DC Capital Striders is a local running group that offers free weekly runs throughout Washington to runners of all levels and abilities. Members gather for regular fun runs, including a popular Thursday evening Smithsonian run around the Mall, and they train together for several races a year. The group even hosts its own 8K in Georgetown and coordinates volunteers for other events, such as the National Marathon.
The goal, says founder Rick Amernick, is to make running a social activity in which members feel connected to a group and have something to look forward to. “People always ask ‘Am I good enough?’ ” he says. “But they have to realize there is no ‘good enough.’ It’s about being better than you were yesterday.”
Capital Striders was founded in 2006 and currently boasts 2,700 members in the DC chapter and 800 in the Northern Virginia group, along with many assistant organizers who lead the runs. Amernick began running consistently in 2005. Prior to that, he says, he’d never completed a race longer than a 10K. He has made great strides since, running four marathons and five half-marathons.
Here’s some of Amernick’s favorite running gear and accessories, and where you can grab the goods for yourself.
Asics’s GT 2160s are his favorite: “They’re a stability shoe for runners with a normal-to-high arch and slight-to-moderate pronation.” For trail shoes, Amernick recommends the Hedgehog from the North Face, due to its Goretex shell. Besides online retailers, Amernick likes Road Runner Sports in Falls Church (1120 West Broad St.). Its VIP program ($1.99, when purchased online) allows you to buy a pair of shoes, wear them for 60 to 90 days, and, if the shoes don’t feel right, return them.
Shirts and shorts from the North Face are “lightweight, durable, and breathable,” says Amernick. Running apparel—even socks—is usually made from lycra/polyester blends. “No runner likes cotton anything. It retains moisture and that’s a no-no,” he says. Amernick also recommends compression pants from Under Armour for running outside in cold weather. “I like the feel and protection they offer,” he says.
After a long run, Amernick uses either a foam roller or a piece of equipment called the Stick to massage sore muscles and strengthen the IT band. Foam rollers use body weight and gravity to target specific areas, while the stick is rolled on top of sore muscles like a rolling pin to work out kinks. You can even use it before a workout to help warm up muscles.
Amernick also sees many runners use recovery beverages and electrolyte-replacement tabs after a tough workout. He says each runner has his or her own drink of choice, but popular ones are chocolate milk or the old fallback, Gatorade.