Thursday, July 22, 2021

Weather You Run This Summer

The first time I signed up for the
Mike cooling down near the end of our 13-mile run.
IllumiNITE's Endeavor Tank and Long Running Shorts
New England Green River Marathon I was very nervous that it was taking place during the hot, humid summer. All my prior marathons had been in the fall and winter months. While I had trained over summer months before, I always ran super early in the mornings to avoid the summer heat. Green River didn't start until about 7 a.m., so I knew I needed to train for the weather as well as the mileage.

A friend told me the best way to train for heat was to not use air conditioning in my home and to run later in the day when it was hotter so that my body acclimated. I drank 100 ounces of water every day—at least—to stay hydrated, and I took salt tabs every 30 minutes while running. Suffice to say, I trained alone because my friends all trained in our usual early mornings. I was surprised to discover how quickly my body did acclimate to the heat. Running in 95-degree weather started to feel great!

Come race day, I was actually cold as we rode the shuttle from Greenfield, Massachusetts to Marlboro Vermont. I was cold at the start line while my friends worried about the humidity settling in. I was cold during the first ten miles of the race, finally warming up at mile 11, and I didn't get hot until I hit mile 21 when the course opened up to black asphalt without the canopy of trees that covered most of the marathon route. I had been so cold, I was grateful for the heat, and I finished strong.

In fact, Green River was my fastest marathon ever. Now granted, it is the only marathon with an elevation loss of 1,450 feet, but I do believe that training for the humidity and heat paid off. When I sprinted across the finish line, I was so excited! My friend who was trying to qualify for Boston had crossed already, and I jumped up and down exclaiming how much I loved the course. 

"Are you kidding me?!" she yelled. "I started throwing up at mile nine, and I almost called it quits." The heat had destroyed her. As my other friends crossed the finish line, they also looked beat up. Some swore they'd never run a summer marathon again. I hadn't thought too much about plan to train for the heat in the heat until I saw how miserable my friends were at that finish line. 

I love being the brightest thing out there, especially
on hot, humid, summer days!
IllumiNITE's Savannah Tee, Jammer Mid-Length Short,
and Ponyband Headband
Mike and I are training for this year's Green River Marathon, and the pandemic has totally thrown me off my game. It's been difficult sticking to a regular running routine now that we work remotely and were socially distanced and quarantined for over a year. I'm just starting to find my groove, but the heat and humidity have snuck up on us. I forgot to start conditioning before the hot summer months really set in. It's interesting to see how weather can completely deplete you of energy—or put a little more pep in your step. On one 13-mile run, we had to stop for so many walk breaks, it took an additional hour to finish than our normal time because the hot sun beat down on us with no mercy; the humidity clung to us like dead weight, and the temperature reached a whopping. The following weekend, we rain seventeen miles with no issues whatsoever because  the day was overcast and rainy. And then, the weekend after that, we ran eighteen miles along the beach, a bright sunny day of seventy with the ocean breeze and mist cooling us as we ran. And yet, somehow the following week's thirteen-miler destroyed me again, even though we ran along that same cool coastal route.

"We need to up our game," I told Mike, as I humbly walked the last mile or maybe two back. I must remind myself during these struggling run days, that not giving up is a success within itself. I got the mileage in, even if some of those miles I walked.

Summer running is no joke! It's important to be prepared for anything, as you never know what you're going to get. Your run could start off cloudy and cool only to become blazing hot and humid in just an hour or two. So here's what I recommend:

Hydration and Fuel

  • Salt tabs are vital for keeping electrolytes on track and muscles limber—SaltStick Fast Chews are my FAVE!. 
  • A hydration pack that holds two liters minimum is lifesaving when going on longer runs, especially when the weather can add unanticipated, additional time. 
  • It's especially important to have food to stay well-fueled and energized. I like Spring Energy gels; they're easy on my stomach, easily packable in my vest pockets, and taste great!

Rainy days provide cool relief,
while IllumiNITE keeps me dry and bright!
Colorado Waterproof Jacket; Velocity Mitten
Gear and Clothing 

  • A packable rain jacket will keep you dry during inclement weather—being cold and wet can be just as detrimental to the body as being too hot. 
  • Multi-Wraps and other full head coverings protect against the hot sun while also keeping sweat out of the eyes.
  • Lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing keeps the body cool, dry, and comfortable.
  • Lightweight, moisture-wicking smart wool socks keep the feet cool and dry and blister free. I love Darn Tough's running socks, especially the tall ones when running on trails.
  • Sunglasses to protect the eyes from the piercing sun!—Goodr sunglasses are amazing! They stay on my head no matter how fast or how hard I run so they're always at the ready!

Routes and Running Buddies

  • We made the most of unexpected travel for work by 
    running along the cool coastal route of Santa Barbara!
    Pay attention to weather forecasts, and don't run in dangerous conditions, like extreme heat waves.
  • Stay on well-traveled and well-marked routes during hot and humid conditions, and let someone know where you're running, your anticipated return time, and update them along the way.
  • Run with a friend so that you can keep each other accountable on water, salt, and fuel intake, and recognize any potential signs of heat-related illness.

Adapting Accordingly

When conditions aren't safe:
  • Run on a treadmill at a gym.
  • Cross-train at home—there are so many free exercise videos that you can workout in the comfort of your home.
  • Run super early in the morning or late at night when the temperature is cooler and the sun isn't high in the sky (IllumiNITE's reflective clothing and accessories keep you shining brightly in the dark).
  • Run by water where it's cooler, or in the forest where it's shaded.
  • Switch your run day—adapting your training schedule during inclement weather will keep you safe and still on track.
  • When all else fails, skip your run—missing one run is not the end-all, be-all of marathon training, especially if it's a shorter run (3–6 miles). What most important is not injuring yourself before race day.
Sweaty but satisfying run!
IlluimiNITE's Multi-Wrap, Ponyband Headband,
and Endeavor and Vigor Singlet Tanks

Last but not least, it's most important to listen to your body. It's one thing to push yourself past your comfort zone; it's another thing to push yourself into the danger zone. Know the signs of heat-related illness, and stop running if you feel dizzy, disoriented, cramping, nausea, or anything that surpasses mild discomfort.

Mike and I continue to struggle this training period, but we're chugging along toward marathon day. The best we can do, is continue to train to our best ability and hope for perfect race day conditions. Dear Universe, throw us a cloudy, misty day for Green River race day. Or at least a cool breeze to envelope us as we run.

Do you have any tips for running in hot, humid weather? I'd love to hear your tips! Please leave a comment below!








Don't forget to check out IllumiNITE.com for these styles and more! And use my discount code Sera15 for 15% off your order!

Friday, June 25, 2021

Marathon Color Themes: Orange You Glad?

IllumiNITE Jammer Mid-length Short
Spring has passed by in a blur, and time still feels like a concept. I honestly don't know how April turned into the end of June, and so many things seem up in the air. But one thing is for certain: we're in the thick of marathon training! With just 65 days until our New England Green River Marathon, I'm suddenly feeling ill-prepared. Mike on the other hand, is running circles around me—he's a speed demon, and I swear he's a robot sent to me from the tech gurus of Silicon Valley as an experiment of love between humans and AIs. But that's a story for another time.

I've had a few setbacks this year—a rotator cuff injury and stiff muscles that are still angry at me for not running any marathons last year. But I'm practicing self-care by stretching every day, using my Roll Recovery R8 every day (ouch!), and making sure that I push through the muscle aches but stopping at the pain. One of the best pieces of advice I received from my physical therapist is if it's sore keep going but if you experience sharp, sudden, jolting pain, stop. We should have been up to 15 miles as of last Sunday, but I've only managed 11 miles for my longest run. I know my body will slowly catch up. I just need to keep at it, slow and steady, and remind my body that it really does love running long distances. 

To help me stay injury-free, I bought myself a new pair of running sneakers. I buy a new pair every year because the life of a running sneaker is about 400 miles. Since I also own a pair of trail running sneakers, my road shoes usually last the full year, even when training for a marathon because I split the mileage between the two pairs. My trusty Garmin keeps track of mileage for me. But I digress. I always go with the same brand—Mizuno Wave Inspire. I usually choose the men's style because the toe box is slightly wider than the women's, and I really like the bright vibrant colors. 

This time, as I was scrolling through the different options on the Mizuno site, I told Mike I didn't know which color I liked best. He said, "Just pick the one that's cheapest." I looked at him in horror. He ignored my dramatics and pointed at my computer screen. "Look, the blue one is on sale."

"I can't buy the blue ones!" I threw my hands up! "I wore the blue ones the year Indigo turned 21!" Mike blinked at me in pure confusion.

That's when it hit me: The color of the sneakers I've chosen each year always have some significance. It all started when I purchased: Purple Mizunos the year Prince died. Prince shared a birthday with me, and it felt right to honor him while I ran, especially since music is a major part of my running experience. Then:

IllumiNITE
Vigor Singlet
Shortie

 Blue—to honor my son's 21st birthday

Silver with blue—I wasn't feeling my best, and I needed to be reminded that I could shine nonetheless. That color theme came from the song "For My Brother" by Blue October. I highly recommend listening. All the feels...

The lyric that sticks with me to this day is "Believe you can shine when you're silver, and I promise you gold." Justin Furstenfeld is such an inspirational poet.

IllumiNITE Vigor Singlet
Shortie

Grey (aqua tint) with aqua and pink stripes inside—They reminded me of the Mediterranean Sea and were the perfect motivation for our marathon in Greece.

IllumiNITE
Satellite Tight
Black with gold—At the beginning of 2020, I felt at the top of my game. That gold feeling I had been praying for, finally settled in! Litle did I know the pandemic was about to hit...that "gold" reminded me that even when I felt more silver than gold, brighter days would come back again.

And before I knew it 2021 was upon us. Here I was coming out of a pandemic year, not having run one single marathon in over a year and a half. I needed a new pair of sneakers. Again, I wondered: What color signifies this year? It felt like the most important running decision of my life. This past year has been so challenging, so difficult, but we had survived it. 

And then I saw them:

IllumiNITE
Jammer Mid-length Short

Salmon buff black
—The brightest, happiest color I've seen in a long while. Mike's eyes nearly popped out of his head. "Well, we can't miss seeing you in those!" 

"They match my favorite shorts! And my running vest! They're perfect!" I exclaimed, and I didn't care that they cost $10 more than the blue ones. Because they go with this year's marathon training theme: 

ORANGE YOU GLAD?

IllumiNITE Reflective Tee and Jammer Mid-length Short
Orange you glad millions of people are getting vaccinated?

Orange you glad the pandemic is winding down?

Orange you glad the world is opening back up?

Orange you glad we can start traveling again?

Orange you glad we made it through this difficult year?

Orange you glad we can hug our family members again?

Orange you glad we can visit with friends again?

Orange you glad marathons are happening again?

Orange you glad we're running partners?

Orange you glad, Orange You Glad? ORANGE YOU GLAD?!

I am!

And now, my marathon accessories are complete! I can run as happy as a summer day's sunrise and sunset and shine bright day and night!

What's your color theme? Are you a bright and bold apparel runner? Or a dark and stealthy runner? Leave your comment (or picture!) below.


IllumiNITE Colorado Waterproof Jacket

IllumiNITE has something for everyone—for the most flashiest or most incognito running personalities, they've got you covered literally. And no matter what color theme you prefer, IllumiNITE keeps you shining bright when it matters most—at night, early morning, and in cloudy, rainy weather. 

Check out their latest styles at IllumiNITE.com, and use my discount code RunBrightly15 for 15% off your order.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Culture Shocked: Pacing Myself Back Into the World


Sera and Mike Shocked

It's been 400 days?!

Sera in IllumiNITE Vigor Singlet;
Synergy Headband

Today is Earth Day! Today is also Covid-19 Quarantine Day number 400! That's 400 days since the world shut down due to the pandemic. 400 days with no races, music concerts, writing conferences, indoor dining or shopping, parties, or family gatherings. 400 days of social isolation. 

Yet, somehow, the idea that the world is rapidly opening up feels like The Earth is spinning way too fast. Wait, what do you mean the marathon we signed up for in 2019 is now happening at the end of August?! Wait, what do you mean we qualify for the vaccine? We can actually get it NOW? Wait! What do you mean we'll start traveling on trains and airplanes again?

wall map of the world with push pins
Close-up of our wall map; can't wait
to add more pins to it!

Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled that millions of people are getting vaccinated every day. And I am thrilled that the world is opening up again. 

So thrilled, in fact, we booked a trip for this fall to hike the Grand Canyon—Rim to Rim!—and then explore Las Vegas. I have never been to Arizona or Nevada before, and I am so excited to be doing both in one trip. I cannot wait to see Red Rock Canyon as well, and if it 's safe to do so, I'd love to see a live show again—Circe du Soleil

Mike and I both love to travel so much; it's been odd to be stationary in one space for so long. To pass the time, we've been dreaming about all the places we want to visit all over the world. We even bought ourselves a GIANT wall map with pins to track every place we visit.

Posing like a runner; Athens Authentic Marathon in Greece. Wearing IllumiNITE Vigor Singlet; Shortie
Mike took this photo of me during the 
Athens Authentic Marathon in Greece.
Wearing IllumiNITE Vigor Singlet; Shortie

But after being in complete isolation for more than a year, I suddenly feel ill-prepared. I am culture shocked! It is a strange feeling to have such conflicting emotions. I am trying my best to focus on the positive, but the anxiety lingers.

I must remind myself that just like marathon training, I must pace myself. I would never step outside my door and run 26.2 miles on a whim without training first or carrying water and fuel. Likewise, I don't need to reenter the world all at once. I can do it gradually.  Perhaps I'll start with having a couple people over in my backyard, still socially-distanced, now that the weather is getting warmer. Perhaps I'll eventually sit outside at a restaurant. Perhaps I'll sign up for another race. 

Sera in IllumiNITE Colorado Waterproof Rain Jacket;  3-in-1 Mitten; Mike in  Skull Cap; Ascent Parka
It is exciting to venture out into the world aagain!
Sera in IllumiNITE Colorado Waterproof Rain Jacket;
3-in-1 Mitten; Mike in  Skull Cap; Ascent Parka

Or not. I must also remind myself that I do not have to drastically change the lifestyle I've adopted when this pandemic shut everything down. I can take it one day at a time; one decision at a time; and before I know it, I will cross that finish line into this new world, which will feel similar yet never the same as it was—and perhaps that's a good thing. 

Happy Earth Day!  Let's shine bright as we re-enter the world! As a special treat, IllumiNITE is offering 15% off your order on April 22. Just use code Earth21 to get any of the gear shown in this post— and so much more! You can also use my discount code Sera15 for 15% off your IllumiNITE order any time! 

Masking up before heading out; Sera in IllumiNITE Ambition Hoodie (on sale now!)
Masking up before heading out;
Sera in IllumiNITE Ambition Hoodie
(on sale now!)

Do you have anxiety about the world opening back up? 

Are you excited?

What is the first thing you want to do? 

Share a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts. 





Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Spring MarathonTraining: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

Foggy, rainy morning for our run; but we stayed bright 
and dry in IllumiNITE's Colorado Jacket and Squall Jacket

Marathon Training has commenced, and it has been rough, rough, rough. I'm at that beginning all over again where running just two miles feels like a death sentence. I'm at the stage where I wonder how on earth did I manage to run for three, four, five hours on end and then jump into a social activity afterwards without any issues. But that's the beauty of running. Am I rusty from taking off most of the winter because my couch was too cozy to leave? Yes! But....will my body remember that it can handle a marathon? Also, Yes! Eventually.

I equate my spring marathon training to the children's analogy for the month of March: It comes in like a lion—with everything muscle in my body roaring like a lion and my lungs heaving. But this rough start also means that it will go out like a lamb—with every muscle bounding through the air without a care in the world. If it wasn't difficult to get back into it, running wouldn't feel so rewarding when I hit my goals.

I love our coordinating pullovers: Inspire and Early Riser;
even their names fit our personalities! And, our Headband
and Multi-Wrap keep the wind out of our ears!

It doesn't help that I have a rotator cuff injury, or that my back has been spasming, and my knee decided to shift out of place for a week. Getting old is no fun at all. Wait! I'm not getting old! I'm just out of practice. Okay, phew! I've been consistently doing my stretches and exercises to heal my shoulder and strengthen my back, as I mentioned in my last blog post. And since Mike and I really are out of practice, I started us off slowly with Hal Higdon's 15k Novice Training plan because it really starts with the basics: just two miles to start, gradually adding miles each week until we hit our 15k—that's 9.32 miles! Miraculously, this training transitions perfectly into Hal Higdon's Novice Marathon Training plan (with a minor adjustment) to meet our marathon goal at the end of August. New England Green River Marathon—here we come! I'm surprised Mike is willing to run another marathon with me after running his first and only marathon—The Athens Authentic Marathon, with a whopping 20 miles of hills! Due to the pandemic, Green River was postponed from last year to this year. I hope that Mike falls in love with running marathons this time—Green River has a 1,450 feet elevation drop—it's the least I could do to redeem myself. Athens was so difficult (but rewarding)!

Repping our love for mountains with
IllumiNITE's Love Tee and Vision Pullover
Once we're back in shape, we'll be double-downing on our long runs, adding in the half-mileage the day before or after (for example, if we run 18 miles on Saturday, we run or hike 9 miles on Sunday) to prepare us for Ghost Train Ultramarathon in the fall. I really want to do 45 miles before my 45th birthday, over the course of two days. Mike is a trooper and agreed to run 30 of those miles with me. It's all very exciting...in theory. Right now, I'm really wishing this lion would get off my back so I can feel as free as that cute little lamb frolicking in the fields.


I'm obsessed with my playlist that has only songs related
to jets and flying...and with my phone secured in
my shorts side pocket...it really keeps me moving!
How do I keep myself motivated when running feels so laborious? I've created some pump-me-up Spotify playlists to listen to as I run, and I take advantage of all my fun Illuminite* clothing and accessories that are perfect for New England's unpredictable spring weather. Every running day, I check the weather. Do I need my lightweight, waterproof rain jacket? My short sleeve shirt with my separate sleeves? My jammer shorts with the deep side pocket for my phone? Or my performance fleece and Velocity Gloves to keep me warm? Anything goes in these early spring months. But that just adds to the fun of it all.

So, yes. It's normal for legs to feel like lead with every step, and lungs to feel like deflated balloons, and the throat to feel on fire from breathing heavy. It's normal for two miles to feel like 100 miles and for clothes to not quite fit the same and for the brain to feel all foggy. Soon, the groove will come back and 15 miles will fly by in a blink, and it will be summer and warm and all will be right in the world again. 

IllumiNITE's Velocity Mittens are lightweight and warm,
and their bright color makes them so fun to wear!

The most important thing to remember: just like March, spring marathon training may feel like the beast of the lion, but soon you WILL find that peaceful bliss of the lamb.

What races are you signed up for? 

What are your tricks and tips to get you moving again now that it's spring? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below!







*Get 15% off your order at IllumiNITE.com with my discount code RunBrightly15.



Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Stay Flexible, Avoid Injury


Wearing IllumiNITE's Long Sleeve Piper Tee
and Running Tights keep me comfortable and
fashionable while I work from home
I feel like roadkill on the side of the road that has frozen solid. Ugh! In hindsight, it was inevitable that I would throw my back out this winter. Before the bitter cold settled in, I’d been pretty good at keeping active, despite the pandemic keeping me at home most of the week. But as the months got colder and my reading chair and afghan got cozier, it became more difficult to motivate myself to get moving.
Wrist stretches help my hands and
 arms from cramping up

For the past month, my shoulder has been hurting. It finally got to the point that it woke me up every time I tossed or turned while I slept, and trust me, I toss and turn all night long. Long story short, I eventually threw out my back, which spasmed for three days, which in turn caused new pain on the left side of my neck, back, and arm—all in addition to my right shoulder pain.

“It sucks getting old,” I told Mike.

Truthfully, the issue isn’t that I’m “getting old.” The issue is that I drastically cut back on minor
everyday routines that kept my body limber and strong. I didn’t realize that these little routines had such a great impact on my body’s well-being. I’m seeing a physical therapist now, and the words "you're a complicated situation" came out of her mouth. Not good. She can't seem to find the source of the pain. I can. It's call being a sloth. So now, I'm reimplementing all those little things that kept my body limber in addition to the new stretches she wants me to do each week.

Standing Desk and Fatigue Mat

Don't judge! No one can see
my slippers on Zoom!
Tree pose keeps
my posture straight!
For years, I’ve had a standing desk at work. It took some getting used to. But after slowly adjusting to standing one hour a day to three hours a day and so on, I found myself standing at home during activities I’d normally sit for…like standing against the wall while reading a book or standing in the kitchen while paying bills, my laptop sitting on the counter. In other words, it didn’t take long before the “standing” part faded away from the “desk” part—the same way we don’t really acknowledge the “sitting” part. 

I've got to remember to lessen up 
throughout the day!
I cannot promote a standing workstation enough. Whether you work from home or not, look into purchasing a standing desk. They aren’t as expensive as they used to be. Mine, which takes up the width of my office, was under four-hundred dollars (I like a lot of surface space). Don’t have the space or funds for a standing desk? There are various ways to create one. Before I bought mine, I placed my laptop on the counter and raised it up with books so that it was eye height. A separate keyboard and mouse kept it all ergonomic. If a standup workstation isn’t an option, look at your workstation setup and make sure it’s ergonomic. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration share great tips on making sure your computer workstation is safe. 

I'd be lost without my fatigue mat!
A fatigue mat is essential to standing all day. It absorbs the shock to relieve pressure from your back and knees. Just remember to buy a fatigue mat that is at least half-an-inch thick, though I prefer three-quarters-an-inch thick. There are a number of stretches you can do right at your desk, whether you’re standing or sitting. Healthline shared some tips in their article Stretches to Do at Work Every Day.

Stretch, Move, Exercise

Working at a standing desk makes stretching a mindless activity, and I often catch myself in the middle of a stretch before I even realize I'm stretching. Simple movements like standing on one leg with the sole of the other leg on the ankle or calf (often called tree pose) really helps me gain better balance and engages my core muscles. Then I’ll cross my leg over my knee and “sit” into it (variation of a pigeon pose). I also perform neck, arm, and hand stretches throughout the day so that I don't stiffen up or wake up the tendinitis in my wrist. 

I loved going to my gym at work!
My Savannah Tee kept me cool
while I worked up a sweat!
But then I got lazy; sitting in my reading chair all day prevented me from performing these small but effective stretches, which I‘m sure added to the current state of my stiff and sore body.

There are also a number of strength-training exercise routines that can be done right at home. The plethora of YouTube channels and pay programs out there are endless. My sister swears by Beach Body. I like to stick with old school moves, such as sit ups, pushups, leg lifts, etc. I look forward to slowly incorporating those back into my routine once my back is properly healed.

Water Cooler Breaks

Staying cozy and bright in IllumiNITE's Love Tee
and Powerstretch Capri
while I strengthen my core
Do people still say water cooler anymore? I’m seriously dating myself. I am getting old! When I worked in an office, I took way more breaks than I do now that I work from home. I refilled my water bottle multiple times, got up to get a snack from the breakroom, which was always on a different floor, walked to colleagues' offices for a quick chat—work-related or not—and took daily walks at lunchtime. 

But working from home provides no real distractions, and since we’re all working remotely, we check in on Zoom. I often find myself eating lunch in my chair during yet another Zoom meeting. I forget to refill my water bottle. Forget the snacks…what snacks? There’s no one to bring junk food into work anymore since work is my house and Mike and I eat whole foods. I have to remind myself that water cooler breaks can still happen, just more conscientiously. 

Set timers, alarms, or reminders on your phone to take quick breaks throughout the day. After thirty minutes—60 max—walk away from your workstation, even if it’s to check the mail, throw in a load of laundry, or do ten jumping jacks or two minutes of a Spotify dance party. Refilling that water bottle is a good excuse to break from work—and will help keep you hydrated. Hydration further aids in preventing muscle injury.

Daily Walks

Miss my daily walks!
IllumiNITE's Colorado Jackets keeps us
warm and dry!
Photo credit: © Matt Francis
When I worked in an office, I took daily walks…even in the dead of winter. It was much easier to get out there in the cold when I did so with a group of colleagues. Mike and I rarely have the same meeting breaks so we were walking first thing in the morning or right after work. But the shorter, colder, darker winter days did not make leaving our cozy home appealing, especially after a long day's work. Where's that afghan? 

It's time to schedule those walk breaks again. Cold weather never stopped me before. It’s amazing to think that simply sitting all day and staying inside could have such a damaging effect on my body. But it has, and then some! I noticed that being more sedentary has also increased my irritability and darkened my mood, which in turn has made me more lethargic and unmotivated. It’s so easy to fall out of habits, but much harder to get back into them. 

Reminder: I will be able to fully stretch again! 
Especially in IllumiNITE's Comet Running Tight!
Photo credit: 
© Matt Francis
I feel so foolish that I let myself slip so far into sloth mode that I can’t even touch my toes anymore. Was it that long ago that I could drop my hands down to the ground and grasp the earth with my palms while my legs held perfectly straight? I must hold faith that I can find my way back to the Sera who could just spring into a fifteen-mile run without thinking twice about it on any given day. I will find my way back. There’s no use beating myself up for falling so easily back into a slump. It’s more important to focus on getting back on track to the healthy lifestyle that keeps me limber and happy. Reimplementing these everyday routines is a good start. 

What do you do to keep your body flexible and strong? Leave a comment below. I'd love to incorporate new ideas into my everyday routine.


Don't forget! You can get 15% off your IllumiNITE order with my discount code RunBrightly15, including the items shown in the pictures on my blog!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Keep Your Loved Ones Safe This Valentine's Day, and Always

My baby boy, circa 1998
A few weeks ago, I dropped my son off at college, and it was more emotional than I expected. See, my son has been in college for a few years now. Dropping him off and picking him up has become old hat (that phrase makes me now feel old, but I digress). It's been a mundane routine over the years of packing him up, shipping him out, packing him up again, and shipping him home. 

But, this year felt so much different. For starters, he had been living on campus mostly year-round, as he took summer courses in addition to his fall and spring semesters. When I moved in with my partner last summer, my son had only stayed at my house about ten nights of the year. Even when the pandemic hit, my son was one of the few allowed to stay on campus. But when the college opened up its campus to students again in September, my son decided he wanted to learn remotely.

This pandemic brought us closer together
with family nights on the couch

Being in a new place and having my son move into that place took a lot of adjusting on all of our parts. Mike had to renovate a room for him; we had to figure out where to store all his belongings; we all had to learn to live in harmony together, while having different daily routines and eating habits. After a few rocky weeks, we found our living together groove. We established family routines, such as eating dinners together no matter what the rest of our day looked like; going for hikes and walks and runs together; watching a dedicated TV show together. 

So proud of his achievements!
This pandemic offered an opportunity I don't think I would have had otherwise. My son is at the point in his life where he'll soon go off and live on his own, create his own life, and our time together will lessen. Having my son in my home during the pandemic also gave me a sense of relief knowing that he was safe. I hadn't realized that I hold this nagging anxiety when he's away from home—that he's out in the world on his own and there's nothing I can do about it. Of course, this is what every parent wants to achieve ultimately—to raise their children to be self-sufficient, successful. But it's still hard to say goodbye to the baby boy that used to love cuddling on the couch with a good movie and hot cocoa.

When my son got accepted into a new college more than three hours away, I felt a little anxiety about the distance, about the pandemic, about him being so far away in a new place on his own. But I was also very excited for his new adventure. I was also ready to go back to the calm, quiet lifestyle that Mike and I had become accustomed to before my son moved in. So I set about packing my son's life up once again and making sure he had everything to be self-sufficient and successful at his new school.

IllumiNITE's cool, reflective design will keep
my son visible to drivers despite dark and winter conditions
Before I knew it, time ran out and it was moving day! We packed up a rented minivan (with unlimited miles!) and made the three-plus hour trek to upstate Vermont. Due to the pandemic,  we weren't allowed to help him move into college. We had to stay outside, so we unpacked the minivan, left them on the steps of his dorm, and gave a quick farewell—did I mention that it was only nine degrees out? Brrrrrr! 

My son's been living in Vermont for the past few years, so he's fully equipped for Vermont
winters with thermal wear and a heavy duty jacket and gloves. Since he doesn't have a car, we bought him a mountain bike so that he can get around campus—and have some fun in Vermont's epic wooded trails! I made sure he had all the safety accessories: helmet, blinking lights, reflective strips. But on the drive home, I realized exactly how remote he was, remembered how quickly it gets dark in the winter, and panic seized me. Why didn't I buy him reflective clothing before he left? And then it really hit me: my baby boy has once again left the nest, and I missed him terribly already.

Who's that sneaking up in the dark? 
Phew! It's just my son being silly
on our evening walk!
Thankfully, Mike is very attuned to my feelings, and he comforted me on the ride home. "We can always go hiking in Vermont and visit him when it's safe to do so." Tears welled up in my eyes. 

"He's only a car ride away, not across country." I nodded. 

"We can finally watch whatever we want on TV." That one made me laugh.

And now that we're watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime (highly recommend!), I remembered that it's a good thing to have such an ambitious, driven child who wants to venture out on his own. 

"He takes after him mom," Mike said.

Safety orange will keep my son safe from hunters
when he's on the trails in the woods


And then I remembered just because he's not home doesn't mean I can't keep him safe. There's this wonderful thing called online shopping where purchases can be shipped anywhere in the world. And since I love the safety that IllumiNITE provides, I opened up my browser and bought my son their Reflective Waterproof Bike Helmet Cover and their Vizi Reflective Orange Bib in Safety Orange.

IllumiNITE
is more than an athletic apparel company; they offer a variety of products for womenmenkids, and even pets; Safety is IllumiNITE's top priority. From tote bags to Halloween capes to dog leashes, IllumiNITE has something for everyone. 

My favorite Valentine's
Looking for gift ideas for Valentine's Day? Give the ultimate gift of love with IllumiNITE's reflective products. Use discount code BOGOVALENTINE* (automatically applied at discount) to get 50% off a second item when you buy one at full price! That's an amazing savings...especially if you're buying one of their Winter Jackets! And you can keep your loved ones safe the other eleven months of the year with my discount code RunBrightly15 for 15% off your order. 

How do you keep your loved ones safe? 
Leave a comment below!

Have a very Happy and Safe Valentine's Day!




*Buy one regular price item, get one regular price item of equal or lesser value 50% off; Active from 12:00 AM Feb 12 to 11:59 PM Feb 19; May be used more than once; cannot be combined with other discounts

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

I'Masking You to Hang Out

IllumiNITE's Face and Neck Wear double as a face mask while keeping you warm for all your outdoor winter adventures!

It has been 323 days since America shut down due to the pandemic. What's worse! Here in New England, the past 93 days have been cold and bitter wintry months! I woke up this morning to my weather app shivering its five degrees at me, and all I wanted to do was crawl further down into my blankets and sleep until spring.

Let's face it—COVID fatigue is legit. I'm so beyond tired wearing masks everywhere when I need to venture into the world to get essentials, like food and medicine. I'm so beyond tired to make sure I don't touch my face until I get home and sanitize my hands, my phone, and everything else I've touched while out. It's exhausting! I know I'm not the only one wishing this pandemic would just end. BUT, we can't just will the pandemic away. Fatigued by it or not, COVID still exists. 

These days, I'm struggling even more with trying to explain to people I care deeply about why I won't gather indoors; why I won't visit without a mask on. Some people take offense; they think "No" means I think they have COVID; they think "No" means I'm judging them; they think "No" means I don't really care enough to spend time with them. I try to explain this is not about them as an individual. Any one of us could have COVID (and not know it)—including me! I will not gather indoors BECAUSE I care. I have seen too many people become really ill with this virus (some with long-lasting effects!), and way too many people I know have died from it. It's heartbreaking. This pandemic won't end if we don't continue to stay hunkered down.

In addition to being COVID-fatigued, I am also screen fatigued. My workdays have become nonstop Zoom meetings and phone calls and eight hours a day of screen time! I've taken to locking my phone in my home office Friday nights and praying I don't need to talk to a single person outside of my household just so I can feel rested come Monday morning. I'm totally Zoomed out, Phone-Called Out, Social Mediaed Out! Breaks really help.

Okay, end rant. I do miss hanging out with my friends and family. It's really hard to say "No" to invites for cocktail nights and dinners and other such gatherings. A few people reached out to me sharing that they also are struggling with people not understanding social isolation, especially during these cold, dark days when everyone is locked inside. As I've thought more and more about it, I've gathered some ideas for how to safely gather OUTSIDE during this cold, dreary winter.


Host a Backyard Gathering

Grateful for my IlumiNITE Tahoe Performance Fleece to
keep me warm during a socially-distanced photoshoot
for my son's graduation in our local park
Bring the cozy warmth of home outdoors! Build a fire pit or rent/buy one of those outdoor propane
heaters to keep everyone warm. Ask everyone to bring their own chair and blankets. Serve hot cider, hot chocolate, coffee or tea—all of which can be spiked with spirits for those 21 and over. Crockpots do a great job keeping mulled wine and spiked cider warm; insulated travel mugs are great for keeping beverages warm as well. For food, offer s'mores to roast over the fire, chowder or soup, and warm bread. 

Make one person the server, and have that person wear gloves and a mask while serving to keep everyone safe. You can also ask everyone to bring their own drinks and food for extra precaution. If you have a projector and screen, host a movie night, or use a portable speaker to create a dance party...with everyone outside of individual households distanced six-to-ten feet apart.


Traverse Your Nearest Bike Path

Mike and I are athletes, so we often forget that not everyone is "up" for a mountain climb (see what I did here?) or a run. The bike path offers a multitude of ways to connect with family and friends. You can walk, bike, rollerblade, roller skate (for you old school peeps!), hoverboard, or skateboard. The little ones can ride their big wheels and tricycles, or get pushed in a stroller or wagon. 

Plus, bike paths are wider than sidewalks, which makes social distancing easier. Most bike paths get plowed when it snows, but check with your town first to make sure. 

Travel Separately Together

Socially distanced hike on a local mountain with Mike's aunt and uncle;

Geared up with my IlumiNITE Tahoe Performance Fleece
How often have you thought about all the history and significant places in your own state? We often overlook tourist attractions nearby because we're too busy looking up touristy places everywhere else! I've lived in Western Massachusetts my whole life yet I'm surprised at how many historical places I have not yet visited. 

Do some research online; google your town or state websites, and nature conservatories, museums, and other outdoor attractions in your area. Check out touristy places, such as historical estate grounds and cemeteries, natural attractions, such as hiking trails, nature conservatories, waterfalls, caverns, spiritual. 

Then invite friends or family to meet you there!


Visit a State Park

State Parks offer a lot of activities, all in one convenient outdoor place. Many have hiking trails, basketball and tennis courts, open fields, picnic tables and grills, playgrounds, and more. Nothing beats cold weather like playing a team sport (no contact!) like baseball/softball, flag football, soccer, or disc golf. 


Explore Winter-Only Activities

IllumiNITE's Reflective Cold Weather Versa Gaiter provides versatiility 
for a multitude of outdoor winter activities!

Besides running and hiking, which you can do pretty much all year round, there are a number of outdoor winter activities that could be fun to try with others. Go snowshoeing! Try cross-country skiing or regular skiing/snowboarding for the more adventurous types. 

Have you ever been tubing, sledding, or tobogganing? Just be sure only people within the same household double up! 

For those who enjoy less active activities, look up places near you that offer ice sculpture shows and winterfests. 

I like to steal Mike's IllumiNITE Ascent Parka
it's like wearing a warm boyfriend hug 
on our cold morning walks!
Layer Up,  Gear Up, and Mask Up

However you choose to gather with loved ones outdoors, be sure that everyone is properly prepared for
New England's unpredictable weather patterns. It's so important to wear layers, as finicky New England temperatures can plummet quickly—especially once the sun starts to set. IllumiNITE reflective athletic wear layers well without added bulk, keeping you cozy warm, comfortable, and fashionably bright! Remind everyone to wear their cold weather gear as well. Layers won't do you any good if your head, neck, and extremities are exposed to the cold. Share a winter weather checklist that includes hats, hoods, neck coverings, gloves, mittens, wool socks, and proper foot attire. For especially cold days and nights, add Hot Hands or heating packs to the list. And last but definitely not least, mask up! It adds a greater level of safety, and as an added bonus, it keeps your face warm and protected from harsh winter winds!


MASKUP with IllumiNITE's Reflective Face and Neck Wear Collection!
IllumiNITE makes it easier than ever to MASKUP with family and friends! Now through the end of June, use discount code MASKUP for 20% off IllumiNITE's Reflective Face and Neck Wear Collection*. Check out the multiple ways you can use their Multi-Wrap in the video below! 

Already have IllumiNITE's Face and Neck wear? Keep yourself and your loved ones warm, cozy, and fashionable with IllumiNITE's cold weather product line. Use discount code SERA15 for 15% off your order.



What have you been doing to beat pandemic winter doldrums? I'd love to hear your tips and ideas! Share them in a comment below!








*Discount code expires June 30, 2021 at 11:59 PM. Customers can use it more than once, and they can share it.  Discount code cannot be combined with other offers. Discount is only available on the Reflective Face and Neck Wear Collection. Products and prices subject to change without notice. 



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The first time I signed up for the Mike cooling down near the end of our 13-mile run. IllumiNITE's Endeavor Tank and Long Running Shorts...