Gear, Gadgets, Equipment

It's snot time for that already, is it?

There are so many things that are beautiful, and I mean so perfectly beautiful about running.  It's simplicity, the human body in motion (ok, except for my form), the glorious results.  It is a fabulous activity.

But as runners, we also know the sport has a few not so glamorous details that we just don't talk about as much.   You know, it's things like the really delicate parts of our bodies that chafe, rub, and bleed, ugly feet, toes and toenails, and at this time of the year - snot.

This cold weather brings out the worst of my nose during the runs.   There is not enough pocket space in my wonderful blue running jacket to hold the volume of tissues that I need.   So I am in constant conversation with myself on the run of the "right" thing to do.   I spend the rest of my waking non-running hours talking to my kids about how wrong it is to wipe their nose on anything on a tissue - so it bugs me to no end when I run out of "right" options for taking care of snot business.   

So I am curious - what do you do?  Vote today - show me the way.   Being submersed in Iowa Caucus activity - I guess I am just getting that polling fever.   Everyone's voice makes a difference, take time to vote today.

Gifts for Runners

53117612christmasshopping If you've ever been labeled "hard to buy for", it's frustrating.  My kids sometimes describe me that way, but if they look at my interests around running, there are an abundance of gift ideas. 

Amy and I would love to give everyone their very own Runners' Lounge gift card, except we don't sell anything here.  So we have been out shoplifting—a combination of shopping + lifting URLs—to make it easier for everyone.

We found this site with unique running gifts (running bag, boxers, ties, socks, t-shirts).

Some favorites of mine—you gotta love the site names—are Gifts For Runners and Get Fit Gifts.  They really have great ideas so you might just end up shopping there yourself.

Jesus_2 I wonder is there an equivalent for runners of the Hockey Jesus gift?  For marathoners needing help fleshing out a holiday wish list, you might be interested in Top 3 gifts from marathon rookie

Some items are just awkward to ask for.  So be careful that others don't read too much into what you've been up to if you're asking for NipGuards, or what you have in mind if you ask for The Stick. 

Looking at others' gift lists can generate ideas too.  If you want to peek at other runners' letters to Santa, Runners' World has a recent list as well as last year's list.

It's rare when you find that perfect gift for a runner, but Marcy and Bill might enjoy checking out these

Trisanta_milkcookie_card_md_2 Amy, you might want to check out these Santa Milk & Cookie cards.

One of the best ways to drum up ideas is to talk with other runners—see what they're asking for or hoping for.  Check out the Holiday Weight Loss Challenge for ideas of what runners will give themselves.

Actually I think runners don't really expect a lot from others.  We're more givers and truly appreciate the joys of non-material gifts such as health, friendships, and personal accomplishments.

Now would all of you please make sure I get one of everything...


Running TShirts for That Special Someone

Let's keeping going with this theme of holiday gifts for runners - it's fun!

Runners love Tshirts!  We run insane distances in crazy conditions just to get one.  If you check a runners' laundy anytime during the year, the bulk of what they are fluffing and folding is bound to be their Tshirts - followed closely by shorts and socks.  I bet almost all runners have a shelf or drawer just for their race shirts.  So it only makes sense that we sRunumotherhould think about giving or making a special Tshirt for our favorite running friend.

At the top of my list this year, is the little gem on the right - Run U Mother.  Created by three moms,  Nancy, TJ, and Christy who "share a sense of humor and desire to be fit", it is an "irreverent nod to mothers who run".   

And of course, the Life is Good site has some great options too.  There are a couple options for runners and bikers for Tshirts, socks and hats.

And don't forget about It's Gonna Happen and their shirts and hats too.

If you would like to make a custom Tshirt, you don't have a shortage of online options, including:

And if your mind just went blank when I said you could create your own, check out these forum and post to get some get ideas for a Tshirt.   Among my favorites in their lists are:

  • I'm the fast girl your mother warned you about.
  • Running is a mental sport and we're all insane.
  • I'm just trying to get to the post run snacks before they're all gone
  • This is more fun than it looks
  • HA HA, I'm beating YOU
  • Pardon me, but did you just fartlek?!

Running_tshirt_page Happy Tshirt shopping!  I guarantee you will find at least one that you must have (for a friend, of course) in the lists.  I added all these great resources to the Running Resources list under the Clothing & Accessories category. 

Help the shopping/gift giving challenges of your fellow runners and add your favorites to this list or to the Running Resources list.  You did such an awesome job yesterday passing along the books you love!

Hiding My Soreness and Hobbling

Living with my non-running wife, Mary, I’m conscientious about her seeing me sore from running.  She understands soreness after my long runs or after a marathon, but not moving about sore and limping after easy routine running.

Lately, however, the stiffness seems to be lingering, noticeable when getting in and out of the car, moving around after sitting in long meetings at work, even after running light mileage.  So I try to cover up my hobble because I don’t want to give her any extra ammunition that I might be over doing it—a standing debate throughout our marriage. 

Pat_materna_2 So I’ve started to use The Stick in addition to my stretching.  I’m not a gadget guy.  Never used a Thigh Master or the abdomen flab melter.  But I did purchase The Stick at a race expo after receiving a demo massage by a trained black-belt Stick expert.  It’s a simple device to achieve “muscle management” and based on all the advanced science and technology of a rolling pin.

But here’s the confession.  Using the stick doesn’t provide that same soothing, relaxing “ah-that-feels-nice” and melting sensation you get from a department store Homemedics massager. 

Noooo!  Actually rolling those plastic spindles back and forth hurts like hell!   The Stick requires the same deliberate, pre-meditated intent and meanness as committing an OJ Simpson crime—only you’re also the victim.  It delivers muscle therapy complete with all the same TLC you'd find in a medieval torture instrument.

Something seems wrong about bearing down so hard using this device that I’m wincing, short of breath, and begging myself to stop.  But the truth is when I’m done with my Stick workout, my muscles feel loose and limber— better than the benefit of just stretching and cheaper than a daily massage. And admittedly, over time, I’m no longer writhing in pain with tears rolling down my face. 

The real painful part, however, is when I get busted—caught by Mary—rolling that weapon across my quads, calves, hips, and hammies.   She asks if instead of rolling and flattening my muscles like a pre-schooler with Play-Doh, maybe I’d be wise to back off my running a bit.  Bless her heart, but she doesn’t get it that I’d rather endure the muscle management, aka, wince in pain, on the family room floor in order to enjoy a better run the next day.

Secretly, I think she ought to be glad I don’t actually use her fancy marble rolling pin on my grimy, sweaty legs. 

Need Some Running Tunes

A good friend of mine, I will call her Sue, is running her first marathon in the next few weeks and pretty well has it wrapped up in as she finishes her taper.  She told me that she feels strong, no major nagging injury and since the taper began everything is feeling pretty "fresh" except for ..... her tunes.  She feels like she has listened to them so many times over so many runs this summer and fall that she finds herself flipping more than listening.

"Got any good suggestions of running tunes to help me cover the marathon?", she Running_music_2 asked.

"No problem!  Whip 'em up in a jiffy!  Lots of great ideas!", I exclaim.

So I head home and dig out my trusty, ancient little MP3 player.  This little guy has been with me about three years, hangs out with me in all runs and all weather.  He only holds about 2 1/2 hours, and most days his buttons stick - but has been a loyal running friend. (But I haven't named him like sRod - if you didn't read his post about her his iPod in early September - give it a read.) I grab a pen and paper and start to write down my favorite running tunes.   Write, flip, flip, flip, flip, write, flip, flip.....ugh...I have the same issue as Sue - my tunes are a bit weary.

Remembering my husband mentioned he recently downloaded a bunch of new music, I run downstairs where he is lifting weights and I can hear some kind of music playing...sounds new...(hope)....wait...that can't be...oh my goodness it is..."Rock Me Amadeus"....(I have stopped on the edge of the stairs in disbelief).   The next song is...Hall and Oats? ...  what the heck....   he's lost his mind!

Ok, he is going to be no help for me.  I need the help of running friends.  BRF's - friends like you who can help me in a jiffy to come up with about 330 minutes or about 100 songs by Tuesday.    Can you help me?  Will you throw in a couple songs?   If everyone can add 2-5 songs to the list we should get to 100.

Here are five songs that I LOOVVEE to get the list started:

  • Free and Easy Down the Road I Go - Dierks Bentley
  • Fighter  - Christina Auguilara
  • I Run For Life - Melissa Etheridge
  • Take a Chance - ABBA  (:} - of course!)
  • I Ain't Settlin' - Sugarland

To throw yours on the list, you can leave them in the comments below, post them on your blog and copy/link to this list or email me at   I will post the entire list next week in case you are interested in some new tunes as well.   (If there any any good sites that have running tunes list - I would love to know that too!)

And if you are a running purest who can get through miles and miles with no tunes, first of all I salute you!  If there are tunes that you find yourself tapping a toe to or you celebrate with after your run, please drop those by too!

Many thanks!

Photo by Who's Picture?

Me (1) vs. Stinky Shoes (0)

I think I may have won a battle in my quest to tame the stink of shoes in my mud room.  I momentarily lost the battle when I was distracted by my back, but I am now back in full control of the situation.

The winning weapon wasn't one I specifically mentioned in my first post.  But came to me from an angel on high - who happens to be a mom of four boys.   She told me of an air freshener that has defeated the smell in the bathroom used by all her little boys.  I was at first skeptical because I have tried what I thought was every air freshener on the market.  But alas, her little gem of advice has saved my sanity and my mud room.

Yes, the Glade Gel Plug In with Clean Linen is the most fabulous air freshener ever Plug_in created.   In a matter of moments, my stinky mud room was transformed from a small space with a big problem to a valley of clean linens blowing in a spring breeze straight from the mountain tops.  I could see the fields of early summer flowers and feel the soft fluffy grass in my toes.....opps...that was the dog I was stepping on and not grass.... but the scent evoked such a happy place.

I was so excited that I went to the site to find a Glade_page picture of this air freshener so I could share it all with you.   When I entered into the Glade site, I was again overcome with peace and harmony.   Have you visited this surreal world?  The cloud background and floating happy pictures with the soothing music....ahhh....a little break of reality.  As I peeled myself back to my world, I had to laugh.   If my life (and mudroom) looked and smelled like the divine place in land, I wouldn't need to spend $3.28 on this stinkin' air freshener.   

I would love to see this site/marketing with the real dilemmas that moms face about stinky bathrooms, stinky kids and dogs and houses that get stale when they have been shut up for months in the winter.  Let's see the real people in the ads with the disgusting challenges they have conquered - like stinky running shoes.   

But that aside, I love my new air freshener.  I drug my poor husband to the mudroom four times in 2 hours just to stand there and enjoy the aroma of clean linen.   For reasons I don't undestand, it didn't evoked the same grand emotion and joy for him as it did me.

Round #1 goes to me.  I win the battle for now!

PS:  2 miles of trail walking (ok, except for 4 brief bursts when I found myself running and realized I shouldn't be). I can now touch my toes again - this is a big deal for me.  By the end of this, I will be able to touch the toes, but probably won't be able to see them.  The little fat fairy is not being kind to me!

Running Fashion Tips

Tom, I tried to let it go - but I can't.  You threw out that comment about your "outfit" for Chicago and I can't resist the urge to give you some advice.  After all you give me very helpful coaching on my running on a daily basis (seriously - very appreciated!), so the least I can do is try to repay the debt and offer you some fashion tips. 

You have worked with me for 10 years, so you know I am no glam girl, but I do have Fashion_statementsome sense when it comes to running fashion saavy.  Here are my personal rules that have made me into the sweet vision of a runner I am today.  (Oh, stop your laughing...)  These have helped me pick out my outfits for all my big races, hope they help you to!

1.  If you can cross the line, anything is fine. (Say it with some attitude!) If you want to wear green shorts and a red shirt or maybe break out the only striped/polka dotted singlet in the universe.  Go ahead - people may be laughing at your clothes but they will bow to your times.

2.  If it bounces, bobs or flops, go ahead and cover it up and leave the rest to our imagination.  As I get older and chubbier, this rule has taken on new meaning.  I just wish a few more runners and triathletes would take it to heart.

3.  Spandex - use its powers for good only.  I have never seen you in spandex or tight lycra so you may be able to pass over this little nugget of advice.  It's good for controlling chub rub and holding us together, but it isn't and shouldn't be used for a bold fashion statement.  Although I have noticed that athletes in spandex seem to have a high level of confidence and charisma - so maybe there is something magical in that shiny texture. To all runners out there, if you must indulge in the stretchy, god given fabric, do so responsibly and recognize the limitations of its stretchy powers.    And if you want a good laugh, you must check out the post on spandex by the fat triathlete.  I know, I know, you don't have time to read another link out there - but indulge - it really makes me giggle.

4.  Mix and match colors liberally but not smells.  With all this training, it's hard to keep up on laundry for all the running gear, but this is an important rule for those last few big training runs.  If it is clean it matches.  If it's dirty - it's dirty - wash it.  Just like the rule about mixing batteries will kill your electronics, don't mix clean and dirty running stuff.

5.  Comfort is first and fashion is last.   You know the rules, wear the most comfortable, proven clothing that have been loyal to you in those 20+ mile runs.   No one cares if that shirt is from 5 years ago or those shorts have logged a few hundred miles and are so 2004 - it just doesn't matter.  It is too bad you are a guy 'cause the running skirts are so cute and so comfy - but Vanilla liked them, so maybe???  The only exceptions to this rule are no legwarmers and no double polos - that is just wrong.    

6.  There is nothing wrong with being half naked.   Just 'cause you are standing around with a few thousand people you don't know in less than some people wear as PJ's - not to worry - they are too.   Not sure this tip will work for you but I always paint my nails bright red.   I hope it lures the eye away from my chub and they think, wow, that chic has got it together, look she even has her nails painted.  I am hopeful that the pleasant picture of the nails helps them choke back their disgust at all my bare skin. 

There you are.  You now know all my running fashion secrets.  You too can be fashionable as you line up in Chicago.

And hey, be careful out there and dress responsibly.  Know your limits.

Picture from a great post on existential dilemmas

(PS...If you can't tell by his posts and picture, Tom is a well put together guy who knows more about running than I will ever forget or hope to learn.   He hasn't posted about his weight lately - but he is definitely close to his "fighting" weight and is one of those runners who look completely natural in a singlet and running shorts.   He needs these tips like I need to a day without cookies.  But how else could I repay my personal running coach who keeps me from making stupid decisions about my running.)

Stinky Shoe Solutions

Since we moved to the country, down a dusty gravel road, I have become an expert in all things dusty and dirty.  To give all this dirt a good home, I even set aside a room in our home and named it in honor of the great outdoors, "The Mud Room".  (Yes, I lead a glamorous life.)  An even though dirt/mud has a room named in its honor, it doesn't have the presence of mind to stay contained in one room - but instead moves freely throughout my home. 

One thing that has stayed put in this room is the collective stench of smelly shoes.  I found this little video clip (45 seconds of funny!) and thought it was a good depiction of the effect of my mud room/stinky shoe room.  Go ahead - laugh a little. 

As hard as it is to believe to me, it seems my running shoes (the many pairs) have been a big contributor to this ambience in this room.  Many long runs, wet trails, rainy conditions...etc, all adds up.  So I am on a mission to fight all that is smelly and evil in this room and return it to its prestigous Mud Room status - minus the stink.  I have armed myself with some great tips from ehow, how to clean, thriftyfun, tipnut, startsampling.  Here is a sampling of the top ideas:

1.  Wash your feet.  Ok, I do this - swear.  This was the top tip on all the lists - wash your feet with soap and water.   Check.  Got it.  Easy one.  Now - my kids feet - that is a different story - they are continually dirty - makes it clear why their cute little shoes smell like a small but rancid animal has taken up residence deep inside.  One other tip mentioned that bleaching socks each washing helps too.   Soaking in black tea was mentioned - but its a "nope" on my list. 

2. Baking soda sprinkled in the shoe.  Seems to be a favorite of many because it isThis_stinks  cheap, safe and environmentally safe.  Alum, baby powder, and foot powders were also in this group of tips.  There were a couple tips about swirling a shot of rubbing alcohol around the shoe and letting it dry to kill odor and bacteria.

3.  Freezing your shoes.  Many, many suggestions of putting shoes in the freezer to freeze out the odor causing bacteria.  Some variations suggested putting them in plastic bags and then freezing.  Others - throw them out in winter.  There was some mention that USC did a study and this was the number one solution.  I couldn't find it - so we will leave that as a internet myth. First, I can't believe this works (my shoes are smelly in the winter and I regularly freeze to death) and second, this is gross - no can do for me!  Could you imagine cooking dinner for your family and one of them saying, "gee, hon, dinner has a different taste - what did you try?"   "Oh, just a subtle marinate of my running shoes."  Ick!

4.  Amazing household products.  Many tips on using "Bounce" dryer sheets in shoes, Febreeze sprays, Clorox Antibacterial sprays/cleaners, rolled up newspapers, etc.  Worth a shot if you have them laying around.

5.  Kitty litter.  Bag up a little (unused) litter in panty hose or netting and place in your shoes to attract moisture and smell.

And my favorite tip - although I probably won't try it - came from the Start Sampling link:

"charcoal also helps absorb odors. but not the bricks that or premoistened with lighter fluid. unless they are real bad then add them and a lit match."

Alright, I am armed and I am going in.   If you don't hear from me in a few days, call my husband first and then 9-1-1. Better let them know to send the hazmat crew.  In the meantime, if you happen to fight the battle of stinky shoes in your house, feel free to send your tips my way.

Photo by camnlo4130

When Running and Gardening Collide

Question:  What do you get when you mix a cheapskate, a runner and a budding Dscn1583gardener? 

Answer:  A use for old water bottles and race safety pins.

I love hanging baskets and pots in my garden - but do not enjoy the mess and time of watering them.  My solution:  Take my old water bottles, poke holes around the bottom using my race safety pin, fill with water, recap.   When it is time to water, set them in the pot and take off the lid and you have your own mini sprinkler.  WaaDscn1582_2 laa - an instant watering solution.  No mess, no waste.   

And look, my six pack carton even got a second life.  (Thanks Dad for that suggestion!)

Bonus Question:  What do you get when you take my watering bottles and place them in the hands of small children?

Answer:   Water fights!  And really wet kids!

If you like to run and love our world, check out a couple great posts and ideas from eco-runners like Sam, G.P.'s (Great list of tips), or Beth as she did her first eco-run.  On this weekends run, leave the world a little better than you found it. 

Running Radar

Ever noticed how so many of us have Running Radar?

Radar_screen I’m talking about that built-in device that listens for and hones in on any sign we might be in the midst of other runners.

My running radar kicks in regularly.  I can be in a room full of strangers and my running antenna activates, sensing for a sign that nearby is a runner I'm about to meet.  Simultaneously while holding a non-running chat with friends or co-workers, my eyes and ears work the room like an audible google key word search detecting running chatter in the air.

We’re not talking amateur running radar.  I’m way beyond merely listening for variations on the word "run," "running," "runner," etc.  I can hover on the fringe of a conversation, seemingly engaged with others, and pick up crystal clear jargon like taper, pronate, motion control, lactate threshold, cross train, plantar fasciitis, IT band, chip time, and GUIn the checkout line at Target or at our work cafeteria, I can detect the slightest hint of a running conversation, and pick up the context.

Office_shrine The same goes for visual cues.  I step into an office or cubical and scan walls and desks for hints of running—a race picture or bib.  Once while interviewing for a job with a company president, I spotted his sports watch, inquired about his running, and the rest of the interview was all mine. 

I love a good conversation about running, but my mother taught me not to intrude on others' conversations, and I've never been one to really flirt very well.  But when appropriate, I seize nuggets with a prospect for a running conversation, and find myself engaged in running chat.  Can't tell you how many times I've rescued fellow runners from ordinary, boooorrrring small talk.  The runners' gleam darts into their eyes and their faces break out in smiles.  In an instant they're engaged talking enthusiastically about their running, races, PRs, and their injuries.

My wife warns others, “If you want to lose an hour of life you’ll never get back, just get Tom talking about running with you.”  She’s right—up to a point.  More than talking about my running, I enjoy listening to others talk about their running.  I usually learn something, and others often reinforce something I’ve heard, considered trying, but never got around to.

Yup, my wife has witnessed my running radar at work countless times.  After coming away from mingling with new-found runners, she asks questions like,

“How did you find out Jim ran Grandma’s Marathon?"   or

How did it come up that lady Barb has shin splints?"   or

"How is it you just met those complete strangers and now you’re joining them at the lake trail for a run?"

It just happens.

You can’t shrug off Running Radar.  It’s a gift.

Radar tech on Flickr by Velvetwink

Office bibs on Flickr by Moojieturtle

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