Brand on the run

Posted on: 21 Jan 2015

My mind began to wander during a recent long run (inevitable when you start hitting 90 minutes plus!) and I started to think about how much kit appears to be involved in semi-serious training.


In theory to go for a run you need a half decent pair of shoes and some sportswear.  A sense of direction also comes in handy and off you go.  Then I look at my bank balance and something has clearly gone wrong!  


I worked out that for this latest outing I was adorned with no less than 12 different brands* all supposedly designed to help me on my way.  That’s everything from earphones to energy gels, so no wonder it takes me so long to get out of the door and into my stride.


Winter is only making it worse – thermal base layer, jacket, gloves…more stuff!  Then there are the special socks to stop me getting blisters, special shoes to cushion my feet and even a special tablet in my water to ‘keep my electrolytes in balance’ (whatever that means!).


Maybe I’m the fool for buying it all because to be honest it’s hard to quantify whether or not these extras truly make a difference.  After all, as a kid I seem to remember coping well enough with the aforementioned pair of trainers, shorts and a t-shirt…


I guess it’s like most sports and hobbies – they are big business with massive commercial opportunities and a consumer market eager to experience the next ‘big thing’.


There are, however, some items that I think have genuinely enhanced my running experience and as such I consider them very worthwhile investments.  These are accessories rather than essentials like shoes or clothing, but nevertheless they will definitely be coming with me on my London adventure:


Garmin Forerunner

It’s an old one (410) but has served me very well for nearly three years now.  Not too cumbersome, usually reliable in terms of retaining the satellite signal and easy to read while on the move, this was my first foray into GPS watches.  It’s packed with functions I don’t use, because for me it’s all about time and distance.  While I’m running I use the split alarms to show me my mile times and that enables me to maintain, or sometimes adjust, my pace.  And when I’ve finished, the data through Garmin Connect has transformed my whole approach to running, especially as most of the time it’s a solo pursuit.  Insight into my performance means I can compete against myself, try and set new PBs over fixed routes and have a clear understanding of how my marathon training plan is going.



Yurbuds Inspire Duro

I used to train without music, but that’s because I couldn’t find earphones that were comfortable or stayed in.  I’m a fan of in-ear earphones, and in particular ones that offer noise cancellation by sealing themselves in your ear canal.  Great for the bus or train, but useless for running – they soon come loose and fall out.  I saw an ad for Yurbuds in a running magazine and was instantly sceptical of their claims to “never fall out”.  But you know what, on the whole they work – really rather well.  They’re not perfect – the sound quality is average and my cable is starting to show signs of wear.  The tips may stay in your ear, but without regular cleaning to preserve their ‘tacky’ feel they easily slip off the earphone itself.  However, it’s the best solution for the money I’ve come across so far and I find a mixture of music, audiobooks and podcasts are great for long runs, keeping me motivated and relieving boredom. 



SPIbelt Endurance

Or to give it its full name, the ‘small personal item belt’.  I was adamant when I first started running I wouldn’t wear a ‘bum bag’ but this is an altogether better engineered piece of kit.  It doesn’t move when you do, sits flush against your body and can hold a reasonable number of items without becoming uncomfortable.  I wear mine with the pouch at the front and keep it under my shirt.  Inside is usually my iPod, a key, my security pass (if I’m running at work) and sometimes a gel or sweets.  Gels can also sit in loops outside the pouch, but I find they rub a bit.  Overall this is an example of a very simple idea executed well. 



And there you have it.  Apologies if this is all a bit ‘stating the obvious’ for the more seasoned runners out there, but hopefully the feedback on my own experiences is of some interest.


I’d love to hear what other people think and what recommendations you’d have for running essentials or useful odds and ends that can make training that little bit easier.


* for those who were wondering: Apple, Asics, Garmin, Gore Running, High5, Hilly, Kalenji, Karrimor, SPIbelt, Sub4 and Yurbuds.  Oh and Bassett’s – a jelly baby came in handy after 10 miles!


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