We runners know that our sport is more than just putting one foot in front of the other… These days there is a vast array of different gadgets, gizmos, equipment and kit that can help take our running to the next level, or at least make it an enjoyable and fuss-free experience. I thought I would share in this blog post 10 essential things that I can’t do without as a runner!
1. Asics Cumulus Shoes
Having been a runner for a good number of years, I have tried various different running shoe brands. The one that really feels like it was made with my feet in mind are the Asics Cumulus range. These were recommended to me by my physiotherapist who helped me recover from a range of overuse injuries in the past. I used to develop knee problems and battled with posterior tibial tendonitis for a long time. He examined my running style and established that I was not wearing the right type of shoes for my gait. The Cumulus range is perfect for mild overpronators like me and it has plenty of support and cushioning for my longer runs. I don’t want to jinx it, but I have never had the same injuries again after switching to the Cumulus range.
Always consult with an expert when buying your first running shoes or if thinking about switching to a new type – we are all different in terms of our gait, running style, the type of running we do, and our build, so choosing the right pair for you is like choosing a partner for life!
2. Trigger Point Grid Foamroller
I foamroll every day using my Trigger Point Grid foamroller. Religiously. Apart from finding the perfect pair of running shoes, myofascial massage has made the single biggest difference to my running. The key benefit of foamrolling is that it helps loosen up my sore muscles and tight joints after my runs and gym workouts. This helps with my recovery and prevents the connective tissue around my muscles becoming too tight or restricted, paving the way to injury. I often foamroll before exercising, too, to get my body ready for the session, especially in the morning when I tend to feel a bit stiffer.
Foamrolling doesn’t need to be an ardruous task – I often do it whilst watching Netflix for about 15 minutes at a time (straight after my run or in the evenings), so I don’t have to schedule ‘extra time’ for it.
3. Polar sports watch
I have been using my Polar M430 sports watch since the summer of 2017 and I have never looked back since! This watch gives me all the stats I want to see from calories burnt to cadence to average heart rate to distance and time spent running. In addition, I can also create individual training sessions or get a complete training plan using the Polar website. My favourite feature is the in-built heart rate monitor which tells me at the end which heart rate zones I spent time in during my runs. Upon synching my running data into the Polar Flow app on my mobile phone, it will also suggest a recovery timeframe until my next run, based on how taxing my last session has been (my half marathons are usually classed as ‘extreme’). Obviously, it is always good to listen to your body but if you are like me, my ego is usually ready for the next workout before my body is so it is quite handy to have a watch like this to remind me of the importance of proper rest.
4. Dr Organic lip balm
I run all year around and winters can be especially harsh to my skin! My lips gets dry and chapped very quickly so I try to remedy this by applying a generous amount of lip balm before heading out for my next run. I love my Dr Organic lip balm because it is made of all natural ingredients and it keeps my lips soft and moist only after a few applications. My favourite flavour is the coconut one – it feels luxurious as I smear it on! You can find this brand in most Holland & Barrett stores.
5. Optiat Coffee Scrub
Getting up for early morning runs can be a bit of a challenge, especially before the sun is up. Fortunately, I have found a very pleasant way to wake myself up and get ready for running. A good cup of coffee always works, but luckily, I have discovered another way to enjoy my favourite beverage in the mornings… I discovered Optiat and their refreshing scrubs when I attended the Vegfest event in London last autumn. Their scrubs are made from repurposed used coffee grounds collected from cafes and restaurants in London. My favourite scent is ‘Potent Peppermint’ which is enriched with sea salt, shea butter, almond, peppermint, eucalyptus and orange peel oil. As soon as I smear it on my face, my skin begins to tingle and it feels like I’m walking into cool sea-breeze. I can’t imagine a more refreshing way to start my day!
6. Vivolife ‘Perform’ protein powder
As a seasoned runner, I have learnt to appreciate the importance of recovery and post-workout nutrition. I find that I bounce back quicker from harder workouts and races if I consume a generous serving of protein after my sessions. As we know, protein helps promote muscle repair (and growth) so it is best to consume a protein rich snack or meal within one hour of finishing exercise. I came across Vivolife and its ‘Perform’ protein powder range at the aforementioned Vegfest event last year. I am totally hooked! Their powders taste delicious without the usual artificial and sickeningly sweet after-taste that you will find in most similar products. They have no nasties. They dissolve easily in water or milk. Most importantly, they have been designed with athletes in mind – no matter what flavour you choose (Madagascan Vanilla, Raw Cacao, Salted Maca Caramel or Acai and Blueberry), you will get a generous 25g protein per serving, lots of recovery boosting ingredients, and all the essential amino acids. The best thing? It’s 100% vegan!
7. Apple iPod
This is an odd one…I am probably one of those few people left who still haven’t swapped their iPods to iPhones to store their music on. I can’t help it – I just love this cute Nano which is the perfect size to clip onto my running pants or slide into my pocket during my runs, with the ability to store hours’ worth of music to keep me entertained. I have always found mobile phones a bit too heavy and chunky to bring along to my runs so I am not sure why this brilliant little product has been discontinued?
8. Blue inhaler
Although I am not an asthma-sufferer, I do tend to get wheezy when running outdoors on colder days or at times when pollution levels are higher than normal. Thankfully, by taking one or two whiffs from my trusty blue inhaler before my runs, I can prevent getting tight chested and run comfortably without any breathing problems.
9. Apple iPhone
Although I usually do not carry my phone with me on my runs, I do make an exception when I am exploring a new route. No matter how much I love a good solo adventure, I have to admit that I have the tendency to get lost when in unfamiliar territory…Having google maps or the ability to call for help always gives me some peace of mind. (I may have had to call my Hubby a couple of times in the past to come to my rescue…)
Sometimes I like to finish my run with a photo to capture the experience and share on my Instagram page. The camera and the editing tools on my iPhone are just perfect for this, without the need to carry any fancy and heavy equipment. My handy little Gorillapod is very lightweight and has flexible, wrappable legs which allow me to secure my iPhone camera almost anywhere – I can tie it around a tree branch or a fence, or simply use it as a mini-tripod on top of a bin or a bench.
This has been the perfect tool to capture me ‘in action’ and to aid my rather clumsy attempts at the perfect running selfie.
What is in your running kit? Any ‘weird and wonderful’ items you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments.