Archive for the ‘Running Clothing’ Category

If you’re like me (and most runners I know), a couple of weeks before your big race, you start obsessively checking the weather, and mentally planning out what you are going to wear.  Because weather changes so quickly around here, most of my running friends end up changing their minds about their race day outfit at least a dozen times.  At the store last week (before Des Moines Marathon and Mankato Marathon), dozens of folks came in asking about jackets, hats, arm warmers, and warm tops.  We all know that you should never wear something new on race day, but that didn’t stop these folks!

Amusingly, I’m about to commit that faux paus as well.

I’ve been thinking carefully about how I am going to approach the Monster Dash.  My training hasn’t been as good as I would have liked (my max distance before Saturday will be 9 miles), I’m going to be starting the race with a friend, and the weather has gotten exponentially chillier over the past two weeks.  The Monster Dash is also a Halloween themed race, so costumes are encouraged.

I will not be wearing a costume, fyi.

Planning your race day is where all of your training and preparation pays off.  You’ve learned from your mistakes and can approach the race as prepared as possible.  For example, after my disastrous half marathon last August, I learned that I need to really think about my hydration and nutrition.  Since then, I’ve purchased a water belt and over the past several weeks I’ve been training with the water belt and with the nutrition (Jelly Belly Sports Beans) that I plan on using race day.  I definitely will not be over-hydrating this time!

After running in this cold weather the past two weeks, I’ve also figured out my best bet for a race day outfit.

Here’s what I’ll be wearing:

infiniti headband

Brooks Infiniti Headband

saucony guide

Saucony Guide



Nike Epic Run Tight


infinit anorak

Brooks Infiniti Anorak



Enell Sports Bra



Injinji NuWool Socks



Brooks Equilibrium Base LS


I may end up changing my mind about the base layer, depending on the weather at the start, but that Equilibrium top is such a great temperature regulator, I think I’ll be fine wearing it, even if it ends up being a little warmer.  That Infiniti Anorak will be a new jacket on race day, but with the base layer under it, I don’t think it will matter.  The Anorak jacket is great though, because it unzips almost down to the waist, and it’s very light while still being wind resistant and water resistant in case it’s raining or snowing.

Besides planning your race day outfit, you’ll also want to have a plan of attack for the race itself.  As I said, I’ll be running with a friend at the beginning.  She will be running her first half marathon, and wanted someone at the start with her, which is why I decided to do this race.  She is quite a bit slower than me, but that will be to my advantage at the beginning of the race since my training wasn’t great.  My plan is to run the first half of the race with her (at a 13:30 min/mi) and then take off for the last half (at closer to a 10:00 min/mi).  I’ve reviewed the route map, and apparently the course is downhill almost the entire way.  So I’m actually thinking I’ll have a good race, perhaps even beating my first half marathon time (calculating the time out, and assuming I actually end up running the pace I’ve planned on, I should finish in 2.5 hours, which is about what I finished my first half marathon in).

Next up is nutrition and hydration.  Because this is a race, hydration will be provided along the way, so I won’t be bringing my water belt (why have that additional weight if I don’t need it?).  But I will be bringing about 3 packets of Sports Beans.  While I anticipate only using two, I learned from my first half marathon that you always want to bring one extra, just in case.

I hope that my penchant for obsessively planning will pay off this time, with a good finish time, and at the very least, a good time!  I’ve come to realize over the years that your finish time doesn’t matter nearly as much as how much fun you had while running the race.  A great finish time will always be overshadowed by a terrible race (though the two don’t usually go hand-in-hand).  My goal this race: have fun — And because I will be driving myself home post-race, don’t injure myself!  If I can achieve these two goals, I will be happy.

Keep your eyes peeled for a post-race report!




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I changed jobs last winter.  I went from one running store to my current place, but unfortunately, all of my current winter running clothes have the name of my previous employer plastered all over them.  So, I’m in the process of purchasing some new pieces for fall/winter.  Because money is always tight, I’ve been thinking very carefully about the best pieces that will be versatile enough to get me through a variety of weather conditions.  If you’re a new runner, you might be in the same boat, trying to decide what you actually need for running through the winter and what is just fluff.

So I thought I’d share what I’ve been thinking and which pieces I have bought or am going to buy.

First thing you have to consider when deciding what to purchase is whether you run hot or cold.  Some people are always cold, some people are always hot, and obviously, whichever one describes you will determine which pieces you need to get for the winter season.  I usually run a little warm, but my hands and ears get really cold once the temperature dips below 50*.  So keep that in mind as I talk about the pieces I am investing in.

Remember that the best way to dress for winter is in layers.  You’ll want a good base layer, a mid layer, and an outer layer, plus protection for hands, head, and feet.

Jacket or Vest: There are great jacket options out there if you are one of those people who runs a little cold or who runs a lot in snow or rain.  You want to look for something that is water-resistant and wind resistant.  You also want to find something that has a lot of reflective details for this darker time of year.  I don’t run a lot in snow and rain and since I run hot, I’m going to be purchasing a vest.  I’ve narrowed it down to two choices:


Brooks Nightlife Essential Run Vest

Smartwool PhD Divide Vest

Smartwool PhD Divide Vest

I’m trying to decide between the two.  I already have a running vest from Brooks that I really like (but is too big).  However, I’m really interested in the extra warmth that the Smartwool vest would provide.  It’d be great to have both, for different weather conditions, but that is not always an option.

Here is a good option for a jacket.  I like this Saucony one because it is stretchy and breathable in the back, while still providing wind protection where you need it most.


Saucony Women’s Kinvara Jacket

Base layer: Fortunately, I already have a great piece for this, and I want to share it with all of you, because it is literally the best article of running clothing I own.You might not be able to tell from the picture, but this top actually looks like a fisherman’s net up close.  The tiny holes in the fabric trap heat when used as a base layer under a technical top, and, when used on its own, it regulates body temperature like nobody’s business.  Despite being full of holes, the shirt is really quite warm.  I’ve worn it twice now.  The first day I wore it on a 50* morning, with a wind-resistant vest over the top.  It was a little too warm for that weather, but interestingly, I discovered that I actually felt cooler with the sleeves down than with them pushed up.  The second time was last night, when I wore it under a jacket.  It was misting and chilly, but I still ended up pushing up the sleeves of my jacket, which shows how warm this top actually is.  I probably won’t need anything else for the rest of the season because I can see this top being incredibly versatile.


Brooks Equilibrium Base LS

While you don’t have to spend the money on this top, you’ll definitely want to invest in something that is moisture wicking and is fairly tight.  The base layer is the most important one because this layer will be right next to your skin.  Make sure to pay attention to the seams (you don’t want chafing!) and fit.

Mid layer: A mid layer piece can be worn on its own or with a base layer, depending on the temperature.  You can find a good mid layer pretty much anywhere (even Target or Costco).  Again, pay attention to the fit and seams, and make sure it has moisture wicking properties.  My favorites this year?


Smartwool NTS Light 195 Printed Zip T


Nike Element Half Zip

I like a half-zip because you can unzip it if you get a little too warm, which, if you remember from the beginning of my post, happens a lot.  But basically, you are just looking for something that is going to give you a little extra warmth over a base layer.  Being moisture wicking isn’t as important with this layer, (since, hopefully, you will have a technical top as your base layer) but it doesn’t hurt!

Tights: I’m sure someone could make a reasonable argument for wearing pants for winter running, but you’ll never convince me.  I like a tight for several reasons.  First, it doesn’t drag on the ground, getting wetter every minute you are out there.  Second, it won’t allow wind to sneak its way up through the bottom.  Third, because it is tight next to your skin, it prevents chafing and bunching.  In some situations you might want to do a base layer tight (like a Smartwool long john) under a warmer pant, but I’ve never been in a situation that calls for that.  I have a pair of tights like this Nike pair below, but it has my old employer’s logo on it.  I’ll probably invest in this Nike pair for this winter.


Nike Element Shield

Although again it’s hard to tell from the picture, this tight is great because it has wind panels built in to the front.  During winter running you’ll probably notice that your thighs get really cold, really fast.  This tight protects your thighs from the wind and the rest of the tight is a nice thermal weight.

I also already bought this tight for the not-so-cold days:


Nike Epic Run Tight

Remember, you’re going to be most concerned about keeping your core and extremities warm, so a really warm pant or tight probably isn’t that important.  I find that I’m plenty warm most winter days with just a light tight.

Undies: Weird, right?  You wouldn’t think that underwear would be something you’d want to be concerned about.  But trust me, without undies for the winter, you’ll discover soon enough why they are vital.

Personally, I wear underwear during the winter to keep from chafing and give me an extra layer of warmth.  But running undies aren’t just for ladies.  Guys, you will definitely want to invest in a pair too.  Many of the men’s undies have wind protection on the crotch, which I imagine would be helpful.  I’ve heard horror stories about guys getting frost bite down there, and that is definitely not an area you want to take any risks with.  My favorite pair of running undies is from Road Runner Sports.  For men, I would suggest either of these two options:


Smartwool Men’s PhD Lightweight Wind Boxer Brief


Brooks Men’s Equilibrium Wind Brief

Hands, Head & Feet: Obviously, you want to protect your extremities whenever you’re going to be exposed to cold and wind.  I like an ear warmer/headband because it still allows the top of my head to breath.  When it’s really cold I’ll go with a hat (and ladies with long hair, look for a hat with a hole in the back for your ponytail — it makes life so much easier!).  I’m currently thinking about this option:


Smartwool PhD HyFi Training Beanie

You may also want to consider a neck gaiter or a balaclava for really cold days.  I like a neck gaiter, because I can pull it up to cover my mouth and nose if I get really chilly.  I’ve been eyeing this one at the store, mostly because I think it’s super cute. 🙂


Smartwool Pattern Neck Gaiter

For my hands I like a glove for warmer days and a mitten for when it’s really cold out.  If you’re planning on running through the worst of the winter, you’ll want to look for something with wind protection as well as warmth.  My favorite mitten for this kind of weather is the Saucony Run Mitt.  It’s really warm (we’re talking <20*) and it has plush cloth on the thumb and along the inside of the glove for wiping your nose (I know!  Running companies think of everything!).


Saucony Run Mitt

Finally, don’t forget your feet!  When it’s chilly out, your feet can go numb with the cold.  You also want to think about the fact that you’ll likely be running through snow and/or puddles.  A cotton sock would be the absolute worst choice for this because once it gets wet, it stays wet, and then your feet will get even colder.  I like a merino wool blend sock for winter.  Merino wool is a great temperature regulator and once it gets wet, it will dry really quickly.  When wet, merino wool will also keep your feet warm.  Since you know I like toe socks, my options for the winter are Smartwool toe socks or Injinji toe socks in NuWool.

So there you have it.  Key pieces for building a winter wardrobe:

  1. Base layer
  2. Mid layer
  3. Outerwear (jacket and/or vest)
  4. Tights/Pants
  5. Hat/headband
  6. Glove/Mitten
  7. Warm, wicking socks
  8. Sunglasses (Ok, so I know I didn’t talk about this, but for me, sunglasses are a key part of my running wardrobe at any time of year.  During the winter I find them especially important because of the snow and rain, as well as sun reflecting off the snow.  This is something else I’ll have to be investing in here shortly, because I accidentally ran over my good pair of sunglasses with my car.  I’m probably going to get a pair of Smith Optics sunglasses with interchangeable lenses.  Once I get a pair, I’ll definitely be posting a review, so stay tuned!)

For those of you in Rochester, most of these pieces can be found in our store!


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