4 Tips for Cold Weather Running, OrangeTheory Demo, and Quick Sweet Potato Recipe

Apologies for being late with this week's post. I over scheduled myself for this week so I wasn't able to get my writing done during my usual Wednesday time slot. Lesson learned and next week I'll be cutting back on my commitments. But I'm here, so on with the show!

I'll return with my normal goal and training recaps next week, but this week I wanted to share with you something important, something fun, and something tasty. So without further ado...

3 Tips for Cold Weather Running
It's winter here in New England, which means I'll usually run into a mixed bag of weather and road conditions. In the past that would usually stop me, but I'm not letting it stop me this year. Just the other day I managed to get out for a run in some rainy/snowy weather for the first time ever! I did get back just before the roads started to ice up, which was a good thing because my sneakers weren't that great on slick surfaces. But Tuesday's run inspired me to share some of my personal tips for cold weather running.
  1. Check the weather ahead of time. Sometimes you might have to reschedule your runs or find an indoor alternative if the weather is going to be really bad, but if it's just cold, knowing what the weather will be will help you plan what you need for clothes. If you're anything like me and your equipment is limited right now, that means you'll probably have to run a load of laundry. Also, remember, there is no shame in using the treadmill if you don't feel comfortable outside in the winter! Check out this recent article and podcast from Run Eat Repeat on treadmill running if you need some tips on how to make your treadmill workout effective.
  2. Make sure you're wearing appropriate clothing. For my own personal needs I usually refer to this list from Runners World and build from there. For example, if it's 25 degrees outside I'll usually wear a pair of running tights, a long sleeve tech shirt with a short sleeve tech shirt layered on top, a headband to keep my ears warm, and mittens to keep my hands warm. Your mileage may vary when it comes to your layers, though. I tend to run hot so I usually go a little bit less with my layers.
  3. Your shoes make a huge difference. On Monday's run I started out with my trusty Asics Gel Contend 3 sneakers (this is one of my favorite inexpensive go-to short run shoes) and when I started the weather was rainy with a bit of snow in the air. By the time I finished 3 miles the roads had a small coating of snow and they were getting slick so I walked the rest of the way home. Since I wanted to try and attend night group runs with my running club I knew I needed some better winter shoes so I went with a pair of ASICS Gel-Venture 6 trail running shoes. I stuck with the same brand simply because I know how the shoe fits me and that they come in extra wide sizes. But the way I see it, my regular shoes are like having all season tires when driving in the snow, whereas my trail shoes are like having snow tires. I just went for a night group run last night with my trail shoes and was able to run on icy patches with no problem.
  4. Make sure you're visible. One thing I've noticed on so many occasions this winter is that people just don't take the time to make sure they're visible to drivers when they run, even in broad daylight. In last week's article I talked about how I stopped running with headphones so I could hear cars coming, however making sure you're visible to drivers is equally as important. I always try to wear a brightly colored shirt if I'm running on back roads to help with that and if it's raining/snowing or at all dark I also pair that with a high visibility reflective vest as well. And for night running I also invested in a headlamp so I can see where I am going, even though most of those streets and sidewalks are well lit. Here is the high visibility vest and headlamp I went with for my personal needs.
OrangeTheory Demo
So this week I'm starting to explore different ways to get some cross training in because I'm notorious for slacking on my cross training. This week's adventure took me to the OrangeTheory studio in Portsmouth, NH for a trial class. My goal is to find something that is a middle ground between CrossFit and straight up cardio at the gym. I get bored with my workouts so I need variety.

For anyone who doesn't know what OrangeTheory is, it's basically a studio that offers High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) using a combination of rowers, treadmills, free weights, and TRX bands. I miss using the rowing machine and TRX bands are one of my favorite ways to build strength. The strength and rowing part of the class was tough for me because I'm still horribly out of shape but I felt more at ease on the treadmill portion.

Coach Nate also gave me some good insight on what my results meant and how to make my workouts more effective if I join. Overall my goal is to be able to work most of my workout in the green (recovery) zone and work on only having about 12 minutes in the orange (fat burn) zone. But that also comes with time and overall the workout went well.

The nice thing was I wasn't pressured into signing up right then and there. I probably will sign up to supplement my cross training program but they were fine with me waiting until next week to do so. So I'm excited to be able to go back sometime in the near future to keep working to make myself stronger.

Side note: I also need to find my old Fitbit One so I can track my steps since I can't wear my Fitbit Charge 2 in class.

Apple Sweet Potato Recipe
Last but not least, I've been getting a bit creative re-introducing some healthy carbohydrates into my Whole30 diet (I'm on day 23 today so I'm almost done). I found a recipe online for mashed apples and sweet potatoes but it involved roasting the sweet potatoes for an hour in the oven. I knew I could make a faster version so I experimented last night and came up with my own simple and faster recipe for this tasty dish.

Mashed Apples and Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 2 apples (I use Cortland apples because they're good for baking)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (or regular butter if you're not on the Whole30)
  • Cinnamon to taste (optional)
  • Water (2 tablespoons for the apples, and enough to cover the sweet potatoes)
Directions
  1. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Place them in a pot and cover with water then put them on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil for 7 - 10 minutes or until soft (test for softness using a fork).
  2. Peel, remove the seeds, and dice the apples. Place them in a separate pot with 2 tablespoons of water, cover, and heat over low heat until the apples are soft. Again, use a fork to test for softness.
  3. When the potatoes are done, remove from heat, drain them into the sink using a strainer then put back into the pot. Add ghee or butter and mash with a fork or a potato masher until desired consistency is reached.
  4. When apples are soft, remove the lid to the pan and continue to cook over low heat until some of the liquid cooks off. Remove from heat when almost all liquid is gone and mash with a fork or potato masher.
  5. Combine apples and sweet potatoes into one pan or a mixing bowl and mix until combined. Add cinnamon and fold it into the mix or enjoy the potatoes and apples as is.
You can also use a food processor to make the job easier but I just stick with my trusty handheld potato masher. That's my first attempt at recipe creation so let me know what you think in the comments!

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