Category Archives: Running Gear

Coach’s Corner: What Winter Running Gear Do I REALLY Need??

“How does a gal living in the tropics of Singapore have any business writing about winter running gear?”

Dealing with uber-humidity? Sure, she can totally write about that.

But freezing temperatures, icy winds, and blowing snow?  Give me a break.

But wait-wait-wait just a second, and give me a moment to explain.  You see, prior to living in Singapore, I spent six years living and running in Rochester, NY – which is, quite literally, just across the lake (Lake Ontario, to be exact) from Canada.  My qualifications for writing about winter weather running can be explained with just a few Rochester statistics.  Rochester, NY experiences:

1. Average low temperatures below freezing for five months of the year (this is where they usually sit for 6 AM runs);
2. Nine hours of daylight on the shortest day of the year.  That’s, like, 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM; and
3. An average yearly snowfall over 90″.  This ranks it as the 11th snowiest city in the US; five of the cities ranked above Rochester are within a 2 hour drive of Rochester.

Yep, that'd be some wintry weather.  Also, take note of the jacket - we'll come back to that shortly.  Photo Credit: Barb Boutillier

Yep, that’d be some wintry weather. Also, take note of the jacket – we’ll come back to that shortly.
Photo Credit: Barb Boutillier

So with that, and with apologies to Karen at la chanson de ma vie (who doesn’t like this kind of repetitive list/advice – I generally agree with her, but am making an exception here), let’s talk about winter running gear.  [Unless, of course, you live in Singapore, or you still doubt my credentials.  Then click on, close this window, and go enjoy general dog-text hilarity.]  I’m making an exception in writing this post simply because I’ve received so many requests for such a topic lately.

Usually, these requests go something like this: “Hey, I just started running this spring.  I paid a lot of money for new sneakers, and some tech shirts, and (maybe) a fancy GPS watch.  I don’t have much money left to spend on running gear, but winter is coming and my GPS watch doesn’t keep me warm.  How should I spend my limited remaining funds?”  And really, this is a great, practical question.  Keeping in mind a few simple rules (dress in layers, avoid cotton), here are my answers, in order of importance:

[*Note: Any brand references and links are provided by me, for your convenience, because I love the product.  I get nothing from these companies if you click the link or buy the product.]

1. Safety equipment.  With shorter daylight hours, the likelihood that you’ll be running after dark is much higher than in the summer.  A reflective vest or belt is a necessity, and a headlamp is important if you’ll be running in an area that lacks streetlights.  An additional blinking red light for your back is optional.  Headlamps come in all price ranges; personally, I like Black Diamond products, but anything will do to get you started.  Amphipod makes the best and most comfortable reflective gear that I’ve found (their Xinglet is amazing).

Winter Trail Racing: Headlamp? Check! Xinglet? Check! Cheapo gloves? Check, check!

Winter Trail Racing: Headlamp? Check! Xinglet? Check! Cheapo gloves? Check, check!
Extra safety pins? Missing, apparently.
Photo Credit: Barb Boutillier

I'll admit that I eventually had more than one weatherproof outer layer (as you can see in these pics).  But this jacket was by far my favorite.

I accumulated more than one weatherproof outer layer – but this jacket was by far my favorite.

2. A warm, light, water-resistant/proof jacket.  I suggest a running or cycling jacket, as these tend to be less bulky than “every day wear” jackets.  Purchase one in a slim cut, but with a little extra room for a few layers to be worn underneath.  Reflective stripes/strips/spots/panels are a bonus, as it will likely be dark when you are out at this time of year.  This will probably be the priciest item you purchase ($100+) – but I urge you to save your pennies first, then splurge on a high quality product when you do buy (only exception would be if your climate gets two days below freezing every year).  You will probably wear this piece for every outdoor run, for many months.  Most of the typical running/cycling brands make a good product. My Sugoi jacket and I passed many happy miles together, and even just looking at the photos of it (see right) makes me a bit nostalgic.  That was a great jacket, and it would still be going strong for me, if I hadn’t moved to the tropics…

3. Thick running tights.  In the beginning, any kind of “bottom” will do – warm up pants, yoga pants, etc.  A tighter fit is preferable, and some wind/water resistance might be beneficial, but just wear what you have.  When you’re ready to purchase, I suggest selecting a pair of tights that will be appropriate for the average winter conditions where you live, and I strongly recommend tights over pants (less bulk, less annoying, less to get wet in the slush/snow, and often warmer).  On the very coldest days, you can fake an extra layer with a pair of cheap “warm up” pants or your running capris/shorts on top.  If the fitted profile makes you uncomfortable, wear shorts or a cover-up athletic skirt on top.  On warmer days, your capris should to fine.  Again, stick to a typical running apparel brand and you won’t go wrong, and expect to pay $50-80.

4. High quality winter socks.  Running shoes have lots of breathable mesh, which allows a cold wind or icy puddle to sabotage your toasty toes.  While a double layer of your regular socks might do the trick for awhile (and except in the coldest places, your toes will warm up after a few miles), the best protection against chilly feet is a pair of wool-blend winter socks.  If you’re on the taller side, I especially suggest a higher cut (usually found as “Hiking” not “Running”), to help protect your ankles when your tights ride up.  Smartwool and Darn Tough are two great brands – these socks don’t come cheap (~$8-25/pair), but you will wear them for many years to come, and your toes will thank you!

5. Long-sleeved top-half base layers.  The trick to dressing for cold weather running is layers.  If you have any technical gear from your warmer weather running (bra, tank, short-sleeved shirt), then put that layer closest to your skin.  On top, add one or two or three (as the temperature dictates) more layers, preferably technical gear, but whatever you have will do.  Bonus features on this layer include a higher neck and/or thumb holes (especially for those with long arms!)  Finish with your jacket (see #1).  You can get as simple or as fancy with your base layer as you want; usually, mid-quality base layers can be found for $20-40.

6. Hats/gloves.  These are essential items that you should be wearing as soon as the temperatures drops – in fact, I’ve been known to wear shorts, short sleeves, and gloves:

But gloves and hats are at the bottom of my “to buy” list because, in my experience, it’s not usually worthwhile to spend extra money on these layers, especially at first.  Go digging in your closet for an old earband or hat, and see what kind of gloves you find while you’re at it.  Usually, the items you find will be made of some sort of synthetic anyway.  I grab the cast-offs (ones I wouldn’t normally wear in every day life), and banish them to the running basket.  This is where the hats in the above photos originated.

And frankly, after losing 2-3 pairs of pricey winter running gloves (when my hands got warm, I’d take the gloves off and shove them half into my shorts/pants), I gave up and bought a pack of obnoxiously colored, one-size-fits-all gloves.  I’d double them up if it was very cold, and I’d add a layer with the “finger mitts” on a few of my technical tops.  And I did keep a pair of wind-resistant mittens around, for the very coldest days.

Also on the coldest days in the coldest climes, you may want a scarf or balaclava to protect your neck and face, and to help warm the air slightly before you breathe it in.  You can fashion this with an old scarf wrapped over your nose/mouth and tied behind your head, or splurge on a specialized product.  This really depends on how cold it gets where you live.

Now, the final question: Where should I buy this gear?

I MUST start by recommending your local running/walking store.  I don’t mean a big-box sporting goods store – I mean a specialty running/walking store.  Shopping at such a store lets you try on various brands/sizes, feel the fabric options, and talk to the staff.  Seriously – the staffers at such stores are usually amazing resources – they should be runners themselves (if they aren’t, find another store), and can talk you through the details of each product in far more detail than this blog post can provide (materials, wind/water-proofness, pockets, reflectivity, etc.).

[Personal plugs: If you’re in Rochester, go to Fleet Feet Sports Rochester.  If you’re in Central NJ, go see Meghan at Princeton Running Company.  And on the off chance you happen to be near Gig Harbor, WA – then go visit Alexa at Route 66 Running & Walking!  If you’re anywhere else and need a suggestion, drop me a line.  I can’t make any promises, but I’ll do my best. :)]

Once you get a feel for the products, what you like, what sizes you wear, etc – of course you can go online.  There are lots of benefits to shopping locally, and I urge you to do so.  However, I can’t deny that I stalk my favorite apparel sites at the end of the season (at the end of this winter, you can get great deals for next winter!), and I do order my fair share of discounted apparel from Sierra Trading Post.

And that, I believe, is a cold weather wrap (or Snuggie, whatever you prefer).  If there’s interest, I’ll talk about dressing your feet (beyond socks) for winter weather running in a future post.  But for now, my temperate-climate-dwelling friends, grab some hot tea and a slice of pumpkin pie, prop your feet up, and have a great evening.  Here in the tropics, I’m off to put on a running tank, and chill an isotonic beverage for post-sweaty-run rehydration. 🙂

Tell me about the coldest/nastiest condition you’ve ever run through.  What piece of apparel did you want to marry at the end of that run?

Did I miss any essential winter apparel items?  Think I made a mistake in the order of importance?  Feel free to discuss and disagree in the comments!

Any winter-weather-topics you’d like me to blog about?


Five Links for a Friday

OK, maybe it’s not quite Friday for everyone yet, but here’s a random collection of Cool Things I’ve Seen on the Internet This Week, in no particular order and for your viewing pleasure.  If you are Facebook friends with me, some of these might be repeats.  Apologies.

1. A North Carolina State Ph.D. student turned linguistic data from around the United States into a pretty cool series of visuals.  I just can’t get them to embed (which is OK, because 22 is too many anyway, and you should really just click on the link).  Beyond the “soda” vs. “pop” debate, the graphics explore the many pronunciations of “syrup”, where people are wearing tennis shoes vs. sneakers, and what names are given to that big crowded road without stoplights.  If you’ve lived in the US for any length of time, go have a look. It’s fascinating!

2. I often struggle to find the right balance between being confident, humble, and modest.  I (and many people, especially women <— broad generalization, please don’t hurt me) tend to err on the side of “I’m sorry”.  All of which is to say, you should listen to this TEDx talk by Dyana Valentine about why she’s NOT sorry.  [Also, it involves chocolate covered potato chips.]

3. A former classmate of mine from Drew University is a mover and shaker in the Cambodian-based accessories company basik 855.  She and her team work with local artisans to produce traditional ikat (an intricate, locally-woven fabric) and turn it into trendy accessories.  The company is built on the basic tenant of respect for their artisans, and the belief that their labors should help them build a better life (ie, basik 855 pays fair wages and benefits to their employees).  Essentially, its an awesome mixture of socially-responsible entrepreneurship and chic accessories.  If you’re inclined, check out some of their products.  Pretty neat!

Mostly, I wanted to share the awesome work they do with you.  Optionally, you can also check out their Kickstarter campaign, which they are using to raise funds for their 2013 Fall line.  The link also includes a video where you can see the team, and learn a bit about their products.  [PS I’m not sorry for using my blog to help spread the word about their work!]

4. Sierra Trading Post.  It’s hit-or-miss (their inventory changes), but if they’re carrying something you already love, you can often get it for a pretty sweet price.  During their National Running Day sale on Wednesday, I managed to snag two Moving Comfort Alexis full-length tops, usually about $35-40, for just $20.  Keep your eye out for their free or 99¢ shipping offers, too.

5. Heck, I was gonna add a fifth, but it’s an almost-summer Friday (or almost-Friday).  So go out an enjoy yourself!!

What are you NOT SORRY about today?

Seen anything noteworthy on the internet lately?

It’s Not The Heat, It’s The Sweat: Running Edition

In my post from yesterday (It’s Not The Heat, It’s The Sweat!), I spent lots of word-age describing how I’ve adjusted to living in a tropical climate, and some of my strategies for making daily life more comfortable.

One important note: Many of the physiological changes that occur to help humans adjust to warm weather take time (up to several months).  Unfortunately, for those of you in places where heat waves last a few days, then give way to cooler weather for another few days, and back and forth – your bodies don’t have the same opportunity to adjust – so you may never experience the full set of physiological changes.  Every time the weather gets hot, you’ll suffer all over again (sorry!).  You could, however, still take Sarrilly’s suggestion and go to bed at night with your feet resting on an ice pack!

So today, as I talk a bit about some specific measures I take to help me stay comfortable and safe while running in this super-tropical weather, please remember:  This is geared toward people who are accustomed to living and working in a tropical climate (Southern US in the summer, Southeast Asia, etc.), and who aren’t dealing with the most acute stages of adaptation.  If you aren’t already adjusted to tropical weather, be very careful – respect the heat!!  

[I’ll also reiterate what I said yesterday: Several fellow bloggers have discussed excellent, practical strategies for dealing with the warming weather in the US.  Check them out: Miss ZippyDefy Your Limitations, and Fashionable Miles.]

Here is some perspective:  As my running friends in the USA may remember, in 2007, the Chicago Marathon was cancelled 3-4 hours into the race, as the temperature climbed into the upper 80s.  In 2012, the Boston Marathon offered participants the option of deferring their entry to 2013 when race-day temperatures were predicted to rise into the upper 80s.  Both decisions were made in an attempt to keep runners safe and healthy – and both were probably good ideas.  In Boston, thousands of runners sought medical attention from on-site medical personnel, and hundreds were transported to local emergency rooms. But these are the conditions that runners in Singapore face nearly every time we step out the door for a run.  Of course we must be cautious – but the human body is an amazingly adaptable machine, and so the danger to us is less, since our bodies are already adapted to warmer temperatures.  

[FYI: I just got back from a run. Current weather conditions: 32°C, 66% humidity.  This is a heat index (“feels like”) temperature of 39°C/102°F.  This is amazing to me, because honestly, except for the sweat in my eyes, I hardly noticed.  See “the human body is an amazingly adaptable machine”, above.]

So, here is my list of additional/special/specific Tips and Tricks for Running in Uber-Humidity:

1. Apply Body Glide (or a similar anti-chafe product) EVERYWHERE.  I have yet to go on a 10+ mile run where I have managed to glide every potential chafe-spot.  I have, historically, been a crotch-line chafer, but in the tropics, I can also chafe under my waistband, at any and all garment tags, from the excess length of the drawstring in my shorts, under my bra strap, at any spot around the edge of my sports bra, under my arm, and even behind my knees (when I wear capris).  The culprit appears to be random, and changes with each run.

2. If your run is >5 miles, have a mid-run plan to change your top.  After about 3-4 miles, every piece of clothing on your body will be not only soaked, but it will be so incredibly wet that it is dripping and splashing sweat everywhere.  This is less than comfortable.  For the first time ever, during last week’s long run, I stopped home mid-run and changed to a dry sports bra and shirt.  The result was an extra 3-4 miles during which my shirt was NOT steadily dripping sweat into my capris.  Bliss.

[2.5 With or without a shirt? I haven’t figured this out yet.  It’s pretty rare for women out here to run in only a bra (and those who do are nearly always Caucasians), although I’m OK with doing either. However, NOT wearing a shirt means that a bit more sweat is pouring down my body, into my shorts, down my legs, and into my socks.  A shirt at least diverts some of this, for awhile.  Sometimes I go one way, sometimes the other. I haven’t decided yet which way I prefer.]

3. I don’t care what you’ve read about “light, wicking material” – save those shorts for your <30 minute runs, or for mopping the floor or something.  I’ve found that tightly fitting spandex bottoms are my best friend.  The loose, wicking ones just end up wet and alternately plastered to my legs and flinging sweat everywhere.  The spandex ones merely channel the sweat down my legs and into my socks.  Speaking of which, you may want to change your socks, while you’re changing your top.

4. I guess you could change your shorts, but I’ve found that getting on spandex shorts (or, worse yet, capris) in the tropics is 10x worse than pulling on a wet bathing suit.  My CW-X compression capris are especially tricky.  I swear that getting those suckers on my sweaty legs is a workout in and of itself.

5. Wear a hat or visor.  Sure, it keeps the sun out of your eyes, but more importantly – it catches the sweat before it runs INTO your eyes.  Similarly, don’t pluck your eyebrows to a fine line – they also help divert the sweat.  Some people tie a handkerchief or small towel around their wrist to sop up the face sweat, but I think my forearm sweat would soak such a towel before it was even useful on my face.

4. Drink and refill your bottle at EVERY opportunity.

5. But don’t stop for too long, because once you lose that tiny bit of run-induced evaporation, your face is going to get sweatier.  And your hands will be too sweaty to wipe your face.  And you’ll get sweat in your eyes.  And you’ll wipe your eyes with your (sweaty) hands, making the problem worse.  Have I mentioned that sweat is the bane of the tropical runner’s existence?

6. Triple Ziploc your valuables.  I actually don’t have a good solution for carrying stuff and keeping it dry (from sweat and downpours).  I see plenty of locals (non-Caucasians) out for runs with iPhones and iPods in armbands, or even in their hands – but this would never, EVER work for me.  I guess these other folks just aren’t as sweaty as I am, but I’d sweat through that thing and have the phone ruined in half an hour.  In fact, I already ruined one phone with sweat.  And I’ve yet to find a company that makes a reasonably-sized waterproof pouch of any kind.  So I usually leave my phone at home.  Sometimes, I’ll move my SIM card into an old phone we have and bring that along..  Every once in awhile, I’ll risk the Ziploc method with my iPhone.  But it makes me nervous.

7. Figure out a re-hydration strategy that works for you. I won’t belabor the point, but drink. A lot. And once your workout hits 45-60 minutes, get in some electrolytes (through a drink, or chews/gels, or salt tabs, or some combination).  Bottom line: Drink when you’re thirsty (which will probably be all the time), and if you have a headache after your run, or later in the day, your electrolytes are probably off.  Experiment to find what works.  I had this all settled in the US, but I’m still experimenting to find what works for me out here.

8. Leave an old towel (or a pile of them) at the door.  Because the minute you step inside, the sweat will be pouring off you.  Frankly, I immediately strip out of my dripping clothes and put on some “intermediately dirty” duds (which, yes, also get sweat-soaked) while I cool off, stretch, re-hydrate, etc.  Then, put that towel on the floor under the drying rack where you hang your wet clothes to dry.  Otherwise, those clothes will drip all over the floor.  Yum.

And that’s all I’ve learned so far.  Take it – or not – as you will.  And please, please, be careful in the heat.  Be smart, be safe, slow down and cool off if you feel unwell (weak, dizzy, light-headed, nauseous, crampy, goose-bumpy, and/or fast-pulsed).  Obviously, seek medical attention if your symptoms get serious.

But I can’t leave you all a post without any photos.  So here are a few random shots that have nothing to do with humidity or running:

Sometimes, you just need a cupcake. Preferably, a Cookies & Cream cupcake.

Sometimes, you just need a cupcake. Preferably, a Cookies & Cream cupcake.

Sometimes, you just need a lake. And you *might* even be able to find one that isn't framed by skyscrapers.  If you go up to Mandai Road.

Sometimes, you just need a lake. And you *might* even be able to find one that isn’t framed by skyscrapers. If you go up to Mandai Road.

And yes folks, on occasion, Holly actually wears Big Girl Shoes.  Shocking, I know.

And sometimes, you just need fantastic shoes. Yes folks, on occasion, Holly actually wears Big Girl Shoes. Craziness!

Why don’t “heat” and “sweat” rhyme?

Have any brilliant suggestions for keeping my iPhone safe and DRY while I’m running?
[besides leaving it at home…]

What do YOU “sometimes just need”?

Good Mornings for a Thursday (Feb. 7)

*These are actually leftovers from last Thursday. Enjoy!

1 Mendon Mauler Shirt

I believe these two items were meant to be worn together.
How did I not realize this sooner?
Mendon Mauler T-Shirt (~2009?)
Athleta skort (no longer made)

2 Hard Boiled Eggs

This makes me giggle.
But it’s necessary, since we almost always have both kinds of eggs in the fridge.
Hard boiled eggs make a terrific snack (1 whole + 2 whites only).

3 Nuun All Gone!

Bad surprise! Bad surprise!
Someone finished the last Nuun tablet and didn’t tell me!!!

4 Brand New Sneakers

Good surprise!  Good surprise!
I broke out a brand new pair of road sneakers today.
Remember, sneakers have a running life of just 300-500 miles!

5 Triple Gym WorkoutSuccessful completion of a Thursday triple-play:
Run, BodyPump, Hot Yoga
This was a “mental endurance building” day.
By the time I hit the yoga studio, I was wiped,
and I got through yoga class by focusing on one minute at a time.

6 Chicken Tarragon DinnerRefueling with a nostalgic dinner…
Chicken Tarragon was the first thing my Mom ever cooked for my Dad.
Love my parents.  <3

7 Birthday ToastI ended the evening with a Birthday Toast to a dear friend.
Who cares if she was drinking coffee, and I was drinking wine?
10 hours later, we switched places!

Do you have any “nostalgic” meals that you love to make?

Getting new running shoes: Love It – or – Hate It?

Refueling at Relish

Thanks for all the sharing, commenting, liking, and subscribing love that followed my Green Corridor Run recap.  If you missed out on the fun initially, you can still read (and comment) all about it right here.

Now, I love to run.  But let’s be serious.  Approximately 25% of the fun of running is actually in (re)fueling, right?  So let’s get down to the tasty part.  Immediately after the race, we enjoyed the water and bananas provided.  I even had a cup of 100Plus, a local electrolyte replacement drink.  But I have to admit, Southeast Asia, I have no idea why you like a sports drink to be carbonated.  The carbonation was fine, post-race – the drink actually tastes quite like a lemon-lime soda.  But I’d be hard-pressed to consume anything carbonated during a run.  Ew.

Thanks to the early race start and proximity to our apartment, we were able to zip home after the run, grab showers, and still meet some friends for brunch by 10:30.  [This included ~10 minutes of sock rinsing.  That red mud was pretty persistent!]

Post-run sneakers.  Love it.  But keep in mind that we only got this messy because we CHOSE to run through the mud.  If we'd opted to follow most of the other participants around the muddy sections, our shoes and socks would have been (almost) sparkling clean!

Post-run sneakers. Love it. But keep in mind that we only got this messy because we CHOSE to run through the mud. If we’d opted to follow most of the other participants around the muddy sections, our shoes and socks would have been (almost) sparkling clean!

Upon the recommendation of a foodie friend, we met for brunch at Relish by Wildrocket [501 Bukit Timah Road, #02-01, Cluny Court].  The space was gorgeous – open and airy, with high ceilings and enormous windows.  The wood furniture made me feel like I was sitting on someone’s massive front porch (think southeastern US kind of porch).

Relish is known for their burgers (which they brag aren’t made from “dodgy parts”, but only chuck, shin, and rib eye), but they also serve locally-inspired pastas, curries, and braised meats.  For weekend brunch, they include a few more breakfast-y items on the menu (pancakes, french toast, and various egg preparations).

A hard run leaves me feeling ambivalent about food for at least 10-12 hours – so I knew I’d stuck to my goal of “just running” the race that morning, because I was ravenous.  And when I saw that there was a bagel on the menu (bagels are pretty rare in Singapore), I knew it had to be mine:

Smoked Salmon, Scrambled Egg, and Cream Cheese Bagel at Relish

Smoked Salmon, Scrambled Egg, and Cream Cheese Bagel at Relish

Along with bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese are treats that I don’t usually get in Singapore.  I was so anxious for my food to arrive, I almost popped back to the kitchen to see how things were progressing.  Thankfully, our food came out pretty fast.

This sucker was pretty tasty – the portion of salmon was generous, and they even included a bit of greens, so I felt like I was getting my veggies in, too.  The bagel was terribly disappointing (mushy, tasteless, chewy in a bad way), but I have to admit – my expectations weren’t that high anyway.  I removed the top, and just ate the filling with the bottom half of bagel, with my fork and knife.  Between the salmon, greens, scrambled eggs, and a bit of cream cheese, plus half a bagel, there was plenty there to fill me up.  Also, those little fried diced potato were deliciously crunchy.

KMN enjoyed Relish’s version of Eggs Benedict:

Eggs Benedict at Relish

Eggs Benedict at Relish

If we go back, I might actually cross over to the Eggs Benedict side.  This dish was terrific (and his English muffin thingy was a considerably better bread product than my bagel).  We also enjoyed coffees, lattes, etc – and one member of our group ordered orange juice, which was served very thick and pulpy – looked like it was freshly squeezed.

The smallest coins in Singapore are 5 cents.  Usually, things just get rounded  automatically, but here, the bill actually specifies it.

The smallest coins in Singapore are 5 cents. Usually, things just get rounded automatically, but here, the bill actually specifies it. 🙂

It’s not a cheap eatery (~$25-30 SGD / $20-25 USD per person, all in), but the service was good, the food was tasty, and the ambiance very pleasant for enjoying a meal with friends.  I’m pretty sure we’ll be back – KMN wants to try out the burgers.  Our primary complaint?  Relish, could you please turn down the air con?  A few of us were a bit chilly – and the cold air blasting on our food cooled it faster than we would have liked.  Thanks!

Our friend also mentioned a really good dessert spot in the same shopping plaza as Relish, so we headed over to check it out find that they had moved.  Dang!  But, since our morning run was a 10K, not a half-marathon, we were probably better off without the extra sugar. 🙂  Instead, we stopped into a little wine shop that had…bizarrely…Hungarian wine.  And some modestly priced wine, for Singapore.  We chose a bottle to take home, bid our friends farewell, and headed out for a few errands.

Walked, fed, watered, and ready for errands.

Walked, fed, watered, and ready for errands.

We took it easy the rest of the afternoon: some work, some snoozing, some cooking.  KMN’s parents came over for dinner, and we enjoyed relaxing and catching up with them.  And with that, our weekend drew to a close.

Oh, except that it wasn’t until my in-laws left that I seriously looked in the mirror.  I realized that I probably shouldn’t have switched my linen pants out for shorts when we arrived home after our errands.  My in-laws probably think I’m auditioning to be a new super-hero or something…

Tank. Shorts. Calf sleeves. Sandals. SUPERWOMAN!!!!!

Tank. Shorts. Calf sleeves. Sandals. SUPERWOMAN!!!!!

Americans: Eliminate the penny and round to the nearest 5 cents? Yes or No?

Singaporeans: What’s your favorite American-esque breakfast/brunch spot in Singapore??  Pleeeeeease share!!!!!

Revenge of the Smelly Running Gear

One more shot of my new favorite cookie, that I just couldn’t squeeze into my last post:

Yummm....  Unfortunately, the package is now empty.  I feel a trip to Fairprice (local supermarket) coming on...

Yummm…. Unfortunately, the package is now empty. I feel a trip to Fairprice (local supermarket) coming on…

We had some friends over for brunch on Sunday.  For those who are unaware, I positively ADORE breakfast and breakfast foods: eggs, oatmeal, cereal, bread, pastries, homefries, waffles, pancakes…I love it all.  The only thing better than enjoying all that deliciousness, is enjoying all that deliciousness with friends.  Plus, brunch is pretty easy to prepare and host.

We served bacon & eggs, waffles, and fresh bread – plus juice, coffee/tea, and fruits.  If you enjoy feeling like a baking rock star, I highly recommend a bread maker.  I think the bread was the most raved-about part of brunch, and I invested a mere 5 minutes in measuring out the ingredients earlier that morning.

Again, I failed to take any photos (I was managing the waffle iron), but we had a great time.  Good food, dear friends, and plenty of cute kiddos to go around, including one that’s just 3 months old.  I love “borrowing” our friends’ kids – I can snuggle them and play with them (while the parents appreciate getting to eat with two hands), but whenever they get miserably unhappy/hungry/poopy, I can return them.  Brilliant.

The offending gear...

The offending gear…

Less brilliant?  Giving your friends a tour of your apartment, opening up the door to your bathroom, and being hit with a damp, musty, swampy smell.  You will then insist that the bathroom itself is perfectly clean, you swear.  But after your run on Saturday, you’d hung all your sweaty/muddy/soaked clothes in the bathroom, and they’d…ripened…overnight.  So it’s not that your bathroom is dirty – it’s just that you don’t stay on top of your laundry.  *red face*

As soon as everyone left, I dumped the offending items into the washing machine.  Seriously, this apartment is a revolving door of stinky/clean/stinky/clean workout gear.

I also chose a new configuration for our dining room furniture. Check it out:

Efficient storage

This might have been my best idea of the whole weekend.  If we keep the chairs up by default, cleaning the floor becomes ridiculously easy – there aren’t any chair legs to sweep or mop around.  I think this is a great solution, although KMN remains unconvinced.  But I think I can win him over.

The weekend came to a quiet close, and we eased into Monday.  We worked all day, then met downtown for a BodyPump class in the evening.

Self-photo shoot while waiting for the hub-sand at One Raffles Quay.

Self portrait while waiting for the hub-sand at One Raffles Quay.

This was my first visit to the Fitness First gym at One Raffles Quay, and I can confirm that it is just like all the other downtown locations: HOPPING at the end of the workday.  There were over 40 people squeezed into the studio for Body Pump.  Space was a bit tight, but I was determined not to get cranky about it.  Thankfully, I worked out in the front row, with KMN directly behind me – so if I gave anyone a black eye during the (reclined) chest/tricep sets, it’d be him.  I’m pretty sure he’d understand…

Thankfully, we finished with nothing worse than shaky arms and tired bodies.  We also realized that, when we’re tired, we’re willing to wait longer for a bus that will deliver us a block away from our front door, rather than take the subway, which requires less time overall but involves one transfer and a half-mile walk back to our apartment.  We cooked pasta and heated up some sauce I’d made (and frozen) a few weeks back. Nothing fancy, but fast, tasty, and filling:

Pasta Dinner

Note to self: Take photo before consuming half the pasta next time. The inside of the bowl will look cleaner, too.

Ever given anyone a black eye in Body Pump?
Our instructor told us all to be very careful, because last week, in a very full class, they’d had “some accidents”.  Eeek.

Have an embarrassing stinky workout gear story to share?

Good Hydration Habits, and KMN Does Science

Author’s Note: I started this post to write about KMN’s science experiment (now relegated all the way to the bottom).  Suddenly – I swear this was absolutely out of my control – it morphed into a broader discussion of hydration.  Just as I was about to plunk the whole thing into a “save for another time” file, I had two separate discussions with people about hydration.  If that isn’t I sign, I don’t know what is.  So here it is.  Keep in mind, though, that this is by no means a comprehensive discussion.  I’ll be returning to this subject repeatedly and in more depth in the future.  So consider this a primer.

No matter the place, no matter the season, I am always preaching to my runners that hydration is important.  This means drinking enough during the day, during your workout, and during your post-workout recovery.

I prefer to hydrate with my feet up.  This way, I multi-task rehydration, resting, and hamstring stretching.

I prefer to hydrate with my feet up. This way, I multi-task: rehydration, resting, and hamstring stretching.

You can weigh yourself, crunch numbers, do calculations, etc, to determine your sweat loss and hydration needs during athletic activity.    But for most people (who are doing an hour or less of athletic activity in anything-but-Death-Valley conditions), my suggestion is much simpler: Your urine should be the color of lemonade, not apple juice.

Yes, yes – of course this depends on how much water your toilet holds. If your bowl holds a lot of water, think very dilute lemonade.  If your toilet is one of those super-efficient, almost-no-water ones, then think regular lemonade.  I believe that we are all smart enough to use this metric relatively, to determine changing levels of hydration – and more importantly, to notice when we’re a bit dehydrated.  [Note: For extended periods of activity and/or extreme heat, other metrics may be more appropriate.]  And as with most things, moderation is important.  While not very common, over-hydration can happen, and is dangerous.  You want lemonade pee, not water pee.  [Have you all sworn off lemonade consumption yet?  Hehehe…]

Upper Selatar Reservoir, Singapore

We found ourselves out at the Upper Selatar Reservoir during a rainstorm on Saturday.  Have to pee yet?

When you sweat, you also lose electrolytes (salts), which are essential for your body to function properly.  Most people can tolerate a little electrolyte loss without noticeable ill effect – your body has a small buffer zone, and what you lost will likely get replaced with your next meal.  However, when you sweat “a lot” (relative term, but we’ll hold off on that discussion for now), you may need to take in some additional electrolytes to replace what you sweat out.

KMN drinking Nuun

KMN demonstrates proper rehydration technique.


For example, after our run yesterday (~50 minutes, 86 F), KMN and I both drank many glasses of water and one glass of Nuun each.  What is Nuun?   Nuun (pronounced “noon”) is an electrolyte replacement drink.  It comes in a little tablet (like denture cleanser!) that you toss into a glass of water.  In less than a minute, you have a slightly fizzy (like denture cleanser!), flavored (NOT like denture cleanser!) electrolyte-replacement drink.

One key difference between Nuun and a product like Gatorade is that Nuun doesn’t contain any carbohydrates.   For me, this makes Nuun a good choice for post-workout electrolyte replacement when my activity duration is under 60-75 minutes and my sweat rate is very high (in cooler conditions, water is sufficient for me).  I appreciate the light, not-too-sweet flavors, and the fizziness provides some tongue-tingling variety.

There are a few types of Nuun:  Nuun All Day, U Natural, and Nuun Active Hydration.  The first two are basically designed for people who want to flavor their water (U Natural also contains vitamins, but I’d suggest you eat some fresh produce instead).  I’ll leave you to make your own decision on those.  Nuun Active Hydration is the product targeted for athletes, and that is what we use.  I haven’t tried all the flavors (11 in total), but of those I’ve tried, the Lemon Tea is my favorite.

Nuun is only sold in tablets (not liquid) form – so you won’t be generating plastic bottle waste – and the tablets are super portable.  The price point is also pretty sweet if you’re in the US: Tablets are sold in a canister of 12.  I paid $6-8 USD for one canister at a local running store, and you can buy 4 canisters for ~$20 USD at  Unfortunately, this is one item we neglected to stock up on before leaving for Singapore, but it looks like Nuun is sold at Athlete’s Circle, one canister for $13.50 SGD ($11 USD) – although I haven’t yet confirmed this, and don’t know what their selection is like.

I should note that I don’t use Nuun during a workout – I’ve tried, but the residual fizziness leads to unwanted burping and stomach gurgling, for me.  I suppose that I could try dissolving the tablet the night before my morning workout, to give the fizzies lots of time to settle – but I haven’t tried that yet.  But speaking of experiments and tablet dissolution, KMN decided to get all science-y yesterday morning:

Holly's Nuun

Holly’s approach: Fill glass with water, add tablet, wait 1 minute, add ice, enjoy some refreshing electrolyte replacement.

KMN's Nuun

KMN’s approach: Fill glass with 2″ of water, add ice to the tippy top, add tablet, look dismayed as tablet sits, mostly undissolved, at the bottom of the glass.

Someone clearly skipped the “Solutions and Solubility” chapter in his Chemistry textbook.  But he is persistent, and after considerable warming, poking, stirring, and coaxing (experiential learning, folks!), he, too, could claim dissolution success:

"See?  It worked!"

KMN: “See? It worked!”  We’ll see which method he chooses next time…  🙂

What’s your preferred electrolyte-replacement product?  

If you use Nuun, can you drink it during a workout?  Any tips??

*I’m not a nutritionist or an MD.  Obviously, please use common sense, listen to your body, and seek medical attention for acute symptoms of dehydration (extreme thirst, confusion, very dry mouth, fever, lack of sweating).

**I was not compensated, sponsored, or even asked to provide a review or endorsement of Nuun.  I purchased, drank, and wrote about Nuun on my own volition (and at my own expense).

Running + Blogging: Three Days, Three Lessons

I’ve only been at this Run With Holly Blog thing for a few days now, but I’ve already learned some valuable lessons.  Since sharing with you all is the name of my (new) game, here ya go:

1. When preparing for a photo, always look at your hands and ask yourself: What is in my hands?  Do I want what’s in my hands to be in the photo?  I took a quick pre-run photo the other day.  I was totally OK with photographing my un-showered self, my crazy hair, and my weird squinchy-face.  But I was so concerned about the angle, where I was looking, and all the bright light behind every mirror in our house, that I neglected to notice I was holding some goodies in my non-camera hand.  The result?

Picture of Holly, with a banana peel and socks in hand.

Yes, that’s right – because you totally wanted to see my icky banana peel. And my socks.

2. If the humidity is high, don’t stop, unless you want a sweat-fest in your eyes.  I’ve done plenty of running in the heat and humidity, and I often wear a cap to keep the sweat out of my eyes.  Unfortunately, I left the cap at home for this short workout.  And I don’t often come to a complete stop during my workouts, until the very end.  And I learned that if I stop running (but keep sweating) in the humidity (no evaporation), I very quickly experience a river of sweat flowing directly into my eyes.  Which then water.  Which I then rub.  With my sweaty hands.  Cue vicious cycle.  All because I wanted to photograph this:

Secret trail entrance to MacRitchie Reservoir

One minute, you’re on a residential street. Two steps off the street, and you see…a secret entrance onto the MacRitchie Reservoir trail loops!!!!

So from now on: CAP. ALWAYS.  And I may actually start sporting a handkerchief tied around my wrist as a sweat-wiper.  Because when your arms are sweaty and your shirt is soaked, there’s just nowhere else to wipe the sweat.  [I hope you aren’t shy about sweat. I have a feeling we’re going to be talking a lot about sweat, and sweat management, and probably other bodily functions as they relate to running, over here.]

Salomon XAComp5 tongue rubs my ankle

The right sock was juuuuust high enough. The left one? Not so much.

3. Don’t let your blogging excitement distract you from making the proper sock choice.  I know, I know – rookie mistake.  But those socks in the top photo?  The ones I grabbed because I was in a hurry to get going, and they were already slightly worn?  They really  weren’t an ideal match for the morning’s trail sneakers.  The trails I was running were moderately technical – no single track, but lots of gullies and loose rocks.  So I chose my Salomon XA Comp5’s – for me, these are a good trail “generalist”.  But the tongue on the sneaker is a tad high, and a little rough.  My socks were low cut.  See the problem?

Ankle blister

Yeah, yeah, I know – it’s hardly a quiver on the Athlete Injury Scale.  But look at my sexy ankle!

Maybe I felt a little rubbing during my run, but I didn’t think much of it – until I stepped in the shower.  The shower is, of course, The Great Chafing Illuminator.  You might not have felt that little spot while you were running, but don’t you worry – the water will find it, and let you know it’s there.  And boy did I dance when the water hit my unsuspecting ankle.  Sure enough, I’m now sporting this little chafe-spot.  But my point is – I have never, ever had this problem before.  Perhaps my trail shoes are jealous of the new blog?  Don’t worry, shoes – I won’t let this new relationship ruin our dates.  I promise!

So there you have it, folks.  Three days of blogging, three lessons learned. If I keep going at this rate, I’ll be brilliant by next year!!  Winning.

So help me out, fellow bloggers: What were your first lessons learned as a blogger?