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Archive for the ‘technical fabric’ Category

I started running in the very warm weather.  At the time, the key training issues for me were strategic hydration and forcing myself to haul my body out of bed to run at the crack of dawn to beat the morning heat.  I remember wondering vaguely about how I was going to handle running in the elements, but secretly considering the thought that icky weather would be my excuse to avoid running. 

Then I met Dotty.  Yes, the same Dotty that filled my mind with visions of the Virginia Beach Half Marathon and enticed me to register for the 26.2 with Donna Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.  That one.  When I found out she had been a distance runner for many years, I asked her about how she handled rain, wind and snow.  She shocked me with her response.  As I recall, it went something like this:

I run every day it’s on my training schedule and I always run outside.  The only reason I would not run outside would be if there was lightning. 

Two or three seasons full of running excuses, blown to smithereens in about 20 seconds of conversation!  And yet how awesome was that?  With snow on the ground even?  Yep.  Even when it’s really, really cold?  Yes.  Pouring rain?  As long as there’s no lightning.  How on earth do you do that?  Just have the right gear and go. 

Wow.

So, I figured this was probably a gold standard for outdoor runners and, since I hate the treadmill, I immediately adopted this as my standard too. 

Now, you may recall that in our neck of the woods we have had a really, really rainy Fall.  In fact, as of today, there are still crops in fields locally that have not been able to be harvested because the ground is too wet.  It has been one rainy season!  Interestingly, I have not had one run cancelled due to lightning.  I’ve watched for it, but all this rain has produced almost zero lightning.  So on I ran. 

Then in the late Fall, the weather began to do something famous for our area of the Midwest.   It started to get COLD.  The shorts and cropped running pants had done just fine so far, but what now?  I’d already learned that the wicking material did wonders to stop the chub rub.  What to do about those frozen legs? 

Enter Coach Shelly:

Me:  What kind of gear am I going to need for the winter?  I don’t plan on dealing with that stinking treadmill unless I absolutely have to and I’m afraid I’ll lose my mind cooped up inside the gym all winter.

Shelly:  There are some things you’ll want, for sure. 

Friend [Anonymous friend, we’ll just call her Chris for this post, offering her thoughts]:  Hey, I like the treadmill and the gym.  Could do without that creepy gym guy, however.

Me:  I think all gyms must have a creepy gym guy.

[Random conversation about gyms, creeps, and other Very Important Girl Talk that ensues when girlfriends are having important conversation about things like Gear.]

Me:  What were we talking about?  Oh yeah, what gear do I need to avoid the gym this winter and still keep training?

Shelly:  You’ll need a long sleeve wicking shirt made for cold weather, something for your head, gloves, and you’ll want some compression pants.

Me:  Compression pants?  Are ya kidding?  Like those skin-tight things that real runners wear?

Image Credit  (and before you ask, NO these are NOT my legs…Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.  No.)

Shelly:  [cheerily] Yes, those are the ones.

Me:  Um…No Way.  There is No Way I am putting this behind into something like that and running around my hometown terrifying innocent bystanders.  There could be an accident or something.  I would have to slither through the streets under cover of darkness.  I simply Couldn’t Do It. 

Shelly:  I know, they look terrible, but they work wonderfully and they are absolutely worth it.  They will allow you to run in very cold temperatures and there is zero chub rub with these things.

Me:  That is because they are SKIN TIGHT!

Shelly:  If you really had to, you would wear a pair of shorts over them.  Either way, it is something you really should consider. 

Me:  No.

Chris:  No.

Shelly:  Well, it’s up to you.  Maybe you’ll change your mind later.

I can tell you that I struggled against the compression pants for weeks and weeks.   Finally, I took the plunge and bought a pair of the hideous things.  I put off wearing them for a long, long time.  Always able to find a way to run when it was a little warmer. 

Then I found myself in 30 degree weather the morning of the Indianapolis 5K (yet another race that Chris had talked me into!) and there was no getting around the compression pants.  I pulled the suckers on and, grateful that I’d remembered to bring the little black shorts to yank on over the top, to protect the unsuspecting public, I ran my first race in the compression pants. 

And to my complete surprise, I had my Very Best Time Ever for a 5K.  The pants kept me warm without overheating.  And they didn’t rub or twist or bunch around.  These things were great! 

They still looked hideous, mind you.  But they were great! 

Since then, the hideous compression pants have become like an old friend.  They accompany me on most of my runs, especially when the temperature is under 40 degrees.  They’ve been on long runs and short runs, uphill and downhill, on the street and on the trail. 

If I get the nerve, I’ll find and post a picture of the Indy 5K compression pants maiden voyage here.   But it ain’t pretty.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

And I find myself, again surprised and saying:  Shelly, you were right!

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Last May when I started “running” I truly did not know what I was getting myself into.  I had zero gear, except for one pair of fairly old running shoes that I believed to be the right size (I later found that belief was completely false).  I walked my first 5K in an old-ish pair of Nike sweatpants, a comfy cotton tee-shirt, my old shoes and a 8 year-old running bra.  Thankfully, the weather was fairly forgiving and since my pace was mega-slow, I didn’t experience any of the grave issues that can come from having inadequate gear.  

Now, you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to participate in this sport, but there are some essential items.  But how do you know what’s essential and what’s a scam?  Thanks to my friend Shelly, and her awesome coaches at Team In Training, I learned quickly what was important.  (Check out the post about Chub Rub, for one example of these timely truths.)

Shelly gave me hints about the right kind of shoes, how I’d have to actually eat and drink during long runs, the importance of a good running bra, which socks rocked and why, and the difference between cotton (bad) and wicking fabrics (good) in running gear.  These are things that were completely off my radar.  Completely.  If I hadn’t had her advice, I surely would have quit this exercise experiment early in a blithering, whining mass of blisters and chaffed skin and dehydration. 

So, in the interest of good sportsmanship, I’ll share the tips and tidbits about gear here for anyone else who might be wanting to get started and wondering what they’re going to need. 

Please note that the information certainly will NOT be given in order of importance.  Rather, it will be given in the order that it happens to randomly cross my mind when I sit down to the computer.  That’s just how I roll.  The Chub Rub post started us off and this Mystery Gear Item will be just as random.

Cotton is evil in running-land, because although it washes up easily, it holds moisture and encourages chaffing.  Even if you’re a skinny-minny, you still will have body parts that touch when you run (assuming you have toes), so this does apply to you.  For those of you who are not skinny-minny, well, this becomes even more important. 

With cotton, sweat=wet+rubbing=ouch!  So, some incredibly smart entreprenural-type person decided to create a textile that would actually wick moisture away from the athlete’s body and hold that moisture away from the person, on the outside of the clothing.  This is my best way of describing what happens with these fabrics. 

Wicking fabrics or technical fabrics, as they’re called, are common for athletes today.  But when I decided to engage midlife as an adult-onset athlete (credit: John Bingham for this incredibly descriptive term), I’d never heard of the stuff.  Truly, my running days of old had been pre-technical fabric. 

I asked my friend Shelly if the stuff really worked or if it was just some stupid marketing scam, fully expecting to get the all-clear to continue to wear my 15 year-old tee-shirts.  To my surprise, she related that the stuff really did work and made a huge difference.

I was glad to discover that the technical fabric gear wasn’t hard to find, but not enthusiastic that it took some extra effort in the “care” department.  Apparently, these fabrics can’t be laundered with fabric softener, which means (in my world):  Separate Loads of Laundry For All Running Gear.  I indulged in a few pieces, figuring that if the stuff worked, it would be worth the hassle. 

And amazingly, it DID work.  Not just somewhat, but Amazingly.  Shelly was right and I was glad I’d listened to her. 

And who knew that so many things could come in technical fabrics:  everything from outerwear to underwear.  (No, I most certainly do not own every permutation of the stuff…I’m a rookie, remember!) 

When I was at the VA Beach Half Marathon, I discovered a great store at the expo.  Lots of Experienced Runners will be familiar with this company, but I wasn’t and spent a lot of time laughing at the things I saw there.  I’ve included some of my favorite slogans that were on their technical shirts, for your amusement.  (Too bad I don’t get a referral for sending you to them!  😉  )

The company:  One More Mile Running Apparel

What I bought/spent:  More Than I’m Willing to Admit (My husband reads this blog, for heaven’s sake!)

Some of my favorites, complete with links to the site:

motherrunnerLS[1]

Mine is in light purple.  I LOVE it.  I’m even sweating in it in my Facebook profile!  Here’s the link to the site so you can get your own: http://www.onemoremilerunning.com/long-sleeve/one-bad-mother-runner-long-sleeve/prod_665.html

 

seemed_ls[1]

Okay, so the back of this shirt reads:  RACE OFFICIAL.  DO NOT PASS.  I thought this was downright hilarious.  The link:  http://www.onemoremilerunning.com/long-sleeve/seemed-like-a-good-idea-long-sleeve/prod_336.html

 

foundongroundLS[1]

If Found On Ground, Please Drag Across Finish Line.  I was so tempted to buy this, but didn’t want it to be some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, so I just giggle at it online now and then.http://www.onemoremilerunning.com/long-sleeve/if-found-on-ground-long-sleeve/prod_636.html

 

Oh, there are so many more, but the point, of course, is that fun and functional can intersect into some pretty incredible gear that does some pretty incredible things for you.  Having the right shirts has helped me to stay cool when it’s warm and stay warm when it’s cold.  And it’s helped me keep a positive attitude, a useful perspective, and a good sense of humor, which can’t be bought online or off the shelf, but, I’ve learned, is some of the most important stuff to take on a run. 

Thanks Shelly.  😀

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