Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Running Essentials

Yesterday during my eight-mile run, I had plenty of time to think, and it came to mind all the clothing and gadgets it takes to make running comfortable. When I'm going for a long run, it often takes me a good 20-30 minutes to get dressed and prepared.  Here are my head-to-toe essentials; I stress that these are the things that work for me. Like everything else in life, running is personal, and there isn't a one-size-fits-all strategy.

1. Headband

I cannot run with hair in my face. I cannot. I actually cannot do much of anything with hair in my face, hence my overuse of hairspray on the anchor desk. I go for something simple, like these Goody ones, or sometimes a similar Nike version. I find that as long they have some sticky material and fit snugly, without being too tight, they work. You don't need anything expensive or fancy. Oh, and I save the Emi Jay-type for barre classes and running errands, not running miles. They tend not to stay well for high-impact exercises.

2. Sunglasses

Much like hair in my face, I can't do anything with sun in my eyes. Plus, it's not good for your eyes to go without sun protection. I got the above C9 by Champion pair at Target for less than $20. The important thing is that they stay put (i.e. don't fall off when you tilt your head down).

3. Sports bra

Since I don't have much to support in this area, I tend to focus more on comfort. I really like this C9 by Champion style, again, at Target. (I should be getting kick backs!) It's virtually seamless at the bottom; it doesn't have that thick band many sports bras have. That means more comfort and less sweat around your ribs! The material is really nice, too. As much as I like the convenience of tops with built-in sports bras, for running, even A- cup size people like me need a little more more support. (By the way, I see this one is on clearance on the Target website for $8.48!)

4. Flowy, sleeveless top

If a top is tight or fitted at the bottom, it tends to ride up as I run and it ends up bunched up around my waist. It's hot and annoying. To me, loose at the bottom is key. I have one of these Brooks Women's Distance Singlets and it's super comfortable.

5. Shorts

Unless it's really cold, (I live in Florida; that's rare.) I hardly ever run in pants. Getting hot while running in my Achilles' heel, and it's amazing how much heat pants can trap. The rule of thumb when running is to dress like it's about 20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside.

Just like with tops, when shorts ride up it's extremely annoying. The key is finding shorts that are long enough. I found a pair similar to the ones above at T.J. Maxx for half the price you would pay on the Brooks website or at a fancy running store. And, shocker, I also like the C9 by Champion shorts at Target. They're basically a copy of the very popular Nike Tempo Track shorts of which I own about a half dozen pairs. But I think the C9 version is more comfortable because they have more room, and when you have a little junk in the trunk, you need the extra room!

6. Compression calf sleeves

These adidas Recovery Compression Calf Sleeves have been a major game changer! I was struggling with shin splints, but after I started running in these, most of the pain went away. I was shocked. Apparently compression technology promotes circulation and stabilizes muscles. Of course ice is also really helpful!

7. Asics GEL-Kayano

I was a Nike-for-life person until about six years ago, when a salesman at Racquet & Jog in Tyler suggested I try Asics. I loved the Kayanos as soon as I tried them on. Last year, I went to a running store to have my form analyzed on a treadmill. They suggested I try the Asics Nimbus; I ran in those last year, but they weren't the same. I'm back to the Kayano 20- it's the 20th anniversary of the shoe. Still love them!

8. Tiger Balm

An old tried-and-true pain-relieving balm from my swimming days - It doesn't feel too hot or too cold on the skin and it lasts.

9. Foam roller

I've used a foam roller at the gym for awhile, but buying one was definitely worth it. I read recently it helps to foam roll muscles before you run, and that really does help. I also use it after I run and anytime my muscles feel sore or tight.

10. Energy Chews

When it comes to food, I'm a texture person, so I can't imagine eating Gu Energy Gel. I prefer the chews, including Honey StingerJelly Belly Sport Beans and Clif Shot Bloks. You really only need these on long runs to help replace carbs and electrolytes.

I would love to hear suggestions on what running gear has worked for you!


  1. Have you tried The Stick? I have a foam roller and tend to use The Stick more often on my IT bands and hamstrings. It's a great tool when I massage isn't possible.

  2. oh! I do love the stick!
    Glad you love the Honey Stinger chews! Yum yum!