I have been trying to be more balanced. While I’m still a bit inconsistent, I’ve picked up running for my physical and mental well-being. It’s been over a year now, as I ran the local 4th of July race for the second consecutive year (non-competitively). I was able to run year round after purchasing a treadmill around New Years and avoiding runs in the winter due to asthma and cold temps which would kill my breathing.
Now, I try to run once every two-to-three days and I often do at least one longer run on weekends. It really helps me manage stress personally and professionally. As of now, my typical run is between three and four miles, but my weekend run(s) are often between five and six. I recently was able to do a ten mile run on a trail and was incredibly pleased, yet totally exhausted.
I enjoy it because it’s a great way to disconnect from the world and relax. It’s nice to have a hobby outside of sitting in front of a screen. I love running outdoors and getting some fresh air. I continue to gradually improve my running (pace and distance) while fully noting that many of my friends run more and better than me. In reality, I’m doing this for me and I’m glad I’m making this a priority for my health. It has paid off.
While technically you only need your legs and a pair of shoes (actually, I’ve seen some people run races barefoot), I wanted to share my running gear. I have several things that have helped me get into this. I also strongly recommend running with friends or having a friend or two to motivate you when you may want to give up on it.
This may be one of the cross-overs between being nerdy and running -- data and visualizations! The RunKeeper app is fantastic. It uses GPS to track the course, pace, splits, and more. I set a high level goal of 500 miles this year and the app helps me track it. You can tag friends you are connected with and see historical data on how you are progressing. It’s a must. It also integrates with social media if you want to post and brag about your runs.
Armbands for the Phone
Putting things in your pockets are not good for running. But, if your using RunKeeper, you need your phone. There are some really great sweat absorbing armbands that can house your phone. Many of them still allow for a touch screen and are waterproof, if it rains.
Data data data. While RunKeeper maintains the miles, course, pace, and more, FitBit maintains steps, heartbeat, and amount of physical exercise. It’s a nice complement and applies to more than just running. I can see if I am over-exerting. And, I can map my exercise with the rest of my steps and activities during the day. If I have a day where I particularly sit a lot, I try to get out for a longer run.
Head and wristbands
Because I’m not in “great” shape, I definitely sweat a good bit. I hate getting sweat in my eyes and I often want to wipe any sweat off my face. The headband does great keeping sweat out of my eyes. And, I recently started using wristbands, as the tech shirts do not do a great job of wiping the sweat up if I try to use my sleeve.
I used to only exercise with cotton shirts. But, they tend to be a bit heavier and harder to get off when they are completely drenched. Tech shirts are breathable and still absorb sweat. They come right off after the run and are much more lightweight. A must if you are doing any sort of distance.
I’ve been doing both street and trail runs and have appreciated the nuances of a good pair of shoes. About a year ago, I bought a pair of New Balance trainers (420v3 specifically) and they were the most comfortable and lightweight pair I’ve ever owned. I’ll be sticking with the brand. I recently purchased a second trainer pair (Fresh Foam) and some trail running shoes (both New Balance). While they weren’t cheap, the shoes make such a huge difference during the running.
I have bad allergies and drinking a bunch of water before I run does not work for me. When I was consistently running 3-4 miles at a time, I would try running longer and get dehydrated, which hurt my pace and generally made me feel crappy during runs. I bought a water pack to help. I don’t need to use it routinely now, as I think I’ve adjusted to longer runs. But, if I look to expand my distance even farther, this will again be useful. It certainly helped me scale up my running when I needed to and it wasn’t a major burden to run with the pack.
Even though I enjoy the outdoors, I get bored when running by myself and I really enjoy music. Listening to some tunes helps kill the time during long runs. I bought a new iPhone recently that did not have a headphone port and was already gradually becoming annoyed by the earbud wires. I have a set of AirPods I use mostly for phone calls. So, I purchased a set of exercise friendly bluetooth headphones. This was great. I would recommend trying them on to make sure they fit your ear and do not bounce around during runs. But, it works perfectly with my arm band and with RunKeeper.
Tech shirts and heavy sweat can often cause chafing (yes, it’s kind of gross). There is a product called Body (or Body Glide) that looks like a stick of deodorant. A close second would be band-aids, but they can fall off during runs. The body glide product can be easily applied wherever you have issues, avoiding any issues.
What are yours?
Do you have any gear or pro-tips you recommend? I’d love to hear about it.