Dressing for cold when the running gets hot

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

It’s often difficult to determine the right amount of layers to wear in cooler weather. On hot summer days we wear as little as possible (I stop at running shirtless in public, though many don’t). When the temperature begins to drop, I find myself reaching for long sleeves and running pants but often regret those decisions some time into my run.

A check of the weather last night prompted me to go with short sleeves and running shorts this morning. I did lay out my calf sleeves that would provide more leg warmth, but I’d already put on my running shoes by the time I noticed them. I also put out some lightweight running gloves in case I felt they were necessary. I decided to forgo the calf sleeves and gloves and just ran with what I had.

The temperature was in the low 40’s at 4:00 AM, and though it felt nippy, I was satisfied with my gear. As I waited for my Garmin to acquire a signal, I concluded that I was no more uncomfortable than I’d typically be lining up for a race on a cold fall morning. I hoped that the chill would prompt me to get to speed quickly but I had some trouble pushing my pace.

I ended up running the first half of my route fairly slowly but made up for that on the second half. Although I was sweating when I walked back into the house I wasn’t soaking wet. I think I guessed correctly in terms of layers. Once the temperatures drop into the 30’s and 20’s it will be more obvious what to wear on a run. One thing I know for sure: it’s far better to error on the side of cold at the start than risk overheating later.

Fastest running shoes? Oh, it’s ON!

My pathway to six minute miles

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me a link about the Kona Ironman triathlon that listed the types and brands of gear used by competitors this year. The shoe makers were mostly familiar, but 11th brand on the list was “On”, worn by 23 competitors. I looked up On running shoes and discovered that they are a Swiss company that sells its shoes primarily in Europe.

What intrigued me about these shoes (besides their interesting outsoles) was how On characterized the performance profile of each of their models. The Cloudracer has a targeted speed of 6.4 minutes per mile, while the Cloudster seems to be the shoe for us 9:00 milers. But I was thinking, “Hmm, if I ran in the Cloudracers then I too could run 6 minute miles!” If only it worked like that.

During yesterday’s unpleasant migraine, I wondered if I’d ever feel well enough to run again. By last night I had recovered enough to set up my running gear for a morning workout and when I woke up I felt surprisingly good. I didn’t want to push it too hard, so I settled in with a moderate pace and slight incline and ratcheted up the speed as I progressed through my 25 minute run. But if I was wearing On Cloudracers, who knows how fast I would have gone?

Crossing the T’s before crossing the line

Staying the course on Sunday

There’s less than 20 hours left until tomorrow’s race. The only things left to do are to pick up my race number at the Expo and then prepare my gear. Actually, there’s a lot of detail to that part. If the weather follows current predictions, we will have great conditions at the start of the race. In that case, I’ve identified which shirt, shorts and shoes (Kinvara 3’s) I’ll use. Along with that are many other tasks (filling my gel flask, charging my Garmin, SPIbelt items, sunglasses, warm up clothes, gear bag, etc) that must be completed.

Last year I made a list that came in very handy in the morning, because I was able to quickly verify that I had everything I needed before I left. I’ll do the same this year. I’m still undecided if I’ll start the race with bottled water that I can throw in the trash when I’m done with it. Water stations serve that purpose so I’ll likely just use them instead.

Yesterday I went over the race course with a colleague, BL, who is running the LI Half for the first time (his first half marathon in fact). He’s only been running for a year but he’s made great progress and puts in the hard work to train. BL frequently races and that will yield benefits for him tomorrow.

Another colleague, TC, will be coming by my house around 6:00 AM tomorrow and we’ll head to the race together. TC ran a 1:55 half marathon on a tough course two weeks ago and he is planning to run the Brooklyn Half next weekend. I’ll see him at the start but I’m guessing he’ll beat me to the finish line.

C9 has me seeing (and saving) green

Are you green with envy over my quarter zip?

Today was a rest day and I was happy to skip my morning workout. I’m always the first person to support others when they take days off, but I sometimes feel guilty when I do it myself. That’s why I like Mondays. About two years ago I decided that resting one day a week would yield a marginal conditioning benefit. So now I’m able to get through my weekly day of rest without feeling like I’m falling down on my training.

My one running related activity happened this morning during a visit to Target. As usual, I stopped by the menswear section where they sell C9, Champion’s line of athletic clothing made exclusively for Target. I’ve bought a fair amount of C9 running clothes over the years because it’s priced well and it performs about as well as the middle tier brands. I have had a few jerseys fall apart after heavy use and multiple washings but the ROI still remains high.

Last year I picked up a long sleeve white quarter zip at the end of the season clearance for $10. It has turned out to be a staple in my cold weather running. Today they had the same shirt on sale and I decided to get one in bright green to help provide some visibility when I run in my neighborhood. This year’s version seems to be a little beefier than the previous shirt. Hopefully that means I’ll get plenty of  use before it starts to show some wear.

I heart my City Sports running pants

Today’s run (street): 5.25 miles

I’ve been very happy with most of my race performances this year, including yesterday’s 5K where I came within seconds of breaking 25 minutes. The biggest change in my training in 2011 has been less focus on speed during training runs and more focus on quality. While my average pace for recreational runs has slowed by about 15 seconds per mile, my average pace in races (the half marathon being a significant exception) has improved by about 10 seconds per mile.

I gotta say they fit me better than this

On Friday I walked a couple of blocks to City Sports on 48th and 6th and bought a pair of their house brand (CS) performance running pants. These pants are usually $60 but were on sale for $39.00. I compared them to similar, but higher priced, running pants from Brooks, Saucony and Adidas and saw little difference. If anything, the CS pants were heavier and better for winter temperatures.

I wore these pants at yesterday’s race and loved the fit. My wife liked the way they looked on me and I didn’t feel self conscious wearing them, as I sometimes do in running tights. These pants were a definite improvement over sweats and I was happy to find them on sale.

This morning the temperature in my town was 23° so I dressed in layers and wore a fleece wicking cap and my mitten-gloves. I was a little cold at the start but the new running pants did a good job keeping my legs warm and my Layer 8 thermal zip, with a layer beneath, kept me comfortable up top.

The wind was coming from the north and it was brisk at times. This created a situation where my body stayed comfortable because it was warmed by the run, but my face was freezing from the wind. Having glasses touching my face didn’t help me any. It was a little uncomfortable at times, but not so bad that I needed a balaclava.

Ford GT: a cool surprise

I ran slowly to stay below my lactic threshold and give my muscles an opportunity to repair themselves. I criss-crossed the neighborhood, changing directions on a whim and totaled 5.25 miles. As I was running my final steps prior to turning onto my street, I noticed a Ford GT making its way in my direction. The driver was driving slowly but the engine was purring. As a person who loves great engineering and style, I was thrilled to experience it. The same may be said for my new running pants!

Why is buying running pants so hard?

Such a deal!

Today’s run (treadmill – 2% incline): 25 minutes

At my last race, I noticed many people wearing pants that looked like running tights, but with a looser fit. I liked the idea of these pants for very cold days. My running tights provide energizing compression, but not much insulation. I’m thinking a little space between the material and my legs would help trap some warm air on those below freezing mornings.

Every day I receive marketing emails from Roadrunner Sports, REI, Active.com, Brooks, City Sports, etc., all offering what seem to be great deals (40% off plus FREE 2-DAY SHIPPING!). When I link into these sites I often discover that the deals aren’t as good as they seem. For instance, I pursued an offer through Roadrunner promising a 20% discount, etc., and found two items that I added to my cart. Even with the discount code added, (that took a while to find as well) I saw no reduction in the item’s cost in my cart. So I left the website.

Unfortunately, I’ve had similar experiences on other sites. If it isn’t price related, it’s other things. I don’t like when my running pants droop far below my ankles so I want to size the items correctly. The sizing guides show inseams ranging between 28.5″-32″ for medium pants. Which is correct? Do I want to take a chance and be disappointed?

I’ll probably end up going to either City Sports or Sports Authority and choosing items that I can try on first before buying. It’s really too bad that the need for something simple can become so complicated. My wife wonders why I hate to shop, and this is the reason. Even done virtually, it can be a frustrating experience.

Winterized for outdoor running

Today’s run (treadmill): 3 miles

We needed to be out early this morning so I hopped on the treadmill after my wife finished her workout and ran for about 28 minutes. It was a nice run, a little longer than my usual weekday morning workout. Most importantly, it was a good recovery effort after yesterday’s double session. The most remarkable thing about today’s workout was the relative ease I had getting through the run.  I always say that treadmill minutes seem far longer than street or trail minutes. Today I felt great throughout the entire run, starting at a moderate pace and slowing building speed as I went along.

The combination of sun and warming temperatures have cleared a lot of snow from the local roads and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to run outside by this weekend. Earlier this week I picked up some acrylic fleece, over-the-ear running hats at a great discount. They will be essential gear on those freezing runs at 4:00 AM between now and March. After inventorying my running stuff yesterday I concluded that I am now fully equipped for the winter. Too bad because I love to buy running gear. On the other hand it’s good to know that I’ll be well prepared to run this winter, no matter what the conditions bring.

Back on the frozen roads

Today’s run (street) 2.5 miles

I gave a lecture to some NYU students last night and I didn’t get home until late. I’d considered going into the office a little later this morning but decided to stay with my normal train schedule. When I got up to run today I was still tired and I had to talk myself into going outside. The conditions weren’t too inviting with temperatures around 20 degrees. Colder than that when the wind blew. I put on my winter gear and headed outside hoping to get my body temperature up before the deep freeze penetrated all my layers.

Considering my tired state and the cold conditions, my run went smoothly. I wasn’t looking to cover a lot of ground but this weekend’s activities will limit my options for longer runs. I needed to get some distance in as I hadn’t run on the road since Saturday. My only workouts since Saturday’s 10 mile run were a treadmill run and an elliptical session. I was happy that I wore my warmest hat but its bulk made the headlamp strap very tight on my head. I figured I could bear it for a couple of miles. My ASICS glove/mittens performed like champs and kept my hands warm the entire time I ran. I had hoped to maintain a brisker pace than 9:30 but that’s what I ended up running. The important thing is that it seemed faster. The weather will get a little warmer tomorrow so I’ll look forward to that run and forgo some layers in the process. It was nice to be out on the roads again after five days away.

Progression through compression

It was almost a year ago that my wife surprised me with a gift of a long sleeved Nike Fit jersey and Nike compression pants. I was due to race the MercyFirst 5K and she thought I’d appreciate having some new gear. I ran my fastest ever race pace wearing that outfit and it made me curious about the connection between compression and performance.

Last Saturday Dave and I did a long run on the Bethpage bike trail and he wore CW-X compression pants along with compression socks of the same brand. I looked online to see whether compression and performance are correlated and saw that there are studies that support that theory. The real benefit seems to be on the recovery side because compression aids blood flow and channels built up lactic acid. I know that when I run with my compression gear I feel more energetic. I went to City Sports to see what they had for socks and was surprised to see a range of socks and calf sleeves costing between $30-$60. I didn’t buy anything but I’ll admit that I’m curious to try them. Perhaps I’ll head back today or check out Paragon’s selection at lunchtime. Except for the price there seems to be more upside than downside to using this technology.

Will this brand Thriv?

Thriv’s Path Crew running shirt

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 3.1 miles
Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

It’s no secret that I like running gear and that I’m interested in technologies that help a runner achieve their best performance. I appreciate the innovations that come from the big running shoe companies so long as they provide benefits and aren’t just selling marketing hype. When I see something new I pay attention, especially when it represents innovation. Over the weekend we stopped into Sports Authority to find a gym bag for my daughter and I noticed they had a new line of running clothes under the brand name Thriv. The Thriv shirts, apparently made in India, were very appealing. They were soft like cotton and colorful, but not garish. The labels claimed great wicking capabilities through their combination of organic cotton and bamboo and the prices were competitive. I bought a red “Path Crew” jersey in size large (no medium choice) because this particular model was discounted to $20.

I wore my new Thriv shirt on my run in Central Park with JQ yesterday. It was dry and cool, with some sun, and we followed our standard three mile route while enjoying the park and maintaining our usual, lively discussion. The shirt was very comfortable and the fit was generous. I would have preferred it to be a size smaller but it was fine for a workout of this type. Since we were running a couple of minutes per mile slower than my usual training pace I didn’t generate my normal level of perspiration but I did sweat some and the shirt wicked it fine. However, the Path Crew didn’t do a good job of evaporating moisture compared with my experiences wearing the Nike Sphere and Brooks Rev T jerseys. I’d put Thriv in the middle of my running shirt collection in terms of effectiveness, better than the C9’s and REC Tech’s but not at the level of the ATAYNE, Adidas, Nike and Brooks shirts. For $20 it’s a decent addition to my athletic-wear collection. Still, I’ll probably stick with the brands that provide both innovation and performance, even if it costs me more.