Since I’ve owned up to finally calling myself a runner, I’ve run four half marathons, multiple obstacle courses, and countless 10k and 5k races. I’m pretty opinionated and set in my ways, and will not run without what I consider essentials. Before I get into my review on gear, I want to put out a disclaimer about my pace and body type. I’m 5’6″ 130lbs and curvy, meaning I’m not tall and lean like some of the gazelle runners I see out there. I’m also 39 years old (but in better shape now than I was in my 20s). I run about a 10 min/mile on a good day and on longer distance runs I slow it down to about an 11 min/mile (or more if it’s hot or there are hills). That being said, I’m not an elite runner. Those gazelles know what they’re doing and don’t need my opinion. This is for everyone else. The majority of us out there running just because. This is for you.
I’m not married to a brand. I get fitted every year for new running shoes and I highly recommend anyone do the same. Foot comfort is important! Be honest with the guys at the specialty stores about your foot problems whether they be bunions, low arches, etc. This year I’m currently in a pair of New Balance for street/gym running, but I have a separate pair of Asics for trail running (more tread, less bulk). I also replace my street runner insoles with Doctor Scholls active gel insoles for added comfort (no matter how expensive my running shoes are, these always feel better).
I don’t skimp on socks either. Remember, foot comfort is important! I use Experia (Thorlo) Multi-activity Micro Mini Crew socks. They’re lightweight and thin but have extra padding under the ball and heel.
I always wear capri length running pants and racer-back tank tops. I found some Champion tanks at Target a few years ago and refuse to wear anything else (so I really hope they last). I’ve started to buy more colorful pants, maybe even obnoxiously gaudy pants…just for fun. Why not?
Bra- I’m busty so I really need to lock those girls down while I run. This is where I will spend any amount of money to not be sore after a long run. I love Moving Comfort Maia sports bra, which is built like a two-in-one with an under-wire. It’s comfortable, I promise. However, since it’s not padded and I typically only run races when it’s colder, I also wear silicone nipple pasties during races. Not kidding! I don’t need them for warmth, I just wear them so people don’t…stare. My running partner recommends moisture wicking underwear, and I wish I had some when we did our last mud race. Just gross…
“Cold” Weather Protection
In Houston (or maybe the south in general), our running season is from October to February. It doesn’t really get cold down here but it does get “cold.” For those extra “cold” races (~40s and ~50s) I wear a full zip light weight jacket that I can easily take off and tie around my waist while running. For traveling I have a nice Brooks windbreaker that rolls up into a tiny ball. It’s not very warm but perfect for travel. I wore it while running on a cruise ship somewhere off the west coast of Scotland and it was warm enough.
If I think the sun is going to be on my face for long, I typically wear a running visor (also good for keeping sweat out of eyes). If I do a night race or just a 5k, I like to wear a headband. Recently I’ve enjoyed the quirky quotes (or graphics) on the Hippie Runner headbands. True story: I once ran a race in Las Vegas wearing an 80’s prom dress and a “princess crown” headband. That was fun…
I never run without my Spi-belt. Where else would I put my phone…my bra? No, I save that secret space for chapstick (SPF). I do run with an iPhone because it is compatible with my Garmin Forerunner 220 (or 235) and LiveTrack. Anyway, this expanding zipper pouch is perfect for my iPhone and car key. I’ve tried other brands but I prefer this one specifically. For earbuds, I am loyal to A-Jays Four in-ear noise reducing earbuds with 3 buttons on the chord (volume up, skip song, volume down).
Road ID has some nice products for identifying you, should you ever become incapacitated (it happens!). I use the shoe tag and made sure to put two emergency contact numbers on it (and blood type) in case of emergency. For obstacle races I also recommend a long sleeve moisture wicking shirt to protect from scrapes. My running partner keeps a Viva paper towel in her Spi-belt for blowing her nose. Please consider this method instead of snot rockets. I mean really…
I don’t run with my GoPro, but I know plenty of people who do. Word on the street is the chest mount is the best for obstacle/mud races. Other mounts would be the hand-held (why?) and head mount (it’ll slip off, trust me).