Tag Archives: running apparel

Cold runnings: when it’s perfectly acceptable to dress like a superhero

It’s well documented that heat is my No. 2 nemesis (No 1: hills), so I was quite keen to give cold running a try. But there’s cold and then there’s standing-around-at-7.30am-in-New-England-waiting-for-the-run-to-start cold. Herewith, what I’ve discovered first-hand about dressing when your runs take place in a giant fridge. (Of course, my upcoming events are set to take place in a giant freezer, so stay tuned for “Part Two: What the heck was I thinking?”)

Feaster Five

My duds for the Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day race. Note, fancy tights.

1. The outfit is ridiculous. Where outside of comic books is it OK to roam the streets in shorts over tights? Unfortunately, tights aren’t made to carry an iPhone, an asthma puffer, a lip balm, a hairband and a packet of tissues, so, for me, shorts with giant pockets are mandatory. One day, I’ll rule the world in them! Bwahahaha.

2. OK, I concede the tights are fabulous. Avid readers will recall the  concern I had over my new CW-X Insulator Expert Tights and their circulation-hampering properties. But the tights are genius. They are remarkably warm and indeed have many insulating skills. I’ll take the company’s word for it that they also support my muscles and help them bounce back faster.

3. Bulky gloves are unwise. It was a rookie mistake wearing heavy-duty winter mitts. Who knew hands could sweat so much? And they make it impossible to get anything out of your pockets. (Forget trying to pull the top off an asthma puffer.) Also, when your hands are on fire and you have to take the gloves off, there’s nowhere to stuff them. Disaster.

I replaced them with Lululemon’s Brisk Run gloves, which are not only thinner, they can be used to compose that crucial mid-run text message (“Forget this, I’ll meet you at the bar!” perhaps?) thanks to those smartphone fingertip dealies.

LL Bean Women's Cresta Wool Base Layer4. Merino is your friend. Wearing cotton as a base layer on a cold run is a very bad idea. Or so I discovered. Cotton lets sweat linger on your skin, turning you into a walking block of ice when you start to cool down. I bought the LL Bean Women’s Cresta Wool Base Layer, made of merino, which has serious wicking abilities (I love how the word “wicking” has crept into my life). It’s also toasty warm. And it has thumb holes …

5. Thumbs up for thumb holes.
Where have you been all my life?

I, Claus: Santa Sightings 5K Fun Run

I’ve spent more time than I would have thought necessary trying to figure out how to dress for cold runs. So I was grateful for the folks at last weekend’s Santa Sightings 5K for removing the uncertainty, although I was still in two minds about having to wear a beard.

Santa Sightings 5K Fun Run

The Santas gather in downtown New Bedford, MA.

The Santa suits were provided and mandatory at this New Bedford event. Which meant 1,600 men, women and children decked out in full jolly-fat-man regalia, including pants, jacket, belt, hat, and the aforementioned facial hair. The “Santa Run” is apparently a worldwide phenomenon – one that appeared to have passed me by in the Before Time (i.e., when the thought of running even a single block was hysterical) – and this was its New England premiere. Trust me, Santas en masse is amusing, but Santas running en masse borders on hilarity.

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These tights are hard core. Unlike me

CW-X Expert Insulator TightsWhen you live in Freezingtown, USA (also known as Boston), running outdoors takes on a whole new chilly, windy, frostbitery dimension – one I was quite unprepared for in the apparel department.

Apparently, I needed fancy new tights.

We’re definitely not talking your average, everyday gym leggings here. The stretchy marvels that were delivered to my abode yesterday, made by CW-X (the company also does compression socks – which still give me the fear), are from another universe™. They insulate, you see, with “WarmStretch™ temperature-regulation fabric to maintain a constant comfortable surface temperature in a variety of conditions – perfect for the cold weather athlete” (um, that’s me!) –  according to the CW-X website. They also feature Support Web™, which uses “kinesiology-taping technology to create an exoskeletal support system” (well, I do need all the support I can get).

The thing is, these tights are just so full of awesome, there’s no way I can possibly live up to them. (Did I mention that mine are called Insulator Expert Tights? That’s right, EXPERT.) I put them on and immediately feel like a fraud. They’re for marathon runners for whom a 5K is a casual jog around the block; not for me, who breaks into a lavish sweat after half a mile and still hasn’t managed to go 5K without walking.

They scream hard core where I scream: “Where’s the couch?”

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Things that give me The Fear #1: Compression socks

Compression socksNow that I am an experienced veteran of eight 5Ks (!), I have come to realize that there are certain things that put the absolute fear into me (I guess that’s a point I could make about life too; but this is a blog about running).

So, herewith the first in an occasional series.

Compression socks

I never thought I’d spend too much – OK, any – time thinking about compression socks. I mean, who would? But the mere sight of these at a race is almost enough to make me run in the other direction. Unusually fast.

I don’t know whether it’s because their presence screams “I’m so hard core, you may as well go home” or they give me flashbacks to my childhood and the disturbing tendency of Aussie men to team knee socks with shorts, but either way they instill in me unprecedented levels of The Fear.

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4 more things I’ve learned about 5Ks

Safety pins

You'll never need another safety pin again.

This sport is a steep learning curve. (“Steep” being the operative word.) I know I’ll soon have to address my technique – such as it is – but for now I am quite happy to plod along in my inelegant fashion, sights set on completing a 5K run by actually running it.

In the meantime, I have come to understand the following:

1. You will wind up with many, many safety pins. You know how there’s never a safety pin around when you need one? This won’t be a problem anymore. In fact, we have accumulated so many of these bib attachers that we actively try to remember to bring our own to the next race (but inevitably forget).

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