Friday, November 13, 2009

Do's and Don'ts of Running Clothes

To start off, I just want to clarify that I did not run the NY Marathon. Last week’s Friday post was from my guest-blogger, Matt, who is conducting the Barefoot Experiment. He ran the NY Marathon – yay Matt!

So thanks to all of you who wished me luck/congratulations – I appreciate the thought, but can’t take the credit. I did a great job of watching the race…on tv…from the comfort of my couch…unfortunately, that’s not really worthy of congratulations.

 Anywho, now that my conscience is clear – I am sad to inform you that guest-blogger Matt is unable to post this week. Sad face. Thus, you are stuck with me for the 5th day in a row. I know, I know, life’s rough. But just try to cope, and look forward to hearing about Matt’s barefoot running next week!

 As we head into winter, a few people have asked me for recommendations on running clothes. My first thought? Ummmm..huh? Didn’t your mama teach you how to get dressed? I mean, as I said yesterday, “I am more of the roll-out-of-bed with a groan, grab the least offensive-smelling pile of clothing, and throw myself out the door (both eyes may or may not be open yet) kind of person.” But then I thought about it a bit more, and realized my initial reaction was a bit unfair.

Good running clothes are important when you live somewhere with extreme temperatures (and by extreme I mean anywhere other than the Bay Area…jeez I miss home!). And if you’re relatively new to running, then navigating the world of advertising and consumerism can be tough. Obviously Nike will tell you that you need 6,000 varieties of clothing for the winter. But that’s probably not true. As a non-affiliated, non-money-making blogger, I have no biases, and no motive to steer you wrong! And actually, I am extremely cheap, so my advice could save you quite a few dollars…

I hate running inside, and I hate doing mileage on treatmills. Thus, I will be the girl running outside in the snowstorm/hurricaine/sub-0 temps. Which means that I need winter clothes.

Disclaimer: Everybody is different (duh). I tend to over-heat, so I prefer to wear fewer layers. I would rather be slightly underdressed than overdressed. Also because if you wear too much and sweat, and then the wind picks up, you will be all kinds of freezing!!!

 So here it is: Mollie's Do's and Don'ts of Running Clothes

Don’t wear cotton when it’s cold – it will absorb your sweat, and then keep that sweat next to your skin…which will make you colder.

Do layer. I have thinner shirts, and then a few medium-weight shirts, then a couple different-weight fleeces. Depending on the temperature, I may wear any combination of those.

Don't buy clothing with hoods. They never work, and are annoying and floppy. If your head gets cold, just wear a hat. 

Do buy gloves. I have a very thin pair of non-cotton gloves that are enough for me. However, I have friends who need to wear full-on ski mittens to keep their fingers from turning black (literally!).

Do get a headband or hat. I prefer the headband to keep my ears and forehead warm. The top of my head doesn’t get cold, so I don’t feel the need to wear a real hat.

Do get shirts with thumb-holes. These are God’s gift to me.  When it’s not quite cold enough for gloves, they keep your hands warm. And when it’s really cold, they solve the issue of cold wrists by making sure there is absolutely no skin exposed between your hands and sleeves.

Don't bother with a raincoat. If you're running in the rain, you're going to be wet. If you're rearing a raincoat, then the wet will be held into your body, and be clammy and disgusting. Give up on dryness and focus on warmth. 

In the pants department, I only wear spandex. Why? Well, 1) I love it. and 2) I don’t like bagginess on a run. And swishy pants make it sound like someone is sneaking up behind me…does anyone else have that problem?

Do get a pair of good fleece-lined spandex (for the really cold days).

Do get a pair of thin spandex (for the days when it’s windy/rainy, but not too cold).

Don’t buy CWX spandex. These are supposed to be designed to support your knees and IT bands…but for some reason they ride down as you run. If you don’t like having to pull up you pants every stop-light, then don’t buy these!

Do check yoga clothing websites and stores. They're good at spandex, and have a lot of variety

Don’t think that the only place to buy this stuff is at expensive running stores. Try Marshall’s, TJ Max, and As long as it’s not cotton, it’s probably good to go!

 I’m not really going to endorse any brands. Most of my clothes are Brooks (thank you, Nike (thank you Nike Outlet Store), and Athleta (thank you Mama’s job). So you can see that my purchases are mostly due to economics rather than preference. Good running gear is worth the expense though, because it does last a long time, and it does make running in the winter possible and enjoyable.


Have fun! And happy shopping!