What you need for speed, part 2

In the last post I specified what a person needs to get started running (not much), what she needs to run a 5K (not much more), and what she needs to run long distances (mostly ways to conquer the psychological challenges before her).

That doesn't mean that if you decide you need more than that for your run, you're a bad person. I have found plenty of running stuff that isn't necessary, exactly, but that makes my run more pleasant. Without further ado, I present to you ...

What I need to run long distances:
  • Shoes from a specialty running shop. It's a little bit of a luxury, but I swear I can tell the difference between the Sauconys a professional has lovingly selected for my personal running style and the Adidas I cheaply selected from the clearance rack at DSW. When you're a distance runner, your feet are literally everything to you. Take care of them.
  • Knee braces. I need 'em on both legs, for pretty much anything longer than a mile. Sigh.
  • A complete and total ban on cotton. I've seen people go out for long distances wearing cotton T-shirts, so I know it can be done. I just don't know why anyone would bother when tech shirts are $12 at Target. When eliminating cotton from your wardrobe, don't forget ...
    • Socks. I've never bought sports socks with any cotton in them, so I don't know what it's like to run in cotton socks. I'm comfortable with that ignorance. 
    • Underwear. Yes, special performance underpants for running! I used to think it was a scam, but there really is no point in gearing up the rest of your body and having the layer closest to your skin still be made of soggy cotton.
  • A visor. When it's sunny, it keeps the sun off your face. When it's rainy, guess what? It keeps the rain off your face! Way better than sunglasses, which steam up and get spattered with sweat and sunscreen. Speaking of which ...
  • All the sunscreen. It's easy to forget that running long distances means spending hours in the sun - especially when your run begins before sunrise. I can't afford to forget. I buy a spray bottle of SPF 30 and just coat myself from head to toe.
  • RoadID. This is so simple - just a little metal tag with emergency contact information that attaches to my shoe. I don't carry my wallet with me on runs, so it's just nice to know that if there's an emergency out on the course, people will have the info they need to take care of me.
  • My phone. When I run solo, this is another "in case of emergency" thing - but I am also one of those annoying people who tracks her run with an app and then broadcasts it for the entire world to see. (Hmm, that might be a whole post in itself.) This is why I'm actually against the trend of larger "tab-phones" or "phone-lets" or whatever they're called - because I need for my phone to fit into ...
  • A fanny pack! The '80s are back, in slimline neoprene form. Sometimes I call it a "utility belt" to make myself feel like Batman instead of an eighth-grader in an Esprit T-shirt and jorts visiting Kings Island for the day. But let's not kid ourselves. It's a fanny pack.
  • NEW FOR 2014! My Pebble. When I found myself with $100 in Best Buy credit this year, I used it to buy this smart watch. It lets me view emails, texts, caller ID and more - but the real reason I wanted it is because it syncs up with RunKeeper to let me see my time, distance, and pace while I'm on my run. I love living in the future.
So to recap, here's my gear for a long run:

So much stuff!

But here's all you really need to get started:

Not much stuff at all!

Have fun out there!


What you need for speed*, part 1

*Your definition of "speed" may vary

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned gearing up for the Hudepohl 14K, and it made me think about all the stuff runners carry.

We live in a world of FitBits and fitness apps, and we are constantly sold the idea that if we don't own this or that specialty piece of performance equipment, we are Doing It Wrong.

So, based on my nearly 10 years of running experience, here are my thoughts on the gear you need to run.

What you need to start running:

  • Sneakers.
  • Some sort of pants that aren't jeans or work pants (sweat pants, yoga pants, leggings, whatever).
  • A T-shirt.
  • A sports bra (ladies).
  • Your hair in a ponytail (ladies, and certain men).

That's it. That is literally all you need to get started. That's all I had that first day nearly 10 years ago, when my dad and I met to run a minute and walk a minute. Don't be intimidated by your lack of custom-fit sneakers or specialty fabrics or "sports" earbuds. Just go out there and give it a try.

What you need to run a 5K:

Not much more than the above list, really. You'll probably want to get a little more specific than plain "sneakers," but just about anything from the "running" aisle of your local sporting goods store will work. You may also decide to invest in pants and a bra made of "technical" fabric, because cotton gets wet, heavy, and HOT very quickly.

What you need to run long distances (say, eight miles and up):

  • Distraction. Whether it's headphones or a buddy, you want something to keep your mind off of the fact that you're spending more than an hour constantly exerting yourself. I use a behind-the-head-style set of headphones so I can take them off and have them around my neck, and I choose the cheapest possible model so I don't feel bad about destroying them with heat and sweat.
  • Hydration. You gotta do it, even if it's a pain. Especially in the summer heat. You can plan your route around water fountains and vending machines. You can make your own water stops, like a marathoner I once knew who would stash bottles of Gatorade along his route. You can arrange for friends to meet you and deliver sweet, precious fluids. Or you can carry it with you, which is what I do now. I always thought that was more trouble than it was worth, but training in 90-degree weather this year made me a believer. Now, I strap a bottle of water to my hand and take a sip every half mile or so. The evening I bought it, I couldn't believe I was spending $26 on a water bottle. Now I can't believe I spent 10 years running without one.
  • Nourishment. Everyone has a different take on how often you should carb up when running. I do it every 4-5 miles, so I take 1 gel for training runs of 6 miles and up, and 2 for a half marathon. Your preferred type of energy delivery source will vary, and it might change as you gain experience. I used to swear by Sport Beans, but I prefer gel now because it's compact and I can eat it while running without worrying about silly things like chewing.
  • Lubrication. Gross, right? Sorry, running is kinda gross sometimes. Put that Body Glide all over your feet, including in between your toes, and anywhere else that might chafe. You'll learn as you go where your hot spots are.

Now, I don't mean to say that this is all you should need, and anything more is bloated self-indulgence. I myself have much more gear that I use, and I'll get into that next time. All I'm trying to say is that the entry point for running is a lot lower than you might think. Grab a buddy, go out there, and give it a try! You might enjoy yourself, and you will definitely be doing something better for yourself than sitting on the couch.