Growing up in the rainy state of Washington, 28-year-old Christal Engle likely never dreamed she'd end up spending her days at work in a swimsuit. A four-time All-American volleyball player for the University of Washington Huskies, Engle traded in her kneepads and shoes for a chance to play beach volleyball in Manhattan Beach, California, in 2009. She's been hard at it as a professional ever since and has her sights set on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
While she may be known for her skills at the net, after participating in the women-only Oakley NYMini 10k run in 2013, Engle's turned into an avid middle-distance runner as well. "It was such a refreshing change from what I normally do to train that I was hooked and I’ve been running ever since," she said in an interview with GrindTV.com. "It isn't good to run long distances for a volleyball player, so I try and keep my weekly runs around 3 to 5 miles. Last year's 10k was the farthest I have run—still to this date."
This year's Oakley NYMini takes place on Saturday, June 14, in Central Park in Manhattan and will be the 44th iteration of the Mini event, which got its start back in 1972 with only 78 racers. The 2014 sold-out event is predicted to draw thousands of female racers to not only run, but also celebrate women in athletics. “I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of this event and feel the impact it makes on each woman’s life," says Engle. "I’m also extremely grateful to share this experience with my mom this year and show her how amazing the Oakley Women’s community is and how empowering it is to be surrounded by thousands of determined and confident ladies."
For Engle, she's keeping this year's race goal pretty simple: "My goal is to run with my mom the whole time—and that’s a goal because she is the most competitive person you’ll ever meet. She will be pushing me.”
Engle is still a newcomer to the sport of running, and because of that she's still getting dialed in on what kind of gear she likes when she runs. While her Oakley teammates with more mileage may have more to offer in terms of specifics tips for training, Engle's gear choices are reflective of her enthusiasm for casual short-distance runs or a 10k run. Here are some of her favorite items, alongside tips for choosing running gear.
A good pair of running shoes
While Engle prefers to run in Asics shoes, it is more important to consider a shoe's fit over its brand in this category. A good running store should be able to take a look at your feet as well as your running stride and help you determine the right kind of shoe for your foot, arch type, and gait. While some people will need shoes that help them correct over-pronation or under-pronation, others will be more neutral.
A supportive sports bra (or brief, for men)
Running is a high-impact sport. Whether you're jogging at low speed or high, the shockwaves are sent all over your body. Ladies should keep things up top stabilized and protected from bouncing with a good sports bra. While larger-chested women should be certain to choose a high-impact bra designed just for running, some will be able to wear a lower-impact bra like Engle's favorite, Oakley's Continuity Bra. Men aren't off the hook here either and should look into specially designed briefs like the Asics ASX that will help support their body in all the right places.
A comfortable top and bottom
The important thing to consider in this category is your own personal preference on fit and garment type; search for a performance-based design and fabric in that style. For Engle, a tank top and a pair of leggings is her go-to outfit when it comes time to run. While some people prefer shorts, Engle likes the full coverage a longer silhouette can offer. "I like to wear leggings to prevent chafing," she laughs. For this reason she often pairs Oakley's Work It Out capris with the brand's Race Day Two tank top.
A sock is not just a sock when it comes to running. A specifically designed running sock will hug your foot in all the right places without slipping and help wick moisture away mid-run. While Engle doesn't have a favorite brand in this category, she does stress that her socks have to be "anything light and breathable!"
Heart-rate monitor and a fitness-monitoring device
While a heart-rate monitor (HRM) isn't a required gear item for running, for those looking to gain insight into their training and progression it is a huge game-changer. For Engle, it's been an eye-opener. "I recently have started the PEAR Trainer and I love it!" she says. The PEAR Trainer can sync with app-based programs on Engle's phone that allow her to access her fitness data during or after her runs.
But if you'd like something easier to check mid-run than a phone, HRMs are often sold together in bundles with athletic watches from brands like Garmin, Polar, Suunto, and Timex. "If I had a nice athletic watch, I would wear it, for sure," says Engle. "I just never wear athletic watches because I can’t really wear them while I’m playing volleyball."
Protection from the sun
For a beach volleyball player like Engle, staying protected from the harmful effects of the sun is top of mind when it comes to outdoor activities. For this reason, she always suggests wearing a good pair of sunglasses, a hat or visor, and tons of sunscreen. "My favorite running sunglasses are the Oakley RPM Edges," says Engle, which she pairs with the Oakley Vizor visor for running. In the sunscreen department, Engle aims for organic and paraben-free products: "[I put] 50+ SPF zinc on my nose, face, and chest—lots and lots and lots of it!"
Hydration and fuel
A good water bottle or fuel belt will go a long way toward keeping your body's energy up during a run and life in general. "I make sure not to drink coffee or alcohol the week before a race or competition and carry a water bottle with me wherever I go," says Engle. For a short race like the Oakley NYMini, Engle will forgo carrying her own water bottle. "For this race I will just pick up some water at the stations along the way," she explains.
She will, however, keep her favorite mid-run snacks in her pocket. "I love the FRS chews!" she says. "My favorite flavor is the lemon lime and it gives me enough of a boost to power through."
Most trainers recommend consuming food and fluids that provide carbohydrates and protein after a long sports effort. While there are plenty of different options available, Engle steers for one item: a nice, cold beer. "You have to reward yourself," she says, "and the beer actually helps prevent cramping!"
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