031 | What Not to Wear (Coxswain Edition)
Welcome to CoxPod - a podcast dedicated solely to coxswain topics. I'm Breana. I'm Sally. I'm Anne and we're three coxswains with over 50 years of experience in the seat. We learn a great deal by sharing with each other and want to foster a community that encourages skills development and discussion. We're happy you're joining us.
ANNE: Here we are at What Not to Wear (Coxswain Edition). And honestly I have to say when you two brought up this subject, I was not exactly totally enthused. However, once we got going on this subject I realized that you are absolutely right. It's really important because if you are distracted by what you are wearing - or not wearing - you can't do your job as a coxswain effectively.
SALLY: I would like to say it was not I who thought of What Not to Wear as most of my clothes still come from the late 20th century. This was all Breana and I want to thank Breana for this but I can't actually contribute to anything that is fashionable. In my first coxing days, I didn't understand about wool. I didn't understand about warm clothing. I just knew layers so I wore cheap sweatpants over cheap jeans and I spent most of my time miserable and cranky and cold. And I decided the easiest way for me to remedy this was to get a hot water bottle and I would fill up the hot water bottle, go down to practice, and I would just keep it close to my abdomen … which was fabulous until the day the hot water bottle broke and it leaked water which then froze and just basically ruined my day.
ANNE: So you're saying - to start with - your What Not to Wear advice is: don't wear a hot water bottle?
SALLY: Don't wear a leaky, old, hot water bottle that you bought from a thrift store.
ANNE: Breana, do you have a What Not to Wear story?
BREANA: In a way, this became more of a What To Wear. I had a coxswain friend at our spring break training trip who did not wear any kind of hat but was wearing the coxswain headset headband for many hours out in the sun coxing. And I still remember this hilarious picture of her with sunburn on the top and bottom of her forehead and just a completely white area in between where the headband had been sitting. So she had this just ridiculous tan for a long time after we got home from our spring break training trip because of not wearing any kind of hat. Or at least - pro tip - push the headset back a little bit further if you're not a hat wearer so you don't end up with an absolutely ridiculous tan. Anne, what's your What Not to Wear story?
ANNE: My story has to do with losing footwear in a bow loader in particular. Especially early on, I would wear shoes that somehow … some way … would slide off my feet in the bow loader. And I think all of us who have spent any time in a bow loader understand how difficult it is to get something out from underneath the decking. So I am very careful to make sure that when I'm in a bow loader, I have shoes or footwear that actually sit on my feet.
BREANA: Smart suggestion. We have all been there with a flip-flop lost deep in the deck.
SALLY: With four people holding the boat up over heads and four people holding the stern at knees and they're trying to shake the shoe or the water bottle that is … somebody's keys attached … out of the hull. Yeah, we've all done that. This episode isn't going to be the three of us critiquing fashion-forward costumes at the Met Gala. This is going to be us trying to help you make better decisions about what you should wear - what you can do to be warm and comfortable - and maybe find a way to do it that isn't costly or expensive.
ANNE: And we can learn from you - our audience. This is something where there are lots of variability and some great hacks and tips out there so we really welcome your suggestions … your ideas. Please share with us. We are going to be transitioning to a platform called Discord. We want to hear from you there. I need some suggestions because I am not an expert in this area - just learned like most of us by trial and error. But send us your stories and you know what - even your funny stories. Love to read about that.
BREANA: And we want to convey up front in this episode that attire for coxing does not have to equate to tons of money spent. There are expensive products that if someone out there - maybe a teammate, a relative, someone is interested in spending money on you - you could point them towards but there are also ways to build up a set of appropriate coxswain attire for cheap or even free. We are not going to pitch this as an episode that's here to just make you buy stuff. There are options for that or there's options that we'll talk about throughout if you're looking to upgrade … you've been coxing a couple of years … but there are definitely ways to do this that do not entail spending a ton of money. So that is something that we want to make very clear up front. And clothing for many people - as we set up at the outset - it can be a fashion statement. It can be something we use to express ourselves. But when we're thinking about coxing and the clothing that we wear when it comes to this activity, safety is our number one goal. After that - after making sure that our clothing doesn't compromise our safety - our next goal is to optimize our role in the coxswain seat. As we said at the beginning if we're distracted by what we're wearing or what we maybe forgot to wear and should have worn, our entire focus is not on doing our job as coxswains as effectively as we can. So that's why we should spend a little time talking about this and caring about it.
ANNE: Breana, I'm glad you mentioned safety because yes, that is paramount. And just a very quick touch on a safety aspect that I want to bring forward … which is jewelry and earrings … in particular: stud earrings. There are instances where if there is a bang to the head - you know, something that can push the stud of the earring into your mastoid process or any of the soft tissue behind your ear - that is clearly something that we want to avoid. So make careful choices about that. I would not recommend wearing stud earrings when you're coxing.
BREANA: And when it comes to jewelry, another consideration to have with anything that you wear out in the boat - you should expect that that might get dirty, it might get torn, it might get stained, it might get covered in goose poop as you can …
SALLY: Are you saying that we should not wear dirty, torn, stained items of clothing out in everyday life not just at the boathouse … because in which case, I should rethink some of my fashion choices.
ANNE: No. You should … Sally, you should listen to this episode on repeat. That is what you should do.
BREANA: You know, among all of those things that might happen to clothing - and has happened in my experience - it might also just get lost so you might not want to wear your most favorite, most precious, most valuable piece of family heirloom jewelry (for example) out on the water if you're not prepared to potentially never see that thing again. So just think very carefully about what might befall in our outdoor water sport. Anything that you are wearing.
ANNE: And I think that - in my mind - coincides with the concept of not spending a lot of money on things. Again, if you have a person or persons or team (whatever) who are willing to (sort of) subsidize or supplement, that's great. If you have plenty of resources and you can buy expensive clothing, that's great. But if not, that's even better for me because it gets ripped … stained … grease … all of those things Breana that you mentioned - goose poop being chief among them.
BREANA: Yeah - one of the best pieces of advice that I got from a more experienced coxswain when I first started is: don't spend money on this sport until you're sure that you like it.
ANNE: How about if we talk for a moment about game changers for each one of us?
SALLY: In my coxing career, I would say one of the first and greatest things was my personal discovery of a survival suit. The survival suit is designed as a full body flotation device. The initial purpose was to keep fishermen alive on the North Atlantic during brutal cold winters and it is amazing. It's warm. I can float. Learning to cox in the Mid-Atlantic and then attempting to transition to coxing in Boston, it was the only way I could do it because I don't maintain enough body heat. There aren't enough hot water bottles in the world - leaky or not - to help keep me alive. So for me, the survival suit was a game changer. I even wear it grocery shopping in Boston.
ANNE: That last statement might have been a little exaggeration, you think?
ANNE: Okay, I'll look for you in the cereal aisle.
BREANA: My game changer has been for the opposite weather condition. I now cox in a very warm place and a very sunny place so a couple of things that have really changed the game for me were getting polarized sunglasses. In adhering to the advice that we're giving here, I previously used just a pair of those really cheap sunglasses that (you know) you get handed for free at an employment fair kind of thing. And changing to polarized sunglasses - which again doesn't necessarily have to be expensive … the ones that I have are hand-me-down from someone who found them on the ground so nothing glamorous. That was a huge game changer in terms of muting the glare that comes off the water when the sun is shining. And then a related but very recent discovery for me in terms of eye protection, was a tip to use a stick form of sunscreen on your eyelids. We often neglect our eyes when we are applying sunscreen because we are afraid of that stinging process that happens afterwards. And so if you use sticks-on-screen that can really change the game because that's formulated in a way that it's not going to end up in your eyes as easily. I have not had a single issue since I switched to this method and in our show notes at CoxPod.com/031, I'll link the particular item I've been using. It happens to be working for me. And anything else that we mentioned today will be linked there as well for you to check out if you're interested.
ANNE: I love that idea. I never thought of that, Breana. Thank you for sharing it. I'm going to adopt that (like) now. My game changer? My game changer was something so simple … called waterproof pants. Again, a lot of my time is spent in a bow loader and the soggy feeling that I had when I did not have waterproof pants was very unpleasant to say the least. And I'm sure many people can relate. Once I got waterproof pants, that helped to minimize any distraction and that's really a large part of what we're talking about here - is keeping us so that we can focus on the job that we have to do. Let's then transition to (sort of) a day in the life of a coxswain. There you are - you're heading out to cox. What's going into your decision making as you are getting ready to head to the boathouse?
SALLY: My first stop is - check the weather and dress appropriately according to the weather. My problem is 95% of my wardrobe is jeans and thick cotton hoodies because when I am not wearing my survival suit in the grocery aisle, I'm usually bundled up in sweatshirts and hoodies and these are not great things to wear while coxing. The hood itself can get stuck particularly in bow loaders on the headrests.
BREANA: The main thing that I've personally witnessed as an issue with your standard cotton hoodie is I've actually seen a coxswain get hypothermia because of wearing one of those in an environment that they didn't expect was going to be quite as cold and wet as it was. They got splashed a bunch and that thick cotton hoodie just absorbed everything and that just sat on their body making them colder and colder and colder. They're fine is the end of that story … in case you're concerned. But that really showed me that's not something that we can be bringing out on the water - certainly not as our outermost layer which can get splashed. And this was even in an eight so we would say - as we've said in other episodes - leave the denim at home and leave those cotton hoodies at home.
ANNE: Yeah. So after we've looked at the weather and established that as one of the factors in what we're going to wear - or not wear - I'm going to also suggest that you think about (if you happen to know in advance) what kind of boat you're going to be in because I dress somewhat differently when I'm in a stern-loaded boat versus a bow loaded boat. So that's one factor that I like to keep in mind. And I also will make different choices whether I'm doing a wet or dry launch.
SALLY: Now ladies, do you have different attire for when you practice versus when you race?
BREANA: I personally find that I'm tending to wear less clothing when racing and that's the time that I might be more likely than others to wear my team clothing - whether that's a unisuit or even a nice team jacket, for example. In accordance with what we said earlier, I typically am not taking those kinds of things out even if they are nice and waterproof because I don't want them to get stained and smelly. That's something that I wear on land to represent my team with pride. So race day might be the only day that I'm actually putting on something nice like that that has my team logo on it … personally.
ANNE: And lastly as we are preparing to go out to cox - wherever that may be … in whatever conditions … is there something that you (kind of like) always - regardless of the conditions - pretty much bring with you or have at your ready?
BREANA: I would say something that I have worn for pretty much every single coxswain outing I've ever had is a head sweat cap that has (you know) a front brim on it. Sunglasses and I wear those with a strap on them so that they don't fall off into the river - learned my lesson sending the bottom of the river a couple of gifts early on in my coxing career. Now I have one of those straps that attaches to both ear loops and that way I am not at risk of losing any more pairs of sunglasses, hopefully. So pretty much - no matter the conditions - that is something that I have in terms of attire and that enables me to also put my hair up. I find that that can be a big distraction sometimes for coxswains - is leaving long hair down, being concerned about messing up your hairstyle. For me, it's easier to just put it up, put the hat on top, have the sunglasses, and that's a couple of elements that are for sure part of my daily attire.
SALLY: I think, Breana, instead of thinking of losing your sunglasses to the river, you should think about it as offering a sacrifice to the river nymphs. And somewhere … on some body of water … there is a river nymph with corporate sunglasses … rocking them … blessing every voyage you take.
BREANA: That’s true.
ANNE: When I am headed out - regardless of the situation - the one thing that I always bring is a watch. I'm always wearing a watch. If I arrived at a race or a practice without a watch, I would be flummoxed. I would be in trouble so that's my go-to every time.
SALLY: One of the things that I always wear when coxing is my lucky hat. I am exceptionally superstitious when it comes to rowing and I don't like to attempt Fates so I am a big one about my lucky hat. I think it imbues upon me magic powers, grace, and grit that I wouldn't have ordinarily.
ANNE: So there we are - getting ready to go to the boathouse. We've gone through some thoughts. We've established what we always bring with us regardless of the conditions. Now let's go into those specific types of environmental conditions and discuss what to wear and what not to wear based on the environment. And since I live in the northeast of the United States, I'm going to take the intro into cold and what not to wear in the cold.
SALLY: Wait, Anne. You live in the north? I thought you lived in the Arctic Circle.
ANNE: So you would say. And they're still talking about you at the grocery store … wondering what that was that you were wearing as you were going through the aisles.
SALLY: I got asked if I worked on an oil rig. I think one of the things to keep in consideration is: that which can keep us warm can also pose incredible safety issue. Those fabulous boots, those incredible leggings, those whatever - when they get wet and they will get wet - and when they get soddened, will hold the water to you. And in the event of an unfortunate water landing, those fabulous, thick, Therma (whatever) fleece boots weigh about 35 pounds each and will pull you down. So those boots that are awesome on regatta day when you're wandering around the venue, are not helpful and are actually potentially dangerous in the rowing shell.
BREANA: I'll give a What Not to Wear for my experience in the cold that's a little more light-hearted but still a lesson learned. I would have a lot of layers on but my neck would still be pretty cold so to remedy that I bought a wool scarf. Luckily - given what happened to it - I got it at a garage sale for just a couple of bucks. Again, as we said at the outset, this does not have to be something that breaks the bank … outfitting yourself for coxing. But don't make my mistake. What I got was one of those wrap around scarves and it wasn't all that long but it was warm so I wrapped it around. The first morning that I wore it out on the boat, a gust of wind comes by, unfurls it, and it's absolutely gone behind me on the water … never to be seen again. Another gift to whatever deities are in the water. So my lesson is: get something that is of closed loop of a scarf or those fleece gators for your neck. It's definitely important to keep the neck warm but wrap around scarf was not it.
ANNE: Listening to you, Breana, makes me wonder if we should maybe put out an Instagram poll like: name the top three things that you have lost into the water. I think that would be really, really interesting. Is it - sunglasses the one that wins? Is it going to be (you know) … whatever. I just … I think that would be really fun. But you personally have lost quite a few things.
BREANA: Each one has been a learning experience so I can come here and tell you what not to wear and what to do instead. There you go.
SALLY: A huge game changer for me in the cold was: 1) don't cox in the cold and 2) don't cox in Boston if you can help it. But the big thing for me was the discovery of Merino wool socks. They are incredible about keeping heat in and they're still pretty warm if they get saturated and when they get saturated, they're not as heavy as those big O Fish clod hopper boots. And I think those thick wool socks are necessary to help keep me warm and comfortable in a boat in Boston.
ANNE: And layers. Layers, lots of layers, people.
BREANA: A little hack I found with layers is that I started to alternate them as I pulled them on. So pull up your first pair of pants, pull down your next layer of shirt on top of that, next layer of pants goes over that. And that way with that alternating system when you then sit in an eight and you're sitting in that ideal position of bent forward a little bit, you don't have a big, open, gap of exposed skin at your back when you do this layering technique. So that's something that has really changed the coxing in the cold game for me when I'm layering up.
ANNE: Another fantastic idea from Breana. I don't have the solution for this but I want to lift it up, which is: what do you do with your hands? I mean I have tried mittens. I have tried gloves. I just cannot find something that works for me and I often need that. I have tried waterproof gloves but those are more rubbery - at least the ones that I've found - and they just don't keep me warm. So do either of you have any ideas? And if you don't, I'm tossing it out to our audience. Please help me.
SALLY: I use a USB rechargeable hand warmer and I usually alternate that in my gloves. So I will wear thick gloves or mittens on land but in the boat I usually wear something thin and flimsy and I have an electronic hand warmer that I am clinging to desperately to keep the feeling and blood circulation in my hands. Now I wear ski pants sometimes and Anne, I know that you have a definite opinion about ski pants.
ANNE: So having worn ski pants for the first part of my career – big, fluffy, ski pants - if you're in a bow loader and they get wet and they do … not all ski pants are waterproof … it's a really interesting experience. And by interesting, I mean unpleasant.
SALLY: Y'all, I can't do the cold anymore. I can't think about it. I can't handle it. Please let's just talk about warm. How do you guys handle coxing in the heat?
BREANA: I think the first, most important thing to be thinking about really in all temperatures - with any exposed skin but especially in the heat as more and more skin gets exposed - is sunscreen. That's a huge one. I already shared my tip (recently acquired) about using stick sunscreen on your eyelids …. just around the eye area. That is a total game changer for me. And I always remind people who aren't used to doing a water sport in the heat … in the sun … that the water is also going to reflect back on you, which is not a typical experience as you're walking around. So we need to be aggressive with our sunscreen application because it will reach to the inside of our noses, the underside of our eyes, in all kinds of places that we might not typically be that worried about. UV is going to be coming at us from all directions so make sure that you are not passing ever on the sunscreen when you are out in the heat … in the sun … and have a lot of skin exposed. Again, no matter the temperature, any exposed skin really we should be having sunscreen on even if it's overcast … even if it's a little cooler … we're still getting that UV. And don't forget some places we want to remind you - your lips. Make sure you find some lip balm that has SPF in it. And don't forget - if you're wearing something like flip-flops now that we're in warmer temperatures - add sunscreen to the top of your feet as well. Those are often very exposed in stern-loaded shells especially as we cox those. So sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen is my number one message for dealing with the heat.
ANNE: And along those lines, we need to remember that there are certain medications that also can affect the UV sensitivity of skin. So if that's something that pertains to you, keep that in mind as well. What else for the sun?
BREANA: Well, we already talked a little bit earlier about sunglasses. You should really make that - as with sunscreen - a non-negotiable to protect your eyes. If you have had the privilege of reading a book that we've referenced a few times in past episodes, The Short and Snarky Guide to Coxing and Rowing – again, we'll link this and everything else we mentioned in our show notes at CoxPod.com/031 - one of the authors reveals that she caused serious damage to her eyes after many, many years of coxing and not wearing high quality sunglasses. Again, these do not have to break the bank because there's a chance that they end up in the water but again, I've personally found polarized sunglasses to make a massive difference. And then just get a cheap strap to connect them at the earpieces so that they don't fall off. And mine is just some little neoprene one that has a company name on it that I got for free so this does not have to be something that you spend a ton of money on. Another thing I'm always thinking about - like I shared at the beginning … it's one of my daily pieces of attire - is a hat with a brim. I personally really like the brand Headsweat. I have a small head and I find that these hats fit my head really effectively. You could tighten them and they look fine on a small head unlike some other hats that have a constructed part in the front that my head does not conform to. Love Headsweats. They really do wick the sweat away. Any time I'm wearing something else, I miss my Headsweats so I'm always wearing those. You can often get those branded with your team gear and your team store if you're interested but they're also easily able to be found on the general internet in typical colors. I strongly prefer that type of mesh material over your typical hat that you might pick up (you know) with a sports team logo on it in a regular store. Those twill material hats can be so heavy when they get wet and sweaty - they are just really gross so I'm partial personally to Headsweats.
SALLY: So one of the things in the heat to keep in mind is your body temperature. We spend so much time trying to keep ourselves warm when it's cold out, sometimes we need to regulate our body temperature when it's too hot out. And a huge game changer for me was using cooling towels and putting that over a place where there's a pulse – putting it over your neck … your wrists … so that you're actually (kind of like) chilling your blood as it passes through helps a lot. You don't actually have to spend 20 or 30 bucks on a cooling towel if you go to the dollar store and buy a pack of super cheap washcloths. Get them wet and then freeze them. They do the exact same thing as a cooling towel and they help a lot especially on regatta days where the ambient air temperature is 106 in the shade.
ANNE: I have a similar suggestion which is something that I picked up from a rower. This rower takes very small ice packs and actually rows with them - she tucks them inside of her bra and she swears by them. So that's just another suggestion.
SALLY: One of the things I do when I am not rowing or reading - which is pretty rare - I can be found hiking and when I'm hiking, I like to use one of these Columbia UV proof, light, long sleeve shirts and they are incredible about keeping you cool. It seems kind of counterproductive to wear a long sleeve shirt in the heat but it does a lot to help keep the sun off you and keep you cool. So for particularly hot regattas, I can actually be seen in a light, hiking, long sleeve shirt. I love it.
BREANA: Moving down to our feet in the hot weather, a recommendation I would give if you're looking to maybe upgrade your coxing wardrobe is think about upgrading your footwear. I - for a long time in an effort to be budget conscious - coxed in extremely cheap flip-flops that I would get on sale for (like) less than a dollar at a big box store. And when you're walking around at a regatta for 12 hours at a time, that will leave you in pain the next day. So eventually after many years of doing things the cheap way, I decided to upgrade my footwear game and I'll link in our show notes to the type of flip-flops that I just personally really like now - from Crocs. And if you're not a Crocs lover, they still have a decent aesthetic look so don't be afraid. But the difference of (you know) going from a 85 cent pair of flip-flops to a $25 pair of flip-flops … it just is stark. It completely changed the game for me so if you've been coxswain for a while, you're looking for a small accessible way in which to upgrade your wardrobe and if you find yourself at the end of every regatta day just collapsing with a ton of pain in your feet, this might be something to consider as a small upgrade.
ANNE: Let's now transition to a different type of weather – rain. We've already touched on some things about what not to wear when it's raining. Everything that gets soggy, right?
SALLY: I think I should repeat this - do not wear denim. I often break this rule but you should not wear jeans in the rain. There are a few things worse feeling in the world than wet sneakers or soggy jeans but I often screw that one up and you will find me in wet jeans in the rain.
ANNE: When I think about the rain, one of the things I do is I just assume I'm going to get some level of wet and so for me what pops into my mind is that I need to be sure to pack extra sets of clothing. And also I always have a trash bag in my car and if I'm in a regatta, I always pack it in my backpack so that I can also sit in my car after that event and not ruin my car seats.
BREANA: And I'll advise - just make sure to remember anything you put away in a plastic bag and quickly extract it when you get back home because speaking from experience of other coxswains I know, there is nothing nastier than letting a bunch of wet stuff fester in a bag. So add that to your mental to-do list after using that bag to keep your vehicle or someone else's vehicle or the bus home or anything safe and dry. Get that stuff out of that bag and get it hanging up and drying as quickly as you can.
ANNE: I love the word fester - that was the perfect word for that situation and I'm sure that we can all relate to that. How about we touch on some things that we don't have but wish we did?
SALLY: Well, I never, ever, ever, want to be coxing in New England or north of the wall or in the Arctic Circle again. But since so many of my friends there and so many of the cool races are there, I would like to get a survival suit that I can wear safely in a bow loader. The one I currently have has this large, rectangular, flotation device that's around the shoulders and the neck which is designed to keep my head above water – bonus. But it doesn't really work when I'm trying to lay down in a bow loader. Breana has a super cool one.
BREANA: Yeah. I'll link in the show notes to the one that I use. It's a very commonly used brand but after doing a little research it was the most cost effective one and …
SALLY: When you say a little research, Breana…
BREANA: Yeah, if you know me, it's much more than a little research. So I do stand behind this recommendation. Something to think about is that not all of us can fit in the boat with a survival suit on. I don't use it in the boat but I have personally found that for launch days in the cold, it is a complete game changer. But again, that's an upgrade you might make after you have spent a little time in the sport and you're sure that this is something you're interested in spending money on. So I'm happy to link the one that I personally use.
ANNE: I have two things I would really, really like to have but don't have yet. I've mentioned one of them already - those mysterious, magical gloves that are both waterproof and super warm. And they'd have to be gloves - so if people have suggestions, send it to us on Discord. Send it to me on Discord. My second wish is for a very specific type of waterproof, wide brim hat - something totally waterproof to protect my neck. But I don't want to look like the Gorton's fisherman, right? So I'm still on the hunt … on the prowl … for such an item.
SALLYY: So function and fashion.
ANNE: Function and fashion … not me yet but I aspire to it. Breana?
BREANA: I need to find what Sally mentioned a little earlier - some of those sun shirts. That's something that I personally would like to invest in. And then if I'm looking back and reflecting on how I accumulated my coxswain wardrobe, one thing that I do wish I had done was opted for a hi-vis, outer, waterproof layer. I'm often wearing - unless it's very hot - a waterproof layer as my outermost layer just for protection from the wind, splashes, any rain. Looking back now, I would have gotten that in not black … like what I have … but maybe a high vis color for some extra visibility for me there in the stern.
ANNE: I'm going to toss out a question which is: has any one of us ever broken our own rule of what to wear … what not to wear? Are we still doing something that we have proclaimed we shouldn't?
SALLY: I chafe at rules, Anne. I won't lie, y'all. Do as I say, don't do as I do. I get distracted and I get eager to cox and I will hop in a boat in a hoodie, in a T-shirt, and soaking wet blue jeans. And yeah, I'll do it. Regret it every time.
ANNE: Thank you for your honesty, Sally. Breana?
BREANA: I'll own up to one that I just remedied but one of my big pieces of advice would be if you have shoes that you've been stringing along for such a long time that they are rubbed completely smooth on the bottom - I have almost slipped to my death a few times on the dock - and I finally replaced my shoes … the shoes that have intact tread. So just don't gamble with your life that way. Get the shoes with the good tread. Don't get a concussion from slipping on the dock - it's just not worth it. So I'm happy to say very recently I have made that upgrade in my own life so I encourage you - take a look at your shoes. If you've been really risking it on the dock, give those an upgrade if you can.
SALLY: If we have a podiatrist who listens to us they have probably just puckered, Breana … the thought of you wearing five-year-old, 85 cent flip-flops with no tread.
BREANA: Try 10 … 10 years, maybe.
SALLY: Okay. You’re not helping yourself.
BREANA: I just retired my pair of Crocs that have been with me since before my coxing career. So rest in peace, my friends. You got me through a lot but I did almost die a few times.
SALLY: So if you calculate how often you wore them to their cost – (like) that was a fraction of a cent.
BREANA: Oh yeah.
SALLY: These shoes did nothing for you and every podiatrist here is (like) wincing at what you have done to your feet and your knees and your joints. Y'all, make Breana a cautionary tale. I don't get to say that often … ever … so I'm saying it now. Y'all, pay attention to your feet.
ANNE: Well, I know that you guys are creative so I'd like to talk about our favorite hacks. Do we have any hacks we want to share?
SALLY: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
BREANA: You’re not going to own up, Anne?
ANNE: I didn't have one.
SALLY: You're never … your own rule?
ANNE: Ever? Yeah. I learned the error of my ways long ago.
SALLY: Y'all, I'm sus.
ANNE: I don't know. What do you want me to say?
SALLY: Well, okay. All right. In Anne’s defense, she does cox in Massachusetts where it has become a life or death issue to dress appropriately. Mistakes there have far greater consequences and far more serious outcomes if she screws up, so I will give you that.
ANNE: All right. How about if we talk about some favorite hacks?
BREANA: One that I'll share – again, related to footwear - is a great, extremely cheap, DIY shoe deodorizer that I have personally used. I'll repeat what we said at the outset - don't wear anything on the water that is your favorite pair of sneakers or anything like that. I personally engage in a rotation where once a pair of sneakers has (kind of) been retired from everyday wear, it becomes boathouse wear. And then I retire my oldest boathouse pair. And I kind of go like that because I'm not going to wear sneakers that are getting waterlogged with river water on a regular basis out in the world because in my experience, that smell never goes away. But I have found this DIY shoe deodorizing powder to be pretty effective, personally … even for the shoes you wear (you know) not at the boathouse. So that comes from a blog in YouTube Channel called Clean My Space. I'll link it in our show notes. And again, it's made out of just regular household things that you probably have around anyway and we can at least do something to remediate the stench of river water, lake water, sea water, in our shoes.
SALLY: All right. I am struggling to understand, Breana … which is often the case. You will wear 10 year-old Crocs with no tread but smelly sneakers is where you draw the line? Am I following this? I mean, I don't disagree with either of them - I'm just … it's interesting to know where your comfort and your boundaries lie.
ANNE: And that's why this is called What Not to Wear. We're finding out from each other where our lines are. I mentioned earlier that I don't ever go on the water without my watch. Wait - I just realized I broke the rule once … I have coxed at least two times without my watch and that's how I know it was two times because it was a horrible experience. I felt totally undone by that. Anyway, how do I remember to have a watch with me at all times? I have a hack where I actually attach my watch to my shoe. I find it helpful because if I'm in a stern loader, I can just glance down. Why are you laughing? Why are you laughing, Sally?
SALLY: There's this vision with your ankles up by your head. Sorry - just this momentary flash of …
ANNE: If I'm in a bow loader, I take it off and put it on my wrist but then I put it back in my shoe because I'm always gonna have footwear. I never go barefoot. If I'm in a stern loader, I can glance down and it's right within sight. So that is how I remember to bring my watch with me every time. Also, I discovered after many experiences in the bow loader - especially when it's hot - I prefer to have long pants. It's easier - especially if the bow is very, very narrow, for me to slide in and not get stuck there. And lastly, I am a huge fan of having pants that have zippered pockets. And I've got a couple pairs where there's just a very small zipper and that's where I put my lip balm and it's always within reach.
BREANA: Yeah, I'll vouch for zippered pockets. Never take a risk with something like a phone or anything that you value that you bring out there on the water. Zip that up or expect that it could slip into the water with an errant movement.
SALLY: If you don't zip it, the river nymphs get it. My big thing is always expect it to be colder than it is. Don't use your rowers as a guide about what to wear. Remember, they're moving and they're exercising. The warmest you will ever be is the moment you step out of your car or off your bike on your way to practice. From that second onward, it just becomes this long, slow, cooling process. It's like magma – you’re just slowly cooling on this geologic time frame. So always expect it to be colder. They say it's going to be 85? They lie. I don't know who ‘they’ are but they lie. So as we've kind of mentioned, I have many issues and many problems that currently don't have solutions. What are some issues that you haven't quite figured out how to hack yet?
ANNE: I have one. I have one. That is: dealing with driving rain. I find it so difficult whether I'm in a bow loader … a stern loader - it doesn't matter. That hard, pellet, driving rain - I just can't see. If I've tried sunglasses … it just does nothing but obstruct my vision. And if I don't have sunglasses, it hurts and I have to squint. And does anybody have a suggestion?
SALLY: Don’t cox in the rain, Anne.
ANNE: Ah. Forgot about that. Become the fair weather coxswain? Is that…?
SALLY: That is a suggestion. It's not one either one of us are gonna do but you know …
BREANA: I have that issue as well. Another one that I have tried and not successfully resolved yet relates to: in bow loaders, we all know the puddle that forms at our backs. And I've tried waterproof pants over top of waterproof jacket I've tried waterproof jacket over top of waterproof pants. I've tried every configuration I can think of and then the puddle still gets to me. So we would love to hear your solutions to that particular issue that plagues us all in bow loaders.
SALLY: So we've talked about lots of tips and tricks and I've complained a lot about Massachusetts which is pretty on the norm. What do you guys recommend for our listeners who want some of this equipment but are slightly budget conscious - not fanatical like our friend Breana who wears 10 year old Crocs with no soles - but who are budget conscious and smart about their finances? What do you recommend? Breana, please use moderation.
ANNE: She's not the only one. I don't want to spend a dime on things that get torn, broken, whatever. So for me, I have found lots of good deals at Goodwill and other thrift stores and garage sales. You just got to keep your eyes open. So for a lot of my coxing attire, that's where that comes from.
BREANA: A lot of mine came through totally free routes especially as I first built up my wardrobe. I got wool socks as a hand-me-down from my parents who were super into hiking and had a ton of specialized gear for that. My first pair of waterproof pants was a hand-me-down from my dad so they were massive and they didn't work so great anymore in terms of their waterproof ability which is something to think about if you are buying second hand or receiving second hand gear. If it has a specialized function, that function might have deteriorated over time. Some of the things I've gotten - as I already shared - have just come from the ground … you know, something left behind on the team bus and no one ever claimed that pair of leggings. I'm rocking that pair of leggings now. You could also check out the lost and found at your boathouse. Those are often packed with long forgotten items that no one is looking for anymore. Maybe you rummage through … tag something as I'm going to check back in two weeks … if that's still here, that person clearly does not miss that item and I will add it to my own wardrobe. So there's lots of ways for free or cheap to build up. And consider as well - as holidays or birthdays or graduations approach - and if people in your life are asking you, “Aren't you really into that sport? You know, is there anything for that that you could use?” This might be an opportunity to ask for something to upgrade your coxing wardrobe a little bit. That's how I got started as well … was taking advantage of those sorts of natural opportunities where people are looking to support you and your enjoyment of this sport. And you can guide them towards the items that might help you continue to enjoy it safely. If we're looking for maybe a step up from completely free or extremely cheap, there's kind of the intermediate level of store that I've also stopped by. Again, remember anything could get torn, stained so it's not worth dropping a ton of money on. But if you go to the clearance section at something like a TJ Maxx - or you guys in the UK call it TK Maxx. Or what I like to do is if I've found something that I really like … maybe a style of leggings … I'll go on to a second hand online market like Poshmark - or abroad there's ones like Depop - and I'll just look for that same item there, buy it used for really cheap knowing that it already works for me and build my wardrobe that way. And then again, there are expensive, athletic specific brands out there if money is no issue or if you're looking to really upgrade some particular part of your wardrobe. Those are an option as well.
SALLY: I always learn a lot from you, Breana, and it's impressive there are so many different avenues if you have the will and the desire and the need to stay warm. There are many ways of doing this without spending money or without shopping or without breaking the bank so I I really appreciate those tips.
ANNE: And just to remind our listeners, Breana's advisory: don't spend a lot of money on the sport until you're sure you like it. Or on the other hand, perhaps that might be where you get your gear … from that person who did spend a lot of money and then they decide it's not for them. You can have your hand out and say, “Thank you very much”, right?
BREANA: Absolutely. You know graduating teammates who are (like), “I can't imagine when I'd ever need waterproof pants again”.
ANNE: Raise your hand.
BREANA: Yeah. Claim those.
ANNE: So here we - are closing out another episode - the one that I thought was not going to have much content at all but it turns out I've learned a lot myself. And I look forward to learning even more from our listeners. We put out some situations that we would love some help with and a lot of creative people in this group so please let us know some ideas, tips, and tricks, and your thoughts on this subject. And let's remember that our goal here is to be safe and comfortable primarily so that our energy is not spent on wardrobe issues. We need to maintain our intellectual acuity and if we're cold, we're wet, we're too hot, all of that, then we are compromised and not doing the best job that we possibly can. So anything that distracts us from doing our job - including what we're wearing - is something that we need to pay attention to and strive to remedy. And beyond that, there are ranges of budgets and climates and personal clothing preferences that are going to inform your choices.
BREANA: That's a great lead-in into our Quick Pick this episode which is a reminder to check out the show notes for tons of recommendations from us beyond even things that we have stated here. Again between us, we're in a range of climates and have a range of personal preferences for what we like to wear so we will offer some suggestions there. And as we've been saying throughout, we welcome audience suggestions and recommendations as well. Or your ‘don't wear’ stories … your What Not to Wears.
ANNE: Yes, please. I look forward to those. And I would like to do the Shout Out today to: waterproof clothing. I'm a fan. I'm a fan, a big fan. When I found it, it was like woohoo. And as we finish up this episode, we want to thank you for listening and I'm going to say … also for the ideas that I hope are forthcoming. If you like what we're doing, please consider financially supporting us on Patreon. We are excited to bring you more content soon and until next time, I'm Anne. I'm Breana. And I'm Sally - signing off for now.