There’s a formula. The gear and circumstances I can queue up for myself, to make sure I actually take that run. Because as much as I’ve been enjoying training for the runDisney Princess Half Marathon, there are days when I really don’t want to go running.
Granted I’m a beginning runner, still in the early stages of training. I’m averaging 2.5 miles, three times per week. I use Jeff Galloway’s genius run-walk-run method, and I swear it’s saving me a great deal of pain. (Love you, Jeff!) I’ve also been experimenting with various gear and items to support my running. Thus far, I’ve identified these 5 things I can’t run without!
Note, some of the items below were sent to me as samples to test out. Some of them I purchased myself. All are truly great running gear, and are items I feel I can’t live without.
1. Tiny, Rockin’ Music Player
I have music on my phone, and music on my iPod Nano. However, neither of these have *exclusively* running music on them. This left me tied me to playing the same 2 or 3 playlists over and over. Have you been there?
Enter the iPod Shuffle, with a surprisingly low price tag of $49 for the latest generation. I used to think I wouldn’t like a Shuffle, since there’s no visual navigation. But it’s perfect for running. They’re extremely lightweight with a little clip on the back that can attach to your clothing (no more arm band, hurray and huzzah!). And you can dedicate it to exclusively storing your running songs. Mixing them up fresh for you every time. Let’s get this party started!
2. Energy Gels
Taking an energy gel 5 minutes before I’m about to run has been working wonders for me. No upset stomach or pains, like I get when I try to wolf down an energy bar beforehand. It fights pesky fatigue. And it’s adds flexibility, freeing up additional options for when I can run (anytime, really… unless it’s shortly after a meal). I’ve tried GU, Powerbar, and Honey Stinger brand. Like the taste of Honey Stinger best. I can’t detect much of a performance difference, but I’m admittedly not running very far yet.
I still need to do further research on nutrition, and make some lifestyle adjustments. I want to incorporate better eating to support my running, especially as my distances increase. I’ve always been curious about energy gels, but thought they were only for use by marathon runners along the way. After my experimenting with some, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
I thought the below energy gel chart by Black Pool Creative was really good. If you haven’t tried energy gels, you should!
3. Good Running Tights
Running tights are all the rage this year, and for good reason. No more running in baggy shorts or sloppy yoga pants for me. Once you’ve gone running tights, you won’t go back. This season there are lots of great styles available, too… the most flattering pair I’ve found is from Merrell. I love the attractive color blocking of their Soto Legging Redux, the soft but supportive feel, and hidden waistband pocket.
So cute. So comfortable. In addition to having a slimming effect, I’m pretty sure the curved seam design makes you look fast. Love the wide waistband and reflective logo. Can also be worn hiking, which I plan to try.
4. GPS Watch With Programmable Training Plans
Having a very specific set of features that I wanted, I really did my research on GPS watches. After reading great reviews, and finding all the features I was looking for – I took the plunge on a Garmin Forerunner 220 GPS watch. I purchased mine for $200 at REI. Love buying things at REI, because they are so awesome about returns. Which I needed, since my first Garmin Forerunner 220 acted flakey from the get-go. Frustrating.
After 2 months I took it back. And because by that point I was hooked on the features – I exchanged it for another one just like it. Although I’m still puzzled by how long it takes to locate GPS satellites (isn’t that cached? Why does it take up to 5 minutes every time?), the second one does work better.
I really love this watch. So much so, that I’ve become completely dependent on it. As in, yesterday when I went to run and discovered the battery was dead: I “couldn’t” run! (Shame on me… I know.)
I use it both indoors and out. Indoors with use of the accelerometer isn’t as accurate in tracking distance, but does an ok job. For instance, at my current fitness level, my average distance on a 30 minute GPS tracked (outdoor) run is 2.7 miles. On an indoor track, the Forerunner tells me I ran 2.2 or 2.3 miles. Irritating, but better than nothing (I didn’t want to mess with wearing a foot pod).
My favorite feature is programming your own training plans, or interval workouts. I’ve got my little Jeff Galloway run-walk-run segments all set up in my Forerunner. My watch does a 5 second beeping countdown as it nears the end of an interval and then vibrates, signaling me to change pace. It. Is. Awesome.
It’s also a motivational tool. Your Garmin Forerunner 220 will tell you when you’ve set a record, such as fastest mile or longest run. Definitely recommend this GPS watch if you are training for a race.
5. Super-Cushy Running Shoes
I used to run in Asics, and didn’t have any complaints. But after trying out the Hoka One One Challenger ATR, I kid you not: I no longer wear a running knee brace. That may be in part thanks to the gentle, gradual training approach I’m taking. But I’ve been wearing a knee brace since I was age 20! The fact that I’m running without one is just flat out insanity… and I really think my Hoka One One’s are a large part of the reason for my experiencing less running pain.
The Challenger ATRs are actually a trail shoe, with a beefy tread. I haven’t tried them trial running yet, but they also work for outdoor pavement and indoor tracks.
My sister in law works in health care, and said all the doctors and nurses have started wearing Hokas to ease that “on your feet all day” type pain. They have a super squishy sole, yet supportive insole, and are remarkable comfortable. Highly recommend you give them a try, if you are in the market for a running shoe.
That’s it… the 5 things I can’t run without! What’s your favorite running gear or tips to share?
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