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Running, on the surface, is a pretty low-gear activity. Put on your favorite pair of running shorts, an exercise bra, sneakers, maybe some earbuds, walk out the door, then get going! But sometimes, complications can arise to disrupt the melody: You start to chafe, your running pants don’t have pockets and you’re tired of stashing your phone in your waistband. Or your all-purpose workout shoes aren’t cutting it anymore. That’s where running gear comes in. High quality and functional running apparel and accessories can make a huge difference in how successful your run is. We consulted a few committed runners about their favorite accessories when they’re hitting the road.
“I use this for all my running hydration and storage needs,” says Jason Falcon, ultramarathoner and owner of Falcon Fitness & Nutrition in Virginia Beach. Before finding this pack, he'd experimented with packs from three to four different big name companies, each of which was uncomfortable, poorly fitted, caused chafing or the hydration bladder would leak. “This pack solves all those problems,” he said. “Super comfy, can't even tell you're wearing it, perfect for running four miles or 40 miles — I've raced all my ultramarathons in this vest and have never been left wishing it did something more or something better.”
Jordan Zimmerman, a regular marathoner based in Louisville, Kentucky, likes this running belt for its convenience and design. “It fits large phones, keys, snacks, credit cards [and] is adjustable to many, many sizes of waists.” She also likes that it repels sweat, meaning it can be used over and over in between washes.“I love this way more than an armband, which has a limited size range for arms, usually, and in really hot, sweaty weather, irritates and chafes my skin,” she said.
Or, if you wear a bra and don’t like a belt, Zimmerman recommends this sports bra from Nike. “This bra will fit your keys and ID some small, essential things.”
Leigh Power, a longtime runner based in Vancouver, Canada, drinks NUUN before or after her runs. She says drinking water with these electrolyte tablets is "better than straight water for pre- or post-run hydration." The tablets come in flavors like Orange, Tri-Berry, Citrus Fruit and Lemon Lime, and they all have a variety of vitamins and caffeine.
Power calls her Buff band “the essential piece” and “super versatile.” She says, “It’s a lightweight piece of material that can be used as a headband, around your neck to keep you warm or cool [or]wrapped around your wrist like a tennis wristband.” She’s also seen people use them as masks while running.
Power loves sweatbands to keep sweat off of her while she’s running. “Everyone uses them for tennis, but I love them for running, too.”
Zimmerman always recommends wearing hats or a visor because it “will protect the sensitive skin on your face from the sun's rays and also soak up sweat around the hairline so that it doesn't get into your eyes. It also keeps rain out of your eyes if you catch yourself out in a storm unexpectedly.” Her favorite is the Superlite Visor by Adidas.
If you don’t want to run with a hat on, Zimmerman recommends these sunglasses. “I was a nay-sayer for years, thinking they'd bop around on my face — but these are really inexpensive, come in fun colors and stay put. Now I own three pairs to match various running outfits.”
Power says that the right running shoes are a matter of personal choice and preference, based on “the shape of your foot, whether you pronate or supinate, how much cushion you need and the heel drop,” all of which vary by individual. She prefers these New Balance running shoes, which she loves for their cushioning and endurance.
Falcon’s favorite trail running shoes are these Nike Terra Kigers. “I've worn them in almost all of my trail races, something like 10 different ultramarathons — they take a beating and after a wash they still look new.” He loves that they’re supportive and have lots of cushioning and grip, “I have raced in about eight degrees all the way up to 90 degrees in them, and the comfort is always there.”
For road running, Falcon prefers these Altra Escalante shoes, calling them “super minimalist but at the same time super springy.” He says that they “let your foot splay naturally, so are great for those who want a wider toe box, and feel weightless on your foot.” He’s used them for everything from timed miles to half marathons and thinks they’re overall an “awesome training shoe or race day shoe.”
“I’m super into Bombas socks,” says Power. “I like the quality material, and don’t have to worry about blisters from running.”
It can be hard to find headphones that stay in during movement — especially while you’re sweating. Zimmerman recommends the Aftershokz. “They use bone-conducting technology — which transmits sound through your cheekbones — and don't actually sit inside of your ear. That way, you can hear cars, bikes, animals, etc., before they see you.” They’re pricier than some other headphones, she says, “but worth it for safety, in my opinion.”
For chafing, Zimmerman calls this “a godsend. She continues, “Seriously, I don't know what I'd do without it during longer runs.”
If you tend to get sweaty or need to use a park bathroom along your running route, Zimmerman recommends the individually wrapped Goodwipes Body Wipes. “It's great if you're going to ‘run’ errands, or ‘jog to brunch’ and don't want to look like a sweaty mess when you have to be around people. They’re also great for the environment, in comparison with their peers.”
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