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.