Leap Day Contest!

I had so much fun doing this leap shot for Oiselle’s Leap Day Contest, I had to share.

Contest ends at midnight PST on Feb. 29 – come one, come all! All you need to do is don your Oiselle duds, leap for a photo, then post the photo on Oiselle’s Facebook or Twitter page. If your photo wins, you get a pair of v*o*l*t r*g*s.

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Supporting the habit

Getting injured was probably the best thing that happened to me as a runner last year. That and failing at my first bid to break 2 hours in a half marathon.

Both those events taught me that setbacks pave the way for comebacks, and the road to self-mastery is long. I have time. It’s okay if I don’t reach my goal today or on the day that I anticipated. If I keep working at it, I’ll get there. It’s like that Chinese proverb: “Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” So seize the moment, yes, but seize it for the opportunity it presents you, which may not be the one you expected. The one you expected will come in time.

My injury (which I’ve learned was triggered by pulling wheeled luggage on a frenzied overseas trip, not running) led me to physical therapy, and physical therapy taught me oodles about the condition of my “running system” – the musculoskeletal network that enables me to run. I learned that my abductors, adductors and glutes are pathetically weak compared my quads, calves and hamstrings. I learned that the abdominal surgery in 1984 is no longer an excuse to tip-toe around my lower abdominals. Not unless I am willing to quit running in the near term, or end up hunchbacked in my 60’s from subjecting my lower back to a couple decades of unnecessary beating.

I was pretty cynical about physical therapy before I experienced it. I was ignorant. I had never been athletic until recently, so I was never in a position to be injured and rehabilitated. All physical therapists do is prescribe exercises, I thought to myself. I wanted a practitioner work her magic on me, not to send me home to do the work.

I recant. I am a PT convert. I adore my therapist, especially. She is smart as whip, stylish as a Mission District diva (how many therapists out there can churn out 15 step-ups wearing skinny jeans and zebra print ballet flats?), and a fellow runner. From our five sessions together came these two pearls of wisdom that will enlighten me forever:

1) An injury to one muscle results from another muscle’s failure to do its job.

2) Do what it takes to support your habit. She literally used those words and it made me chuckle, picturing myself as a crackhead selling all my possessions to “support my habit.” What she meant was: if you run, make the effort to strengthen and balance the muscles and ligaments needed to run safely and successfully. Football players lift weights to get stronger for the game and everyone expects that. Virtually every athlete hits the gym as part of their training. Yet apparently runners are notorious for skipping out on strength conditioning. As though running should come naturally, or the added undertaking would somehow taint the simplicity of the sport. I, however, can’t afford the fairy tale view any longer. My body is neither young nor historically fit.

It’s empowering, actually, to know that the fate of my running lies largely in my hands. I like knowing that I am taking care of my body, that I am getting stronger, that I can mold my body into what it needs to be to accomplish some feat that once seemed out of reach. It is DIY at its finest.  I’m proud to take ownership of me.

You know you’re a runner when…

…you never have to buy deodorant.  You run enough races and wind up with enough free samples in your goodie bags to last a whole year.  Women-oriented events in particular. There’s always good stuff in there beyond the usual energy gel and promotional postcards for some other running event.

In fact, you begin to memorize which races have the best goodie bags and expos and come to rely on the product lineup at those expos to refuel and recover.  You know which races offer chocolate milk, which have the Clif and Luna Bar buffet, the popchip samples, and the pancake breakfast. Yum. Racing = fun.

Gear review: Oiselle Running Tee

The gear: Oiselle Start Line Run Tee, size XS

The verdict: Best 50/50 t-shirt you’ll find

Out-of-the-box assessment: Soft and ready to wear from moment one. Close-fitting and feminine but not tight (especially if you size up).  Average length (bucks the current trend of t-shirts being on long side). The clean, colorful, modern, and witty graphics truly capture the essence of runners’ pride.

Test conditions: A 5-mile tempo run on a breezy low 50’s day. I hate feeling cold, so for insurance I pulled on my Oiselle Arm Warmers. I also had on knee-length capris.

Detailed results: I have to admit, I was skeptical. The first thing I learned from my run team coach 3 years ago regarding clothing was “cotton is rotten,” and that adage has been etched in my brain ever since. I have categorically forsworn “normal shirts” in favor of light and limber technical tops . When I acquired my first Run Tee (the 13.1), I had no intention of wearing it for running. To me, it was the perfect runner’s badge of honor, as well as an “aahhhhh” piece of clothing to slip into after getting the job done.  It’s incredibly soft and instantly warming.  But Oiselle markets it as a shirt for running, so I decided to give it a try.

The short sleeve Run Tee held up totally fine. Given the windy day, I appreciated that it kept my core warm. It also kept the sweat off my skin, didn’t chafe, and didn’t constrict me in any way. I will probably still save my Run Tees for street wear. My running tops don’t stay on my body past the duration of the run. Cozy t-shirts like these I like to keep on all day and enjoy. But for those who prefer the old school simplicity of heading out with just a t-shirt, shorts, and pair of sneaks, the Oiselle Running Tees are for you.

By the way, bonus points to Oiselle’s Run Tees for being the only 50/50 t-shirts I know that don’t pill! Wash after wash they have stayed soft and smooth.  (Eat your heart out, American Apparel.)