Saturday, December 31, 2011

What I Won't Miss About Running

Depending on your time zone, my long long-distance running career is wrapping up in about 4 hours. It's a been a good run (oh yes, I'm so punny on New Years Eve) but torn knees and Achilles tendonitis are telling me it's time to mostly* hang up the running shoes, knee straps and lined shorts for a while.

In an effort to accept my decision, here's a short list of what I won't miss about my favorite activity:
- runner's gut: I've been prone to stomach cramps for my entire running life and they hurt like a mother!
- aching knees: I'm just too young to hobble
- being cold before I warm up: if you've been here before, you know I don't overdress, which means some runs start out feeling a little... fresh
- packing running shoes: I travel a lot and running shoes are space hogs in a suitcase

I think that's it. If you can think of anything else that will make me feel better, please share in a comment! In the meantime, I have a few posts saved up from some recent cold-weather runs, so come back for posts about what to wear running in 15 or 20 degrees.

To everyone who is running into 2012, happy trails!

*I say mostly because I'm still in denial.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What to Wear Running: 30 degrees and humid

Temp: 30 degrees F/2C
Humidity/Precip.: High (~85%)
Wind: None
Terrain: Flat
Distance: 2.5 miles

What I Wore: Singlet, long-sleeve top, running jacket (fluorescent - it was nighttime), gloves, thin tights and a light-weight hat.

Did It Work: Yes, except I couldn't keep my hands comfortable. The high humidity made it feel cold but 30 isn't so bad, once you get moving. Except the hands! First they were freezing, then sweaty, so I took off the gloves, but then my fingers were cold. In the end, wore my gloves just over my fingers. It was very jazz hands and did the job.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What to Wear Running in Vancouver

Conditions: Cool (below 60F/15C) and damp (usually)
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: Up to you

By special request, a post about running in the beautiful city of Vancouver, Canada. Why? Because it's damp, so it seems colder. And, because it isn't always flat, there's lots of opportunity to warm up. Plus, it really is pretty, so if you visit, go for a run during the day.

Nike gloves, singlet and capris
Three Hs: The key for me in damp, cool places is Heart, Hands, Head. I talked about the 3 Hs in an earlier post, but here's a quick refresher. You'll feel more comfortable if you:
  • Prevent heat from escaping through your head
  • Protect your most important muscle - the heart
  • Pamper your extremities (your feet are probably in shoes, so this means gloves)
What to Wear: Basics for 50F/9C and below: a hat, singlet or T (wicking, of course), and gloves. Layer on a long-sleeve top that you can shed when you warm up. Shorts, capris or light-weight tights are usually fine in Vancouver. It's a rare day when you want something heavier like lined tights.
If it's above 50/9, I would still bring the layers but leave the gloves at home.

Men's running jacket by Puma
Most important, whether you live there or are planning a visit, is a brimmed hat and light-weight breathable shell. You never know when it might rain and these will keep the damp off your skin, which is crucial to keeping your body temperature up (which keeps muscles loose, which helps prevent injury. You get the gist!).

Happy running and send us a comment postcard!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What to Wear Running: 40 Degrees in Minnesota

Temp: 41 degrees F (~5C)
Wind: 7 mph
Humidity/Precip: moderate, cold mist
Distance: 1.5 miles
Terrain: Hilly

What I Wore: Puma shorts and full-length singlet under a mid-weight, long-sleeve top.

Did It Work: Sorta. I was afraid of being cold because I hadn't packed for 40 degrees. But, the immediate hill workout combined with the singlet warmed up my core.

What Could Have Been Better: This top doesn't breathe, which was good because it didn't let the wind in, but is bad when things heat up. Ideally, I would have had a mid-weight top that breathes, which would have been a little cooler at first, but kept my body temp more even later in the run. Based on the pinkness of my hands in this photo, I probably could have used some light gloves.
For more than 15 minutes outside, I would recommend a light hat or ear band.

Thank you, Minnesota, for reminding me how refreshing a cool-weather run can be. Being out in that kind of weather felt great, inside and out.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What to Wear Running: What Not to Wear Running

Situation: Running in the dark

What Not to Wear: Black. Even if it has reflective elements. Those little silver strips will only prevent walkers from crashing into you. And only if they are wearing a headlamp that makes those elements reflect. Car drivers, bicyclists and even other runners will not see you. So, unless you're a running ninja...

The Fix: If all your gear is black and you refuse to buy anything lighter, then at least buy and wear something that lights up. Reflective strips (to which I'm pointing in photo) do NOT count. You can barely see them in the picture and I'm only 3 feet from the camera.
My two favorite items:
  • Marmut headlamp - bright light lets me see the path, avoiding cracks and twisted ankles, and be seen. Comfortable enough for mid-distance runs, but I prefer to wear a beanie under it for long-distance comfort.
  • Amphipod arm band - multiple LEDs can be seen from at least 30 feet and it fits snug around my arm thanks to Velcro. I like to wear it wrapped around the arm that is facing street side for maximum visibility.
 Be safe and happy running!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What to Wear Running in Humidity

Temp: 70 and above
Humidity: 70 and above
Distance: Anything longer than what it takes you to warm up

What to Wear
Post run, I'm glowing with sweat
- Lined running shorts made of a quick-dry fabric. Why? Nothing is going to truly make you cool when it's really humid. Good shorts will feel lighter (ie cooler) and will stay a little drier so they won't chafe or cling to your body. The lining is key because cotton underwear can turn a good pair of shorts into a hot, wet mess.
- You have two options on top. Either no shirt (ladies, this means just a sports bra) or a light-weight, loose singlet or tank.  I recommend keeping your shirt on if you're going to walk/run; if you want protection from the sun; or if the temperature is closer to 70 and it's the end of the day (short days can mean cold on the way home).
- Sweat bands. I like having something to wipe my brow and nose on. If I'm not wearing a shirt, I sport wrist sweat bands. When it's really hot, the terry cloth ones get pretty gross, so look for something wicking like Lululemon's.
- I generally skip sunglasses when it's humid because I want to be able to wipe the sweat out of my eyes with minimal effort. This means I wear a hat. It's protection from the sun and will soak up some of the forehead moisture.

Most important, bring water or know the location of your water fountains. It's easy to get dehydrated in these conditions.

Lastly, be easy on yourself. For every five degrees above 65, you can expect your pace to drop by 30 seconds. Don't worry, autumn is around the corner and your humid weather training will pay off at the Turkey Trot.

Happy running!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Walk, Don't Run

It's almost 2012. It might not seem like it if you just started something new, like the school year, but I'm about to end something big and for me, as the street doomsday men like to say, "The end is nigh."
On January 1, 2012, I will no longer be a runner. I'm giving it up for the sake of still being able to walk, bike, play tennis (gently) and do yoga 10 or 15 years from now. Maybe cord blood stem cells will return the knees and ankles of my teens to me one day, but for now, I'm preparing for the worst.
And for all who know me, yes I have wondered what I'll do with my blog; what will I do to stay fit; how will I work out my inner demons and excess energy. And yes, I am worried I'll gain a lot of weight.
As I go through the 7 stages of mourning (I'm a preemptive mourner - when I was a kid, I would cry for hours about my grandparents death even though they all were very alive in Colorado), I keep getting sucked into bargaining. I think, maybe I'll just ease up, only run once a week, only run a mile or two, only run slowly. A friend who is a physical therapist offered to look at my stride. I'm taking her up on it because hope is another stage. Maybe she'll see something I can change that will allow me to continue...
The reality is, in fewer than 4 months, while I may still sometimes run, I will no longer be a runner and, despite getting a jump on the mourning, I'm still going to be shocked.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go lay out my gear for tomorrow's run. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What to Wear Running: Lululemon

I didn't think I would, but I loved running in my new Lululemon "Let It Loose" tank with built in sports bra.

I bought the tank because I thought it was cute and sporty and would "sexy up" my normal hiking outfit. The hikes proved that the sports bra was tough and I thought, why not, let's take this puppy for a run.

If you follow me on Twitter (@whattoweartorun), you may remember that I recently made fun of a woman who was out for a run wearing a strapless tube top. It was cute, but it wasn't, if you know what I mean. She was bouncing all over the place and, as she ran toward me, she kept having to pull the thing up.

That's kind of how I felt as I headed out the door. The skinny shoulder straps and loose fabric (the folks in the naming department were spot on with this one) left me feeling uncovered and unsupported. But, that was just a feeling. The reality was that I was locked down where it mattered and enjoying breathable fabric and the wind on my skin where it didn't. The only thing that I didn't love was the fact that, as you can see in the photo, it shows when you use it as a hanky. Most wick-away tops hide the sweat/runny nose better. Other than that, excellent!

Overall letter grade: A-
External tank scoops under sports bra, creating venting
Who Is It Good For: Women with an A or B cup size who hike, bike, and run; and women who are apple shaped (the loose cut would be flattering)
Who Isn't It Good For: Women with a cup size C or above - I don't think the skinny straps would cut it; and women who are looking for a casual-wear tank - the tight straps make it uncomfortable to wear for more than a couple of hours.
Needs Clarification: The tag says this top is good for yoga but I'm not sure where all that looseness would go while upside down. Will the slightly fitted waist prevent it from sliding all the way down and smothering me while I'm in headstand? I'm also not sure if the tank is going to be for sale much longer. I wanted to include a link to lulu's website for interested buyers, but it wasn't there.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What to Wear Running for Knees

Despite the talk of pounding on your joints, a recent study revealed that, if you don't already have bad knees, running moderate distances at a moderate pace is good for them.

Unfortunately, I already have bad knees, thanks to tearing my ACL more than 10 years ago. For now, I run anyway, but I've had to had to make some adjustments, including taking ibuprofen a few times a week, stretching my IT band and, after long runs, icing or taking an ice bath.

While training for my last marathon, I also started wearing a knee strap. Cues that a knee strap was in order:
  • Knee joints felt tender, sort of a soft, liquid soreness
  • Discoloration that looked like a bruise way beneath the surface, under my patella

You may have other signs; my point is, don't ignore them - they won't go away. My pain wasn't sharp, so I decided to keep running but try to reduce the impact with a knee strap. It worked - the bruising went away and, with icing and Vitamin I (ibuprofen), so did the gooey pain. I now have, and often wear, two straps (one for each leg, not two on one!). I like them both but prefer the Ace. Here's some details.

Ace knee strap:
  • Like: Velcro on both ends means it stay in place
  • Like: Wide fabric keeps the rough Velcro covered, so it never scratches your skin
  • Like/dislike: Cloth fabric on the front and back absorbs sweat
  • Dislike: Even the small is not quite small enough - the design makes it hard to get it tight enough (and I don't have skinny knees!)
  • Dislike: The front has a rough plastic ridge that, if I don't position the band correctly, scratches my other leg
McDavid knee strap:
  • Like: Exposed rubber knee brace really gets in, under the patella, creating a strong support
  • Like: Design lets me tighten the strap as much as I need
  • Like/dislike: Neoprene doesn't absorb sweat
  • Dislike: Neoprene isn't holding up well - starting to curl
  • Dislike: Non-Velcro end sometimes slips out from under the band (it just feels weird)

Both were available at my local, major drug store for less than $20.  These days, even shorter runs are taking their toll, so it was worth the small investment.

Be good to your knees and happy running!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Do You Need to Run

To run really only requires shoes, and even that seems up for debate these days. As we become "a runner," we each develop our own habits or routines around what we need. Personally, I would say I "need" the following:
  • Running shoes
  • Arch-supporting socks
  • Knees straps (one for each leg)
  • Shorts, capris or tights, depending on weather
  • Sports bra
  • Singlet, T or long-sleeved top, plus a jacket if it's cold
  • Hat
  • iPod
Sometimes, all of this gear plus the actual run feels like work. To keep my attitude up and the run feeling fresh, I occasionally remove an item or two. Today's run was made a little more fun just by running without socks.

Don't be afraid to leave your hat, heart rate monitor or even iPod at home sometimes. Change is good!

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Socks to Wear Running

I have a new favorite sock for running: Asics Hera low cut.

There is nothing about them that I dislike and lots to love:
  • Low cut but with just a little extra in the front and back to help keep them from slipping into the shoe.
  • Wide, firm but not painful arch support.
  • Actually shaped like a human foot - flat on the bottom, instead of flat when sideways.
  • Left/right specific.
  • Nice cushion under the ball and heel but not excessive.
  • Green (sort of) because they're PVC free.
Actually, they do have a downside - they are crazy expensive. One pair was $10 at my local running store, A Runner's Mind. If anyone knows of a place that sells them in bulk for cheap, let me know!

Happy running!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What to Wear Running: 75 degrees

Temp: 75 degrees, sunny
Humidity/Precip.: Moderate
Wind: 15 mph
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 4 miles

What I Wore: Hat, Road Runner Sports singlet, Nike shorts and waterproof sunblock.

Did It Work: Yes, but barely. 75 degrees with sun can feel very warm, even with a breeze and moderate humidity, so minimal clothes, plus sunblock, was good. As summer continues to heat up, be sure to look for tops that wick sweat well and are breathable. This RRS singlet isn't my favorite for wicking and it has a big pocket in the back (think bike shirt) - putting extra layers over my lower back.

What Would Make It Better: I love small pockets built into running gear, particularly if they're built into the hem or side seams. The RRS singlet's pocket is big enough to hold two tennis balls. I don't know why, but when I'm running - versus playing tennis - I wish it weren't so.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What to Wearing Running in 65 degrees

Temp: 65 degrees/overcast
Wind: 15 mph
Humidity/Precip.: Moderately high
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 3 miles

Ridiculous photo, but best I had.
What I Wore: Full-length sports bra, mid-weight, moisture-wicking, long-sleeve top; and shorts.

Did It Work: No. The wind fooled me into thinking it was colder than it was, so I over dressed (I know, lame excuse). A mile into the run, I had to push up my sleeves and at two miles, my core was sweaty.

What I Should Have Done: A regular sports bra under a mid-weight top or, for the guys, just one layer.

The Upside (if that's what you call it): On my way home, my knee tweaked, forcing me to walk for a few blocks. The wind chilled me, making me glad I could pull down my sleeves while my knee worked itself out.

And, despite not being perfectly dressed and the knee tweaking, it was a nice run.

Happy running!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What to Wear Running: Puma Running Jacket for Women

If you aren't thinking about Puma when looking for new running gear, you're overlooking some good stuff. The shorts I've owned for a couple years are holding up and the new running jacket that Puma sent me to try out is nice! Below is my review:

Light-Weight Windproof Running Jacket
  • Outside pockets on both sides. No zipper, but snug enough to hold keys and big enough for my hands.
  • Venting so the inside doesn’t get too steamy (see hand poking through in photo - vents are invisible unless you do this...and why would you?!).
  • Very wind resistant, making a cold wind on a 40 degree day no issue.
  • Zipper guard at the neck, so no chafing.
  • Good length for long and short torsos.
  • Elastic at cuffs and hem isn't too tight.
  • Black (yeah!) with subtle dashes of color make it casually match this season’s top and shoes.
  • Reflective elements at the wrists and in the front and back.
Arrows: neck guard & cord holder
The earbud-cord holder. It’s location makes no sense – along the collar seam, over the left shoulder. This means that the cord for your right ear has to reach across your neck in an annoying way, especially if you aren't zipped all the way up. It also demands that you leave the cord from your iPod dangling on the outside of the jacket, rather than threading it underneath. Anyone who has snagged an arm on their iPod cord, ripping their earbuds from their ears, knows that a loose cord is a big hassle.

That’s a long gripe for a small issue, but the devil is in the details, especially when it comes to gear.

In sum, yes, this is my new go-to jacket when it’s windy. I give it an A-. Thanks, Puma!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What to Wear Running: Puma Faas 300

Thanks to a gift from Puma, my boyfriend and I had a chance to try out some new gear for the season.  The gear definitely checks one of the boxes – looks good, especially if you’re into matching – but what about performance of the shoes?

Puma Faas 300 Running Shoe is their foray into natural foot running. It has pros and cons, detailed below, but overall it gets a B.


  • Light! Ridiculously so. Weighing in at about 3 ounces, the shoe practically floats out of your hands when you hold it.
  • Great colors. Puma went with bold, island-inspired colors (and name – Faas is “fast” in Jamaica). The green, white, silver body with orange bottom was eye-catching in a good way.

  • Matchy match. If you want your running gear to also be “an outfit,” the Puma collection is for you. The green shoes matched the shorts' green waistband, logo and zipper. The green with cut-out white circles was carried from the shoes to the jacket. My outfit was a vision in purples (photos here)


  • Matchy match. I liked it, but my guy said it was a little over the top for him.
  • Unstructured. That lightness came at a price – the upper is almost entirely mesh, so there’s very little to hold your foot in place. “I feel like my foot could slide right over the edge of the foot bed,” said the bf.

The shoes are good looking enough that my rather-particular-about-footwear boyfriend has been wearing them every day. The sole is too thin for trail running, but are worth trying on the street or treadmill. The good news: they are much cheaper than your average “natural” or barefoot running shoe.

By the way, the shorts were also a hit. They are so soft, I wanted a pair for myself. The wide waistband was comfortable and the length was right for a guy who doesn’t like to sport short shorts. The soft fabric might be a bit heavy for hot weather and the wick-away element needs further testing.

I know many runners don’t think of Puma when they’re looking for gear, but I suggest you at least add them to your line up of what to try before you buy.

Happy running!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What to wear running, 55 and WINDY!

Temp: 55 degrees (~12 C)
Humidity/Precip.: Low
Wind: 20 - 30 mph
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 3 miles

What I Wore: Light-weight tights, tank sports bra, light-weight, breathable running jacket and wick-away skull cap.

Did It Work: Mostly. The wind was cold, so I was glad to have my arms, legs and ears covered. However, gusting wind makes it harder to predict what will be comfortable, so sometimes I was warmer than I like.

Wind Alert! Although a headwind can make a run a little harder, it's usually fine to run on a windy day. I suggest wearing glasses. This will help keep flying grit out of your eyes. Also, run with your mouth closed unless you want bugs, twigs and dust to end up in it.
Lastly, if you notice that garbage cans, branches or small animals are being blown around, it's probably better to stay indoors.

Happy trails!

Monday, April 25, 2011

What to wear running?

Wondering what to wear for a run? Ask me through the comment box. Maybe I have an idea!

Nike ACG 3-in-1 ski gloves
I used to live & run in New York. Before that, England and, before that, Chicago and St. Paul, MN. I've fainted from heat exhaustion during hot runs and sported elbow-length ski gloves and foot warmers for really REALLY cold runs.

Now, I'm in San Francisco, where it seems like it's always the same (50-60 degrees, moderate humidity). Great for running, bad for blogging. So, if you're here because you're wondering what to wear in certain weather, post a comment and ask me. I'll answer as quickly as I can. If I don't know, I'll try to find out. AND, if possible, I'll post a photo of what I recommend.

Thanks for stopping by! Happy running.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What to wear running in 60 degrees

Temp: about 60 (15 C) and sunny
Humidity/Precip: Moderately high/none
Wind: 10 mph
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 3.5 miles

What I Wore: Today was an homage to my alma mater, Northwestern University. I was sporting purple Puma running shorts and a white Nike dri-fit t-shirt.

Did it Work: Yes! I was so happy in this run. My outfit was comfortable from beginning to end (I stayed in the shade on the outbound, so I wouldn't heat up too quickly). 
If it's 55-65 outside and you're debating going for a run, do it! These are perfect running temps, especially if it's sunny and a little breezy. For more info on 60-degree runs and springtime precautions, check out this post.

Why the iPod is Featured: I'm showing off my old-school nano (which is a maxo compared to the new nanos) to show that you don't have to buy a bunch of new stuff to run. Old gear that works is good! My nano is dying - it stopped letting me add new songs after my last half marathon, but the old music still gets me through my workouts and, until it dies, I won't be buying a new one. (Update, the nano finally died. I took it to Apple and got a credit toward buying a new shuffle. I plan on running that into the ground, too!)

Happy running!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Washing running clothes

As a runner/yogi/cyclist with a day job, I have A LOT of laundry on my hands. If you've landed here because you're thinking about running, consider yourself warned: being a runner is like having a baby in that it generates a lot of dirty clothes and sometimes you'll think "I have no idea what I'm doing!"

I don't have the secret sauce for smell-free running gear but I do have a formula for making gear last and last and last. So, if you're frugal or broke, but love to workout, read on.

1) Hang dry everything, except your socks. Sounds simple until you realize that the image below is what I wore in one week and all of it (except the socks) had to be hung after washing. Every doorknob, chair back and towel rack in my apartment was occupied with drying bits and pieces.
Blurry but you get the gist!
2) Dry before the hamper. If you can, let super sweaty stuff air dry before you throw it into the dirty clothes. At the end of the week, you'll still have a hamper full of funky clothes, but at least none of them will have grown mildew, which is gross and harder to get rid off.
3) Use good detergent. I know, Tide, Win, Penguin, etc. are all expensive, especially if you're on a budget. But buying new gear is costly, too. Thanks to taking care of my clothes, I am still wearing gear from 1998. Can you pick the 13-year-old shirt out of the line up above? Hint, I'm wearing it in the post preceding this one...

Happy trails and smell ya later!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What to wear running in 75 degrees

Temp: 75 degrees (22C)
Wind: 5 mph
Humidity/Precip.: Moderate/None
Terrain: Mostly flat
Distance: 2 miles

What We Wore: I wore a Nike dri-fit sleeveless top and Puma running shorts, with a hat, wrist sweatband and sunblock. My friend, Coco Martha, wore Nike running shorts and a cotton t-shirt.

Did It Work: I was a little cold at first but ended comfortably sweaty. Coco Martha said her cotton shirt felt like it was made of meat: by the end, it was a heavy, wet mess. I'm trying to get her to buy some wick away tops. Like, seriously!

Running is contagious: There is a belief that social interactions are important not just for socializing but also for the degree to which they influence our behavior. For example: if you're eating dinner next to a person who is on a diet and not eating much, the dieter's presence is likely to make you eat less. Today's run with my friend proved this theory.
Five years ago, my friend moved to Austin, a big running town, and started dating a personal trainer (Derrick Withers). In the 20 years that I've known her, she has never run, except for a bus or maybe a sale on Gucci. In fact, she'd never exercised in any major way. Now, despite having a demanding job, her own blog and a 2-year old, she's regularly hitting the local trails.
Today was her first run with a partner. I remember how worried I was the first time I ran with other people. I didn't know if I'd be able to keep up and wondered if they'd judge my form. It's scary, even if the people know and love you. It was an honor to be my friend's first run partner. I'm proud of her for trying something new and sticking with it.

Happy trails, old and new friends!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Liner in running shorts

I've written about running shorts before. This is for people who are wondering "what is the lining in running shorts for."

I'm not a shorts designer, but I've been wearing running shorts since they only came in two cuts - short shorts with a hip-high slit and mid-thigh. So here's the quick and dirty on why running shorts need a liner:
  1. Wicking fabric - most liners are made of a light-weight material that will help remove moisture from regions that can get pretty hot and sweaty during a run.
  2. Save your underwear - lacy underthings and boxers were not made for the abuse of exercise. A liner does all the work of underwear, saving you from having to answer the question "Boxers or briefs?" before every run.
  3. No chafing - if you've ever worn a thong or thick cotton briefs on a 12-mile run, you know why there's a liner in good running shorts. Regular underwear can rub in all the wrong places and, over time, leave a mark.
I know, if worn by themselves, running short liners would be the world's ugliest grandma panties. When built into shorts, the degree to which they make a run more comfortable makes them one of the sexiest things on Earth.

My reco? Only buy running shorts that have a liner and, for those of you who've asked, no, don't cut the liner out. Save your tush, your underwear and your laundry pile.

Happy trails!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Running gear for rain - tech fabric

When running or walking for exercise, please wear gear made of technical fabric! Wick-away fabric or, as Nike calls it, Dri-Fit:
  • Keeps you cool when it's hot and dry (and therefore warm) when it's cold
  • Removes sweat from your skin, preventing rash
  • Is gentle against your skin, so you won't get chafed nipples, underarms or thighs (should I have put that reason first?!)
Today, I'm appreciating how quickly wick-away gear dries. It has been raining for a week in the San Francisco Bay Area, which means I've been running in the rain. When wet, cotton is oppressive - either hot or cold, heavy and baggy. Tech fabric, on the other hand, often looks and feels pretty much the same wet as when it's dry. Yes, eventually, it will get soaked through but, as soon as you get under cover, it will start to dry. My shirt from today's run was almost completely dry by the time I got upstairs, set up the camera and took this photo. Just the dark patch below the collar was damp. Simply amazing.

My favorite brands for wick-away tops:
Road Runner Sports
Puma and Lululemon also make some nice tanks, but I haven't found shirts that work.

Temp: 49 degrees (~9C)
Wind: 10 mph
Humidity/Precip.: High/Steady rain
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 3.75 miles

What I Wore: Road Runner Sport long sleeve t, Nike shorts and hat (with brim to keep rain off face), Amphipod LED arm band (running at dusk in the rain = hard to see).

Did It Work: No. Thanks to the headwind on the way home, my hands and behind my ears were really cold. Outbound was perfect, homebound was uncomfortable. Next time, a thin skull cap and I'll carry light gloves.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Running into Spring/Fall

We're headed back into a time of year when almost everyone is in transition, weather-wise. In the northern hemisphere, it's warming up and below the equator, it's cooling down. That makes this a test of your abilities to figure out what to wear running. And, it's a time when advice from someone else is probably the least useful. A few (probably obvious) tips for managing the winter/spring and summer/fall transition:
  • Look outside - I know, duh! But, I've been surprised too many times when my weather app said sunny and dry and it turned out to be windy and rainy, and once, in New York, snowing.
  • Layers are cool - ok, so maybe you end up totally overdressed. But you can always tie long sleeves around your waist and carry gloves.
  • Show some leg - a lot of runners wear shorts into the 30s (0 C), as long as the wind is calm and it isn't snowing. Layers on top and shorts on the bottom can help maintain your temperature balance
  • Get wet - nothing makes me feel like a kid more than running in the rain. To stay comfy, avoid cotton, long pants or woolly caps; they'll just end up dragging you down. Wear old running shoes so you don't ruin your favorites and plan on taking a warm shower as soon as you get home.
  • Cover your head, hands and core - I've said this a bunch of times already, so I won't go on and on. Just a reminder that warm head, heart and hands can make the difference between suffering and sailing along
  • Find an alternative - some late winter snow storms or early fall monsoons are just too much, even for a seasoned runner. If you're like me and don't have a gym membership, make sure you have alternatives - I've taken to jumping rope in the car park. It's sort of outside, doesn't bother anyone and I get to stay dry, safe and warm enough.
Be safe, have fun and happy running!

Friday, February 25, 2011

What to wear running in 25 degrees (a NYC Run)

Temps: 25 degrees
Wind: 5 mph
Humidity/Precip.: Big, wet snowflakes
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 2 miles

What I Wore: Road Runner Sports t-shirt, Nike zip-up running jacket, heavy Road Runner Sports tights, gloves and hat.

Did It Work: Mostly yes. Except:
  • These lined tights are so darn good, my thighs were sweating by the time I got home. A run that included a walk might have led to cooling down too much.
  • My hat didn't cover my ears, so they were chilly
Do This Run: Whether you're a distance runner, a walker or just in New York, I strongly recommend this run. It was through Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan. Most New Yorkers rarely make it to this part of the island, but it is beautiful, especially early in the morning when it is more quiet than you would think NYC can be.
Order this print at

What to wear running in wind

Temp.: 50 degrees (9C)
Wind: 15 mph and cold!
Humidity/Precip.: None
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 4.5 miles

What I wore: Nike full-body sports bra (guys, substitute with a singlet), New Balance wick-away t-shirt, Under Armour shorts.

Did It Work: Yes. I was worried that I might have gone overboard with the under layer, but the strong, cold wind kept me perfectly balanced between cool and warm.

Note to self (and maybe you?): As long as key parts of me are warm enough, I am comfortable. Specifically, I hate having cold ears, hands and torso. When dressing for temps on the edge of cold, I always make sure I protect these parts first.

Happy running!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What to wear running when almost everything is dirty

You know you're a runner when one load of laundry per week is entirely made up of workout gear. Saturday's run hit on laundry day, so the outfit was not my usual for 55 degrees.

Temp: 55 (~12 C), sunny
Humidity/Precip.: High, none
Wind: Mild
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 4 miles

What I Wore: Puma double-layer tank with built-in sports bra; generic-brand capris; running hat.

Did it Work: Yes. My hands were a little cold at first, but then the whole thing was perfect.

Keeping it fresh: Usually at these temps, I go with shorts and a T, but all 8 pairs of running shorts were dirty along with my 6 sports bras and the only tops were what I wore or a heavy pull over. This change of pace was comfortable and, because it felt new, added pep to my step.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What to wear running in 50 degrees Part 2

Temp: 52 degrees (15 C)
Humidity/Precip.: high/none
Wind: 8 mph (light breeze)
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 3 miles

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about running in 50 degrees. I wore tights, a t and light jacket and said I would have been too hot if I'd gone much further. Taking that advice, today...

What I Wore: Puma shorts, Road Runner Sports very light-weight, long-sleeve shirt, the usual brimmed hat.

Did It Work: Yes, with my sleeves pushed up for the last half. Except for one woman in sweats and capris, other runners were dressed similarly or wearing t-shirts (men). My core warms up pretty quickly, but my arms and hands can stay cold far into a run at these temps, so I like a sleeve.

What I Mean by "Light Weight": When shopping for tights and tops, test the fabric "weight" (aka warmth due to thickness) by:
1) reading the label
2) rubbing the fabric between your fingers
3) feeling the lining (a soft, brushed lining is warmer)
4) comparing the actual weight of similar items by hanging them off of a finger and doing mini lifts and
5) checking for vented panels.
Today's shirt is "very light" because it:
a) has thin fabric that is not brushed  on the inside
b) weighs less than my other long-sleeve tops and
c) has the nice, wide vented panel in the back displayed in the photo. This vent makes it better at these temps, when a heavier shirt would be too much.

Happy running!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Too cold to run in shorts?

When is it too cold to run in shorts? For every person it's different, but here's my rough guide...

It's too cold if everyone else is wearing ski gear. Even if you run warm, protect your skin on cold, snowy days with tights.

It's ok to have goose bumps at first. Being cool when you start will help keep you from sweating too much, which can lead to abruptly cooling down. It also will prevent your heart rate from jumping too quickly. Even though it means a cold start, I wear shorts down to about 44 degrees (~4 C).

It's not ok to have goose bumps at the end. If you don't know if you run hot or cold, do a short (1-2 miles) test run on a 45-50 degree day. Try wearing shorts and a long-sleeve top. At the beginning, middle and end of the run (not the "stopped running" end, but the "homestretch, last push!" end), think about how comfortable you are.
  • A little chilly throughout the run? Try adding gloves and/or a warmer hat. 
  • Cold with goose bumps, even at the end? Move up to tights. 
  • Totally Goldilocks (aka Just right!)? You've found a sweet spot and can adjust accordingly as temps rise and fall.
Hope this helps and remember: none of us gets it right every time. I might make fun of you in my head if I see you out there, in sleet or snow, in shorts, but I'll still be glad to see you. Happy running!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What to wear running in 45 degrees

Temp: 44-48 degrees (7-9 C)
Wind: Calm
Humidity/Precip.: Moderate/None
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 4 miles

What I Wore: Dri-fit capris; Road Runner Sports light-weight, long-sleeve shirt; Asics mid-weight, long-sleeve outer layer and a fleece-lined running cap.

Did it Work: Yes, with a twist: I was running in the hills of Boise, which means 1) the altitude was kicking my behind! 2) the temperature at the foot of the hills was about 4 degrees cooler than up higher, so...
I warmed up easily but was glad to have the layers at the end of the run when the air cooled down.

Travel Tip: I visit my mom in Boise three or four times a year. It's a short flight from San Francisco and very easy, as long as I don't check luggage. A simple way to pack light is to leave a pair of running shoes at her house.
If you have a parental home or timeshare that you visit often, find an out-of-the-way place to stash a pair of running shoes. That way, you don't have to make room in your luggage for another pair of shoes and can't make excuses to not run!

Happy trails (and travels)!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Running in 42 degrees (aka Hiding My Behind in Running Tights)

Temp: 42 degrees (6 C) and sunny
Wind: Calm
Humidity/Precip.: Moderate/None
Terrain: Rolling hills
Distance: 3 miles

What I Wore: Nike light-weight running tights; Asics light-weight, long-sleeve, wicking T-shirt; Nike heavy-weight running jacket; Asics gloves; and Nike running hat.

Did It Work: Yes. In the sun, I was comfortably warm and in the shade, which there's a lot of during this time of year, I was perfectly neutral. Plus, I've been sick, so I wanted something that would cover my neck without the weight of a balaclava.

A rare shot from the rear
Most importantly, I haven't run in three weeks, which means that, in my opinion, my bum does not need to be seen in running tights. Because running and cotton go together like pickles and ice cream, I don't train in baggy sweats, so I pulled on wicking running tights and then subtly covered up with the running jacket. It has a long tail, to cover my rear, and zip pockets in the front to hold my Kleenex.

Happy trails!