Friday, October 29, 2010

Night Lights You Can Live By

It isn't often that I run at night. In fact I'm rarely out of the house before the sun comes up. I am not a morning person so even thinking about getting up, getting dressed, and going for a run before the sun even makes an appearance on the horizon is a rarity indeed.

Which is why I had so much fun on a recent run in the pre-dawn light of a full moon. Although the moon was mostly hidden by clouds, I could see it occasionally. And even though i was decked out in just about every piece of gear that had the bright Saucony VIZiPRO color on it, I still needed some lights to feel safe. And while this isn't a solid review of each light I carried along for my run, it will at least give you a taste of what to look for when you go shopping.

Princeton Tec Fuel Headlamp

- Elastic Headband- The headband is adjustable, but what I enjoyed most was that it fit my head with room to spare. Which means you can wear it over a stocking hat if you need to. It's also easily washable and the adjustment piece is used to open the battery compartment.

- On/Off Switch - Sometimes a little hard to use, but it's easy to remember where it is when you always put it facing up. There's four settings; Bright, Medium, Dim, and Flashing. I don't recommend Flashing unless it's bright enough for you to see. Otherwise it's like running with a strobe light (yes, it's that bright).

- Clip - I have no idea what they're called, but it's the little clips or retainers used to attach the lamp to the headband. I learned you can also attach the lamp to essentially any strap of similar size. So you can wear one on your head and put another on the chest strap of your hydration pack.

- Waterproof - I've used this lamp in heavy downpours with no issues. The batteries are safe and secure inside the lamp and don't come out easily.

- Batteries - Needs three AAA batteries. Haven't replaced them yet so I'm not sure how long they last.

- Brightness - You can compare Lumens if you want, but in layman's terms, it's bright. Damn bright. Bright enough to see during your run or bike without any issues. In fact, I had to turn mine down during my last run because my eyes had adjusted.

As I said before, this fits my head. And I have a big head. As in big enough that most cases of One Size Fits All translates to Snug Fit for me. But the headband is easy to adjust and it fits my big head. And there's enough stretch and room to adjust that I can even wear it over a hat or headband so anyone with a smaller head should have plenty of room. I was able to put it around my chest but it wasn't comfortable so I took it off and attached it to my hydration pack.

The headband is washable, but I'd put it in a laundry bag of some sort so it doesn't get lost. I'd use cold water, gentle cycle, and make sure you take the lamp off. There have been reports of the lamps surviving a ride in the wash, but I wouldn't risk it.

I love this lamp. When you first wear it, it feels a bit heavy, but I have yet to find it uncomfortable. I think my longest stretch wearing it is around two hours and I didn't have any issues. I would like to find an easy way to attach it to my bike helmet or my bike, but that's the only downfall I've been able to find. My wife even uses it to clean out the dog's ears so she doesn't have to hold a flashlight, so anyone can find a use for it. Bottom line, buy this lamp. It's cheap, it's bright, and it works great.

Nathan L.E.D. Safety Strobe

- On/Off Switch - This light has a million settings (actually just seven, but it's still a lot); Steady On, All Flash Fast, All Flash Slow, Single Flash Slow Down, Single Flash Slow Up, Single Flash Fast Down, and Single Flash Slow Down Then Up. The switch is easy to use but sometimes too easy since it'll turn on or change settings with a light bump in your gym bag.

- Clip - The clip is nice but not really strong enough to attach to something that stays in motion or subject to a small nudge or bump. In other words, make sure it goes someplace very secure or you'll lose it.

- Waterproof - While there is a rubber o-ring around the two halves of the unit, the unit opens too easily. Just dropping it or bumping it hard enough will cause the cover to come off. Which means the batteries and lights are exposed to water.

- Batteries - Needs two AAA batteries. Mine have lasted a few months of on and off use, so I don't have a specific time frame to give. But be prepared to have the batteries fall out or come loose. Just tapping the unit on any hard surface will unseat the batteries which means you have to pry it open to re-seat them. Not fun.

- Brightness - It's not really meant to be used to run by, but more to keep people from driving over you. It's semi-bright and in one of the flashing modes should be bright enough to make cars pay attention to you.


Don't drop it. That's the best advice I have because if you do drop it, the cover comes off and your batteries go flying.

Save your money and buy something else. This was my first attempt at buying and using some sort of light to keep me safe while I ran and I'll readily admit this was the biggest failure. I had hoped for s sturdy product from Nathan (like their other products I use) but instead found a junky light. I do like that there are several settings to choose from but they don't outweigh the negatives.

Saucony USB_LED Light

- USB - Probably one of the best features is the ability to recharge the light with your computer. After about 20 minutes charging, the light will last about an hour. It may be hard to connect to some USB ports, but shouldn't be an issue on the majority of computers.

- On/Off Switch - Easy to see and use but hard to accidentally bump, which is good. It has two modes, Steady and Flash.

- Clip - A simple spring-loaded clip that has a little bite to it. The small teeth did a good job gripping. Designed to fit into the Saucony gloves, they can also grip hats, shirts, wristbands, and more.

- Waterproof - I'm not sure how waterproof this should be, but I've used it in downpours before and had no issues. But I would recommend letting it dry completely before recharging it.

- Batteries - There are none. Which makes it great because you just pop it into your computer to recharge. But the downside of this is it will only keep that charge for about an hour (actually a little closer to 80 minutes, but by then it's pretty dim). Keeping it on Flash will help, but only so much.

- Brightness - Even with one lamp, this is pretty bright. Not quite bright enough to run by in most cases, but good enough to make cars notice you. And anything up close can be seen fairly easily.


I would treat this as if it were a water resistant flash drive. It has the USB connection so it needs some care to keep that part functional, but it's small enough to be a hardy little light when in use.

For the price and capability of this light, I'd buy several. It's small, cheap, and easily rechargeable. And it's versatile enough to be clipped to just about anything you'd wear while you're out running. It isn't terribly bright so you won't be able to navigate with it, but it's bright enough you can see your feet and cars will see you on the road.

I took a video of all three products during my last night run. Clearly my camera doesn't like the dark, but it should give you an idea of how bright each light is compared to the other. Distance from the camera was about 30 feet. This sequence in the video shows you the Saucony USB LED Light on Steady then Flash. Next is the Princeton Tec Fuel Headlamp on High, Medium, Dim, then Flashing. And finally the Nathan L.E.D. Safety Strobe which I cycle through a couple of settings as I approach the camera. And no, the video doesn't do justice to how bright these lights really are.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Product Review - Saucony Protection Gloves

These are the Saucony Protection Gloves in ViZiPRO Orange. They're also available in black, but then who can see you?! They come in various sizes (Extra Small to Extra Large) and retail for $40.00 (direct from Saucony). It's a bit expensive for gloves, but they should last a good while.

This is my third pair of Saucony gloves and I think I like these the best. My first (and oldest) pair is just a light, single layer model. The second pair is a lot like the newer Protection Gloves except they convert into mittens. Turns out I'm not much of a mitten fan so I picked up the Protection Gloves to try out. I like them. A lot. They actually have two layers, so they're warmer than my older gloves. This makes them great for winter runs and when it's windy enough to make you think about wind-chill when you get dressed.

- Magnets - On the inside of each wrist, there are two small magnets that keep the gloves together. Nothing fancy but not my preferred method of attaching them together. I guess I'm afraid they'd interfere with a compass. Not that I carry one, but I might need to.

- ViZiPRO - This is my new favorite color. Not just the usual bright orange or even fluorescent orange, this is super-bright orange. The fingers and the back of the hand are covered in this magically bright material. I'm sure some planes flying overhead could see you if they really wanted to.

- Reflective Patches - There are a few spots where reflective logos have been heat-transferred onto the glove. There's the Saucony name, the Saucony logo, and some reflective material on the back of the hand as well.

- LED Light - Pretty neat light. You charge it by using a USB port on your computer. Takes about 20 minutes and will last about an hour. There's a little clip that covers the USB part so you can even clip it to a hat, shirt, or something else if you wanted to. Only two modes though, ON and FLASHING. Three modes if you count OFF.

- Rubber Tips - The forefinger and thumb on each hand have a little rubber triangle (pyramid might be a better descriptor) thing that gives you a somewhat better grip on things. Not really much of a better grip to make it worthwhile though.

- Thumb Mop - Each thumb has a terry-cloth-like sweat mop. Works just like those found on many bicycle gloves and it works great. Trust me. I sweat a lot and it works well. The only hinderence I've found is with the LED light. Which just means it's easier to mop with my left hand instead of my right.

Overall they fit well. I had to get the XL size since that seems to be the best fit (same goes for the mittens, although the thinner gloves, the old ones mentioned above, I have are a large). Your fingers don't bind and the wrists are loose enough to make room for a watch. The sizing says Women on their website but it's marked as Unisex inside the glove itself. And seeing as I have big gorilla hands, I'd trust the glove.

- Machine wash cold
- Do not bleach
- Line dry
- Do not tumble dry
- Do not iron
- Do not dry clean

I like these. They keep my hands warm. They have a light. They are super-bright. And I can wipe the sweat from my brow. They're a bit tight but I think that's good. You can still get them on but they won't go flying off like hockey gloves before a fight. I think I like the light the best, even though it can get in the way at times when you're wiping your brow. While it doesn't say it's water-proof, I've used it in the rain several times and it came out just fine. But I wouldn't recommend washing it and I'd make sure to air dry it before recharging it. They break wind very well (as in they don't stink when they do it) so they can be used for bike rides in colder weather. I'd recommend these instead of the mitts though, but more on that when I review the mitts.

If you're interested in how I measure up, literally, you can go to this photo gallery to see my body measurements. Nothing pornographic, but there may be a fat, hairy guy in some of the photos so consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Running In The Rain

Believe it or not, you can learn a lot about running in the rain. Just running outside in good weather can expand your views and give you a breath of fresh air. So why run in the rain when treadmills are so readily available?

Many would argue that there are physical benefits to running outside. I'm sure you've heard them before. For me, running in the rain has it's own rewards that go above and beyond running in the sun. From a stronger psyche to a healthy dose of safety, the benefits outweigh the risks.

First, there's the benefit of that "hardcore" feeling. If you've ever run in the rain, or any adverse weather for that matter, you know what I'm talking about. That feeling of being a bad ass because you just pounded out eight miles in the rain. This is something that's hard to measure, but for me, I feel about ten times stronger when I run in the rain. Stronger mentally and physically. After all, it's hard to dodge all those rain drops so I don't melt.

Second, there is a measurable difference in your weight when you run in the rain. Even though our shoes and clothes add to our workout, we don't think of them as being heavy when we run. In fact, on a nice summer day, that shirt feels nice and light against our skin. But in the rain, that shirt soaks up some sweat and a ton of rain. So do your shoes. In fact, the last time I ran in the rain, I lost eight pounds when I stripped down to my underwear. The next time you run on a nice sunny day, take an eight pound weight with you and see how you do.

Next, there's the clothes. I've always heard that you dress for the weather as if it were twenty degrees warmer. So if it's 50 degrees out, dress like it's 70 degrees instead. And this general rule makes sense because we heat up as we run. But when it rains, you need to adjust that figure by 5 or even 10 degrees. So instead of dressing for 70 degrees, you might want to make it 60 degrees. And in some extremes, like winter, it might be even more.

It just isn't dressing warmer either. It means you have to dress smarter. Think back to when you were a kid and you wet your pants. Didn't your underwear chafe? Mine sure did. So you have to think about ever little thing and how it reacts to a good soaking. Will those socks stay warm? Will that shirt rub your nipples raw? You may not be able to stay dry, but you can still stay comfortable.

Safety is next. And it's a big one. We always want to be safe when we run, especially when we're on the road with cars, animals, and other sources of danger. Think about driving in the rain. You take things a little slower because it's harder to see, right? If it's harder to see the road, it's going to be harder to see that runner. As a runner, this means you need to be much more proactive about your safety and think about how best to make yourself visible. Are you wearing bright colors? Flashing lights? A headlamp or flashlight?

Let's not forget the fun factor. Sure, we're being safe, we're staying warm, and we're feeling pretty hardcore about running in the rain. But isn't it just a little bit fun? During my last two runs in the rain, we had a pretty good soaking. Within ten minutes I could have been drier if I jumped into a pool. So I made sure to enjoy that big puddle near the turn-around. My shoes and socks were already wet so running and splashing through a giant puddle wouldn't hurt. So I let a little giggle out as I reverted back to my childhood.

Finally, there's the recovery from the rainy day run. You learn to take care of your equipment when you get them soaked through. I'm not just talking about your clothes either. Those are simple. Air dry until laundry day. But that headlamps needs to dry out. And so do your shoes. And don't stick them in the drier either. Put some newspaper in them (after you take out the liner) and let them air dry. So it takes a bit of planing to run in the rain. After all, you won't want to run in those wet shoes tomorrow when the sun is out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Revamp

In life, things change. How we adapt to that change determines who we become. And sometimes who we become changes, making us adapt even more.

So consider this the beginning of a new chapter. Well, sort of new.

You see, I've been pretty silent on here for some time. A long, long time. But my interests have changed over that time and I've been kept busy with so many things. So instead of closing down this blog and creating a new one, I'm revamping this on a bit. Adding more things that are related to running.

Yes, running. And no, I don't expect this to be a fitness blog. No, I don't expect this to be a running blog. But yes, you will see a heavy dose of running as I start out on this new vein. Why? Because I want to. Specifically, I want a better venue to review products that relate to my running. Google Documents just isn't cutting it. And DailyMile can't handle it. So I'm back here.

Will people read my posts? Doubtful. After all, I'm not a popular guy.

So. You've been warned. Get ready for some running stuff. I'll try to get some family stuff in there too, but don't count on it.