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Running…it’s such a funny thing. On the one hand, it practically needs nothing. You can do it anywhere and don’t really need any running gear at all. Heck, our cavemen ancestors used to do it just fine, with no need for a heart rate monitor or reflective straps. But then there’s the reality of running. Ask any seasoned runner about their favorite gear and accessories, and they’ll have a list. A pretty extensive list, too. At first glance, running looks quite simple and low maintenance. But, the more you do it, the more accessories you tend to own (or want). And suddenly, running’s not as simple (or cheap) as you thought!
As a personal trainer and running expert, I get asked a lot about my own running gear, and my personal favorites. After decades of pounding the pavement, and coaching others to do so, I’ve definitely used my share of running accessories, and know what I like and dislike. So, think of this post as sort of a “show and tell.” Since I’ve got tons of products in my running arsenal and I’ve got lots to say about them all (I know, shocking), I’ll be breaking this up into two posts.
Stef’s Favorite Never-Do-Without Running Accessories:
I am a sunglasses loser. I lived in denial about this for years, and tried to fight it, but alas, it is simply in my nature. If I buy them, I will lose them.
Years ago, I lost a pair of sunglasses on an RV trip in Moab, Utah. I was pretty devastated because they were expensive, cool-looking, and, well, did I say expensive? I pouted my way into a Moab gas station and picked out a pair of Pugs off the sunglasses spinny display rack, determined they would only be temporary until I could buy some real sunglasses again. I spent a whopping 10$ on them, and grudgingly admitted they looked darned good. But, I was sure I’d hate them out on a run, or on my bike. Turns out those Pugs stayed in place and effectively protected my eyes from the wind during running and biking. Back home after the trip, I never ordered those expensive glasses after all, and kept rocking that pair of Pugs, liking them more and more as time passed. I’ve long since lost those Pugs, but I haven’t bought another brand since then. Pugs seem to be at gas stations all over the US. I recently bought a pair along I-80 in Iowa, and was gushing to the clerk how much I loved the brand. She told me Pugs has an awesome warranty, too. Just bring in your old scratched or broken Pugs, and you can pick out a free brand-new pair! How cool is that? Of course, I’ve never owned a pair long enough to break them…
Hats and Headbands:
Running in hats on a sunny day should be non-negotiable. Besides sun protection, hats are also great sweat catchers.
The Headsweats brand designs hats specifically for running and athletics, and have that sweat-catching function I appreciate (that’s what I’m wearing in the pic). There’s a soft sweatband built in, which also makes them quite comfy. James’ favorite thermal running hat for cold-weather running is by Headsweats, too. If you catch me out running without a hat, then it’s a cloudy day, and I’ve most definitely got a headband on. I hate the feeling of sweat dripping on my forehead…so, a hat or headband is always a part of my required running gear.
Socks are an often overlooked and neglected part of running. Those 6-packs at Walmart, with their dirt cheap prices are hard to beat. That is, until you actually run in a high end sock engineered specifically for running.
I’m speaking from experience here, gang. I was the Queen of the Walmart 6-Packs for many of my running years. I never realized how powerful a good pair of socks was to my running performance…both mentally and physically. Enter Feetures. Feetures is one of those companies whose sole (ha! get it?) focus is on designing socks for athletics. There’s a sock designed specifically for your right foot, and one for your left. Just like shoes. And doesn’t that just make sense? There’s compression where you need it, padding in just the right spots, and high performance materials that cause no rubbing and stay dry. The first time I wore a pair of running-specific socks, I knew I’d never put on another 6-pack econo pair again. Feetures was also generous enough to donate a few pairs to our current Sweepstakes Giveaway, so don’t miss out on your chance to win some. There’s still 5 more drawings before Thanksgiving, so go enter!
There’s a wide range of shoe inserts available, and those of you dealing with foot injuries should check with your doctor about which are most appropriate for you. But if you’re like me, and you simply want your running to be as comfortable & efficient as possible, and you want some help absorbing shock, then you should consider cushioned shoe inserts. James and I found a new support insole this summer at the Outdoor Retailer show, made with a brand new smart material called, D3O. They actually had a bucket of the material set out for us to play with:
D3O, in its raw state, flows and stretches easily. But, when you move it quickly, it locks together tightly, absorbing the energy, instantly stiff with no stretch. Move it slowly again, and once again, it’s flexible. It’s pretty cool, and very strange, to see it in action. I’ve been running in a pair of inserts of the D3O material since the show…about 2 months now, with no signs of breaking down yet. These are my most FAVORITE running inserts ever. I mostly notice how much I love the insoles after I’ve been going a few miles. They give me this extra boost of energy return right at take-off, right when I need it, almost like I’m getting a little push. I wouldn’t say they’re anything special to just walk around in normally, but oh my, on my runs, they definitely shine, like no other running insole I’ve ever tried.
So, there you go!
My “show and tell” for the day…4 of my most favorite running things, all things I can’t imagine running without.
xoxo, Trainer Stef