Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer running - it's on!

Officially, summer may be another week away, but it feels like we’re in the thick of it this week.  Our friends at Fleet Feet West Hartford are ready to help you through it!

The sun is out and New England runners want to take advantage of all the sun-kissed runs our short summers have to offer.  This excitement can lead many to head out the door without thinking about the affects of the sun. Here are some tips to sun-protected runs to help you enjoy these wonderful summer trots safely.

Hats:  Providing shade for your face and helping to protect your scalp for dangerous radiant heat, hats can also help wick away sweat that may potentially land in your eyes. However, make sure you wear a hat that is full mesh so that air can pass through and look for hats with a dark colored under-bill since they reduce glare and won't make your eyes squint so much. Consider mimicking Olympic marathoners and stuff some ice inside your hat before you put it on (or mid-run) to help keep your cool.

Sunglasses: As we prepare for summer runs, we think about protecting our skin but often overlook the need for eye protection. UV rays can be harmful to our eyes and those UV rays are most powerful between 8am to 10am and 2pm to 4pm. Sunny conditions also cause us to squint which wastes valuable energy and can lead to a post-run headache. Lots of reason to don those shades!

Shirts: For men, it’s all too common to step out, notice how hot it is and automatically take off your shirt for a run. You could really be doing some harm - skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. A light moisture-wicking shirt can help protect bodies from the detrimental effects of prolonged sun exposure. Most performance running apparel has 30-50 UPF sun protection yet still feels light and airy on. 

Hydration: Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? Hydration is one of the most important elements of successful running this time of year. Don't just hydrate with water, be sure to take in some electrolytes as they are essential to fluid and nutrient absorption. Excellent options include Nuun, UCAN Hydrate, Gu Roctane Energy Drink, Tailwind and Scratch. We love Hydraflask stainless steel insulated bottles to keep iced beverages cold for up to 24 hours (even when stored in a hot car)!

Run early or later in the day: For early birds, first thing in the morning is one of the best times to run. Before the sun is at its highest peak, temperatures are cooler and typically less humid. But, for those who can’t make an early morning, waiting until the sun sets and things cool off a bit is best in weeks like this.

Enjoying the sun also means protecting yourself from it. With all the health benefits associated with running, we don’t want our runs detrimentally affecting our health. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Be Nice.

No doubt, the running community is passionate.  We push ourselves to reach goals, we feel elation and frustration along the path to attaining those goals.  And, we are emotional.  Sometimes that emotion brings out the very best in us, and other times, not so much.

It’s been a tough few days following an amazing, positive and great race for the HMF community on Sunday morning.  We were made aware of an incident of banditing the race and quickly addressed the severity of that act – the intent was to be very clear that we do not accept, condone or allow the behavior.  

We chose to make this situation a reminder of the severity of the issue, not to pinpoint any one person or organization. We believe strongly that we can all always do better, and we have certainly made our own mistakes that we learn and grow from. 

It’s important that we hear from you, the runners at the heart of this community.  We value your feedback and we listen to your conversations to help us do better.  It is with this principle that we allowed open conversation about the incident on our pages.  We felt confident that as adults that have a common bond of being runners, differing opinions could be shared, points made, concerns flagged, and questions answered.  

I want to make it clear right now, we do not support any communication intended to personally damage or insult each other.  The court of public opinion weighed particularly heavy in this week’s conversation, and while we encourage continued active voices, we have one simple message to reiterate:  Be nice.


It’s ok not to agree, it’s ok to show disappointment, it’s even ok to be angry. It is just not ok to be mean-spirited.  We lift each other up in so many ways throughout training, racing and celebrating our goals, let’s please remember to be nice when we hit those emotional moments that can so easily but unnecessarily escalate.

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!