Monday, December 20, 2010

What to wear running in 55 & rainy

Temp: 55 degrees (12ish C)
Wind: 10 mph
Humidity/Precip.: 85%/passing showers
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 3 miles

What I Wore: Shorts, tank and mid-weight jacket.

Yes, my torso really is this short.
Did It Work: Sort of. I dislike cold rain on my arms before I warm up, so long sleeves were good. And, the jacket was the right weight. BUT I forgot that this particular jacket is the opposite of breathable. In fact, I think it might create a vacuum when zipped. It's like running in a cute garbage bag. As I warmed up, my perspiration collected inside. Disgusting.

But, I was comfortable in every other way - the layer of a tank with jacket was right. I tend to be chilly and still thought it was warm enough for shorts.

Solution for future: only wear a jacket like this one when it is cool enough for long sleeves and you aren't likely to be too hot. Otherwise, ask before buying if your gear breaths and wicks.

Happy holidays and good running to all!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gifts for Runners

Ok, I missed Hanukkah, but if you're still shopping for Christmas/Kwanza/the Solstice, here are some gift ideas for your favorite runner:

Socks: I've said it before, but it's still true: runners actually like socks as a gift. Smartwool, Nike and Icebreaker are my favorites. Just make sure you're buying the right size and a style meant for running. The best ones have little Ls and Rs on them, indicating which foot they belong on.
Gift certificates: I recommend a gift certificate to Road Runner Sports - big selection and great customer service or your runner's local running shop (e.g. A Runner's Mind on Howard in Burlingame). Smaller, local shops tend to have a nice, hands on approach and really know the gear in their store.
Compression anything: We're not getting any younger. Compression socks, tights and even arm bands help us keep it together, especially during and after long runs.
Accessories (clothing): Running hat (Nike, Brooks, Asics), wrist sweat bands and thin knit gloves all make great stocking stuffers.
Accessories (gear): Some of us are pretty particular, but if you know what you're doing, gear is great. Clip on water bottles and headlamps (for night runs) are affordable options, while watches, sunglasses and iPod shuffles are great for the generous giver.
Slightly risky, but novel: Race registration. Races can be expensive. If you know someone plans to run a race (and I mean you really know it, not just they've said they might), gifting them their race registration is very thoughtful and shows your support.
More risky:
Clothing of any sort. Runners can be picky. We don't want to seem ungrateful but we would be so much happier getting to pick out our own toys (yes, running clothes count as toys). Hence, the suggestion of a gift cert.
Shoes. An expensive gift that can be wrong in every way. Thoughtful, but don't do it unless the runner is with you, picking out their size, style, color and brand.
Scale. Unless you're trying to give your running pal a complex, avoid gifts that imply they should be running more and eating less.

Happy holidays and may all your gifts be good ones!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What to wear running in 55 degrees

Temp: 55 degrees
Humidity/Precip.: 95%/none
Wind: Calm
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 3 miles

What I Wore: Well, I started out wearing Brooks running shorts, Under Armour wicking T and Pearl Izumi running jacket. BUT, when I stepped outside, I was comfortable. Learning from past mistakes I went back in, took off the two top layers and replaced them with one - the Asics long-sleeve, wicking T from the 2007 ING NYC marathon.


Did It Work: Yes! It was just a little cool when I started but I was ready to push up my sleeves around mile 2. Thanks to the cool, damp air, the outfit was never too hot. Plus, on a foggy day in the Bay Area, the bright orange was just what the folks in the 'hood needed!

Race Gear: Not all race swag is good. Please don't feel like you HAVE  to wear whatever someone gives you. I didn't wear the NYC shirt for the '07 race because even the small is too big (see pic) and because it was untested - 26.2 miles is a long way to run in something you've never worn before.
For a long race, don't wear something new. And for any race, skip the cotton. As Shu's Running Store in Boise, ID, likes to say: Cotton is a tool of the devil (when it comes to running).

Happy running. Hope to see you on the trail.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What to wear running in 50 degrees

Temp: 51 degrees
Humidity/Precip.: 85%/heavy fog
Wind: Calm
Terrain: Flat
Distance: 2 miles

What I Wore: Lightweight Nike running tights; short-sleeve Under Armour wicking t-shirt; Brooks lightweight running jacket; running hat; thin, knit Asics running gloves.

Did It Work: Yes. I was just a little chilly when I first started but was warm after the first mile. If you know it isn't going to rain and you're going for a longer or hilly run, consider just wearing a long-sleeve tech top with gloves, versus a T and a jacket - my core was pretty warm by the end and I would have been too hot if I'd run much further.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What to Wear Running in the Dark

I don't want to be dramatic, but if you exercise outside in the dark without lights, you're running a real risk of being hit by a car or cyclist. Be safe: if you've already invested in running shoes and wicking tops, spend a little extra on gear that will help you be seen:

1) Lights - give drivers up to 60 feet to see you with clip-on lights. The new family favorite light: Amphipod's arm band. Wrap it around the bicep of your street-side arm (should be your right, if you're in the U.S., left in England, etc.).
Headlamps are also good, if you want to light up the path in front of you. However, some people complain of getting motion sick if they watch the light bouncing off the ground.

2) Reflectors - If you're only using reflectors, keep in mind: drivers will not be able to see you until they are about 30 feet away. I like to combine reflection with lights - it doesn't add any bulk and it gives me a chance to sport this ultra-sexy, mesh crossing guard vest with front and back reflective strips!

3) Jacket - the latest addition to my night-time running gear is this fluorescent yellow jacket by Brooks. It is not reflective, so it isn't visible until about 10 feet but the light color gives my lights something bright to bounce off of. Plus, it's wind and water resistant, so it's a good piece for autumn/warm winter runs. Extra bennies: inside pocket that velcros shut for my iPod; silver threads to fight odor; a slightly longer tail, so it's good for biking and running; and a couple small reflective elements (see arrows)

Happy safe running!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Running in 70 degrees

You might have noticed: I write a blog about what to wear when running. And yet, despite almost bragging about my years of experience AND probably having written about running in 70 degrees and sunny in the past, I was way overdressed today.
Temp: 70 and sunny
Wind: Calm
Humidity/Precip: Medium low (around 60%)/None
Distance: 3 miles
Terrain: Flat to rolling hills

What I wore: Nike shorts and running jacket, wick-away t-shirt, sunblock.

Did it work: No, I was way too hot. I should have known because I was perfectly comfortable the minute I stepped out the door. It is best to be slightly cold when you start. Even if you're walking, which is how I started, you'll warm up very quickly if you're swinging your arms and moving fast.

What to wear: At this temperature, you can easily wear shorts and a t-shirt. I have a friend who is still wearing summer singlets. Even though it's fall (or spring, if you're in the So. Hemi.), wear sunblock. The sun is strong enough to do damage.

(In case you're wondering what happened - my apartment was cold and I got psyched out. Live and learn!) 

See you on the trails and, hopefully, I'll be dressed right!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Running with a heart rate monitor

I have a new bad habit: checking my heart rate.
I never used to do this. I thought it was because I didn't care. It turns out it's just because I didn't have the gear.
When I wear it, nothing else matters. Distance? Who knows. Temperature? Not sure. Heart rate? Ranged from 111 to 165 over 45 minutes.

Does it work? Yes. Wearing the monitor keeps me going until it says I've accomplished the goal that it had in mind. Forget what I had planned on doing; it has a will of its own and it is greater than mine. It beeps if my heart rate is too slow or too fast ("Get going!" "Ease up!") and logs how long I have my heart rate at the desired level. When I have had done enough, in its mind, it beeps again ("Great workout!"). It doesn't matter where I am or that I had planned on taking a long, strenous walk, the monitor says I'm done, so I mosey home.
I love it. Which is why, for my next run/walk (still recovering from Achilles tendonitis), I'm leaving my new toy at home.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Marathon. Yoga. Same thing?

Running a marathon and doing yoga might be pretty much the same thing. Strange, but true.
Me, sitting with my legs crossed going Ohm might not look like me dragging my bum across a finish line, but they're actually a lot alike. Here's why:
1) "I've been thinking about doing that."  If you tell someone you've run a marathon or do yoga, the response will often be the same.
2) Mind over matter.  Both practicing yoga and training for a long, hard run will make you want to quit, at some point. In both cases, the only reason to continue is because you decide to you can and will.
3) Sweat.  They're both exercise; get ready to sweat by drinking a lot of water.
4) Stretching.  Both yoga and running are better if you stretch. Note: yoga, in and of itself, is not stretching. See photo. This position is called "Flying Monk." It is a stretch of my skills, but not my muscles.

5) Admire, strive but don't compare.  Seeing someone do a sport well is inspiring and, I think, worth watching. But, we suffer when we compare ourselves to others. When doing, look inward. When seeking a new goal, look out.
6) Dress for success.  Take yourself and your sport seriously. Wear the right gear for the exercise and you'll be more comfortable and able to go longer.
7) Breathe.  Deep, steady breathing is key to both yoga and running.
8) Nice bod! After training for a marathon or doing yoga for 4 months, a new you is going to be walking around - leaner, stronger and able to do things you only once imagined.
9) Anyone can do it. Pregnant women, heavy-set guys, amputees and you all have something in common - you can do a marathon and yoga. A couple of weeks ago, an 80-year-old man completed the Pikes Peak Marathon the day after running the Pikes Peak Half Marathon. Do you still think you can't do it? See number 2.
Newsday team before a Long Island Summer Run
10) Solo or group? To improve your form, get motivated and maybe share a few laughs, practice yoga or run with others. For a more introspective, quiet time, leave the crowd behind. 

If you think of more, share!

See you on the trails!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What to Wear to Physical Therapy

I've been injured (Achilles Tendonitis) for almost two months. I'm determined to run again, and soon, so I regularly go to physical therapy. It's helping.
Being me, I couldn't help notice that half the people at PT don't seem to know what to wear. Shoulder-injury guy lifts weights in a dress shirt. Hip-injury chick rides the stationary bike in tight khaki shorts and a flouncy tank top. And, I admit, the first time I went, I wore jeans and a sweater.

Sadly, I'm now practically an expert and here's what I wear:
- Nike t-shirt
- Under Armour shorts
- My new Saucony running shoes

Really, the only difference between my PT outfit and my running one is the lack of hat and sunblock.

Does it work? Yes. Physical therapy is a trip to the gym, massage therapist and doctor, all in one. Your therapist needs to be able to see your body and how it moves. He or she also needs to be able to access your injured area for icing and maybe electrical stimulation (my favorite part - it's like jump starting an old car). You will probably do some light to medium exercises, which means sweat and a need for mobility.

If you're injured, I'm sorry! Go to physical therapy. It might not always seem like you're doing a lot but this is my third round (I'm a little too active, perhaps) and every time it has made a difference.

Get well soon. See you on the trail!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bike Shorts for Non-Bikers

Thanks to Achilles Tendonitis, running is out of my routine, for now. My surrogate is biking, so I thought I'd check out bike shorts.

- Not too much padding (I'm not riding a Century and am too young/old for a diaper)
- Comfortable fit around waist and thigh
- Fairly short - I don't get why bike shorts are so long when the saddle is so small
- At least four panels, for better mobility

I should have added "Reasonably priced" to my goals because my favorite pair were $65 - about $30 more than my best running shorts. If you have the cash (I decided I didn't), here's the highlights of what I found:

DeSoto Carrera Low Rise Tri Short ($65)

Nice length - 4" inseam
Comfortable, wide waistband
8 panels (Serious!)
Comfortable grip on thighs (see bottom arrow)
Quality materials - not too thin
Barely enough padding
Shape of padding made a weird crease (top arrow) that either won't be noticeable when biking or will lead to some vicious chafing

2XU Comp Tri Shorts ($75)

Nice length - 4" inseam
Six panels
Mesh panels on the hip for air and comfort (see top arrow)
Nice amount of padding (a little more than the DeSoto)
Inside of hem has a layer of rubber to prevent slippage
Quality materials - not too thin
Uncomfortable, elastic waistband
Extremely unflattering - dug in at the thigh (see bottom arrow) and under the bum in a way that made me look like an unhappy sausage

I'm still looking. If you have any recos for a biker who hopes to go back to running, leave a comment. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What to wear running in 85 Degrees

Temp: 85, feels like 90Precip./Humidity: None/high
Wind: Calm
Terrain: Flat track
Distance: Intended - 1 mile; Actual - 1/4 mile. Biked 7 miles.

What I Wore: Nike tank with built-in sports bra for full coverage but minimal layers; Puma shorts with built-in liner of wicking material; icy neckerchief.

Did It Work: The outfit was as comfortable as it could be considering the conditions, but my body failed me.

Considerations: As it gets hotter, it also gets harder to find an outfit that is just right. One thing I considered as getting dressed was the lack of wind. When it's hot and sticky, a breeze on bare skin can make a big difference. If there had been a breeze, I might have worn a midriff-baring sports bra and shorts, no singlet. That would have exposed my (probably sweaty) stomach and helped cool my core.
In consideration of combining biking with running, and the lack of a breeze, I chose the tank.

Here's hoping my ankle injury heals soon. I miss my distances!

Stay cool.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Running in Reebok

Yay! I have a new running top.

Temp: 75, sunny
Precip./Humidity: Moderate
Wind: 8 mph
Terrain: Flat w/ long, steep climb in middle
Distance: 3.3 miles

What I Wore: Fitted Reebok workout vest (that's what they call it - I call it a sleeveless shirt); cotton shorts.

Did It Work: Yes, in a pinch.

The Story: A recent trip ended up being longer than expected so I was not fully prepared. I had running shoes and non-running, sweat shorts but no running tops. I wanted to run, so I had to buy a top and sports bra. The cotton shorts were not perfect, but were ok for a short run. The new top was a win!

Mini review: I like but don't love.

  • Offset seams for reduced chance of chafing
  • Reflective piping so drivers will know they're about to hit you (small reflective elements are usually only visible when it's too late, but are still nice for other runners and cyclists)
  • Scoop neck for more air exposure
  • Mid-weight fabric was comfortable at 75 and should be good down to 60
  • Fitted body lays flat without being constricting
  • Piping is slimming 
  • In black, the tank-style could be worn into a bar or restaurant for some after-run refreshment. Paired with a running skirt and you might be out for the night!
Happy running!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Staying Cool on a Run (or Bike Ride)

I'm in NYC and it's almost 100 degrees out. I'm injured, so I'm not running, but I want to stay strong and keep my cardio up, so I went for a bike ride.

I was concerned about the heat - I've been known to faint when hot - so I tried a trick I read about in Runner's World:

- Fold a bandana in half so it makes a triangle
- Place 5-6 ice cubes along the long edge
- Carefully roll up the bandana so it makes an ice cube-filled neckerchief (that's cowboy for 'scarf') and tie it around you neck

During your run or ride, the ice will gradually melt, keeping you cool but, surprisingly, no wetter than you would be from sweating (at least, that was my experience today).

I liked it so much, I'm going to try wetting and freezing a wrist band and maybe my running hat the next time temps top 90.

Happy running!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Compression Sports Bra

I've gotten spoiled. I've been wearing sports bras that rely as much on structure as they do on compression for at least three years. They are reasonably comfortable, provide great support and look good.

Recently, a 24-hour trip became a 3-day one.  Luckily, I had running shoes and shorts. Unluckily, I didn't have a top. I dashed to the local Lady Foot Locker and picked up a Champion sports bra and Reebok top.

The Champion sports bras that I have at home are great -- molded cups and soft, wicking fabric. So, when I saw that LFL carried Champion-brand, but not my style, I did something I almost never do with running gear: I assumed it would be fine.

This is me, in the sports bra. A pooch of skin and fat is being squeezed out because the compression on this thing is so intense. The upside, the "girls" aren't going anywhere. The downside, well, just look at that charming flap of flesh and remember, there's one on the other side, too.

Aside from the almost-painful compression, the bra has some nice details:
  • Key hole in the back for a little air
  • Offset seams for reduced chafing
  • Mesh back panel for ventilation and quick dry
From someone who should have known better, this is a reminder: try before you buy!

Happy running!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yoga & Running

I've been a runner for more than 10 years. During that time, I've sporadically done yoga and Pilates. Last year, I started consistently practicing yoga once a week. I'm still incredibly inflexible (physically) but my upper body is very toned and I've shaved almost a minute off my time.

Yoga gear for runners:
Some gear is best for just yoga, but if you're a runner, you probably already have pieces that can go both ways.

Top: Sleeveless tank or singlet
I prefer a tank with built-in sports bra. One of my favorites is Power Y Tank by Lululemon. It has removable padding that hides "headlights," and the Y shape of the straps makes them comfortable in every position. The guys in my practice usually wear Under Armour or Nike singlets.
If it is cold in the studio, I might start with warm-up jacket, but good yoga is not just stretching; it's fairly active and I warm up quickly.
I don't like sleeves when I do yoga because of the wide range of arm movements being practiced. I want to feel free to do my best. I also wouldn't go shirtless, if I was a man or wear just a sports bra - the feeling of the mat against bare, sweaty skin is not nice.

In the summer, I wear fitted, stretchy shorts. My current favorites are the Chaturanga Yoga Short by Athleta. They have a 3-inch inseam, are very stretchy and usually don't get wet marks from sweat.
In the winter, I usually wear a boot-cut yoga pant or Nike's Dharma Yoga Capris. It's tempting to bundle up with a thick material, but I don't recommend it - when you sweat, it will get saggy and soggy. Stick with a wicking material that moves with your body and covers your bottom, even if you have your feet behind your head.

Happy running, yogis!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Speedy Sasquatch is My Favorite Sadist

Last night, I met up with Team Sasquatch's Tuesday night speed group, led by Josh, aka on Twitter @SpeedySasquatch. The hill workout plus push-ups and core work was punishing, but taught me some new things about my body and, thanks to a great group, was fun.

Temp: 75, dusk
Precip./Humidity: Low
Wind: Calm
Terrain: Rolling to HILLS!
Distance: 5.5 miles

What I Wore: Sleeveless top; lined running shorts; hat.

Did It Work: Yes. I liked having my arms free to swing as we climbed the hill, over and over. It also worked for eating 'shroom burgers and fries on a bench with @nycbklyngirl afterward.

Double Duty: The run outfit was not only worn for my run, but it also was all I wore for the subway ride to & from Central Park.  For non-New Yorkers, the subway is not the grim, scary place shown on the movies. Instead, in the summer, it is usually an ice box with cold, hard (but clean!) plastic seats. During rush hour, it was crowded with people in work clothes. I didn't mind looking like a runner, but I didn't want to look like I was taking the subway to my first Olympic trials.
Keeping all that in mind, I chose full-coverage shorts and the Nike sleeveless top, which is made of a thick dri-fit material, over the Puma running tank, which is made of a thin, wicking fabric and is more revealing.

Thanks to the Tuesday night crew for a great run!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

1 Outfit Fits All

I've been on the road and have had to do two runs in one running outfit.
Run 1: 60 degrees, sunshine. Hills.
Run 2: 75, sunshine, windy! 50% hill

Outfit: Under Armour t-shirt, Brooks shorts, Nike hat.

Did it work? Yes, but only because I shaved 1.5 miles off the second run.

The first run was 3.5 miles and hilly. I was a little cool when I stepped out but the immediate 1-mile climb warmed me up and by the time I was windmilling my legs down the last hill home, I was nice and sweaty.

The second run was 2 miles - an out and back of the 1-mile hill. I was comfortable as soon as I stepped out the door - never a good sign because there's nowhere to go but to hot. I stayed on the shady side of the street, which really wasn't that shady. By the time I got to the top of the hill, I could feel the sweat running down the center of my back. The return was downhill, still in partial shade and with a bit of breeze, so I returned sweaty and thirsty, but not flushed or overheated. Much longer, though, and I would have been too hot.

What would I change? I think I packed well, but on that second run, I could have just worn the sports bra and shorts.

Happy summer running!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Running Posture

I'm afraid that, if I don't work on my posture, I'll end up being one of those old ladies on the path who you admire because they're running even though they're 82, but who can't see you coming because they are so hunched over.

I realized this was a possibility after seeing a photo of me running. My trap muscles are up by my ears. I look like I've been doing a lot of press ups, but really, it's because I'm hunching.

Check it out:

Here are photos of my normal run posture (left) and the posture I'm striving toward. I marked the differences. With the good posture:
  • There's a space between my shoulder and the shirt strap because my shoulder ball is rolled back, better aligning my arm.
  • You can no longer see the mole and the flat of my shoulder blade. For me to achieve good posture, I really have to use the muscles between my blades, at the center of my back, to pull down and back. It's hard work, but worth it. 
  • Pulling down my shoulder blades draws in my middle back. In the bad posture pic, you can see a bit of my shirt in the back. In the good posture picture, it has disappeared, even though my chest doesn't look thrust forward. All the effort is in my back muscles.
If you want to do a self-assessment, have a friend photograph you near the end of a race or speed work, when you're too tired to fake perfect posture. Take a good look at the image. Are we going to be colliding when we're old and hunched? Are you letting one arm drag like a broken wing? Do you lift your chin like Queen Elizabeth at a parade?

As I try to adjust, I've found I'm sore from using my muscles in a new way. Yoga is helping, and I get a massage when I have the time and money. Changing my posture feels like quitting a bad habit - I know I need to do it, but it's frustrating and painful. I just hope better posture and alignment will let me happily age as a runner.

See you on the trail!

Friday, June 4, 2010

What to wear running in 80 degrees

Temp: 80, sunny
Precip./Humidity: None/Moderate
Wind: Calm
Terrain: Mostly flat
Distance: 3.5 miles

What I Wore: Nike running hat; Champion sports bra; lined Puma running shorts; Nike wrist sweatband; Aveeno sunblock.

Did It Work: Yes, as much as anything can in the heat. I know, 78 isn't that hot, but it feels like it after about 10 minutes of running. I knew it would, hence the minimalist outfit (no pics, I'm feeling shy:-D).

Sweatband, Really?: By the time I got home, my entire body was covered in slick of sweat. It was more than one little wrist band could handle, so why was I wearing one?
If you're a woman running in just a sports bra or a guy running with no shirt, sometimes you need something to mop your brow, eyes and nose. Without a shirt, you're up a creek, unless you've got a wrist band! You might not get it all, but at least you can keep your face from looking like the Bonneville Salt Flats.
(Above: Nike, traditional sweatband made of terrycloth. Very absorbent but gets kind of itchy when it's soggy. Lululemon, pocket wrist band made of wicking Luon (TM). The "pocket" isn't that functional, but the band is cute, lightweight and fairly absorbent.)

Happy running and, in the words of Kurt Vonnegut, wear sunblock!

Friday, May 28, 2010

New Running Shirt w/ Built-in Bra

Temp: 70, overcast
Precip./Humidity: None/Moderately low
Wind: 7 mph
Terrain: Mostly flat
Distance: 3.25 miles

What I Wore: Puma running top and shorts; Nike hat and socks; sunscreen.

Did It Work: Yes. 70 degrees is almost warm for running, but the breeze was cool.  This outfit was cool but not cold because the material covered my core and wicked away sweat. Leaving your limbs exposed when it's breezy and warm is an easy way to stay comfy. The wind will cool the sweat on your skin, moderating your body's temperature.

New Gear Review:  I got a new running top from Puma. I like it, in short, because it is functional and cute.
- Built in sports bra (smooth layers)
- Tank style (good for the modest, and for warm spring & fall days)
- Long torso (no ride up)
- Offset seams (less chafing risk)
- Mini-pleats around neckline (hides poke through)
- Super soft external layer (very flattering)
- Full-length, wicking underlayer (stays cooler than most tanks)
- Silver thread (fights funk)
- Good looking (can I say that?!)

- Moderate support (good for running if you're small on top, otherwise, save it for low impact sports)
- Tight (support mostly comes from squeeze because the sports bra fabric is thin)
- Very designed (draped to show off its two layers, has pleats and a pattern across the chest. Those three design elements makes this feel like a fancy running top, not the technical beast that it really is)

Happy running!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Running (60 degrees) & Karaokes

Temp: 60, partly sunny
Wind: 10 mph
Precip./Humidity: None/Moderate
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 3 miles

What I Wore: Lined Puma running shorts; dri-fit Nike t-shirt; hat; sunblock.

Did It Work: Yes. I slowly worked up a nice sweat on the hills and wasn't cold when the wind blew or when I slowed down for karaokes at the end.

What Are Karaokes?: Running sideways to strengthen the muscles around the knees and keep the groin loose. To do them properly, cross the back leg in front of the leading leg for the first stride, and then behind the leading leg for the second stride. Continue to alternate. Be sure to switch leading legs - half the distance with the right leg leading, half the distance with the left leg leading. Yes, people will stare, but it can be kinda fun. Ignore them and get into it!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What to wear running in 60s

Temp: 62 degrees, sunny
Wind: Calm
Precip./Humidity: None/Moderate
Terrain: Rolling Hills
Distance: 4 miles

What I Wore: Some of my favorite Nike pieces - heavy-weight, sleeveless top; lined running shorts; hat; spf 30 sunblock (Coppertone, not Nike!).

Did It Work: Yes, on two levels. First, I'm recovering from a cold, so I knew I'd be tempted to be a little lazy and walk. I deliberately wore slightly less than I might at this temperature to keep myself moving. Second, I love this outfit because it is super comfortable and cute (if I'm allowed to say so). The top is much thicker than most of my running shirts, so it's a great core piece in the winter and a nice transition piece in the spring.

To The Extreme! I do not recommend seriously under- or over-dressing. Wearing a sleeveless or long-sleeve shirt instead of a t-shirt isn't going to make that much of a difference at this temperature. However, wearing just a sports bra and shorts (or, for guys, just shorts) in this weather might leave you so cold, your muscles don't properly warm up. At the other end of the spectrum, piling on the layers will just make you sweat, a.k.a. dehydrate. You might come home exhausted and weighing less, but mostly you will have lost water weight and, I'm sorry to say, that doesn't count!

Happy running!

Oh, and special thanks to today's photographer, Dana Underwood (

Friday, May 14, 2010

Walk Run in 65 Degrees

This is What to Wear Running, the Walk Run edition.
Temp: 65, sunny
Wind: 10 mph
Precip./Humidity: None/low
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 5 miles, mostly walked but with three or four quarter-mile intervals thrown in

What I Wore: Long-sleeve technical top; running shorts; hat; sunscreen.

Did It Work: No! When I run, 60 degrees is usually the temperature at which I stop wearing long-sleeve shirts. Because I was mostly walking and it was breezy, I thought I should stick to sleeves. By mile 2, I was too warm. More sunscreen, less shirt sleeve would have been perfect.

Dress the Part: Sometimes, when we're mostly walking, we feel a bit foolish getting all dressed up in running gear. My advice: dress for the job you want, not the job you have. In other words, dress for running and you will be prepared when you're ready to run.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sports Bra Details

No piece of gear is more important for a woman runner than a sports bra. Running a mile everyday barefoot may lead to a few callouses, but that same run in a bad bra can cause chafing and tearing of pectoral muscles.

When shopping, talk with the salesperson (or read the catalog) to find the right support for you. Once you have a few options that meet your support, color and cut criteria, make your final choice based on these crucial details:

I have a small build, so 1/2- to 3/4-inch straps are perfect for me. If you want more support, look for a wider strap but be aware of where it hits your shoulder.

I've circled my ideal zone for the straps to pass over the shoulders. Higher up and they press uncomfortably against the neck muscles. Any lower down the shoulder and support can suffer. The bra above rides slightly too high up my neck and I often catch myself adjusting it.

I love the look of this Nike sports bra and the straps are comfortable going over the shoulder. I also like the way they come together in the back - they don't rub against my shoulder blades as I swing my arms and the wide scoop gives more support than a narrow racer back.

The straps on this Moving Comfort bra are wider than most of my bras, but if you need support, wider is better. Plus, as you can see by the red circle, they are reinforced on the inside. My issue with this particular bra is the front. The material is thin and the design unstructured so there are some high beam issues.

This Lululemon bra is great for yoga but not running because, while the narrow straps leave you free to move, they provide little support and can dig into the shoulder muscles. The black circle emphasizes the very narrow racer back, which doesn't create enough tension for an impact sport. The black arrow gets to my next topic...

They are small things, but the placement of the seams along the edge of your sports bra is important. A badly placed seam can chafe the arm, sternum or shoulder. I like where Lululemon placed their edge seams because, no matter what I'm doing, I never rub against them.

Brooks also gets it right by combining the edging seam with the racer back meeting point - basically one seam doing double duty. Again, it's completely out of the way, so no chafing. Because I'm prone to painful rubbing under my arms, I picked this bra for my last marathon and finished without issues.

If you like more coverage, Puma has built a moderately supportive bra into its tank-style Run Top. I checked out several Puma sports bras and the Run Top was the only one with an offset seam.

Unfortunately, most Nike bras have a seam directly under the armpit, as is marked here by the black box. This is an almost perfect sports bra: low key but stylish; good support; breathable mesh along the sides; and comfortable fabric covering the elastic along the rib cage. BUT, the armpit seam means I never wear it for long runs.

Poke Through
Unless you like looking like you're freezing or on high alert, look for a bra that either has some padding or is so constricting, nothing is getting out (I usually go for option 1).

I own several of this Champion bra for three reasons:
- The cups are slightly padded, preventing high beaming
- The front also is molded to separate and hold, giving the wearer a more feminine shape
- The seam for the trim is slightly offset, behind the armpit (see circle)

Caveat: the elastic trim on this bra is exposed on the inside and can become rough with use. The black bra recently chafed a red ring around my rib cage.

As we head into summer, fabric replaces layers in importance. Look for wicking materials that are cooler, stay fresh looking longer and dry quickly. Avoid cotton and thick, spongy padding; both will soak up sweat, chafe and weigh you down.

A few of my sports bras are a tank style, which is great if you want more coverage. The tank is also a great core layering piece in the winter.

Tanks come in all sorts of cuts and styles. The one on the left, above, is longer and form fitting but, as you can see by the post-wearing wrinkles, is made of Lycra and cotton, which means 10 minutes out the door on a hot day, I've sweated through it and am burning up. The tank on the right is a little too short when worn with low-rise shorts or tights but is made of Nike's Dri-fit fabric, which removes moisture from the skin, allowing it to cool.

Puma's Run Top is a tank style that pays attention to the details. The under layer, aside from the bra, is a cooling mesh and the top is soft nylon. It's a good length and the small pleats around the neckline hide poke through (I swear, I'm not obsessed, just aware!). The bra is not very supportive, so it may be best for small frames and mid-distance runs.

Hi Tech: My Puma and Lululemon bras are the only ones I own that use silver thread in the bra to help fight odor. If you really use and abuse your gear, details like this make a big difference.

Good luck shopping and happy running!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Testing New Running Shoes

I'm cautiously testing new running shoes. I have worn Asics and Brooks for the last 8 years. Prior to that I wore Saucony.

As a new runner, I loved the cushion and stability of Saucony, but as my lower legs got stronger, the shoes started to feel a little bulky.

Asics and Brooks are good for neutral and high arches (I'm the latter). They have cushion without a lot of bulk and they hold up well - many of my friends who run 100+ miles a month like them.

The new shoes are Puma. I've been falling in like with Puma gear over the last year - very functional with good-looking details - so when I had an opportunity to try the Ventis, I was excited.

The Ventis are more in the vein of Saucony - lots of cushion and stability. They feel a little bulky on flat runs, but are great for hills - the toe bed provides a nice surface to push off of when going up and the heal provides a soft landing for my prematurely old joints when running down.

I'm still testing them, but my early report is that this is a great shoe for runners who:
  • Have wide feet (nice & roomy toe box)
  • Have neutral arches
  • Are new and want extra support
  • Have bad ankles or knees (more cushion for the pushin')
My biggest complaint is the sizing. I ALWAYS wear a 7.5 regular shoe and an 8 running shoe. Even my old-school Puma Flippers are a 7.5 and comfy. I received an 8 in the Ventis and my toes were cramped. I've never lost a toenail and don't want to now, so I exchanged them for size 8.5, which are a little big. However, the extra padding around the Achilles holds the shoes in place nicely. Interested to see how that plays out...
The Puma Flipper. I love them so much, I had to include a picture of my magenta girls.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Running & the Wind

When contemplating what to wear for a run on a windy day, keep this in mind: not all wind is created equal.

Fall and winter tend to have cold winds, while spring and summer lean toward neutral and warm wind. The best way to figure out what you need when it's windy is to check the 'Feels like' temperature.

If the feels like temp is below the actual, the wind is cooling, which means it will be harder to work up a sweat and, once you do, you'll cool down more quickly if you stop running. Add a wind resistant running jacket to keep your core warm in these conditions.

If it feels the same as the actual temperature, you know you don't need to modify your gear much. If the feels like is above the actual, it's probably not caused by the wind - it's more likely very humid, which is a whole other topic!

Temp: 52 (actual and feels like), cloudy
Wind: 30 mph gusts
Precip./Humidity: None, low
Terrain: Rolling to flat
Distance: 2.5 miles

What I Wore: Because the strong wind wasn't affecting the temps, I stuck to normal mid-50s gear: hat, long-sleeve tech top, capri pants (for guys, this means shorts or tights - it's up to you).

Did It Work: Yes, but I wouldn't have minded a VERY light pair of gloves. The wind wasn't cold, but it was strong enough to give me a wind burn feeling on my hands. The rest of me was comfy and I  worked up a nice sweat punching through the headwind.

New info: I just read in Runner's World that running into the wind can require 7% more effort. Keep that in mind when you're tempted to layer up - you'll be working harder for part of the run, so you'll need less coverage.

Sorry no photo with this post - today's outfit, while it worked, was so mismatched, I looked like a fit hobo. No one needs to see that!

Monday, April 26, 2010

What to wear running in the Rain

Temp: 52, cloudy
Precip./Humidity: Raining, High humidity
Wind: Moderate
Terrain: Flat
Distance: 5 miles

What I Wore: Brimmed hat to keep water off my face; long-sleeve technical top; Pearl Izumi light-weight running jacket; shorts; old Asics running shoes.

Did It Work: Mostly. I was a little warm sometimes, but it's easier to cool down when running in the rain than it is to warm up. If you're overheating, vent by unzipping your jacket. Hold off on removing a layer and exposing yourself to the rain, if possible.

Note: I love Apple's earbuds except when I'm running, especially if it's raining or very hot, because they tend to fall out when damp. If you like to listen to music while running, I recommend getting headphones that hook over your ears. Even in the pouring rain, you won't have to worry about them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Running in 60 degrees

Temp: 60, sunny
Wind: 10 mph (mild to moderate)
Precip./Humidity: Moderate
Terrain: Rolling to flat
Distance: 4 miles

What I Wore: Brooks shorts, Under Armour Baltimore Half Marathon t-shirt and a bandanna (on my head, not cowboy style around my neck!).  

Did It Work: Yes. I ran the NYC marathon in these shorts because they are very comfortable. The UA shirt wicks moisture from skin, so the wind isn't a problem. Caveat: I don't wear this shirt often because it tends to get funky smelling easily. Not sure if this is true of other UA gear.
The sun is getting stronger, so wear sunblock. I like Neutrogena Age Shield with Helioplex and my dermatologist confirmed that it is good stuff. It doesn't streak and seems to hold up even on a long run.

Note: As we settle into spring, you have to find your own gear groove.
If it takes you a while to warm up, try the shorts and t-shirt combo as a base but add a light-weight running jacket or long-sleeve technical shirt as a top layer. You can always take it off and tie it around your waist.

Everything is comes back to life after the winter, making this is a great time to get outside and run. Happy trails!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What to Wear Running with Strangers

Joining a new running group; doing a Meet Up ( or Tweet Up (Twitter); or going on a blind date with a runner (Hook Up!) means running with strangers. We've all heard what they say about first impressions, so here's some thoughts on putting your best foot forward (sorry; punny).
 It's What's on the Inside that Matters
Your appearance on a run doesn't really matter, which is lucky for me because I own (and wear) gear that is 12-years old. Real runners will care more about participation and that you keep the established pace (don't jack rabbit off or expect everyone to wait if you walk), so try to not take this too seriously! Strive to be comfortable on the outside AND the inside.

I Still Care, What Should I Wear?
1) Wear ALL three of the basics: shirt, running shoes and shorts or tights.
Many runners have amazing bodies. If you're one of them, kudos. For a first-time meeting, keep that piece of info to yourself and wear a shirt. Wear running shoes, racing flats or, if you're willing to get into a discussion, Vibram Five Fingers. Do not wear sneakers, tennis shoes or Keds. Also, wear real running shorts (see previous entry) or well-fitting (but discreet) tights. Yoga pants, sweatpants and khaki shorts have their place but a group run isn't it.
2) Dress for the weather and hold the wacky.
Wear gear in which you will be as comfortable as possible considering the conditions. If you want to be invited back, leave your rubber weight-loss suit or Halloween 10k race costume at home. This isn't just snobbery (maybe a little), it's also the fact that running with someone who seems to be working extra hard because they are too cold or hot is distracting.
3) Go with what you know. The best way to be comfortable is to wear gear that you trust and that has stood up to similar runs in the past. If that's not possible, wear something clean and that isn't prone to smelling funky.

Running with other people can motivate and, I've heard, be a great way to meet a potential boyfriend/girlfriend. Whatever you're looking for, good luck and happy running!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Running in Shorts

It's Spring in the Northern Hemisphere! On the East Coast, that means cherry blossoms, longer days and transitioning to running shorts.

Running shorts may be a right of passage. Many of us, when we first started running, wore whatever workout shorts we had lying around. If we were dealing with weight issues or modesty, we didn't want to show a lot of leg and held onto our tights for dear life. I know people who think they don't deserve running shorts because they "just jog." If any of these scenarios sound familiar, I say, if you're getting out there at least once a week and are logging more than a mile per run, it's time to dress like what you are: a runner. Buy some running shorts.

What to Know, Before Go (to the store)
Running shorts come in different cuts.
There is the kind that Usain Bolt might wear, with a split up each side, allowing a full range of motion. Unless you're very fast, have an extremely long stride or have a tattoo on your hip that you're dying to show off, I suggest you leave these on the hanger. Get ones that have a small split or even just a dip, on each side.
There's also low-rise and standard-rise waist. I prefer low rise because I have a short torso. Standard is good if you have a long torso or a fuller mid-section. Go with what looks good on you.
Real running shorts have a liner.
This may seem odd to a first-time buyer of running shorts, but real running shorts come with the equivalent of built-in underpants. The liner of my Nike and Brooks shorts are white. My Pumas, pictured here, are extra fresh because the liner is black. Either way, unless the shorts are too tight, nobody else can see them, so it doesn't matter.
The liner is valuable for a couple reasons. First, it keeps you from having to run in your everyday underwear. Be they boxers, a thong, lacy, heavy cotton briefs or commando, none of these are good options when you're out in the elements, doing a repetitive motion and working up a sweat.
Second, it keeps your shorts from clinging to your sweaty booty. I know, vanity is a sin, but I stand by my desire to look as cool as possible while running and clingy, sweaty, saggy shorts don't help.
Good running shorts have a pocket.
I have a cousin in Colorado who is a track star. The one time we did a long run together, she kicked my butt while wearing Champion basketball shorts, which don't have a pocket. Around mile 13, she lost her ID, which she was carrying in her sports bra. We spent 30 minutes stiffening up as we retraced our steps, slightly hunched over, looking for something that could easily have fit in a shorts pocket.
When runners head out, we almost always need to carry keys, money, an ID or lip balm. Good running shorts make that easy with a pocket that is either sown into the liner, near the waistband, or a zip pocket in the back, like the shorts pictured here. 

Running shorts are made of nylon or a wicking fabric.
Once again, cotton is rotten when it comes to running. Cotton running shorts tend to bunch up between your thighs and they show how sweaty you are with stains and sags. Basically, cotton shorts make you look like a struggling runner, even if you're feeling strong. Nike, Brooks, Asics, Puma and RoadRunner all offer great, wicking shorts. When you're shopping, the description on the tag or in the catalog should include something about taking moisture away from skin, helping keep you dry. If they feel and look good, buy those!

It might not be warm enough to wear shorts around town, but when the temps hit 50, it's time to work on that mid-thigh tan line that says "I'm proud to be a runner!"

Monday, April 5, 2010

Recovery Run

In what kind of bizzaro world does it makes sense that we run to recover from a run? That mixed up world is this one.

I just finished my post-half marathon recovery run. Some people probably did their's yesterday. Me, I got a massage. Call me soft, but I'm no sadist!

The recovery run is an odd beast. It is a run with the sole purpose of helping your body get over the last run it did. It's like dessert after a meal that was so filling you feel like you're going explode. But, instead of making it worse, the recovery run actually helps shake off the cobwebs of stiffness, reminds you that even though that last run was brutal you're not broken and, if done right, sends you home with a desire to run more.

Today's run was a short 1.5 miles to the edge of my park and back. It was great to step onto the road in my park and remember that the last time I was there I was cruising through a half marathon. It was even better to then turn around and go home while I still felt strong and refreshed.

It's tempting to turn the recovery run into a real run, if you're feeling good. I suggest you don't short change yourself. Give yourself this one, easy run. It's a way of saying thanks to your body for the hard work it put in and it gives you time to recognize how strong you are. The next run, you can go crazy and push it, if you feel like it!

Temp: 65, sunny
Wind: Calm
Precip./Humidity: Very low
Terrain: Gradual hill (down and then back up)
Distance: 1.5 miles

What I Wore: Shorts; Long sleeve tech top; Sunscreen and Bandana (my hat is still dirty from Saturday)
Did It Work: Yes, but any longer of a run and I would have been too hot.

Until next time: run, recover, run again!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Half Marathon: Ready, Set, Go!

Today I ran my first race in a year and a half. It was the 13.1 NYC half marathon (I know that's redundant, but that's the race's name!).

I don't know when I will stop getting excited/nervous about a race. That time hasn't arrived yet and I've literally been dreaming about this race for the last two weeks. I worried about being ready - well trained, right gear, know where to go, fueled up and well rested. I wondered if friends were going to surprise me by coming out to cheer and I was anxious that I would be so sore afterward that I wouldn't be able to meet a friend for lunch.

Yesterday, in preparation, I readied my ride - my bicycle, which has been in winter storage and needed its tires inflated. Then, I set out my clothes, my iPod and shoes. I picked up my bib and D-tag and attached both as soon as I got home. I checked the course map to see where to park my bike and how long it would take to get there. And then I went to bed and stared at the back of my eyelids as I tried to sleep.

I kept fretting over the details, despite knowing I was as ready as I could be. It was during this wakeful time that I decided to add gloves to my  running outfit (sometimes there's a good side to insomnia). After a couple hours of wakefulness, I just had to reassure myself that, no matter what, I would finish and that it would be ok. Around 2:30 a.m., I rolled over onto my cat Emma, who responded by biting me, and fell asleep for a few hours.

Temp: 55-60, sunny
Terrain: Basically flat
Distance: 13.1 miles
What I Wore: Sunscreen (spf 70); Nike running hat; Nike ACG sleeveless dri-fit top; Nike shorts,  socks and wrist band; Asics gloves from the ING NYC marathon (not pictured); and my favorite Brooks running shoes. I started the race wearing an old sweatshirt that I didn't mind leaving behind when I got too hot around mile 2.
Did It Work: Yes! I probably didn't need the sweatshirt after the warm up bike ride, but I would have started the race unnecessarily cold and might not have done as well. Everything else was perfect and, thanks to liberal application of Body Glide, no chafing!
Wrap Up: Final time: 2:00:09 - 5 minutes ahead of my goal thanks to trying to motivate another runner at the end (funny how cheering on someone else actually helps push one's self, too). This is 1 of 2 half marathons that I plan to do this year. The second is in Toronto with my oldest friends and the boyfriend. I'm hoping to take another 5 minutes off my time, but, as always, my primary goals will be:
  • Finish
  • Don't get hurt
Until I recover enough for another run, happy trails! Oh, and if you're interested, here's the course map.