Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Winter Running Tips for getting through a Polar Vortex!

So it's been a few months and here we are at the start of a new year.  Time to restart up this blog and give another update.  Over the past few months I have actually been doing very good with running 25-30 miles a week and getting to 100-160 miles a month!  However the winter has come and getting out there can be a bit difficult when you know you are going to get blasted by a polar vortex.  It's a good thing I have the experience to know that there is no such thing as cold weather runs, just bad gear and under dressing.

"How do you live with yourself and your tacky cliches?" - Kurtis Lort

So, here is my winter running gear that actually work in the way you want.

1) Never, ever, ever wear cotton for your base (Or first layer touching your skin.  You are asking to be cold the entire time.  Get that moisture wicking material.  I start with a Moisture wicking t-shirt.

"How do I know if I have moisture wicking material?" - Average Interested Reader or "AIR"

It would have said it when you bought it shirt, if it was cheap, it probably isn't and if you look at the materials and it says cotton, it is DEFINITELY not.

"So I bought my shirt a while ago and don't know and the tags are long gone, how do I know?" - AIR

It is normally some polyester blend and they feel very synthetic and easily distinguishable from cotton/natural fibers.  Chances are if it's running gear and especially Under Armour, it is moisture wicking.

2) Next I wear a a long sleeve moisture wicking shirt on top.  I find you can typically get the cheapest moisture wicking shirts from Old Navy when you wait for them to have a 25% (or higher) sale.  They typically have these every few months.  If you want to spend the extra bucks for something basically the same (But may last a little longer) Under Armour is always the premier brand as far as I am concerned.  While I feel anything other than a base layer, or something directly touching your skin (Pants/T-shirt/Long sleeve T-shirt/hats, etc) is a waste of money from Under Armour (Like their hoodies), the base layers are definitely the high end and if you can afford it, worth it.

3) Next I wear some form of pullover, no zipper, hoodie.  Just a warm one, the type of material is irrelevant since you have two base layers and it's not really going to be felt on your skin.  Anything from a Wal-Mart $15 hoodie to a $100 Under Armour hoodie will suffice.

4) My final layer is a wind resistant running jacket. I could not more strongly recommend New Balance Men's Windblocker Jacket (Click on the link to check it out on Amazon).  It is wind/rain/snow resistant and fleece lined.  It is the absolute perfect outside layer so that no matter how bad the windchill factor is, on your torso you won't feel it.  It is pricey, but worth every penny.  It would be great to use in any rain run for any season.  It even has "Half gloves" attached to the end, which is some extra fabric with a thumb hole that goes up to your knuckles.  This REALLY helps when combined with running gloves!

5) The next piece of equipment that is vital is the Under Armour Balaclava also called Cold Weather Hood (You can see my full review of it by following the link).  It essentially looks like a ninja mask and I'm sure you've seen people using these before.  I have tried at least 10 different types, ranging in price from $10-$100 of these kind of things, and it isn't even a close comparison, the Under Armour Balaclava is far and away the best and essential to wear if you are running below about 25 degrees.  If you've ever had that feeling like you are swallowing daggers when you run because of cold weather, this completely fixes that issue.  It is typically $25-$30 on Amazon.  This is the one I use: Under Armour Men's ColdGear® Infrared Tactical Hood One Size Fits All Dark Navy Blue

6) Depending on how cold it is you may also want to wear a winter hat.  Really the type you use, whether it's the one grandma knitted for you or a $30 Under Armour one is irrelevant, since it's not directly touching your skin (Thanks to the Balaclava).

7) Underwear - Any Moisture wicking

8) Pants really I have never found a pair of pants that is better than any other.  Just make sure they fit you right and you'll be fine.

9) Socks - Thorlo Running socks (Click Link for Full Review).  These are the only kind of running socks I own now and there is no reason to own any other...until the temp gets below 15 degrees.  Then I wear Thorlo's and put on top any random pair of socks designed to be used in snow.  I am particularly partial to Wigwam Men's Snow Sirocco.  My feet have never been cold with the combo of the Thorlo's and with Wigwam.

10) Running shoes.  Well I would like to say that I have a pair of wind and water proof shoes to give you, and if you are a lady I do, unfortunately they stopped making them for men for reasons beyond my comprehension.  The Saucony Women's ProGrid Razor Trail Running Shoe is amazing and was the first pair of running shoes I was actually set to own/buy for the rest of my life (The male version of course).  I have no idea why Saucony stopped making them for men, but it is a true shame.  If you have a good WATERPROOF running shoe suggestion, please provide it in the comments!

Happy running all!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Running Running Running, 150 mile goal almost there!

Hello all, on my old computer I have all of my old stats from my old Garmin 405 watch that shows how many miles I used to run.  When I was at the height of my running I was doing 8.2 miles a day 5 days a week!  It is pretty amazing to me to look at that and not be a bit in awe of 2011 me!

Kurtis Lort
"You were still fat!  I would like to make sure you understand that I'm saying you were fat then, and you are even fatter now!"

Yes, I was between 200-220 at that time (Depending on what I ate that week, my weight was fluctuating by about that much, normally hovering around 210-215ish.  Now that I am training for the Harwich half marathon on October 6th I have been especially diligent in my running.  I have been running 5.5 miles a day M-F and on Saturday running 6-8 miles.  So far I am up to an unimaginable 141 miles this month!  I just purchased new running shoes last month, Salomon Men's XR Mission Running Shoe,Clover Green/Black/Light Green,11 M US, review to come, and already have over 120 miles on them.  As the recommended amount of miles to run with shoes is between 200-250, these may not even last 2 months!

A small price to pay (I got them on sale for around $75), for those shoes. because of the feeling of reaching 150 miles in a single month.  I have a Nike Running App for my phone that very well breaks down my mileage by day/week/month/etc. and I find this to be a very valuable tool.  While it isn't as accurate as my old Garmin 405, it is damned close (My Garmin will say around 5.55 miles when my phone says 5.50 miles).  Add into that the ease of use of it giving you all the stats you want without needing to go to your computer.  Just as a side note, it's amazing how now even the simple task of "Going all the way to a computer" for something just seems like a bother.  Smart phones and tablets should put an end to both the laptop and the desktop sooner than expected.

Bradford Pennyweather:
"You droll on and on and never get to the point.  I'm not sure if you're a just a fat bastard or my wife!  Tata!!"

It feels good to really feel like "A runner" again.  Running is back as a major staple of my life and something that I look forward to every day.  I am definitely still the slowest runner that runs this amount of mileage per week/month...but a runner none the less!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Philips Actionfit SHQ4000/28 Neckband review

Well it's time for another classic review.  This time it is for the Philips Actionfit SHQ4000/28 Neckband.  First let me put out my biases about running headphones.

1) Irregardless of the fact I get an ear infection about once a year, I love "In ear" headphones and wouldn't even consider getting one that doesn't go in.

Bradford Pennyweather
"I would almost expect you to know that irregardless isn't a word, but you don't know that Playdough isn't edible, so I suppose I should just be excited that you haven't drooled all over your keyboard yet.  Tata!"

2) I don't like the "In ear" earphones that are "Ear buds" that have no hook over your head or ears.  Anytime I see "Ear buds" I immediately move on as it not being an option.  During runs, they just keep falling out.

3) I prefer over ear headphones.  When wearing a balaclava in the winter, these fit under it the easiest.  In the summer, over the head, or behind the neck are fine.

4) I tend to believe "Cheaper" headphones will break almost instantaneously.  (Cheap is anything below $50)

I read some reviews around "What are the best headphones for runners in 2013" and quite a few picked the Philips Actionfit SHQ4000/28 Neckband as the answer.  As the price tag was under $30, I was skeptical to say the least.  Well, I could not have been more pleasantly surprised when they arrived, and for the first time ever, I had earphones that legitimately were the exact same shape/size as my ear canal and fit like a glove.  Outside noise was TOTALLY filtered out as a result.  When my music was playing, it was all I could hear, with the exception of a loud honk at me or a siren.

*Tip - If you run with someone who is a gibber gabberer, you DO NOT want these, as even with the volume all the way down, someone talking to you will just sound like Charlie Brown's school teacher.

During rain/super sweaty runs, the earphones never got clogged or had a distorted sound.  I HAD FINALLY FOUND MY PERFECT PAIR OF HEADPHONES FOR A PITTANCE!!!!

Then...two weeks after starting to use them, it happened.  The most obnoxious thing a pair of headphones can do to you.  When only one ear works, unless you hold the cord in the perfect place, that will of course hurt your hand and if you want to change the song on your MP3 player, oh you know it'll take about 1 minute before you find that perfect "It works here" place.  So while they fit my ears like no other, the fact that it only lasted two weeks, makes me say "I will buy a second pair, hoping these were just a dud, but if it happens again...crossing it off my list."

My next pair is in the mail now and I will give you an update in the future.

Kurtis Lort
"Yes, everyone is waiting with baited breath to find out what a fat man thinks of $25 headphones.  Douche."