Saturday, May 3, 2014

Five Favorites -- Running Edition

As we enter race season (in which I plan to run five half marathons) and as I prepare to run my first race this weekend, I thought I'd do a Five Favorites -- Running Essentials Edition.

This is quite a lengthy Five Favorites post, however, as I crammed about 18,000 things into five categories: bear with me.

1. Shoes

First, the most important thing is a good shoe. And, a good shoe for one person is definitely not necessarily a good shoe for all people. Because I know what I like and what works for me, when I need a new pair of shoes, I simply head to Scheel's or just order online if I can find it somewhere else cheaper.

If you are new to running and/or don't yet know what works for you, I highly recommend hitting up a specialty running store (here in Des Moines that would be Fitness Sports or the Running Room). The salespeople at these stores will analyze how you run, look at other shoes you own (to check the wear and tear), and suggest a running shoe that will be best for you.

Currently, I'm running in Brooks PureCadence 2s, although I occasionally switch it up with my Asics GT 2000s, the shoe that I have used for the past several years (and have worn through several times over).

2. Clothing

After a good running shoe, the second most important thing is quality running clothes. I used to purchase expensive, quality brands (specifically Under Armor and Nike), but now ever since I have discovered Old Navy Activewear, that is really all that I buy. Seriously, their compression capris/tights are the absolute best: they don't fall down your booty as you trudge up hills, they're cute and flatter, and most importantly, they're thick enough to not show your goodies as you bend over to stretch.

Seriously, I cannot get enough of these workout clothes, and they're pretty much the only thing occupying space in my closet as we speak.

The only piece of clothing that I don't buy from Old Navy is socks. Because I am so blister-prone, I get special blister socks, and the ones that I like best are from Nike:


They're the only socks I trust for long runs.

Yet another essential clothing item is something for your head, something to wick away the sweat and, if you're like me, to keep the wispies out of your eyes. As I mentioned in one of my Five Favorites posts, I personally prefer Bondi Bands for this very purpose.

Bondi Bands stay put no matter how strenuous my workout is, they wick away the sweat no matter how humid the workout is, and as an added bonus, they keep my ears warm if needed.

Finally, a SPIbelt is an absolute must for long runs.

I look exactly like her as soon as I put my SPIbelt on.

Basically, a SPIbelt is a tiny little fanny pack that is quite expandable, perfect for holding my iPhone, a couple of GUs, some emergency Immodium, and whatever else I deem necessary the day of a long run.

3. Technology

First, while not absolutely necessary, I really enjoy running with GPS. I used to prefer my Garmin:

Pictured with my SPIbelt and yet another running essential, my motivational bracelet.

However, the watch is pretty bulky and makes my arm a bit sweaty, and I find that I'm constantly looking at it when it's so readily available. So, I decided to put it away for a while.

In its place, I've been using my favorite running app, iSmoothRun, instead. (I previously mentioned this particular app in a Five Favorites post a few weeks ago.)

I like that the app is customizable: I can have Carmen (the Garmin voice) talk to me according to time or distance (I have her set to notify me at each mile), I can have her tell me when to run vs. walk according to the Galloway method, I can have her give me a warm-up and/or a cool down, etc. And, it's more accurate than older versions of other running apps.

In addition to a good form of GPS, a quality playlist is yet another technological item on my running essentials list. I've mentioned it a few times, but inspirational songs as well as songs that remind me of friends and family are very important motivational tools for me.

4. Drugstore Items

There are three things that I always make sure I have on hand prior to any long run and, especially, big races: Vaseline (as previously discussed in a Three Thanks post), Immodium, and Ibuprofen.

Vaseline is a super-cheap version of Body Glide and is imperative in preventing chafing. I personally slather that crap all over my feet (arches and heels), my boobs (since I chafe so badly there that it looks like I have implant scars), and my inner arms (since they rub my tank-top seams, apparently).

I always take two Immodium prior to racing, regardless of how my tummy feels. And, I always carry a couple more in my SPIbelt, as I want to do everything I can to prevent Bridesmaids-ing in the middle of a run.


Finally, I take two Ibuprofen prior to running, just to ward off the stabbing pain that I just know my kneecaps are going to be inflicting on my calves in the middle of the run. (I also know that this is generally a discouraged practice, but whatever: it works for me.)

5. Fuel

One of the best parts of running long distances is the fact that it's not only socially acceptable but also strongly encouraged that you eat during your workout. Apparently the body needs some quick and dirty energy or something.

Prior to starting this Whole30 / Paleo lifestyle, my mid-race fuel was GU:


Essentially, it's a packet of carbohydrates, amino acids, electrolytes, and caffeine, all of which form the consistency of hair gel. You're supposed to take a shot of GU 15 minutes before the workout and then every 45 minutes during the workout.

My pre-Paleo fuel also included Twizzlers, gummy bears, and sports beans (Jelly Bellies) -- anything to fill my body with sugar.

Now that I'm trying to eat a wholly clean, unprocessed diet, however, I have had to rethink my fuel. Target makes a great brand of clean fruits snacks (that I discussed on a previous Five Favorites post), and I've also found some pouches of baby food that should work well.

Expect an update on that next week.

What are your "must-haves" for long runs and races?

Find previous "Five Favorites" here:

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