I was thinking during my 10-mile
battle run Sunday about the running gear I just can’t live (or run) without. I was using all of them during the run, and I know I wouldn’t have been able to complete it or any of my other runs, for that matter, without them.
So, in case you ever were curious or were looking for some recommended products, here are the top five things I cannot run without, in no particular order, and shoes excluded, because shoes are a complete and total personal preference:
1. Running Room hoodie: I don’t know how I could have gotten through an entire winter of running outside without this thing! I found it on clearance at the Running Room store on Grand Avenue in St. Paul almost a year ago; it retails for about $90, but I got it for only $20. What a steal!*
I love the fabric—it’s thick, soft and flexible, it’s just heavy enough to wear as an outer layer over a technical top (either long- or short-sleeved) if the weather is nice and it’s just light enough to wear as a second layer under a fleece jacket or windbreaker if the weather is not so nice. I love the half-sewn cuff with thumb holes. I love the high neck and hood. I love the fit. I love the color. (The fuchsia hoodie was all that was in my size on the clearance rack, and at that moment I decided fate had led me to the store that day. Perfect, eh?)
*I think the link above is for the updated version of my hoodie.
2. Nike Pro Combat thermal training tights: I don’t know how I survived winter running without these, either! I got these from my Dad for Christmas.
I really like the fit—they’re fitted and they definitely hug every curve, but they’re surprisingly forgiving, probably because they’re black and more likely because they make me look fast! I also really like the fabric and fleece lining; it’s much like the hoodie—thick, soft and flexible; heavy enough to wear alone in cool weather and light enough to wear under running pants in cold weather.
Bonus: C9 by Champion running tights: I found these on clearance at Target a few weeks ago; they retail for $24.99, but I got them for about 40 or 50 percent off. I couldn’t say no!
I like the fit, fabric and thing fleece lining of these, too. I think they’re great to have on hand for transitional weather, and I’m sure I’ll be wearing them a lot more often as April approaches.
I also have the C9 by Champion running capri pants and love them just as much as both pairs of tights.
3. C9 by Champion seamless racerback sports bra: I first bought this because I needed a decent sports bra to wear for working out but I didn’t want to spend a lot. It retails for $16.99, and Target sometimes puts it on sale for $14.99 or less.
I love the feel of this bra; I think I love most that it’s seamless, so there’s little worry about chafing, digging or pinching the skin. I also love the support; I’m not an overly well-endowed woman, but I’ve got my fair share of stuff to contain, and this bra holds everything in place perfectly.
4. Nike+ iPod adapter: I discovered the Nike+ iPod adapter a few years ago, when I decided I was going to make a concerted effort to be a runner and needed something to help keep me motivated. I figured for $29, I couldn’t go wrong.
I really like the basic principles of the system. The sensor is a piezoelectric accelerometer pedometer, which means it senses steps and estimates distance. I find it mostly accurate—usually within 10 percent of what my route is according to Google Maps Pedometer; the inaccuracy isn’t really enough to throw off my training, but it is just enough to upset me—especially after I’ve tried to calibrate it once or twice to be more in line with my current pace.
I also like that the application talks to me during my runs; it tells me how far I’ve run and how much farther I’ve got to run—and it serves as a bit of motivation at times.
I love, love, love that I can sync my run data to nikeplus.com, where I can analyze my runs and track my progress over time. But I hate that the system does not calculate splits, and I think that simply is a drawback of the type of pedometer. I love, though, that I discovered slowgeek.com, a hobby site that uses the public files from nikeplus.com and extends their features to show mile splits, among other things.
All in all, I’ve made the system work for me. I hope to someday upgrade to a Garmin Forerunner, but I just cannot justify the $200 cost when I have a system, albeit a little convoluted sometimes, that meets my immediate needs.
Bonus: A good playlist: I am a sucker for Top 40 pop, dance, hip-hop and R&B songs with a good, fast beat and meaningless lyrics. I am totally beat/tempo driven, not lyric or message driven when it comes to running and working out in general.
I always keep a mental list (and sometimes a written list) of songs that I think would be good for running. I hear them on the radio, I read them in blogs, I catch them in running articles; I take note; and then I spend a weekend afternoon on a downloading/uploading spree.
I finally weeded through my collection this weekend and created an almost three-hour playlist of my favorite running songs (see above).
5. Fuel Belt H20 collection two-bottle hydration belt: I bought this on a whim at the wonderful running store in Janesville, All-Season Runner, which I miss very much considering we don’t have a running store in Muskegon and the closest Gazelle Sports locations are in Holland and Grand Rapids. But I digress… I bought this hydration belt because I was ramping up my mileage in anticipation of a half marathon and I had heard good things about this model.
I like the weight, fit and feel of the belt—it’s not heavy, even when both bottles are full, and it sits nicely at my waist without jiggling around too much. I also like that it has a little zipper pouch, so I can stash a car key, house key or even a mid-run snack. I never could run with a water bottle in my hand, so I think this was the best solution for me. I don’t even find it that awkward to pull a bottle off the belt, take a swig and put it back in the elastic holder; I guess I’ve mastered the act after a few tries.
I only have one complaint: the Velcro closure catches on my top and snags the fabric. I can’t figure out how to prevent it.
There you have it! I hope any new runners out there learned a little about some essential gear, and I hope any seasoned runners found some fun new things to try out.