Chose a Running Backpack

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Ready for adventure!

There are a few different reasons to use a running backpack including long run support, run commuting and running while doing errands. There are also many types of packs to chose from. These include:

  • Handheld water bottles with an added zip pocket
  • Waist packs which allow for water and/or room to carry items
  • Running backpacks with or without Hydration accessories. These are generally the largest packs and allow for a lot of carrying room.  They can be used for more than just running (think hiking or day trips) but for running, bulkier packs can shift a lot so these should still be compact.
  • Race vests are the minimal version of a hydration pack. they tend to be lighter, allow for a water bladder and you can carry smaller items such as food but not much else.

How do you chose?

Handheld water bottles work very well for some. The amount that you can carry in the pocket is very limited however. And at the end of a long race, fatigue in your arms (even as you switch sides) can be a challenge. Those handheld water bottles don’t seem like they are heavy but water weighs a lot!

If you decide a running pack would better suit your needs, you need to figure out what those needs are. If you would like a pack for long runs, bigger isn’t always better. The smallest pack that you can get away with and that is comfortable will mean that you use it that more often. It may also require a couple of different packs.

Running packs with or without hydration accessories are standard right now and there are many brands. (Check out the list of packs that clients have had success with at the bottom of the page.) Look for sturdy, padded shoulder straps, chest and/or waist straps. Chest and/or waist straps should be well positioned for your body. These straps help keep the load secure while running.We do recommend front strap storage as taking a pack on and off to access a back zipped storage area is time consuming and can get annoying.

Will you carry water? Some people prefer using packs that allow for carrying water bottles and some prefer bladders. When using water bottles it is easy to see how much water you have used and refilling is typically easier.  Water bladders allow for easier drinking (from bite tubes) and minimize sloshing sounds if filled properly. They typically can carry more fluids as well (20 ounce bottles or .6 liter versus 1-3 liter capacity for bladders).

Now we get into the nitty gritty of fit and comfort. A lighter weight back pack is better. The material of the backpack is also important. Many have a mesh layer to provide air against the skin. Wearing a backpack can be warmer than you expect. Unfortunately the easiest way to tell what will work for you is to use the item. With use, you may find that the fit is not quite right for your body or your needs.

Waist packs can work very well. There are many types and some with 1 – 4 bottles of various sizes.  We know some athletes who swear by their waist pack and others who swear at them.

Many manufacturers have gender specific packs as well. That pack built for a petite and narrow shouldered woman is not going to work as well for a 6’+ guy with shoulders!  The packs use a variety of other straps to mold the pack to your body. You should be able to get a comfortable and snug, natural fit.

Check out these packs:





Do you have a shoe problem?

 How often should you replace running shoes?

a. What? Why would i replace them?

b. When my dog has chewed them up.

c. When they stink too much to stay in the house.

e. None of the above.

The general wisdom says to replace running shoes after 300-500 miles. What happens when you don’t run that much or don’t track mileage that closely?

Shoe cushioning and the materials that make up a running shoe deteriorate over time. Coach likes to write a date under the sock liner so that she’ll have an easy way to tell how old a pair is.  If you tend to run 20 miles per week, after 6 months you will have 500 miles on your shoes. Time to switch them out.  If you run more and/or have a heavier build, especially if you are training heavily for a goal event, you will generally need to switch your shoes more often.

Often you can tell that shoes are wearing out by noticing little aches and pains in your feet, legs and hips. They may not fit as well as the materials change with degradation. Before panicking about injury, think back to when you last replaced your shoes. A pair of shoes is cheap compared to a running injury!

Certainly if you wear though the outer sole of your shoe, you should replace them. The outer sole is made of a tougher material and exposing the softer under sole can easily change the mechanics of the shoe which could lead to injury.

You may have heard that switching between multiple pairs of shoes will extend the life of a pair. There is no evidence to support this but it never hurts to have a spare pair of shoes to switch to if your current shoes get wet, if you need a pair to keep somewhere else or just because you like shoes!

Also you may try different types of shoes depending on your training day. For instance, for those easy recovery runs, you may want your most supportive shoe. If you have speed work or a race, contemplate a lighter shoe with less support. it can be fun to have “fast shoes” as long as you have no injury issues that would contraindicate this. Many athletes find they prefer one shoe and there is nothing wrong with that.

And don’t forget that what you wear on your feet all the other waking hours when you aren’t running can wear out too. If you use custom or over the counter orthotics, those also can show wear and deteriorate over time.




Goals From the Team: And She’s Back!

The last race (other than a 5K) that I made it across the finish line was in 2011. I’ve had some setbacks with injury and other life events where I wasn’t able to put 100% into training. I always knew that I wanted to stay connected with the running and triathlon community because my setbacks were a temporary thing, and when the time was right I would come back refreshed and ready to bring out “Athlete Sheena”. Over the past few years, I’ve been at the group runs and cheering all of you on at your races. I’ve seen the CL team accomplish outstanding things that have inspired me and helped me get ready to be a part of the race as an athlete.

Goals for this year:
Tinkerbell ½ marathon in May
Pacific Crest ½ marathon (or 10k) in June
Obliteride Century in August.

Thank you all for being such great teammates! Cheers to all the amazing adventures we will have in 2015!!

Keep Your Running Routine on Track: Tips from Shalane Flanagan

US Olympic Marathoner Shalane Flanagan shared with Shape Magazine 9 tips to keep your winter running on track.

We are big fans of Number 5! “Make Your Mantra Super Specific”

From the article 9 Smart Running Tips From Shalane Flanagan:

“‘I use inspirational words that apply to each specific race I run (rather that simply having a go-to mantra that applies to running in general),’ says Flanagan. ‘When I was preparing for the Olympic Trials for the marathon, it was so emotional. I used the mantra ‘cold execution’ to help me to be really calculated and not let emotions get the best of me,’ she says. Think about why a race or run is important to you and make that your mantra.”

What’s your mantra this winter?

Baby It’s Cold Outside: Being Prepared for Winter Runs

Happy snow day Seattle!  It seems that winter is officially upon us and that means preparing for a whole different kind of running scene. In the summer it’s easy to dress yourself and think I’m too hot let me take off a layer. The winter however posses a unique challenge in gauging your body temperature.

One of the most common mistakes runners make is over dressing. It it important to pay attention to the conditions before you leave for a run and that means checking the numbers. If you are outside and all bundled up and think I’m comfortable now but going to be freezing in my running gear, take a quick look at your phone. Sometimes its 45 to 50 F outside and you will for sure be too warm after your first mile. This time of year can be deceiving. The same thing happens when its raining. Wet doesn’t always mean cold. It is very tempting to want to wear your running jacket in the rain but that can quickly lead to overheating, negatively affecting your run.

Jackets have their place and that is often when the temperature dips below freezing or in cold weather with strong winds. Remember the wind chill factor can make the temperature feel 10 to 20 degrees cooler than it is. The key to dressing success is layers. You will want to layer up not layer down. Start out a little lighter on clothes than what you would be inclined to put on and add to that as you run if you are finding it to be chilly. You do want your muscles to be warm and comfortable in cold temperatures (take a long warm up, be sure your are fluid before starting the meat of a workout) but you don’t want to start out over dressed, sweat and then remove layers as you will chill quickly. Getting chilled can not only cause a bad run but be dangerous if you are out on the trails or far from home. When thinking about layering consider clothes that wick well. Again in the summer when we notice how much we sweat it’s easy to be sure we are wearing well fitted, wicking clothes..who wants to deal with all that chaffing right? But its even more important in the winter. Staying dry and having clothes that breathe is essential. In very cold temperatures wool blended items can be very good for this purpose but again be sure you look at the conditions or you could overheat.

It is often good to think in terms of intermediate clothing choices. For example keeping your feet, hands and head warm and dry are key to regulating your entire body temperature. For cool days (around 40 degrees) perhaps a short sleeve with 3/4 tights, gloves and a hat will keep you comfortable. For cold days a fleece hat can be a great choice because it will wick well and keep your ears covered. If you are going for a long run in the cold weather and have a place to swap gear an extra pair of gloves is a great thing to leave with your water bottle. Gloves often tend to get soggy and don’t dry out, leading to cold fingers midway through a run. The magic one size fits all gloves you get from the dollar store are great for this because its not such a loss if they get taken.

Other great layering choices are half zips that can be worn with either long or short sleeves as a base layer and 3/4 tights. Both lend well to layering and allow a variety of options. Compression socks or calf sleeves can be a nice addition to shorts or 3/4 tights for extra protection with a little extra benefit as opposed to full tights which don’t allow you to adjust your wardrobe. In stead of wearing a jacket in most cases a light weigh running vest will serve you well. It is a good item to have for  a little extra core warmth but also for wind protection. If you invest in a running vest be sure to get something in a bright color that is reflective to help you be seen in the dark.

If you are running from your car be sure to pack an entire change of clothes for after your run. Ladies that means your jog bra too. You want your body to be comfortable as possible at all times to avoid illness and speed recovery. Being cold and wet even with the car heater on will not do you justice. As a post run treat leave a thermos of warm tea or water in the car to help warm you up from the inside out. Hydration is a lot harder to remember in the cold weather but is just as important as when it is hot outside. You lose water not only from sweating but also into the cold dry air just from breathing.  If you pack a hand held use room temperature water instead of cold or hot from the tap. It will help your body maintain equilibrium in cold conditions.

In the winter it is important to also carefully select your course based on the temperature and conditions. If there are high winds be sure to avoid exposed courses such as Lake Washington Boulevard and forested trails (falling branches can be dangerous). Instead pick a nice neighborhood route where the houses will provide some shelter. If you are going to go trail running consider the snow level and that while it may be fine at the trail head the higher you go the greater likelihood there is of snow. Trails that are familiar in the summer can become quickly unrecognizable in the snow. Always be sure to let someone know where you are going, what time you leave, when you expect to be back. The same thing goes for running in the city – stay in well populated, bright areas and let someone know where you’ve gone. We also highly recommend taking a buddy – not only does it help with safety but it great for motivation.

So get outside this winter, run smart and have fun!

So It Wasn’t Your Day: When Race Day Goes Awry

You trained and prepped and waited. Hell you even survived taper week. You put in 9 months of sweat equity, stepped to the start line and the sun, the moon and the stars just didn’t align. Now what?? Do you finish? Do you quit? Cry, laugh, swear, or all of the aforementioned?

We can prepare you to start the race, we can teach you strategies to mitigate changing circumstances during a race, we can even help you set up a pacing plan, but we can’t run the race for you. Only you know what’s happening step by step, mile by mile. You are in the drivers seat watching the control panel, constantly running systems checks… heart rate, pace, energy level, stomach, hydration, altitude. Houston we have a problem….

So you’ve hit a wall, run up against a challenge. You can’t quite finger it but your training kicks in you don’t think you just seamlessly adjust. Systems check… the warning sirens have quieted. Perhaps you changed your stride, adjusted your pace, ingested more calories, or even pulled over for a pit stop. One more mile, two more miles… but your body just isn’t right. You know what an off training day feels like. You can tell good pain from bad pain (I know right who makes that statement right?). You know this isn’t the best of the worst. You are going to have to make a call. Do you keep going and hope its nothing or do you trust your gut and start planning your exit?

No time for emotions now that comes later…you start asking the hard questions? What does it mean to me to finish? What does it mean to my body? Am I going to cause lasting physical damage? What’s my end goal? Why did I show up today in the first place?

Competition is a milestone on the training timeline it is never the end all to be all. All the work that went into preparing for the event is the real medal. Sure it feels good to cross the finish line and run home to post to your Facebook. But what does it really mean if you didn’t respect your body to get there? You only get one body that has to last you a lifetime. That means a lifetime of races, walks with the dog, bouncing your kids around and dreaming up new adventures.

So you pull up. You know you made the right choice but it doesn’t make it feel any better. You can’t help but to ask yourself again was I being weak? Did I quit for the right reason? So maybe you laugh, maybe you cry, maybe you curse the fates. But in the end trust your gut. You have just gracefully embodied the best of a mature endurance athlete. You took the long view.

So now what?

Regroup. Move for the pure freedom of it for a minute. Then you try again. So you put you first, it was hard and it left you hungry but congratulations because next time not only will you be healthy but you will come to the start with a fire in your belly you may never have known you had.

Go get it!

Pro turns Amateur: Finding the Joy

There was great article in the New York Times yesterday about Bob Kennedy, a one time elite mid-distance runner who had to strike a balance between running and life. Ex-Distance Star is Taking it Slower. He completely stops running and takes 5 years off before coming back as an amateur and rekindles the joy of running.

Author Jere Longman points out that: “Running was a consuming emotional investment. He was intensely competitive, training twice a day, nearly every day, running up to 130 miles a week. He found it to be a life of necessary selfishness, everything focused on his career, which brought great achievement but came with a price.”

I think even though most of us are amateurs ourselves, we can all in someway relate to this statement. We set big goals, we arrange and rearrange schedules to get it done, we eat like it is a sport itself, our good friends know where to find us Friday night and Saturday morning and Sunday morning (in bed, out running and out running).

So the question becomes for how long can we maintain that lifestyle? Does this question first make you think mental not physical? Is it through one training cycle, up to a big event, up to a big goal? Can we stay committed and focused and balance the rest of life?

I think the answer is most assuredly YES! The caveat you ask? Know yourself, trust yourself and don’t forget what makes you happy about running or swimming or biking. Training especially before a big race starts to feel an awful lot like work. Putting in those high mileage weeks means, less time for everything else, a tired body and more burden for your loved ones. But that being said we learn to know our bodies and know ourselves. If you get to where you need to cut a workout short and do something amazing for your significant other because they’ve been out crewing your training rides every weekend for months, then do it! Swap a road run for a day on the trails, sold! Taking care of the jobs to physically achieve a goal is key but taking care of ourselves mentally is the answer. Without balance within your sport and outside of it, you are not training at your best. To go the distance and still love what you are doing, to keep the focus and finish wanting just a little more you have to take care of your whole self.

So take a day be an amateur, splash through every puddle on your next rainy run, then come back to the next workout with a new take and ready to work. 1176258_10151663300509541_176359960_n