As the old adage goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing choices, and this especially rings true when we’re smack dab in the middle of winter. The frigid, icy months of January and February often prompt me to reach for extra layers, and one item I’m especially happy to have this year arrived in my mailbox a few weeks back, courtesy fellow Michigan Runner Girl Katie Ford.

Katie, who lives with her family in Rockford, kindly offered to send me one of her fleece-lined neck warmers to try out this winter. She makes these as part of her sewing business called KateMade. “The first thing I made when I started to sew was a cozy neck warmer for cold winter runs,” she told me. “My neck warmers can be pulled up to block the bitter Michigan winter wind or pushed down if you get too warm.”

I love my neck warmer — the grey-turquoise pattern is stylish, the fleece lining warm and cozy — and it’s been a life-saver during a few sub-zero and windy training runs within the past few weeks.

Me, decked out in pink and my KateMade neck warmer on a cold (not yet too snowy) winter day.
Me, decked out in pink and my KateMade neck warmer on a cold (not yet too snowy) winter day.

I recently caught up with Katie to learn more about her business and her running journey (she ran her first race with her dad, after believing she “was not a runner.” She’s come a long way … she’s now training for this May’s River Bank Run 25K.

When and why did you start running? 

I started running after having my second child in 2010. I was desperately searching for something to get my body back in shape. My home workout videos weren’t cutting it — I needed more cardio. So, my dad (a longtime runner) suggested I start running with him. My reaction was “No way, I’m not a runner!” My dad can be quite persistent, so I carried on, and soon found myself training for the Fifth Third River Bank 5K race here in the heart of Grand Rapids. I was very hesitant because I WAS NOT A RUNNER. But regardless of my fears I said yes, and the next day I found myself in the freezing cold Michigan winter, meeting my dad for our first run. We started training and little by little, mile by mile, it started to get easier, and I got stronger. Race day came, and I made it across the finish line! With my increased confidence, my dad and I ended up running the 10K River Bank Run in 2011. The cool thing is I got to run my first race with my dad.

Katie and her dad running together.

How did you get started with coaching?

The following year, I stepped out of my comfort zone again, and joined a running group, called Mommy Fit Club. It turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done. Not only have I met some wonderful friends, but learned so much more about running. As a group we trained for and ran the Fifth Third 10K run and the Warrior Dash. Kaitlin Thornton (owner of Mommy Fit Club) and I have become good friends. Last year she asked me to become her running coach for MFC. It has been so rewarding helping all these wonderful women crush their goals and cheer them on every step of the way.

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Katie (center, wearing armband) with her Mommy Fit Club friends.

What’s your favorite Michigan running route?

My all-time favorite running route is Good Harbor Bay trails, and running the beach. My family vacations at my husband’s family cottage near Sleeping Bear Dunes. Once a year I look forward to lacing up my Asics and hitting the trails to the beach. The scenery is breathtaking and there is a peacefulness that is like no other.

Which race in the Mitten do you like best?

I would say my favorite race is the Fifth Third River Bank Run. I have been attending this race since I was a child, cheering on my mom, dad, and grandpa. This was also my first race and my breakthrough into running. I’m training for the 25K this year!

Why did you decide to start making neck warmers?  

I have always LOVED crafting! When my husband bought me my first sewing machine for christmas in 2010, I instantly fell in love with sewing and fabric! The year I received my machine was the same year I started running. After my first freezing cold winter run I knew I needed something to block the wind. So I came up with my cute and cozy neck warmer. It was perfect! Pull it up to block the wind pull it down if you get to warm and it was super cute. Then I decided everyone needed one of these. So I started gifting them to family and friends. From there they have taken off and I’ve made and sold over 500 of them. I officially started my Etsy shop KateMade with Love in 2013.  It’s been a wonderful adventure and continues to grow every year.

My KateMade neck warmers now come in 4 sizes: XS (toddler), S (kids), M (women and teens), and L (adult). They are fleece lined and come in any kind of fabric you can imagine. If you have your signature running color, send me a special request.

Happy KateMade customers and runners.

Find KateMade on Facebook or at her katemadewithlove Etsy shop. Be sure to watch your inbox for the February Michigan Runner Girl newsletter for a special deal on KateMade products. Not yet signed up for the free newsletter? It’s quick and easy — click here to sign up »

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