I’m sure most runners will agree that there are just certain things you can’t do without on a run or even post run. And while we all have our favorite brands and preferences, I am going to give you a general overview of the things that have learnt that I cannot live without on a run.
We all start somewhere, and in the beginning I had no clue about any of the things I will mention below. Educating myself on a few of these items really helped my comfort levels on a run and post run, and to some degree my performance to.
So what are these magical things:
Having the right attire is of vital importance. You don’t want a top to be creeping up, your pants to be falling down or ridding up causing chaffing and general discomfort.
You want to choose a shirt that is made of a technical fabric. Technical fabrics help your body control its temperature and remove moisture away from your skin. It will help keep you cool in summer and warm on an icy winters day. Technical fabrics are lightweight and generally made from synthetic materials such as Lycra, polyester or nylon. I would definitely suggest avoiding cotton as this will be hot and bothersome, trap the sweat and bacteria rapidly, causing a fast odor and a heavier shirt, weighing you down. Due to cottons slow drying properties, you will also start feeling the cold should you have to stand around after a run on a cold winters day. Not ideal. Cotton has be proven to be the worst high performance fabric.
My personal favorites are the Nike Dri-Fit shirts. The ladies shirt is a very comfortable fitted cut and they really do a great job of keeping the moisture away from one’s skin. There are however plenty of brands and options available. You have to just find what works for you.
When it comes to choosing shorts, the same applies with the fabric choice as with the shirts.
I tend to prefer short, tight running shorts as opposed to 3/4 or full length. It might be a psychological reason, however, I feel lighter and more aerodynamic in the shorter pants. The trick is to find the right fitting pants for you that do not ride up and cause you to chafe. Due to not being blessed with a thigh gap, I find that ski pants really are the best suited pants for me.
My absolute favorite pants at the moment are “Funky Pants”. Not only are they ridiculously comfy as their slogan suggests, they are super fun and colourful, and are a Proudly South African brand! I tend to chose the loudest pants as a feel this gives me energy (I will be a publishing an article on what colors to dress in which will explain more on this), however, they do have plainer more simple patterns for the more conservative runner.
If you would like to check them out please go to the following link: Funky Pants
P.S: Their service is fantastic!
Choosing the correct pair of running shoes is of vital importance and will be your biggest investment in terms of a financial outlay. I tend to have the outlook in life that I will happily spend money on the right pair of running shoes in the hopes that this will save me on physio and other doctors bills. Speaking from experience, I have suffered from shin splints and even stress fractures from having the incorrect pair of shoes. My advice would be to go to a specialized sports shop and get your foot, gait and running style assessed. They will also fit you with a shoe for the correct terrain you will be running on and the mileage you plan on doing. They will be able to tell you if you need a neutral shoe or one with stability. They will also advise you on what the correct size is for you. I suggest going to a shop that stocks a variety of different brands so that you can try these on in order to find the perfect fit for you.
“Just a a bicycle is a cyclists most important piece of equipment, a decent pair of running shoes are a runner most important tool”.
Tip: How you tie your laces is also of utmost importance as this can help provide you with ankle support. See image below on what the correct way is.
Remember that you will need to replace your shoes at around every 800 km’s or so.
Personally I am the BIGGEST Asics advocate. They hug my narrow foot perfectly, have prevented any shin splints from reoccurring, have a great heel drop and are even pleasing to the eye. I am currently running in the Asics Gel-Nimbus 19 and couldn’t be happier.
One of the most irritating things for me about running, is getting into a great pace and then having to wipe away those sweat droplets that drip into your eye (gross I know, but unavoidable to say the least). In order to combat this problem, I will ALWAYS wear a visor, or buff. Buffs are great for winter, I generally start off with it around my neck and as the run progresses I move it up to act as a head band which works like a dream to absorb all the moisture. Visor’s are ideal for summer, because, while they are acting as great moisture resistant items, they are also helping protect one’s face from the sun. which brings me to something else you just cannot go running without, no matter the season… Sunblock.
In today’s world we have so many technological advances that it is wise to take advantage of such. There is a wide field of brands and options to choose from and it also comes down to user preference. The reasons I recommend running with a sports/ smart watch are as follows:
You can track your distance. It’s also a great way to pace yourself and make sure you’re not over or under doing it especially if you are running for time.
Tracking your heart rate can be beneficial, especially to those who have heart conditions and can’t afford to strain their hearts.
Using a smart watch or phone allows you to use running apps which will help keep tabs on your progress.
Strava is a popular running app and my first choice. I love how you can create groups, join groups and how it tracks your progress. It will also give you an understanding of where you’ve improved if you repeat the same circuit. You can also put in the brand and type of shoe you are running in and when you reach your 800 km’s it will notify you of when you will be needing a new pair of shoes.
Nike + Run Club is also a great app that I have used. One advantage of it, is that you can set it to notify you when you have reached certain milestones (either in mileage or time) and a voice will speak to you telling you of these advances.
Again it boils down to personal preference, however, I do strongly suggest in investing (don’t worry you can get the standard versions for free) in a running app to track your progress. Sometimes with running or any form of training, you tend to find yourself in a slump.When you have the opportunity to look back at the progress you have made, you will begin to feel more motivated and you then find the courage to push on.
I agree that music can really motivate you and help you get into the pace quicker, however, I don’t find myself training with the aid of it. Reasons be, that during a race it is strictly forbidden to make use of head phones due to safety reasons. I would rather train with no music than find myself battling more through a race when all I can focus on is the absence of what usually motivates me. There is also no better feeling that running into a sunrise, listening to the birds chirp and just for that moment appreciating your surroundings. No headphones helps you stay present and aware of your surroundings, the last thing you need is for a car to knock you over. Vigilance is key.
As a runner you should be stretching after each run. If you stretch beforehand, please make sure to warm your muscles up first by going for a quick jog, skip etc. or else you risk the chance of pulling a muscle should it not be warm enough to endure the stretch.
Foam rolling should be an additive to your run routine. It is phenomenal in terms of muscle recovery, breaking down lactic acid and self-myofascial release. It is painful, however, the benefits outweigh the pain you put yourself through, and you will feel great for doing it. It has also been proven to help and prevent injuries as well as cellulite. Ladies what more would you want to know. There are many exercises you can Google which will demonstrate exactly how to foam roll.
Post Run Juicing
Milk shakes are surprisingly great forms of whey protein and having one of these (especially a steri-stumpi) after a long run will help with muscle recovery. Whey protein is important because it helps the body break down fat instead of muscle tissue.
Orange juice helps break down lactic acid. Feeling stiff? You can thank lactic acid build up for that.
Glutamine. On days where I have really pushed myself at gym or have completed a half marathon, I will have a teaspoon of Glutamine to help with muscle recovery. There are plenty of options available.
I hope you have learnt something. Feel free to leave any comments, thoughts or feelings and share with us what you absolutely cannot run without!