Sunday, May 30, 2010

Running Essentials: SmartWool Socks

When I was in high school I played basketball. (I played other sports too but this story relates to my brief and unimpressive basketball career.) We'd practice right after school so we'd have to bring our practice clothes with us to school each day. Occasionally, we'd forget an item which wasn't terribly a big deal: typically a teammate would have an extra shirt to loan us.

Rarely, however, did teammates have an extra pair of socks in their gym bag. Were we phased? Of course not! We'd pull our crew socks down giving the appearance of a short athletic style sock, wrap the excess sock material over our toes and along the bottom of our foot, and go to practice...

Yeah wrap your head around that. We'd go to two hours of basketball practice, which usually began with at least one mile of running, with an entire extra layer of sock bunched up in our shoes. Don't even get me started on the day my friend and I accidentally switched shoes and I did an entire practice in size 8s (as opposed to size 9.5).

Ah, youth - how resilient I was then...

Nowadays, I go to a specialty running store for shoes, wear special inserts, have a podiatrist - how old am I again? Geesh. And this isn't just me spending money because I like spending money (I do) - this is honest to goodness necessity. If my feet are going to cooperate and let me run as often as I do, they have certain demands and far be it for me to question these demands.

At the top of the list of demands? These socks.

And before anyone gets feisty, I do not like these socks just because they are purple. In fact, I don't even own these socks in purple - I have green, but it's my blog and I want it to be pretty so I'm putting up a picture of purple socks.

These are SmartWool PhD Light Micro Socks and they are amazing. Click here to buy them. Yes, they are wool, but no, they are not hot. Their material wicks away sweat and keeps feet dry better than any other sock I've tried (and believe me, I get a horrible case of the hot feets when I run outdoors in the summer - these babies take care of that regardless of the temperature.) I have a certain spot on my foot that rubs and I am constantly dealing with blister. Now, I'm not going to claim that I don't still get blisters, because I do, but they are significantly smaller and less painful since I switched to these socks more than a year ago.

I bought 6 pairs of these socks last summer and wear/wash them approximately once per week. They've held up great and you'd never know they were more than a year old. They've also stood up to weekly battles with my terrier/chihuahua mix Izzy who wages war on laundry baskets in search of socks. Now, manufacturers of dry wicking clothing recommend machine washing and air drying. Meh - I don't have time for air drying. I throw these babies in the dryer (along with all my other dry wick running gear) and dry them on low temperature. All my gear has held up fine. Just be sure not to use a dryer sheet - that will mess with the dry wicking feature.

I slept in a bit too late today to get a long run in before the ridiculous heat starts (it's already 75 degrees outside at 9:30 a.m. - no thanks!) so I'll do my long run tomorrow. But you can guarantee that whenever I do get in that long run, I'll be wearing these socks with a smile on my face!

Happy Running!


  1. My whole family is actually obsessed with Smartwool socks! They are all into camping and hunting and such, and the first year we discovered them I think at least 75% of us ended up with a pair as part of our Christmas present. Now whenever we're trying to guess what's under the tree, our first response is aways "Smartwool socks!" My dad goes through at least two or three pairs every year.

  2. Oh yeah - they're great for all sorts of sports/outdoor activities. They're a bit pricey but they really do last for so many washings!