Brooks Running Apparel Review

I’ll be honest: I was really, really bummed a few weeks ago to have to miss my favorite running event of the year.

So much so that I backed off of my running, which is so not me.

Compounding that wave of sadness was seeing happy social media posts from countless friends who had recently completed races while I moped on the sofa.

I was feeling left out. Left over. Left behind.

And then I knew I needed to pick myself up, dust myself off and hit the road, one foot in front of the other.

Cute clothes never hurt that mission, either.

I’ve been wearing Brooks running shoes for several years, faithfully rotating out worn pairs for new ones, but inexplicably, I don’t think I’ve ever owned any other Brooks running gear.

I saw this outfit on another blog and was able to track it down on sale:

The shirt is called the “Streaker.” I’ve now seen it in both short and long sleeve versions, as well as tanks.

While I purchased the pink/cobalt combo above (and the colors are so gloriously bright in person; I love this shirt), it is also available in a red/orange pairing and a seafoam/turquiose one.

Here is the last one on sale at Sierra Trading Post:

This is a close up shot that shows the color gradient:

The shirt is moisture wicking and made of antimicrobial fabric, so here’s hoping that it wards off perma-stink for the entire summer and fall running seasons.

And let’s talk about those capris. The “Go-To Running Capri” comes in this awesome hot pink color (boringly called “641” on the Brooks website), as well as black and navy. The fabric is really smooth and these capris have two pockets in the waistband to hold money, keys, etc. I love this feature. The pockets are also trimmed with fluorescent yellow fabric, which is a cool contrast IMHO.

While I ordered the above directly from Brooks (the shirt was on sale but looks like it might be sold out now), I also found some screaming deals on Brooks gear at Sierra Trading Post, Amazon, 6PM.com, REI, and even Nordstrom.

At Sierra Trading post, I was able to get this cute pair of capris for over 50% off retail and also score this tank for less than $10.

Here is a screen shot of the capris, which are called “Greenlight SE.”

There is a cute ruching detail on the leg:

And here was a surprise: they are reversible! I like the striped side better, but the pink/navy is also nice.

Since they are reversible, the capris are also just the right amount of thickness. Not too bulky to be hot, but also not too thin to venture into transparency. Nobody wants that look.

The fabric is the same silky smooth knit as the first pair of capris. They  have a wide waistband that I appreciate and also come with a pocket for essentials.

I am hoping this new gear gets me set and in the right frame of mind for fall marathon training. I ended up hitting the trails three times over the weekend, so I am feeling positive and off to a good start.

What is your favorite brand of running gear?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Declare It Day 2017

Declare It Day 2017 is in the books!

Knock on wood, my running’s been going well lately and I’ve been kicking around the idea of a fall marathon, most likely the Twin Cities Medtronic Marathon given that the course is  going to be (practically) in our new neighborhood and it’s a course I’ve run four times already.

This will also be my tenth marathon, which seems like a cool milestone.

Putting something out there for everyone to see has usually been an effective motivator for me in the past, so here’s my Declare It Day goal for 2017:

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And yes, I want to go for a PR!

 

On Injury

I recently had a very humbling experience.

Ok, this was really just one of many humbling experiences life seems to throw my way, but this one was specifically related to running.

[It is also moderately painful to admit I need to categorize, sub-classify and then create my own Dewey Decimal System for the myriad humbling/humiliating/mortifying events that surround me].

I was planning a fairly easy Friday night run a little over a month ago. Thirty minutes in to what should have been a comfortable six miler, I felt something pop or snap in the back of my right leg.

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Image via Active.com

The pain was immediate, and all I could think of what that something really, really bad had happened.

Initially I couldn’t even bear weight on the leg and worried how I’d get home.

After about 40 minutes of sitting down, I was able to take a few s-l-o-w steps at a time and made it to my car, where I called my friend D. – a genius physical therapist – for some emergency advice.

D. agreed to meet me at my house that night and put my knee/leg through a series of tests to determine the source. At the time, it fortunately did not seem to be a serious knee injury; rather it was more consistent with a hamstring pull.

She was even able to nail down the tender spot to one specific site and – great friend that she is, seriously D. is the best! – she came over four times over that weekend to manually dig into that spot and work on the strained area.

By Monday morning, with the help of D., ibuprofen and copious icing, I felt about 90% better.

But I knew that this was a warning sign.

Unfortunately, 25+ years of running has not necessarily made me a better runner. I have bad habits. 

  1. I rarely stretch or foam roll.
  2. I run to the detriment of everything else. When time is tight, which it always is, I choose running. If I have 45 minutes, I run for 45 minutes, not 30 with 15 minutes of conditioning, etc.
  3. I rarely strength train.
  4. I often take a weekend warrior approach and run taxing, big miles on the weekends and much shorter distances during the week.
  5. I don’t monitor my form.

The list could go on for a long time.

With my wake-up call, I did the following:

  • Went to PT. This has been extremely helpful. At my first appointment, the physical therapist politely asked if, perhaps, I thought I had weak glutes and a weak core? My resounding laughter affirmed his inquiry. He gave me a series of exercises, a strengthening band and I’ve been following up with him once a week for a total of five sessions.
  • Was treated with the Graston Technique. This was new to me, but it really seemed to help. Stainless steel instruments are used to comb the affected area and identify any muscle disruptions, which are then worked on with deep tissue release techniques. The person I was working with said that he could feel the torn area in my semimembranosus muscle.
  • Did a video taped running analysis. Actually, I did this twice. Once was at a sports performance assessment with a PhD Physical Therapist and running expert, and the second time was at a store when I bought new running shoes. I was warned before watching the video that the angles were not that flattering, but essentially I was filmed on a treadmill with four cameras watching me run. After painfully getting past the jiggling, I could see what they saw: I slouch, I pronate and I don’t engage my glutes well so my hips drop with every step. Over time, that adds up to injury.
  • Bought new shoes. My old ones were examined by a few different people and determined to still have life in them, but it was recommended to consider a pair with better foot guidance to avoid pronation. Ok. Check.
  • Watched a lot of YouTube videos on proper running form. Like this one.
  • Tried to clean up my diet and lose some weight, which is undeniably helpful on the joints. (Notice I say “tried” since I fell off the wagon this week).
  • Concentrated a lot on my form. When running, I worked on keeping my feet underneath my center of gravity to avoid overstriding, leaning forward from the ankles and engaging my core, and taking shorter, quicker steps to increase my overall cadence. It’s hard to remember to do all of this simultaneously, though.

So, here’s what happened: things seemed to get better within about three weeks. Both the physical therapist I have been seeing and I were wondering why I was even in PT. I wanted to test my leg out, and I was very, very nervous about getting behind on my training schedule for the January marathon I have on deck.

After a few gingerly-executed runs, I went out an did an 11 miler two Saturdays ago. I felt great! My form seemed better, it was a beautiful day, and I was optimistically thinking that I would come back better than before.

And then on Sunday, my right knee blew up like a balloon.

It did not look good.

Not only did it hurt, there was also a crunchy spot I could feel when I bent it.

Sigh.

I really started to fear a meniscal injury, since new pain was now present at what I thought might be the joint line.

I took five days off running and did three miles last Friday. The knee hurt more.

Last Saturday, I was supposed to run 12 miles. I did zero.

This week, things seem cautiously, slightly better. I ran twenty minutes on Thursday night with some walking intervals mixed in. I felt very deconditioned. That was humbling, but I made it through without aggravating the knee more and it doesn’t feel bad today.

Being sidelined as a runner doesn’t feel good, but overall I’m still trying to remember my mantra “I run because I get to,” and be grateful for any (healthy) steps I take.

This meme summed it up well:

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Fingers crossed for recovery!

Four Tips for Motivation

There were so many races happening last weekend.

Our city held its 20th annual marathon, plus the town where Spouse and I went to college held similar events.

Since he usually heads back there to run a half-marathon with his buddies, I already knew that the kids and I would be holding down the home fort.

Double whammy: I was also on call, which precluded a solid race plan even back at home.

Sitting on the sidelines, though, gave me an opportunity to plan for what’s next.

I also had time to catch up on back issues of Women’s Running magazine, which is typically a great inspiration for me.

These four motivational tips for reinvigorating your running struck a chord:

  • Sign up for a race
  • Buy new (cute) running clothes
  • Try a new route
  • Make a new running playlist

Any one of these would do the trick for me.

Especially this GapFit neon double pink tank or this one from Athleta:

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Love that hot pink!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon

Last year my friend B. proposed that we run a destination race together, along with her sister-in-law J.

B. and J. are both totally fun and super cool, so my immediate response was “yes!”

Except that I didn’t quite imagine that the race would be here:

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This is Dublin, folks. As in Ireland.

B. suggested the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin half-marathon, which is scheduled for August 2nd, 2015.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love running destination races and the best way to see a city is on foot. 

Here’s a description of the course from the event website:

Starting in Dublin’s Docklands area, running along the north side of the Liffey River, runners are in for a treat as they pass all of the fan favorites!  After crossing over Memorial Bridge onto the south side, the route passes the famous Ha’Penny bridge (cue the photo opps!), Christ Church Cathedral, Brazen Head Pub (Ireland’s oldest pub), James Joyce Museum, and of course, no tour of Dublin would be complete without… the Guinness Brewery.  Although, the smell of hops and barley will be fleeting, as runners continue on past the Royal Hospital and Kilmainham Gaol into Phoenix Park, one of the largest walled city parks in Europe.   It’s there that the journey turns scenic as the route winds its way through the lush park, taking in the Wellington Monument, the Papal Cross, the President’s House (Áras an Uachtaráin) and the famous Dublin Zoo, finishing with a rockin’ concert in the park!

I’ve never been to Ireland so this is going to be a huge adventure. 

I’m hoping to kick my training up a notch and have a great race.

And I’m already starting to get excited.

P.S. If you’ve done this race or visited Ireland before, please send me tips!

Declare It Day 2015

I love the message and mission behind Fellow Flowers, an inspirational women’s running movement.

And the most fitspirational moment of all is Declare It Day, where women everywhere are encouraged “to put words and dreams into action and declare a goal they are committed to working toward and achieving.”

Intrigued? Want to set a goal of your own? 

Learn more here.

Declare It Day is February 7th, 2015. I’ll be there.

Running Faster

Over the weekend and for the first part of this week, I attended an inspirational conference in Palm Springs that centered around being a better educator for medical students and residents.

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Resort view.

One obvious perk about Palm Springs versus Minnesota in January is the lack of sub-zero temps, and I took advantage of the sunshine and 70s to go for some fine runs.

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There was a tiny rabbit next to the path, I swear!

 

I also had a chance to catch up with my former colleague, E., who told me that she recently completed one of the Rock and Roll series marathons with a personal best and a time fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

I was so impressed, especially when she told me that she had shaved nearly 30 minutes off of her prior time on the same course.

I had to know her secret and asked her how she’d been able to do it.

Her answer was simple:

I just made myself run faster.

So simple and yet so hard to do.

I decided to give it a try.

On my first run – which was pre-conversation with E. – I ran 8 miles at my usual distance pace, which is about 9:30 per mile. I felt great.

The next day, there was a 5k race being held in conjunction with the conference.

Long story short, I couldn’t find the starting line and suddenly saw a gaggle of runners stream the other direction about a quarter of a mile ahead of me.

I’d had the conversation with E. the night before, and I thought I would just go for it and run faster.

I nearly had to sprint to catch the back of the pack but ended up finishing in the top 10 with a pace that was about 8:05 a mile. I did not feel great, but the distance wasn’t so burdensome that I couldn’t handle it.

And there was free beer at the finish line.

On my final run, I decided to pace myself a little harder than normal. I ran 5 miles at a pace between 8:30 and 8:45. While it wasn’t always comfortable, it was do-able.

I’m going to continue to incorporate speed into my running.

During the final run, I somehow managed to trip the radar on this speed trap but I think the sign was flattering me mightily:

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