Friday, May 19, 2017

Longer days call for trail running

Summer is coming and the woods are calling.  Still haven't ventured out to your local trails for a run? In this article, we're taking all of the obstacles that are keeping you from the hitting the woods head-on.

Admittedly, we've all read articles touting the benefits of trail running. We know the effects are multifold: it gives our bodies a much needed break from the constant pounding of the roads, activates and strengthens different muscles in our lower legs, and keeps us safe from those cars whose drivers are often not paying attention to what's on the side of the road (you--running). But for legitimate reasons, lots of us can't quite get ourselves to a trailhead to take advantage of all these benefits.  Let's address some of these obstacles that keep us from hitting the trails and then find some solutions.

Obstacle #1:  I can't find a trail close to me.  
For lots of us, running is our go-to form of exercise because it's fast, predictable, and convenient. Heading out to parts unknown is daunting, but you can easily find a nearby trail by consulting a few sources: 1) your local running store, 2) a local running club 3) our state's Department of Conservation and Recreation website. I'm constantly telling people about my favorite trails, which are all located within four miles of my house and they are in total disbelief.  The trails are all around--you just need to find them.

Obstacle #2:  I don't have a trail map.  
I've done a fair amount of trail running and I'm pretty adamant about running a new trail with map in hand (or pocket). Maps are the best way to ensure that you will find your way in and out of the woods. Sure, smart phones are good, but your map never runs out of battery and never needs a signal. Most trail maps can be downloaded and printed before you head out. You'll want to print in color, as lots of trails are color coded and the trees are marked with painted slash marks to show you the way to go and when to turn. Again, you don't want to rely on your phone as your only source of directions or as you trail map. As runners we know that stuff happens.

Obstacle #3:  I don't want to go alone.  
I understand this. Trail running can be done happily as a solo activity but it is more fun when you can head off with a group or friend.  Again, consult with your local store owners, running clubs, and other outdoor organizations. Our store hosts monthly trail runs throughout the summer.  LL Bean and REI also host outdoor group activities and may know of trail groups. Trail clubs meet up weekly and are eager to host new runners and guests.

Obstacle #4: I don't have trail shoes.  
Here's a little secret: you don't really need trail shoes in the beginning of your outdoor career. If you don't mind getting your road shoes a bit dirty or wet, you can stick with what you have.  If trails become part of your daily or weekly routine, then it's wise to invest in a good pair of shoes made specifically for these conditions. Look for a pair with good traction, a rock plate that protects from the sharp rocks, and an upper made of more durable materials to withstand abrasion and scrapes.  

Obstacle #5: I don't have time.  
Sorry, time machines are hard to come by. Trail running is more time consuming due to the commute to the trailhead. Your pace is usually slower in the woods, too. Trail running, however, can be looked at as an activity where speed is not important, but slowing down for the for the experience is. Your drive to the natural area just might relax you, parking in a wooded peaceful lot will set the tone, and your first few steps down the path will help you to understand that trail running is less about being fast and more about just being.  Hit the trails on a weekend morning, so you won't be concerned about what time the sun is setting. Don't schedule something right after your trail run so that if you do make a wrong turn (or two), you won't be stressed out about being late.

"The clearest way into the Universe is through the forest wilderness," wrote naturalist John Muir. Take a break from your running routine this summer and find the woods. They're not far away, and you don't need any special equipment to try it out. Do bring a map and allow yourself time to enjoy what nature has to offer.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The last marathon: an update from the team

When you set out on your long road of marathon training, sixteen weeks seems like an eternity.  But you chip away at the track days, the long runs, the active recovery days and eventually you find yourself just 7 weeks away from game day.  Let's bring you up to speed on what's going on with me and the rest of my team as we roll towards Marine Corps Marathon 41.

As you know, we started with the dream team of Erin, Kris and myself.  Early on, Kris had to make the painful decision to drop out of the training.  Maslow's hierarchy of needs reared its ugly head and Kris refocused her effort, time and energy to where it was most needed.  Above all, women tend to be the first ones to understand when this happens.  I've had to drop out of "big" marathons before when more important issues came up.  Marathon training is exciting and focused but let's not kid ourselves as to how much time and energy is sucks from our everyday lives.  So we rallied around Kris (while secretly hoping she would change her mind) and discussed our shared feelings on this subject.  This is what we came up with:  Marathons will come and go and we will always have our running to get us through the tough times.  Our families take the main stage and marathons get the back seat.  This is what makes complete sense to Erin and myself and Kris is here for moral support, team fundraising projects and is always good for a much needed tequila shot (while we have yet to do a shot while running).

Erin has been having a fantastic time with her training.  She's been following the 16 week FAST training plan from Runner's World.  With her busy schedule of teacher, mom of two little ones and yogi she can fit in her days of scheduled runs plus cross training on her opposing days.  Her secrets to staying healthy:  1.  Rest, which includes sleep  2. Yoga and scheduled massage and 3. Post run chocolate milk.  As you know, this is Erin's first marathon and with each long run, she reaches a new milestone,  It's been a pure joy to get her Map My Run updates on my phone each weekend and see her progress as an endurance athlete. Following a proven plan and sticking to a manageable routine leaves her confident and leaves little room for any self doubt.  We see great things happening for Erin on race day.

My training has hit s speed bump as I tore my left soleus about 4 weeks ago on a 15 mile training run.  This is a pesky injury that tricks you in to thinking that you may be healed after a few days, but it turns out, at mile 2 that you are SO NOT HEALED.  So just 4 days after incurring the initial injury I turned my left calf and all of my pride over to my physical therapist.  We've been seeing each other weekly and I've been getting some good results.  Add to that prescription, regular massage therapy, ice, heat, stretching and strengthening exercises and I'm happy to report that while I am not yet back to running, I am feeling much better.  So, I've resigned myself to training for a marathon without running which in a way is really a lot of fun.  Spinning, swimming, mountain biking, all kinds of torturous gym cardio machines and getting to know the hot yoga instructors on a first name basis has pretty much taken the place of my weekly running mileage.  As it turns out, I'm pretty lucky with just a calf tear because there are so many different types of cardio that I do that doesn't bother it. Who knew?  The new plan; show up on race day with a completely prepared cardio vascular system and pray that the left side soleus holds for the 26.2 miles.  No use worrying, fretting, hoping that things were different because it simply is what it is.

Our fundraising game is on point.  The squad is sending out emails, FB posts and planning events.  Our goal is to raise a collective $2000 for Back on Our Feet's Boston chapter. If you are reading this, please consider making a donation.  Every little bit helps and as a team we can attest to the efficacy of this much needed program and the healing, confidence building and life time benefits that running has on all walks of life. Check out our page here, where you can learn more about Back on My Feet and make a donation. Thanks

We'll blog again soon.  Send us good vibes and know that we are collectively trying our best to complete the journey to marathon day.

Best to you,

Charlotte, Kris and Erin

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My last marathon? Yup.

Just a few years ago (almost 30), this photo was taken at the finish of the Marine Corps Marathon.  I'm dressed in my 100% cotton high school cross country shirt and underneath is what I am sure, an original edition Jog Bra. I ran this race before Body Glide and GU which is quite obvious by the look on my face. This was my awful, terrible, wonderful, empowering, and poorly trained for first marathon and I remember it like it was yesterday.  What inspired me to run a marathon while I was a second year college student?  Why Marine Corps? Over the next 16 weeks the story will unfold in this blog and with it, a hopefully very happy ending.  On Oct 30th of this year, I will travel back to Washington DC to run this very same race, 30 years later almost to the day.   And for no other reason other than the math works out so nicely  I'm calling this my last 26.2 mile race.

This blog will be a 16 week journey to the starting line.  I've got a wonderful organization to raise money for along the way (Back on My Feet Boston) and two amazing women who will be training and running with me on October 30th.

We hope that you follow us--it's going to be much more than a story about marathon training. We'll write about what we're running towards, away from and through.  We will share with you how Back on My Feet has changed lives with the simple but powerful discipline of running. I may even share the names and phone numbers of the rock star physical therapists, massage therapists and yoga instructors who will get us to the starting line on Oct 30th.

Until the next post--- you keep reading and we'll keep running!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Top Running Gear Picks from Charles River Running

There are two phrases we hear pretty much every day at Charles River Running.  The first one, if you can even believe it, is "I'm not really a runner".  Funny, we know.  The second is more of a question:  "So what _______ (fill in the blank: shoe, sock, tight, bra, water bottle) do you use?"  Which got us to thinking, why don't we just publish a list?  We've tested just about everything that comes our way in all kinds of conditions, over all kinds of distances, while healthy and injured.  We feel pretty confident that our curated selection here at Charles River Running is the best available in the very crowded running market.  We LOVE the products featured below and what better time to showcase them but on the eve of Valentine's Week?  Take a look at the products we HEART, can't live without, and want to share with all of you.  Enjoy!

FitKnix by KnixWear is hands down the very best athletic underwear currently on the market.  If you don skivvies before your tights, shorts or running skirt. you will want to check out this brand.  No lines, no riding up, you won't even notice that you're wearing them.  Both Cosmopolitan and Shape magazines have been singing this praises about this brand.  Available in three styles and lots of colors.  FitKnix will be in stock in February.

If you are female runner, there's only one piece of gear more important than your shoes.  A cup or DD, a great fitting running bra can be a game changer.  Having run for more than 35 years now (yikes) I feel pretty qualified to weigh in on this catagory of apparel.  Moving Comfort (now owned by Brooks Running) has been making running apparel for women since 1977. They have their bra business down to a science which is why it is the only brand of bra that we carry at Charles River Running,  The bra featured above, the Uprise Crossback took 18 months to perfect and is just that. This bra holds you firmly yet does not bind or compress.  The pads give you shape and at the same time are breathable and light.  Featuring cross back straps, this bra is a breeze to get on and off. $48.00  Now in stock.

The Balega Hidden Comfort sock as been around for a long time for a reason.  This sock has just the perfect amount of cushion, is super wicking, and wears like iron. It's been my personal choice for 4 years running.  You won't let anyone borrow these, you won't let one get lost in the dryer, you will have them on your gift list forever.  $12.00

Compression is a runner's friend.  Insulated compression tights are a Boston runner's best friend.  Fear not the cold on those long run days.  These best selling CW-X tights not only support your quads, hamstrings and IT band, but they have an extra layer of fleece material to keep your hard working legs warm.  $125.00

The FlipBelt has solved a whole boat load of problems for active people.  Simply put--you won't know what you did with your phone, keys, $20 bill, ATM card, and GU packet before this handy accessory came along. You can keep your phone in its protective case, you can easily access your phone while running, nothing BOUNCES around, and you can wash it :)  Yes, accessories can get stinky too. What I carry in my flipbelt---my iphone for instragrams of Olive and dog treats.  $28.99

Want your post-run vente to stay hot longer? How about that long ago melted ice water on your desk?  Your beverage of choice will stay the perfect temperature, even in hot yoga, your hot car or a cold commuting backpack.  Hydro Flask bottles are made from 18/8 stainless steel and are double wall vacuum insulated.  Best of all, they come with a lifetime warranty.  We have plenty of sizes and colors in stock.

There's no better way to show the world what you do and where you do it.  Pick up a one of a kind, limited edition Run Norwood pompom beanie for Boco Gear.  This hat keeps your noggin warm and cozy and serves as a nice variation from you Patriots hat.  Really, your fans will appreciate a break from the PatsNation routine.  Soft, warm and colorful $30.00.

Last but not least is a product that I wear litterally every day all year round.  These closed cell foam sandals from Oofos will not quit. I picked up my first pair at the 2012 Boston Marathon Expo and haven't looked back.  Even before Charles River Running had opened it's doors, I knew this product would have a place on the coveted shoe wall.  This shoe is light, supportive and feels great after a long run, first thing in the morning or after you get home from a long day at work.  The only down side to Oofos--my puppy loves to chew them.  Olive-- 4, Oofos--- 0.  Many colors and styles now in stock.

While not currently for sale, but certainly in-stock, our store dog Olive, has developed quite a fan club.  She greets customers, eats cardboard, barks at no one and has taken a particular liking to our treat-carrying UPS man.  She keeps me on a pretty strict running regiment and saves me from loneliness on the slowest of days.  We forgive her her canine flatulence, drooling condition and propensity for jumping up.  After making the drive up from Alabama with a bunch of other rescue dogs this past May, Olive has decided to stay here at Charles River Running and we are thrilled.  Stop in anytime and give her a pat on the head.  Those are free, btw.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Winter Running Tips: Share What You Wear

Baby it's cold out side--and like all the sudden.  I'm not sure how you are feeling, but it seems like these winter temps came on all of the sudden, with not much time for my body to adjust.  So this morning, with the sun shining bright and the iphone reporting 9 degrees in Norwood, I was at a bit of a standstill in front of the closet.  What to wear, what to wear.  We have great intentions right now, streets clear of snow, resolutions to keep, and races to train for.  We need to get out there and we need to dress right.  What layers? How many? What works for you?  Maybe it will work for me too!  And so, like many ideas that come to you while running, this contest was born.  Play along and win a pair of Due North Traction Aids (never slip on the ice again)  Here are the details:

1.  Take photo of yourself with your winter running attire 
2.  Post your photo on FB, Twitter or Instagram and use the hashtag #sharewhatyouwear
3.  You have 10 days to post as many times as you like (Jan 5 -- Jan 15th)

Here's my info for today's run:
Conditions:  on the trail, out of the wind, 9 degrees.  
Duration:  4o minutes.  
Attire:  Brooks Seattle Shell, Mizuno BT Wind Top, Mizuno BT tights, Feetures Merino Elite light cushion, Mizuno BT Beanie, Saucony Run Mit, Skida neckwarmer

What I would have done differently:  used Vasoline on my chin and cheekbones.  I also would have worn a headband under my hat for my earlobes.

What was toasty:  my torso
What was cold:  my thighs, cheekbones and earlobes

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Charles River Running Holiday Gift Guide

Charles River Running wants to make your holiday shopping easy.  All of the products listed below have been hand-picked and tested by us. We have so many more things at the store to share and we hope that you can stop in and browse at bit.  See you soon!

1.  Dr. Cool:  Ice and compression all in one handy product. $30.
2.  Run Gum:  Get the pre-run kick without the latte. Fruit and Mint flavors $1.89
3.  Boston Strong Sticker--nuf said $3.
4.  Perfect Fuel Chocolate Energy Bites. When it's 4pm and there's still so much to do.... $2.29

5. Athlete Inspired bracelets.  13.1 and 26.2 models also in stock $20.
6. Colorful timekeeping from Soleus $55.
7.  Skida VT-made neck warmer--just the right weight for runners--lots of prints available $36
8. Bold, fresh graphics from Run Pretty Far, in a set of note cards. $18.

9.  Only the finest organic cotton and bamboo for your guy Tasc Boxer Brief $24.
10.  Moji foot massager  $40.
11.  The Saucony Run Mitt---cause it's gonna get cold $30.
12. Garmin Forerunner 15 now on sale while supplies last $119.99

13.  USB rechargeable Orion Strobe--compact and throws an impressive 32 lumens $30.
14. Skida Made in VT--we love this spunky brand of fun, warm hats $36.
15. You can never have too much sparkle. Sparkly Soul nonslip headbands $15.
16. Runners + coffee = happy. Hydro Flask 20ozw/ fliptop $28.

17. This little package of handmade caramels goes a long way. McCrea's pillow pack $3.95.
18. For the beer loving runner on your list. HydroFlask True Pint $22.
19. Moji works wonders for those in-between-massage-appointment knots  $30.
20. You don't have to live in Brooklyn to rock a trucker hat, period.  Run Pretty Far $24.

21.  Get noticed and stay warm.  Gloves from Nathan $35.00
22.  So many features--113 lumens and rechargeable. Light the way with Nathan $45.
23. Pop one on the front and one on the back. Strobes in fun colors $10.
24.  Recharges with a USB and flashes in your choice of 3 colors. LightBender  RX $30.

Now get out that list and check it twice! Come to Charles River Running and let us help you.  Happy holidays.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Noanet Woodland Trails and a Fantastic View!

I felt so energized in these trails!

       There is a ghost in the Noanet Woodland trail! 

       Just kidding, that is me.

       I am back again for another trail run blog post. It was a hot Wednesday evening when my mom, her friend, and I decided to run the Noanet Woodland trail in Dover, MA. This trail gave made a great impression on me because of how beautiful and organized the place was. Right when we pulled onto the nice gravel parking lot, we saw the beginning of the trail, which was marked by a giant easy-to-understand map and clearly marked trees. We picked our route and raced into the forest.

      Compared to all of the trails I have ran in my life, this trail was the most stunning. The road was wider, more clear of roots, rocks, and ditches, and not as many hills. The tall pine trees were just so amazing and the plants and wildlife looked so refreshed and healthy. If you choose to ever run this trail, make sure to look up a couple times to observe the nature around you. But don't trip!

Looking out from the view!
        About half way through the route, we made a quick stop at one of the maps they have along the trails. It was so helpful how they inserted these maps more frequently throughout the trails and not just at the beginning. We were switching from the Blue trail to the Orange trail, when we realized that there was an option to go look out upon a peak. We all agreed to follow the quick little detour off our trail. The path was pretty steep, however the view was worth it! We could even see Boston from up there! (The sight of the city is right above my head and a little bit to the left in the picture above). It was an awesome way to take a break in the middle of this run. Everyone should take this path when running on these trails.

       On this run, I chose to wear my bicband for my hair. I have those annoying fly away hairs that always stick to my face when I run, so I usually wear head bands. I love the different patterns and styles that bicbands offer and they don't fall off as easy as other brands do. 

       The trail grew more amazing as we were getting to the end. The smells were calming, the air had a warm and crisp feeling, and the ground was lightly padded with fallen bristles of the pine trees. It definitely made me feel closer to nature. 

We all enjoyed this beautiful run and I couldn't wait to tell everyone about it!