One of the great things about running is that it is such a minimalist sport — all you need is a pair of shoes and place to run. (Of course, if you are a barefoot runner, all you need is a place to run). However, there’s a lots of gear which, if not completely essentially is really helpful, and besides, what fun is a hobby it you can’t collect a bunch of cool toys? Here’s some of my favorite running stuff:
Brook’s Adrenaline: These might be the sort of over-built, heel-striking shoes that Born to Run and other minimalist enthusiasts rail against, but I’ve been running in them for years and survived 2 marathons and 7 half’s in them. I’d like to transition to more minimal footwear, but until the NB Minumus comes out in wide, I’ll stick to something I know.
Vibram Bikilas: Those funny looking toe shoes you’ve probably stared at. I’ve been trying to work some barefoot running into my routine, but living in NYC means there’s no way in hell I’m heading out the door in actual bare-feet. I love these things, but last time I did too much too fast and blew out my achilles. Taking things more cautiously this time around.
CW-X Tights: Or as I call them, my “super-hero tights.” These things just feel awesome when you put them on, and I’ve worn them in everything from chilly autumn days to sub-zero winter temperatures.
Craft Jacket: I bought this years ago during Jack Rabbit’s big “Black Friday Sale” (the only sale that can tempt me into shopping that day), and it just seems to work for everything: foggy mornings, cold winter days, driving snow-storms.
Saucony Gloves: Another item that seems to fit any weather condition. They’ve also got a little LED light for safty after dark, and I just find the whole “it’s a glove and and mitten!” thing awesome.
B.O.B. Running Stroller: The other day, I was running in Prospect Park and some lady passing me turned to her friend and said, “they always have this bee-oh-bee stroller.” That’s simply because it its pretty much the only real running stroller out there. 90% of them are for light jogging and short distances; if you want to run 5, 6 or 13 miles with a jogging stroller, you want bicycle-style tires, shock-absorbers, and a fixed front wheel. This thing is a beast to steer around the grocery store, so its pretty much a specialty item, but I did most of my marathon training while pushing Nat in this. I love taking him out for a long run, so this is one of my post prized possessions.
Forerunner 205 GPS: This is pretty much a toy, since its not necessary, but it certainly is cool and useful. I usually know where I’m headed, but it is nice to be able to wander around Brooklyn and know how far I’ve gone. I’m not a hard-core trainer, but its also good to know if I’ve started out too fast or too slow. But really, I just like being able to look at the maps when I get back home, ’cause their neat.
Columbia Mobex XL Backpack: My big Christmas present this year. I’ve been getting in a lot of my runs on the way home from work, and this pack is fantastic. It holds a lot of stuff, is super light weight, and the straps adjust nice and tight so it doesn’t bounce around at all. Its got a built in water-bottle holster, and a large waist-pouch for my cell-phone, camera, and gels. I’ve done up to 17 miles with it lightly packed, and 15 once with my net-book, though I don’t recommend the later.
North Face Hydration Pack: When doing a 20 mile marathon training run in New York City’s August heat, this goes from being “nice to have” to “necessary.” It’s easy to refill, has a waist-belt that keeps it from bouncing, plus a pocket to hold cash and keys (and even a paper-back book, if you cram it in).
Nathan Quickdraw Plus: You know you’re a long distance runner when you own more than one “hydration system” and you get excited by all of them. When I’m not going far enough to need the pack, but going too far to not take water, or just don’t want to take an entire back-pack, this is perfect. Besides, since hand-helds seem to be the hydration option of choice among ultra-runners, it makes me feel a little bad-ass.
Nuun Electrolyte Pellets: Last summer I wanted to ditch Gatorade and all the other high-fructose laced electrolyte drinks, and I found Nuun. Its an effervescent tablet you drop into your water, and contains no sugar or artificial crap, just a touch of natural flavoring and electrolytes. No sugar means you need to take your own source of fuel, but I prefer that anyways, since HFCS is a terrible source of fuel anyway.