Tuesday, October 31, 2017

An Uninformed Look At Running Shirts

Three tech shirts: one black, one white, and one white soaked with hot water.

When running on a hot, sunny day, is a black shirt really hotter than a white shirt? By how much? Is a technical fabric better than cotton? Can a tech shirt really keep you both “warm and dry” and “cool and dry”?
In this month's column, I will attempt to answer these questions, even though you are reading this in November and it’s probably dark and cold out. But I started this in July, and you know, science takes time.
It's a friggin' LASER GUN!

Now, I could provide you with some actual, useful information by reviewing existing credible research on this topic. But that seems like a lot of dull work. Honestly, I am just looking for a way to rationalize my purchase of the “Etekcity Lasergrip 774 Non-contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer Temperature Gun” (only $18 on Amazon!). And whenever there is a choice between “boring research” and a “laser gun," "laser gun" is going to win every time. 
So the first thing a scientist does is calibrate the instruments. So let's see if this “laser gun” is accurate. I tested it on some ice water, which should be about 0 °C, and boiling water, which should be about 100 °C .
Ice water is 0 °C, just like they said in 7th grade.

The laser gun told me that boiling water is 101 °C, and that the stove really needed to be cleaned.

Success! To be honest, I had to try several times to get the expected readings, because I think the laser has trouble with a clear liquid like water. But hey, if you are looking for rigorous scientific methodology in this column, you have come to the wrong place.
So let’s take a look at the temperature difference between white and black shirts. While we are at it, let’s see what happens with evaporative cooling as well. I laid out three technical fabric shirts in my driveway on a hot July day: a white shirt, a black shirt, and another white shirt that was soaked with hot water. I then let the shirts sit out in the hot sun for about a half an hour.
For reference, the driveway was 113 °F. Nice and warm on the feet.
The dry white shirt was a relatively cool 100 °F. 
The wet shirt was even cooler at 96°F, showing the effects of evaporative cooling.
The black shirt was a whopping 122°F! So what does that tell us? That the surface of black shirts are hotter than white shirts. But does that mean wearing a black shirt will make you hotter? Can't really say that for sure. 
We need to see how much of that heat is transferred underneath the shirt. So on another day, I laid out three identical thermal packs. One was wrapped in a white shirt, another in a black shirt, and another went shirtless. I let them sit out there in the sun for an hour or so.
The thermal pack with no shirt ended up at 105 °F.
The thermal pack in the white shirt was a cool 90°F. So if you are an ice pack, you should wear a shirt to keep cool on a sunny day.
However, if you are an ice pack, don't wear a black shirt. The thermal pack with the black shirt ended up with a reading of 110°F, a full 20°F more than the white shirt.
So what does this mean to a human, who is 100 times the size of a thermal pack, generating heat, and sweating? I have no idea.
I think we can say that wearing a black shirt on a sunny day will make you hotter than a white shirt. Whether it is a significant amount, I cannot say. But you probably already knew that. 
So now let’s take a look at evaporative cooling.
We will use gallon jugs of tap water as test subjects. They makes a good simulation of runners, at least in terms of personality.
I filled three one-gallon jugs with hot water. To limit the effects of the sun, I placed them in the shade on a day with a relatively low humidity of 50%. One was wearing a white tech shirt, another a white cotton shirt, and the third had absolutely no shame and went shirtless. A fan was placed a few feet away to simulate a nice breeze. The breeze felt about equal on all three.
I verified that all three jugs started out at the same temperature of 129 °F. To simulate sweating, the jugs were sprayed down with hot water. Every few minutes, I removed the shirts, reapplied the fake sweat, and put the shirts back on. I tried to wrap the shirts fairly snugly, and they each got partially soaked to mimic a sweaty summer day in NC.
After 20 minutes, I took the temperature of the jugs. Surprisingly, the jugs wearing the cotton and tech shirts were both the same temperature of 120 °F, a drop of 9 °F.
I would have thought the tech shirt would have been warmer, since it supposed to “wick” the water away the skin and then evaporate, preventing the evaporative cooling from happening on the skin. The tech shirt did feel drier than the cotton. But since the cotton shirt was more wet, it stuck closer to the jug and possibly provided better “contact” for the cooling.

The shirtless jug was at 114 °F, a drop of 15 °F. We can calculate the heat loss, assuming a gallon of water is 3785 grams. The shirtless jug lost 31.8 kcal, and the jugs wearing cotton and tech shirts lost 18.9 kcal.
That’s pretty significant difference. Wearing the shirts reduced heat dissipation by 40%!
So how will wearing a shirt affect your running performance? Clearly, you will run 40% slower. Just kidding. Again, I have no idea. So really, I have not answered any of the questions I set out to answer in the beginning. 
The one thing I can say with scientific certainty is that playing with a "Laser Infrared Thermometer Temperature Gun" is fun.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Never Quit Quitting

Apparently you have not met me. I have very long list of regretful runs I would love to tell you about.


This was written on the shoe laces of my favorite running shoes I bought back in 2009. It turned out to be the worst running advice I ever got. The only place digging deep every got me was at the bottom a very deep hole clutching a pair of ill-fitting socks I got for winning my age group.

“Just do it! Never quit! It’s all mental!”. As runners, we are inundated with this kind of overzealous motivational bullcrap. Maybe some people desire some extra motivation, but I am here to tell you that you can do too much, run too far, push too hard. Sometimes quitting is the smartest thing to do.

You might be wrong Nike.
The man pictured quickly passed out due to lack of oxygen.
I guess that comes from the outside.
And the change that happens is called:

Everyone has an internal “governor” that limits the amount of effort we can put out before we start doing damage to our bodies. Often this governor is dismissed as a “mental limitation” that need to be conquered, but in reality it is essential to successful running. Sure, maybe some people's governors are set too low, and could use some extra motivation to train or race hard enough to achieve their physical potential.

But the most successful runners have their governors set just right. They get just the right amounts of stress and recovery and their bodies respond by getting stronger and faster. Often this is referred to as “listening to your body”.

Good advice if you are running from a fire.
Really stupid for a marathon.
I guess all those people with multiple sclerosis are just making bad choices

Then there are those who tell their body to “just shut up” and always overdo it (like me). They always end up run down and/or injured. In this context, an “overachiever” is not a good thing. I remember finishing the “Run for the Donuts” and collapsing in a heap. A young girl there pointed at me, “Look Daddy! An overachiever!”. It was not a compliment.

It will be the orthopedic surgeon who will tell you
 that you are DONE running... for good.
The quote is attributed to Ray Zahab.
He got an "F" in physics class

I started running races about 14 years ago. I’ve dug deep. I’ve pushed through pain. I ran the extra mile. Now I really wish that I hadn’t. Here is a list of my overachieving souvenirs:

  • A permanent knot in my left calf from when I “didn’t quit” in the Umstead Marathon
  • A scarred right hamstring from “just doing it” in the Salem Lake 30K
  • An achilles tendon that feels like rusty barbed wire from when I “didn’t stop when it hurt”
  • Swollen arthritic knees from “exceeding my mental limitations”
And for what? I’m only 47, yet every morning I awake limping, and clutch the handrail walking down the stairs. It’s a little late, but I have finally realized that staying healthy and feeling good are WAY more important than setting a PR or finishing a race.

With these aches and pains as constant reminders of the costs of overdoing it, I am finding this running culture of “exceeding limits” to be quite obnoxious.

Yes, your body can stand that stress fracture in your foot just fine.
You just have to convince your mind
that finishing that half marathon was worth 8 weeks in a boot.

So I am starting the “Whimpy Running Club”.

For us, DNF stands for “Directly to Next Fun”
DNS stands for:  "Do No Self-harm".

Our motto will be “Never Quit Quitting!”.
Who wants to join?

Don't be stupid. Join the Wimpy Running Club, where:


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Top 10 Running Hazards of Summer

We are the in depths of the North Carolina summer, which is a great time to quit running and stay indoors. But if you are one of those dedicated runners who insist on running year round, here is my Top 10 List of Summer Hazards to watch out for.

1. Dehydration

Running in NC in August means sweating. You will be losing fluids like a fire hydrant that got knocked over by a U-Haul truck. But exactly how much are you sweating and how much do you need to drink to replace it?
Here is a formula that looks very scientific but is completely made up:
Sweat Rate (ml / hour) = 750ml × (dew point- 16°) × (body weight kg) × (distance in km)
Let’s say you are a 150 lb person running 3 miles in a dew point of 74°. By my calculations, you will lose 50% of your body weight! If you are going to shrink to half your normal size, your shorts will probably fall off. So bring along a tiny pair to change into.

You will know you are properly hydrated when no more water fits down your throat
To replace fluid loss, I highly recommend drinking 64oz of water an hour, 24 hours a day, whether you are running or not. You are probably getting severely dehydrated just reading this column, so please, go drink 10 tall glasses of water right now before continuing.

2. Hyponatremia

Woah! You just drank way too much water. Are you experiencing nausea, headache, confusion, and fatigue? Those are common symptoms of reading the Godiva president's column (hey, they force us to write one EVERY month!). But those are also symptoms of hyponatremia, so call an ambulance. Also stop reading this column immediately.

3. Horse-flies

I used to live in Youngsville, where the biting flies were really bad. All day they would knock on the front door, yelling “Come out! We are hungry!”. So I became somewhat of an expert on them. I learned that repellents do not work well on horse-flies, because they hunt by sight rather than smell like mosquitos do (this is actually true). They are attracted to movement which make them a bane to runners.
One thing that does work is “Deerfly Patches”. These are sticky patches that you wear on your hat. The flies get stuck there and die. Running around with dozens of dead flies on top of your head serves as a terrifying warning to the other flies not to mess with you.

Deerfly patch

4. Ticks

I recommended the following things:
  • Avoid tall grass
  • Wear long pants
  • Use an insect repellant with at least 30% DEET.
Of course, none of those things will prevent you from getting ticks. Even if you haven’t left the house in week, you probably have a tick crawling on you right now, most likely in your private areas. Be sure to watch for signs of Lyme disease which include vague symptoms such as headache, joint pain, fatigue, ennui, and Netflix binge watching. I recommend getting a prescription for antibiotics for the rest of your life.

5. Mosquitos

Because of the mild winter months in NC, and plentiful supply of people trying to enjoy the outdoors, mosquitos in NC are old, slow and lazy. They have no reason to expend the effort to try to bite a runner, when there is an outdoor concert somewhere with thousands of stationary targets. So they are not much of a threat to runners here.
Beware if you travel north, however. Mosquitos there only have a week to live, which makes them unbelievably voracious. They would eat our horse-flies for breakfast. When I ran a trail marathon in northern Michigan one summer, I declined when someone offered me bug spray. Boy was that a mistake. Despite going as fast as could, I could not outrun them, and I had so many mosquito bites that I passed out from blood loss at mile 16. True story.

6. Spiders

If you are unlucky enough to be the first person down a trail in the morning, you will realize that spiders are out to get us. Instead of trying to catch flies or other bugs, they stretch their webs deliberately across the trail at head height to catch runners. You will run face first into a web and become blinded, stumbling around trying to clear webs out of your eyes, only to run into more and more webs until you are unable to move. Then the spiders haul you away to be eaten later.
So always run with a friend, and make sure he or she runs in front.

7. Summer Track

It’s a little known fact that Carolina Godiva Track Club was started in 1975 when a drunk english guy dared somebody in bar to go outside and run around in circles as fast as they could on the hottest part of the day. Some other foolish people joined them, and they continued doing it for the last 30 years.
But that still does not make it a good idea. Did you know that from May through August, 30% of all emergency room visits in Durham are middle aged runners who attempted to sprint 100m? It’s true.

8. Shirtless Runners

This needs no explanation.

9. Copperheads


There are over 37 species of snakes in NC, and most long time residents can quickly and accurately identify all of them… as copperheads. Some “experts” will say there are “good snakes” which are harmless to people, but they are wrong. We know copperheads are masters of disguise and there is only one type of snake in NC, so when we see any snake we shout “COPPERHEAD!”.

Over 10,000 runners are killed by the deadly copperheads in the state every year. That is pretty much what park rangers do all day, is drive around and collect bodies of dead runners. The nature “experts” will say that if you see a copperhead, just leave it alone and it will not hurt you, but again that is not true. Copperheads are EXTREMELY aggressive. Even if you manage to escape one, they will track you down and find out where you live. They will sneak into your house and hide live ticks in your underwear.
Deadly Facts About Copperheads
  • They have tiny vestigial legs that they only use to kick puppies.
  • In one tenth of a second, they can bite you and/or correct your grammar
  • They will throw pizza boxes into the recycling bin
  • They will hack your facebook account and post ads for knockoff Rayban sunglasses.
  • They will always turn any conversation into politics


10. Cross Country Teams

These pesky creatures seem to hatch in June and can be found swarming Umstead Park in July and August. These hordes of young runners sometimes travel in large packs, taking up the entire trail and refusing to yield to oncoming runners. Unfortunately, repellents do not work on them.
They do make these sticky patches however…

Cross Country Runner Patch

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Godiva President's Column for March

Good For What Ails You

One thing that makes Godiva special is our celebration and support of runners of all types. A manifestation of this support is our “handicapped” Winter Series races, which aim to get everyone involved regardless of running speed. A handicapped race is one where a head start is given to runners who are born with a physical defect, such as being female or old. Here are the current Winter Series races which provide a handicap:

  • The Geezer Pleezer gives head starts based on age and gender.
  • The Eno Equalizer has time handicaps based on a very complex statistical formula developed by Dr. Richard Smith which takes into account ALL of your past races, your BMI, your genetic code, and your Google search history.
  • The Run For Donuts levels the playing field with the “Donut Index”, which I think is based on how many donuts you ate that morning.
  • The Misery Run gives an advantage to those who are ignorant of what they are running through.

I often hear members say that these races are their favorite Godiva events. So why not have more of them?
And why stop at just age and gender? Why not give head starts to runners who suffer from other limitations?

I propose adding eight more handicapped races to the Winter Series! Here are the new proposed races:

Wheezer Sneezer
The Race:  A ten mile run through Umstead sometime in May, at the peak of pollen season.
The Handicap: Runners with tree allergies get a 5 minute hard start. Those with asthma  get 10.

Hard Climb Ladder
The Race: Runners race to the roof of a three story building up shaky 30 foot ladders.
The Handicap:  Runners with acrophobia (like myself) get a 12 hour head start.

New Year's Day Hangover Helper
Happy New Year!
The Race: An 8K in Duke Forest just like our other New Year’s day run, but this one is held at 6 am.
Handicap: Runners are given head starts and doses of aspirin that are proportional to their BAC (Blood Alcohol Content).

The Eno Calculator
The Race: Runners sit in the picnic shelter at Eno River State Park and take an exam on “Time Series and Multivariate Analysis” given by statistics professor Richard Smith, Phd.
The Handicap: Runners are given handicapped head starts based on their SAT math scores.

The Run For Bagels
The Race:  Inspired by the Donut Run and the Krispy Kreme challenge, teams of 3 runners do 5 loops around Durham Academy XC course.  At the start of each loop they must choke down a bagel covered in peanut butter.
The Handicap: Teams comprised of gluten intolerant runners get a 5 minute head start. Teams with peanut allergies get 10 minutes.

Myopia March
The Race: A 20 mile point to point run on the Uwharrie trail, held in late fall when the trail is covered in leaves.
The Handicap: Runners leave their glasses and contacts at home, but receive generous head starts based on their corrective vision prescription. We will have a lot of fun squinting for distant fuzzy white blazes and buried rocks. This may require volunteer search parties the next day or two to look for runners who have wandered off the trail.

Milk Mile
The Race: 4 loops around a 400m track, you must down a pint of milk after each loop
The Handicap: Lactose intolerant folks do not get a head start, but they do get their own porta-potty.

Feeble Pleezer
The Race: A full marathon held in Umstead Park
The Handicap: Runners are given a 1 minute head start for every $1000 in medical bills spent on running injuries the previous year.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Make Godiva Great Again

trumpme_blue.jpgI have huge news. Tremendous. I have been elected president of my running club, Carolina Godiva Track Club. Below is my acceptance speech.

Thank you for making me your President.
Godiva is an amazing club. Very, very terrific. Filled with so many incredible people.

But our club is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don’t have them. When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, Bull City Running in a race? They kill us. I beat Bull City Running all the time. All the time.
When did we beat Raleigh Runners at anything? They send their runners over by the millions, and what do we do? When was the last time you saw a Godiva singlet in Raleigh? It doesn’t exist, folks. They beat us all the time. They’re laughing at us, at our speed. And now they are beating us for faster members. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us in membership. Godiva has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problem runners. It’s a disaster.

When Raleigh sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending runners that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing tendonitis. They’re bringing chafing. They’re bringing course cutters. Their shirtless guys… And some, I assume, are good people.

I will have a great marathon– and nobody has marathons better than me, believe me, I have the best marathons – and I’ll have them very inexpensively.
I will have a great, great marathon on the Durham border, it’s going to be huge, and I will make Raleigh volunteer for that marathon. Mark my words.

I will be the greatest Godiva president God ever created. For all members, even the haters and losers.

Like past president Douglass Hensel. Major loser. He’s a very, very, low energy person.
I heard he made fun of my running shoes. Nobody has ever hit my running shoes. I’ve never heard of this one. And he referred to my shoes if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee you. Really some kind of a clown. Sad.

And I’ve heard some people say nasty comments about how I get injured a lot. Not true.
Believe me, I have tremendous stamina. I am proud to share this report, written by the highly respected Dr. Harold Bornstein, stating that I am the fittest runner he has ever seen:

“If elected, Mr. Corriveau, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest and the fastest individual ever elected to the Godiva presidency. “
- Dr. Harold Bornstein, DDS

And people love my blog. I have the most loyal blog readers. Did you ever see that? Where I could run in the middle of Umstead and shoot a snot rocket at somebody and I wouldn’t lose any readers, okay? It’s like incredible. Runners love me. When you’re as popular as I am, you can do anything. I walk up and grab them by the… fuel belt. You can do anything. I can’t help myself. I grab their water bottle and just start drinking. I don’t even wait.

But the Godiva board, it’s a disaster, it’s a disaster. We have losers. We have people that don’t have it. We have people that are morally corrupt. Like the treasurer, I call him “Corrupt Kevin”, he should be in jail folks. I’m going to drain the swamp.

I’m going to have the best people. The smartest people. For treasurer I will have my good friend Bernie handling the club’s money. Bernie lives in Butner, he’s a genius with money. Bernie Madoff, very, very smart.

We’re going to get to work immediately for the Godiva Track Club. And we’re going to start winning again. You’ll be so proud. Again, it’s my honor. And I love this club. We’re going to make Godiva Great Again.

Thank you.

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