Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday Runday: Essential Running Gear

Welcome to Sunday* Runday! This presents what I hope will be a weekly series of posts relating to running and race training, all leading up to our group race day (see here).

This week's post: Essential Running Gear!

(Sure, technically today is Monday.  But it's BARELY Monday, so cut me a break.)

In preparation for the official first day of the Hal Higdon training program, I thought it would be fun to swap some tips on those products that make us excited to get our exercise.  This may strike some as superficial, but I often find that a new running gadget---or even a new running playlist---will inspire me to push through the inertia and get some exercise.

I'll share a few of my favorites, and I hope you'll tell me some of yours in the comments!

Sweaty Bands ($20 here)

Those who have been following this blog for a while know that I love Sweaty Bands.  They're extremely cute and come in countless designs, and on top of that they don't slip off your head.  I've got a pretty enormous collection, as you can tell:

I wear them in every race I run...I can't get enough!

Vibram Five Fingers ($90 here; $80 here in some colors)

I LOVE my Vibrams!  (You can see me wearing them while jumping over fire in my Warrior Dash photo here)  The Bikila model of these shoes are designed to help you run more efficiently by creating a near-barefoot experience.  The lack of arch support and normal shoe structure encourages you to strike the ground with the front of your foot, which is a faster and more energy-efficient way to run.

While opinions about these shoes are mixed (see, e.g., here and here), I personally adore them.  I find that I shave at least 30 seconds off my mile with these babies.  On top of that, they are definitely conversation-starters!  The biggest negative in my book is that you have to train yourself in these shoes; even if you're running 8 miles a day in normal shoes, you'll have to start with extremely short distances in these shoes to develop the proper calf muscles.  (Take it slow at first, or you will be in PAIN.)

iPod Nano + Nike Plus
Okay, I don't have one of these guys yet, but it's pretty much at the top of my shopping list right now.  I LOVE the fact that this nano holds up to 16 GB of songs, that it gets live radio (and that you can REWIND the live radio if you need to!), and that it integrates seamlessly with Nike +.  Of course, a Nike + sensor won't work well with lace-less Vibram Five Fingers, but still.

Nike +, for those who haven't tried it, is a very fun exercise tracker with accompanying social networking software that allows you to join virtual fitness challenges.  It's a great way to feel accountable for your miles!
This screenshot is from the Battle of the Beers challenge, which allows you to add your miles to the team of your favorite beer!

(You can get Nike + connectivity for your iPhone or any existing iPod for < $30 here.)

Running Magazines

I used to subscribe to Runner's World, and I found the magazine to be a great source of inspiration to run.  For one, I enjoyed reading material written by people who clearly love to run.  It made my complaints about having to go for a run seem less valid.  I also loved learning more about the principles behind training, running, and eating healthfully.

The articles seemed to get a bit repetitive after a year or so, but the motivational impact stuck around for a while longer!

So, what are your favorite commercial running motivators?


In other news, our 8K training program begins today!  Hooraaaay!  I've gotten many emails from folks in the D.C. metro area who are jumping into the St. Patrick's Day 8k, and a bunch more folks have chimed in from the comments that they'll be training with us.  I already feel the group motivation working wonders for me; I went on a short run on Saturday and I'm getting ready to dive into day one "Stretch and Strength" with a bit of the 30 Day Shred!

How did you do this past week?  Are you ready for the official first week of our training program?

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