If you're experiencing Bloomsday for the first time, it's going to be intimidating. Just the volume of people at the starting gate might have you wondering what you've gotten yourself into.
But congrats. You've already stepped out of your comfort zone, so you should do what you can to make sure the run itself is as comfortable as possible. Running, as your training should have taught you, has a way of being an inherently uncomfortable pursuit, but Mike Conrad, a sales associate at the downtown Runners Soul shop, has some tips for you.
Conrad says that your Bloomsday wardrobe choices aren't just limited to what you'll be wearing on the course, but also what you wear on your way to the starting line. It will likely be a cool morning, so you want to keep your body warm, and you'll see some folks doing this by draping a garbage bag over their upper halves.
"I could recommend wearing something that will take your body's moisture and turn it into warmth," says Conrad.
The garbage bag works; so do pricey warmup shirts and jackets, but Conrad thinks you should honor a Bloomsday tradition by simply wearing a warm cotton shirt (medium to heavy weight) to the starting line, then toss it aside to be donated once you're ready to run.
"The traditional Bloomsday runner is going to wear an article of clothing to throw it in the trees to play their part in the donation side of the race," he says.
Once on the course, you want to dress for the weather, but make sure it's a "technical T" which will draw the sweat away from your body.
This one seems obvious. You need good shoes to run 12 kilometers, but you also need shoes that are best for you.
"You don't want to be thinking about your feet when you're on the course," says Conrad.
This means finding a shoe that's both comfortable and effective for the paved surfaces you'll encounter on the Bloomsday route. You might shave some time by wearing a lightweight cross-trainer, but Conrad says you first need to consider your foot style, and again do whatever's comfortable.
What about those flashy new kicks you just picked up? Can you debut them at the Bloomsday starting line? That's a bit of a gamble.
"If you wore them around for a few hours it's safe, but not recommended," says Conrad.
If you've ever encountered chafing anywhere on your body, just reading this sentence is causing you physical pain. But it happens to the best of runners.
Conrad recommends you invest in some SportShield, a roll-on anti-chafing product from a company called 2Toms. Put it on your thighs, heels, sides and — this is for dudes too, or perhaps especially — nipples.
"The nipples — they always catch the material of your shirt. You are damned if they get chafed," says Conrad.
If your nipples already are chafed from running, you can try Band-Aids, which will shield the sensitive areas from friction. They'll hurt when you yank them off, though.
If any part of your body starts burning while out on the course, fear not — you'll see Vaseline on wooden sticks at the water stations. Rub that onto the searing areas and keep trucking away in relative comfort. ♦