Holiday Gift Ideas For the Men

Yesterday was all about the lady athletes. Today is all about the male athlete in your life. If your guy is anything like mine, he is impossible to shop for. If I hear, “I don’t really need anything” from him one more time, I might just put actual coal in his stocking just to prove my point that you have to give people ideas if you expect Christmas presents.

I am not a mind-reader. Even Santa Claus gets a list.

I am, however, pretty good at just guessing at cool things he might like. Here are a few that I’m considering.

Image courtesy of lululemon athletica

JB has said these are the best long-sleeved running shirts he’s every owned. He rarely wears more than this during the winter (well, until February) and wears them well into May. Oh, lululmeon, what would we do without you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Manduka

If your man is a sweaty yogi, this towel is a must. I’m a sweaty girl yogi and I cannot practice without it. My mat is like a Slip ‘n Slide otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Oakley

Awesome shades that look cool and are totally functional.

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Brooks Running

If your man would like to get into trail running this winter, these are the perfect shoes for a neutral runner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Under Armour

My aunt bought these hats for us a few Christmases ago and we found them to be cozy and warm, even on the coldest NYC winter runs.

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Etsy

House decor isn’t usually top on the list for men I know, but we have this rack and it’s a cool way to display his (and your!) accomplishments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of P90X

Does your man hate the gym? These workouts are awesome. I’m a fan. And they’re totally manly, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Sugoi

JB loves these running tights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Apple

Guys love gadgets. The iPod Shuffle is tiny and light–great for runners! No need to carry around your clunky iPhone or Blackberry on a run, these little gems are only $49!

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Garmin

This Garmin does everything your man might need it to do and he can download all of his stats onto the computer to obsess about after each and every workout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phew! Now all you have to do is click, buy and wrap them. Do that and then…

…Go out and run!

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How To Love a Good Run In the Rain

Confession: I have not always loved running in the rain. In junior high and high school cross country, it meant slogging through seemingly endless miles of mud and yuck soaked to the bone in my cotton uniform to a finish line that looked like a brown Slip ‘n Slide only to ride home on a bus with a bunch of sweaty, dirty, smelly, filthy runners. Yuck.

Bless the Obi-wans for coming out to those cross country races and standing in the rain to watch me trudge past them. It could not have been fun for them, either.

Today is SO different. I love the rain. I ran one of my favorite 21 mile training runs in the rain all over Manhattan a couple of years ago. The park is quieter, the runners are nicer and there’s something more peaceful about a run in the rain than in any other weather. The other piece of the puzzle is my beloved gear. Thank heavens for lululemon!! I mean, good clothes really make running in inclimate weather not only possible, but enjoyable.

But it’s not always roses and puppies out there. You have to be in the right mind-set and prepare yourself for a few key situations when heading out for a run in the rain. Here is a sure-fire way to have a great run in the rain, in my experience.

#1. Leave your watch/Garmin/iPod at home. The rain (and likely, the wind) will probably slow you down a little. Plus, it’s better to keep your focus on the road/trail when it’s slick and only made more slippery by fallen leaves. Unplug and enjoy the scenery.

#2. Dress for success. Wear fitted, moisture-wicking clothing and a hat or a visor. Loose stuff will whack against your skin and get heavier with every mile, especially if it’s not a good tech fiber. Here’s what I wore today:

         

Turbo TankSpeedy Run Hat, Run: For Your Life Crops & the very fabulous (and now unavailable) Run: Essential Jacket. Rain usually means a sweaty, humid run for me so I don’t like to layer it up too much under my jacket. The hat is so key for me because nothing spoils a run like problems with my contact lenses.  Also, braids for the win!

#3. Plan on getting wet. Sounds silly, right? But, if you need to be back at your desk 5 minutes after your run and you have nowhere to shower and towel off, you probably want to save your run for a time when you can. This goes for your shoes, too. Probably not a day for a double-down in the gym after your soggy, beautiful run because they will look like this:

 

Sopping. Soggy. Wet. Dirty. Basically unwearable. Dry overnight.

#4. Treat it like a fun run. Don’t try and do a massive amount of speed work or some crazy mileage on a rainy day. Go out, do your best, get ‘er done and all that, but keep it light and don’t expect too much. Dodging umbrellas on 5th Avenue always slows me down, but if I plan for it, it’s not nearly as aggravating.

#5. Just do it, already! Commit. Don’t complain. Don’t procrastinate. Get out there and run. Running in the rain is akin to reliving childhood moments so enjoy it!

Now go out and run!

The Great Debate: To Run With or Without Tunes?

Runners all over the world are having this debate right now. I overhear runners talking about it in Central Park, my fellow bloggers are writing about it and coaches everywhere (including myself) are trying to figure out whether or not their runners should tune in or tune out. So, what’s better? With or without tunes?

Marine Corps Marathon '09: without tunes (mile 20)

When I moved to New York City nine years ago, I brought a lot of music with me. I had a shiny new Walkman CD player (listen, it was better than a tape player) and a dream of listening to the best of Simon and Garfunkel while running through Central Park. About halfway through training for my first marathon, I figured out one thing: it was making me slow and lazy. I had checked out of my run and stopped paying attention to what I was doing, or trying to do, and it showed in my run times. Perhaps it was my choice of music, but I abandoned my quest for a music-filled run then and there. After all, it was crazy heavy to carry around for 18 miles!

Fast-forward nine years and we find ourselves with these super-light, compact little iPods to keep us company everywhere we go. People wear their headphones during their commutes, morning runs, workouts at the gym, on their bikes (what a BAD idea!) and in their cars (even worse). I stayed steadfast in my anti-iPod stance while running outside, even as I thanked God for music on my treadmill workouts and at the gym. Nothing is as good at keeping random people (ahem, guys) from talking to you at the gym as having your headphones plugged in, not even my wedding band. Sorry random gym guys, I’m married and I gotta get my squats done! No time to chat.

This spring, I was invited to participate in a panel at lululemon with their design team to discuss the pros and cons of their running apparel. This is what I love about lululemon–they want feedback and honestly make changes when they hear the same thing over and over again. I’ve seen my suggestions come to life more than once in the fit and function of their products. Shout out, Lulus! Anyway, I was on this panel with about 8 other women, most of whom are competitive runners (read: awesome and FAST, what was I doing there??), one of whom I’ve know since high school. Even here the debate about iPods while training came up. The consensus was not any more clear. About half and half were for/against iPods while training. The other coach there said he encourages his runners to train without them, but that some of them are adamant about using it (some of whom were there). So, the debate rages on.

I will say this: when I was suffering through my horrible marathon in New Jersey this spring, I was never so grateful to have my iPod with me. It was lonely out there on the course and I was sick. But when I wanted to cry, give up, sit down, flag down the medical van, scream, I’d have a song pop into my ears and nudge me a little further along the course. I have very strong feelings about music and songs remind me of people in my life. When I heard these songs, it made me believe that those people were silently cheering me on, telling me to keep going. When I was cruising towards the finish line with about half a mile to go, Britney Spears’ Stronger came on and I was in tears. You couldn’t tell because, as we’ve discussed at length, I sweat like a monster, but I was so determined to finish strong and it was the perfect song for me to hear with the finish line in sight.

Jeresy Shore Marathon '11: with tunes (almost to the finish!)

And then yesterday I totally left my iPod at home so I could enjoy the sights and sounds of Summer Streets in NYC.

So, to each his/her own, I say. Sometimes I love having my tunes and sometimes I need to tune into my body. I maintain that when you need to really focus, like in a race, you gotta be tune-free. However, if it’s a particularly long race and you need something to keep you company, I am ALL about the tunes. It just depends. That’s my opinion.

What about you? Do you run with tunes? Maybe only on certain runs or during certain distances? 

Shout it out in the comments and then go out and run!!!