Showing posts with label running gear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label running gear. Show all posts

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hate Read: Least Favorite Running Gear

Want to know what I love?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

We, as bloggers, love to share the things we like so others can buy them, especially if said things are ones we got for free. After all, if you buy them, then it justifies the fact that we got them for free. But, rarely do we talk about the things we don't like. The running gear that just isn't worth it - even if it were free.

While I haven't been sent something lately to even consider hating, there are a few things that I've purchased that don't just cut the Body Glide.

Gu Roctane. I'm fairly certain that I'm moving away from Gu entirely (though that is a potential post for a future date on which you might care) but even if I was downing gels, I would not be taking Roctane. The line from Gu Energy is an advanced formula to give endurance athletes an edge. The gels are supposed to reduce muscle damage, slow acid build up, maintain concentration and increase rate at which carbohydrates are converted to energy. The only thing the Roctane gels do for me, though, is make me feel sick to my stomach and give me that "I had to many cocktails" taste in my mouth.

Large handhelds. It can be nice on these hot, humid summer days to have a large quantity of water at the ready. Even shorter runs, during which a runner might not wear a belt or vest, 16 ounces or more of water could be required, leaving a person to grab a handheld. There are a number of bottles on the market that are 20 ounces, 22 - even 24. When these bottles are full, though, they become heavy and can overfatigue the shoulders and cause tightness, soreness and altered gait. After all, you aren't going to run with 2-pound weights in your hands. A better option is to do a loop route with a bottle at a safe spot, plan around drinking fountains or take a belt with just one or two bottles.

Running skirts. They are cute and everyone raves about them. But, for my shorts eating thighs, running skirts always manage to rub me the wrong way. Don't get me wrong - I've tried to love them, especially as my BFF got me a very cute one to wear when we did Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans. Not one to let good running clothes go to waste, I put it on - and still do - but almost always save it for short runs. Otherwise I'm testing the limits of public decency and my pain threshold.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What do you got in that bag?: A vlog

These days, I sort of feel like I live out of my gym bag.

I teach three classes a week and, more and more, I've been going to the YMCA for treadmill runs between daycare dropoff and work. It's always overflowing with workout wear, some sweaty and some formerly sweaty but now frozen. Earbuds dangle dangerously near doors, and one pair of shoes is always to be found there.

After seeing a video post by Sarah Fit about her gym bag essentials, I thought I'd do the same. Except with lower quality, toddler interruptions and a mischievous dog. It's a tad on the long side but it's possible you have 8 minutes to spare.

Products featured:

Lug Life Puddle Jumper bag
Naawk lip balm
Lemon tea Nuun
Old Navy Graphic Tank
Old Navy Cross-Front Panel Yoga Pants
Sportline Cardio Heart Rate Monitor
Manduka eQua Mat Towel

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday love: Lately

Let me stop you before you roll your eyes and click through: This post will not be a front for a gratuitous wish list/running gift idea post. There are enough of those and mine would include just one thing: a Garmin Forerunner 220.

Now, onto things that I love. Or like a lot. Maybe even things I like a little bit.

The great outdoors

According to last year's running spreadsheet, I first succumb to the temptation of the treadmill on Nov. 15 and was using it about once a week through the rest of the year. While I have hopped on the 'mill to walk as I watched TV at night, I have yet to run a single step on it. I tried, once, and decided that I'm going to do my best to keep outside. I picked up a new pair of tights during the local running shop's Black Friday sale (Mizuno Breath Thermo Layered Tight) to keep me motivated. And, of course, Indiana was blessed with unseasonable weather this week and I was out in shorts twice.

Altra Zero Drop Shoes

I entered a Facebook giveaway for a pair of Altras on the IFIT LIVE page on a whim and, as luck would have it, I won. I selected the Provisioness 1.5 as its a stability shoe, ordering a half-size up as advised. The shoes are cute but definitely different, and I had no idea what it would feel like to run in them. As it turns out? It feels freaking fast to run in them. The first time I wore them was for a short family run where Mark and I ended up making a mad dash to beat the rain since Miles was in the stroller. Average pace, a week post-marathon: Sub-9. I've continued to rock some of my fastest runs in too long in these shoes, and I have successfully added them into the rotation after a break-in period. (As these are zero drop and encourage mid-foot strike, it's advised to ease into them as the body needs time to adjust.)

My Brooks Ravennas are close to the end, and I'm now faced with going Altra all the time or keeping a more traditional shoe for backup. If only I had taken the bait with Altra's Black Friday sales ...

Strawberry Lemonade Nuun

Strawberry Lemonade was the first flavor of Nuun I ever had, and it was hate at first taste. I couldn't water it down enough to choke it down. Even as I've grown to love and embrace the product, including some of the less favored flavors, I had yet to revisit good ole SL. Well, the other week when Nuun was having a promo for a free pint glass, I decided it was time to try it again. And, as the title of this post would indicate, I love it. I've been drinking it A LOT at work because sitting at my desk is, obviously, an endurance sport.

By the way, if you order this week you can score a free trucker hat with a $30 purchase. The hat is slightly less cute than the one I wore repeatedly over Hood to Coast weekend but it's close.

The holiday season

Sing it with me. You know you want to ...

I have a tendency to be a giant grouch during any big holiday as they weren't always the best of times growing up. However, I'm having a total blast this year as Miles is getting to an age where he can enjoy it. He loves Christmas trees and Santa Claus, and I've read "It's Christmas, David" a million times.

Note: That book is the best ever - David runs around sans clothes and pees in the snow. Chock full of lessons for little boys.

Really kicking off things, though, was a visit from St. Nicholas last night. St. Nick always visited in our German Catholic house growing up, and I love sharing those traditions.

Even if it means M&Ms for breakfast.

What are you loving lately?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Becoming a Warrior: A giveaway


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If I inspire to be anything, it is relentless. In training, in racing, in pursuit of life goals, I want to be relentless. And so it was a given that I would pick that word to adorn my Endorphin Warrior bracelet.

The bracelets were part of an amazing swag bag that I received at Nuun headquarters before Hood to Coast. We're talking Oiselle team shirts and jacket, Swiftwick socks, Barlean's fish oil, Naawk sunscreen and a Tiger Tail here. However, the Endorphin Warrior bracelet might have been one of the items I anticipated most as I had always wanted one after seeing them in the blog world.

From the Endorphin Warrior site:
At Endorphin Warrior, our aim is to help you train, perform and live with greater strength of body and mind. We make products with positive and powerful messaging to wear while running, cycling, working out, sweating, racing - or all day long - to help you stay strong-minded and focused...and help you train harder, improve performance, overcome challenges, achieve your goals and live stronger.
I wore the bracelet for every leg of HTC and in that last 4 miles, when I was pushing my hardest, I would glance down and remind myself to be relentless in my pursuit of a strong finish.


The bracelet is comfortable to wear during physical activities - no different than a RoadID. I've worn it nearly every day since HTC, including during the Oak Brook Half Marathon. I love the leather band and the constant reminder to remain fearless and positive (and relentless) in pursuit of my goals. To quote what one of my teammates, who was on the elite team, "What we think is what we become."

And I think I'm going to be relentless.

What will you be? It's a good question to ask since Endorphin Warrior has been kind enough to offer a bracelet to one of my readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, the code "HydrateHTC" is good for 15 percent off at through the end of the month.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cost analysis

Whoever said running is cheaper than therapy apparently didn't have insurance.

Mark and I had stopped by the running store on Friday night to pick up some salted caramel Gu. As I was paying for the packets of insane deliciousness, I spotted a sign promoting 15 percent off apparel with a shoe purchase. Me being me, I not-so-coyly pointed it out to Mark, who rolled his eyes, surely thinking it was my desire for all things bright and shiny motivating that look in my eyes.

Truth be told, though, I did/do need clothes and shoes.

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It seems like just yesterday that I switched to the Brooks Ravenna 4 but yesterday was April and nearly 350 miles ago. It's definitely time to consider new shoes, which retail for $110 (about five times more than a standard co-pay), as I came thisclose to my first 30-mile week of this cycle and many recommending two pairs of shoes for a relay like Hood to Coast.

And speaking of HTC, we are lucky enough to have some amazing sponsors beyond Nuun. Like Team Sparkle, which will be supplying skirts of the same name so that everyone in a 200-mile radius will see me coming. I'm ready to don it save for one thing: booty shorts. I currently have a singular pair of compression-like shorts that are three years old and have the elasticity of my 86-year-old grandma's skin (sorry, Grammy)!

I will run three legs, wearing the skirt for probably two, which means two new pairs of shorts. Or one if I'm being cheap. Sadly, I didn't fit into the teensy-tinsy Asics that were on clearance for $10 at 3RR. My favorites were the 4-inch Moving Comfort shorts, which retail for $30 (x2 = $60, three therapy sessions). They made my thighs look like crap but they felt nice and no one will see them anyway.

Oh, and of course, there are all the other costs of running - socks, bras, race entries, travel, Gu ($4.50 for the three I bought Friday, post-session latte) and the vast amount of food to satisfy the rungries.

Not that I'm complaining or looking for a handout (though, Brooks, if you'd like to send me new shoes, I'd gladly accept). Just merely pointing something out. Well, pointing out something that Mark pointed out. And, given my mental state of late, I'd probably go through four pairs of shoes worth of co-pay in therapy before I wore out one pair on the road. Thank goodness for Mark, I'd much rather run angry than lie on a couch and share my feelings.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Three Things Thursday: Get into gear

I have sunshine. I have raindrops on roses. But, dangit, I could use some puppies and rainbows. There's just something about this day, this week, that makes me yearn for a little boost.

And a fast-forward button.

And a mute button.

And a humidity control button.

But, alas, despite my whining, there are good things abound.

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1. Just as the mercury inched up this week, a big ole box from Nathan Performance Gear arrived. Presents for me!

As part of my ambassadorship, I had the opportunity to select five items - count them, FIVE - to use and abuse. I solicited advice on Facebook and went with some of your favorites - a handheld, hydration belt, hydration pack, reflective vest and booster belt. My previous handheld, also a Nathan, is smelly and the elastic is not so elastic anymore and I've been antsy pantsy to try a belt. Needless to say, I'm pretty amped to put all of it to work..

2. While we are on the topic of hydration, nuun loves you almost as much as I do and wants you to be full of electrolytes this summer. You can use the code "hydrateHTC" to receive 15 percent off any order now through September.

Right now, they have a pretty sweet deal, too - a free watermelon bottle with a 4-pack purchase. I'm holding out for a lemonade bottle. Gotta stick with my team.

3. I am taking a step forward in my project, "Make Shit Happen 2013." It's not anything earth shattering but I am reluctant to share just yet. Call me superstitious, if you will. I'm realizing, though, that as I take on more things that I need to take on more sports bras. Well, buy them. If I was just running four days a week, I'd be good to go but I'm up to eight or nine workout sessions a week - all of which require a fresh bra - and I'll need three decent ones for Hood to Coast.

Yeah, that's about it on that one.

How's your day going? Feel free to share humorous insights but I will reject all offers of puppies because my OCD dog will not stop licking the floor. And it's annoying.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Let's go shopping: Old Navy Activewear

Disclaimer: The following is a post about a sample and share opportunity via Crowdtap. I received a coupon good for free activewear but otherwise was not compensated for this post. I was not required to write about my experience though a good report may qualify me for a higher score and top award.

I started clicking my mouse furiously when the email came through my inbox. Because if I have learned anything through my Crowdtap membership, it's speed that counts.

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And counted it did as I was recently selected by the marketing website to get Fashionably Fit in Old Navy Activewear. I received two coupons, each good for an active bottom and an active top. My drawers might be overflowing with workout gear but as I add on new classes (and spend more time gardening than doing laundry), fresh, fashionable gear is a must.

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I headed to the store after BODYPUMP this week, "twisting the arm" of my friend C to join me. If there was someone who liked to look good while working out more than me, it is her. She always has the greatest clothes in class and fun shoes to boot. (We even have matching Brooks Ravennas.)

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Our Old Navy recently remodeled to one of the new concept models, and I was worried that the smaller space would mean less clothes to peruse. We were both happy to discover that not only did they have plenty of pieces but ample selection of sizes.

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Bright colors lined the racks, and it was like kids in a candy store ... but healthier. Had I not done some pre-shopping online, I might have lost it. However, I knew I wanted to check out the printed compression capris to jazz up my BODYPUMP repertoire and look for tanks that would be good for Piloxing.

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While I didn't find the message tees I loved so much, I did find a black version of the capris and a knotted tank that wasn't online. Done and done.

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Or maybe not. As I helped C shop, I found more and more that I wanted. Printed shorts, padded sports bras, foldover yoga pants. Many in bright colors and fashionable prints.

I was debating the options and decided there's no better way to make a selection than talk it out. In a completely staged and rehearsed manner. Obviously.

So what did I get? Well, you'll have to wait and see. My stylist hasn't been able to come over to help me get ready for a photo shoot ... or I'm dressed for the imminent run No. 2 for the day and didn't want to change.

Do you wear workout wear from Old Navy? What do you think I got?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Babbling Brooks

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I don't think I had ever been happier to see a glass of wine.

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After spending a half-hour on the verge of a complete meltdown, panicking that I had lost $100 cash intended for a new pair of shoes - when in fact I had spent it on groceries - I needed something to bring me down. Get me in the spirit of things.

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And by things I mean Ladies Night at Three Rivers Running Company.

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The shop has hosted the event for a few years now - and I have been twice before - but Saturday was my first time attending the event in its year-old location, and I found it to be quite the night. The larger space allowed for tons of socializing, and the store was able to put out a spread of fruit and wine along with samples of chews and various nutrition bars. (The bars were at vendor-type tables with representatives from Shakeology and Advocare.)

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There was also representatives from Girls on the Run, on-the-floor bra fittings and a fashion show, which featured this super cute Brooks shirt (color 955) that I just couldn't bring myself to buy. Extra skin + sheer fabric is not a match made in heaven.

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As for me and Brooks shoes, that turned out to be another story. I've always considered myself to be a Nike girl, and I had intended to buy the updated Nike Structure Triax while I was there. The always knowledgeable Casey advised me that Nike had made some changes, and some customers weren't happy with the new feel. I had heard some rustling of this online and when the store didn't have the shoe in a 7.5, I took it as a sign to try for something new.

Seriously, if you live in Northeast Indiana, come here to buy shoes. They KNOW them.

I tried a style of Adidas that are similar to the Triax but even with some adjustment on the lacing, I found it to be too wide in the heel. As I jogged in my jeans - keeping it classy, folks, I tell ya - on the treadmill, I felt as if my heel was slipping out. No good. No good at al. There was another shoe, though. One that was a bit lighter. One that could work.

The Brooks Ravenna.

I've always wanted to wear Brooks (for no rational reason) but have never liked a pair that I tried on, resigning myself to the fact that I couldn't #runhappy. So it was with trepidation that I tried them on. But like Cinderella, once the beautiful purple shoe slid on my foot, I felt like a running princess. A princess who could take on a BQ.

Or another glass of wine.

And I did, wandering the store, hanging out with my friend Chris and chatting with the ladies. It was a lot of fun, a welcome surprise for going alone and on the verge of tears. Maybe it was the wine or maybe it was all of the ladies who were so open and friendly, reaffirming my love for the running community.

What did you do this weekend? Any races?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gear check: Cash in

I came home from work last to find another package on my doorstep. Well, it was actually at the foot of the stairs where Mark moved it but you know what I'm getting it. It was another friggin' package and the worst part was that I couldn't imagine what it could be.

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"What did I sign up for this time?" I thought.

As much as I love trying new gear, doing reviews and, best of all, offering giveaways, it can be a bit overwhelming and a smidge disingenuous. It's easy to think that one would like anything or support it if it was free. A blogger is bound to love a dirt-tasting cookie if it has chia seeds, flax and PB2. (Note: Read Kim's insightful post here about blogger-company relationships.)

For the record, I do not like all free things. If you were to give me a 10,000-calorie chocolate chip cookie right this second, I would throw it at  you and tell you that I loathe free cookies and all that sugar. 

It can also be easy for one to think that bigger bloggers get everything for free and don't have to drop a dime on fuel, clothing or gear. Seeing as I am not a big blogger, I have to open my wallet and pay for the things that I want. Sometimes, I'm happy with my purchases. Other times, I'm not.

But usually I don't spend money on things I won't like. And here's what I'm liking ...

Lug Life Puddle Jumper. After my first session teaching the circuit class - going from work to work, I guess - I decided it was time to invest in a nice gym bag. I looked around at various sites and was astounded by how expensive even an Under Armour duffel can be. With a little searching, I came across the Lug Life Puddle Jumper. It has a ton of zipper pouches, pockets and ample storage. My favorite feature is a separate shoe storage area. While it does take up room in the main part of the bag, there's a mesh to let the sneakers air out and keeps sweaty clothes from making them worse. I also like that there's handles and an adjustable shoulder strap for carrying convenience. It can be a bit pricey but I found my on Amazon via Wayfair for $60-ish, about the same as a name-brand bag.

Fila Cheeath Capri. I picked these up the other week at Kohl's for $24 (before 30 percent off coupon) because they were fun without being outrageous. I wasn't sure how I'd like the fit but I've worn them for running, BODYPUMP and Piloxing, and I have not one complaint. They don't sag like my oh-so-pricey lululemon capris, the waistband is wide enough that it doesn't create muffin top and the pattern doesn't look stretched. The pants really make me want to go back for the blue animal print capris.

Nike Free TR Fit. I'm pretty sure I've talked about these shoes but this style is my absolute favorite for cross-training. I have two pairs in rotation and love the functionality + fashion.

SPIbelt. I got mine when I was training for the Columbus Marathon. I've worn it for two races and countless training runs, and I can't imagine not having it. It's comfy, doesn't shift and is adjustable. I carry pepper spray, Clif Shot Bloks and a key in there and barely realize it's there. Well, except when it bunches my shirt and catch a breeze but I'm sure that's more of a user error than a design flaw. I have the Original SPIbelt in the polka dot print and totally want to add the race number toggles.

Yurbuds. And for the token "I am not sold" piece of gear. Mark bought me a pair of Ironman Yurbuds (these?), which are unisex, on a pilgrimage to REI. He knew I was in the market for a better earbud as I spent more time on the treadmill and had heard me mention Yurbuds. It was super sweet of him, and I was really excited at the thought and his good taste. The Yurbuds have been great for lower impact exercises, like the indoor bike when we had the trial Y membership, but I do have some problems on the treadmill. The right bud just doesn't want to stay secure. When I stop to take it out, wipe it off and readjust, I can't get it to feel the same. I wonder if I need the women-specific model? I will say that the sound quality is amazing. After wearing them for some time and then going sans buds, I was a bit jarred to hear just how loud our treadmill is. It's truly a miracle that no one wakes up when I'm literally pounding out miles.

What gear have you bought lately that you like?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Get into gear: LOCK LACES review

The coulda, shoulda, woulda, oh fig it moments. We've all had them - in life and in running.

When I was interviewing the too-amazing Beth Schrader last month and just chatting about running, we talked about getting into a groove and how the clock doesn't stop during a race. Event directors don't pause it, the way one can a Garmin, for potty breaks, a drink of water or to unzip the SPIbelt for a chew. Learning to run "straight" can be an important part of training as to simulate that aspect of a race, especially if you are going for a time goal.

But running straight can only get you so far if you don't double-knot your shoes.

I shared with Beth the story of my half-marathon PR (which is nearly 2.5 years old). I finished in 1:54:12 at the 2010 Fort4Fitness but I wonder what my real time was as I stopped just shy of the 4-mile mark to tie my shoes. I'm certain that I could have had a 1:53:XX finish had I prepped a little bit better.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda, oh fig it.

Of course, the way I look at it now is that those seconds are just ones I don't have to try to shave off when I try to run hard at Wisconsin in May. Mrs. Brightside, right here. Just got to learn from the mistake and not make it again.

I was recently given the opportunity to try LOCK LACES, an elastic lace and shoe fastening system that makes bunny ears and double knots obsolete.They come in 13 vibrant colors, and the company has the best. slogan. ever. Win. Never Tie.

LOCK LACES™ is the only patented performance lacing system engineered to meet the demands of endurance athletes such as runners, triathletes, marathoners, and walkers. Also ideal for those who have difficulty tying their own shoes, LOCK LACES™ are popular with kids, seniors and individuals with special needs. LOCK LACES™ is a national sponsor of both the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Fit Feet Program and The Challenged Athletes National Triathlon.

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I was sent three pairs to try out - pink, blue and black. I only have two pairs of shoes so ... totally means I need a new pair. Right? Right!

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Anyway, I decided to try the pink laces in my Lunar Flys, which I wear for shorter or faster runs. I took the laces out of the package, and I have to admit that I was a bit flummoxed as to how to lace the shoe. The directions on the package are clear but abbreviated and it was early. I found it better to look on the website and watch a video on YouTube and once I saw it done, I was laced up and ready to go in a few minutes.

I wasn't sure how I'd like the LOCK LACES as the clip doesn't secure to the shoe or lace and I was certain that I was going to feel like my shoe was going to fall off. I started the run a bit trepidatiously, wanting to be diligent and notice anything that felt off or uncomfortable. After a half-mile, I realized that the laces were doing their job, felt secure and I could just go. Like a cheetah. Or girl in a cheetah skirt.

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I've been wearing the laces exclusively for two weeks now, and I definitely like them. My shoes feel secure and there is no annoyance with feeling a lace slowly loosen and become untied. I do advise to follow directions (imagine that) and lace the shoe with it on your foot. When I put the laces in my long run shoes, I didn't heed this advice and the laces felt tight. I was also a bit conservative and left more slack than recommended when trimming the laces. Doing so leads to a little more bounce than desired, and I went back to trim off another quarter- to half-inch.

My only real complaint is that it seems you would have to buy a new pair of laces every time you get a new pair of shoes as you have to trim the ends of the elastic and I don't see how it would thread through. But, at $7.99 a pair (or three for $19.99), it's not a huge cost and as the laces can be bought in stores, you can just tack it on with the cost of the shoe. Plus, there's a ton of fun colors, and it would be a great way to sass up shoes that don't come in fun colors (looking at you, Nike Structure).

But for the real question: Would I actually buy them? With my own money? Probably. I think they are nice to have - but not necessary - and I like the security of not having to tie my shoe laces. For someone who is going out for a PR or doing a triathlon where every second counts (thinking transition on the tri), it's a worthwhile purchase. If only for the sake of removing one last coulda, shoulda, woulda, oh fig it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday uniform

Fact: Running more than 10 miles diminishes my ability to dress myself as a presentable adult.

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Top to bottom:

  • Sparkly Soul headband
  • Random Target cardigan
  • 26.2 apparel T-shirt (purchased at Columbus Marathon expo)
  • Decaf Starbucks
  • Precocious toddler
  • Clearance-find Old Navy crop sweatpants
  • Old Navy flip-flops

I have pretty much worn this exact outfit save for the flip-flops (sub fake Uggs) every Sunday for the past month. From trips to the library to napping on the couch, I find that this combination is comfortable and easy to slide past my legs, which I'm convinced are swollen post-run and post-hot bath thus making actual pants a bitch to put on.

In the warmer months, my post-long run style suffers a bit less as sundresses and flip-flops are easy to throw on over my fatigued body and, with the addition of a lightweight scarf, quite reminiscent of what I would wear on an otherwise normal weekend afternoon.

I probably could invest in some nicer knit bottoms that look more like pants than yoga wear and pair it with a cute sweater. Then again, that look wouldn't proclaim to people, "Hey! I'm a runner!" and thus causing people to question why my frozen yogurt bowl was 12 ounces.

On a side note, I totally forced Mark to embarrass himself and take this photo outside of Dick's. I was hoping to score a few sports bras after I had to throw a couple away that could not get the stank washed out of them. Unsurprisingly, I didn't find anything cute and in my budget - just sale-priced Nike low-impact bras (read: sweat through these in 5 seconds) and locked and loaded UA bras.

I did have luck, though, at Kohl's. With a 30 percent off coupon, I nabbed - for less than $40! - a sports bra (in orange), racerback tank and cheetah-textured capris.

Because I'm born to be wild. Obviously.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Fit to be tried: Gear

With the new year - and its resolutions - rapidly approaching, I'm highlighting some of my favorite fit things of 2012. 

◊ ◊ ◊

People like to tell you that all you need to run is a pair of shorts, shirt and shoes. You lace up and head out the door in this romantic fashion, complete with a bouncy step, midfoot strike and effortless pace. The skies will be clear, the sun out and the air temperate. You go for as long as you like, your body cooperating with every step.

OK. Now that whole scenario is just getting ridiculous.

While I'd love to be an old-school runner who would feel best in cotton,drawstring shorts and an old cotton race Tee, I'm not. I need things. Technical things. I rely on wicking fabrics to keep my comfortable, gadgets to help me test my limits (and keep me in check) and accessories to keep me fueled.

Clothing. This year, I got my first tastes of lululemon, Running Skirts  and a more minimal shoe but I think my favorite product has been the handful bra. It's comfortable, the straps don't slide and, to be frank, it makes me look like I actually have something going on.

Gadgets. Wouldn't it be awesome if I put the MOTOACTV here? Just kidding. While I'm still using the MOTOACTV nearly a year after trying it and like the interface, it doesn't come close the reliability of a Garmin. Period.

My favorite gadget has been the BodyMedia FIT armband. It seems like a bit of a luxury for me, someone who is merely maintaining weight loss, but the amount of information it provides is so helpful and motivating. You know how many calories you burned throughout the day, how many steps you took and whether any activity was considered vigorous. As long as you are tracking your calories honestly, there should be no surprises on the scale.

Accessory. I was running 12 miles through the pouring rain the morning of the women's Olympic marathon. My Under Armour hat was pulled down over my head and I braved the streets of Fort Wayne in just a pair of shorts and sports bra. On my left wrist was the MOTOACTV and, in my right hand, was a plastic baggie of Swedish fish. A baggie.

While it's definitely functional, carrying a baggie for 12 miles was no more comfortable than keeping them stuffed in my cheeks - though an interesting idea. It was after that run that I ordered myself a SPIbelt.

The SPIbelt allows runners to think a fanny pack is still cool. Made of  Lycra and Spandex, the belt has a pouch that expands to fit everything you need on a long run - phone, key and Swedish fish.

Or, if you are a badass ultra runner, some salted potatoes.

Did you try any new gear this year? What was your favorite?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What I wore: Winter running

I woke up this morning to discover two things: Barack Obama is still our president and it was 36 degrees outside.

And while I have nothing to say (good or bad) about one of those facts, the other was a pleasant surprise for me. Thirty-six degrees meant that I could go for a run.

While I will run until its 9 degrees out, I decided that there is no running with Miles in the BOB if it is less than 30 degrees or until we get the weather shield for the stroller. He has seemed to be comfortable in the 40-degree range, his skin still warm and no audible complaints, that the new range seemed doable.

Initially, I was uncertain whether I'd run today or tomorrow but after seeing the temperature (and hearing some familiar fussing), I knew it was game on. I threw on some possibly stinky tights that I had in the living room and headed upstairs to finish dressing as Miles and Mark ate breakfast. I opened up my dresser drawer that holds my running tops. And stared. And stared. And stared.

I had no idea what to wear. At all.

I don't seem to have any difficulty dressing for very cold weather or when the mercury hits 55 but when the air is in that in between stage, I feel like a teenager getting dressed for high school. Or what I think a teenager getting dressed feels like - I had to wear a uniform. A long-sleeve shirt plus half-zip might be OK or it could be too hot. Just a long-sleeve shirt isn't enough and it's chafe-city to just wear the half-zip. There's the ever cute long-sleeve + short-sleeve combo but it's hit-or-miss warmth wise.

After what felt like a half-hour, I decided on an outfit - one that seemed to work out quite well for a sunrise, 36-degree run.

I started with a long-sleeve compression shirt (C9 from Target) and topped it with a highly visible race shirt. To keep me warm during the start of the run, I added wool arm warmers (Smart Wool brand, race swag) and a pair of cheap-o gloves. It's questionable whether it's tights weather but I wore mine (Pearl Izumi) and think it was the right choice. I also wore a fleece hat.

The outfit was warm enough at the beginning and I ended up rolling down the warmers after two miles. Had it not been so windy and a bit sunnier, I'm certain the gloves would have come off. Literally, of course.

Miles is a bit easier to dress when it comes to a winter run. I just layer, layer, layer.

This morning, we started out with rocket ship pajamas (Carters, Target). I then put on a long-sleeve shirt, corduroy pants and socks. His new favorite - light-up Spider-Man boots - are also part of his running uniform. They are fleece-lined, giving his feet a bit of warmth (when he doesn't kick them off) and the waterproof outer material shields the wind. Before we head out the door, he gets a coat, gloves and a blanket. I'd love to say he gets a hat but the shark number from Children's Place was left to flounder on the side of the trail earlier this fall, and I learned that hoods are the best bet.

All the preparation in the world, though, couldn't save my run this morning. My legs were lead, the stroller felt like it was moving through quick sand and I couldn't even muster the energy to run 0.12 mile more to hit a nice even 4. But 3.88 is better than none, especially since we looked so good doing it.


What's your go-to winter running outfit.