running items i cannot live without

I am a “middle-of-the-pack” runner, but I still like to participate in races.  I’ll never win and I don’t care.  It is probably the only thing I will ever be able to say that about.  Over the years of training and participating in races, I’ve found the things that seem to work the best for me.  It took a LONG time and lots of false starts and painful moments and thoughts of “I wish I had ________!!” to learn what I needed and worked.  Hopefully this list will help at least someone avoid some unpleasant experiences.

Under Armour.  It is EXPENSIVE but it is awesome.  I only have like…three full-on running outfits but that’s all I need.  I bought these  after Tim convinced me that “technology” would allow me not to freeze in spandex.  He was right.  I wish I would have bought stock in the stuff – you can’t go wrong.  I haven’t purchased one thing I don’t like.  It lasts forever if you don’t put it in the dryer.  Tim now has a dryer-fear with any of my clothes…I don’t dry pants or long sleeved shirts because they tend to get shorter and shorter, which isn’t good for long limbs and I don’t dry any clothes related to running…if Tim does the laundry, nothing of mine is dried..even cotton t-shirts…

Body Glide.  After running many, many miles for many, many hours…places tend to get rubbed a bit raw, shall we say…and a hot shower after a long run turns into a painful, shocking experience.  I found this stuff after I finished a long run, hopped in the shower and then screamed in agony as the water hit my backside.  The tag of my shorts had rubbed the skin off a portion of my lower back.  After body glide…no more shower screaming.  It looks like they have all sorts of varieties out now…but the plain old original stuff works just fine.

Nike Running Socks.  Really…it can be any sock that wicks away the sweat from your feet.  My feet aren’t even wet when I take these off – even after a long run.  Yes, they are men’s socks and no, I don’t really care.  They do the job.  They don’t come in any other colors that I’ve found…but they’re comfortable and they aren’t down at your ankles.  I had some of those ankle style socks and ended up getting blisters on my Achilles because the back part of my shoe rubbed against my skin the entire run.  Not even body glide can save that…

Nike Dri-FIT Sports Bras.  I am EXTREMELY picky about these things…and if they don’t fit just right…I will never wear them.  Tim found these for me and hit the jackpot (yes, Tim, the man that can find better clothes for his wife than she can for herself…).  They are very comfortable…wick away sweat…very “supportive” and don’t cut into your sides.  I love them.

Clif Shot Bloks.  I tried the gels, gu’s, beans…and I didn’t like any of them.  The gu made me want to puke, quite honestly…it has the flavor and consistency of that disgusting fluoride treatment you got at the dentist as a kid in those big styrofoam containers that made you gag…I tried every flavor the dentist had and they were all awful.  The shot bloks are perfect and taste good and can last for miles if you want them to.  My favorites are cran-raz and strawberry.  The pina cola tastes like sunscreen to me…but other than that…good stuff.

RoadID. This is my “just in case.”  I’d like to think I would have the presence of mind to tell someone my name and where I live and who to call…but I’ve learned that it is very possible to be so delirious that those questions are like asking me what color socks was I wearing the first day of Kindergarten.  This little bracelet does all the talking for me and I can sit and continue to enjoy watching pink elephants climb trees.  It is a must on every long run.

Asics Gel Cumulus.  The most important thing I have learned is to buy the right shoes for your feet – no matter the cost.  Without the right shoe you’ll do more harm than good – not only to your feet but to the rest of your body.  Think about how many times your weight hits the ground with each foot…each step a shock wave…and without proper support you can end up with all sorts of non-fun injuries.  I bought these after visiting a running store that specializes in helping runners figure out how they run and what kind of pressure they put on their feet.  This is accomplished by having you run on a treadmill while they film and then you step on something that is similar to the new computerized Dr. Shoals thing in stores to help you find the right shoe insert. The salespeople at the store give you choices of shoes that will allow you to run as naturally as possible with as much support as you require.  I tried on three pairs of shoes and this one was the winner.  I haven’t bought anything else since.

A recovery drink for long runs.  I don’t have anything as a favorite…we are currently using Accelerade and it is pretty good but nothing to write home about.  Whenever protein is added it always makes the flavor a crap shoot…we currently have the orange flavor.  We’ve found it also works during our long runs to keep us hydrated and full of the stuff we need to keep moving forward.  It’s kind of chunky and hard to mix with a spoon…we put it in the blender and it seems to solve that problem.

Nathan Hydration Belt Speed 4.  I wouldn’t survive without this thing – quite literally.  Tim and I both have one.  In total it holds 40 ounces…which is PLENTY.  They are pretty comfortable and use velcro to attach instead of those plastic clip together things…which doesn’t keep the belt on very well while you run.  The velcro keeps everything nice and snug.  We use them on long runs and during races so we don’t haveto stop at the water stations.  There are also two pouches – one in front and one in back that hold all sorts of things…like shot bloks, chapstick, tissues…

Phedippidations podcast .  I came across this during my Chickamauga marathon training.  Steve Runner, the host, is goofy and strange sometimes…but it takes my mind of my current situation, which is usually painful.  He also recently read one of my stories – which was awesome.  I wrote about that here.  I download a few of his podcasts and throw them onto my ipod shuffle whenever we’re going to be running for awhile.  The podcasts are usually about an hour long and I think to myself, “after listening to one of these, we’re halfway done!”

A few other essentials…an ipod or mp3 player with podcasts and/or whatever music motivates you at the moment (my songs of choice change frequently…), earphones that don’t fall out (ear buds don’t work very well, for me…), chapstick, tissues if it’s cold out – because i REFUSE to do the whole farmer’s blow thing (i.e. close one nostril and blow out as hard as you can with the other one in the direction of the ground…and whatever comes out has nothing but gravity to catch it – yuck.).

And last but NEVER least: someone who will either support you 100% in your endeavor or run along beside you and share in your joy, agony, pain, suffering, sunrises, wildlife spottings, rain storms, things that just make you say “huh?” and anything  and everything else.  For me, that is Tim.  He is always there, right there beside me, stacking up the miles and I couldn’t be more grateful.

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