Whilst going out for a run is one of the easiest exercises to take part in with minimal kit needed, as with all undertakings there's a plethora of spangly items available all selling themselves as 'essential'.
Since Iain and I have been running (with varying levels of intensity) for a few years now, we thought we'd each share our Top 5 Running Gear choices that we've had actual experience of rather than a wish-list of top-of-the-range stuff. Well-fitting trainers are a given so we haven't included these in our lists. I had new trainers fitted by Run And Become near Victoria, London last week and was impressed by their service. I'm sure everyone will be thrilled to hear about my new trainers when I start wearing them this week...
Alison's Top 5 Running Gear:
- Good sports bra - Moving Comfort Juno - I bought this last week and it's the best sports bra I've worn in that nothing moves yet I can still breathe. It'd be great if Garmin made a good bra incorporating their heart rate sensor but that seemingly obvious line extension/brand collaboration doesn't exist. Come on Garmin, it would be much more comfortable for the ladies!
- Device to tell you what to do/how you're doing - Garmin Forerunner 410 - it's much much easier to obey the device than my occasionally weak will! Knowing exactly how far I've gone and have left to go takes all the guesswork and fudging out of training and a Garmin does this really well. I used to use Nike+ and an iPod Nano and revelled in hearing Paula Radcliffe tell me over my headphones that I'd done my furthest run yet. It was fantastic motivation.
- Good tunes - Above & Beyond Group Therapy Podcasts - I love listening to Trance music whilst running and these podcasts are 2-hours of good music arranged like a radio show with shout-outs to ABGT fans ... maybe I'll get one sometime (hint hint).
- Waterproof top - Gore Essential - Acquired in a sale at Sweatshop in 2006 this lightweight top keeps the rain off unless it's torrential and stops the wind from cutting right through. Worn over just one layer underneath works well enough even on cold days. Downside is that it lacks usefully-sized pockets.
- Way to carry water and gels - Camelbak - I don't like running with a water bottle in my hand and waist belts irritatingly ride up from ladyhips to waist so when I started to use Emily's running Camelbak it was something of a revelation. I can carry water, GGG and when it comes to the marathon itself, my phone, keys and painkillers too. I'm considering purchasing one I can use a larger bladder in though as I don't think a litre of water is enough for long training runs.
- Running hat - Nike Daybreak - keeps the sun out of my eyes and the rain from pouring down my forehead. Dries quickly and can be washed in the machine. A winter version made of wool would be ideal right now. Instead I make do with an old fleece beanie.
- Socks - Smart Wool Womens PhD Running Mini - made from merino wool for warmth and sweat-wicking these are the best running socks I've tried and I now have three of the same pairs and rotate them. Wool socks in my experience keep my feet the driest and therefore, fingers crossed, less blister-prone.
- Tights - Sugoi MidZero - frustrated by constant cold ankles and having to roll the waistband over twice (giving me a stomach ache) to shorten the rise of men's running tights I searched fruitlessly for the holy grail of running tights made for the above-average height woman. They do not exist. Run And Become suggested these tights and they're so snug there's no way they can get up off my ankles to create a gap and grip my waist tightly so there's no 'rapper's crotch' either. They seem to work, I just hope they don't loosen up too much after repeated washing... we shall see. Another plea to Nike, Brooks, Sugoi, Odlo, Gore, Asics, Adidas, New Balance, Mizuno, Ronhill etc. - can somebody please address the needs of tall, slim women runners. The evidence of our frustration is all over the WWW!
- Tops - Kalenji, Nike - fact: cotton t-shirts soak up sweat and rub. We bought a few cheap synthetic short-sleeve tops from the Kalenji brand at Decathlon and five years later they're still going strong. Now it's cold I'm wearing a Nike long-sleeve base-layer running top and miraculously the sleeves are long-enough for me and it's keeping my arms warm underneath my Gore top (above). The latest and greatest base layers are made from merino wool but I'll wear my current tops out first before investing again.
- Gloves - they're essential on a cold day to stop your hands from going numb and red and I've been quite happily using my old convertible gloves bought for Duke of Edinburgh Award training when I was at school. I can start out a run with toasty mittens and then when I get warmed up, flipping the end up means I keep my knuckles warm but I don't feel overheated. These gloves are similar.