Getting colder for running, so here’s a test drive for a women’s long sleeve shirt

Test driving Lululemon’s Run: Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve

If you’ve not yet heard about Lululemon, they’re a Canadian clothing company focused primarily on yoga, running and branching out in other areas – primarily for women, but also make items for men (worth falling in love with). They also have FREE yoga classes across all their showrooms and stores every weekend, around the world, in addition to lifestyle workshops and what not. They have a very positive, happy vibe, spending as much time on making each person better – happy, healthy, whole as much as selling gear.

The gear they sell is.. pricey, but indeed, it really is top quality product. So it was with a gulp that I handed over £62 (about US$100) for a long sleeve running shirt last week. I’d done my research and knew what I was looking for and bearing the colder weather in mind, especially not being a) a night time runner or b) running in the cold previously –  preferring gyms until last year. I didn’t want to pull out my snowboarding under shirts to go for a run in. I needed a proper running shirt so Lululemon it was. [Men – fear not, here is the equivalent for you.

 

Test drive 1: As a walk around shirt.

Air vents in all the right places

..at last weeks OM yoga show. I was planning to try out some classes so came prepared. This is comfy. Longsleeve with thumb holes, which you don’t need but do add that extra comfy feeling. The shirt pulls down long enough to cover your behind if you so choose, warm enough to wear without any extra layers indoors.

 

Test drive 2: Night time 40 min run in 18deg.

Apparently autumn weather hasn’t yet committed in London. I came (over) prepared to run with this shirt feeling slightly warm indoors. However as the night breeze picked up and we got moving, I didn’t feel too warm and despite a challenging run (thanks Amanda from Nike Covent Garden) did not feel sweaty either. Emma, the Richmond Lululemon showroom manager had said that she owns one, and that it never has that post run sweaty scent. She was right. The shirt has what Lululemon calls: “Silverescent® technology, powered by X-STATIC®, inhibits the growth of odour-causing bacteria on the top.” And yes it doesn’t smell at all.

 

Test drive 3: Night time 40 min run in 15 deg.

A slightly colder night, and once again, I felt neither cold nor sweaty. The other bonus was when throwing on a coat and heading home, there was none of that ‘cold sweat’ after working out feeling. The shirt is figure hugging, so even though I bought a size up than I regularly wear, it still felt snug, no chafing and the vent panels were in all the right place – under arms, mid torso and on the back.

 

Test drive 4: Morning 30 min run in 14 deg with slight drizzle followed by yoga.

Coldest run so far but now with the added bonus of drizzle. Just like other runs, I felt warm, didn’t feel sweaty at all, didn’t feel cold after the run, then showed up yoga shortly after with no sweaty swell. Yes really.

Happy #Saturday! Another beautiful #fall morning. #parkrun done now, hello weekend 😊 #gold #nikeplus

A post shared by Esra 🏒🏂 (@esrad) on

Verdict:  Recommended. I’ve already worn this shirt 4 times in a week and the weather isn’t even *that* cold. So it looks like the value for money is going to prove itself quickly. Beyond that any improvements? Perhaps a hidden pocket near collarbone for a key/oyster card etc? Brighter colours would be good for the darker weather running and/ a reflector somewhere although could be tricky as the shirt is so slick, it feels seam free.

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Hack your body

If you’re familiar with Tim Ferriss, you know that he’s all about making your life more productive and efficient enough so you can free up time, and resources to do what you really want to do.. usually the domain of afterwork, weekend or holiday time. I just re-read bits and pieces of The Four Hour Body and the same applies to working out/getting fit etc: train smarter not harder. I’d already attempted “How to lose 20 lbs in 30 days with no exercise” a few years ago. I’m vegetarian so it provided an extra set of challenges but even with cheating, I dropped pounds, and achieved target ‘svelteness’ for my sisters wedding. That plan had the unintended happy consequence of creating habits – you need 40 days to make or break a habit, so even with the cheating, it still worked.

The other Tim-tip I tried was swimming. Despite having taken swimming lessons for 10 years (compulsory in Australia) and having a Bronze Medallion – which is one step in lifeguard qualification there, I really didn’t know how to swim. I watched Tims EG talk posted on TED, learnt all I could about total immersion swimming and have gone from swimming 50 metres and hating it to cruising 2km or 45 minutes, whichever I feel like. And I have the vanquisher goggles – thanks for that also Tim.

I used to be a full time athlete. Back then I trained for about 5 hours a day, 6 days a week, 11 months of the year. I was also about 150lbs (70kgs). I dropped all the muscle years ago – I don’t need that bulk anymore and have been 120lbs (55kgs) or less for the past few years. I also studied kinesiology (anatomy, nutrition, biomechanics etc) so I know what I’m doing and I also know my way around a gym very well. For the past five years whenever I use weights, I always superset (moving from one exercise to another without rest) to save time. So about a month or two ago, I decided to put Tim’s findings to the test. His tips are thoroughly tested (usually on himself with hilarious commentary). Guess what? It works. It works even though I cheat with what I’m not supposed to eat every week.

Results:

  1. I leave my workouts feeling refreshed, not exhausted which is what Tim has said (except when I go overboard with the kettle bells…because they can get pretty addictive)
  2. I’ve dropped 2kgs in about 2-3 weeks but replaced with muscle and toning exactly where I wanted and needed. This in-spite of not being overweight and weight should not be your key indicator anyway whether or not your body is responding.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Spinning class
  2. Hip flexor stretches (this gets rid of the pot belly look that girls tend to have) (scroll down to hip flexor stretch)
  3. Two arm kettle bell swings (30-45 reps)
  4. Bosu ball sit ups (Movement 1)
  5. Cat vomit exercise (Movement 2 here)
  6. Hip raises

All of this takes one hour. That’s it, one hour. Now when I see people in the gym rushing from one exercise or machine to another, doing all kinds of contorted ab and weight exercises, first I feel sorry for them and then think, they should be reading the book. The other thing I noticed is how few fitness instructors have a clue (which Tim had warned about). Unless they’re up to date on what’s going, you are not going to get any advice to optimize, or hack your body. Read Tim’s how to for the kettlebell swing for instance (linked above), then ask a trainer to explain it to you. They will probably miss how to position your feet, sitting rather than squatting motion and contracting your gluteal (butt) muscles in the movement.

The most important thing I would underline is make sure you get your measurements. Get your body fat tested or get your circumferences (bicep, waist, hip and thigh). This is going to track your progress. I also wish I would have taken the unflattering shots – you know – front, back and side of your body so then you can compare because I know my body is changing, I can feel it and I can see it. The pictures become your trophy and you need them.

Next step: conquer chronic pain and correct body imbalances, all discussed in the book. Learn a language in 3 months and outsourcing are also in the plan. Oh and Tim, if you had any jobs going outside the US, I’d work for you.