RunningSkirts(dot)Com Sub-Zero Review

After months of waiting to wear my RunningSkirts(dot)com Sub-Zero skirt, the weather finally turned cold enough to pull it from its packaging.

I have raved about Running Skirts compression socks (here) since testing them out a year ago, but unsure about proper sizing in the company’s skirts made me hesitant about ordering one (see sizing below). After receiving an email alert from Schwaggle with a link to the RS website giving an additional percentage off of a special list of merchandise, I took the plunge ordering the heartstooth patterned skirt attached to the full length brushed and wicking pant.

Sizing:

As I usually do before making online purchases, I read the reviews and pondered the size chart. Pant sizing is funny for me (skinny legs and not so skinny hips). According to the measurements listed, I would wear a size 3 (10-12), but since I am so rarely a 12, I wasn’t sure this was the best choice.

It turned out that the size 3 is perfect. I would recommend, actually, that if you are a larger size 12, going up to a size 4 might be better. Size eights would definitely want to buy the size 2.

Confused? I was, though it’s not their fault rather the nature of online shopping.

Fit:

With a flat waistband and continuous drawcord (like Lululemon’s), there was no rubbing at the belly. Also interesting, and possibly a fit characteristic for my body type (apple-ish), the front waist fit a tad higher than the back. I loved this; always prefer a pant this sits a bit higher at the waist (it’s a different story for me when it comes to shorts).

Temp:

The Sub-Zero is sold as a cold weather running skirt and performs as such. My legs didn’t feel a moment of wind or freeze after five miles in 37 degree temperatures. During my second run in much warmer weather (about 50 degrees), they still felt great; no overheating. When I run long, even in the coldest temperatures, I always (always) burn hot at my wrists and ankles. During my second run, I folded up the bottom portion of the leg and continued on, grateful that they weren’t super tight at the hem; they folded up easily.

More shopping?

Unhappy with the current quality on the newest LLL running tights (I swear the luxtreme is thinner) and more and more feeling the need to cover my rear (I am a 41-year-old grown woman after all), I am interested in trying some of the other skirts in the line.

Next on my list is the Capri Skirt. If it performs even close to the Sub-Zero, it could (quite possibly) be the perfect running bottom made.

M.

Do you run in skirts? How about RunningSkirts.com skirts? Do you shop there?

The skirts come in different patterns. I like the black and white ones as they can go with more colored tops.
The continuous drawcord. When pulled tighter the skirt stayed put. If you’ve ever gotten chafe from a tie at the wast then you know; ow.
The wide, flat waistband.
The logo on the side of the skirt. Barely noticeable.
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Get Inspired

Searching for inspiration is tough when ho-humnity is the name of your game, and your job is to write things that people want to read.

It’s better, then, to turn off the part of the brain that refuses to cooperate and focus on the activities that generate tidings of comfort and joy.

Here is the plan:

1. The kids and I browsed Pinterest this morning and found a graphic designer named Sarah Walsh whose aesthetic interests (pins) spoke to my brain on the side that doesn’t use words. The kids became so inspired by Sarah’s Illustration Station board that they are currently, quietly content at their own art table creating what I know will be framable works of art.

Somewhere in this messy house of mine is a beautiful set of art pens (hidden so the kids wouldn’t use them, but where could they be?) that I must (MUST) find today. Expression through art is necessary in this time of angst (divorce, divorce, divorce).

2. Outside my windows is a dark grey sky; the kind that makes me wonder if the sun is ever going to rise. No matter, I will be bundling my bod (from top of head to tip of toes) as I exit for an early morning run.

It will probably be brutally cold, hurt on a cellular level, but the results will be warmed blood, a regenerated system, and hopefully some adrenaline to push me through my day.

3. Later today, I’m taking my kids to vote. The lessons that I hope they’ll learn will outweigh the irritation that might occur from bored kids pulling on my clothes or the uncomfortable squeeze and tight proximity of three inside a voting booth.

“Women have rights, girls. They have the right to choose who they think should be the boss of America.Once upon a time women weren’t allowed to vote. People with different colored skin weren’t allowed to vote. Ridiculous, right? I don’t know who is going to win today, girls, but I pray he is able to do a good job. We are lucky to live in the United States of America. We are lucky and blessed to have freedom.”

Freedom. The ultimate inspired thought.

What do you do when you are struggling for inspiration? Do you change your focus or just plow though?

M.

Sophie’s Girl on Swing.

The Run Happy Formula

With my yogic river guide out of town (no Saturday yoga for me), I took the opportunity to hit the open road after a month of being sidelined by too much stress and a nagging quadracept injury. Luckily for me, the formula for a happy run was in place.

Here are the components, for which (even hours later) I find myself grateful:

1. Running in the cold (this morning’s thermometer hovered around 37 degrees) allows the lungs to fill with crisp fresh air. To say I felt more alive than I have since March isn’t dramatics. It’s the truth.

2. The right gear is essential for cold-weather running, because freezing is never any fun. I left the house wearing my thick, lined running pants, a long-sleeve shirt and jacket, and a headband to cover and protect my ears from the wind.

3. Going slowly, though not walking, there is no hurry and no pressure. As I amp up the winter running, I’m sure I’ll hop back over to the Galloway method, but my favorite way to run is at an easy pace, for as long as I like. Today’s four miles felt right; authentic, focused, strong.

3. Wearing ear pods is controversial. Galloway doesn’t allow it. People say it is dangerous. But the beauty of having music in your ears is that you not only hear, but feel. Choosing the iPod shuffle-option is like an extra step toward total surrender. The last song as I rounded home was James Blunt’s, Best Laid Plans. The man is a poet, and his words made my heart grow wider.

4. A familiar loop doesn’t hurt when you’re busy following your nose. There’s no chance in getting lost and you’re close enough to home if you need to call it quits (earlier than anticipated).

5. A good run always prompts thoughts of the next race. Maybe it’s the endorphins at work, but I’m thinking that the timing is right to train for March’s Tobacco Road Marathon (or at least the half).

A happy run is the foundation for my happy life.

What’s your formula for a happy run?

M.

P.S. I questioned whether to publish this ‘happy post” as it’s a disappointing time for many running friends unable to race New York; monumentally more difficult for the people trying to recover from Sandy’s destruction. New York and it’s people have lived in my heart since I left almost twelve years ago. I wish I was closer to physically help …

Stress and Injury

I wrote this a week ago and sent it out for submission. Having not heard back I’m chalking it up to Written Rejection and am moving on, choosing to post it here instead.

I should be heading out for six miles tomorrow morning according to my marathon training plan. But since writing this piece, I’ve pinched a nerve in my left scapula, which kept me from Saturday yoga, woke this morning with a pulled muscle in my neck and have a faint, but still there, soreness in my quad.

I am, in physical terms, a big old mess!

Maybe it’s time to hang up the hopes for a January marathon. Maybe running to meet a time and distance goals should not be my focus right now. Maybe at this phase of my life I should run for pleasure and freedom and stress relief.

No decisions must be made today.

Acknowledging the thoughts……

XOM

Stress and Injury

Being plagued by a tremendous amount of stress recently I woke up ready to go for a run, but had momentarily forgotten about the right quadracept injury that had forced me to put my marathon training on hold. If that wasn’t irritating enough, as I stepped down from my bed I felt a muscular pull up the backside of my right calf; curious as I haven’t done any running or worn new and different shoes since I’d allowed myself this little break to heal from the nagging pain in my thigh.

As I hobbled down the stairs I wondered if the mental stress I’ve been under lately is causing my body to react in a way that is purely physical; both slowing me down and creating pains in places where there shouldn’t be any. It isn’t just common sense that stress can cause illness and injury, in April 2012 a Scientific study at Carnegie Mellon University found proof that mental stress can cause harm on a cellular level; real and actual inflammation can (and does) form in the face of stress.

Two weeks ago I was on a running/yogic/healthy lifestyle roll. Marathon training was in its first week, my consistency in yoga attendance was helping me gain strength and focus, and my food struggles seemed a thing of the past (quitting sugar helped). I was pushing my limits much as I had a year ago at this time, but my circumstances are currently quite different.

Forget that my divorce mediation is nearing closer by the day, the fact that my mother is a week out from surgery from a skin cancer or that my daughters have been acting out to the point that I’ve called a child psychologist for help. Forget that I’m still living with my soon to be ex, that as a stay at home mom I am at the mercy of my husband’s financial choices or that I haven’t worked in six years, since before my twins were born. I have no idea how I’ll support myself after the divorce.

On Tuesday, when a life threatening illness of a loved one rang in my phone, it dawned on me the enormous amounts of life stressers that have plagued what I am coming closer to christening, “Terrible 2012.”

I have a list of things I want to do. I want to run my second marathon in Miami (in January). I want to find meaningful work that will monetarily add to the lives of myself and my children. I want to eat right and attend yoga and fit in my closet full of clothes all presently too tight. I want to feel happy about the chores that keep my house running. I want my family to be healthy. I want to spend time with friends and hear about the wonderful things happening in their lives. I want. I want. I want.

But now may not be the time for the things that I want.

Now might be the time to step back and allow the universe to deliver to me what it thinks I need.

Am I ready to hang up the dream of Miami? Not yet.

Am I going to beat myself up for eating more than my share of the pumpkin pie? Nope.

Will I attend yoga tomorrow morning as I have been for the past few weeks? Yes, because I know it is good for me (my intention, however, will be to remain mindful and without pressure to perform).

What I am not going to do is allow the stress to creep up and cause me pain and frustration and worry.

Sometimes a person needs to be able to choose between what they need and what they want on a minute by minute basis. Knowing when not to do the thing(s) that they want becomes the only decision; the grown up decision to say, “I can’t right now,” knowing that they’ve saved themselves from a stressed out illness or unfortunate injury.

Have you ever pushed through stress and injury for a race? How did you do?

XOM

It’s not funny how badly I want another one of these and the experience to go along with it.

An Injury in Mommyland

With week one of my marathon training complete I know I should write an update.

But after injuring my right quad the day before week one was to begin, there’s not a whole lot to report. I managed to run fourteen miles even though I took off one of my mid week runs. After yesterday’s eight, whereupon I had to call my husband to come and pick me up (I miscalculated my route and the extra two miles home would have left me completely incapacitated), I’ve decided to take a rest.

My pulled thigh will not heal if I continue to push the plan, so I have committed instead to running zero miles this second week of training.

We will see how week three looks, but my goal right now is to listen to my body and be kind to my whole self.

On the food front, I’ve had my hand in the sugar bowl more than a few times recently, but I’m feeling really fine about my choices. I’ve even added back in some gluten and have not felt any ill effects.

No bingeing, no madness, better decisions are being made all the way around.

XOM

Has your training ever been sidelined?

Yesterday’s lunch. Millet bread, a hard boiled egg, avocado, greens and tomatoes. I’ve added some gluten back into my diet, but I like the milllet bread, so that will stay.
This morning’s breakfast, which Grace said, “looked disgusting,” (what does she know)!. Fage plain Greek yogurt, a peach, and Kind’s Maple and Chia Clusters. Another gluten free choice that I’m keeping in my diet. Thank Goodness for Kind… they make some surprisingly deliciously healthy foods.

The Modified Marathon Plan

Monday is the big kickoff to my 18 weeks of marathon training. Instead of doing too much running this week, I am instead mentally preparing for what is to come and also giving myself a tiny break before the big works begins.

I have modified Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 to suit my needs.

Here we go…

Week Mon. Tues. Wed. Thur. Fri. Sat. Sun.
1 Rest 6 Rest 5 Rest yoga 8
2 Rest 6 Rest 5 Rest yoga 9
3 Rest 6 Rest 6 Rest yoga 6
4 Rest 6 Rest 6 Rest yoga 11
5 Rest 6 Rest 6 Rest yoga 12
6 Rest 6 Rest 6 Rest yoga 9
7 Rest 8 Rest 7 Rest ? half
8 Rest 6 Rest 9 Rest yoga 15
9 Rest 6 Rest 9 Rest yoga 13
10 Rest 8 Rest Thanks! 6-8 Rest 17
11 Rest 9 Rest 9 Rest Rest 18
12 Rest 9 Rest 9 Rest Rest 13
13 Rest 5 5 5 Rest Rest 19
14 Rest 5 8 5 Rest Rest 12
15 Rest 8 Rest 7 Rest Rest 20
16 Rest 7 Rest 7 Rest Rest 12
17 Rest 5 Rest 6 Rest yoga 8
18 Rest Rest 5 Rest Rest 2 RACE!

After filling out the tables on my plan I am surprised at the massive mileage I will be expected to run over the course of the next eighteen weeks (even though I’ve done it before).

Of course, I will constantly be checking in, giving myself breaks when needed and/or modifying based on schedules and sick kids and all the other life issues that infringe on my running time.

Note that I have accounted for  the City of Oaks Half marathon (week seven), Thanksgiving (week 10) and also for the final weeks of training when I have a feeling I will want to run shorter mid-week distances more often (weeks 13 and 14 for sure, 11 and 12 are tentative).

Are you in training? What does your plan look like?

Anyone running Miami and feel like being a virtual buddy? 

XOM

My bib from marathon #1. Can’t wait for Miami’s.

Incorporating Strength with Yoga

I went to yoga this morning.

Sweaty, tough, beautiful vinyasa.

The sun salutations were plenty. One legged chaturangas, too. So many utkatasanas (chair pose), core cultivation, crescent lunging, crow (side crow is beyond me; watch superstar Kathryn Budig’s unbelievable video below) and twists.

My arms, back and sides were awaken. They are sleeping again now, but will probably scream at me tomorrow morning after a long night’s rest.

I walked out knowing that the addition of weekly guided vinyasa is going to help me build strength in areas that running alone can’t provide.

Will I have the stamina for both? This remains to be seen.

On the schedule tomorrow is any easy 6-8 miles. Compared to this morning’s yoga class it will be like a good old walk in the park!

Tell me running friends…. Do you incorporate yoga and/or strength training to improve performance?

XOM

Blog Love

My real life bloggy friend Christine (from Love,Life,Surf) has inspired me with her weekly roundup of bloggers and posts.

In blogland there are masses of talented people with fantastic points of view.

Here are some of the gems I found (and re-discovered) this week!

1. She describes herself as a “teenager completely obsessed with fashion.” Living in New York City, she blogs at You’re a Tulle and writes for Huffington Post and Chictopia. I’m old enough to be her mother, but she’s my hero; channeling her passion and building a fantastic creative work life at such a young age! Odelia Kaly is a voice that I am convinced we will be hearing a lot from in the fashion circles of the future.

2. Months ago I stubled upon a blogger named Coco J. Ginger who blogs at Courting Madness. A poet, Coco had written about a breakup that spoke to me on so many levels. I tweeted her to tell her how much I liked her work, but as the days and weeks went by I forgot her name (it happens, sadly) and thus began my new search. How excited I was to find her again (I have since begun keeping a notebook of favorite blogs). Poetry is interesting; not always easy to understand as it’s rarely spelled out clearly. It’s also tough to write (my rhymy attempt). But Courting Madness has a great following with lots of likes! Her words resonate. Especially her words about love.

3. Having recently blogged about my diet overhaul (and writing about the task of removing sugar and gluten) I received a comment by a blogger named Vinny Grette (silly pseudonym?) over at Cook Up a Story. Currently writing about nutrition for children, he (or is he a she?) suggested I read his post about stevia. I read it and loved the writing style. So often, books and blogs about nutrition are as dry as Melba toast. Vinny’s work is clever and easy to understand without being preachy.

4. One of my favorite yogis, Lisa O’Brien from lifeyum believes in feeling good and doing good. She did so this week by sharing with her readers the work and words (guest post) of Elex DiSanto Scheels from Om Frog Yoga. Alex is a mom of triplets, a yogi, and her piece about sending the kids back to school is great! To say, “I relate,” would be an understatement.

5. Describing herself on Twitter as a ” former model who loves fashion and running,” Diary of a Dashing Fashionista has put together a great post about this season’s sportswear trends. From brands I know and love (Stella to Lululemon), to brands I haven’t yet discovered (No Balls and Wellicious), there’s a great array of information and images to excite any girl’s running fashionista within.

Happy reading!

XOM

8×10 print created by Jennifer Ramos at Made by Girl @Etsy. Check out Jen’s Made by Girl blog, too! She’s a New York City graphic designer and entrepreneur. Just fantastic!

Running Shameless

I woke restless (4:23 a.m.) from a dream that Zach McGowan from Shameless was my running partner for today’s scheduled eight miler.

There wasn’t anything tawdry about the dream. He was telling me to hurry up and get my belt. Urging me to tie my shoes faster. Handing me my coffee.

He wasn’t wearing a shirt, though.

But with it still so hot and humid outside, certainly that’s all that was about.

Off again I go into the blackness of early morning, this time made brighter by the lingering dreaminess of that man.

What are your motivators to move today?

XOM

p.s. So sorry for not attaching a photo, but every single picture was copyrighted. How’s an upstart blogger girl supposed to give her readers the full picture if not for the attached photo of him running with his dog? Now go and google…

I tweeted the fabulous Zach McGowan to which he replied and said he liked the post, used a smily face emoticon, and gave me permission to grab a photo off of his instagram. Nice and dreamy… a super combination!

On the Train Again

The whole purpose of beginning this blog was to document my marathon training while living this crazy place called Mommyland.

It’s with relief that I am now coming full circle as training for race number two officially begins on September 24th.

In the space between the last marathon and now I have worked and re-worked the plan making educated and experience based substantive decisions, which I will do my best to follow.

1. I will again be following Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 schedule, but instead of three-day mid-week runs, I will be combining the mileage to run only two. This will mean that those mid-week runs will be longer, but I’ll have more days in between to rest and recover. I am hoping that exhaustion from too many successive runs in a row (which was an issue last time) will be resolved with this plan. I will also use the Galloway system of strategized walking, as I do believe it works and will help me go farther with more control.

2. I’ve agreed to help out my most favorite yoga instructor on Saturday mornings by checking in her students in return for a free pass to her phenomenal class. Last marathoning go around I was so consumed by the run that I neglected my yoga, neglected a huge piece of what grounds me to my life. Agreeing to be at the studio every Saturday will ensure that my yoga practice is built into the schedule. It will also give me an opportunity to re-build the dusty resume and re-establish the fact that I am consistent and committed and pretty competent at tasks in which I’m given.

3. Long runs, then, will have to happen on Sundays or Mondays (last year I ran long on Saturdays). The most gratifying runs are the long ones, for me. I am looking forward to those hours and hours on the road, out there on my own two feet, floating alone inside my own busy brain.

4. I’ve been off of sugar for twelve whole days, off of Diet Coke a week longer, and I’ve been much more careful about the overall contents of things like cereal and yogurt and so-called healthy snack bars and drink supplements. An ongoing process, I am sure there will be much more written about my emotional connectedness to food as it’s the one part that I still haven’t fully figured out. I should mention another change, too. I will NOT be getting on the scale anytime in the near future. More about that to come.

And so I am ready to go.

The last factor (of which I have no control) is with mother nature.

Yes there will be days in the next months that I will have no choice but run in the drizzle and/or rain and/or the early morning freezing cold. I can handle all that. It’s part of the challenge.

This heat, though, needs to go.

September marks a new beginning for me in so many ways and the muggy humid air has gotten very very old.

What races are you running? What will your training plan look like?

XOM

ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon. Joanna, from Poppy’s Style and I are running it! Anyone else want to come to the party?