Sunday, November 20, 2016

Base layers and (re)Building a Base

On May 31 I ran my fastest marathon yet and on June 1 I stopped running. I had registered for the Burlington marathon knowing that I had an injury to my left heel and that I may not finish the race. I know none of you are shocked that I stubborned my way through it and finished the thing. I knew I had a couple physical injuries to sort through and that taking time off was the best (and probably only) way to address them. I returned to Newport, bought a bike and started Not Running.
Throughout the summer I swam in the ocean, rode miles and miles on my bike, kited whenever the wind cooperated and even learned to surf. I truly enjoy each of these sports but none of them seem to create the same feelings as running, or the same core strength! There is plenty of debate between cyclists and runners about which sport is better for you but are there any scientific reasons that I simply just feel better after running? The strongest argument for cycling is that cycling is low impact. Low impact sports leads to fewer injuries and build sustained stamina by allowing you to go for longer. Leg muscles and stamina get built up over long rides. 
Running’s leading argument is that you simply burn more calories doing it. Holding your body upright and moving it through space requires more muscle groups and more energy. Most of the other benefits of running are really just benefits of exercise in general.
-Exercise boosts serotonin, dopamine and beta endorphins which all help lower stress levels and put you in a happier mood.
-Exercise increases blood flow and the production of white blood cells, strengthening the immune system.
-Exercise increases the body’s production of ATP from glucose in our muscles and blood. This process is like a power boost to our internal batteries.  
Though I couldn't find any concrete evidence that running does magical things to my body I truly missed it and am pretty happy to get back to it. That being said, running after not running for 5 months hurts and I'm trying hard to focus on not doing too many miles too soon. I've been leaving all tracking devices at home and just trying to build a base back. Thankfully, it is fall and the weather has been distractingly beautiful.
Fall is my favorite time of year to run and train. New England pulls out all the stops between September and November in order to convince people that it really is a great place to live, right before burying us in ice, snow and freezing cold temperatures.  The days are crisp and cool, the trees are bursting with colors and the sky is an insane blue. I took the summer off from running but there was no way I was going to be able to sit on the bench as the fall weather came in. When the leaves fall so do the temperatures and lower temps lead to a runner’s other favorite pastime, gear! Summer running is so simple, shorts and tank and you’re out the door. Fall and winter running requires a runner to look at the weather and figure out what to wear. You know the expression “there is no bad weather, just the wrong outfit?” No? Oh. Maybe I made it up. Either way it applies when training outside in the winter. No one likes being cold but being overdressed and sweaty isn’t great either. I use 50°, 30° and single digits as delineations when deciding what to put on. 
When the temperature drops below 50° I put on full length tights and long sleeves.  
Between 30 and 50 I add a base layer top, usually a tank top. The fabric that is touching your skin is the important part. There are all sorts of fancy high tech wicking fabrics out there and they are all good for the job of keeping you warm but also dry(ish). My favorites are more natural wool, merino blends that incorporate the warmth of wool but in a weave or combo that doesn’t itch. A friend of mine is a rep for CRAFT sportswear and recently gave me a couple of base layers to try out. One set is a polyester-polymide blend and the other 50% polymide and 50% wool.  I like the wool blend a little better, it’s a little more breathable but still keeps me really warm. 
If it’s windy or wet outside I add a jacket that keeps the water off or the wind from cutting through. Running jackets are lightweight and designed to do just that, keep warmth in and nature out. Mine is from LLBean, because who knows New England weather better? 
Anytime it’s below 40 I add gloves and something to cover my ears.  I'm pretty obsessed with a pair of Hind gloves/mittens that I found a couple of years ago. They're super thin gloves with a stuff-able pocket that covers over the fingers like a mitten. The mitten/glove combo keeps my hands warm at the start of a run and then lets them breath as things heat up. 
Below 30 is when things start to get exciting and the laundry starts to pile up. Thicker tights, base layer long sleeve top, thick fleece top, hat and Smartwool socks. All that really matters is that I'm comfortable and warm enough to let my body focus on burning energy on the selected sport, not on keeping me warm. So bundle out and get out there! It's a beautiful or cold or windy or rainy or snowy day outside! 

No comments:

Post a Comment