Archive for the ‘ Gear & Gadgets ’ Category

Fun New Gadget: Garmin Forerunner 10

watch-pink-glow My new favorite running gadget is a gift I received for Christmas, a Garmin Forerunner 10. Any race I enter I see people of all shapes, sizes and speeds checking their shiny sports watches as they toe the line. Able to calibrate a whole multitude of stats, many runners have turned to wrist ornamentation to track their speeds, paces, mileage, and calories. These stats can then be uploaded to your computer so runners are able to compare their various runs and track goals they have set. Many of the sites linked to gadgets such as the Garmin watch also double as social media sites so runners are able to share their successes and challenges.

There are a whole range of tools designed with a similar purpose in mind. These also range in price from the Nike+ iPod Sports Kit which is set at $28.95 to ones equipped with things like GPS, barometer, and thermometer that run around $500. My new Garmin lands nicely in the middle in both price and features providing me with exactly enough information that I’m not inundated, but am given enough that I can track key stats to monitor my goals and progress. Also, it’s lightweight, easy to use, and a fun pink color (it also comes in bright green and black). It’s a great way to get excited about runs even when the winter weather is floating around freezing. πŸ™‚

Happy running!

 

Gifts for the Runner in Your Life

Β The holidays are a great time to find that special gift for the runner in your life. But what to get them? Gift cards are perfect for runners to be able to pick out exactly what kind of gear they want, because, let’s be honest, you probably don’t want to grab clothes or shoes without knowing exactly what your runner is comfortable wearing, but below are a few favorites that fit any runner.

Road ID – This is one of my favorite running accessories. Road IDs come in bracelets, necklaces, shoe tags and in various materials. Mine is fabric and although it’s a bracelet I often wear it looped through my shoelaces. Your name, address, and important numbers or allergies can be inscribed on the tag. Even if you always run on populated roads in daylight, there’s always that unaccounted for X factor that makes this a great running addition for that extra peace of mind.

Running jewelry – There are a great number of necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry items that any runner would love. They vary in style and price to suit a wide range of tastes. My favorite place to buy unique gifts such as this is Etsy.com.

 

 

Β Β  Race shirt quilt – If you’re not particularly crafty or don’t have access, or the time, to sew one yourself, there are several companies that offer their services. After so many races, runners either have closets filled with t-shirts that probably remain unworn for most of the year or they have to choose their favorites and donate or give away the others. This is a perfect way to save those shirts and have something a runner can continue to enjoy for years to come.

 

 

Stick Traveler Roller Massager – I would love to have one of these for those pesky knots in my calves that aren’t as easy to get out with a larger roller. These are a great way to get out knots, increase blood flow, and improve flexibility.

 

 

 

 

Β Trigger Point Roller – I have one of these and absolutely love it. I used to have one of the old school foam rollers and it just wasn’t enough support and quickly bowed in the middle after a few weeks of use. This roller is way more durable. I’ve had it for a couple of years and it looks the same as the day I got it. The hard plastic interior is embraced by padding on the outside that are meant to mimic hands and fingers, massaging those aching muscles and tight ligaments with perfect pressure. I used to deal with IT band pain and by using this roller every day, it quickly disappeared – when nothing else helped!

 

 

Happy running! πŸ™‚

Summer Running – Beating the Heat, Part II, Gear

Part of staying cool during summer runs is dressing right. My running gear has morphed through the years (and will probably continue to as running gear continues to change and improve) both through the new products that come out/that I discover and my knowledge of what gear works best for my body when I run. Aside from the water bottles/hydration belts that I’ll comment on below, I could easily see myself becoming one of the women who wears their workout gear to Starbucks instead of just during a workout simply because my running wardrobe is that comfortable.

Head to toe (including accessories, minus undergarments) here’s a list of my favorite summer running gear:

Β  Nike Zoom Vomero 6 – I’ve tried several different types of shoes and this is the shoe that I’ve found works best for my gait – I supinate, ie. my foot tends to roll out when I run. The Vomero is designed for us supinators and has extra support on the outside to keep me injury free.

Β  Smartwool Lightweight Socks – I am in love with all things Smartwool. As a runner you quickly realize the difference and importance of having socks that keep your feet cool, comfortable, cushioned, and blister-free. There are a lot of running socks out there each one promising you the best comfort, but I’ve always gone to Smartwool simply because I’ve never had any issues with them. Long runs, in the heat, pounding asphalt, can really put your socks to the test and my feet have come through happy and blister-free.

Β  Nike Women’s Running Shorts – These shorts have great wicking material that keep the sweat away. They’re loose enough to not be baggy but give plenty freedom of movement. They also come with built in pockets which for me is a must as I often drive to my favorite shady trails to run and need a place to store a car key and a gel pack.

 

Β  Nike Fast Pace Women’s Running Tank Tops – I just discovered these shirts this year and love, love, love them! It’s hard for me to find running tank tops that are wicking and not super tight and these fit the bill perfectly. Not only do they keep the sweat away, but they hang loosely, not baggy, and are longer than a typical women’s tank top. Not to mention I love wearing bright colors and these come in a variety of cheerful (Hey, look there’s a runner!) hues.

Β  Sweaty Bands – It’s important to keep my hair out of my face as I run. I tend to sweat, a lot, especially in the heat and humidity of summer, and need something that will not only hold my hair back but will stay securely in place so I can focus on my run instead of fixing my hair every two miles. I’d heard great things about Sweaty Bands and ordered one to see if they were worth all the fuss. They are. I have a few now that I rotate through and they’re great. They can be also be rinsed in a sink, but I don’t put them in the washer as they tend to get stiff when they dry.

Β  Nathan Sprint Water Bottle – So here’s my disclaimer for these last two items: I am horrible when it comes to drinking and running unless I’m in a race. I drink water non-stop whenever I’m not running and while I’m well hydrated, I should drink more on my runs, especially in the heat. To confess even further whenever I’m doing a long run in the heat I make my girlfriend ride her bike and drink her water. Ha! It’s ridiculous. That being said, this water bottle and the hydration belt below are the two items I plan on buying this season. First, Nathan makes great products for runners and from the ones I’ve looked at in the store, this seems to fit my hand the best without being too constricting or hot. Best for runs when you don’t need multiple water bottles.

Β  Fuelbelt Hydration Belt – I tried this belt on recently and think it will work perfectly for my long summer runs. The breathable, padding makes it fit comfortably on my waist without moving around and chafing. It also has a removable race pocket that’s perfect for keys, cash, and gel packets. Fuelbelt also makes a four-bottle option as well.

 

 

 

Happy running! πŸ˜€

Are Newtons the Next Running Craze?

Β Β  I have a confession to make. I’m a sucker when it comes to neon workout gear. So when I saw the latest issue of Runner’s World and its article on Newtons running shoes with all the glossy, brightly colored photos of brand spanking new shoes, I was a goner. Utterly. Hopelessly. Done for. I am that person that advertisers hope to attract. The raccoons of the human race. The ones that see something bright and shiny and must have it. Ok, maybe I’m not that bad, but that was my initial reaction. And that coupled with my interest and intrigue with the concept of minimalist running, made me want to read all about Danny Abshire and his neon shoes.

Without reiterating the entire article, Abshire wanted to make a shoe that would “Make you run like you were born to run” (a slogan on the Newton website). After years of research and development, Abshire made the latest addition to the Newton family of shoes, one that has a lower heel-to-toe drop that promotes a forefoot strike. Ideally, one should run on her forefoot not her heel which, developed properly, will make you more efficient and less prone to injury.

One of the problems of transitioning from a cushioned shoe to a minimalist one (be it a pair of Vibrams or Newtons) is that users are often still running with the same gait as before and therefore not running more naturally and still run the risk of injury. But if a shoe can almost force your gait to change, like the Newton heel drop design, then maybe that’s a good thing. I’m not convinced one way or the other in regards to minimalist shoes vs. more cushioned running shoes, but I do think that Newtons are going in the right direction. Maybe my next pair of running shoes will be a pair of neon Newtons. πŸ˜€

Happy running!

 

 

Fun with Yaktrax

  I had a great weekend! I got a chance to take my new Yaktrax out for a trial run. So much fun! πŸ™‚

Yaktrax are well, exactly like you see in the picture, steel coils attached to a rubber frame that fits snugly over your shoes. They’re designed to provide extra traction on ice and packed snow. Not just for running, they also are ideal for walking and hiking.

We had just gotten a influx of snow on Saturday, so Sunday, once I knew the snow had been packed down a little, I strapped on my Yaktrax and headed out to my favorite nearby trail. The weather was beautiful and there were only a few other people out on the trail including a bunch of cross country skiers – so want to try that sometime!

I ran five miles although it didn’t seem far because I was enjoying it so much. It took a little while to get used to running on the snow as the terrain was uneven and my foot stride was different from normal because my feet would sink into the snow more so than during my typical asphalt runs. But once I got used to it, my pace picked up a bit.

I did see a couple other runners during my snow run who didn’t wear Yaktrax and seemed to be doing fine, although I didn’t stop to ask. πŸ™‚ I would recommend them to someone nervous about snow running or wanting a more sure footing when they headed outside for the day. Next up: trying them out on ice! πŸ˜€

Happy running!

Winter’s Here: Cold Weather Running Gear

  With the first snow already hammering the East Coast in October, I’m not optimistic when it comes to having a mild winter this year. It’s forced me to think about how I’m going to continue my outdoor running while staying warm and not falling on my tukhus. πŸ˜‰

Although there are many great cold weather running options, I’ve listed a few of my favorites. And while the items below are the clothes and I gear I favor, I always try to buy bright colors or, if that’s not possible, gear that has reflective strips is a good second choice. Cold weather almost always goes hand in hand with less daylight making it even more important to buy bright colors that are easy for motorists to spot.

 

Nike Element  – This lightweight jacket makes for a great transition jacket going from cold to colder. I like to switch over to a heavier Nike jacket that’s full zip and has thumb holes and pockets inside the sleeves that you can tuck your hands into once it dips below freezing. Not only do these jackets wick sweat, but they keep you warm while still having plenty of ventilation. The only downside is that they don’t cut wind as much as a wind-breaker type of running jacket would, but because I don’t live in a super cold area these other jackets work perfectly.

 

 

 

Nike Long Sleeved Dri Fit Shirt – I layer as needed when it starts to get cold and I love my dri fit shirts. They wick away sweat and keep me warm and comfortable during my run.

 

 

 

 

  Nike Women’s Running Tights – I have a couple pairs of running tights that are very similar. I prefer ones that have no zippers up the calves and a pocket to keep a car key or gel pack. Running tights are surprisingly warm so I’ve never layered anything like socks or skirts or shorts over them, although some women like to do this for either added warmth or because they feel more comfortable than just wearing curve-hugging tights alone.

 

 

 

 

SmartWool Running Socks – Wool running socks? You’ve got to be kidding, right? That’s exactly what I thought until I tried a pair. Now I wouldn’t try anything else. They keep my feet warm and blister free even during my long winter runs.

SmartWool Beanie – Once again SmartWool makes a great product that keeps me dry and wicks the sweat away. It is definitely worth spending a little extra money to get such a quality product.

 

  Stablicers & YakTrax – To be honest I’ve always wanted to try these over my running shoes to see how they work for me. However, anytime I would use them the snow is too deep and my shoes would get soaked in minutes. Maybe this will be the year. If so, I’ve heard that the Stablicers, although more money, are more comfortable and work better than the more commonly used YakTrax, so I’d invest in those first.

As for gloves, there are several pairs that look great, but I tend to go the cheaper route and buy the three packs of cheapo black gloves from Target and those have always gotten the job done for me. πŸ™‚

Hope you’ve gotten some good ideas. Happy running! πŸ˜€

 

New Shoes!

  I’m always interested in products that are interested in reducing, reusing and recycling as part of their product-making philosophy. For example, Toms Shoes donates a pair of shoes to a child who needs them for every pair you purchase. So cool!!!

This past week I found Sanuk and, more specifically, their Yoga Mat Sandals. They’re made out of recycled yoga mats and feel heavenly on my barking dogs after a long day of work. Sanuk is Thai for “fun” and combines funk with function (according to their website). They use innovative materials like yoga mats and indoor/outdoor carpeting. Crazy!

It makes me feel a little less hesitant to have retail therapy when I know I’m supporting a quality company. πŸ™‚

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