Runner Holiday Gift Guide, version 2016!

Holiday Gift-Giving season is upon us! Just in time for shopping season, I’ve compiled a list of runner-relevant gifts. Run happy, and shop happy, too!

Run Bright: Knuckle Lights

Winter running is often done in the dark. Stay visible and see where you’re going with Knuckle Lights! Read more in my recent product review.  Even better — get 10% off when you enter code ykaf2288 at check out.

Run Warm: Running Mittens 
For those with perpetually frozen hands and numb fingers, just do it: skip the tiny gloves and head straight for the real deal: running mittens.

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Run Tech: Garmin vívoactive Black

This multisport compatible, sleek-looking, lightweight watch with compatible webapp is excellent for athletics as well as smart wearable for daily life (phone calls, email, tweets, etc). Full review here and available online here.

Run Festive: Brooks Pacesetter Ugly Sweater Crew Sock
Up your ugly sweater game or go find Frosty on your next run with these festive above-the-ankle (for full ugly sweater viewing!) running socks.

Run Fueled: Honey Stinger Organic Waffle
“Bee Happy” while you enjoy the yumminess of honey to stay energized for your run, hike, bike, or long evenings of family boardgames.

Run Yummy: Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes 

What runner doesn’t like to eat? This new cookbook by Olympian Shalane Flannagan and Elyce Kopecky gives not only delicious, varied recipes but lots of practical running advice on everything from foods that reduce inflammation to best ways to treat yourself (healthfully) when inevitable sugar cravings hit.  Recipes are fun, mostly practical, and as far as I’ve made them, delicious. Accompanied by gorgeous food photography, this cookbook is definitely drool-worthy.

Run & Recover: Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solution
After logging all those freezing, cold miles, it’s time to help those muscles relax and recover. Visualize your favorite hot spring as you pour yourself a hot bath, add some lavender epsom salts, put on some holiday music (can’t say if this adds to the relaxing experience or not!) and enjoy an après run soak.

Hey Burqueños! Let’s Run Local:

Running shop: Heart & Sole Running Shop

With two locations, Heart & Sole is a local running shop. Questions about shoes, local running locations and groups can be answered by local runner employees. A range of running, walking, and active lifestyle gear fill their stores and provide essentials and splurges for everyone on your list.  Mention this blog post when you go in, and get a free pair of running socks with your purchase!

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Run Pretty: Stella & Dot jewelry

You have running “jewelry” (see above!), why not splurge on something new and sparkly when you have to change out of those running clothes? Give the gift of style to someone special (including yourself!) this holiday season and shop with local Stella & Dot stylist, Arlene. Shop her local business today by visiting here! (www.stelladot.com/arleneespinoza)design

 

New Years Runsolution: Whether you’re wanting to kick-start a more active lifestyle, need accountability to maintain an exercise program, or you want to hone in on new goals, consider working a coach!  Give someone special (including yourself!) the gift of organized running by choosing one of these holiday specials. More info on my coaching options is available here, but check out the holiday deals below.

Thanks to Extended Play Photography for their great images!
Thanks to Extended Play Photography for their great images!

Start-to-run: New to running or returning to the sport after a hiatus? This option includes 4 months of personalized training geared to those first exploring running. Training includes daily workouts and injury prevention specifically for athletes new to running, a Brooks running t-shirt, and membership in the Donahue Coaching online social networks for dialogue, support and encouragement. ($330 – 10% savings)

Run-to-race: Have the need for speed, or need a carrot to get you out of the door during cold winter months? Keep your motivation going through the spring with entry into a May 5k race.

Receive 4 months of personalized coaching tailored to two races + Brooks running tshirt, and membership in the Donahue Coaching online social networks for dialogue, support and encouragement.

For Albuquerque locals, this option includes race entry for the 2017 Albuquerque 5k or 10k. For non-locals this includes a waived entry fee into a local (to you) 10k – please contact me with questions (below). ($340 – 15% savings + waived race entry fee)

Run Together: Sometimes you need a buddy to get going: this year, embark on the journey to your running goals with your spouse, best friend, sibling, or training partner. For three months, synchronize your training, or work individually towards a joint goal. Receive 3 months training for two training partners plus two memberships in the Donahue Coaching online social networks for dialogue, support and encouragement. ($500 – 15% savings)

 

Run deluxe: Want the full package? A personal coach, race entry and running outfit? Receive 4 months of personalized coaching, race entry into 2017 Albuquerque 5k or 10k , and + full running outfit including Brooks running tshirt, shorts and socks! Supporting you on your way, gain membership in the Donahue Coaching online social networks for dialogue, support and encouragement. ($400 – 16% discount)

Every runner is unique – other general ideas for runners include race entry into their favorite race, magazine subscriptions, or a carb-heavy pre-race dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

Outside, Inside

Fall is finally here in New Mexico, and there is no joy like being outside in crisp temperatures, surrounded by the quiet of nature. There are times when I need to escape from the tumult of life and just be with myself, feeling my existing, connecting with the world around.

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Here, in the chilly blue light of the early dawn, I can breathe in the silence of the hills, moving like one more rustling leaf on the yellow cottonwood trees that dot the river banks of the Rio Grande. My feet crunch the gravel on the trail, sink into powdery dust of ditch banks. I am alive in this world that has existed here, constantly changing but ever present.

As I move through this single morning, I am aware of the rapid beating of my heart, my fast breathing fogging the air in front of me, my eyes dancing between now flaming sunrise and dim trail. Here I commune with and find refreshment from the swelling, breathing, silent greatness of the Earth, a presence that is constant, enduring, and strengthening. I feel the fragility of my own life, but along those dawn-lit trails I also perpetually rediscover my own strengths, those of my fellow humans, and I return from this drink of nature more at peace than when I left my house.

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The trail goes on and on…

I return to a house filled with laughter, with joyful baby girls in pajamas and a husband slicing bananas as fast as he can as the girls clamber for more. I dive into this delicious fray, fortified from my run, and I hope to share the joys and peace found on my run as I walk through the day.

When I feel this resolve tremble, I take a moment to run my hand through my daughter’s fine baby hair, to flip through one of my favorite books, The Oldest Living Things in the World, to breathe deeply the fall air that retains its crispness even as the sun turns golden in the afternoon light.


My final thoughts: Run on, revel in the moment, breathe deeply, realize our human moments are but flickers in the long life of this beautiful Earth.

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Photo thanks to the artistry of Extended Play Photography

Knuckle Lights review

It’s November.  Winter is coming: it’s getting cooler and mornings are getting darker.

Much of my training is done in the early morning, in the quiet hours before children awake and work obligations flood my calendar. I spend most of my training time alone, logging miles, winding a solitary path through the streets and trails of Albuquerque.

One aspect of training that has always been of import to me – a lone, female runner – is safety. Especially for the urban runner, one aspect of that is key: visibility.  Personal visibility to vehicles, cyclists and other pedestrians is important, especially as days get shorter. Being able to see the ground in front of you is important no matter what surface you’re running over, trail, road, or track.

I was recently invited to try out Knuckle Lights: Rechargeable hand lights ($59): a set of LED-powered hand-held running lights. Knuckle Lights are available online, and in running stores across the country.  I am a long-term running headlamp user, and I love having my hands free while I run, and was perhaps a bit skeptical at having lights on my (moving) hands, but was eager to try them out!

img_20160907_055920The lights each provide a wide angle (~160 degrees) of bright, clean blue-white light (specs say: 280 lumens). Each handheld light weighs 3 oz. The genius behind the Knuckle Light design is that you are not clutching a light in your hand: rather, the adjustable, flexible strap cinches around your hand (above your knuckles), allowing you to relax your hand and arm naturally as you run or walk.

 

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Lights slide neatly onto the main part of your hand.

The lights can be set to three different power/brightness settings: low, high, and blinking. I found even on the low setting, there was abundant light provided for running on roads or trails. I ran the lights for 4 hours and 21 minutes on high power setting, recharged them and let them run again for 8 hours 23 minutes on low. I ran the blinking lights overnight (in a closet!) for approximately 13.5 hours before I used up the battery. Recharging was simple: I was able to simply click the lights into their charging dock, plug the USB charging cable into the outlet, and after an overnight charging session, they lights were ready to go once more. The lights are magnetic, clicking together so you don’t lose them.img_20160907_055937

I tried the Rechargeable on road runs, an overnight trail relay race, in clear weather and in the rain. I ran them under the shower to test their waterproofness, since the “rain” we get here in NM is not often very substantial. Even in my shower-downpour, the lights remained functional.

Pros: Super-bright, rechargeable, easy to use, light-brightness adjustable, comfortable hand held lights!

Drawbacks: The lights are super bright, and the wide angle of visibility did sometimes catch my own eye, which gave me a moment of light-blindness, but was only a minor nuisance, surmountable once I became accustomed to running with them.  If you are not used to having anything on your hands, it is different to have items on your hands, however, if you are used to carrying waterbottles in your hands, these won’t phase you.

Bottom line: Knuckle Lights are a fun, useful way to be visible on your run or walk. They provide a great alternative to going blind or wearing a headlamp. To my pleasure, the wide flood beam of these lights provides a comparable brightness and a wider angle of light distribution than a running headlamp. These are an excellent tool and can be used for running, walking, hiking, general playing.

Any way you do it, be sure to run your winter-time miles with safety in mind!

I’m a “Professional Runner,” I promise

This morning I ran, came home, and changed into yoga pants and a hoodie sweatshirt. I stretched for about a millisecond, scarfed down some tea and a crumpet (yes, I eat crumpets: with jam), made breakfast, dressed my two daughters, got one of them ready for her preschool field trip to a local pumpkin patch, took them to school, came home, started grading papers and finishing my lecture for this afternoon’s class.

Half-way through my grading I realized we don’t have the chicken needed for tonights’ soup. So I ditch the grading, grab phone and wallet and jet to the nearby Whole Foods. (Kicking myself, thinking: If I’m going to buy non-Costco organic chicken, it had better at least be the most expensive chicken around!)

At checkout, I plunk my chicken, breakfast burrito, and apples down on the counter. The checkout woman says, “Gee, you look like a Professional Runner!”

Startled I look around for a professional runner, excited to meet him or her.

Clerk looks at me, smiling.

“Thanks!” I stammer, “Um,  I kind of, well, I AM a professional runner! Yeah! I love running!” What was it that gave me away as an avid runner? The hair? The salt crusted on my temples? The raw chicken I was clutching? My formal attire? The way I was almost drooling while holding the burrito?

“I thought so!” Happy clerk realizes she’s not talking to a total space cadette/zombie, and continues, “I started running again about a month ago, but I’m having pain in my knee here, do you know why that might be happening? I think it’s….”

We then discuss some start-to-run from scratch ideas, and walk out of Whole Paycheck clutching my chicken, shoving burrito in my mouth, thinking, “Holy cow! I’ve made it! My wild, salty hair, running hoodie and random food items have convinced the population I’m a “real” Professional Runner! Score!”

 

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Trust me, I’m a Professional Runner! Or, be concerned that I didn’t think twice about going grocery shopping crusted in salt.

While this was a hilarious highlight to my morning, it’s kind of true: I’m finding consistency once again, my running has transitioned to training, meaning it’s become more ritual and regular, my mileage has been steadily increasing, and I’ve actually put some races on my “For Real” race calendar this winter and next spring. I’m tired, sore, and couldn’t be happier about this process!

More on training from your local (and recognizable!) Professional Runner coming soon! (Just as soon as I can stop myself from giggling long enough to finish my burrito.)

Fall 5k Challenge

It’s fall! It’s perfect running weather! It also might be the time where you’re feeling a lull in your training motivation after a long summer buildup for fall marathon races and it’s getting darker and colder. If you’re looking for motivation and in-person or online partnership, join my coaching groups and enjoy an active and exciting fall with coaching, racing, and of course, rewards!

FALL FIVE-K CHALLENGE!

Say what? The challenge:

Step 1: Run one 5k each month for the next 3 months.

Luckily for us, the upcoming holidays have many fun, local, themed (!??) races associated with them. So: You run one 5k in each month October, November, and December, celebrating the season or just your love of running.   There’s no strict rules on what a ‘race’ means: you can race, run, walk, jog, interpretive dance the route — as long as you finish.  When you start the challenge, you’ll receive 3 months of personalized 5k training plans in 1-month installments, and join our Facebook athlete group.

Step 2: Share your race with the group online (bonus if you send us a holiday-themed photo of you racing!) using Facebook or in the Donahue Coaching Strava Club (it’s new!)

Step 3: Enjoy that extra Halloween Candy/Turkey + fixins/Eggnog even more knowing you’ve got 5 km in the books!

What gives? 

Run 3 5ks before we hit 2017 &  you get:

  • Brooks technical t-shirt with Donahue Coaching Fall 5k Challenge 2016 logo on it
  • Box of Honeystinger waffles
  • One mystery gift!leafQuestions/comments? Send an email my way!

Spring Running & Racing Plans Undone

This spring I had two main races in mind: the Bolder Boulder, and the High Performance 10,000m at the Portland Track Festival. I set these goals because 1) I love Bolder Boulder, and it’s a quick day’s drive from my home in Albuquerque, and 2) I really love racing track, but haven’t in quite a few years (ok, it’s been a decade!). I was eager to test myself and see what I could run when so many racers are gunning for the Olympic Trials Track standards.

My running was progressing, but slowly. I had plenty of distractions: my sleep-angel baby reversed herself, and we have been averaging 4-6 wakings each night for the last few months. Since our babe shares a room with us, it’s not an easy thing to ignore! So, sleep has been in short supply. I also had the effort of submitting a chapter of my dissertation for review to be published in one of our major geology academic research journals. Along with submitting the chapter, I turned in my entire dissertation in and graduated from the University of New Mexico this May, completing my Ph.D.!

grad

Somewhere in April or May, between drafting figures, submitting a dissertation, nursing at 9:30 PM, 11 PM, 1AM, 3 AM, 5 AM, and being so exhausted on a run that I walked 3 miles home on an easy run, I realized that spring racing was not going to happen as I had envisioned. This realization probably should have come sooner, however, I am stubborn. I really, really wanted to race on the track. I really, really wanted to be in shape again. I missed being in shape. I felt great on some of my runs, but I felt the underlying, creeping exhaustion that I knew meant I wasn’t recovering, and I wasn’t looking forwards to runs as I knew I normally ought to. I slept through several alarm clocks (I run early in the morning), a rarity, as I’m a light sleeper and energetic morning person. I took a few naps (a rare occurrence), collapsing into an incoherent heap when my daughter took her afternoon naps. My milk supply suffered (I’m still nursing), and my ravenous 7 month old protested hungrily.

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Then I got a cold. Normally able to bounce back from colds with just a day or two of extra hydration and rest, I got sicker. Then, I got a fever. Soon, I was shaking, weak, and before I knew it, I had mastitis. A nasty sickness if ever devised, these infections of the mammary glands can be extremely dangerous. After suffering these symptoms for a week or so, pain began radiating from my ear. I thought I had my first-ever sinus infection, and waited to get better. However, pain intensified, and after a few days, I went to the doctor, who diagnosed me with an ear infection! My first ear infection in about 30 years! A round of antibiotics for ear and breast, and I feel a million times more human.

Through this process, however, I bailed on both of my spring goal races. Taking a deep breath, and repeating the words a friend told me (“it’s only June”), I’m dialing back my hyper-enthusiasm, taking a longer, progressing return to racing approach, and am excited to be structuring my fall/winter 2016 and early spring 2017 race calendar. I’m also not beating myself up for not being back in Olympic Trials shape. I know that I’ve prioritized my family and completing my degrees over returning to racing shape over the last year, and I’m glad I’ve done so. I might be yearning and missing being able to race fast and hard this spring (especially since it’s an Olympic year!), but I know that I will get back into racing shape, and I know my slower, steady approach will get me there healthy, happy, and without driving the rest of my family insane! So, here’s to summer training and fall racing!

Just to keep things exciting…we got a puppy. We are enthusiastically welcoming Lemonade (named by my almost- 4 year old daughter) the Golden Retriever to our family!

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7 months old, 12.5 laps on the track

Our daughter cut her first tooth the day she turned 7 months old. She’s rolling, scooting, eating vegetables and fruit with gusto, and just days away from crawling. She’s saying ‘dada’ and ‘mama,’ and loves blowing raspberries. In short, she’s growing up – and quickly!

The last few months since my last post have been incredibly busy professionally, athletically and personally. Since running the Olympic Marathon Trials in February, I’ve been working on trying to run more consistently. Before the trials, I was running about 10 miles a week, and the 8 miles I ran in the race was my longest run in nearly a year!  So, with the goal of getting back into training and potential race fitness by early summer, I set the goal of getting my mileage up and working in some tempo/speed work. My running has been consistent, but not very high in volume. I also have been dealing with some patellar tendinitis, which resulted in my taking nearly 2 weeks of complete rest in late April.

girls

While it feels like I’ve been running nonstop, when I actually look at my training log, reality strikes: I’ve been averaging less than 20 miles each week! I run 3-4 times a week, trying to get a longer run of 8-10 miles and one run with pace or speed work. My biggest challenge lately has been sleep. Not an uncommon issue with parents of infants, I know, but lack of sleep affects my running hugely. From about 5-6.5 months of age, the babe woke almost hourly.  She’s a quick eater, and goes back to sleep easily, but it doesn’t change the fact that I get up every hour during the night. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve upped her day-time and night-time meals and have worked to let her fuss a bit more…which means she’s been sleeping longer, and so have I!

The sudden uptick in sleep is probably why I let myself be coerced by running friends to run the local Run for the Zoo 5k, a great benefit for the local Albuquerque Biopark. It was windy and cold, but I had a great time racing in the blustery weather. This race also served another purpose: reminding me that I like racing!  I knew that I wanted to race track this spring for the first time since I graduated college, but I had scratched out of early planned track races due to lack of fitness.  Following the Run for the Zoo, my same running friend and fellow mom, Natalie talked me into running my first track race in over a decade: the 5,000m at the Masked Raider Invitational in Lubbock, Texas.

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This race was an experience. As we (two women from Santa Fe and I) drove through the open, barren landscapes of eastern NM and north Texas on the afternoon of the race, we drove through epic winds, visibility-impairing dust, and heat. Two of us runners are nursing moms. The 5-hour drive meant that we both pumped breastmilk as we drove down the two-lane highways hoping desperately that we wouldn’t be delayed behind the many hay-trucks or tractors on the highway so much that we’d miss our evening race. We checked the cars temperature gauge less and less enthusiastically as the numbers topped 90° and our truck was buffeted by winds so strong they required two fully-engaged hands on the steering wheel. The race itself was brutal. Times were slow. Given the conditions, I think it was a solid effort, even though it was far from fast. It was strange to be on the track, racing, after more than a decade. It was fun! I raced in my training shoes, struck by a sudden, starting-line (rational? Irrational?) fear of injury, should race in my flats. Such is the return to track racing after such a long break!

I celebrated the rest of Mother’s Day weekend with my family, ran the Mother’s Day 1km with my daughter in her first race ever.md5k

My next planned race is Bolder Boulder, on Memorial Day. Stay tuned for training updates! And, in other news, I [finally] joined Instagram!