Body Helix Compression Wraps Review

I received a complimentary Body Helix Compression Full Knee sleeve in exchange for writing this review.

Body Helix makes a full line of compression products for just about any part of the body that may experience inflammation from a sports injury or arthritis.

Applying compression for shoulder or piriformis pain can be a challenge. Body Helix has compression wraps for these areas plus thigh, calf, bicep, ankle and lower back.

As a runner, I frequently deal with inflammation in my knees. Often this inflammation is experienced as the pain most runners are familiar with.

Over my seventeen years of running, I’ve been in physical therapy several times. In addition to stretching and strengthening exercises, my PT always recommends R.I.C.E.

I’ve read many articles on sports injury and they usually recommend R.I.C.E also.

So what is R.I.C.E. ? It stands for: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Body Helix explains how compression aids in recovery as part of R.I.C.E.

Rest, ice and elevation are fairly easy to do, but applying compression can be a challenge.

In the past I’ve used an ace bandage. But it’s easy to wrap them too tightly, and they are intended to immobilize a joint. If wrapped too thickly, ice may not be able to penetrate through to your joint.

A compression sleeve is a better option and I own another brand sleeve. It works pretty well but I can’t wear it under pants and I never run in it. It’s a good solution when I’m hanging around the house and don’t plan to do much. It does work well with ice.

When I had the opportunity to try a Body Helix full knee compression wrap, I checked them out on line and agreed to give it a try.

About Body Helix Compression

Body Helix was founded in 2008 by world-ranked senior tennis player Fred Robinson and physician, Thomas E. Parker, MD.

At the time, Fred observed that most compression gear was uncomfortable, ineffective and did not use the latest materials available.

Fred and Dr. Parker searched for a material that would stretch, rebound and stay in place. And most importantly, provide effective compression.

They developed a product that provides a uniform medical-grade compression in the range of 20-30 millimeters of mercury (or mmHg in the scientific community.) The higher the number, the more pressure we feel.

Twenty to 30 mmHg is the first range of medical grade compression and has scientific evidence documenting increased blood flow and the benefits of compression.

Body Helix has four main differentiating factors that set them apart from the competition:

FORM-FIT TECHNOLOGY

A Helix consists of comfortable, uniform medical-grade compression in the range of 20-30 millimeters of mercury (or mmHg in the scientific community.) As mentioned above, the higher the number, the more pressure we feel.

Twenty to 30 mmHg is the first range of medical grade compression.

Below I’ll discuss how the Body Helix wrap feels.

MOISTURE ACTIVATED ADHERENCE

You’ve seen the person at the gym or on the court stop to pull up their knee sleeve or adjust their thigh wrap. That won’t happen with a Helix.

Thanks to their fabric’s Moisture Activated Adherence, their sleeves utilize the heat/sweat from your body and allow the fabric to act like an adherent between your skin and the product. It won’t slip or move during activities.

The wrap didn’t slip during my 10K run.

CLOSED-CELL FABRIC SCIENCE

Other wraps soak up sweat and take forever to dry, which often leads to unpleasant odors from bacteria becoming trapped within the fabric.

Because a Helix features Closed-Cell Fabric Science technology, it won’t hold sweat or water and you’ll never have to worry about odors or health issues from trapped bacteria.

The wrap is easy to rinse and the smooth fabric makes it easy to wear under clothing.

INFINITE MOTION

Many other products will only stretch up to 50%, which often restricts joint movement while being active. Body Helix compression sleeves (created by professional athletes, by the way, so they literally feel your pain) is made of the highest quality compression material available and will stretch more than the human body.

What this means for you is simple: you won’t need to alter your mechanics of motion when you serve, swing, bend, or run. You can continue to play your game, your way, without limits.

The sleeve was easy to run in and allowed me to bend my knee comfortably while driving.

Body Helix Compression Review

I tested the Body Helix full knee compression sleeve under daily conditions and during a 5 mile race and 10K training run.

Body Helix full knee compression sleeve, product reviewThe Body Helix compression sleeve has a smooth surface and the material does allow for a full range of motion.

l was able to wear it comfortably under a pair of jeans, drive my car and run errands.

This isn’t the greatest photo, but you can barely tell which knee has the sleeve on.

The comfort of the sleeve makes it possible to go about your day and not be stuck laying on the couch.

Road Race Testing

At the Super Sunday 5 mile race I tested the Body Helix compression sleeve. I’ve never worn anything on my knees before and wondered what it would be like.

Body Helix Compression Sleeve, Super Sunday 2020My knees are not bothering me, but I knew this would be a great test.

It was February 2nd, so I had to wear tights. I think this is a real world situation that most runners can relate to.

The sleeve easily slipped over the tights material and was firmly in place.

As you can see, it blends in well with the tights and no one even noticed.

I ran the five-mile race in 41 minutes which is about my regular pace.

During the race I forgot I even had it on. It didn’t bind or pinch and I never felt like it was slipping off. This allowed me to focus on the race and enjoy my self. What more could you ask for?

When I got home I rinsed it in the sink and it looked and smelled like brand new the next day.

Comparison Run

For my next outside run I wore the Body Helix compression sleeve and a sleeve I already own.

I’ve never worn anything on my knees while running except for the Super Sunday race. This time I didn’t wear tights.

As I headed out I wondered if both sleeves would end up causing problems. The last thing I wanted to do was mess up a nice run by stopping to pull up a compression sleeve.

On bare skin, both sleeves were more noticeable. The other brand sleeve was rougher on my skin and covered more of my leg. The Body Helix sleeve was smooth and clung to my skin like a bandage.

About three miles into my run the other sleeve felt like it was slipping off of my thigh. When I reached down I found that it had barely moved, so I left it alone and never broke stride.

Neither sleeve felt like it was hindering my run. They both felt pretty comfortable and for most of my run I didn’t really notice them.

When I finished my run I took this photo. I’m not a professional, but this is what they looked like shortly after finishing my 10K run.

The top of the other sleeve had slipped a bit as you can see.

If I was running a half or full marathon, the other sleeve could have become an issue.

I’m not sure that I’d run a marathon if I felt that I needed to use a compression sleeve.

In my opinion, compression sleeves should be used as part of the R.I.C.E. recovery protocol. And if you are dealing with knee pain you should stick to shorter runs anyway.

A look at other Body Helix compression sleeves

I have shoulder pain currently and have experienced piriformis issues in the past. One of these items would have been great to have.

The web site does say that the shoulder sleeve may not work for everyone and they suggest using it after surgery and not for general pain relief and recovery. I’d give it a try any way.

The compression on my knee felt good and it’s near impossible to apply compression to a shoulder.

I’m not sure that there is a good way to apply pressure to the piriformis or a groin pull.

Check out the Body Helix web site for all of their products. You will probably find a compression sleeve to meet your recovery needs.

You can use promo code BH10RUN to get 10% off any item.

If you try one of their products let me know how it worked for you.

Run well my Friends,

Andy

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Garmin Connect Mobile App and Achieving Goals with small data

Garmin Connect mobile app and small data can make a big difference in achieving goals. Focusing on a few pieces of data enables you to focus on goals.

I’m not a huge fan of installing apps on my phone. It seems that every event I go to has their own “cool app” to help me make the most of the event and connect with other attendees. Often it’s just app litter.

One app I’ve downloaded since the New Year and actually find useful is the Garmin Connect Mobile App. Often I find my self adding treadmill runs or gym workouts as manual activities in Garmin Connect when I get home.

Sometimes I forget to do this and I’m sure that a few workouts have gone missing. With the app I can add an activity at any time from anywhere.

Since I often run on a treadmill at work, this app has been handy.

Garmin Connect Mobile App and Small Data

Since The New Year my goal has been to run 3 miles per day on average. As such, I’ve been paying more attention to Garmin Connect at home and my Garmin Mobile App.

Garmin Connect Mobile AppThe opening screen gives you details of the past seven days. How many miles run, how many runs, how many calories burned and the last weight measure you added.

This screen  shot shows how someone could use all of the features. But like most people I focus on what’s most important to me: running.

When you go to the Activities tab, you can look at your activities by the week, month or past twelve months. If you do different activities you can look how each activity is going for you.

My activity is running of course so that’s what I track.

This past week I’ve run four times for a total of 30.6 miles and achieved a daily average of 4.4 miles.

Over the part four weeks I’ve run 108.8 miles over 13 runs for a daily average of 3.9 miles.

I’m happy to be running ahead of my 3 miles per day goal.

For anyone who’s ever looked at their GPA as a Junior or Senior on high school or college, you understand how challenging it is to move the needle on a number tracked over a long period of time.

Last year my goal was recovery, running a few choice races and having some fun.

Since my daily miles were not a focus I didn’t really pay any attention to this number, My casual goal was to hit 1,000 miles but I only got to about 875 or so.

Small Data makes a big Difference

The Garmin Connect Mobile App gives you a 12 month view of your data also. Since it is a mobile app with limited screen real estate it drops the oldest month as a new one is added. So all numbers are a moving average.

My daily average has been stuck at two miles per day since January. I figured it would take months to get it to move.

After my 6.8 mile treadmill run Thursday night my number moved to 2.1 miles!Can you use small data to achieve your goals? Click To Tweet

While 0.1 miles isn’t that much it is a movement in the right direction. It’s exciting that I’ve been able to move that number at all. I didn’t expect to see it change until later in the year.

Moving a 365 day average over two months and a few weeks is very encouraging. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that as lower mileage months from 2018 fall off and the higher mileage months of 2019 take their place, this number will increase velocity toward my goal of 3 miles per day.

But at this time last year I was also training for Boston and my monthly mileage was about as high as it is now. So the movement that I have been able to make is mostly attributable to my actual running and not a change in the data set.

Later in the year as low mileage months from 2018 drop off, my daily average should really pop up.

It will be fun to see the 2019 average to date and my annual moving average improve.

Everyone is talking about Big Data these days and everyone has their own definition. I consider big data to be the process of combining data from different sources to find insightful relationships among the data points. Collecting petabytes of data that you can do nothing with is useless.

Sometimes focusing on a few key pieces of data is more insightful. In my case focusing on daily averages over both short and long periods of time gives me the insight into my progress that I need to achieve my goals.

Run well my Friends,

Andy

Snowshoe Running What You Want to Know

Snowshoe Running

By Mark Rosenblum (guest blogger for OmniRunner)

When old man winter blows in hard and furious, creating icy roads and huge snowbanks narrowing Brooksby Snowshoe classic, snowshoe raceroadways, what can you do (besides treadmill running)?  Running on roads with less traffic still has risks.  Seeking out well plowed streets offers limited choices.  Well, there’s another choice which is safer, more fun, and gives you a more forgiving surface than running on the roads: snowshoeing!

 

Snowshoe models

If you want to get into snowshoeing, you’ll first need to decide which type and model of snowshoe to Tubbs 6000 snowshoes, snowshoe running, snowshoesbuy. The majority of snowshoes on the market are designed for either mountain hiking or trail walking.  Running in the former is possible but challenging.  The latter is fine for starting out.  These will cost $100-$200.

However, if you want snowshoes primarily for running training and possibly snowshoe racing, you are better off getting running or racing snowshoes.  These will cost $200-$300 for better models.

Atlas racing snowshoes, snowshoe running

The good news is that companies are starting to offer more choices every year as this sport catches on.  The bad news is that most outdoors specialty retail stores do not carry this type of snowshoe, so you will most likely have to buy online and read up on different options, vs. having an in-store salesperson help you.

 

Try before you buy

If you have never been snowshoeing before, you will probably want to try it before buying snowshoes.  REI rents snowshoes, or you may find a small local retailer that does.  Rentals typically will run $10-$20/day.  Many XC ski touring centers will also rent snowshoes.  A great opportunity to try out different models of snowshoes for free every winter is “Winter Trails Day”, held in several states on different dates in January. Go to www.wintertrails.org  for more info.  There you can try 3-4 different models in an hour or two and get questions answered.

You are not likely to find racing snowshoe models at these stores or events.  However, many races will provide an opportunity to use a racing model provided by a sponsor for an extra $5 – $10.  The numbers are often limited so you may need to register early.

Technology

If you were buying snowshoes for hiking, you would want to learn about “flotation” and get a snowshoe size based on your weight and type of snow conditions you will encounter.

For snowshoe running and racing, you will want a narrower and lighter snowshoe.  The following webpage lists 35 models of racing snowshoes which are ‘legal’ per racing snowshoe regulations: http://www.snowshoeracing.com/legal_size.htm

Here in New England, Dion dominates the market, with their Model 121 being most popular.

One thing you will want to consider is how easy and comfortable it is to fasten your hiking or running Dion snowshoesshoes to the snowshoes via the bindings, which typically involve some type of leather, rubber, or plastic straps. Dion’s ‘Quick Fit’ binding comprised of flexible VELCRO®-type straps is one of the easier types available.

Other details to consider when trying snowshoes for running is how closely the snowshoe snaps back to your foot, kick back of snow, and weight.

Lastly, while most snowshoe hikers also get a pair of ski or trekking poles, for both balance and leverage, they are not needed for snowshoe running, and are not used for racing.

Footwear

Asics Gel Arctic 4, winter running shoeIf just looking looking to get into snowshoeing as cross-training for hiking, hiking shoes are your best option.  For running training, consider getting a GORE-TEX® running shoe, especially if you are prone to getting cold feet.  See “The best way to enjoy winter running” for some suggestions.  Another advantage of these shoes is that they will offer better forefoot protection against binding straps, which may otherwise provide uncomfortable pressure points.

Such shoes are also fine for racing, where you might not mind trading off some extra weight for comfort.  At the other end of the spectrum, some racers looking for the lightest weight and comfort have found ways to custom mount a pair of racing flats directly to the webbing of the snowshoe, eliminating the need for bindings.

Gaiters are especially helpful for snowshoe running.  This topic was also covered in the blog post Altra Gaiters, snowshoe gearmentioned earlier.  For most conditions, ankle height gaiters will be your best option.  Most models will attach via clips to your laces, and laces or straps under your arch to secure the gaiter.  Instead of the latter, some models attach to your heel with a strip of VELCRO®.

 

Clothing

You will quickly find out when you do snowshoe running workouts that you will generate more heat than for a corresponding road workout.  Thus, an initial guide for what to wear is to dress for about 10 degrees warmer than what you would wear for running.  You will quickly find what works best for you.  The only other special consideration for snowshoeing is that there is just no avoiding kicking up snow behind you, which can leave a mass of ice crystals clinging to the back of your pants.  Slicker materials such as running tights or rain pants will minimize this.

Where to go

Mt Hood golf course, snowshoe hikingIf your local golf course is available for winter recreation, you can run with as little as 2” of snow if the ground is well frozen.  Avoid running over the greens.  A similarly good location is around playing fields at local schools.  Rail trails and some woods trails will be fine with about 4-5” of snow, whereas rocky woods trails may need 8” or more before you can get out without risk of damaging your snowshoe crampons or twisting an ankle.

If you go on trails and find cross-country ski tracks present, proper trail etiquette requests snowshoers to avoid stepping in the tracks.

Racing and Race opportunities

If you are a competitive runner and get into snowshoeing, you will probably want to try snowshoe Katherine Kulig, Granite State Snowshoe Championshipsracing at some point.  The quality of the snow at the time of the race will be the biggest variable that you will encounter, from very hard to very soft, very smooth to ‘choppy’, and from well packed to fluffy fresh powder.

The conditions obviously will affect how fast you can go.  As a result, times are not comparable even for the same race from year-to-year.  Under typical racing conditions, expect your times to be anywhere from 50% to 2x (or more) greater than your times for a road race of the same distance.

All that being said, snowshoe races offer runners a fun and interesting experience for racing, quite different from other races.  You’ll generally find other runners at snowshoe races, typically those who enjoy cross-country, trail, and mountain races.

Snowshoe races frequently have ‘single-track’ sections: narrow paths in woods where the snow-packed trail is not wide enough for two people to run side-by-side.  It is very difficult to pass on these sections.  If you sense someone is on your heels and itching to pass you, try to quickly find a good spot to step to the side to let them pass.  You will appreciate the same favor when the situation is reversed!

Here in the Northeast, your best sites to learn about race opportunities are:

http://www.granitestatesnowshoeseries.org (NH races)

http://dionwmacsnowshoe.com  (NY, VT, and western MA).

Nationwide race information can also be found at http://www.snowshoeracing.com/events.htm .

Snowshoeing with others

Lastly, snowshoeing with others is a great way to keep active during the winter.  Having someone guide you through trails, especially at night, is a lot easier than going off by yourself.  Also, when there is deep fresh snow, making tracks is a lot easier with a group.

So, whether you are looking to find a safer alternative to running on the roads during the worst winter days, interested in a growing way to stay competitive during the winter, or looking for a fun way to take advantage of winter’s bounty and enjoy the company of friends out in the woods, consider taking up snowshoeing!

The best way to enjoy winter running

The Best way to enjoy Winter Running

The best way to enjoy winter running is be to comfortable. In the summer it’s easy to be comfortable and enjoy a run.

Enjoying a winter run can be a bit more challenging. enjoy winter running, Sunday long run

Here are a few ways to enjoy winter running

Keep your feet dry

Nothing ruins a nice run quicker than wet feet. In the summer wet feet can cause chaffing and blisters. In the winter, wet feet can increase your chances of frost bite, sap the heat from your body and cause chaffing and blisters.

Leading running shoe companies such as Adidas, Asics, Brooks, New Balance and Saucony use Gore-Tex® Extended Comfort technology to make water resistant versions of their standard shoes.

This material keeps water out of your shoes, while allowing perspiration to escape. The ideal set of features to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

Many shoes that use Extended Comfort materials have the designation “GTX” or incorporate GORE-TEX® into the shoe name.

Brooks Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX, winter runningI have run in the Brooks Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX shoe for three seasons. Like many shoes on the GORE-TEX® web site, the Adrenaline ASR is a trail version of the popular Adrenaline GTS.

While most reviewers consider the Adrenaline ASR a built up street shoe and not a true trail runner, you will find it much stiffer and heavier than the street version.

I always wear my Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX for trail runs and those Sunday long runs when the street is a mess. The shoes are also great on ice and give me added confidence that I’ll make it to the finish in one piece.

The water-resistant version of your favorite running shoe will typically cost about 20% more than the standard version. Since you only need these shoes a few months of the year, you can get two or more years out of them.

This article from Competitor dot com reviews 9 winter running shoes for 2016. They describe the Brooks Adrenaline ASR GTX as a weather-ready road-feel shoe.

winter running
Under Armour Fat Tire GTX

Check out the Under Armour Fat Tire GTX. At 18 oz you wont want to do a road race in them, but they will eliminate your foul weather excuses!

This 2015 article from GearJunkie reviews running shoes that are a bit more hard-core than your typical trail runners. In addition to being water-resistant, some of these shoes incorporate spikes and gators to handle the most challenging conditions. More on gaiters below.

Running tip

Anyone in the Northern Hemisphere training for a spring race, such as the Boston Marathon, should own a pair of water-resistant shoes. Nasty weather comes with the territory this time of year, so you’ll need a heavier pair of shoes like these to keep you on the road and off of your butt.

Keep the Snow Out

Who hasn’t dreamed of running through fresh powder on a crisp winter’s day? How about tearing up a gnarly trail with friends? When you get off-road or out before the plows you are likely to encounter snow that most running shoes cannot handle.

winter running Salomon gaitersA nice addition to any runner’s mountain of gear is a pair of gators. Gaiters go over your ankle and cover your socks and top of your shoe.

In addition to keeping snow, rocks and twigs out of your shoes, they also add another layer of water protection.  Even if you have snow shoes, gaiters are a great way to keep the snow out of your shoes and keep the fun rolling.

Check out this review of Ultra Trail Gaiters from Outdoor Research. OR sells gators for running, skiing and hiking. The GearJunkie article reviews a few shoes that come with gaiters.

REI sells gaiters for running, hiking and skiing. Much like buying a pair of shoes, trying on a pair of gaiters before you buy them is advisable.

Keep your feet Warm

Keeping your feet dry is only half the battle of enjoying a winter run.

Cold, dry feet are still cold. That’s no fun and can be dangerous.

Keeping your feet warm is all about the socks.

Running socks are great at wicking moisture away from your skin, but in the winter you need more. Wool is known to hold body heat even when wet, and most cold weather socks incorporate wool. For fit and breath-ability, nylon and other engineered materials are woven in also.

balega, running socks, winter running In 2014 I wrote a review comparing Balega socks to Darn Tough socks.You thought summer socks were expensive? These socks cost about $17.00 a pair!

Both socks kept my feet warm, warmer than summer socks anyway. The Balega socks felt better on my feet and added some color.

I have only tried Darn Tough and Balega and both worked for me. I’m hoping to test a few more brands this winter and provide reviews for you.

Winter socks should feel snug on your feet, but not too tight. You don’t want them to bunch up but you also don’t want to constrict blood flow or squeeze your toes.

Many runners wear low profile socks in warm weather. For colder weather consider wearing a crew sock. I find that a sock that bridges the gap between my tights and ankle make a big difference in comfort. Any exposed skin can be an issue.

Running Tip

Every runner should have at least one pair of winter socks. They are expensive but you will need them on those really bitter days. If you stay on top of your laundry, you can get by with one pair of really good winter socks. Two or three pair are better, of course.

While they are expensive they will last many years. During the winter you wont need winter socks for every run, so you are sure to get many years of good running out of them.

Keep a lid on it

I grew up in Maine and hated to wear a hat to the bus stop, even in February. It just wasn’t cool. And don’t mess with the hair! In the old days, parents believed that we lost over 50% of our body heat through our heads.

fall races, 5 reasons to join my mailing listIt turns out that all body parts loose heat at about the same rate. Since our heads make up about 10% of our body surface, they can only loose about 10% of our body heat.

For a winter run, I keep as much of my body covered as possible. I wear a hat year-round so I have no problem wearing a winter hat.

A hat covers about half of my head and probably keeps in half of the heat so 10% times half, times half equals about 2.5% of my body heat.

That may not seem like a lot, but if I could cut 2.5% off of my marathon time I’d be thrilled.

winter running, winter hat, balaclavaA hat is about comfort and safety. While you may not loose 50% of your body heat through your head, you do loose body heat. On a cold day that 2.5% could keep you comfortable and prevent your ears from getting frost bite.

Sometimes I get an ear ache from running in the cold and a hat helps prevent this.

The important thing is comfort and not what it is made of. The great thing about a hat is that you can take it off if you get too hot and slip it on again if you get cool.

Any winter cap will do, but check out the winter running hats the next time you stop by your local running shop.

Keep your face covered

Balaclava: a close-fitting, knitted cap that covers the head, neck, and tops of the shoulders, worn especially by mountain climbers, soldiers, skiers, etc. Dictionary dot com. 

Balaclavas have been around since the mid 1800s. In the old days they were wool as that was the warmest material available.

Today, balaclavas are made from high tech materials that work better than wool. The definition of balaclava has changed also. In the photo above Matt Sazama wore a nylon hose basically.

Many members of our running club got one of these “balaclavas” a few years ago when we had an especially cold winter. This version can go around your neck to keep your neck warm and cold air out of your jacket.

It can also be pulled up to cover your mouth and nose, like Matt did. It is not the traditional hat-like balaclava, but it is very handy to have in the go bag. best way to winter running, balaclava, craft

Here is an example of a modern balaclava made by Craft Sportswear. This “Face Protector” is made of 100% polyester. Craft is based in Sweden so you know these products are tested under harsh Nordic conditions.

Please stay out of banks while wearing anything like this.

I own a few Craft products and I can attest to their quality and functionality.

Like a good pair of running shoes, winter gear and Craft products in particular, are not cheap.

If this is your first winter running season you can probably get by with gear you already own. You wont be ready to take on the worse conditions, but you should be ready for the average winter day.

Keep your hands warm

As I have grown older, my hands have become more sensitive to the cold. Some days, just the simple gloves they hand out at races are enough. Sometimes I have to take them off after a few miles.

Then there are those 20° days, or nights. Just from my forward motion there is a 5 mph breeze and sometimes Jack Frost will kick in a steady breeze and maybe a few gusts. That all adds up to an uncomfortable wind chill.

A few years ago I purchased wind proof mittens from a brand I wont mention. They didn’t have much insulation and they fell apart the same year. Everyone said mittens were better than gloves because mittens kept your finger together for added warmth.

best way to enjoy winter running, craft gloves, mittensWith that in mind I purchased a pair of Craft Touring Mittens. These mittens had the insulation I was looking for and still look like new after two seasons.

Craft provides few details for any of their products on their web site. They do not provide a comfortable temperature range like LL Bean does on many of their products.

From my personal experience, I would recommend these mittens. Except in the coldest conditions, my hands actually sweat in these mittens.

Sometimes the only thing that will keep you warm is a house. If you have Raynaud’s Disease these mittens should be a good option.

best way to enjoy winter running, craft gloveFor Christmas, I received these Hybrid Weather Gloves. They are a glove with a slip over cover to keep your fingers warm and dry.

I have not worn them yet, but I know people who have these gloves and they love them. They give you the dexterity of a glove with the option for extra protection from the elements when you need it.

Sometimes my hands sweat even on a cold day, having the option to take a layer off of my hands will be helpful.

Many runners start cold and then warm up as they run. It’s not unusual to see gloves on the road during a race. I’ve even seen expensive gloves on the ground.

It’s easy to get distracted during a race and drop a nice hat or pair of gloves. The word to the wise is always that it’s okay to be cool or even cold at the beginning of a race; you will warm up. With that in mind, you may want to wear an inexpensive pair of gloves and hat to a race.

They may not keep you as warm at the start, but you will warm up and who wants to loose a $50 pair of gloves. That can make for an uncomfortable ride home.

For your training runs, it makes sense to be comfortable. A training run is a controlled environment. You should be comfortable. We don’t need excuses for staying home. If you can afford it, gear up for the winter that is coming.

I hope that these tips help you have a comfortable winter running season. Winter is a great time to run and staying comfortable is the best way to enjoy winter running.

Invest in one or two items this season and you are likely to enjoy them for years to come.

Run well my Friends and Happy New Year!

Andy

Favorite Race Shirts

Favorite Race Shirts

Everyone has their favorite race shirts. Some race shirts have sentimental value, some look great and some wear well. Some runners get rid of all of their shirts and don’t seem to have any favorite race shirts!

I keep all of my race shirts, much to the consternation of my wife! I have piles of my favorite race shirts.

There is some debate about race shirts. Race sponsors like them because they get there name on shirts and potentially get years of exposure. What better way to associate health and vigor than to have your company name on a runner’s shirt?

Most running shirts are made from “engineered” or synthetic materials.

When washed, small pieces of these synthetic materials break off and are drained away when the washer drains. Municipal waste water systems are not designed to filter these particles out of waste water, so they end up being dumped back into the environment.

Cotton shirts do not have this problem, but growing and manufacturing cotton has it’s own set of issues.

Here are a few of my favorite race shirts

The inaugural BAA 10K shirt isn’t particularly fancy. Just a blue shirt with the BAA logo in gold. The shirt is 100% polyester and is very comfortable to wear. This is one of my favorite race shirts because it’s from an inaugural race and is comfortable to wear.

Another reason this is one of my favorite race shirts is because I have run this 10K race each year since it began. This is the only race that I have run every year since it began and for that reason this shirt will always be special to me. Hopefully for many years to come.BAA 10K 2011, BAA 10K shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Beyond Witness

This race took place in 2015 in Medford. This was the summer I was on my quest to run 50 5K races before I turned 51. I was happy to find a 5K close enough to walk to.

The Congolese Genocide Awareness organization sponsored this race. This was also an inaugural race and had less than 100 runners. Probably due to the low turn out, they decided not to hold the race again. This shirt is 100% cotton, which makes it a casual shirt, not a running shirt.

This shirt is one of my favorites because I love the design. Runners of all colors running together in harmony. The message, “Moving Beyond Witness” imploring us to not sit idly by watching the news while our fellow human beings are being killed. The design was well done and the message was delivered gently.

Medford 5K race, favorite race shirts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AIDS Walk Boston

The AIDS Action Committee has held this event for the past 31 years. While much progress has been made in the fight against HIV and AIDS, much still needs to be done.

I like this shirt for the clean, simple design. If you look closely, the Boston skyline is in the tread of the shoe. I’m not sure what the significance of the three colored dots are, but I’d like to find out.

This shirt is a cotton/poly blend which makes it great for wearing around. The high contrast logo makes it easy to raise awareness just by going for a walk.

AIDS Walk Boston, favorite race shirts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Marathon 2016

When I started running the Boston Marathon in 2003, the shirts were long-sleeve cotton shirts. These were good for late summer, early fall kicking around shirts. But the print, much like memories, fades too soon on cotton shirts.

For the past ten years or so the BAA has provided tech shirts from Adidas. While I generally do not run in long-sleeved shirts, sometimes I will wear one of these tech shirts on a cool summer run or over an Under Armor shirt in the fall.

Each year the BAA has to come up with a new design and color scheme. This year they went with stripes on the Marathon and 10K shirts. I have not seen the BAA 5K or Half-Marathon shirts, but I imagine they also have the same stripe design.

Boston Marathon 2016

While not my favorite Boston Marathon shirt, I did run this race.

Each Boston Marathon shirt is special to me. Much like a nice medal, which Boston also provides, looking at, holding and wearing these shirts brings back rushes of memories.

Over the years, all Boston Marathons meld together into a collage of memories on a mental bulletin board covered in photos, clippings and little videos. And then a moment will pierce through the haze of memories and reminiscences and become crystal clear.

For a moment a tear or a smile will appear on my face spontaneously. I am alive in that moment. I can feel the excitement of being in the starting corrals in Hopkinton. A moment shared with a stranger in the crowd or a hand slap with a young spectator.

The smell of food, the sound of bands and spectators fill my ears. The burn in my legs as I made my way up some hill and the feeling of it never-ending and then of it ending all of a sudden. Too soon.

Sometimes the tear the smile and the adrenaline surge are one. While every recollection is not glory and joy; the richness of the memories is priceless.

While every shirt doesn’t hold the memories of a Boston Marathon, may hold similar memories and that is why I hold onto so many of them. Life is about memories. If we don’t have memories of our lives what’s the point? What did we do with our time?

While total recall is impossible for most of us, many rich gems can be teased out of something as simple as an old cotton shirt.

Cambridge City Run 2015

This was another race in my quest for 50 5Ks by 50. During this quest, often I worried that a race would be just a check box race on my way to 50, where the only thing that mattered was finishing.

Being in the moment at each race and experiencing the day invested meaning into each race beyond the finish.

I was really in the moment that day. I ran a hard 4 miler the day before and took advantage of a warm gym to do a good stretch before the race. I recall really feeling like a runner. I met some new friends for the first time that day and we have run many races together since.

I like the clean simplicity of this shirt. It is also a cotton blend and I wore it during the race over my Under Armor, it was March after all.

Favorite race shirts, Cambridge City Run

This was a 5 mile race around Fresh Pond Reservoir just down the road from Alewife.

I came back to this area for a long run last spring when I was training for the 2016 Boston Marathon.

There is NO parking for non-Cambridge residents at the res.

While the trail is great, the unfriendly parking situation kind of sucks.

 

JP Morgan Corporate Challenge

The shirt pictured here is the one my company provided for our team. It is a high quality Brooks shirt. It is a poly/Spandex blend and is very comfortable. It is also a v-neck t-shirt which is a style I have come to like.

I loved running this race and spending time with my colleagues outside of the office. T-shirts and shorts have a way of leveling the field. No one cares about your title or the car you drive. We had managers and new hires on our team, and we were all runners.

I have several of these shirts and each one reminds me of those special evenings spent getting to know my colleagues better, doing what I love and enjoying a beautiful summer evening in Boston.

JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, favorite race shirts

 

Do you have any favorite shirts? Maybe a shirt that has seen a few too many runs and a few too many washes?

Send me a photo of your favorite shirt and why it is special to you.

When I get a few photos I’ll create a post and feature your shirt and your story.

Run well my friends!

Andy

Runners High

This weekend I ran on both Saturday and Sunday. I did the Marathon Sports Saturday group run and the MRC Sunday Long Run.

Runners High

runners high, winter runningSaturday we ran 5.6 miles with a group of 10 runners, including Jon Barachowitz of Marathon Sports in Melrose. We ran up hill to the Mt. Hood Golf Course and hit many of the hills there. It’s Melrose, that’s what we do.

My knee was acting up so I tended to gravitate to the back of the pack. My buddy Don Keren hung back with me for most of the run. Even with all of the uphill the group managed to keep a pretty lively conversation going.

The friendly banter is part of what makes a group run so much fun. Instead of dealing with the noggin committee you get to talk to real people. Runners always have so much to talk about and always seem to have a few good laughs to share.

It makes the miles tick away quickly and before you know it you’re reaching for your watch. Having the miles slip by is nice.

Social engagement and getting to know people is a healthy activity. Probably as good for you as the running is. As you get to know runners better the openness and candor grow.

All of us have personal issues ranging from children to work to deaths in the family or of pets. Sometimes just saying something out loud to another person is enough to feel better. Listening is a priceless gift.

My runners high

After Saturday’s run I felt that state of euphoria. As I drove home I felt very content and satisfied. I hadn’t done anything special, it was just a run. Somehow my body and mind were tuned in perfectly to receive the gift of the run.

A great thing about the runners high is that there is no crash. Unlike too much coffee or sugar there isn’t a descent into lethargy. The feeling simply fades away, back to where it came from, and the day continues.

Sunday Long Run Week Three

Sunday long run, marathon trainingThis Sunday was a drop-back week. We ran 12.1 miles last week on a hilly course. This week we ran 11 miles on the Lake Quannapowitt loop. It was mostly flat with a long, slow hill up Main Street into Wakefield.

With the storm in the area we were expecting more wind off of the lake. Much to our delight the wind was mostly non-existent. It was a sunny day and an enjoyable run.

I ran mostly with Don Keren and Brian Sarro. After running on Saturday I really didn’t have much juice. Brian slowed down and ran with me and Don was ahead for most of the run.

It’s been many months since I’ve run two days in a row. Even Saturday’s 5.6 miles is a bit of a long run for me in my state of fitness.

I treated my knee Saturday and it was in pretty good shape for the Sunday Run. It was a little stiff but wasn’t too bad until the last two miles or so.

Winter Running

Sunday was a classic winter run. There was slush and often berms of snow to hurdle on the sides of the road. The mostly cleared sidewalks often had a few inches of partially packed snow. We stayed on the side of the road for the most part since the packed snow made it difficult to run on the sidewalks.

When I woke up Sunday it was 17° F. I wore three layers, top and bottom and a tech hat. For my hands I wore Craft mittens. My Saucony mittens from last year were wind proof and did not need much insulation to keep my hands warm. Unfortunately, after one season the seams were all pulled out and they are mostly useless now.

The Craft mittens seem to be better designed and constructed. The top of the hand area has a nice thick layer of insulation and they seem to be wind proof. My hands were sweating the first mile out!

On my feet I wore my “Darn Tough” socks and Brooks Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX shoes. The “Darn Tough” socks have shrunk a little and are tight on my ankles but still keep my toes warm.

Brooks Running, running shoes, balegaThe Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX shoes were perfect for this run. I had great traction for the most part.

Best of all, my feet stayed dry! Many times I felt one foot kick up slush that landed on my other foot. Time after time my feet stayed dry. The Gortex® liner didn’t let any dampness through.

Did you have a Sunday long run this week? Did  you have to deal with the storm? What is your best winter running tip?

Run well my friends!

Andy

© 2016 andrew nagelin