#MyFavoriteAltra: The Altra Torin 4

It’s no secret that I’m an Altra girl: I’m a Sponsored Altra Red Team Member. But even if I weren’t, I’d still shout about their shoes from the rooftops. Their Footshape toe box means my toes aren’t squished into that painful V that happens when I run in other brands, and the Balanced Cushioning means that there’s no drop from the heel to the toe. I had lots of problems with numbness and tingling in my toes in other brands, but it completely disappeared once I started running in Altras.

Since discovering them back in 2016, I’ve run in a lot of different models:

Lone Peak: These were my first pair of trail shoes – if you can believe it! I’d never found a pair of trail kicks that worked for me and wasn’t too bulky, but these are my go-to’s not just for the trail but when I’m on rocks or ice, too.

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Torins: Way back when I first got into them, I got myself a pair of NYC Marathon Torins and have used them sparingly – only because they’re so COOL looking. I mainly wore them on weekends and sometimes on runs only because I didn’t want to junk them up. Silly, I know, but they actually got a lot of good wear at my last job where I could wear sneakers every day. It was nice having that comfort every day and knowing that I wasn’t putting more miles on my running shoes:

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Paradigm: When it came to running, though, the Paradigm was my first and favorite Altra. I’ve run in almost every model and color way of the Paradigms. I even ran NYC 2017 in them, and that’s the only pair of them that I won’t ever toss. They’re still caked in mushed-up, dried Poland Spring cups from running over them for 26.2 rainy miles.

Escalante: More recently, I switched to the Escalante and liked that they felt so much lighter and grippier. I’ve logged a lot of racing miles in them and still swap them into the rotation when I just WANNA GO FAST (shameless Ricky Bobby reference).

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But the drop from the super cushioned Paradigm to the almost racing-flat-like (for me) Escalante was a bit much, and I found myself feeling like Goldilocks for a bit. The Escalantes had gotten me more comfortable with less cushion, but I still needed something more padded for consistent training. And my old faithful Paradigms now seemed to be TOO thick for my everyday, shorter runs, and I missed the feeling of the road under my feet.

Enter the Torin 4 – aka #MyFavoriteAltra:

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I honestly don’t know why I hadn’t tried the Torin sooner, to be honest with you. Most of the folks I know who jumped into the brand at my recommendation tended to gravitate towards it, and it seemed to be a solid workhorse shoe.

So when they were in stock in my size, I picked up the pair you see here, and I fell in love. Again, I’m a Red Team Member, which means I do get them for a discount, but like I said before – I would be taking out ads in the paper and telling every runner about these babies even if I weren’t an ambassador for the brand.

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If the Escalantes weren’t cushioned enough, and the Paradigms were too cushioned, these Torins are (Goldilocks voice) juuuust right. They cradle my foot and give my toes enough room to breathe so I don’t get smushed, cramped toes after longer runs, and they’re light enough that I don’t feel like I’m plodding as my mileage starts to build.

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Right out of the box, these shoes were comfortable. First run, 4 miles, no pain at all. They didn’t require breaking in like other shoes have, and run after run they keep springing back like they just came out of the box.

They also offer a Plush version of the Torin that I’ve heard good things about. But while I haven’t tried them out personally, I don’t even know if I need to. They could be another good option just under the thicker/slightly heavier Paradigm, but so far I have yet to have a bad run in the Torins, and as we runners often say, why mess with a good thing?

Do you have a favorite Altra? Share in the comments!

 

Product Review: C3fit Compression Gear

A while ago, the team at C3fit reached out to see if I’d be interested in trying out some of their compression gear. Because I love being able to test things out and share what I enjoy with you guys, I said sure!

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Not only do they have compression tights, but they also have a full line of high-performance compression gear in fun, different prints. Example: I never knew I would love white camo as much as I love it on those calf sleeves up there!

I’ve always loved running in compression socks or calf sleeves. They keep me running longer with less fatigue, and help me recover after really hard efforts. Anytime I run 5 miles or more, you can bet I’ll have some kind of compression on.

I will admit, though: I’ve always been a little scared of compression tights. Because honestly – if the SOCKS are that hard to get on, how much more difficult will it be to wiggle my jiggle into a pair of super-suction-y full length tights?

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Answer: not at all. The C3fit Inspiration tights are compression, but they’re nowhere near as hard to get on as I thought they’d be! They were no more difficult to get into than a pair of tights, didn’t give me any muffin top, and felt incredibly soft to boot. They were easy to move in regardless of the activity: they kept me supported (and looking fly) through a tough speedwork session one day, held up well during strength training, and even handled a quick post-run yoga session without needing to be adjusted.

Bonus: I look forward to getting to rock these more often when the weather cools off again. In the past I’ve faced the struggle of trying to squeeze compression socks OVER or UNDER my full length tights when the temps drop on race day or long run day, but with these I don’t have to! They support me all over and keep my legs fresh without the extra layer or added bulk.

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And when it comes to compression socks, I consider myself an unofficial expert. I’ve run in a lot of different brands and have discovered that while they each have their pros and cons, there’s always something to love – and the C3fit socks are no different. They’re super plush but not too thick, and the colors are really vibrant.

As soon as I put them on I could feel the extra support all over. I know they say you’re not supposed to try anything new on a long run, but I went for 7 miles in these babies right out of the package and didn’t get one blister or cramp the entire time. And even though they were thicker than I’m used to, I didn’t get the “swimming in sweat” feeling I get with other thick socks. Winning!

Long story short, if you’re in the market for some high quality compression gear, check out C3fit. Whether you’re looking for socks, sleeves, tights, or whatever – they’ve got it and I’m pretty sure you’re going to like it!

 

How to Prepare for a Half Marathon (or any race, really)

When I first started running I had NO idea what I was doing. I showed up way too early to my first 5K in a cotton tank top and shoes I bought because I liked the colors, I didn’t eat enough before the race, and I had a miserable time. Ask my husband: after that race, I said “I don’t think racing is for me.”

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Clearly, I AM A LYING LIAR WHO LIES.

Fast forward 6 years and here I am nearly 9 half marathons and countless 5Ks, 10Ks, and other distances later, and a lot smarter about how to prepare for race day. Whether you’ve run one race or 1,000, here are a few lessons I’ve learned that will hopefully help you get to the finish line with a smile:

1. Make a list

I am super Type A. I love order and planning and preparedness and lists. I will legit write something I’ve already done on my to-do list just to cross it off and get that feeling of accomplishment. Should I probably see someone about that? Perhaps. BUT, this character trait (flaw?) has served me well in my 6 years of racing, and it’ll help you too.

Make a list of everything you will possibly need for race day – and I mean EVERYTHING – like a week in advance, and start gathering it in one space like the dining room table or a box in the corner of the bedroom. Check the list often. And while you’ve probably got a handful of your own things that you know you’ll need on race day, here’s a list to get you started:

  • sneakers
  • socks (no cotton – spend the money on good running socks and your feet will thank you!)
  • top (tank, tee, longsleeve, layers, in tech fabrics – no cotton!)
  • sports bra
  • bottoms (capris, shorts, tights – same tech fabrics)
  • underwear (if you don’t run commando)
  • headband/hat/ponytail holder/bobby pins/any hair/head gear you usually need
  • headphones & music player (if your race allows them)
  • GPS watch or phone
  • anti-chafing gel or vaseline
  • lip balm
  • deodorant
  • sunblock
  • sunglasses
  • race belt
  • extra safety pins
  • fuel (Gu, energy gels, etc – 2x what you normally need just in case)
  • race number (if you already picked it up)
  • toss away water bottle
  • toss away top layer (if it’s going to be cold at the start)
  • garbage bag (if it’s rainy)
  • phone holder
  • any good luck charms or jewelry (I’ve always got to have my MARSOC Foundation bracelet and an inspirational wrap)
  • dry top & bottoms (and underthings) for post-race
  • flip flops or a second pair of sneakers & socks for post-race (because trust me, you will NOT want to put the ones you ran in back on after you take them off)

I love to lay out a Flat Runner the night before to keep track of all my gear and double check that I’m ready – and it helps to post on social media so that folks at the race know who to look for and can cheer you on in the comments, too!

2. Figure out your race day fuel plan early

Depending on your speed, fitness level, what your stomach can handle & what you prefer, race day fueling strategies vary from runner to runner. My best advice is to treat your long runs like race day and figure out what works for you by testing out your options every run.

It took me a while to perfect my plan, but on race morning I have a slice of whole wheat bread with chunky peanut butter and a banana, and half a cup of coffee. Then I’ll take a chocolate Honey Stinger gel about 10 minutes before the race start with a few sips of water. During the race I’ll drink water as I feel I need it (every 1-2 miles depending on the weather), and take a gel every 5 miles or 50-55 minutes with a cup of water. For some people that’s overkill, and for others it’s not enough.

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Not a wise choice: fueling entirely on Reeses. Although I’ve  never tried it…. brb, eating 5 lbs of Reeses and running a half marathon, will let you know how it goes.

It’s worth noting that I can’t take other gel brands – even other flavors of Honey Stinger! – without getting stomach cramps, so don’t give up on something if it doesn’t work the first time. I used to think that ALL gels gave me cramps, but after experimenting with different flavors and brands, I figured out what works for me and you will too.

3. Fuel your body right ahead of time

I’m the first to admit I’m not the best role model when it comes to food. I don’t deny myself wine and cake if I’m craving them, but I also do it all in moderation too. So what works for me might not work for you.

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And I love pizza. Did I mention pizza?

But the week before a race, I cut back on cheese and greasy foods and load up on water and carbs – not pasta twice a day every day, but just a little more than usual. And the night before a race my go-to meal is a serving or two of regular pasta with plain tomato sauce and simple grilled chicken.

Just like you should use your long runs to find day of fuel, treat the day before your longer runs like the day before a race: drink lots of water throughout the day, find a pre-race meal that keeps you satisfied and doesn’t weigh you down – and get PLENTY of sleep!

4. Pace yourself

This may seem like common sense, but for me – and many others that I’ve talked to about it – it bears repeating: throughout your training, be honest with yourself about your pace and know what to expect on race day. You can’t run at a solid 12:00/mile for most of your training and expect to run a sub-2 hour half.

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Not unless your name is Meb and you were phoning it in your ENTIRE training cycle. But I doubt you’d be reading this if you were.

It’s also easy to get caught up in the excitement of race morning and take off at an 7:30/mile pace with the folks around you at the sound of the gun, only to burn out like a tenth of a mile in because your usual pace is almost double that.

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This is important especially if you’re just starting out. In addition to your GPS watch or tracking app, whatever you prefer to run with to track your pace, they make these neat little wristbands or tattoos that you can wear on race day. They’re a great way to stay on target and save yourself a bunch of mental math out on the course. I’ve used them at a few of my races and really like them!

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5. Get there early, have fun and smile!

 

On race day, things get hectic very quickly. Plan to get to the start at least 45 minutes before you need to be there (or before your corral closes). It may seem like overkill, but the last thing you want to do is stress yourself out by running late. And once you’re there, remember that the hard part is over! You’ve already done all the work. Now you get to celebrate your hard work on the course with thousands of your fellow runners – and you’ll probably get a medal at the end of it!

Have fun, make small talk with the folks around you (if they want to), soak in the atmosphere, high five spectators on the course for extra energy (I pretend every high five is like a Super Mario Super Star), and enjoy the ride. Keep an eye out for photographers and throw up the devil horns or peace signs or wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care, and cross that finish line with a smile – you did it!

 

There’s plenty of stuff I’ve probably missed and could write more posts about, but do you have any other advice to add here? Let me hear it in the comments!

Skirt Sports Running Skirt Giveaway

If you’ve got eyeballs and you’ve seen my photos, you probably know I’m a big fan of Skirt Sports. I’m also an ambassador for them, and love what they’re about: empowering women of all ages, sizes, and abilities to get moving.

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Me in my Happy Girl at the NYRR Oakley Mini 10K this summer

I know I’ve been giveaway crazy lately, and today is no exception: I’m giving away my favorite piece of Skirt Sports gear: a Happy Girl Running Skirt!

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That’s right, I’m giving away my namesake skirt because I love it so much and I know you will too. The 17″ skirt is longer than most you’ll find out there, but it’s not dowdy. In fact, it’s even better than shorter skirts! That’s because the 7″ built-in semi-compression shorts are long enough to stay put, eliminating those dreaded thigh-chafing issues. Short-waisted gals or those of you with a booty you’re proud of (like me!) will love this one – it covers all the right places but is still super cute without looking like a skirt a nun would approve of (although I’m sure they’d like it too)! Just like the rest of the Skirt Sports pieces, it’s loaded with pockets and made of high quality tech fabrics, but the key to this one is its versatility. I’ve worn it both on the race course and in the office, and swear by it on the weekends.

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So what are you waiting for? Enter here, spread the word, and good luck!

Don’t Bare it All on Your Next Run…

As an ambassador for Skirt Sports, I’m involved in a lot of cool things: virtual races, sale promotions, etc. But I’m super excited about their latest project and I want to share the excitement with you. Behold, the new Gotta Go Running Skirt.

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After sending out an April Fool’s email that garnered a TON of positive feedback earlier this year, the folks at Skirt Sports decided that this was worth looking in to. And here we are a few months later, with an actual product that you can sign up to purchase when it comes out, through Kickstarter!

The only running skirt with a trap door and relief hatch so you can answer nature’s call without baring your assets, the Gotta Go has all the great features and flair that athletes love from their Skirt Sports running skirts PLUS a discreet new feature that will have you back up and running quicker than ever after a mid-run pitstop:

  • Trap Door: A flap on the shorties secured with low profile hook & loop means you remain fully covered on the go but have easy access to the Relief Hatch. The Trap Door flap is pad-compatible for secure confidence and easy swaparoos.
  • Relief Hatch: An opening in the shorties under the Trap Door anatomically aligned with your lady bits to enable easy error-free evacuation when you squat.
  • Skirt: Mimicking the most popular skirt, the Gym Girl, the Gotta Go is 13.5″ in front, 14.5″ in back. Flattering lightweight fast drying AeroLight Jersey fabric (87% poly / 13% spandex) in black.
  • Under the Skirt: Built-in no-creep chafe-free 5.5″ shorties in black semi-compression mesh fabric (90% poly / 10% spandex). This is 0.5″ longer than the shorts in the Gym Girl.
  • Waistband: Wide mid-rise waistband with continuous drawstring. It won’t muffin top, it won’t roll down, it won’t slip, and it looks good on everyone!
  • Pockets Galore: Two side pockets under the skirt on the shorties, both big enough for a smartphone. One back pocket secure enough for car keys. And a super smart Sonic music port on the side to keep you from getting tangled in your headphones.

I know of at least 3 races where mid-run pit stops added minutes to my time while I waited my turn for a port-a-john and wrangled myself in and out of sweaty bottoms. The Gotta Go will eliminate the need for all of that, and it looks cute too!

The Kickstarter runs through the next month, so check it out and get in on the action now so you don’t miss out!