When I was a cub reporter back in the early 80s, I used a strange word in a story I had written. I can't remember the word. I was simply repeating it from a press release. But I'll never forget the editor's response. She asked me what that word meant, and when I admitted I didn't know, she asked why I would use it in a story. "If you don't know what it means, assume your readers won't understand it either," she told me.
So when I wrote on a recent blog post that finishers of the June 24 Akron Marathon 8k and 1 mile races would receive a "tech" shirt, I knew I'd be back to write about that. I had no idea what a "tech" shirt was, so I'm going to assume some of you don't either.
Tech is short for "technical" and refers to a garment that uses wicking fabrics to pull sweat away from your body and keep you cooler than, say, cotton. I first learned about the physics of wicking when I bought my running socks in April, and they are amazing at keeping my feet comfy and dry.
It only stands to reason that the same argument against cotton socks would work against cotton T-shirts. The ability of technical fabric - usually nylon, polyester or Lycra - to move moisture away from the skin helps you control your body heat. A cotton T-shirt soaked in sweat, on the other hand, is hot and heavy in the summer and freezing in the winter.
I only have cotton Tees and have been using them to train, but as temps warm up and we face race series events in late June and August - not to mention longer, sweatier distances - I may have to add at leat one tech shirt to my wardrobe till I get that gorgeous blue Akron Marathon keeper.
One drawback I saw on a couple of stories was that tech shirts can get stinky. Apparently a fabric that is really good at pulling sweat away from your body is also reluctant to let it go. The smell comes from bacteria getting trapped in the fibers.
There are detergents formulated for technical wear that reportedly do a better job of removing embedded sweat odor. I found some mentioned here: http://www.triathlete.com/2014/11/gear-tech/laundry-detergents-made-athletic-apparel_109739.
Other recommendations: Wash only in cold water. Never use bleach. Air dry only.
So there's the rest of the story. I know at least one editor that would be very proud of me right now.