most successful self-published authors don’t even bother with paper any more. I recognize some of their names now, not

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

Image via Wikipedia

because I’ve read their books (I haven’t), but because they are held up as examples of the future of publishing. In some ways. I suppose I hoped that I would be able to mimic their success. “Harvest of the Heart” is available in all e-Book formats and part of me expected that most of my sales would be delivered electronically, not by UPS or the US Mail.

Someday that may be true. The e-version of my book isn’t yet available through Amazon. But for now, the physical manifestation of my book RULES! If this were a presidential election, they wouldn’t call it a land-slide, they’d call it a blood-bath. Paperback – 88.5%, eBook – 11.5%.

I Might Outlive Paper Books

I’m not on a crusade to save paper books; I honestly don’t think they are threatened. Who knows? Maybe fifty-five years from now, they’ll be extinct; but by then I’ll be listening to them through a headset as I train for my next marathon. I don’t think these old eyes are going to be reading much when I’m 110 years old.

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Dailymile is a unique and wonderful place

On Dec.13, 2008, I logged my first workout on Dailymile. Yesterday I went to my training list, clicked “Last” and there it was. What serendipity that the release of my debut novel was today – Tuesday, December 13 – exactly three years later! It is hard to believe how much my life has changed in those three years. And now the most exciting change of all… I’ve become a published author! Dailymile was the first place I announced the release. I wanted my DM friends who have been so supportive to be the first to know. Your encouragement helped me reach this day. Dailymile is far more than “Facebook for Runners”. To me, Dailymile is family.

The heroine of  “Harvest of the Heart” is Elsa, a runner and a character that I hope you will come to love, since HotH is the first book of “The Elsa Chronicles”. I’m already working on Book Two – “Avenging Angel” – and plan on a September release. In addition, “Running Scared”, a collection of running-themed short stories that I’ve written especially for my DM friends, will be released in March.

Something I’ve learned during my three years on Dailymile is that stubborn determination can only take you so far. There are times when you need to admit that you need the support of others; that you need a helping hand. Leadville certainly taught me that. Being willing to ask for (and give) help and advice is a big part of what being a Dailymiler is all about.

Now I’m going to demonstrate how well I’ve learned that lesson. :-) I’d really love your help in getting “Harvest of the Heart” off to a fast start. (Even if you’re reading this and aren’t a Dailymiler) Of course, I hope you’ll buy the book :-), but even if exciting, suspenseful thrillers aren’t your cup of tea, you can still help me immensely by spreading the word. A large publicity budget (which I don’t have) can’t beat word-of-mouth for creating buzz and assuring a book’s success. I don’t imagine that HotH will become a viral entity, but even a little spread is better than none.

I know that a number of you have already started helping and I’m guessing  that more would be happy to be part of spreading the word. There are a lot of little things you could do that would mean so much to me:

If you have a Twitter account, please follow me (@MichaelSelmer) and Tweet about the book a few times. My web-site (http://www.michael-selmer.com) has links on where to buy it, and I will also be tweeting the Amazon address the moment it comes online.

Are you on Facebook, My Space, Goodreads, Google+ or any other social networking sites? If so, could you write a post about the release and link to my website? Also, I have an Author Facebook Page and a Google+ Page and I’d love to have you “friend” me.

Once you’ve read the book, please write a review for my Amazon page, which is already online. It doesn’t have to be long or elaborate. Saying that you liked it and mentioning a couple reasons is enough. Having a lot of reviews on Amazon is an important signal of quality to potential readers.

If you are one of my many DM friends that have a blog, I’m open to doing an interview, answering questions for a book review, or writing a guest blogpost. It can be about running or writing. If I’m not already linked to your blog from my website, I’d be happy to do that, as well as tweet about the post. If you know someone who has a blog that might be interested, I’d really appreciate it if you’d refer them to me.

Maybe there is some other way you can help. Are you connected with a reader’s group, book club, or media outlet? Even a little mention in one of these venues goes a long way.

Doing all of these things is too much to ask, but an Indie author can’t accomplish anything alone. Even the smallest part you play in helping make “Harvest of the Heart” a best-seller will be greatly appreciated. Becoming a best-selling author may be just a dream, but if that dream comes true, I’ll never forget the part you played in making it happen.

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Filed under Publishing and Marketing, Running, Symbiotic, Writing

A Second Life Begins

Shortly after midnight, in the early morning hours of Tuesday, December 13, 2011, a new phase of my life began. It is nearing two a.m. and I’m unlikely to sleep tonight. In fact, it feels as though I might even be holding my breath well into the morning’s light. My debut novel – Harvest of the Heart – has been released. The world (or as much of it as I can reach) will soon begin to judge whether I have a future as an author. Talk about gut-wrenching… this is worse than the night before the state championship meet when I was coaching high school track.

I might be calling this a “soft” release, but it feels hard to me. While most of the people who I hope will buy my book are probably still sleeping, I’m reviewing in my mind all the steps I’ve taken, and have yet to take, in my publishing journey. All you writing veterans out there will read this post and chuckle. You’ve been there, done that. But this is my first time. I’m as nervous as any virgin bride (or bridegroom) on their wedding night. What will tomorrow bring? A joy-filled, endless honeymoon? Or something else?

There will be highs such as this: a few minutes ago, I got my first e-mail from PayPal telling me that Diane V. had purchased an autographed copy of my book. The first one. My wife is already in bed and I hope my fist pump and exultant “YES!” didn’t wake her. And I’m certain there will be lows, too. Dips in sales, rejections from some brick and mortar bookstores who shy away from self-published authors… signings where I sit self-consciously waiting for at least one person to come up and talk to me.

Don’t worry, I’m determined to see this through. My muse demands nothing less. By the end of 2012, I intend to have at least three more books released. I’ll be an old hand by then. Maybe not a grizzled veteran on the literary scene, but at least not a greenhorn, a newbie holding his breath, waiting for someone to say “yes, you have what it takes… you ARE going to make it.”

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A chance to lose myself

“Harvest of the Heart” will be released this Tuesday, December 13 and so I have spent most of my time for the last several weeks trying to establish an internet “presence”, getting reviews, and preparing for a social media effort to support the release. This blog, Facebook, Twitter and other internet time-sinks have monopolized my attention. But, for much of Sunday, December 11, our internet service was down. Our provider is upgrading their service and I guess they ran into some glitches. I should have been bothered by the time that would be lost on marketing efforts with just forty-eight hours before the big day. Instead, I found myself eager to put it behind me and get back to what I love to do, and that is write.

For the first time in many weeks, I had what I consider to be a very productive writing day. Over one thousand words and finally some momentum toward completing a novella that has languished since HotH began its halting strides toward publication. Today reminded me why I have confidence that I will someday (maybe soon!) make it as a novelist. Once my mind reclaimed the thread of the story, I became enmeshed in the characters and scenes. It felt good to know that the ability to let a story flow through me is still there, waiting to be set loose again. During the writing of “Harvest of the Heart” there were days when my muse was so strong that I wrote three thousand words or more for days on end. Not all of it was great, some wasn’t even good; but the bones of the story fell in place and were fleshed out, ready to be molded into a novel.

The loss of internet today was truly a blessing. It reminded me that I love to write… that I need to write. So many great writers have the discipline to do this every day. I want to be one of them and so I must find the determination and self-control that will allow me to ignore the marketing and publicity harpies that snatch away my time, and give my muse the attention she demands, if only for a few hours each day.

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Jealousy sneaks in

Jealousy is not at all low, but it catches us humbled and bowed down, at first sight. – Colette

My mind is all a jumble. Amid the frenzy of the approaching release of “Harvest of the Heart”, I struggle with a confidence that sometimes falters. Like a stubborn leak in the roof which no amount of patching can fix,  doubt and insecurity are drip, drip, dripping in the background of my public confidence; eroding the euphoria that should grace the atmosphere around an author on the verge of publication.

The doubts don’t attach to my writing. As I grow closer to seeing them exposed to the public, the confidence I have in my abilities has grown. I look critically at my own work and compare it to that of many “best-selling” authors… and I firmly believe the comparison is favorable.

At the top of my iGoogle home page this morning was a single line of text; an advertisement for a novel. Supposedly some algorithm selected this particular ad based on my browsing and e-mails. (I’m not one of those too concerned about my privacy. I’m about to ask the world to buy my book, I want to be noticed.) I clicked the link and found a book that was released in August. It is self-published. The author is someone with a lot of money, an idea, a marketing plan and a modicum of talent. I read the sample of the book and was not impressed. It wasn’t bad, it just felt as if it was written by a person who took a class on how to put words on paper. This was not a man who has been driven his entire life by a muse that poked and prodded and jabbed until he became a writer.

And so jealousy reared its ugly head. This author has – for his book – things that I want for mine: a Type-A personality driving it to market; a classy, custom website with all the bells and whistles; advertisements across the internet that seek out responsive readers; and the financial backing that opens doors.

Jealousy only adds to my doubt about the chances “Harvest of the Heart” has to find its market; that dripping threatens to become a steady stream. A lot is riding on my book at least showing the potential for success. I’ve done the best I can in a short period to position it to start well. But much of my strategy relies on social media to help create early momentum. I don’t have the money for a publicist to create ads, send out effective press releases, to garner reviews for a self-published author, to whisper in the right people’s ears. The learning curve to do all this myself is steep. The time to do it is hard to find and my muse is angry that I haven’t been writing much while I try to get this book launched.

This morning, I was indeed “humbled and bowed down” by jealousy. But that first sight did not last. The hour I spent with my grandson in my arms restored my spirits. Within days, I will have the proof in my hand. I tell myself that the quality of the book and the marketing efforts I am making will result in success.

The frenzy continues and the fateful day is nigh. Breath, Michael! Breath!

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Running in the Cold – Part 3

The first two parts of this series –  “How You Respond to the Cold” and “How to Dress for Success” – were designed to prepare you for Running in the Cold. Why? Because now I plan to convince you that you should.

How to embrace your inner polar bear and enjoy your winter running

Winter is often the time that runners either: 1) Head indoors to the dreadmill, 2) Cross-train on an elliptical, stationary bike or some other type of cardio equipment, or 3) Simply stop running. The first option is great at maintaining your run-specific running fitness, but is among the most boring activities known to humankind. Option two can add some variety to winter training and improve your overall fitness, but is still less than stimulating. With the third option, you lose all that hard-won fitness that you spent seven to nine months developing.

If you’ll suspend your disbelief for just a short while, I think I can persuade you that running outside in the cold is not only worth it in terms of improving your running, but also can be fun and rewarding. I’ll do this by giving you some reasons and strategies for changing your outlook concerning Running in the Cold.

First, the reasons. By running outside in the cold, you’ll experience things that you would miss otherwise. And I’m not talking about chapped lips, frostbite and a red nose. Some of the most beautiful and amazing sights and sounds that nature has to offer are on display during the winter. Many can only be found by getting  out in the cold.

These are things that enrich one’s life: colorful, refracted rays of the sun through thousands of tiny icicles hanging from a skeletal shrub along a creek bank; amazing contours of snow, chiseled by the wind on the prairie; other-worldly tinkling of ice crystals as they are shaken from a bare tree by a passing breeze; the eerie, grinding clash of ice-flows on the river; the squeaking crunch of your shoe fall on a field of fresh snow…

Bizarre, massive sculptures formed by the melting and freezing of snow on a sun-drenched mountainside; the sunrise on cold day as the brightness grows over a frozen valley and everything appears sharp and clear through the frigid air; a cityscape under a blanket of white, looking cleaner and more peaceful than it could ever truly be.

There is no end to the beauty you can find if you just go out and look for it.

Another reason: Running in the Cold is more challenging. Do it, and that 45 degree 5k you run in April will seem a lark in comparison. Do it, and you’ll become stronger and tougher because you did.

If these reasons aren’t enough, I have some strategies to trick yourself into enjoying your winter runs anyway. They are; transference, distraction, ignorance, and exaggeration.

Transference is often referred to as a negative. People transfer their insecurities, fears and anger onto others and usually cause them pain. But I’ve learned to transfer the positive things instead. And I transfer them onto my running. Last night I slept poorly, and when my alarm went off early this morning, I had every intention of shutting it off and going back to sleep. But I decided to check my e-mail first, and there was an exciting one that let me know my debut novel – “Harvest of the Heart” – had been chosen as a “Yummy Read” by Bookie Jar, the site where I have been doing a pre-release test market of my book. I immediately transferred that excitement into motivation to get myself out of bed, into my running stuff, and out the door, despite the sub-zero temps.

Take the good news, the things that make you happy, the joy you receive from friends and family and carry them with you when you run. I guarantee they’ll help keep you warm.

Distraction can be an easy way to divert your mind from the discomfort that may arise from running in the cold. If you have a problem at work, a stubborn passage in a book you are writing, something that you need to talk to your spouse or a friend about; work stubborn issuees through in your mind while you are out on your winter run. This is one way to make something that could be a negative work for you.

Ignorance is bliss, they say. In this case, I’m thinking it is more like a way to get yourself out the door. Don’t think about the weather. Just mechanically go about taking each step necessary to prepare, and then grab that doorknob, open the door… and step out. By the time you realize what you’ve done, it is too late to turn back!

Exaggeration is another method I occasionally use to maneuver myself into a run. I tell my self it is 30 below zero and the winds are gusting at 50 miles per hour. When I get upstairs and find it is only 5 below and the winds are only 20 miles per hours, I can convince myself I am disappointed at having such a weak challenge that day. The run seems a lot easier than what I had braced myself to expect.

Another important thing about running in the winter is that all the other reasons you have for running still apply. Let me ‘splain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up. :-) Health, fitness, weight control (Just think how guilt-free the Christmas feasting could be if you are running every day!), stress relief and all other reasons still apply.

Prepare properly and give it a try. The colder the weather, the better. COME ON! Embrace your inner Polar Bear and get out there!

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Running in the Cold – Part 2 (A)

One of the things that makes the cold enjoyable here in Wyoming is our backyard steam sauna. Nothing chases the chill away like sitting in there for a half-hour or so. After a steaming ten minutes at 110-120 degrees, you can just step outside into the -12 degree night air, grab a handful of snow, rub down… and start all over. I must have some Scandinavian blood in me somewhere, because this is almost heaven for me. It is truly exhilarating. In the picture here, my daughter, son-in-law and I show that the cold doesn’t scare us. The steam off our bodies billows and floats away. That steam, and the flash, and maybe the camerawoman’s shivering :-) teamed up to create a pretty bad picture, but you get the idea. I spent an hour in and out of it… now I’m all warmed up for another sub-zero run tomorrow morning.

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Running in the Cold – Part 2

In yesterday’s post, I explained a variety of factors that impact how the human body reacts to cold. Today I want to go over the clothing and accessories that can help you conquer the cold.

How to dress for success on your cold weather runs

Many… OK, most people dread the onset of winter; runners especially. I believe this is due to an unreasonable view of cold weather as the enemy – a force that is trying to stop you from running. I’ll admit to harboring that view myself for much of my adult life. With some running wardrobe additions and willingness to ignore curious looks from those who see me out on the road, I’ve come to embrace and enjoy my winter runs.

Everyone’s heating system is, to some degree, unique. So some experimenting is necessary in order to achieve the best results. But it shouldn’t be hard for you to reach the point that you can easily select the best outfit for any cold-weather conditions. The rules and suggestions that follow give you a guide for doing that experimenting.

The most important rule is one that is known universally (or at least throughout the running community) – LAYERS. You never want to go for a thicker or heavier single layer in place of adding additional, thin layers. But wearing layers isn’t as simple as throwing on a bunch of t-shirts. What follows are my recommendations for your upper body layers.

The first layer should be the best “tech”, moisture-wicking, short sleeve t-shirt that you have. If you have one that is tight-fitting but comfortable, that is even better. Subsequent layers depend, of course, on the temperature and wind conditions. For me, that tech t-shirt and my Under Armour Cold Gear top (the blue top in the picture above) are enough for non-windy temps down to about 30 deg F. If it is windy, I have two long sleeve, microfiber Under Armour Cold Gear compression tops that I wear instead of the t-shirt. The lighter weight top I use for windy temps, or non-windy down to 25 degF. The heavier one is good down to about 0-10 degF. A fleece top is also a good option, since fleece also wicks moisture away. The blue top is always my last layer.

If you don’t have Cold Gear or comparable clothing, you can do what I did today, when it was -21 degrees at the start of my run. My 1st layer was the short sleeve tech shirt I got at the Colorado Marathon; 2nd was my Boston Adidas long sleeve; 3rd was a medium-weight long sleeve cotton t-shirt (Which I would have skipped if it was above O degrees ; and finally, my blue Under Armour top. Any warm jacket that helps cut the wind and has a zipper that allows you to control venting would work. It wasn’t windy this morning, or I probably would have added an additional layer.

All of the above is also dependent on another very important factor: how hard you intend to work, and for how long. If you are going out for a quick, hard, 3-5 mile tempo run, you would wear less than if you were going for a long, slow recovery run. For a very long, hard run, you need to be especially careful that you have layers that can be adjusted somewhat to changing conditions and the fact that you will likely tire at the end of the run. The last thing you want to do is get hot and sweaty early, and then tire, slow down, and get very cold later in the run.

Layering is something people don’t often apply to their heads. But they should, since successful heat management is primarily accomplished through the head and neck. I have a thin balaclava that covers my entire head, except for my face. When it is windy and/or colder, I’ll add a stocking cap on top of that. I can remove it if I start to get hot, but my ears are still protected. I occasionally wear a pair of 180′s ear muffs, either instead of, or with the above. My lungs don’t deal well with very cold air, so when it is 20 degrees or colder, I add a Seirus face mask that covers my mouth and nose. It has tiny holes that allow me to breathe easily, but it lets the air warm a little before I breathe it in. Today, on top of that, I wore a neck gaiter that I had pulled up just below my eyes. I finished the run a little warm at the back of my neck, but my lungs felt great, they were not bothered at all by the cold.

The hands are a problem area for me. At -21 today, I had a pair of thin cotton gloves, with a pair of insulated mittens on top. It wasn’t really enough and my hands were cold for most of the run. I plan on getting a pair of insulated glove liners and then a better, bigger pair of mittens. I managed today by trying to keep my fingers moving during the run.

On the other hand, my feet were fine with just a pair of running socks. They weren’t even that thick. My toes were cold, but it didn’t really bother me. I have thicker socks that I could have worn, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Your legs are the part of your body that should be the easiest to manage. If you will be running fast, tights are probably all you need for almost any conditions. All I wore today were medium-weight, cold weather tights and they were perfect. If it had been very windy, I would have put a pair of wind-pants on top. One strong piece of advice for men… pull at least your first layer of shirt down and tuck it under your… privates. That is one part of your body that is surprisingly susceptible to frostbite if not properly protected. Did you ever have your hands get very cold? Remember how painful it was as they thawed out? That should be warning enough.

Another important part of cold weather running is lip balm. I use it a lot, even on my nose. Moisturizing lotion like Aquaphor is also good for your hands and face… and your feet.

As I mentioned, my run today started in minus 21 degree temps. There was a light wind (3-5 mph). When I finished, it was a sunny minus 10. I was out for over an hour and a half and ran 10.6 miles. During the entire run I was comfortable, except for my hands being a little cold. I even got a little warm as I worked harder the last mile, knowing that it wouldn’t matter if I got a little sweaty at that point.

It was an enjoyable run. Tomorrow’s post will cover why winter running can be fun, what you miss when you are stuck on a treadmill, and how you can learn to embrace your inner polar bear.

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