In the past week my running attire has run the gamut, from shorts and a thin long sleeve to tights, wool socks and a whole bunch of layers up top (as well as hats and gloves…and shoe traction since ice and snow made a return). Who knew February in Michigan could be so moody?

Of course, we take any sunshine, blue sky and mild temperatures — and cleared roads! — we can get this time of year. So, thank you, February. And thank you, Mother Nature.

Still, unseasonable weather makes running and race training interesting — what exactly should we wear on our runs? On Sunday, as I pushed through 12 miles on Old Mission Peninsula with Emma and her friend Sophie, we encountered what felt like all four seasons. I wore gloves but at times stripped them off when I intermittently warmed up. On one tough climb, Emma removed her jacket and tied it around her waist. A frigid headwind on a few stretches made us wish we had neck warmers. I think we all learn that living and running in Michigan requires a certain level of planning, flexibility and sense of humor about the crazy weather that may come our way, sometimes in the matter of just a few hours.

To get some advice navigating this late-winter weather, I turned to the experts at Gazelle Sports. (And, I also wanted to get the lowdown on some pretty sweet news about the two female-focused running events in Michigan … keep reading for details on this exciting development). Allison Land, of Gazelle Sports, serves as Holland’s Training Program Coordinator and has helped educate runners about proper clothing and gear, particularly as they train for this spring’s Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, 10K & 5K on Sunday, April 23 in Grand Rapids.

“Especially with the crazy weather we’ve been having, a lot of my newer runners are unsure of how to dress,” she says. “We’ve had everything from 70 degree days to 20 degree days with high winds thrown at us so far this training season.”

The Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, 10K & 5K celebrates its 5th year in 2017. The event is set for Sunday, April 23, 2017. /photo courtesy Gazelle Girl Half Marathon.

“The best advice I can offer is to dress as though it is around 15 – 20 degrees warmer than it actually is, and to layer well,” Land says. “You should start cold. Once you get moving, you’ll warm up quickly. I see lots of people overdress for the weather, especially on the colder days. It’s a matter of watching the weather, and figuring out what works for you. Some people run colder, some people run warm. I have one woman who is always cold, and wears many layers, even on somewhat warmer days. I have another woman in my groups who usually only wears a 1/4 zip with a light layer underneath even on the coldest days – I’ve rarely ever seen her in a jacket, and if she does start the run with one, she almost never ends it with one. So it truly just depends on the person.”

What does Land wear? For colder days, for tops, she often wears a  base layer and a 1/4 zip, or a base layer and a light jacket – especially when it’s windy. “I’m really in love with the Under Armor Long Sleeve Coldgear top for its fleecey interior, and soft fabric.”

Mizuno Aero Jacket, available at Gazelle Sports {click the photo to get details}

Jackets are great for wind protection and insulation, she adds. “Plus it’s nice to have pockets to carry things. I have a somewhat warmer Brooks jacket that I love, but on warmer yet windy days (upcoming spring weather), I’ve been loving the Mizuno Aero Jacket. It’s awesome because if you do get too warm, you can pack it into its own pocket and it has a strap so you can carry it.”

Gazelle Sports also has a bunch of cute, new spring items, both performance and lifestyle, you can check out here »

OK, so while we’re talking Gazelle Sports and Gazelle Girl, have you all heard this fantastic news? Race organizers of both Gazelle Girl and the American Home Fitness Detroit Women’s Half Marathon, 10K & 5K held in September are partnering this year. Gazelle Sports, which is behind Gazelle Girl, and Ann Arbor-based Epic Races, are working together to promote running in Michigan — specifically, to empower women to run.

“Like Gazelle Girl, our race was created by women for women,” says Mary Culbertson, race director for the American Home Fitness Detroit Women’s Half Marathon, 10K & 5K. “This year we’re joining together to commend the beauty and strength of the dedicated women who aren’t afraid to push themselves—and one another—to do something truly remarkable.”

“When we had the idea for Detroit Women’s Half in 2012, we didn’t know another women’s half marathon race was also being slated for April of 2013 on the west side of the state,” Culbertson adds, “so from the beginning we have wanted to team up to form a running bond between the two sides of the state.”

The American Home Fitness Detroit Women’s Half Marathon, 10K and 5K takes place Sunday, Sept. 17 on Belle Isle in Detroit.

What this partnership means for all of us? The opportunity to push ourselves to complete both events this year — while making connections with even more Michigan Runner Girls AND earning a special finisher medal.

The Michigan MarathonHER medal.

Holly Visser, Gazelle Girl Half Marathon race co-director, says the partnership offers “amazing swag and the thrill of a challenge” — and a whole lot more.

“There’s so many reasons why this partnership is great for runners: Get Moving. Train, and keep going all summer. Consistency in running regularly. It’s also great to share with family and friends and inspires them to do the same. Marry both sides of the great Mitten state with two races that equal a marathon! MichiganmarathonHer!”

I’m personally looking forward to both of these races. Emma and I are all signed up to run the half marathon at Gazelle Girl this April — I’ll also be speaking at the Friday evening race weekend kick-off event as well as have a booth at Saturday’s race expo — and we’re planning to again be at the Detroit Women’s Half Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 17 on Belle Isle. We’ll have a booth there, too–this race weekend has become a mother-daughter weekend getaway tradition these past couple of years.

If you haven’t yet signed up for either of these races, or you’ve just signed up for one so far, I hope you consider getting on board to run both. {Learn more about the Michigan MarathonHER medal and how to get registered to receive this special finisher’s prize here » } And if you do, please be sure to stop by my expo booth to say hello!

One last quick reminder: at 11:59 p.m. tonight, Feb. 28, prices for the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, 10K & 5K go up. Use this special MRG reader code to save on your race entry — and get the best deal before tomorrow: GGJOHNSONDUROCHER17  Learn more and sign up here » And, one more thing! For the third year, Gazelle Girl is partnering with Fifth Third Riverbank Run on a double down medal. You can learn more — and check out the bling — here »

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