Gearing Up

I planned to write this a handful of weeks ago when a. the first cold snap of the fall (it’s not even officially winter yet) hit Boston and b. when I started to get back into running again. It was a time when I had to dig through my short shorts and find my tights which had been pushed to the back of the drawer (or stored in a shoebox) for the past 7+ months.

As someone who has been running since junior high and who has apparently not grown much or at all since then (please don’t hesitate to imagine me as a running homunculus), I have A LOT of running clothes. In fact, despite a steady accumulation over the years, I maintain several pairs of running tights which I will find myself cursing <2 miles into a run and have a hard time disposing of clothes even when they develop holes in not so easy to hide places (safety pins aren’t just for bib numbers).

The fact that I’m a hoarder of wicking fabrics is not the point of this post – rather, all of this is to highlight that I’ve been around the block when it comes to running apparel.  What I want to share with you is the reason why most of those clothes are, after decades, being slowly weeded through, given away, or left sitting untouched in a dresser drawer. That reason is: wool. Giant itchy wool sweaters make the BEST running clothes.

Just kidding.

For real though – wool is amazing. It has become a staple in my running wardrobe and outside the months of June – September it is my go-to choice day-to-day. Not only is it quick drying, but it adapts to a huge range of temperature/weather conditions AND it doesn’t get smelly (this is a huge plus for you run-commuters who store your sweaty clothes at your desk all day). I could wear the same wool shirt all week long with no odor problems…and I do!

One of my main criticisms of this type of wool (the non-itchy/not bulky kind) is that it often breaks down fairly quickly. But that my friend is a problem of the past. –  Enter Icebreaker.

Now, Icebreaker is not compensating me to say any of this. So you know this recommendation is for real.  I’ve worn a handful of their long sleeve running shirts though multiple winters, springs, and falls and have yet to have one break down (by breakdown I mean, rip, develop holes, and generally start falling apart). I will be honest – one of my shirts has a tiny tiny hole near the hem, but that was a result of my own carelessness in ripping it out of the washing machine and having it catch on something.

photos courtesy of the icebreaker website
photo courtesy of the icebreaker website

I have 3 long sleeve mid-weight Icebreaker shirts and recently purchased 2 from their new (and more affordable!) collection, Redram. (Note: these are super cheap on Sierra Trading Post, especially if you hit during a sale/find a promo code). The Redram collection is more lightweight, so maybe won’t be the BEST on a windy 0 degree day (or for wearing around the office without a second layer/vest – since they are fitted and can be slightly see-through)– but they’ve been a great base layer at ranges from 20 – 50 degrees this fall. I’d argue that the 20-50 degree range (especially in NE when it can be 25 in the am, 45 midday and 30 in the evening)– can be one of the toughest to dress for, so it’s nice to have a shirt that’s versatile enough to keep you warm, cool, and warm again throughout the day.

As for their heftier and more substantial shirts – I’ve worn them on negative degree windy days as a base layer and they’ve been great from start (when you’re fresh out of bed and really intolerant to the cold) to the middle (when you’re working your butt off and risk overheating) to the end (when you’re cooling down).

photo courtesy of the icebreaker website

I’m actually not the biggest fan of the ‘sweetheart neckline’ (especially when trying to keep warm), but wanted to provide an example of how sassy wool is. These wool shirts are fashionable off the tracks and trails as well. I have one stored at work in the event that I forget a shirt for the workday OR the runday (though of course, I’ve made sure to store a pair of pants too, unlike the model above).

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