The Weatherman's New Clothes: Runner's Apparel - NECN
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The Weatherman's New Clothes: Runner's Apparel



    I am running the 2011 Boston Marathon to raise money for the American Liver Foundation's Run for Research, and will post frequently about my training here, in these final weeks leading up to the race.

    Every day, you see me in my suit and tie when I deliver your forecast on NECN. Truth be told, I've never been a man who has been all that aware of fashion, and the past two years, in particular have brought me a somewhat better understanding of the importance of clothing and style. My partnership with Boston tailor and clothes maker Alan Rouleau, Couture, has been a blessing for me. Alan's store, on Newbury Street, will be a stone's throw from the finish line I'll cross on Marathon Monday, and it's only appropriate that the lessons he's taught me about the importance of clothing would come back again while training for the Boston Marathon. Of course, substance is far more important than style in the world of athletics.

    Last Tuesday, I shared my experience at the New Balance Sports Research Lab in Lawrence, MA, and the in-depth science behind construction and selection of a running shoe. There was so much science, in fact, that I needed to save the information on clothing for this post.

    Before traveling to New Balance's facility near the Merrimack River, I'd already come to understand that there's more to running 26.2 miles than simply a pair of shorts, t-shirt and some sneakers.


    In my long training runs, I've had experiences I never imagined before training started – blisters I expected, burns and cuts were more of a surprise. In talking with the Liver Foundation marathon team, I found out this is all perfectly normal in the world of marathon running when not wearing the appropriate clothing.

    The right clothes help to reduce extraneous strain on the body, and Kristen Sullivan at New Balance was kind enough to outfit me with some of these, after we were put in touch by Lisa Bell at Regan Communications. Kristen wanted to be sure I had the right arsenal, and provided me with all the running gear I would need. The Tempo running shorts, for instance, consist not only of shorts you and I are used to, but are lined with a layer of Lightning Dry fabric (much like spandex) to wick away moisture, and prevent chaffing and fabric burns.

    The “Cool As Ice” design short sleeve crew shirt is made of Icefil skin-cooling technology that is 100% polyester, and designed to actually reduce your body temperature by as much as three degrees Celsius, by effectively wicking sweat away from the body. Elite Accelerator socks are also designed from Lightning Dry fabric, like the running shorts, for a similar efficiency keeping feet dry, cool and comfortable, and also very thin to prevent blistering from excess material while still providing arch support and shock absorption. I ran my final long training run – 20 miles – in these clothes, and can't begin to tell you how much more comfortable my run was – no comparison to the original pair of gym shorts and t-shirt I had been running in. Any hesitancy I had, worried that I might be trying to portray an image of someone that I'm not, melted away as I realized how much easier it is to focus on running such a long distance when you're not in pain or discomfort from your clothes!
    Of course, the most recognizable product from New Balance is their shoe, and after the complete analysis described in my last post, the New Balance Sports Research Lab determined the best shoe for my run is the New Balance 759. Built on the Acteva Lite midsole and designed for a runner with a neutral gait, the shoe's Stability Web provides a lightweight (11 ounce!), supportive, cushioned run. The premium features of the shoe are impressive (click the shoe name, above, to link to the details), and the colors turned out to be perfect – NECN was hoping I'd end up in a shoe that matches the station's colors, and sure enough, that's precisely the shoe New Balance put me in, after the complete Sports Research Lab analysis. Much like the complex science explained in my previous post that analyzes a runner's stride and weight shift, there is also a process for determining the appropriate shoe for a runner.

    The material of all parts of the shoe wears differently depending up on the runner and his or her stride, and Dr. Trampas TenBroek, whom you met in my last post, takes the information gleaned from the running observation and computer analysis, and transfers it to a machine designed to produce real wear on the running shoe. A cast model of a foot is inserted in the shoe – and these models can be designed to mimic various foot sizes and shapes – and the shoe is repetitively lifted and depressed against a hard platform with the force measured by the force platform described in my last post, to mimic wear and tear that occurs during running. This machine can be left on for many hours, until the shoe has been run the equivalent of 300-500 miles, the average life of a running sneaker. The shoe is then removed and examined for wear pattern, to determine how well the shoe will withstand long-term use.

    By the end of my visit with New Balance, I'd gained an entirely new understanding of a world I didn't even know existed – the scientific method of hypothesis, experiment, observation, analysis and conclusion is alive and well at New Balance.


    I have an entirely new appreciation for the work that goes into my sneaker each time I lace up, and look forward to the miles of training and marathon miles I'll log in my new, comfy, durable kicks!

    When all was said and done, New Balance continued to amaze me, by donating some huge items I can give away, at random, to three lucky donors!  So...donate to my marathon run at and be automatically eligible to win one of the following items in a random drawing:

    • Two Falmouth Road Race Bib Numbers - Very hard to come by!
    • His/Hers pair of New Balance shoes
    • Head-to-toe package of New Balance gear: apparel, socks, shoes, etc.
    Donate to my American Liver Foundation Run for Research today to be automatically entered!

    New Balance was very generous to open their doors to me for this analysis, and devote so much time. They believe in the mission I'm on to raise money for patients – and especially children – battling liver disease. Those patients and I need you on the mission, too, and you can.

    Previous Marathon Posts from Matt: