Sunday, January 31, 2010

50, hilly!

Temp: 48-50, partly sunny
Wind: Calm
Precip./Humidity: High (85%)
Terrain: Big hills
Distance: 7.75 miles

What I Wore: Brimmed cap; light-weight, wickaway, long-sleeve top; regular sports bra; short.

Did It Work: Yes. I almost wore tights and I think that would have been just a bit too hot. High humidity at a low temperature means that it felt cool in the shade. So, even when I warmed up, I didn't take off my shirt or even push up my sleeves because the next shady patch cooled me right back down.

"Deep thought" after too many hills: This was one of the hilliest runs I've done in a long time. There were several times when I would say to myself 'Just to the hydrant' or 'Just to that fence' and then, when I'd reach those short-distance goals, tell myself 'Ok, just to that silver car.' My legs were wobbly and weak by the time I got home, but, if I could, I would jump for joy that I never stopped. If you're taking on a new challenge - more distance, a faster pace or hills - go ahead and psych yourself as often as you need it. Running is 50% a mind game, so play to win!

In northern California? Here's my run route:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What to wear running in 35 degrees & misty

Temp: 34, overcast
Wind: 10 mph gusts
Precip./Humidity:  Misty rain, moderately humid (75%)
Terrain: Rolling to flat
Distance: 9 miles

What I Wore: Nike tights; regular Champion sports bra; Road Runner Sports light-weight tech-top; Nike dri-fit, mid-weight running jacket; knit hat and gloves.

Did It Work: Yes. I was just a little cool when I first stepped out, but was comfortable by the half-mile mark and slightly sweating by one mile. I like the Nike running jacket because it is full zip, so I can open it a bit from the top and bottom to vent when I get warm on a long run. Plus, it has cuff pockets that I pulled over my hands to keep them dry.

Big But!: Today's gear worked but I knew I couldn't stop or even walk because I was sweaty on the inside and wet from the mist on the outside. Without the body heat from running, that moisture would have cooled quickly and I would have been freezing cold almost immediately. Thankfully, I made it through my longest run in ages without any sprains or twists. However, if you like to mix walking and running or if you are worried about an achy ankle or knee, wear a shell to keep the mist and wind off of your clothes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mid-30s, sunny in new gear

Temp: 35, sunny
Wind: 18 mph
Precip./Humidity: None
Terrain: Flat
Distance: 4 miles

What I Wore: New Icebreaker technical top under the Pearl Izumi shell; regular sports bra; Nike tights; knit hat and gloves

Did It Work: Yes. I was comfortable running into the wind on the outbound and took off the shell when the wind was at my back on the way home.

New gear review: Today I tested out a top I bought in New Zealand. The brand is Icebreaker and I think you can get it a few places in the U.S., like REI and Eastern Mountain Sportswear. It is made from merino wool, which I was leery of because wool usually itches me. Not Icebreaker! It is light-weight, comfortable and even stylish! Their gear comes in different weight levels. Today I wore 180, which is for cool weather. The top I wore today has a Napoleon pocket on the chest for stashing keys, lip balm, a little money or something else small.
When it gets colder, I'll try out another top, which is 200 weight. The only downside is Icebreaker's sleeves are a little short for me. To wear the size that fits my body, I have to use the thumb hooks just to make them stay down past my wrists.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Uninspirational Words

Today I dressed for upper 30s, no wind, sun or rain. I had on tights, my 2007 NYC ING Marathon wick-away shirt, another warm, but wicking layer on top and a hat. I walked out the door and, as I approached the elevator, changed my mind and went back into my apartment.

I didn't run.

This is rare for me but I'm not beating myself up about it. I'm not starving myself in punishment. I'm not planning to add more miles to tomorrow's run to make up for it. Sometimes, I decide not to do what I said I was going to do. But usually, if I say I'm going running, come rain, sleet or snow, I'll be out there.

Lately, I've been asked a lot what "drives" me to run. I don't think of myself as driven, in a good or bad way. I don't have a wondrous words of inspiration. All I can say is that, most of the time, the thing that gets me out the door is the fact that I promised myself earlier in the day or the evening before that I would go for a run. And if I can't keep a promise to myself, what does that say about promises I make to others?

Knowing what to wear is about removing another layer of the excuses we make for not taking care of our bodies. Running, or not, is a choice. Neither is especially bad or good. But if you're fighting with that part of you that makes excuses, try making a very specific promise. Promise yourself that you will run x miles on a specific day at a specific point in the day (before work, at lunch, after work before you do anything else). And then keep that promise. It's that easy, even when it sounds hard.

Good luck!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Windy, rainy, upper 30s

Temp: About 37, overcast
Wind: Gusts of 16 mph
Precip./Humidity: Raining/ high humidity
Terrain: Rolling to flat
Distance: Nearly 7 miles

What I Wore: Old running shoes; CW-X compression tights; Nike 3/4 zip dri-fit top; regular sports bra; light Pearl Izumi shell jacket; knit gloves; and a brimmed hat over a balaclava (new gear alert!)

Did It Work?: Mostly yes. I warmed up nicely by the first half mile and stayed comfortable until I stopped for water at the half-way point. As soon as I stopped, my wet clothes cooled off and within minutes I was chilled. My muscles tightened up but once I started running again, I was warm again within five minutes.  
This is VERY hard weather to dress for. It is warm enough that a wind- and water-proof shell might have been too much, but the wind and rain make it so you don't heat up completely. Despite wearing for a several light layers, a hat that kept water off my face and the balaclava, which covered my head (giving me a second layer at a key body-temp control point), ears and neck, I was barely warm during the last two, soggy miles.

Tip: If you have them, on wet days, wear old running shoes. Getting wet is hard on your shoes, so I choose to be rough on an older pair than my current favorites.

What the Balaclava?!: Today's weather sent me to the gear basket. I wanted to stay warm, but not as hot as I would have been in a knit hat (which also would have gotten really wet) and neck gaiter. Solution: the balaclava. It's like a thin, quick-drying hood that's been cut off of sweatshirt. It hugs the edges of your face, keeping out wind and water, but is light enough to fit under a hat or jacket collar. Plus, you can roll it up into a hat or down into a gaiter.
I don't know why it has such an odd name (it used to be known as a ski mask but I think those got a bad rap thanks to bank robbers), but it really is a great piece of cool-weather gear. Here's more about the balaclava:

Monday, January 11, 2010

What to wear running in 15 degrees & sunny

Temp: 26, but 'feels like' is 13, sunny
Wind: Headwind up to 20mph
Precip./Humidity: None/low
Terrain: Flat
Distance: 7 miles

What I wore: Learned my lesson from the other day. Tank sports bra; light-weight, long-sleeve tech top; wind-resistant jacket; knit hat; ski gloves; Road Runner thermo tights; thick socks.

Did it work: Yes! A little cool when I first stepped out, but was comfortable almost immediately thanks to all of my wind-proof gear.

I'm in love: In December, my hands were freezing when I wore knit gloves on windy days. Being a frugal runner, I didn't want to buy any more gear, so I dug around and found my Nike ACG ski gloves. I'm typing right now, minutes after a run, without having to wait for my hands to warm up. My ski gloves are a little bulky, but great on these cold, windy days because they are:

  • wind proof
  • long (so no drafts up my jacket sleeve or down the glove
  • lined with fleece
  • come with zip-off outer mittens that are also fleece lined, so they can be worn on their own
Today I'm going to buy some duct tape and try modifying a pair of knit gloves, just to see if they really can be made windproof and warm with that magical gray tape.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What to wear running in 17 degrees

Temp: Upper 20s with a feels-like of 17, sunny
Wind: Gusts up to 18mph
Precip./Humidity: None/dry
Terrain: Rolling to flat
Distance: 4.75 miles

What I Wore: Knit hat; Nike ACG wind-proof, elbow-high ski gloves; tank-style sports bra; dri-fit tank top; wick-away, long-sleeve shirt; wind-proof jacket; Road Runner winter tights; neck gaiter.

Did It Work: No. Unless you're a wrestler or jockey who is trying to make weight, try not to sweat off the pounds, like I did. It isn't real weight loss and being dehydrated will make you tired and slow. I totally over-compensated in response to having been in warm weather for the last three weeks.

What I Would Change: I needed to lose a layer and a half. When I do it again, I'll wear a regular sports bra (instead of tank) and leave off the dri-fit tank top. I would still wear the tights because they are wind-proof on one side, so my leg muscles stayed warm and relaxed.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What to Wear Running in the Dark 1

For many of us, winter running means being out in the dark. Last night, a runner in NYC was hit by a car through no fault of his own - the driver admitted to being on Percoset while driving. My point is, running in the dark is dangerous, but there are some things we can do to keep ourselves safer.
  • Run on the sidewalk, not street, whenever possible. 
  • Be extra careful when crossing the streets because cars that are turning might not be able to see you until it's too late. 
  • Keep your music, if you listen to any, fairly low, so you can hear cyclists and cars that are coming up from behind. 
  • Dress to be seen.
Many brands boast having reflective elements on their clothes, but often they are just small strips or piping on the sleeve. For example, Lululemon and Road Runner both make mention of their reflective logos. It's a nice touch, but a 1/2-inch logo is not going to be seen by a fast-approaching vehicle.

An inexpensive solution to the problem of being seen at night is one of those reflective vests - sort of like what crossing guards wear. You can pick one up for less than $20 from most outdoor stores. However, they really provide no benefit other than visibility and usually aren't a great fit if you're slim.

My favorite reflective gear is my Illuminite jacket. It is wind and water resistant, so it's a great winter running piece, and the sleeves are covered in a special material that is absolutely brilliant when it comes to reflecting headlights. Plus, it has an iPod pocket in the sleeve and a pocket in back for keys, gels or whatever other small items you want to carry. I think it was designed for cyclists, but it's great for runners, too.

Be safe out there and enjoy your runs!