There’s hardly any snow in Tahoe and it’s been rather warm lately so I went and bought a road bike. I stopped checking the forecast. Locals aren’t even thinking ‘snow’. It’s also nice to be able to run again, and when I do I see kayakers and stand-up paddlers on the lake. So I got to thinking: “I’ll share that trail running post on my own blog.”
I wrote this for work last fall. Since it’s only fair to credit my place of business upon duplication of their literature, you should check out Tahoe Mountain Sports. They’ve been awesome to me the past year+, and I love working for them. We sell top-of-the-line outdoor gear online and in Kings Beach, CA, one of the cooler places I’ve lived. This post discusses gear – because that’s what I do. Enjoy.
I love trail running. Especially in the mountains. I haven’t always been a runner, but I dabbled as a kid. I’d go through multi-week phases months (or even years) apart, but I remember often feeling the urge to move fast on foot. It’s a feeling that’s tough to beat, flying downhill with the wind in your face, sweat cooling as you move ahead faster than your feet should allow. You feel powerful, like Superman. And the liberating feeling you get when you break through the “runner’s wall” is contagious. But it’s not always fun. In fact, sometimes it really sucks and I swear I must be masochistic, but it’s always worth it in the end. No matter how hard it is to get out of bed and force your feet to move out the door, especially when it’s cold and/or dark, the final result is always worthy of the initial suffering.
It’s an underestimated mode of transport, moving by foot. You may not travel as fast as you would on a bike or in a truck, but you can access more terrain and you’re much more nimble. Spontaneous decisions are more accepted by feet than by tires, and it’s more fun, in my opinion, to use my own strength, balance and agility to propel myself forward over varied terrain, even if it requires exerting more energy. Actually, that’s one of the best parts.
I know there are readers out there who are relating to this. Anyone else, please bear with me. I truly love having your attention. I am going to list off the trail running gear I have grown to love the past year living in Lake Tahoe, and I will do so as a recommendation. Yes, I work in a retail environment, yes, my goal in the workplace is to move gear, and yes, Tahoe Mountain Sports carries several of these products. Still, this is not solely a sales pitch. It’s an honest review about the trail running gear I use on a regular basis. Still, I’m not exactly low on options, so this review is not to be taken lightly. I could use pretty much any products on the market, but if you see me running around Tahoe I’ll likely be wearing more than one of these items:
First off, the shoes. I rotate through several pairs of running shoes, depending on the terrain. My Salomon S-Lab trail runners are comfortable miles-on-end, thanks to their seamless upper construction, stretchy toe-box and plush cushioning under-foot. They hug the foot more securely than I’ve felt with other shoes, and the heel-cup holds your foot in place and guides it straight forward to save you energy you’d normally exert perfecting your stride. I’m somewhere between a minimalist and a heel-striker; over the past two years I’ve trained my feet to land more naturally. I love the comfortable medium the S-Lab provides. These Salomon trail running shoes are ideal for my preferred style of mixed terrain, except for overnight trips through Desolation Wilderness, which is mostly granite under-foot so the feet require more protection on longer runs. I love the Salomon lacing system because they’re efficient and they tuck away into the tongue so I don’t have to worry about snagging them on branches. Plus, bright red shoes are ridiculously loud and…awesome.
My midlayer fleece from The North Face is probably my favorite layering piece for winter, and it makes a great top in the spring and fall. When you sweat, FlashDry Technology works to spread the moisture out over a broader surface area so it evaporates faster. The “ninja hood”, as I like to call it, covers all but the eyes and the bridge of the nose, but the inner lining and the collar are soft and the zipper doesn’t chafe the chin, so it’s actually quite comfortable to zip this softshell up all the way. The stretch fabric used throughout the jacket moves with your body when reaching for rocks holds, pack straps or pockets, and the thumbholes in the sleeves help cover enough of the hands to keep you warm without gloves. When winter really hits, I wear Mountain Hardwear winter liner gloves that work with my smartphone’s touchscreen so I can use my camera and send texts/emails without freezing my phalanges.
Switch Lynx Magnetic Interchangeable Polarized Sunglasses – There are several reasons I am fond of my Switch sunglasses and I recommend them to so many people that I know, meet or talk to in the shop. 1) They stay on my face during the toughest, sweatiest workouts, 2) They look cool, and they’re lightweight and comfortable – on everyone I’ve had try them on, and 3) They come with an extra pair of low-light lenses in a compact carrying case! Having low-light lenses is crucial for even more reasons than having Switch sunglasses. Switch just makes it incredibly easy to swap your lenses on-the-move.
Why wear sunglasses when the sun’s not bright? The same reason you still wear sunscreen at altitude, even on grey days: protection from UV rays! But I have more reasons to wear low-light lenses when it’s not bright outside: 1) Bikes (and dogs) ahead of you on the trail kick up dust, making it difficult, and dangerous, to maneuver between trees and rocks, 2) Branches and bugs you encounter on the trail can ruin your run/ride. A scratched cornea was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, 3) I’m excited to use these for backcountry touring in winter. Before the sun rises, when the wind is howling and you’re working hard enough that wearing goggles means overheating, I know I’ll be stoked on my Switch low-light lenses. Then when the sun does come up I can quickly swap them out for the brights without having to stop skinning. Click here for more information about Switch Magnetic Sunglasses.