Friday, May 12, 2017

Spring apparel style watch

Wearing new running duds makes us happy!  Get insights on this season’s trends and tips on the apparel you need to have in your running wardrobe from our friends at Fleet Feet West Hartford:

Whether you are training for a 5K or marathon treat yourself to new gear, it’s time to start logging some miles and looking good doing it! Last year's apparel looking worn? Smelly? Here are some of this season's trends.

Women’s trends
Start with the correct foundation - a new running bra. There are so many choices this season, fun colors and prints! Options are available in racer back, traditional closing, convertible straps and over the head. Start with a professional bra fitting, they can fit you properly and guide you to the best bra for you to save time, frustration and money.

The season's new pant length is a 7/8" tight to hit just above the ankle. This is a great length to wear for yoga, as part of a lifestyle collection or for running - this length looks less "athletic" so it can crossover to anything in your lifestyle.  We are loving the tights and capris that can hold your phone in a side pocket, convenient for music or stopping to take a selfie!

If you have been wearing black bottoms, this is your season to try something new with pattern.  We are seeing over over patterns (or allover patterns) as well as placement pattern for the less daring.  We know Mom told you never to do this, but mixing pattern is happening in the apparel industry. Try it - you will have some great race photos!

If you have steered away from tanks, this is your season with many choices of colors and styles. Traditional racer back tanks, open crossover back, high neck tanks and double layers (two shirts in one) are popular.  I am loving styles that are longer in the back for additional coverage and tops with strategic seaming for a flattering look.  

Men’s Apparel:
The newest look in men's running gear is the capri tight under your running shorts. This keeps your legs warm and looks so cool!

Placement print is also happening in men’s shorts, available unlined to wear with  compression shorts or running underwear. Shorts are available in so many lengths, from 3" split to 9" unlined. You should have a variety of short lengths in your wardrobe to vary for race day and training to strength workouts. While black is still the most popular color, there are some awesome new blues, stripes and bright colors! 

Running tops have remained classic but fabrication, color and details are new this season. The racing singlet has been updated in light weight fabric with placement striping. Running shirts have subtle striping and reflective trim. Many are less boxy and come in great colors!  Even compression is in the fashion game with great colors to coordinate.

Did I mention socks? It is time to update the sock collection. New lightweight socks with just the right amount of cushioning where you want it - heels and toes. Go for color and prints in socks too!

Trails ’N Ales training series

New to trail running? Join us for the “Trails ’N Ales" training series hosted with our partners at soundRUNNER.  Learn the basics of trail running technique and all about trail shoes, and take a guided run around Gay City State Park to get a feel for the Summer Solstice Trail Run 5.5 mile race course (June 18 race).  The series runs May 23, 30 and June 6, 13 - it’s free but you must reserve your space by signing up here.  Shoe demos and ales provided by On Running and Altra Zero Drop.

Learn more about the benefits and joys of trail running from soundRUNNER:

Trail running is a common getaway for runners who don't want to deal with the usual inconveniences of the road, whether it's the traffic, the noise, the straight lines, or the specific view of turns ahead on the road that taunt you. Whatever your reasons, you can find mental and often physical salvation on the miles and miles of trails that this fine state has to offer.


There are some benefits of trail running that may also help save your summer goals from being sidelined by injury.  The trails require runners to watch every step through the varying the terrain, helping runners avoid many of the overuse issues that can happen with road running.  Changing the running surface to something a little softer can take away some problems associated with constant runs on the cambered road, which is a very common cause of hip problems. Runners also get the chance to strengthen tertiary muscles that help you balance and increase running efficiency. 


Another benefit to trail running is in what you’re breathing. The air quality on trails is almost always going to be better since you aren't dealing with exhaust fumes of passing cars or the rising heat and other gasses from the pavement itself. Especially in the summer, when the extra pavement radiation adds a good 10 degrees to the air around you. If you're a trail in an area with rivers or a reservoir, you will even get the occasionally refreshing patch of really chilled air, which just feels fantastic!

Trails are also good practice with hills, since you're dealing with natural uphills, rather than the more gradual, longer hills of a paved road. They are enough to get the leg muscles working, but not so arduously long to make you miserable like a road hill.  After some time on the trails, no road terrain will intimidate you! 

Whether training for a road race, or just trying to stay healthy, trail running at least once a week will be sure to help break up the monotony of constant road running.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Look for the helpers - HMF Volunteers

We are constantly asking people to step up and volunteer, each event takes so many hours of so many people to coordinate.  Instead of us just saying why we need you to volunteer, we want to let volunteers and runners tell you how important these roles are, why it’s rewarding and how you can help.  Learn more about HMF’s volunteer program here, but let the story below inspire you a little too.

Jeanne Corey, HMF Volunteer
My favorite volunteer position is being a course monitor.  As a runner, I can vividly remember certain course monitors that encouraged me to keep going when I had nothing left or the ones that were so energetic and motivating that made me smile.  They have stayed in my memory bank forever – sort of like my favorite 1st grade teacher.   

When I am volunteering, my #1 goal is to make sure people are safe. My #2 goal is to be able to encourage and motivate runners and give someone a memory that they can cherish forever.  A “feel good” memory that they can look back and smile.  Building positive lifelong memories is what running is all about to me.

When I was the course monitor for the Harvard Pilgrim Middletown Half this month,  I was fortunate enough to be able to help a woman when she was struggling to keep going. She was one of the last runners so I was able to leave my course monitor location and reach out to her.  We walked, we laughed, we talked, we ran a little and she crossed that finish line and got her medal.  We also hugged after and I made a friend for life.  I hope that I helped contribute a lifelong memory so she’ll continue to run because at the end of the day, she had a good experience.


And in her own words, the runner that Jeanne met in Middletown:


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tip time: eye protection

This time of year in the Northeast, everyday is a surprise when it comes to weather.  Runners have to shift between winter and spring apparel and break out rain gear in the blink of an eye.  Our friends at soundRUNNER in Glastonbury have some important all-weather tips that many of us aren't thinking about until summer - eye protection.

Eyewear essentials from soundRUNNER:
One thing that many people forget about this time of year is the importance of eye protection. While we're still gaining hours of daylight, when you manage to get out before the sun is gone for the day, your eyes can actually take more damage than during your average summer time run. This surprising fact is due to the extra water glistening on the roads that seem to perpetually be flowing. 

That is why it's important to always have sunglasses at the ready during all seasons. On top of being sure to wear sunglasses, Polarized options are especially helpful when you have excessive light coming at you from multiple angles, as shown below.



The downside of Polarized is that these types of lenses do poorly with depth perception, making them slightly worse for trails or places with treacherous terrain.

Some companies, like Tifosi, make options with interchangeable lenses or different levels of light transmission to try to help accommodate any situation you could find yourself in. They even have lenses that automatically adjust to how bright it is out.

Take care of your eyes at all times of the year. Even through winter it is very important to have eye wear in mind!


(photos: Tifosioptics.com)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Tip Time: See and Be Seen

We've got lots of experts just around the corner to help the local HMF community be well and find just what they need to support training and race goals. We're happy to deliver useful tips from the experts at Fleet Feet West Hartford and soundRUNNNER on a regular basis to support your running needs. 

First up - See and Be Seen tips from Fleet Feet:
While the days are getting longer, many of us are still running in the dark. As fun as it may be to channel your inner running ninja and blend in with the darkness, the wise runner dresses more like a Christmas tree so they can SEE and BE SEEN.

This means bringing along a light source like a flashlight or headlamp so you can SEE those bumps in the road/sidewalk and wearing reflective gear and flashing lights so you can BE SEEN by drivers. Bright colors are helpful in low light conditions, but always make sure that your top and bottom have reflective taping or details & wear a flashing light (or three!). Even a small reflective element can produce a significant "flash" to get a driver's attention when their headlights shine on you.


Here are a few of our favorite products: 
Amphipod Xinglet (reflective vest) & Flashing LED Reflectors 
Nathan Strobe Light 
Knuckle Lights 
Reflective FlipBelt 
Nike Flash Jacket


Running stores around the country have pledged to bring attention to the issue in an effort to reduce the number of pedestrians who are killed each year because drivers didn't see them. Don't become a statistic. Switch on your run or walk and be safe.  You too dog walkers! 





Friday, March 17, 2017

Run Middletown! Free group runs & course preview guest post

You likely heard we’ve changed up the Harvard Pilgrim Middletown Half course.  If you haven’t viewed the aerial mile-by-mile video, check it out here. We’re also giving you two opportunities to check it out with free group runs led by Team HMF coaches!   Preview the course on Saturday, March 25 (8:00 am) in a 10-mile run, or Thursday, March 30 (5:30 pm) in a 6-mile run. Sign up here for details.

We think you’re going to welcome the course changes but don’t just take our word for it – we also have a Middletown resident runner to offer expert opinion!  

Salena Chatman is a new member of Team HMF and prolific local runner who recently hit her 100th town on her quest to reach Run 169 status.  She ran the half course start to finish a couple weeks ago and offers her own insights and (unfiltered!) opinions below. 

Salena Chatman
First, I have to say....The new course is great! It's not as hilly - that's a huge plus! Ok, ok that's not the only reason though…

If you disliked the uphill Court Street start as much as I did, I'm happy to report it's GONE! Want more good news?? It's still there for the downhill finish...how can that get better?? Remove an uphill and still get the downhill?? Win, win! 

Another hill that I won't miss is Church Street, on the previous course it was around mile 1-1.5.  You still get to see the main campus of Wesleyan University though, which is a plus.  Even better than the uphill being gone is that you get it as a downhill.  Seriously, two of the worst hills gone and that's before mile 5 - I know I'm happy about it. You'll also get to see various sections of the Wesleyan campus on the half course. 


Since, I'm already talking about hills being gone let's just stay on that topic...did you HATE the long hill on Randolph?  Going by the cows was nice but I know I will NOT miss that.  It's not completely gone, but what's left is the crest of the hill - short and steep and over before you know it.  Even better, you get to go down the hill and pass by Mercy High School.  Welcome to mile 7! 

Long Hill Road (7.5-8 miles)…the street name says all you need to know! One long hill but it's not crazy. 
Then on to Brush Hill (mile 9), it's not huge but you'll notice it. That's the last one in the back half that's worth a mention though - look over the horizon and see if Powder Ridge still has visible snow on its trails.

Time to head into the final stretch of the course. You'll find a gradual downhill on the course around 9.5 as you start to head back toward Wesleyan University.  The unpaved Laurel Grove section is back...I love this section, I find it very peaceful.  But, it's a short section of the course so if you hate the concept of a non-paved road don't fret, it's not long! Take it in, admire the historic homes on this section of road and if the trees haven't bloomed yet you can catch a glimpse of the Wadsworth Mansion on the right. 

Then on to the final few miles...Wadsworth Street has a small incline but the good news is you’re almost at mile 11. Turn left onto Long Lane, you'll know you’re there as you start to see Wesleyan's 4,000+ solar panels on the right. It's a pretty cool sight! 

Wind your way back to downtown. Remember that downhill I mentioned earlier on Court Street?  Enjoy it, you're almost done. A right on Main Street will showcase our amazing downtown area and maybe you'll see a local restaurant to eat at after you've enjoyed the post-race food. Keep your eyes peeled as you should see the finish line!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I promise

I hate running.  Today.  You too? 

Today is a day to hunker down, settle in and watch the snow fall.  But we’re runners, we have race goals and training mile obligations.

If you’re training for Boston, you should be doing an 18-20 miler this week.  When I was training for Boston, my 20-mile run was due in the middle of a blizzard, just like today.  Tough stuff.  I did it on a treadmill indoors.  It’s all about determination and commitment to the goal.

HMF started its 24th season last weekend with two back-to-back O’races.  It was brutally cold.  You probably thought our staff indulged in a few too many holiday cookies and put on 10 pounds of winter weight.  But no, that was layers of clothing we were wearing to work through the single digits.

Runners are hearty souls, as evident by the thousands who ran with us at O’Shenanigans and the Courthouse O’Putnam (and were exceptionally joyful, I might add).  While you all deserve high fives for running, we are truly inspired and amazed by the incredible volunteers who came to work and support you.  How can we ever thank them enough?

And guess what?  We all get to do it again this weekend!  O’Niantic and O’Hartford promise to test the staff, chill the runners and challenge the volunteers.  But hey – bring it on!  My 10 pounds of ski gear are cleaned and ready for another weekend.


I promise, sunny, warm days are ahead...don’t complain to me about the heat this summer.