In the past few weeks, the population on Penn’s campus doubled in size as people came out of their winter hibernation. Sunbathers dot College Green, ultimate frisbee and flag football become the game of choice over at Hill field, and of course– packs of runners populate Walnut Street on their way into the city. Rays of sunshine act as a gentle reminder that summer is just around the corner, and it’s time to get back into shape. What better motivation to hit the gym than to sign up for one of Philly’s many races! I know what you’re thinking. Wipe that cringe off your face and read on because I’m here to change your misconceptions on the variety of runs (not just marathons!) Philly has to offer.
Part 1: Races and Runs Philadelphia has to Offer
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
When: Mother’s Day (May 13, 2012)
Where: Eakins Oval/ Philadelphia Museum of Art
Why: Registration is only $30 for this great cause. The choices are a 5K run (only a little over 3 miles!), 5K walk, or a 1 mile fun run. The best part of this is the impact this run has on breast cancer awareness and fundraising. Having attended last year, the race can be an emotional experience as groups gather to run for certain love ones that have passed away from breast cancer or are currently battling the disease. This year’s fundraising goal is $2.2 million towards cancer research. What better way to get in shape than to do it for a great cause! Register here.
When: April 7, 2012
Where: 16th and Sansom
Why: For $40, you can participate in this 10K (6.2 miles), dedicated to touring the City of Brotherly Love. Each group is led by a knowledgeable guide through the streets of colonial Philadelphia. Tours pass by the Liberty Bell, Independence Park, Philadelphia’s war memorials, and Ben Franklin’s print shop. You definitely won’t be bored during the run! You can register up until the Friday before the run here.
Rock N Roll Marathon Series
When: Sept 16, 2012
Where: Benjamin Franklin Parkway (west of 22nd)
Why: The lesser known Philadelphia marathon, this race is part of a series of races around the country. Run in the half marathon (about 13 miles) for $85 (prices go up at the end of April). A perk of this course is their promise of a live band performing at each mile. Also, this course tends to sell out later than the Philly marathon if you have a change of heart later in the summer, and the race’s September date allows for warm, breezy weather during the run. Register here.
Part 2: What to Wear?
If you’re running during the summer time, avoid wearing cotton, which tends to hold tightly to moisture from your skin. Wear clothing with synthetic blends to allow room for evaporation, which cools you down during exercise. Also, make sure your shoes are comfortable. The last thing you want to do is to worry about sizing issues or fit, especially during a run as long as a marathon. Lastly, add a hat to your outfit to shield harmful rays. Here are some good choices to look into if you are trying to expand your wardrobe.
A good running top is Icebreaker’s Women’s Tech T Lite top ($65), made out of 100% pure merino wool. The material is very lightweight and does not stick closely to the body, allowing plenty of aeration. It is also odor resistant, making it a good choice for a lengthy run. For those who are fashion conscious, Icebreaker sells the top in a variety of colors.
For running shorts, the Under Armour Escape 3″ Varsity Short is an economic choice at $29.99. It is offered in five different color combinations, and does not mold to the wearer’s thighs, allowing for a flattering fit. Its 4-way stretch construction adds extra mobility and flexibility. The mesh inserts near the sides add ventilation. The material’s built-in “Signature Moisture Transport System” prevents sweat from accumulating and helps regulate core temperatures, especially for those winter jogs.
Picking the right pair of shoes is the most important part in preparation for a long run. Find a light pair that is tailored to your foot. Cushioning is also important and can enhance the flexibility of your movements. The new Nike LunarEclipse+ 2 running shoe ($135), made from a lightweight mesh breathable material, is a good choice for those who are willing to invest. It is padded with a soft material that wraps around the foot, molding to its shape for a glove-like fit. It also contains a foam core that helps prevent blisters and splints.
A popular running brand that won Health magazine‘s Gear Awards for Fall 2011 is the K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light shoe ($135). This practically weightless choice is customized with angled treads at the bottom of the shoe, which helps the wearer gain traction during runs. The seamless upper part prevents abrasion, and the cushioning allows for good support during slow jogs.
Shield your face from the sun and keep cool by wearing a hat during the race. Make sure the hat is made out of breathable mesh fabric, which is lightweight and comfortable. Try this New Balance momentum pace cap ($17.99), which prevents moisture from accumulating with mesh insets. The bill also blocks harmful UV rays. Protecting your skin is a priority, especially when you will be outside for hours at a time, so don’t forget your sunscreen!