Friday, April 26, 2013

What to Wear Running: 60 degrees & Sunny

Temp: 60 degrees and sunny
Wind: 10 mph
Humidity: 70% (moderately high)
Terrain: Rolling to flat
Distance: 3 miles (plus 3 mile bike ride)

What I Wore: T-shirt (off-brand from a race) and shorts (Brooks), plus a visor and one leg sleeve.

Did It Work: It feels like cheating to say yes because this is pretty much perfect running weather but, yes, it did. My hands were cold during the ride, but were fine on the run.

Why: 60 to 65 degrees is not too hot - as long as you're well hydrated, your body's internal thermostat can keep up (data shows that temps above 65 degrees slow a runner down). It's not too cold - you don't have to wear heavy layers and your muscles warm up fairly easily. It's just right for a T and shorts.

Sun Alert: If you were slacking over the winter, it's time to pick back up on the sunscreen habit. Brace yourself; I'm about to get a little preachy/informative.

Real sunblock will block UVA and UVB rays. It will probably be white, not clear and smelling of coconut. It should be at least spf 30 and, to get the full sun protection factor, you need to use a lot. According to my dermatologist (also known as my freckle monitor), sunscreen manufacturers say that you need to use FOUR shot glasses worth of block if you want to get the full spf rating on your entire body. She also recommends against spray-on sunblock because it takes more than most people want to apply for it to work. I like Neutrogena with helioplex (no, I don't know what that is but I like how it sounds). For my 30 minute run, plus 15 minute bike ride, I wore spf 60. Better safe than prematurely aging with an increased chance of skin cancer! Backup for all this scary stuff from the NYTimes here.

On that peppy note, signing off. Enjoy that perfect weather. Happy running!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What to Wear Running: 45 degrees and comfortable

Temp: 45 degrees and sunny
Humidity: 50% (moderate)
Wind: Mild
Distance: 3 miles
Terrain: Flat to Rolling hills

What I Wore to Run: Shorts! T-shirt! Singlet tank underneath and a hat.

Did It Work: Yes. It's definitely shorts season again, if you are comfortable showing your legs. Want
Brooks shorts, Nike tank & T
to enjoy your run? Show a little skin! Pump those bare arms and legs and let the sunshine remind you that winter is over. By the end of my run, it was 50 degrees - spring, such a fickle creature! - so it was nice to have a layer to shed if I would have done a longer run.

Note: It's tempting to overdress in the spring (and maybe underdress in the fall?) because we're sick and tired of being cold after the freezing winter. Resist the temptation and only baby your "cold spots" - those places that refuse to warm up until after Memorial Day (mine are my ears).

Also, make sure that, if you're wearing layers, the bottom layer must wick. Having all your heat and moisture sit on your skin is bad aesthetically and functionally.

Personal note: I think this is one of the best times of year for running - not too hot, not too cold! Good for your muscles, good for the soul!

Happy running.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon Heartache

As I type, I'm a sweaty, tearful puddle. The sweat is from a run inspired by the Run for Boston hashtag of UMightBeaRunner. I ran in honor of the people who's hard-won moment was cut short today by two explosions near the Boston Marathon finish line. Which gets to why I'm tearful.
As Evan Gregory pointed out,  running a marathon is hard enough without hurricanes (Sandy) and explosions. Seriously, it's really f'ing hard.
If you've never run a marathon, here's the best analogy I can give you: imagine eating your favorite sorbet or ice cream. At first it's fun, a treat, you never want to stop because it's sooooo good. Now imagine eating that same flavor of ice cream for somewhere between 3 and 5 hours without stopping. What once was pleasurable is now detestable and downright painful. You think you might throw up. Or, worse, poo on yourself. Every muscle involved is tired. You can no longer feel key parts of your body. People keep shouting, "You're almost done!" But they are lying liars. You're not almost done. You have three more tubs to go which, by themselves might be manageable but you've already eaten 23 giant, Baskin-Robins commercial-size tubs of Rocky Road.
You get the point. It's an awesome accomplishment but hard. And finishing can be emotionally overwhelming. I cry at the end of my own races, while watching races on TV and when I ran the last two miles of a half marathon with my sister-in-law. I just want to shout at everyone around me, "You did it! I did it! We all did it!!!"
Today, those shouts would have been drowned out by the sound of an explosion that killed at least two people. That joyed would have been forever tarnished by terror. In the future, when today's racers tell people they've run the Boston Marathon, people will half jokingly ask, "You weren't at the one with the bombs, were you?" and they will have to buzz kill them with a somber, "Yes. And it wasn't just hard. It was a nightmare."
Tears of joy finishing Baltimore race w/ bro.

We don't need any new excuses to sit on the sofa. Don't let today ruin your runner's high. Breath in, breath out, tie your shoes and go for a run.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Exercising Outside: To Do or Not To Do

In general, exercising outside is great. It's free, easily accessible, and familiar (if you're at home) or a good way to explore (if you're traveling). However, there are times when even I, as reckless as I am, will choose the gym. Here's some things to consider when deciding to workout inside or out:
  • Unsafe neighborhood - whether you live there or are just visiting, be realistic about your 'hood and go to a gym or safer location if it might be unsafe.
  • Risky time of day - even the safest neighborhoods have dangerous times of day. If your area doesn't have sidewalks, forcing you to run in the road, your danger zones are dusk, dawn and nighttime. If your neighbors roll up their sidewalks when the sun goes down and your streets don't have lights, don't be the only one out in the dark within shouting distance.
  • High traffic and heavy pollution - exercising involves deep breathing but more cars on the road means more pollutants in the air. Bad combo. Putting all that nasty stuff in your lungs for an extended period of time can lead to serious health issues. Stay inside where the air is more likely to be filtered.
  • Rough road - cobblestone and broken or dirt roads shouldn't stop you from running the streets. Just wear a headlamp if you're going to brave uneven paving while exercising in the dark. No headlamp? Head to the treadmill.
Any other thoughts on when staying in is better? Please share!

In the meantime,  dress for the weather and get out there! It's spring or fall in almost every part of the world and both are wonderful seasons for outdoor exercise.