Like any silly invention, this started because I had a need, and I couldn't seem to find an answer anywhere...so I began the journey of creating a solution to my need myself!
I live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, where it is arguably the hottest place on earth several days of the year. For example in 2016, the “high” temperature was 119 degrees. It was 90 degrees in February, over 90 degrees 27 days in October, and over 100 degrees over 100 days last year. It is HOT here!
Nevertheless, I love being outdoors, and the other 7 million people in the “Valley of the Sun” seem to share the same love. People are seen hiking, walking, running, cycling, and biking year-round, despite the heat. However, the heat here kills more people than tornados and freezing-cold winters nationally. It needs to be taken very seriously.
For myself, I began training for a race called IronMan 70.3. The race was in October of 2015, so that meant I needed to train all May, June, July, August and September to be ready. In other words, I needed to run and ride in the heat. Brutal.
My choices were to get up at 3:30 A.M. and try to exercise outside even though it was still 91 degrees for the low, or exercise indoors on a treadmill or stationary bike. Both were not good options for me. I get very bored very fast on stationary equipment, and I sweat, a ton, on them. Hot. And, I hate waking up very early...6:30-7:30 is perfect for me. Very hot.
So, I began researching and brainstorming, brainstorming and researching. There are millions of “vest” ideas out there that “cool” in some ways, but nothing I could really enjoy running or riding in.
I put cotton t-shirts under water and froze them, and then took them out of the freezer and put them on before I went outside in the heat. They were freezing cold, hard to put on, and melted in like 5 minutes. Not the best idea, but “an idea.”
I then cut up two cycling jerseys and two dry-fit t-shirts and began hot gluing “pockets” on them in strategic places. The places of the pockets were the results of my research and education on “human thermo-regulating” or, how we humans heat up during exercise. There are places on our body, where our capillaries are very near to the surface of the skin and vasodilate in order to release heat by convection outward into the air. These are places that get rosy, red, and pink when heated or flushed. They also happen to be places we sweat tremendously in order to get the the evaporative-cooling effect to bring that capillary blood temperature down, cooling the body overall...upper chest, and upper back. Another key place is the cheeks on our faces, but I couldn't figure out how to affix ice pockets there! LOL
My prototypes worked. They allowed me to train when I otherwise couldn't. Of course, I experimented with “pocket size” and “ice cube holding capacity” and “exact pocket location,” but the shirts and hats were a success. They let me train in extreme heat preparing for the 70.3 in Phoenix, Arizona in May, June, July, August and September, during the hottest parts of the day. I actually don't recommend this, as IceRunning may have saved my life a few times!
During the 70.3 race, I swam and biked fine. I then ran “mile 1” at 7:46 pace. Looking at my Garmin, I saw it was just after 12:00 noon. Then something happened that I never experienced before. My body wouldn't work. I couldn't go. My mind felt fine and I had no pain or cramping...I just couldn't run anymore. I ran, then walked, then stopped, then ran, then walked, then stopped. I ate pretzels and drank water at every aid station and put ice in my kit (racing singlet uniform, NOT IceRunning apparel). At mile 11, I sat down in shade for 13 minutes. Mile 13 took me 27 minutes. I dragged my limping self in a stupor across the finish line and straight into the medical aid tent. Medics put ice bags in my armpits, on the back and sides of my neck, and on the top of my head. What the heck happened to me??? I overheated. It was only 89 degrees out. I had a heat illness. I felt okay to walk out-and-about an hour later. The next day I got IV fluids and nutrients put into me, and I began to research “why did they put ice bags in my armpits?”. It turns out there are not only capillaries very close to the surface there, but also arteries...namely the “brachial artery.”
Hence the birth of the strategically-placed “under armpit pockets” which drip and cool the “core,” and also the “brachial-artery pocket” to cool the blood a little more assertively.
Our final placements of the pockets are a direct result of human anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, endurance-exercise research, and the body's thermo-regulating mechanisms. Science meeting sport. Ya, but does it work??
Yes. Extremely well. This summer I did a 10k (6.2 mile) run at 7:07 pace, on July 16th, at 1:45 in the afternoon in 113 degrees. I never drank anything, and, I don't even think I sweated. The ice in the IceRunning shirt and hat did exactly what they are designed to do. Essentially, “time released 32-degree sweat” that cools zones with ice-skin contact, and cools large zones as the ice melts and drips downward as designed. The ice lasted about 25 minutes (32 cubes in my shirt, and 8 in my hat), and my entire shirt kept cool and wet another 20 minutes until after I was done. I did not heat up, I did not get tired or thirsty, and I did not get sunburned. Again, I don't recommend this crazy training, but IceRunning allowed me to when I otherwise couldn't. Furthermore, my wife ran her best ever 10k in 107 degree heat. They flat-out work. Problem solved. :)
In less-hot days, I put less ice in the pockets. Some days when it's cool, I don't put any ice at all in the pockets but still wear them since these are the most comfortable running shirts I have ever worn. I even wear one to church sometimes because it looks kinda like a nice, handsome, white golf shirt to me. Oh, and so soft! LOL
I'm sure you know we have four different fabrics and fittings for men to choose from, and you see we have three different styles and fabrics for women to choose from. We hope you find something that works for you and you enjoy. We are always innovating and expanding, so we appreciate your feedback!
Stay cool outdoor enthusiasts!
Happy Training in Christ, Inventor/Founder Ice Running