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.