Posts Tagged by running gear
|February 14, 2013||Posted by Lauren under Running|
I feel like the general tone of many of my running posts lately has been rather negative. I’ve been talking about failure, struggling with training, hating on winter, etc etc etc. At this point, you might be starting to wonder where my joy for running has gone…and why I even stick with this crazy sport.
I try to keep this place as real as possible. I never sugarcoat my life or my training, because, well…what’s the point of that? And since I don’t write every day, it’s less interesting for me to put up a post about how I had another great easy run than to actually reflect on things that I’m experiencing or struggling with in terms of training. And the truth is, at the beginning of training there are often more struggles than anything else.
But I also understand that if that’s the only glimpse into my life you have, you may start to wonder where the passion has gone. While I admit that I haven’t yet reached that “turnaround” point where things start to come naturally, I still look forward to lacing up my shoes most of the time. And I honestly can’t even imagine how I’d get through the winter if I didn’t have running to keep me sane.
So with that being said, I figured it was time to show a little love for winter running. Because even though it’s cold and the days are short (but slowly getting longer!) and even though motivation can often be hard to come by, running during the winter isn’t all bad. In fact, if I’m honest with myself, there are actually a lot of advantages to running during this cold season.
No pressure to beat the heat. If you don’t want to drown in sweat during a run in the middle of summer, there’s usually a very short window in which you can run. Miss that window and you’re basically resigning yourself to running through hell. Which also means…
No need for early morning wake ups on long run days. Sure, I suppose sometimes this is still necessary if you have a lot going on. But in general I find winter weekend mornings so much more relaxing. I can sleep in and take my time getting out the door. Especially since the procrastination usually works to my advantage — pushing back your run by just a few hours can make all the difference in terms of temperature.
Afternoon runs are the way to go. I’ve made my general dislike for morning runs pretty clear…several times. I run in the morning out of necessity — to avoid the heat, if I can’t run any other time of day, etc. I understand why so many of you love running in the morning and it all makes perfect sense to me…in theory, anyway. But despite my best intentions, I think I’ll always be an afternoon/evening runner at heart. And the winter is one time when running in the afternoon is unequivocally better. Sure, that run may hang over your head all day, but that’s a small price to pay for running in warmer weather, especially now that the sun sets a little later. Case in point: this morning the temperature in my town was 20 degrees. It’s expected to be 40 and sunny later this afternoon. Three guesses as to which conditions I prefer.
Running clothes have more pockets, which means more places to stash stuff. Yes, I prefer running in shorts over tights any day of the week (though when I do resign myself to wearing tights, chances are I’m in these. Most comfortable pair I own, plus I love the zipper at the ankles). And yes, running is the one aspect of my life where I prefer to wear as little clothing as possible. But sometimes that means storage is a bit of an issue. When you’re wearing a sports bra-type top and little bitty shorts, there aren’t many places to stash your gear/gels/etc. Long sleeve running shirts and coats generally have more pockets available, which makes carrying things on the run much easier.
I also appreciate bright colors on dreary days – I wear this jacket on the majority of my runs these days
Less need for hydration. During the heat of the summer, I usually carry water on runs that are an hour or more (there are no public fountains near me). On really hot days, I will take hydration with me on short runs too. But in the winter I can go a lot longer without needing water. Plus, if I get thirsty on a run, I can always reach over and just grab a handful of snow! Okay…kidding on that one. But my point is, I can easily make it into the double digits without hydration, and often go up to 2 hours without it. Obviously this is personal preference and not necessarily something a professional would recommend, but I hate carrying water and appreciate that I can go further without it when the temperatures are lower.
Less sweat. Which means that’s it’s much more acceptable to re-wear running clothes before washing. Or, you know, easier to get away with not showering after a run.
No humidity. Humidity ruins more runs than heat alone. I hate that feeling of swimming through a run, of being weighed down by the heaviness of the air. It slows me down and often makes me question my fitness. All summer long, I yearn for that first crisp fall day when the humidity breaks and I suddenly feel like I have wings on my feet. I love that I never have that problem during the winter. Sure, sometimes my legs go numb in the cold which obviously doesn’t make for a speedy run. But in general, less humidity means faster running. And that’s something I can get on board with!
Post-run showers are the best thing in the world. Especially on long run days. Is there anything better than the heat of a shower after being outside in the cold for over an hour? I admit to often using that as motivation to get myself moving (whatever works, right?). Related: running in the cold also makes my old house feel warmer. We keep our heat fairly low in an (often futile) effort to keep the heating bill from getting out of control. The only time the house feels truly toasty is when I first come in after a run. It’s a luxurious feeling.
So winter – I will accept that you are good for my running. And that sometimes I even enjoy you. Plus, each time that I brave your cold, I am stronger for it. But…that still doesn’t mean I’m not excited for spring.
|August 14, 2012||Posted by Lauren under Reviews & Giveaways|
Otherwise known as the shoes that got me up and running again.
I almost returned the Mirage 2s without having run a single step in them.
It seems crazy to me now, considering how much I love them, but I almost didn’t want to even give the Mirages a chance. I ordered them months ago…right before the injury that left me sidelined for the entire spring. At the time, my interest in a more minimal shoe had been piqued by all the great things I was hearing about the Kinvaras, as well as my positive experience with the lighter and smaller heel to toe offest Saucony Guides. I was intrigued enough to want to try running in less shoe…but too nervous to take my over-pronating self out onto the roads without any guidance at all.
These shoes are basically marketed as a more stable version of the Kinvaras (*not having run in the Kinvaras, I cannot do an accurate comparison, but I do realize that in reality these are two very different shoes). There’s a little more support to the Mirages, making them geared toward individuals who are slight over-pronators but still want the minimalist experience. Although the shoe is made with Saucony’s ProGrid cushioning system (called “ProGrid Lite”), there really isn’t a whole lot there. The insole is flat and firm, lacking that pillowy or springy feeling that you have with traditional stability shoes. The Mirage isn’t really a true minimalist shoe, but to me, it may as well have been.
Before making the switch, I had been running in stability shoes that had extra cushioning in the heel and lots of arch support. The Mirage doesn’t have any of that. Although there is more of an arch than most minimalist shoes would have (as you can see from the picture below), that arch is much lower than I was used to. The first time I tried on the shoe, I was struck by how little there was to it.
And then I started having ankle problems, which turned into knee problems, which led to a long spring of no running. I put the Mirages on the shelf, figuring that this was probably the universe’s (or my body’s) way of telling me that I needed to stick to a more supportive shoe from now on. In the end I decided to keep the Mirages, but only for walking around.
The more I walked in the shoe, however, the more I realized that I liked it. It wasn’t long before the lack of cushioning started to feel normal. The shoe seemed to mold to my foot in a way that my traditional running shoes never did — to the point where I just stopped noticing them. I realized that the shoe itself was even more responsive than I expected, and that I preferred the “closer to the ground” feel that it allowed. It got to the point where switching back to a more traditional running shoe felt awkward and clunky, even on walks. Soon I was wearing the Mirages all the time.
I still wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to try running in them though.
But as my injury progressed, I started doing a lot of reading about less traditional ways to combat knee pain. Even though the conventional wisdom seems to be that knee problems are indicative of a need for more support, I started discovering people who had gotten rid of their pain by running with less. I thought a lot about my poor running mechanics, and realized that I should be working toward fixing the problem, not finding a bandaid to cover it up. Frustrated with my lack of progress and desperate for a solution, I finally decided to give the Mirages a try.
The first run was only partially successful. I had tried running again too soon, and the knee pain came back after a few miles. But in those first two miles, the difference I felt was remarkable. It was enough to motivate me to give them another try.
These days I run exclusively in the Mirages and can wholeheartedly say that I love this shoe. I’m on my second pair, and have slowly made my way into the double-digits. Although the longest I’ve run in them so far has been 14 miles, I’m confident that they will hold up to the load of marathon training.
With each run, I am finding it easier to adjust to my new shorter stride. The shoe encourages a midfoot strike, which means that the days of me landing heavily on my heel with each step are finally over. I love how light they are, I love the way they feel on my feet, but most of all, I love how they’ve helped me run pain-free again.
The only negative that I’ve experienced so far is just in terms of my adjustment to the shoe. Because of the lack of cushioning and guidance, I can definitely feel my feet and calves working harder than they’ve had to before. The shoe felt comfortable from the start in that they never gave me any blisters or rubbed the wrong way, but the fatigue in my lower legs was tough to get used to at first. Especially when combined with my overall “out of shapeness” (yes that’s now a word) and the difficulty I was having adjusting to my new stride. It’s gotten better for the most part, but on longer runs I can feel my legs getting tired. And then on my 14 mile run this past weekend, the bottoms of my feet started hurting during the last couple of miles. I don’t know if they were just extra tired, or perhaps they still aren’t used to taking such a huge pounding. I know that I need to build up strength and so I’m hoping that I won’t feel this way over time. But if you have any experience with in this area, please share!
Only time will truly tell how they hold up over the course of training, but so far – I’m a believer in the Mirage Magic.
The awesome green color doesn’t hurt either…
*These shoes aren’t for everyone, but they work great for me. If you aren’t sure what type of running shoe would work best for you, I highly suggest going to a running specialty store so that an associate can evaluate your stride and fit you. And remember to ease your way into a more minimalist shoe slowly in order to avoid injury.
If you have any questions about how I changed my stride/decided to switch to a more minimalist shoe, please drop me an email!
|January 25, 2012||Posted by Lauren under Reviews & Giveaways, Running|
I have a confession to make.
I have been cheating on you. Big time.
Anyone who knows me and my history as a runner will know what a big deal that last statement was. I grew up in Asics, and have been running in the same shoes since the 90’s. When it comes to racing flats, I’ll try any brand. I’ve raced in most major shoe brands and had great results. But when it comes to my trainers? Well I’m loyal to a fault.
Until recently, that is…
The Saucony ProGrid Guide 5 shoes have a heel-to-toe offset of only 8 mm. For comparison, the offset in the average running shoes is 12 mm. It may not seem like much, but let me tell you – that 4 mm makes a huge difference when you’re running. I will never actually transition to barefoot running (yes, I know that is a big statement but I can confidently tell you that I do not buy into the merits of running barefoot or in shoes that make it seem like you are barefoot. If you ever see a picture on this blog of me in a pair of VFFs, assume I’ve been hacked. Anyway, I digress…), but I do like the idea of shoes that are a bit more minimalistic than my usual trainers. These shoes are not only lighter, but the smaller heel-to-toe offset ensures that you land further forward on your foot. As someone who has major problems with heel-striking (see Exhibit A below), I knew I could benefit from a different shoe.
This hurts me just looking at it!
The smaller heel-to-toe offset in the shoe also allows for a greater range of motion with your calf/achilles, giving you a more powerful stride. Which, in turn, can help you run faster. (I am in complete support of that!) And if that’s not enough, the shoe boasts cushioning and some support for pronators like myself.
Knowing all of that, I was very excited to test out a pair…but a bit nervous about how my stability-shoe-loving legs would react. As soon as I picked up a pair and felt how light they were, I couldn’t wait to take them out of a spin.
The honest truth – it was love at first run. Not only did my feet feel so light and free, but I felt like I was running on pillows. The shoes were everything they were marketed to be. Light, responsive, fit great to the shape of my foot. All thoughts of my old trainers were out the window.
I have been running in the shoes for a couple of months now, with a little break in between due to a problem I experienced in the heel with my first pair. However, I was sent a replacement pair and have not had the same problem – they fit and feel great! Because I am not used to running in any sort of minimalist shoe and the Guide 5 shoes very clearly change my stride, I have purposely kept my transition very slow. I don’t run in the shoes everyday, and the longest I’ve run in them so far is 7.3 miles. I’m interested to see how they hold up over the course of marathon training.
For those of you who like bulleted lists, here are the major pros and cons of the Guide 5s (vs. my usual trainers – the Asics 2160s).
- Very lightweight
- Cushioned and supportive – I don’t feel like any of the cushioning was lost when making the shoe lighter and my over-pronating feet feel very supported.
- I land more on my mid-foot! This change was pretty much instantaneous. The first time I ran in the shoe, I was actually taken aback by the loud “slap, slap, slap” sound I was hearing as my feet hit the pavement. I quickly realized this was happening because I wasn’t absorbing all of the impact with my heel anymore, which made me land heavier on the front of my feet. This has gotten better as I’ve gotten used to the shoe and the change in stride.
- As an added bonus – my stride is better in my old shoes too. On the treadmill the other day, I could see that I was landing less on my heel and more on my mid-foot, even while wearing my old trainers. (Though this changes when I get tired or start to run really fast).
And finally, now when I switch back to my old trainers, I honestly feel like I’m running on bricks. Those shoes were built for support and cushioning. But they feel so hard, clunky and unweilding in comparison.
So far, any con that I’ve experienced is simply due to the fact that the Guide 5s have literally changed my stride and the way that I run.
- Uncomfortable rubbing on my arches/toes that is leading to some new calluses. This is expected, since the shoe not only fits my foot differently, but is changing the way my foot hits the ground. I am hoping it will go away as I become accustomed to the change in my stride. And my toes are pretty callused anyway, so what’s one more?!
- Soreness in my calfs. Again, I think this is because I’m not completely used to the shoe. And when I switch back and forth between the 8 mm offset and the 12 mm offset shoes, my calf muscles get a bit confused.
The bottom line: The Sauconys are here to stay. My feet have found a new love.
I’m still not running in them 100% of the time yet, but I plan to keep building up. At the very least, I’ve been loving these shoes for shorter runs and speed workouts.
I received a free pair of Guide 5s to test out and review. But as always, my opinions are my own. I would never recommend a product I don’t like or believe in. And I love these shoes so much that I intend to buy another pair when these ones are worn out.
|December 15, 2011||Posted by Lauren under Running|
Up until a couple of years ago, I rarely ran with a watch if I could help it. And when I did wear one, it was usually because I was running for time instead of distance. Which meant that unless I went and mapped out the route later, there wasn’t any way to tell what pace I was running. The year I qualified for Boston, I timed myself on treadmill runs (you can’t really avoid that) and long runs, not because I wanted to keep a specific pace, but because I wanted to have a general idea of how long it took me to run 20 miles. Those long run times were the only running “data” that I had going into the marathon. That year, I managed to take 19.5 minutes off my marathon time – my biggest marathon PR to date.
But then I got a fancy Garmin as a gift, and this girl who once loved running free and un-timed suddenly became a slave to numbers. I thought I would hate all that feedback, and would hate always seeing my pace in front of me or exactly how far I had gone. But the truth is – it was love at first run. I loved not only having data on the run, but also being able to upload it and see what my runs looked like over time. I loved that I could run in any direction, without any sort of plan, and still know how far and fast I had gone that day. In short, I was hooked.
I know many of you feel the same way about these little wrist computers. They’re a great tool to have when you are actively training for something. But they’re also incredibly easy to become addicted to. And even though I just spent the first part of this post talking about how much I love my Garmin, sometimes I think the dependence becomes too much. Like so many others I read about, I became a little obsessed with seeing the numbers on every run. If I got ready to run and found out that my Garmin wasn’t charged, it threw everything off. “But how will I run without knowing how fast I’m going every single step of the way??” It’s a little ridiculous, really.
Now that I’m not actively in training, I’ve decided to ditch the Garmin – for most runs. And instead of feeling panic at the loss of so much “valuable” data, I can tell you that it’s been wonderful. So wonderful, that I think it’s something you should do too.
10 Reasons to Ditch the Garmin (for now)
It’s true – runners love their numbers. Average pace, fastest race times, miles per week, miles that need to be run at X pace in order to hit X time – our life revolves around them. I know breaking the cycle by ditching the Garmin has been discussed before, but here are 10 reasons why I think it can be great to run without the feedback. I promise it won’t kill you.
1.) Break the addiction
Pure and simple – you won’t break your dependence on the watch if you never let yourself run without it. I know this seems obvious, but you need to give yourself more than one day. Running watch-less multiple days a week will help you break free of your dependence. I promise it may feel weird at first, but that’ll soon pass. After a few days, seeing an uncharged Garmin before you head out the door on your run won’t even phase you.
2.) Stop worrying about mileage
I am one of those runners who, when I get to the end of what was supposed to be a 5 mile loop and see 4.83 miles on my watch instead, will run up and down the street until I get to exactly 5 miles. Why? I could tell you that it’s because those last .17 miles are just so important, but really it’s because I just like seeing the even number on my watch. Plus, who wants to go out and run 4.83 miles? That’s not as good as 5, right? Five full miles will make me a better runner – 4.83 ? Not worth it.
The beauty of it all is – once you ditch the watch you won’t know whether you went exactly 5 miles or not. And you’ll find that you don’t even care, leaving you free to actually finish the run right in front of your house, instead of 3 blocks down the street.
3.) Stop worrying about pace
Even on days when I’m not trying to run for pace, it’s hard to not keep checking the watch to see how I’m doing. If it tells me that I’m running slower than I want to be, there’s a huge part of me that wants to pick up the pace until it’s back where I like it. Even if I manage to not look at the watch during the run, I still know that the time is being recorded, ready for me to pick apart and analyze later. Running without a watch is the only way that I really, truly don’t care how fast or slow I’m going. I just run.
4.) Embrace the freedom
It’s amazing how freeing it can feel to just shed one little piece of running equipment. There are no paces to hit, no exact mileage to run. Just you and the road.
5.) Run simpler
That freedom you get from ditching the watch takes you back to the simplest form of running. How fast or far you run doesn’t matter. Instead, the run is just about being out there, about experiencing the miles, and getting back to the reasons you fell in love with running in the first place.
6.) Zone out on the run
Besides the fact that you never actually get anywhere, one reason people hate running on a treadmill so much is because of the constant feedback. You can’t escape the monitor that tells you how far you’re running, how fast you’re going, how many calories you’ve burned, and (if you just grab onto the handrails) your heart rate. The watch does the exact same thing – it just lets you know all that stuff without being chained to a treadmill. Having so much feedback all the time makes it really hard to zone out. The watch beeps, you have an urge to glance down at the numbers, you check to see how much further you have to go. None of that helps you “get in the zone.” Ditching the watch gives you less to think about, making it easier to spend the run getting lost in your own thoughts.
7.) Your arm stays warmer
Okay so this may not be at the top of your priority list, but if you ditch the watch your forearm is likely to stay much warmer this winter. It’s amazing how great NOT having a huge chunk of metal against your skin or having to lift a layer or two to see the numbers on the watch feels.
8.) Easy runs become easy again
I’m one of those runners who has certain paces in my head that I feel like I should be hitting, and paces I don’t really like to go above even on easy days. But running is weird. We all know that some days a certain pace will feel so effortless while other days we’re struggling to hang on. So when I go out for what is supposed to be an easy run and see that my pace is a lot slower than it feels like I’m running, instead of telling myself that I obviously need the extra rest today so should slow it down, I push through, often trying to speed up a little in the final miles. At the end of the run, I may have hit the arbitrary pace that I feel is acceptable, but I haven’t exactly had a nice, easy, recovery day either.
When there isn’t any feedback to tell me otherwise, I run as slow as my body wants to go. It may seem silly that I can’t do this normally, but it’s all a part of the “Garmin Effect.”
Which brings me to…
9.) Relieve the pressure and run stress-free
Wearing that watch can put an unnecessary amount of pressure on you. Just like I described above, when you know something is always recording how fast you’re moving, it creates pressure to hit certain paces. I know this isn’t completely logical. No one (literally no one) cares how fast I complete that 7 mile run except for me. But when I’m being timed, it’s as though the stakes are higher. That run will be recorded forever. Everyone will know I ran slow today. And I will be annoyed with myself that I couldn’t hold the pace I wanted to.
Getting rid of the watch means removing that pressure – the pressure to hit a certain pace, the stress of getting caught behind a group of walkers or a slower runner who might mess up your average pace for that mile, the stress of getting stuck at a stoplight or stop sign (should I pause my watch? Try to sprint across? My pace is ruined! My watch will say I’m slow when I’m really not!)…all of that will be gone.
10.) Become more in tune with your body
Finally, and most importantly, running watch free means that you can’t rely on a piece of technology to tell you how fast you are running, or should be running. Instead you just run by feel. When you don’t have the numbers to tell you if you’re hitting a recovery pace or a tempo pace, you are forced to look inward. A few weeks of running watch-less can help you become more in tune with your own body. You’ll know an easy pace because you know what it feels like to run it – the rate of your breathing, the length of your stride – these will help you determine how fast you’re running, not the watch.
When marathon training starts up again in January, I’m sure my Garmin and I will be reunited. Like I said, the watch can be an incredibly useful tool. But that doesn’t mean you need to run with it all the time. If you find yourself tied to your Garmin, I encourage you to give it a break even if just for a few weeks. After awhile, you might find that you don’t even really miss it…
Any other great reasons to ditch the watch that I missed?
|December 7, 2011||Posted by Lauren under Running|
As winter draws nearer, I’ve realized there’s something about me that you all should know. Something that sort of makes me feel like less of a runner to admit. Are you ready for it?
I hate running tights. HATE them. (Phew – just saying that has already made my chest feel lighter.)
I would run in shorts all year round if I could. The only thing is, I live in New England. And in this part of the country, my hatred for running tights is only tempered by my desire to not make running a miserable experience. So in an effort to keep my legs from falling off during long runs on freezing winter mornings, I give in and resort to wearing tights. It’s a necessary evil, of sorts.
I know some runners out there love them. They can’t wait to slip into those skin tight leggings as soon as the temperature drops. They apparently love the feel against their legs and are convinced that it makes them feel fast as they cut through the air.
But I disagree. I put those things on and immediately feel constricted. My legs can’t move as well, there is always extra fabric, and the crotch (that dang crotch!) is always falling down. I spend more time trying to adjust the stupid things than anything else.
Instead my legs long for freedom. To move however they want; to feel the wind against my quads. No, I don’t need to run naked, but I will always wear shorts for as long as I can manage without my legs freezing and falling off.
In case you’re wondering, I don’t feel the same way about tops. In fact, my absolute favorite running outfit is a long sleeve shirt (spandex or not) and shorts. Not only does the long sleeve + shorts combo pretty much signify perfect running temperatures, but it’s also so comfortable – burying my hands in the sleeves, using the sleeves to wipe my snot or the water running out of my eyes. What could be better? (being a runner is attractive, no?)
Yesterday, 6 days into the month of December, I went out running in shorts. It was dark. It was rainy. But it was warm (relatively speaking) and my heart was happy. As I ran along in shorts and a t-shirt, I started wondering – just how long can I stretch this out? How many days can I go before I have to resort to the tights? Another week? Until the end of the month?
When I happened to be talking to my Dad later on in the evening, I casually mentioned the fact that I wanted to try to avoid wearing running tights for the rest of the year. He responded by laughing. He warned me that I might feel fine now, but the cold front would come. Temperatures would drop. And then my short-loving legs weren’t going to be so happy. I don’t think he really believed I was serious.
But I am serious. So serious that I’m taking my movement public. I’m shouting it out to the
millions few dozen of you who read my blog: the Great Running Tight Boycott has begun! From now until the first day of 2012, this runner will not wear a single pair of long spandex pants to run. The gauntlet has been thrown; the challenge accepted. Mother Nature – this month, it’s me vs. you.
Officially Unofficial Rules for the
Most Inane Boycott Ever Great Running Tight Boycott of 2011
- Participant recognizes the stupidity and pointlessness of the boycott, yet chooses to participate anyway.
- Participant will only run in approved running bottoms until Jan 1, 2012.
- Approved running bottoms are those that fall above the knee, and does not include long spandex tights or capris.
- Although every effort will be made to run outside as much as possible, participant reserves the right to run on the treadmill. (Participant actually likes treadmill running, okay??) Just as long as it isn’t every single day.
Sometimes this boycott will mean that I need to be a little creative with my running outfits. I may need to pull out the long socks or even the one pair of leg warmers that I own – a gift from my favorite leg-warmer-wearing-jazz-hand-waving runner. I know she will approve. But it will be worth it. Running in high socks beats running in tights any day of the week.
This December, my legs choose freedom. My legs choose not to be held in or confined. My legs choose to face the wind, the cold, all the elements of winter weather. And they will hold strong against it.
What about yours? Will your legs stand strong and boycott the awfulness that is running tights with me?