I wear my Sunglasses

If you follow my Instagram (and if not, you totally should!) you might have noticed that I wear sunglasses a lot. It’s true; I barely ever go outside without my trusty sunglasses. I’m pretty photosensitive; bright lights get to me very quickly and can even trigger some pretty awful migraines.

If we do a combo indoor/outdoor workout, I can even be spotted wearing them in the gym.

If we do a combo indoor/outdoor workout, I can even be spotted wearing them in the gym.

But I will admit that I have a problem: I lose sunglasses. Not just lose; break, destroy, and abandon. I am a cheap pair of sunglasses’ worst nightmare. I will love them and use them every singe day for a season until one day, they just crack under the pressure or go on a vacation and never return. I generally go through between 2 and 3 pairs of sunglasses in a year and because of this, I have some policies about my sunglasses:

I never spend more than $10 on a pair of sunglasses. My favorite pairs have been nabbed from a mall kiosk where I got a deal for buying like four of the same pair. I also stock up if I find a good price on them at the grocery story (I once scored a pair of sweet shades with Darth Vader on them from a Publix when my primary pair of sunglasses bit the big one while on vacation in Florida).

I only purchase sunglasses that have rubber edging on the ear hooks. This helps them stay on my face when my face is sweat (i.e. during a workout), and also makes it easier to wear them on my head when I’m not working out.

I only purchase sunglasses that fit perfectly. And I mean perfectly. They have to fit like a glove; not too tight, not too loose. As a result, I’ve taken sunglasses on long Spartan courses and not suffered a loss. It’s all about the fit people; shop picky and shop often.

I have a specific designated “sunglasses zone” where I always put my glasses down when I come back into my apartment. This means that they’re always available when I need them and that I always know where to find them. Every time I have accidentally deviated from this rule, it has resulted in a tragic sunglasses loss.

I don’t take them off when I’m out. They either go on my face, or pushed up on my head. If I don’t take them off, I can’t leave them somewhere never to be IMG_3616found again. This also means that my aforementioned “fit” rule has to apply to fit on my head as well as on my face. It’s important to try on your sunglasses in various permutations just to make sure you’ve achieved optimal sunglasses harmony.

This summer, I’ve been really lucky. I’ve managed to nurse this one pair of distinctive yellow sunglasses the entire season. They’ve been with me on two Spartan courses, countless half marathon-length runs and courses, errands, work trips, vacations, and more. I happen to love them because the distinctive color makes me easy to spot in group photos/race pictures. I realize that by blogging about how awesome they are, I am probably dooming them to some sort of ill-fated accident in the near future, but I’ll take my chances. I’ve had a backup pair on deck all summer because… well… I lose sunglasses.

Going Wireless

Have I yet gushed about one of the most important items in my running kit? My wireless Bluetooth headphones!

Okay, bear with me here. I know you’re all like “but I have wired headphones and they work just fine!” I was in that camp too for SO long. I was a cheap headphoner because I would always loose them, or they would break on me, or I would be out running in the rain and get rained on and they would get wet, or something. In April of 2015, I finally caved. I needed a new set of headphones, and for about $8 more than I would spend on yet another wired set, I could have these babies. I figured it was worth a shot to see if I liked them.

Let me tell you, folks; they have seriously changed my life. At the time I converted to

Here they are actually on my ears at the Twin Lights Half Marathon; 2015

Here they are actually on my ears at the Twin Lights Half Marathon; 2015

wireless I was just a runner. I didn’t take up Crossfit or the affiliated crazy training antics until a couple months after this pivotal moment in my fitness history. These days, wireless headphones are a must-have for me since I could never wrangle sandbags, sleds, or the assortment of weights and equipment that my current workouts require while still being worried about my cables snagging or pulling loose. At that time though, that simpler time, I was just a runner.

But even then I noticed a difference immediately. Now I could put my phone basically anywhere I wanted on my person (in my pocket, in my magnet pouch thing, in my camelbak) and not worry about how to run my headset wire. I could run without that annoying thump thump thump of the headset cable on my arm or chest or wherever the cable was running. Maybe most importantly, my phone became much easier to access; I could reach and grab it without having to navigate my way through a messy or annoying cable. Win on all sides.

Now that I’ve been running with the headset for a year, I can give you a pretty good idea about wear and tear. I’ve run through all seasons with this thing and it’s held up like a champ. I’ve run in rain, snow, sleet, wind, and everything in between. This headset comes with a variety of ear pads that you can mix and match to custom fit your ear and, once you find the right fit, it stays put. I have never had an issue with the headphones coming loose or jostling free. The only thing I have noticed is that they do require a tiny bit of Tetris if you want to wear them with sunglasses (which I pretty much always do). Nothing insurmountable, but definitely a little extra something to think about when donning your kit.

They hold up great against moisture and sweat. I am not a dainty runner girl; I exude much salt water when I’m working out. Despite having to sometimes wring out my hair, these little champs haven’t show any sign of being remotely bothered by my sweaty self.

They keep a charge for a good long while. I’ve done four or five hour stints with them and been fine; if I’m running a series of shorter runs I’ll usually be good for about four workouts. You can tell when they’re about to go on you because the “reception” between headphones and phone will start to fade; it will become harder and harder to establish the Bluetooth connection. About twenty minutes before full battery-induced shutdown, you’ll get an audio low battery warning. To avoid this, I just charge it up whenever I get home (unless I’ve seriously only done about a mile or two).

The only real sign of wear they’re currently showing is a bit of peeling on the top layer of plastic; but as I’ve said they’ve had some serious hard use for over a year. For the $20 I spent on them, I’ll take some cosmetic defects and count myself lucky.

As an added bonus: these headphones seem to confuse the heck out of casual

Beat the Blerch finish line; September 2015

Beat the Blerch finish line; September 2015

observers. When I’m not using them (but about to and/or have just), I wear them wrapped around my neck. I’ve gotten everything from “did you get a neck tattoo!?” to “what’s that weird nineteenth-century hairstyle you’re sporting?” I call them my Rorschach test; I always find it amusing what creative minds will make of them.

So what do you think they look like?

Night Moves

For those of you who have day jobs, night running might be an unavoidable reality of your existence. While my schedule is generally flexible enough to allow me to get my run in before the sun sets, on days when it’s just too hot (or I’m just too busy) to get out and hit the road, I join the shamblers of the night.

I don't have shots of me in my night running kit, but instead please accept an image I have fondly titled "Breakfast at Lincolnies"

I don’t have shots of me in my night running kit, but instead please accept an image I have fondly titled “Breakfast at Lincolnies”

But night running, particularly if you live in a very residential area (maybe just off a major highway where drivers love to zip around regardless of speed limit) can be a dangerous sport. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy thinking about running safety, particularly when conditions aren’t optimal for me being spotted. Since I was out on the road last night in my night kit, I figure I should probably share some tips on what gear you’re going to want for night running in order to get home safe.

Visibility is key. This means that the axiom about staying away from dark colors is absolutely true. It took me a while to develop a big enough stash of neon running gear to consider myself safe, mostly because neon colors are not the most flattering or pleasant to the eye. Since I tend to lead an active lifestyle as a fight director/dance instructor, I try to buy gear that I can wear in multiple settings. I’m not exactly going to show up to teach students the Waltz wearing high viz yellow or hot pink. Because of this, I had to learn to mentally correct for what gear to buy. If you have ready access to a washer/drier and night running is only an occasional dalliance for you, you probably only need one set of neon clothes. But the next time you purchase the basics (tights, shorts, shirts, sweats, etc.), consider edging towards what I like to call “don’t hit me” colors. My favorite nighttime running jacket for when it’s too chilly for a tee shirt but not cold enough for my hardcore gear is the Kiava FIT jacket in neon. Cut generously so the sleeves will cover your hands and the bottom will cover your lower back without riding up, it’s also built with a cute design. I would definitely wear it in public when out for a post-run drink, and that’s more than I can say about most of my night gear.

While neon clothing is a good start, you’re also going to want a high visibility vest. Both honey and I use the Tuvizio Reflective Vest (mine is Pink in size S/M/L, honey’s is yellow in size L/XL). I love this product because A) it adjusts to a WIDE variety of sizes and B) it doesn’t add bulk or an extra layer. It’s basically just a series of straps with high viz tape configured with buckles. Once you get it adjusted right, you can’t even tell that you’re wearing it. It doesn’t add weight, and it doesn’t move around a lot if sized appropriately. While I wouldn’t call it “fashion forward” (unless you’re going for construction worker chic), it definitely makes me feel safer when out on the road, and I know it’s effective at what it does. It’s also a reasonably inexpensive piece as far as running gear goes; I would highly recommend picking one up.

The thing about high viz tape is that it reflects outside light. What this means is that your high viz vest or high viz features on your gear (my shoes have a reflective strip which is kind of neat) is almost useless if someone is driving around without their lights on. This problem is fairly easy to solve with a clip-on LED light like this one. I like to clip one onto the front of my vest, then one onto the back. The light I’ve linked here can be set to blink or hold steady, and it’s bright enough that anyone should see you coming (or going as the case may be). These little LEDs are lightweight, and have a pretty stellar battery life. If you really want, you can grab them in different colors (though I tend to prefer white since it seems to be the brightest).

Last, but certainly not least, I run with a headlight. Since I’d prefer not to look like a spelunker when out for a run, I opt instead for an awesome pink LED lit cap. With two LEDs on a click switch in the cap’s brim, this hat allows me to light my way conveniently and comfortably. The company makes a variety of colors (as you can see if you click through the amazon link), so don’t feel confined by my personal preferences. But seriously. Pink is where it’s at.

There are definitely other options to help you light up the night (including shoe lights, light-up bracelets, different vests, etc.), but this is my night kit and so far it’s worked out pretty well. What would you add, fellow runners?


I had hoped to get a recap up today of Wipeout, Boston, but I’m still waiting on their official race pics. Because the course was full of water traps, I didn’t manage to snag any on my own (didn’t want to risk bringing my usual photography methods on the course, and my disposable technology got so waterlogged that it failed me). So we’ll have to wait on that for next week; but it’s coming, I promise!

Instead, I want to take a moment to chat about one of my favorite running gear companies: RawThreads athletics.

I first found RawThreads through the Run, Disney! Community. Since I’m training for the Glass Slipper Challenge in 2016, I have a LOT of Run Disney links that have come across my various feeds. After glancing through RawThreads’ designs, I decided that I probably couldn’t live without them and simply had to have a few of their awesome shirts. I’ve since become addicted and now own a wide array of their products from capris to arm warmers. All of them are super cute with colors that pop (black on black running gear has no personality and I try to shy away from it whenever possible).

All of their stuff is made of bamboo blend tech fabric. This means that it’s wicking, anti-microbial, and oh so soft. I’m not a fan of stiff or scratchy fabrics and since tech gear is synthetic by nature so much of it tends to just feel wrong. Not RawThreads; I could seriously sleep in my running gear if I wanted.

I will say that it doesn’t dry very quickly so when the weather turns cold, I will probably shy away from running in it simply because sweaty clothing = cold runner. But that does mean that it’s great for summer runs; it gets moisture away from my skin and keeps me cool at the same time. While I have worked up some pretty unflattering sweat patterns during summer long runs (sorry, no pictures of those), I can’t really bring myself to mind. There’s only so much you can do to look cute after running ten or twelve miles in summer heat.

Their clothing is durable and built to last. I’ve been running hard in it 3-4 times a week for about six months now and it shows nary a sign of wear. Since it’s easy care, it goes right in the washer/drier without fuss or muss. I haven’t seen pilling, tearing, or stretching of any kind, and all of the logos/designs are holding up beautifully. There has been no fading, and all the zippers are doing great.

Oh, did I mention their pants have zippered pockets large enough to fit my cell phone, keys, and gels in? This means that on shorter runs when I don’t need hydration (or if I choose to carry a hand-held), I can go belt/camel-bak/pouch free! They’re great for 5Ks when you just want to have your phone on you; maybe even slightly longer races or training runs depending on how much water you need. I, personally, love them!

Pretty much RawThreads head to toe in this one: Sprinter Crop in Baltic Dot with Rainbows and Unicorns Racer

Pretty much RawThreads head to toe in this one: Sprinter Crop in Baltic Dot with Rainbows and Unicorns Racer. Also: Victory beer.

Shipping is fast; the company is located in Kissimmee, Florida and I generally get my orders here in Boston within a week. Pretty good considering how far that little package has to go!

Perhaps the best part about RawThreads is their awesome customer service. Over the past several months, I’ve had two instances in which I dealt with their customer support team. In both instances, I was responded to promptly and appropriately; the folks at RawThreads stand by their products and take great care of their customers.

So far, my favorite RawThreads product is my set of arm warmers. I find most arm warmers to be chafey and stiff, and they kind of make my arms look like sausages. RawThreads arm warmers are the same soft bamboo blend as the rest of their clothing, so they have a bit more give than the conventional polyester without sacrificing hold (trust me, they stay up). They are nice and warm, but not oppressive. Since they do have a bit more space, they’re also easy to roll down when you’re too hot; they just collapse onto your wrists and you have a stylish running bracer.

Another favorite of mine, and one I wear almost every day when I run in the summer, is the RawThreads racer. I have several in different colors and designs so that I can rotate through them over the course of my training. Not only are they super fun between colors and logos (athletic gear can get really boring sometimes, right?), they’re also breathable and roomy. They have a bit more room in them than most standard athletic wear so they’re a bit more forgiving on days when you don’t want a next-to-skin fit. This combined with the longer length means that they don’t ride up during your run (even when wearing them in combination with a belt), which in turn means no chafing for you! The sizing on these clothes is true to the website-provided size charts; since it’s athletic clothing, it’s a bit smaller than conventional street sizes. While I’ll wear a Small or Medium generally in women’s tops, RawThreads Large is my go-to size. Measure carefully, consult the size chart, and you’ll be alright.

As you can tell, I highly recommend splurging on some RawThreads gear. Not only is it comfortable, but also functional and durable. Basically everything you want out of your running gear.

Please note that I have received no compensation, monetary or otherwise, for this post from RawThreads or anyone else.

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

Today I want to discuss an important part of training: route planning.

When I was running 5K or less for my training runs, I wouldn’t put much thought into this. After all, I would be gone for less than an hour, so it wasn’t that big a deal. The chances of my needing a bathroom break, somewhere to get water, or a place to pull over and call home because of weather emergency were pretty slim. I could pick a direction and run until I was approximately halfway to my goal distance, then turn around and come home without being in too much discomfort for any reason.

As my runs became longer, I needed to start to plan better. Who wants to have to think about giving themselves directions when they’re huffing and puffing like their lungs are going to explode at any moment? And do you really want to be surprised with yet another hill to climb when you’re only about .5 miles away from your turn-around point? What about if it suddenly starts to downpour and you’ve already run an hour out, are you really going to safely run an hour home in the weather conditions?

Route planning opens up a whole host of options that I hadn’t even thought of before I started planning better. It might sound simplistic or obvious, but I never thought that taking a quick break to use a restroom would make my long run that much nicer. In addition, when I pre-plan routes I can let someone know where I am going to be in case of emergency (so that I can be picked up, tracked down, or contacted if something goes horribly wrong while I’m on the road). Being a woman who almost always runs by myself, it makes me feel safer to know that someone will have an idea of where I am and when I should get back. In short: route planning is an essential tool if you’re looking to increase your distance, but it’s not a bad idea to get into the habit early.

For route planning, I almost exclusively use MapMyRun. You will need to sign up for an account (or link it to your Facebook account), but it is a free service (unless you opt into the paid MVP version which I have not). MapMyRun allows you to create routes starting from pretty much any point you specify. On the route creator (maps courtesy of Google maps; thank you, Google even though you’re someday going to be Skynet!), you can input a starting address and then customize your start point. For instance, I almost never actually begin running at my doorstep, but rather take a warm-up walk to the end of my street and then leave that distance for a cool down as well. I can input my address to focus the map on my neighborhood, but scroll to where I would like to place my start pin. The route will then begin measuring distance from the pin and not the inputted address. Since the route creator uses Google maps, you can also input the name of a landmark and often it will be able to find that place. For instance, I frequently run on the Minuteman Bikeway; MapMyRun knows where that is and will show me the bikeway without having to input a start address. The power of Google additionally means that this map is fairly smart when it comes to back roads, small roads, or hiking paths; the route creator pretty much has anything you could want to run on already in its database.

You can see here that I've started planning a route on the Minuteman and it's already giving me elevations.

You can see here that I’ve started planning a route on the Minuteman and it’s already giving me elevations.  I have intervals set to 1 Mile and measurements set to “Imperial”.

MapMyRun will give you elevation splits for your planned route (important if you’re hill training), and it will show distance markers in Imperial or Metric Units (you set this) at a specified distance (fractions of 1; so you can set them at 1 mile, .5 mile, .25 mile, etc.). It will allow you to loop and manipulate routes until you come up with something that will meet your training needs, and then it will allow you to save the route.

Once a route is saved, you can send it to your phone via email. Download MapMyRun’s free App, click the link in the e-mail, and you can upload the route directly to the app. I haven’t honestly tested the app because it doesn’t integrate with Run, Zombies (my preferred running companion), but I do know it will record your workouts, give you splits data on elevation and speed, and allow you to create “challenges” for yourself that it can then push to reminders on your phone (“I want to run five times this week.” “Hey, dude, I see you have only gotten in three runs and it’s Thursday, wanna go for a run today?” stuff like that). For me, the best functionality of MapMyRun has simply been being able to see where water and bathroom stops are on my route (yes, it has a legend for that!).

You can also search for pre-existing routes that other people have created in your area at your target distance. This has been helpful to me because it allows me to see the possibilities without having to experience them; as every runner knows, not every single road is “runnable” due to such variables as: disappearing sidewalks, not enough light when it gets dark, proximity to high-traffic not-quite-highways, blind corners where cars whip around really fast without looking, etc. Getting a sense of where other people tend to run can help me gauge my personal comfort with a route without having to drive or walk the area first.

MapMyRun is definitely worth playing with, even for the beginner runner. At the low low cost of nothing, this tool is well worth every penny.