Sock it to me

Before every big race, I have pre-big-day traditions that, like carb-loading and hydrating, I wouldn’t feel ready to run without. In anticipation of running the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland in ten days, I thought I’d share one tradition that has turned out to be one of the most important, albeit, life changing.

Buying new socks.

12088345_10100805221621448_2303560925920131562_nI instantly feel fifty years older after typing that, but it’s true. One of my favorite race day preparations is heading to the Reno Running Company and scoping out the two synthetic foot coverings that will take me anywhere from ten to soon twenty-six-point-two miles. What color should I get? Should I stray from my favorite brand? Would it be weird if I sniffed them gleefully in the middle of the store because I never thought I could know such happiness?

Sorry, that got weird.

Truthfully, socks are often overlooked by runners (including myself for a long time) and like a great pair of running shoes, they can, and do, make all the difference. From protecting your ankles to warding off blisters and cuts to helping with blood flow — here are four tips for picking the perfect running socks:

  1. Avoid cotton at all costs. Since our feet happen to be one of the parts of our body where we sweat the most, you need a fabric that will control moisture. Otherwise, you risk a soggy foot and bigger chance at a few nasty blisters. Instead, look for socks with synthetic fiber that will wick the moisture off of your feet.
  2. Get the right fit. Since I’m a long lost cousin of Big Foot (size 11s represent…), I tend to buy mens socks because they provide full coverage and better ankle support. And because no part of your body is safe from chafing, a good fitting pair of running socks will protect you from the aforementioned worst feeling in the world. If you’re purchasing at a running store, they’ll most likely have some samples you can try on, or at the least, a good exchange policy.
  3. For faster recovery, try compression socks. Lots of runners wear them on long runs to support blood flow, while others will wear them post-run to reduce lactic acid build-up.
  4. Get funky! Pick your favorite color, pick a bold pattern, pick something that’s you because when your feet hit the pavement, nothing is more important than feeling confident that you’ll have a rockstar performance.

And there you have it! My favorite brand is Feetures, but I’ve also purchased from Brooks and Nike. What’s your favorite brand?

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These Mizunos Were Made for Running

Advice is everywhere. Blogs, trainers, magazines, friends, stores… some consistent, some tailored, some perhaps the worst you’ll ever hear. The one thing I constantly hear that I couldn’t agree with more is that your shoes are the most important part of your success. I learned the hard way.

DSC_0717Three years ago, my bestie Adam and I decided to run the first ever Reno 10 Miler. And when I say “decided,” what I really mean is that three days before the event, we probably had too many glasses of wine and said “Hey, it’s only 10 miles!” Only…

Being the -frugal- person that I can sometimes be, I was currently training in a pair of black and pink Nikes that came from the running section at the Nike Outlet Store. Those count, right? By mile five, I could feel blisters at every curve of my foot and the mad desire to just give up. What the hell did I get myself into? I did make it to the finish line but not without putting out my hands and saying, “I’ll take that advice now.”

I made the trek to Reno Running Company and instantly made a connection with the team. After being fitted for some sweet Saucony’s, I was in heaven. It was like running on pillows. It was almost instantaneous that I realized running didn’t have to be painful. Running on hypothetical pillows was worth the three digit expense. By the way, I don’t think I’ve spent more than $50 on a pair of heels or other girly foot covering in my life.

Those Saucony’s took me through my first half marathon with power and stride. On my next trip to Reno Running Company, I graduated to a lesser-known brand in Mizuno and have bought nothing else since. Protecting your feet – and in turn, the rest of your body – has to be one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned as a runner. I’m no preacher, but praisith those who made protective feathers for my feet.

Getting fitted is actually pretty fun, too. I try to support local as much as possible, so RRC is definitely my store of choice. The process is simple – what will your shoes be for? Compare your feet to Godzilla’s (at least in my size 11 case). Let’s test your running style. Here’s a few options. Run around the block. Will that be cash or Visa?

To note, I ran the Reno 10 Miler again this year, and because I didn’t have to limp-run-walk-die-limp-run-walk for over half the course, I beat that first year time by 15 minutes.