Friday, October 29, 2010

The Gear I Run With

Yesterday: 7.8 miles over hills, 8:28 pace
Today: 7.2 miles, 8:42 pace

This morning I had a very excellent run!  One of the reasons it was so excellent is because the temperatures were in the 50s.  This is the first time this season I needed a top layer, so I ran in shorts, tank bra and a long-sleeved cotton shirt.  For those of you who read my entry about the clothes I run in, you may remember this is my absolute favorite running outfit.  Long-sleeved cotton shirts feel so comfy to me.  Also, when I feel cool, I can pull the sleeves down over my hands, but when I'm warm I roll the sleeves up.  Here's hoping for many more days of similar weather.

Today I'd like to talk about running gear.  In the past decade, many companies have started producing a wide range of products for runners outside of the usual clothing and shoes.  I am amazed at how much variety there is!  From watches to GPS to heart rate monitors to fuel belts to bottles to road ids, there are lots of running related items you can carry with you out the door.

Nike women's sports watch and HRM
The digital watch.  I almost never leave for a run without a digital watch.  In fact, I am almost never without a watch period.  I like knowing what time it is.  I have a few nicer watches, but 90% of the time, I wear my Nike Imara sports watch.  Let's face it, changing watches takes foresight, which I don't always have.  I time nearly all my runs (the exception being big races, where knowing my time psychs me out) to determine my average pace.  Because I don't have GPS, I use google maps to plot my running routes.  This might seem old school, but it works for me.  I've considered a Garmin watch, but the price is a bit of a deterrent, especially when my current system works well. This watch was a Christmas gift and it came with a chest HRM (see the picture).  I have used the HRM occassionally, but I didn't like it very much.  First, I found it somewhat uncomfortable and experienced chafing.  More importantly, I found it inaccurate.  This is probably because as a female runner, the strap has to sit low on my chest, making it more difficult to get a reading.  However, this particular model was specially designed for women, so that isn't much of an excuse.  Anyways, the reading would jump around like crazy (above 220) when there was no perceived change in effort, so I gave up on the heart rate monitor.  I still use the watch though, and it has been going strong for 4 or 5 years now.
iPod Nano

The iPod Nano.  I take an iPod Nano and earbud headphones along with me on the majority of my runs.  I listen to a combination of podcasts (mostly running related) and music on training runs.  I find the content enjoyable and it helps pass the time.  Especially on long runs, it can be a welcome distraction.  When I first started running, I recall using a walkman that takes tapes.  The iPod is certainly an improvement in size and convenience.  This baby is ultra light.  I keep it in a case with a clip for my shorts, but which also protects it from the elements.  While I use it for the majority of my training, I usually ditch the iPod in races.  I think it would prevent me from getting the full experience and detract from the sights and sounds of a race.

And that concludes the gear I run with.  I know the list is short, but I don't like carrying things with me when I run.  Sometimes I need to bring a house key or energy gel, but otherwise I keep it light and simple.  That's just what works for me :)


  1. Good post. I run - religiously - with an iPod Nano too. Love it for my ability to access a mix of my favorite music with spoken content, i.e. audiobooks from and of running-oriented podcasts (Phedippidations, The Extra Mile, Runners Round Table, Dumprunner, Podrunner) and some science ones (Scientific American & prior Brain Science.)

    I used to use my Nike system but like you grew dissatisfied with its accuracy, so instead use my Garmin Forerunner 405, which I like a lot (I too don't bother with the HRM though, as it similarly bounces around a lot in its supposed measurement of my heart rate).

  2. I think it's kind of funny that "mapping out my routes with Google maps" is old school! That technology moves pretty fast...

    We all seem to be running with variations of the same thing - instead a nano, I use a Sansa Clip (similar to an iPod shuffle, but cheaper and you get to have a screen).

    I also have the watch/HRM combo, but unlike you the HRM seems to be pretty consistent - it's a Timex Ironman (don't know the model number). Like you, I've shied away from the Garmin due to price (grad school - what are you going to do?), but wouldn't say no if one popped up underneath my Christmas tree... just saying.

    Other gear? Aside from the requisite running clothes, having a hand-held water bottle has also been nice for the marathon training. Now that it's cooler (up here in Illinois, anyway) it's not as necessary, but certainly a nice thing to have! (the one I got was from Target - inexpensive and does the job!)