Top Tips, Tricks, & 5 Best Winter Trails to Run Near Des Moines

New Year’s Resolution

Did you make the Classic New Year’s Resolution to hit the gym every day or lose 15 pounds this year? Are you already bored, overwhelmed, or just sick of being stuck inside at the gym? Get outside, hit the trails, Winter doesn’t have to stop you from making your goals.

Three Christmas’ ago my family got me a little and energetic black lab for Christmas. Like the energizer bunny, she had unlimited energy always begging for a walk or to go play fetch outside. As she learned quickly, I’m a big pushover and became desperate to find a way to tire her out in the frozen tundra that is Minnesota in January. To get back into the warmth ASAP, the walks became runs real quickly. In a strange turn of unpredictable events, running other (warmer) seasons of the year became a lot more enjoyable and quickly became a hobby of mine.

Moving to Des Moines to finish college, the following year has gave me the quest of finding the top tips and tricks for winter running. That starts with finding a place other than the slushy sidewalks of the Drake Neighborhood to pound the pavement. Below are a few of my favorite spots along with tidbits of advice from an interview with the local, Jacob Nelson.

Jacob Nelson– Boston Marathon Qualifier, Sub 3-hour marathoner & college track athlete

  1. Great western trail 16.5 miles of old railroad bed trails. “Nice and long, and you can get out of the city…includes wooded patches that are really beautiful.” Jacob added “Less trafficked than most trails, but well kept and even good enough for consistent bikers.”
  1. Clive-greenbelt 8.5 miles of connections to other trails in the metro area that brings together WIndsor Heights and Clive to Des Moines. This is my personal go-to as I can hop down to Waterworks or run the side trails in clive near some prairie and along creeks. My only complaint is that it is routed across one or two busy intersections that don’t seem necessary, but don’t let that scare you away! I recommend hopping on near the Rose Gardens for parking and a great starting point.
  1. Waterworks Park– Sure bet the that every local keeps stored as a hidden gem!
  1. Gray’s lake-Quick downtown Access, 2 mile loop, 4 parking lots. Lots of fluffy dogs being walked to provide distractions,
  1. Brown’s woods-The reality here is that Polk County has an outstanding Conservation board and park system, any of their parks will have ample paved or groomed trails to have more classic runs. This particular park still has many beautiful old, Iowan Oaks left to fly by in your neon synthetic gear.

Extra: South of Grand Ave. (the whole area) For the hills amongst the neighborhoods. This street actually about marks the line where the last glaciation period stretched South, so there is naturally more topography occuring here to help the diversify the training sessions.

How to stop slipping:

  • Yak traks– Almost like winter cleats that fit over your shoes, without slowing you down.

I personally don’t use them but as Jacob jabbed:

“If you are the other 98% of us that didn’t grow up on pond hockey in MN it’ll save your butt, literally!”

  • Newtons– Jacob’s go to shoe brand for winter terrain.

Conditions to look for:

  • Snow removal
  • Traffic level
  • Distance
  • Many entry points
  • Scenery

5 Final Tips:

  • No such thing as too cold, just not the right apparel check out this local running store
  • Try a running buddy to push each other and stay safe
  • Carry identification, in case you freeze your brain and forget who you are
  • Run aerobically, listen to your body.
  • The rule of thumb is if illness strikes below the neck, in the respiratory system, avoid running and limit outdoor activity

Finally, be sure if any of these tips or tricks run you to your goals, if so give it a share to save a friend from falling out there!

Not a Painter? No Worries, a Drink Could Fix That

For those attending, it is completely acceptable to get a little messy, and possible for your hands to get just as much paint on them as the canvas. With El Arte Uncorked, you can enjoy a relaxing evening with a drink of your choice and an array of paints in which you will use to create your very own masterpiece.

Don’t fret, artist or not, everyone can participate in this sip and paint class. Whether it is at your own home or a public painting session, releasing your inner Picasso or Van Gough is highly encouraged. And if you need a little extra encouragement, instructor Katie Black is there every step of the way.

“I have owned the company since May,” Black said. “The company was started about five years ago by a friend of mine, we are both art teachers at Johnston School District. She was in need of another instructor so about three years ago I began instructing painting classes for her.”

Individuals or groups can take part every month during public paint classes at Felix & Oscar’s Restaurant on Merle Hay where a full menu and bar are offered during painting hours. To make the experience even better, Groupons are offered for up to four people.

Where Can You Paint?

  • Public Painting classes at Felix and Oscar’s Restaurant
  • A private class in your own home
  • At your business
  • Birthday parties
  • A venue of your choice

What Can You Paint?

  • Monograms
  • Holiday themed paintings
  • Season themed painting
  • An idea of your own

The greatest part about el Arte Uncorked is that you don’t have to be a painter or have any artistic experience at all to partake. Each class is led by an instructor who guides you through every step.

“It’s fun to see people try painting for the first time, especially people who aren’t painters. This is supposed to be a non-threatening, fun way to try something new to paint.”

Make sure to follow El arte Uncorked on Facebook to see the upcoming schedule of public classes or more information on how to book your own private event.

Eliminate & Establish Energy

Energy is arguably the most important topic of the 21st century. The main questions that arise when discussing this subject are: How should we create energy for the world to use? How is creating energy effecting our environment? I asked these 2 pivotal questions and many other questions to my father, Mike Donley, a Petroleum Land Man.

Crude Oil

Beginning with what I think is safe to assume what the majority of people think of when they here the word “energy”. Crude oil is a fossil fuel that is found in the Earth’s crust and is used to make petroleum products which is the world leader for a source of fuel or energy. My father believes that the tables are turning toward solar and wind for a source of energy but very slowly. He said he is willing to bet that crude oil will be around for at least another 150 years.

Top 3 Countries that import crude oil.

  1. United States (9,080,000 barrels/day)
  2. China (6,167,000 barrels/day)
  3. India (3,812,000 barrels/day)

Environmental Issues

I am sure you are all aware of the effects that crude oil has had on our environment. When petroleum products are burned for fuel they release the following toxins.

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOX)

Global Warming

Unless you are President Elect Trump then you most likely believe in global warming. Global warming is caused by having an overload of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So how does carbon dioxide generate heat to cause global warming? It does not, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps the thermal radiation emitted by the Earth in the atmosphere.

Solar Energy

My father thinks that solar energy will be the one to put crude oil out of business further down the road. Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular in urban areas. Ever wonder how solar energy actually works? Well, photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into direct current electricity. The inverter in the solar panels then converts that into alternating current electricity which can be used for powering your lights, appliances, & soon cars.

Wind Power

Wind is the least popular source of energy, but is still becoming very useful for many countries. Wind turbines can not be placed just anywhere and expect to generate energy. Wind turbines require large open areas and of course wind to turn them. That is why we do not see wind turbines in big cities, but rather in rural plains like Kansas for example. Turbines work very simply; the wind turns the propellers connecting to the main shaft which then spins a generator to create electricity.

The United States of America

The U.S. is definitely behind the game when it comes to energy. The U.S. leads the world in importing oil and consumes more oil than China (2nd) and India (3rd) combined. The U.S. is also failing when it comes to renewable energy like solar and wind. The U.S. is 4th on the list of countries that produce solar energy, behind China, Germany, and Japan. America has been doing better in the wind power category but still fall behind China.

In conclusion, the U.S.A. needs to have a wakeup call because energy is ultimately what runs the world. We are killing our environment faster than any other country and we are not focusing our resources on fixing this problem like we should be. Eventually fossil fuels will run dry, renewable energy is the future we need if we want to survive. I am challenging everyone of you to support and help anyway you can in the fight for renewable energy.

Is That Your Prom Dress?

Prom season is right around the corner, but for most college students that doesn’t mean much other than another reminder from mom that they need to sell their dress from last year (or the year before, or even the year before that). But what if there was another way to re-wear your dress? After speaking with some of the sales associates at Schaffers, I was able to put together a list of reasons and events that enable you to keep your beloved prom dress and even wear it again!

  1. Go to Prom Again

If you’re able to, you can always try to find someone younger to take you to prom again. If you aren’t too old, and know enough people there is always some poor kid looking for a date and that gives you the perfect chance to wear your dress again. Think of it like a redo. You’re older now so chances are you’ve started to look back at your pictures and think about things you wished you could have changed. Here’s your chance!

  1. Girls Night

Get all your friends around (after you’ve convinced them to also keep their dresses) and have a fun night getting ready and wearing your dresses out. Maybe you go somewhere fancy, maybe you out to the bars or maybe you just go to chipotle. But where ever you go you’ll be going in style (or out of style depending on how old your dress is) and in a group so who cares what anyone else things!

  1. Cut it short

So you’ve got a dress that you can just chop off the bottom couple feet and just like magic you’ve got a short dress that you can wear to any (more casual) events. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of formals and fancy dates to go to which you’re newly short prom dress would be perfect for! And if you don’t you can always find an excuse to wear it, like how warm it is outside once winter is over! We can always thank YouTube for an easy how to so you can do it at home.

  1. Your Wedding

This only works if your prom dress is white or you’re someone who wants to wear a color other than white down the aisle. While you might not be getting married just yet (or even dating anyone) you never know when your prince charming is going to whisk you away! If none of these options work for you then you could at least find a fancy wedding to attend and that would be the perfect occasion to wear your dress.

  1. Just Because

You never know when events in life are going to surprise you and you’ll need a formal gown to wear. You could actually be a princess and need one for a ball (it happened to Mia Thermopolis!) Here a few a few (realistic) fancy events where you might be able to wear it if you aren’t convinced to keep it yet.

So now that you have plenty of reasons as to why you should keep your prom dress, you’ll be able to keep it in your closet for as long as you’d like. With a little imagination you can use anything again, but if you need a couple more.

And if all else fails you can always just put it away and keep it forever since maybe your daughter will want to wear it when she goes to prom.

Taking the Next Steps Alone: Life After College

It’s true life goes by faster than it seems possible. One day, you are wishing to be in high school, the next you have your high school diploma relieved you still have college before becoming an ‘adult’. However, sooner than you think those days shall be behind you.

So what happens after you graduate, what do you need to know to move forward? Here is a list of subjects to think about:

Finding a Job

Whether you plan on moving back home and living in your parent’s basement until you get your feet off the ground, step one is finding a job. There are many different places to start looking including word-of-mouth from past employers and university career networks. While you might not get your dream job right off the bat, there is no need to fret; every job is a stepping-stone to get you closer to where you’d like to be.

One place to start looking for jobs is linked here aftercollege.com

Moving Away from Friends

Chances are once graduation comes either some of your best friends or you will move away to different cities, while your younger friends stick around and continue college. Lauren Bailey, a 2016 graduate from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, “Moving away from my friends was really hard, it was like moving away from my family all over again”. While this is always hard, it does not mean the end of these friendships. There may not be anymore weekly sleepovers or late movie nights, but you will always have those memories. Luckily in this day and age, keeping in connect with friends all around the globe has become easier.

These applications help this new transition and keep you up-to-date on all friendships:

  1. Facebook
  2. Skype
  3. Snapchat
  4. Instagram

Finding an Apartment and Roommates

Starting out fresh out of college, it is imperative to start saving money. This means finding housing on a budget. No one wants to spend half there income just on rent alone. Depending on where your new job is, rent can get expensive. Finding a roommate can easily cut down those costs. Websites like Zillow or Apartment finder can help you find the place you need.

However, if you are moving to a small town, finding housing is sometimes harder. Lauren Bailey recently moved to small town Missouri for her job only to find two options of housing in town. Sometimes you have to take what you can get.

Maybe you’re moving to a complete new city, where you know no one. Going on craigslist is a simple option to find a roommate, but might leave you slightly on the edge or uneasy about your mystery roommate. However, like Match.com there are similar sites that help you find the perfect roommate like Roomidex that will evaluate Facebook connections to find a roommate or Roommate.com

Finding New Friends

If you move somewhere completely new, chances are you know no one. This can be a scary and lonely new experience. There will be no dorms or icebreakers to meet people and not everyone is trying to make new friends. This makes it harder to find new friends once you are out of college. In order to make friends, you may have to be more social. Finding friends will take time and there will be some days when you are lonely and call your mom crying, but in the end you’ll find that these friendships are worth the effort.

Overall, the transition from college to “real-life” is terrifying. While a lot of college seniors are excited for school to be over, by the time school starts again they’ll be wishing they were too. So make the most of school now, as there will be many things to be thinking about like jobs, friends, roommates, and apartments.

Here are some links to more perspectives:

15 Types of Friends You’ll Make After College

13 Ways to Master The Transition From College To The Real World

What To Do If You Can’t Find A Job After College Graduation

4 ways to get in shape for summer

Everyone wants that “summer bod” ready to rock and roll as soon as summer comes around once again. But with winter being cold and full of holidays, the typical person will gain some weight from all of the good holiday food, and not care about it as much because who’s going to see it through your giant puffy winter coat! Then New Year’s comes along and it’s a race against the clock to finish that resolution and get back in shape before swimsuit season hits!

Eating Healthy: There are two main things to make sure you do when trying to ear healthy. The first is to make sure you eat the right food, and the second is to make sure that you don’t eat too much. Broccoli, spinach, and salmon are among the world’s healthiest foods. Consider eating these foods often with your meals. Also plan out your meals, so you don’t end up snacking too much, or end up making too much food tempting you to over eat. For more healthy foods check out.

Exercising: Creating a workout routine, and sticking to it, is a crucial part of getting back that summer bod. Cardio, cardio, cardio is the best way to lose any unwanted weight on your body. Along with this, lifting weights and doing more intense workouts can tone up your body, to look even more impressive at the beach. Decide which parts of your body you would like to be more toned and more in shape. Isolate these muscles in your workouts so that you get the exact results that you want. For a great already constructed workout plan click here:.

Drink Water: Drinking water have many great effects when trying to lose weight. First of all it makes you fuller. If you drink two glasses of water before each meal you eat, you will be less hungry and will most likely eat less during that meal! Also, water helps with your metabolism, the more regularly you drink water, the better your body with burn calories. Susan Moshinsky in an interview said “I bring a large jug of water into work with me every day. My goal is to finish it once by lunch time and a second time by the time I go to bed”. If you are drinking water, this also means you are most likely not drinking pop, or other artificially flavored drinks which add a ton more calories. See more ways water can help you here:.

Get Some Sleep: Getting enough sleep is always a central part of your body’s health. Getting less than enough sleep will bring on unwanted cravings. The more tired you are, the more your body will start craving food to give it more energy to function thought the day. Getting enough sleep will make you feel energized, which will make getting up and going to work out a lot easier.

Getting that summer bod you have always dreamed about is not easy. Fortunately you’ve realized early enough that you have to start getting to work on this. For the next five months you have to be dedicated to these four ways of getting you to your goal.

So get up and start working out, eating right, and getting that body you know everyone will be jealous of. Comment below your before and after pictures, and let us know how your journey to a new you is going!