After this past weekend’s lovely little bit of freezing cold rain and bewildering snowfall, which I sadly had to run a 14-mile interval and tempo-progression workout in, it became evident that I should talk about winter running wardrobe essentials … I just can’t believe I had to start it up so early!! It’s truly fascinating to look at the various evolutionary processes that we all undergo as we become increasingly more involved in running. First, it is simply the act itself. The idea of running more than a mile on the track, a la the required annual fitness test in middle and high school, which I’m not even sure they do anymore, was daunting. Then 5km (“Eww”), 5-miles (“Gross”), 10km (“I think I’m gonna be sick”), 10-miles (“I just threw up in my mouth a little”), a half-marathon (“Yep, I definitely threw up in my mouth and may have wet myself a little too”), and then a full marathon (“Just shoot me and use my meaty carcass to sustain your families, fertilize the Earth, mount my skull over your hearth, oh yah, and these shorts probably should be burned after removing”). Recently, I had an epiphany as I received my latest order from the fine people at Brooks Running, the evolution of my winter running wardrobe!!! Oh yah, I know there are items essential to the female running wardrobe, well, this time I am going to go into an item or two from the male canon.
Over the past several cold, cold winters I have gone through a dramatic shift in running attire. In the early years it was about being comfortable with the idea of wearing tights AT ALL, which was difficult for me to even comprehend having grown up in a house with a dancer/ballerina who wore them all the time for everything. They were distinctly and singularly for the opposite sex and the furthest thing from masculine. So, in the beginning, I wore adidas track pants and oh what a terrible, awful idea that was. Heavy, cumbersome, and just terribly inefficient for running, it was like running in a sweat logged sumo suit. I then graduated to the much maligned and fashion police felony of shorts OVER tights maneuver. Little did I know that this widely accepted New England, late fall, soccer maneuver was so horribly frowned upon! My good friend Bill Risch and I caught hell for this one for like two years!! After much goading I finally took the leap and just rocked the tights, which I still don’t really like, but what can you do? Run inside on the dreadmill? I’d rather be run down from behind by an entire cycling team. It’s just a little running around like a cartoon stick figure through Central Park and they just aren’t flattering to wear.
Now that I’m comfortable with the whole tights thing, there is another gentlemanly matter that should totally be discussed openly, and that is the little, or large, matter of making sure “Heavy D and the boys” (euphemism courtesy of BroSquatch) are kept at an optimum temperature and you are not left fearing the possibility that things may shatter if accidentally grazed. Oh yah, you know what I’m talking about and for those of the female persuasion this is a very real fear! Â For a while now I’ve worn compression shorts under my tights simply for the additional support since I have been prone to hamstring problems in the colder months, but I also thought they helped with keeping the ole “twig and berries” (euphemism courtesy of Austin Powers) warm, but I was wrong. Â I tried other methods to withstand the arctic frost, including wearing my bib pinned to the front of my tights just to protect the “schwartz” (euphemism courtesy of Dark Helmet) from the wind. Â This methodology worked well for me for a while, but never enough to make training or racing in the winter even remotely comfortable … that is until now. Â Well, I finally found something that’s helped with this particular issue and it is something, much like tights, that I would never in a million years think I would EVER wear, but those days are long since over and these bad boys are amongst my winter gear essentials!
Behold, the Brooks Equilibrium Wind Brief!!! Tighty whiteys are one thing I swore I would never wear again, and I won’t, but let me tell you, these things are on a whole other level. I first bought a pair on a whim, because after doing about 30 runs at temperatures where most living organisms stay indoors and having not found any sort of solution that was either comfortable or made sense, it was time to pull a Monty Python and go for something completely different. Honestly, I dreaded the idea of wearing these things … I mean look at them! I know this is going to sound way cooler than it is, but they look like standard issue Storm Trooper briefs. The material covering the exterior is like a cloth version of the metal sheets you get wrapped in AFTER a marathon! It’s just weird, BUT fantastically effective. Climate controlled bliss for a “fireman” (euphemism courtesy of Eric Cartman) is a truly wonderful thing!! I’ve gone a couple seasons with these, and even incorporated the wind shorts into the mix as well. Seriously, gentlemen, these things are comfortable, never ride up or bunch, are remarkable in shitty, windy, cold conditions, and aren’t expensive at all. What they do require is not feeling really awkward and goofy when you pull them out of the drawer and put them on, which I have to tell you I do every single time I do. Check them out gentlemen and fall victim to the dark side of the force!!!!