Essential Gear for Runners

I’ve always flirted with running. Back in 2004 I used to run 2 times a week and back then I would just measure how long I’d run without stopping, back then I was doing 5 to 6 miles non-stop and I thought I was amazing. Then I just went back to other sports, I did capoeira and biking a lot.

After the race This year, my friend Maritza Martinez (from being a couch potato who didn’t know how to bike or swim) decided to do the New York City triathlon, this along 40lbs of overweight gained during the last winter got me very excited into getting back into running.

As I started running and got back into my non-stop 6 mile run, I started noticing very annoying issues like shin splints, lower back pain, or sudden discomfort in my knees. A couple of months into it I joined a Runners Club and I started asking questions, mostly about the Shin Splints, the common answer when they looked at my shoes was obvious to them, “Get Running Shoes”.

Luckily that day a person from the club had an extra pair of brand new running shoes that hadn’t do it well for her husband’s ankles, and she was about to throw them away, lucky me being there at the right time, I got my first pair of running shoes for free.

After the first run with those shoes I started increasing mileage, it felt a lot easier, no more shin splits, no more pain of any kind, but other simple problems that come with distance like sweat, humidity, and boredom were solved with what I call Essential Running Gear

Running Shoes
Running Gear - 2 Pairs of Running ShoesI can’t stress nearly enough the importance of running shoes. In my case once I got my first pair, shin splints and lower back pain were gone like magic and I could really run longer distances. After my first week of having the shoes I was so into it that I woke up a Saturday morning very early and I just ran 13.1 miles non stop in 2 hours and 4 minutes, my first personal 1/2 marathon. After that I knew I could sign up for the Miami Marathon.

If you’re training for a marathon or 1/2 marathon I suggest you have at hand 2 pairs so that you rotate them between each run. This will make them last a little longer, they’re supposed to last 300 miles and you’ll be easily doing 30 miles a week, they pretty much will last you 3 to 4 months. They also say that after running such long distances the sole of the shoes tend to compress, rotating them helps the shoes to decompress and breathe.

Running Socks
Running Gear - Running SocksHaving good running socks (the 2 pairs I have cost about $15 each) is really good to avoid blisters. I can run 6 miles with these and when I take them off they’re still dry.

Running long distances with regular socks can be a pain soon into the run, in no time your shoes will be soaked and it can be very uncomfortable. These socks don’t guarantee that your shoes won’t get soaked after an hour of running, in my case after I run 9 miles my shoes do get very wet inside but I suspect it’s not sweat coming from my feet that causes this but the sweat that drips down my legs.

Dry Fit Shorts and Shirt
Running Gear - Running Shorts Dry-fit clothing will certainly make you feel lighter, the fabric pushes sweat away from your skin thus helping it evaporate. Before I was wearing these after I ran I could literally squeeze out a cup of sweat from my cotton t-shirt, not anymore.

As for my legs went they were always chafed, now there’s no more chafing and less sweat on my shorts, which gives me a fresher and better running experience.Running Gear - Dry-Fit Shirts

Note, I’ve heard and seen people having their nipples chafed badly, to the point that they bleed, if you have this problem or sensitive nipples when running, you might want to try “Bodyglide”.

Ventilator Visor
Running Gear - Ventilator VisorI often run wearing my eyeglasses, sweat dripping down from my forehead was a big issue until I got one of these Ventilator Visors. It can retain a lot of sweat until a certain point of the running session. It also protects my face from the sun.

If you have any tips on how to keep loads of sweat from bothering your eyes please let me know.

Stopwatch
Running Gear - Stop WatchI personally believe that all sort of effective training happens once you start measuring what you do, if not how do you know how effective the workout has been? If you start judging your workout results by looks alone you might get discouraged soon and drop it in a few weeks.

In general I’m obsessed in measuring distances, time and optimizing a lot of the things I do (subway commutes is one them). When it comes to running I find it addictive and useful to have a stop watch, since I compete against myself every time I go out. You might not be looking any slimmer the first weeks but with a stopwatch you’ll notice that you’re getting faster and stronger.

As a tip, you could probably keep a fitness log. I basically have a Google Spreadsheet where every day I write my weight, my waist size and what workouts I’ve done for that day (miles, gym, weights, rest day). You could get fancier and add more data, like caloric consumption and diet info. If you don’t measure things you will never know what actually is working or giving you an edge.

iPod Nano, headsets, arm band
Running Gear - iPod Nano and arm bandFor me running is a meditating experience, listening to dance music (Dance department podcast), drum and bass, and occasionally putting the iPod in shuffle mode helps me deal with the boredom once you run long distances.

For everyone the mental part is very different, some people can’t run with music, for me it’s a must, it becomes extremely annoying to run without music, the music fuels my pace and sometimes it’s exciting enough to accelerate and feel almost like I was high on running. It’s definitively a party inside my head when I’m running.

If you want to sponsor my run, iTunes gift cards are welcome 🙂

Belt for Water and Fuel
Running Gear - Belt for bottles and fuelThis belt helps you train longer distances since you can carry up to 4 bottles of H20 or your favorite sport drink. Also it has 2 pockets to put fuel gels (and keys). If you’re not training for a long distance race, you should at least drink 16 ounces of water one hour before your run, and if possible take with you a small water bottle. Keep your self hydrated.

And that’s that, stay tuned for other posts on Non-Essential but helpful gear and tips.