Sick of Big Cities? Come run Big Sky Country!

Disclaimer: We received race entry to the Governor’s Cup to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about being a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Everything started out so simple! We arrived in Helena on the night before the race, checked into our hotel, and went to the packet pickup for our race bibs and t-shirts. We went out to dinner, came back to the hotel, and set out our gear for the next day.

It was at this point we discovered that I had forgotten my entire duffel bag at home.

Thankfully for me, Kelsey somehow had the instinct to pack her running gear separately, and offered me her own BibRave shirt for the race. I had also miraculously decided to bring my running shoes in a separate bag, so we managed to salvage a semi-respectable race outfit for me to use in the half-marathon. I wouldn’t have headphones to listen to music, and I had to wear a women’s shirt and Kelsey’s bright red hat, but I was going to finish this race!

On the morning of the race, I had accepted that I probably wasn’t going to have a great race. I didn’t even stress about a time, or even think about the pace I was hoping to maintain. In fact, since I needed to meet up with some of my students for the 5K after my own race (I teach 5th grade in a nearby city), that was my primary concern. This turned out to be a great approach to the race!

I rode the bus shuttle to the starting line with one of my best friends, and felt completely relaxed because I felt no pressure to perform. It reminded me of waking up for a college final with the full awareness that I was unprepared and likely to fail. After meeting up with a fellow BibRace Pro at the starting line (shoutout to Rory), I humbly moved myself to the back of the starting pack and waited to start.

As the starting gun fired and the race began, I embraced the lack of music and took in the sound of silence. One of the people running next to me was listening to Simon and Garfunkel very loudly so it carried over to me. I also appreciated the stillness of the country roads as we carried ourselves up and down rolling hills for the first seven miles of the race.

Watching the leader of the marathon blast by me without breaking a sweat was a bit intimidating, but I shook it off quickly and kept pushing alongside the river on the way into town. After running this race for the past two years, I knew the challenge of Cardiac Hill (named after the hospital that rests on the top of it and the health emergency that this hill has undoubtedly caused in the past) was coming up soon. One of the cool aspects of this race is that multiple race distances converge at once, so I was able to run alongside marathon runners, half-marathon runners, and 10K runners for the final three miles. We made our way past the governor’s mansion, the state capitol building, and into the historic downtown district. I even got to wave to some of my students near the finish line! I’m sure they will never forget this race, as it is the day they saw their 5th grade teacher wearing a women’s shirt and hat stumbling along in basketball shorts after 13 miles.

As I crossed the finish line and accepted an amazing finisher’s medal, I glanced down at my watch to complete my run and realized I had finished in under two hours! This was a shock since my most recent half-marathon had been completed at 2:15 in February. I found out later that I had finished 7th in my age group, easily the best finish I have ever made in a major race.

So I guess the lesson we learned is that you will run your best on the days you forget all of your gear! Just leave those tech shirts and shorts at home and watch the PR’s appear!

I cannot recommend this race enough, as the organization and structure of the event is top-notch. The coordinators care SO MUCH about you having a great time, and it shows throughout the day. Make the time to check out western Montana at the Governor’s Cup. You won’t regret it.

Hydrating for Summer Training – Ultima Replenisher

Disclaimer: We received Ultima Replenisher to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about being a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Can you name all of the electrolytes in our body? How about what they are useful for? Hydration is such a necessary part for optimal body function, and it is absolutely imperative that while being active in these hot summer months to put hydration at the forefront of our nutrition. Probably the most well known electrolyte, sodium, plays a significant role in muscle function and keeping our cells in our muscles and tissues hydration. The other electrolytes like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, chloride and magnesium also help fire up our muscle cells to active them and help them grow adequately for what our bodies specifically need. Now, enough about that anatomy lesson. Hydration is so important for me, not just with my running, but also at my workplace. I work night shifts at the hospital which means I am constantly try to reinforce healthy habits like pacing the halls and not drinking seven cups of coffee a night to just attempt to keep myself awake. Electrolytes and hydration have played a pivotal role in keeping me alert and prepared for my 13-hour night shifts every week. Ultima Replenesher is a zero calorie, sugar free, and gluten-free electrolyte supplement that gives me the adequate hydration I need for both my long training runs, but also to keep me replenished at work! This keto and paleo friendly supplement has so many fun and refreshing flavors like cherry pomegranate, lemonade, and grape. My personal favorite is the raspberry flavor. Not only do the flavors have a natural fresh taste to them, they also come in convenient travel single serving sizes as well as affordable 30 serving containers in all of the available flavors. One of my pet peeves is when I am drinking an electrolyte supplement after a long run and it feels thick and sugary in my mouth. Ultima does just the opposite, it has the consistency of water and feels fresh and not too sticky when I am rehydrating. When I use Ultima for my training runs, I feel refreshed and knowing it is zero calories is a huge plus! I would highly recommend this product and I have used it nearly every day since I have gotten my Ultima Replenesher. Whether it is for long training runs, 13-hour night shifts, or even longer car trips for summer traveling, Ultima Replenesher is a great electrolyte supplement for supportive hydration means.

Summer Laundry Struggles: Overcome with Win Active Detergent

Disclaimer: We received Win Active Detergent to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about being a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

With summer quickly approaching, I can tell my laundry starts to pile up week after week with all of our running clothes! I’ll be honest, I am quite a procrastinator when it comes to laundry. I tend to wait until we are completely out of underwear and running socks before I consider separating it and getting it ready for the wash. Even worse, I let my clean clothes sit up in our bedroom folded in the corner a week before I put it away! The worst habit I have with laundry is that I let my dirty workout clothes sit in the hamper and get smellier than ever before. Thankfully, Win Sports Detergent has been a savior for me and keeping my high quality workout gear clean and fresh every time I wash. The best part of Win is that it is extremely concentrated. Not only is the measuring cup smaller (which means saving money on how much detergent I should actually be using), but also I can see it generating suds throughout my washer providing my clothes with a safe, effective, and fresh scent when it is finished. When using commercial detergents, my clothes still have a leftover musty scent to them that makes me feel they weren’t fully washed. The Active Fresh scent is not too overpowering, but also makes my clothes feel clean and fresh when coming right out of the laundry. My husband has sensitive skin, so it is important that I buy detergents that do not have too many chemicals to make him break out in hives or cause him to itch incessantly. Thankfully, Win is a softer detergent that is not harsh on sensitive skins while still providing that fresh clean scent we are looking for when it comes out of the washer. We have been using active performance detergents for our workout clothes for years and Win is up there at the top in terms of quality, concentration, and fresh scent!

The Unexpected Power of Turtle Gloves

Disclaimer: We received Turtle Gloves to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about being a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

As discussed in the previous post regarding winter running, gloves can make or break your run. With this in mind, we decided to try out Turtle Gloves and see if they were really as good as our friends in the running community claimed them to be. We had heard rave reviews from other runners, who had an opportunity to try them out earlier in the year…but we have experienced plenty of disappointments with running gear that couldn’t stand up to Montana cold. We weren’t doubting the reviews, but we were cautious.

Here is a quick review of the Turtle Gloves:

Pros:

  • Washable
  • Withstands cold (personally tested at sub-0 degrees)
  • Easy access to fingers
  • Breathable
  • Mitten function allows warmer fingers
  • Secure on hands due to extended arm sleeve
  • Stylish

Cons:

  • Difficult watch access (common problem for most gloves)

There are two types of runners: those who admit they wipe snot on their gloves in cold runs, and liars. This means you need to be able to wash your gloves, regardless of how far you run on a regular basis. Thankfully, Turtle Gloves are easy to wash and come out spotless.

Our primary concern was that these cute looking gloves wouldn’t be tough enough to withstand MONTANA WINTER MANIA. Well, they can…and they do it better than the most expensive gloves we have ever purchased. We ran a half-marathon in the middle of February around a lake in Montana. Our hands never got cold, and we wore the Turtle Gloves the entire race. Case closed.

If you follow our winter running advice, you know it is best to over-prepare with layers that you can remove if things get too hot. But you can’t remove layers on your gloves, right? WRONG! These gloves allow more air to circulate within your hands than any other model we have used, and we have tried quite a few. Between the flap that allows for finger access (perfect for smartphone users who change their music on the go) and breathability, and the mitten design that allows your fingers to share their warmth, the balance of options with these gloves will keep you prepared for whatever winter throws your way.

The unique extended sleeve of the glove extends up over your forearm, which prevents any awkward, annoying gaps between your glove and your shirt/jacket. While this prevents easy access to your watch, any runner will tell you that this is a common issue.

Hey Turtle Glove peeps, if you’re reading this we have an idea for you: make a small opening that can easily open in the wrist area of the glove to allow a runner to take a quick peek at their GPS watch to check on their pace, distance, etc. It would solve an age-old problem that most glove companies don’t seem to acknowledge.

Altogether, this glove not only will protect you from the worst that winter will send your way, but also provide a variety of options should you discover that you don’t need the full mitten covering your hands. We firmly stand behind this design and hope that you will give them a try.

Use the code TurtleBibRave and save 15% off your purchase! Let us know if you give them a try, we would love to hear what you think!

Be Fit: Running through the Winter

Temperature Range: Below 10 °F

First of all, let’s get something clear: You’re going to be cold if you run below 10 °F. With that being said, there are a few things you can wear to ensure that you make it through your run without deciding to quit the sport altogether.

First of all, it is always better to layer more than you think you should. If you truly need to shed some layers, you will be able to tie it around your body or carry it without dramatically affecting your run. Let’s be honest, if you’re trying to break a PR when you’re running in 0 °F, you should reconsider your mindset.

We always begin with a tight, high-quality base layer. We generally run with ColdGear from Under Armour, which is more expensive but worth the price if you just buy one quality piece for top and bottom. A turtle-neck long sleeve top and base layer sweatpants work best.

Socks are often neglected when looking at the entire running outfit in cold weather. You do not want to be caught in freezing weather with thin socks. Your feet will go numb, and your stride will be affected. This can lead to injuries and possibly affect your cadence. We recommend socks that are thick enough to keep your feet warm, but not so thick that they defeat the purpose of your running shoes. You should experiment with different thickness levels, but we have found that going a bit thicker than you feel comfortable with is worth the initial awkward feeling when running in below 10 °F.

Gloves will make or break your run. Do not attempt to run a major distance in cold weather without a trial run for your gloves, or you might have a miserable experience. We recommend using gloves that allow you to clench your fists while you run, since the penetrating cold of below 10 °F weather can beat even the highest quality gloves.

The second layer of our outfit focuses on the upper body. We throw a down jacket on top of the base layer, and that usually does the trick. However, if you find that you overheat easily, it would be wise to have a third layer between your down jacket and your base layer. If you run hot in your upper body, you might even get warm enough to have just a long-sleeved shirt on top of your base layer. Again, this varies with each person. Try out different layers and you will figure out your best option!

We have found that there is no need for any bottom layering beyond base layer sweatpants. However, if your legs tend to run colder and need more layering, just another layer of sweatpants will do the trick. Additionally, some thicker briefs/underwear can make the world of a difference.

Before you just grab any beanie and throw it on, remember that you lose a majority of your body heat through your head! A nice beanie costs $20-$25 and can make your run much more bearable.

If you’re running on snow or ice, we recommend investing in a pair of traction cleats, they are easy to strap onto the bottom of any shoe and can save you from slipping and falling your entire way to the finish line. For some of us, we learned that the hard way…don’t bruise your butt figuring this out, just trust our experience and get some before you try to run on snow. Just head to your local running store and ask for their help getting fitted appropriately. They will get you set up with exactly what works best in your particular weather environment.

Note: If wind chill is a major factor in your area, invest in a balaclava. This will protect your face and neck from the bite of that wind, and help avoid a very painful burn from the wind and cold.

Needless to say, nothing can keep you completely safe when it gets down dangerously cold. Here in Butte, it can get down to -40 °F in the blink of an eye. THAT IS NOT RUNNING WEATHER. Do not attempt to run in weather that is drastically colder than anything you have tried before. Start small, and eventually you will learn your limits. We tend to draw the line at 0 °F. When in doubt…just choose the treadmill. It’s really not that bad.

Keep an eye out for the next level of layering tips as we continue to train for the Governor’s Cup 2019! Remember to check our discounts to save 10% on this amazing race in the heart of Big Sky Country. Come run with us!

Governor’s Cup (Helena, MT)

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Governor’s Cup race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!”

As the snow melts away, the birds start to sing, and children count down the final days of school, the running community in Montana is all preparing for the race to kick off summer: the Governor’s Cup. This race takes place the second weekend of June in Helena, the capital of Montana.

Fun Fact: Every capital city throughout the United States has a major river that runs by/through it except one: Helena, MT.

Since we have lived in Montana, we have run the Governor’s Cup as a way to kick off the summer season. Helena is only an hour drive from Butte, so we take the early drive through the mountains and into the capital. In our first year, we both ran the 10K, and in 2018, Paul ran the half-marathon alone (Kelsey was recovering from a knee injury). This year, we will be running the half-marathon again. However, we will be doing so in all orange, because we will be OFFICIAL BIBRAVE PRO AMBASSADORS.

As grisled veterans of the Governor’s Cup, we feel compelled to provide some background on this run. As we prepared for the 10K in our first year, we heard rumblings about some big hill that we would have to run. What could we do? We were brand new runners, had no idea what we were doing, or where to go for information about the race we were about to take on (hint: we should have just gone to BibRave.com), and we just hoped it wasn’t too bad.

Ok, it was pretty tough. As residents of “The Richest Hill on Earth,” we have seen our fair share of hills (and mountains). The run up “Cardiac Hill” as it is so affectionately named by the natives of Helena put our hill training to the test. We made it…but wow, what a test to our running abilities! And our relationship!

Another fun aspect of this race is the fact that Governor Steve Bullock, the current governor of Montana, actually runs it with you! He is quite the runner, you will need to train if you hope to keep up with him.

The concept of running a race at the very beginning of summer sounds great, because the weather is generally fantastic, with cool mornings and a mild sunshine. However, the training can prove to be challenging, since we are forced to run through winter in order to be fully prepared for the race. Several of our followers have expressed similar challenges, and look for advice regarding winter running. Over the next few months, we will share our tips and progress, as well as any other lessons we learn (usually the hard way) about running in Montana winters.

Let’s get running!

The Title

Yes, we realize our blog title is a bit repetitive! Here’s why:

We believe that there is no “one size fits all” way of providing advice to people who are looking for fitness tips. The fact of the matter is that different people are in different stages of their fitness journeys. Thankfully, we have experienced a wide variety of phases in our lifestyle changes, and discovered that there are three main steps in terms of a fitness-centered lifestyle. We will label our posts with these three stages:

  1. Get Fit: There might be some of you reading this that have never actually had to be at this stage. Props to you! However, if you know you need to make some major life changes and improve your fitness for any reason, we know where you have been. We lived and breathed this stage of our lives for a year. It is a struggle, and not simple by any means. However, there will be specific posts to help you find your way and answer the questions that you might be too embarrassed to ask. And if you don’t find the answer here, and would like to know something specific, please feel free to leave a comment or message us on our Instagram @runbutte, we would love to provide some insight.
  2. Stay Fit: Hold on…shouldn’t “Stay Fit” be the final stage? In our experience, it belongs second. Staying fit is a certain mentality that you have after you first lose a dramatic amount of weight, or accomplish a certain goal in your fitness journey. You are probably worried about relapsing back into old habits, because you’ve been there before. That is completely understandable, and shows that you are dedicated to your new lifestyle! Posts categorized as “Stay Fit” are meant to help keep you on the right track, and build towards the final stage that can last for the rest of your life.
  3. Be Fit: While you can certainly apply the lessons you’ve learned from the first stages of fitness at any time, “Be Fit” is the mindset that you adopt when you build up enough confidence in yourself to recognize “I am not going back.” You know that after all the hard work you’ve put in, one bad day, week, or month will never turn you away from your long-term fitness aspirations. The posts labeled “Be Fit” will help you maintain this confidence, overcome common obstacles such as dining out, travel, or the holidays, and develop a mentality that you are a fit person who priorities health and wellness.

There will definitely be posts that apply to multiple stages, but we hope to provide a variety of advice, recipes, and running/workout advice for followers at every stage of the fitness journey! We welcome your feedback and can’t wait to help you reach your goals, as you inspire us to push for ours!