Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Anti-Chafe Products

There are a ton of products out there that keep you chafe free. I'll be sticking with the three that I've used on several occasions (note that the photos below include the small BodyGlide applicator).

Mission Anti-Friction Cream

- Sweat resistant - True as far as I can tell. No issues with it coming off during hot and sweaty workouts in the summer.
- Helps defend and relieve chafing, cracking and chapping - True as well. At least on the "defend" part. Didn't notice any dramatic change with the "relieve" part.
- Preservative free/paraben free - I'm taking their word on it.

Just like a lotion, you squeeze some on your hand or finger and apply as needed. It has a distinct odor (like chocolate, probably due to the cocoa seed butter) and a thick consistency (almost like thick toothpaste). It is also greasy so it takes some extra effort to get it off your hand after you apply it. The tube is small enough to carry around as needed and it lasts at least a few hours.

Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isononyl Isononanoate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, C4 - 24 Alkyl Dimethicone/Divinyldimethicone Crosspolymer Cyclomethicone, Beeswax, C18 - 36 Acid Triglyceride, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Oil, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Melia Azadirachta Seed Oil, Tocopherol Acetate, Ascorbic Acid, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Zinc Oxide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol

This is a great product and my number two choice to anti-chafing creams. It is a bit thick and a bit greasy when you put it on, but it lasts a long time, it smells good, and best of all, it works!

Asics Chafe Free - Endurance

- Marathon tested - I'm sure it has been.
- Waterproof - I'll have to believe them on this one. Didn't run in the water or wear it swimming.
- Soothing - Yep, it feels nice when you put it on.
- Reduces friction - True again, it reduces friction and chafing.
- Helps prevent blisters - I'd say it does just because it helps reduce chafing.
- Suitable for bike chamois and wetsuits - I'll have to trust them on this since I haven't tried it with either.
- Controls and relieves chafing - I know it "controls" chafing but like the Mission cream above, I'm not sure that it "relieves" much chafing.

The applicator on this is a bit odd. It's a bit like those giant markers you use to write on car windows with. A giant sponge with a hole in the middle for the cream to come out of. Which means it's a pain to put on because you have to squeeze some out, then roll it around like a paint brush then squeeze more out and roll it around some more. You get the idea. It's nice you don't get any on your fingers, but when the tube runs low and that applicator tip starts to bend around on you, you end up with some on your hands anyway.

Water, Boron Nitride, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, VP/Hexadecene Copolymer, Polyacrylate 13, Polysobutene, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium EDTA, Alow Barbadensis Leaf Juice

Meh. Nothing exciting here. The only thing that makes this unique over the Mission cream is that it doesn't smell, it has a funky sponge applicator, and their website doesn't freely offer up the ingredients.

BodyGlide Anti-Chafe Balm

- No mess - About 90% accurate. You can actually over apply this product which can cause a bit of a mess, but that's really your own fault.
- Non-greasy - Not greasy but it is waxy. In fact, it's just like chap stick.

The texture is just like chap stick. The container is just like deodorant. Combine the two and you have BodyGlide. I've used the larger applicator and the smaller one and the only trouble I've had is when I get to the end of the tube, the remaining amount tends to pop out. More distressing though is that I'm out of BodyGlide.

Active ingredients: Allantoin 0.5%
Inactive ingredients: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, C18-36 acid triglyceride, Capric/captylic triglycerides, Tocopheryl acetate, Tribehnin

Like Asics, BodyGlide doesn't have the full ingredient list readily available online. Despite that, this is my go-to anti-chafe cream. It's easy to apply. It doesn't smell or stain your clothes. And most importantly, it works. And it works well. In fact, it works so well, this product has saved my ass. Literally and figuratively. I've used it on my feet, my nipples, and my nether regions. It forces my thunder thighs to play nice with each other and it keeps the monkey butt away. The only down side (if you want to call it that) is that it takes a bit of extra scrubbing to get it off. Personally, I don't want to take it off, I want to put more on.

You can see my measurements in this gallery if you'd like.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Year End Summary

I know, it's not quite 2011 yet, but for me, my 2011 training has already begun. Thus, my year in review post that covers my progress this year.

This was when I first started running with more seriousness than years past. It had been 10 years since college and 14 since my last serious run in high school cross country. Time flies when you get old, fat, and lazy. I thought I made a good start and felt like I was making progress. Winning a trophy for third place in my age group really boosted my spirits. I mean, come on! A trophy! In my first race after a couple of months of training?! How can you beat that?!

This was a tough year. Very little progress was made and even though I tried to meet my goal of running all the local Grand Prix races, it never materialized. I also trained too hard and caught a bad case of shin splints. Needless to say, I was pretty crushed this year. I wanted it so bad it hurt.

After such a lousy year, I decided to get serious. Well, more serious than I had been before. And oddly enough, it was so much easier than I expected. But I had three big things that radically changed my training. First, I may have hit rock bottom mentally in 2008, but in 2009 I realized I needed to change my mindset. I needed to be more positive in how I look at myself and my running. Second, I joined a regular running group at the local YMCA. Having a group of people that you see every week helped keep me accountable. I didn't have to pay for the sessions and there was no strict attendance policy. But I gained so much from just having a group to socialize with. Third, DailyMile saved me and my running. In person, I'm very shy. But online, I'm very social. In the past, I've been called a "netvestite" because I'm so different in person than I am online it shocks people. Well, DailyMile gave me a social outlet for running.

So here I was in 2010, poised to do great things. I had my head on straight. I had a group in real life and online that was there to support me. I came up with concrete goals that were both realistic and were a bit of a stretch. I was ready for my journey.

What a journey it was. I learned so much about running and so much about myself, I get nervous sometimes. I was never very confident and quite socially inept. Running has helped me make positive strides in both areas. A few people have commented that I look like I lost weight, but I don't feel that way. When you only show a 5 pound loss on the scales and still have a big gut, it's hard to believe the positive words from others. The only proof that I have is I'm going to need new shorts and pants next year because my old ones are too big.

And best of all, the concrete evidence of my running improvements. Not only have I improved on my times, but also my distances and my stamina. Going out for a 5 mile run is no longer a daunting thing to plan for, it's now something I can do at the drop of a hat and with just a bottle of water. I've set 9 PRs this year, 5 of them in the last 3 months alone. Amazing progress. I can run 5 miles without taking a break and yet I started the year barely able to do a mile without a break. I struggled mightily with a half marathon early this year but easily conquered a second this month. And even though my first 50k was insanely difficult and slow, I learned enough to make next year's attempt so much better.

So where does that leave me to start my 2011 training? Confident that I can meet most or all of my goals. Flexible enough to not get too stressed if I can't meet them. Rested after a week's vacation from running. Excited about what I have on my list of goals for the new year. Anxious about getting sponsorships (more like hopeful but doubtful). And best of all, more centered and grounded than I've felt in ages. A life that was out of control a few years ago is now under control. And while I don't expect to be completely rigid with life and running, I know what I need to do and what I want to do well enough to make the right decision.

And with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Product Review - Saucony Elite Arm Warmers

Saucony Elite Arm Warmers

- Anotomical Fit - These sleeves (or arm warmers if you prefer) are fitted for the left and right arms. The older models are not, or at least aren't labeled as such, but that is the only noticeable difference. And if you happen to have an older model, keep the Saucony logo readable to others when you hold out both arms (more on this later).

- ViZi-PRO - I can't say enough about this color. If you run or bike outside, especially in areas with hunters or drivers, this color can save your life. The brighter the better.

- 50+ UV Protection - There is some debate as to how much sun runners should get. Personally, I don't count on the sleeves to keep the sun off my skin. I count on the sleeves to keep my arms warm.

I got mine in a Large. They are unisex but are sometimes labeled as Women's and sometimes as Men's. You'll find a link to my arm measurements below if that will help. The big thing for me is they don't fall off or slip down my arm. I had some chafing issues early on that were easily cured by folding down the top elastic cuff but I think the real problem was I pulled them up too high.

- Machine wash cold with like colors
- Do not use softeners
- Remove immediately
- Do not bleach
- Line dry
- Do not iron
- Do not dry clean

Two big things to remember when wearing these sleeves. First, the older models aren't labeled LEFT and RIGHT, so put the "S" in Saucony on your left wrist. Second, keep the seam on the under part of your arm. While it isn't explicitly recommended one way or the other by Saucony, I've found this keeps the logos facing out and keeps the seam away from any chafing points, especially the inside of your bicep and armpit.

Beyond that, these are great sleeves. They're tight enough to stay up but not so tight they cut off blood flow. They will leave funny marks on your arms though when you take them off because they will wrinkle and bunch a bit (but not enough to be uncomfortable). And if you want to see them in use, I model them here in a recent race and Heather's take on Saucony's ViZi-PRO line (and arm sleeves).

You can see my measurements in this gallery if you'd like.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Light Update

This is a brief update on a previous post I made for running at night. You may recall the issues I had with the Nathan L.E.D. Safety Strobe. My biggest concern was that it did not hold together very well. The simply design of opening and closing to replace the batteries was a bit too simple. Because of this and the fact that the clip did not really clip to anything caused frequent drops, which in turn resulted in the batteries flying across the road. Not something a runner wants to deal with while a car is approaching in the dark.

So I threw them away and found a replacement. The RoadID Firefly Supernova. Read on.

RoadID Firefly Supernova


- On/Off Switch - You twist the lens cap to turn it on and off. Works surprisingly well with gloves on. Didn't expect that. There are little knobs that stick out from the lens that gives you some grip. And best of all, you twist it tighter to turn it on so there's no worry of twisting too far and taking the top off. There are two modes, steady and flashing. Pretty simple.

- Clip - The clip works and works well on this. In fact, it's a little hard to take off of a strap when you put it on, but I'd rather have that than have it fall off.

- Waterproof - Again, I trust them when they say it's waterproof up to 300 feet. It has performed well in rain storms though, so the waterproof part I can believe.

- Batteries - This is the biggest weakness I've found so far. The batteries are unique to the device, meaning you need to either make them (if you know how) or buy them direct from RoadID. They are two watch-style batteries that have been attached to each other with some heat shrink plastic on the sides. You can flip the batteries to change between steady and flash mode (another minor negative). According to RoadID though, the batteries will last up to 250 hours in flashing mode.

- Brightness - According to RoadID, the light is visible up to one mile. I have to believe them on this one as I haven't tested it yet. But I have blinded myself while looking at the light.

Small, light, and easy to use. You can put them on the back of your hat, a chest strap for your Camelback, or even your shoes. These are very small and very bright and very easy to clip on where you need them.

No specific care instructions, but I would recommend drying them out after they've been in the rain.

Bottom line on these lights is get them. They work, they're light, they're reasonably priced, and best of all, they're bright. I only have the red lens lights but I'd bet you just about use the white lenses to see by if you put them on your shoes.

You can see my measurements in this gallery if you'd like.