Running Gear & Gadgets

In my previous post Getting into the Spirit of Running I mentioned a few items I have been using as part of my running gear. Making a commitment towards running I wanted to make sure I had the tools I needed to run which for some might simply be a pair of Sneakers. My good friend Gabriel Pagan who also ran and completed the New York Marathon started suggesting items that would make my run more pleasant.

Most of the items I have listed here are recommendations from Gabo and I have also included Gabo’s list of items since he is a very disciplined runner­­ and I only re-started running a few months ago.

Measuring Progress

Many people have a Smartphone either an iPhone or Droid device. Gabo recommended the application Runkeeper which uses your Phone’s GPS to measure the progress you had while running. The application also helps you set a music playlist that gets activated once you start the app. It also has the ability to track progress for other activities as Walking, Cross Country Skiing, Cycling, and a few others.

The Runkeeper application does give me a good idea of how I ran and the progress I made on each activity but mainly it helps me compete against myself. The real value out of the application is that every day I push myself a bit harder to meet my previous goal or over exceed it. Example if I ran 7 miles in an hour and 25 minutes I will push myself to either run a bit more or shave a few minutes off my 7 mile run.

Foot Gear

Running Shoes

I was using a pair of Conventional Running shoes which where really not helping with the Knee pain I was getting while running. After talking it over with Gabriel and doing my research I went ahead and bought myself a pair of Vibram Fivefingers Mens KomodoSport LS (affiliate link)  that are the closest thing from running barefoot.

Running barefoot has a lot of benefits and I will be writing a post over at Veglatino on the subject with more details. I followed the instructions on not running every day when getting use to the Vibram Fivefingers Shoes in a way to condition your feet. I have also changed the way I run and when I don’t stride properly I get instant feedback from my feet letting me know that I need to correct it.

What we know as conventional running shoes will compensate for poor running skills. If you are not stepping correctly you might not feel it at the moment but over time you might end up with an injury or two. Since I have been running with the Vibram I have see how my knee has not been bothering me as much. On the other side the first month or two of using them your feet will be getting accustomed and might feel sore. Similar to when you work out your biceps and you are a bit sore from the training.

Running Socks

Since you can use regular socks with the Vibram Shoes based on Gabriel’s recommendation I went ahead and got me a pair of Injinji socks that has a patented 5 toe seamless design. As claimed by Injiji this design helps with proper toe alignment, natural feel, protection from blisters and hotspots, and superior moisture management that is critical when you live in a humid environment. I ran with my Vibram’s without socks until I got my socks a bit more than two weeks ago and I can say these socks are a good option to complement your Vibram Shoes with. They give you a bit more padding and even help you with putting on your Vibram Sneakers.

Compression Shirts and Underwear

I was lucky enough to buy some Compression shirts and underwear from the Marshall’s Store next to my house. I use the UnderArmour brand, which I am a fan of their products, not so much a fan of their customer service since they seem to ignore loyal customers as myself. I wanted to give you more details on the compression Items I got but for some reason Under Armour does not feel that my blog reflects their brand appropriately.

Gabriel’s recommendations

I have modified my “stuff” a lot over the past few months. Heres is the latest version.

  • I alternate two pairs of Saucony Kinvaras (example: Saucony Men’s ProGrid Kinvara Running Shoe ← Affiliate link). Love them to bits. They are very lightweight and while they are not really zero drop they are fairly close. I used to run in flats or volleyball shoes when I was in college so these types of shoes work well for me. I tried some with a lot of bounce but they messed up my knees real bad. The Kinvaras are great. I brush them every once in a while and thats it. When I finish running I take the insole out so they dry faster with less icky smell.
  • I use different types of Injinji socks, usually midweight. For long runs (10+ miles) I use their lightest sock and a compression sock. I found that my recovery times are so much faster if I use a compression sock, I started to wear them on longer runs. Very happy with them.
  • I also use compression underwear and compression shirts on longer runs. I sweat a lot (My before/after run weight difference can be as high as 9 pounds!) and all that sweat promotes chaffing all over the place. I wear regular running shorts and shirts on top. Since I use compression underwear, I cut up the underwear thingie of my running shorts. I use lightweight clothes.
  • I track most of my runs with my EVO 4G and Runkeeper. I have used other apps but Runkeeper is my favorite. It has some problems but works well enough for me. I got an iPod Nano for Christmas so I am taking it on some runs. Battery life is an issue on the EVO for long runs so the Nano is a good choice. Its also lighter. I put the EVO in a cut up Ziploc bag inside an arm band. The Ziploc makes sure absolutely no moisture gets into the EVO, not even rain! I need to figure out how to protect the Nano. Right now I run with it on a wristband but it gets too wet. I’ll come up with something. There is no way that I know of moving run data from Runkeeper to Nike+ (the Nano tracker) or viceversa so right now I’m doing it manually. Might be a fun programming project one of these days.
  • I get sunburned easily and thats no fun so I wear a cap. Vendors and partners are always giving caps away so I have plenty supply. Coppertone sports sunblock is good enough. In the summer I put some zinc oxide on my nose. I don’t take any chances with the sun!
  • Long runs means dehydration avoidance. I run with an Amphipod Full Tilt Velocity belt. I freeze the bottle with coconut water or Gatorade (I prefer coconut water Gatorade’s sodium scares me a little) the night before the run. Thats enough for most runs. Longer runs I do in a 5 mile circle and I stash bottles at different points in the route to replenish the Amphipod. I look ridiculous those first few miles running with a couple of bottles in my hand but I don’t care.

  • I got used to running without music or podcasts so I just listen to the Runkeeper or Nike+ feedback. Sometimes I do listen to music or longer podcasts. I use cheap $10 earbuds, they work well for a couple of months then I discard them. I use my Jaybird Freedom Stereo Bluetooth Earbuds daily as my regular bluetooth headset for my phone and laptop but sometimes I take them if I’m going to run in the middle of the day, in case a client calls and I have to take the call.

What running gear or Items do you use to make your runs more pleasant and keep you in the spirit of running?