Thursday, March 18, 2010

Favorite Finds - Running Paraphernalia

Running in of itself can be pretty darn addictive (hello endorphins).  Throw in a few gadgets to better gauge your progress and ease your woes, and you might feed your addiction that much faster.  As a runner since high school, I've discovered several tricks of the trade that can brighten any 10k.

1. Running socks.  Just like you can't build a solid house on a faulty foundation, you can't build up to long runs if your feet can't get past 5 miles without blistering into a bloody mess.  I made this mistake when running the Boston Marathon in 2003.  I wore cheap cotton socks and naively never thought twice about it.  Sure, I wore a variety of socks in my training, but on that particular day, I picked whatever was convenient instead of giving the necessary attention to this vital part of preparing for 26.2 miles. Invest in several pairs of high quality moisture-wicking socks.  I look for ones that are cut specifically for your left and right foot with slight padding in the front to protect from chafing from the front of the shoe, and for padding in the back that is raised slightly to prevent blistering on the heel.  I like these two brands best: lululemon ultimate running sock and asics kayano low cut.

2. Body Glide Skin Protectant Stick. Along the same vein as the running socks, you can be in perfect race day form, have cardio that mums along with the efficiency of a Prius (actually, that may be a bad analogy these days), but neglect to consider where your skin may rub raw and you might go down in flames, and quite quickly for that matter.

3. Garmin watches.  What you don't measure, you can't improve.  If you're in the business of running to set a PR, a garmin watch is a pretty nifty tool to do this with.  Like many tech gadgets, there is a pretty big range of functionality and price points.  As someone who is admittedly obsessed with keeping track of progress and who will run another X miles just to "round things off" to a whole number, this is a welcome little computer.

       4. Sport Jelly Beans.  As a child, I would conjure up obstacle courses on my elementary school playground with a group of my friends.  We'd use whatever snacks we had in our lunch bags as "magic food" - grapes, raisins, crackers, snark bites, whatever.  This food would give us special properties, the ability to become invisible for a few minutes, the freedom to touch the ground without penalty, exemption from being tagged.  I am assuming most kids do this from the ages of 7 - 11, right?  When I came across Jelly Belly sport beans, I concluded that if I could spend an entire recess convinced that the 12 goldfish in my pocket were the sole factor preventing me from falling into a pit of lava, popping a few caffeine infused jelly beans could help get me through some of the onerous points of a race.  And they do.  I like the fruit punch flavor.
5. Foam Roller.  Here's a foam roller confession: we have a love/hate relationship. Run after run creates muscle knots or "trigger points"which can start to manifest themselves as pain, stiffness in the knee and ultimately along the IT band.  So while this 12+inches Styrofoam tube can make you feel as much pleasure and pain as reflected in Germany's Sturm und Drang romantic period (think Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony), it can also cure pains that can get you back on the road and back to feeding your addiction.


  1. Snark bites!!!
    Oh geez, Haribo may have single-handedly taken a few years off my life, Mars too. I used to hit homeruns with the green Skittles, triples with the purple, doubles were orange, singles were yellow, and I hit grand slams with the red ones. (ahem...used to)

  2. Somehow I just got around to reading this today. Your comment about not being able to improve what you can't measure really resonates with me, although not in a running sense. It really applies to everything! In the music world, people spend hours upon hours practicing, but never take the time to record (no matter how informal) and listen for any progress! And I love the Haydn reference!

  3. Thanks for this useful ideas. I like also those running socks brand. But nowadays, I usually used my smarwool socks that provides utmost comfort.

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