The Top to Toe Gear Issue
Here is what I have learned so far – I am not a very good runner. But that’s okay. I can deal with being a plodder. 7 months ago I couldn’t even run for 2 minutes without debilitating shin splints stopping me in my tracks. And, because I am not a very good runner, what little help I can get from decent kit I take gladly. And, of course, this is a very personal thing. What fits one does not necessarily fit another. I have made some bad choices – the UK Gear running shoes are a no-no. Second hand shoes are a no-no. Shorts that require you to wear underwear are a chafe rubbing no-no. 3D logos in the nipple area are no-nos. Headphones that give you swamp ear are a no-no.
Right, they are the no-nos out of the way, let’s turn the spotlight on what I deem great kit.
Essential Item Number 1. The Hat
I have worn my beloved NYMA baseball cap on hot days before realising I should probably get a hat to draw sweat away from the head. I do love that hat, but for races now I rely on the NIKE GB Featherlite running cap. It is lightweight, stops the sun from baking your head, keeps the rain off, well, all the standard stuff a hat does, while drawing sweat away from your bonce.
Essential Item Number 2. The Sunglasses
Ok. I am yet to buy the ideal pair of sunglasses. I borrowed a pair of Oakleys from someone on the one sunny race I did. I should probably have paid more attention to running friend when I lived in LA and SF, but alas I did not. It is also Fall and I have no need for them until next summer, for those 3 days in the UK we get sun.
Essential Item Number 3. Headphones
I cannot run without music at the moment. It is a massive motivator for me. The red Philips runners headphones that hook around the ear gave me dreaded swamp ear, where my ears fill with sweat so they were soon binned. I have JLAB bass heavy earphones filling the gap until the true Holy Grail of earphones arrive, the YURBUDS IRONMAN ENDURE PRO. According to USPS they are currently in LA.
Essential Item Number 5. Stats
I need stats. I am one of those people that needs to feel like he is progressing, improving, whatever. I couldn’t just go run for the sake of it. I need to go further, longer, faster, or at the very least, add time and distance to my totals. I need to up my pace, and see my pace. I need to know how far I ran, how quickly. I need to know my best 1K, 5K, 10K, mile, furthest run, longest time running. And NIKE+, despite hiccups with the iPod and website, and phone app, is the right kit for this. I know a lot of people swear by their GARMIN, and I can see why, but with my NIKE+ GPS SportsWatch connected to my footpod, I get everything I need, and a decent enough website to boot.
Essential Item Number 6. Hydration
Very important is hydration. A 10K you may not even need water, depending on the heat, and most will have a couple of Lucozade or water tables on the course anyway. If you do not want to rely on the Race Director, then you carry you own. At home and for the gym I use NIKE Sport Water Bottles of varying colours. They are squeezable, have a grip in the right place and a good nozzle. When running races I would take one of those oval shaped bottles with a hole in the middle but right now the new CAMELBAK DELANEY PLUS HYDRATION BELT. Not only is it comfortable, there is a zipped area for storing your GU pouch, your snacks, credit card, keys, phone, anything really. The water bottle is good too. For anything over a 10K I would recommend this bit of kit.
Essential Item Number 7. Shorts
Okay, you don’t have to wear shorts, but I prefer to. I started with my regular shorts, the basketball shorts with pockets that come below the knees, inexplicably emblazoned with the NY of the New York Yankees. Then I got lightweight running shorts that did do the trick until I found NIKE DRI-FIT 2 in 1 shorts (7 inch length). They have cycling/compression/baselayer underwear built in and are wicking so draw the sweat away too. They have the iPod/credit card pouch at the back too. I do love them and have several pairs.
Essential Item Number 8. Compression and/or baselayer 2
I have not run with the leggings yet but I have a run in November and one in January and will need to train. I ummed and ahed about then went for the UNDERARMOUR HEATGEAR CORE VENTILATED COMPRESSION LEGGING TIGHTS as they seemed to cover all interpretations of what I wanted in their description.
Essential Item Number 9. Socks
I tried several types of regular gym socks, you know the ones, the ones that only come up to the top of your trainers. I then moved on to More Miles padded running socks, which did the trick as far as I was concerned until a few “hot spots” gave me concern. So I moved onto performance toe socks. I bought, initially, as I am a NIKE aficionado, the Nike running socks. They were good, but the material seemed a little rough for my liking so I ended up trying the INJINJI PERFORMANCE RUNNING SOCKS after reading about them on Twitter. They are awesome. I love them and immediately bought several pairs to cover my training week, and also have a pair spare for racing. I cannot recommend these more highly. They have rubber sewn into them at key point, which stop them moving in your shoes, and are snug against your feet so there is nowhere for one thing to rub against the other and cause blisters.
Essential Item Number 10. Shoes
My quest for the right shoes has been well documented in this blog. Suffice to say I like NIKE. My long lasting (well, 6 months) shoes I used for all races and 99% of training were my NIKE LUNARGLIDES. I do love these shoes, but after trying alternatives (NIKE AIR VOMEROS) I ended up with the NIKE AIR PEGASUS 29s and they are perfect for me. They make me want to run further, as combined with the INJINJI socks, my feet are in a happy place whilst the rest of me is straining.