One thing that I quickly found out when I embarked on this running thing is that you can spend a lot of money on gear, gadgets, and garb. I know, you're thinking, "It's just running. What do you need besides a decent pair of shoes?" And it's a legitimate question, because the truth is, you really don't need anything else.
But want is another question entirely.
example, it turns out that I'm a bit of a clothes freak, and I have
this thing about making sure my shorts and shirts aren't mismatched (at
least not to a horrible degree). So naturally, I've gone ahead and
picked up Dri-Fit shirts in an array of colors and styles, several pairs
of shorts, and a light pullover jacket for cooler mornings. Also, it
turns out that normal cotton socks tend to cause blisters, so I had to
get a few pair specific to running. They're quite comfortable,
actually, although they don't come in argyle.
to technology, among the first things I did once I got a few runs under
my drawstring was to download the Nike Plus app for my iPhone. The app
taps into my iTunes app, so I always have an energetic playlist going
during my runs. Also, Nike Plus tracks my time, pace, distance,
calories burned, personal records, and the GPS stores the actual course
that I ran on any given day. The information then syncs up with the
Nike Plus website, so I have (mostly) accurate data available at all
times. For a sports/statistics nut like me, this is a really cool thing
But I've also noticed that the Nike Plus app
is not entirely accurate. For example, one afternoon it showed that I
ran at a 4:30 mile pace. While I'd like to believe that was true, it
also showed (on the map) that I ran that pace across a lake. Since I'm
not exactly Speedy Jesus, there's clearly a glitch in the program
does basically the same thing as the Nike app, only without the music.
So now I use both the watch and the app when I run, and it turns out
that the Garmin is far more accurate. Fortunately, there's a
"calibrate" feature on the Nike app so I can tweak the Nike distance to
match the Garmin distance.
Okay, so now I've had to purchase clothes, an armband for my iPhone, and a watch. But wait, there's more.
my longer runs, I definitely need to have water, Gatorade, and energy
gels available since there are no "pit stops" in my neighborhood like
there are during official races. To meet this need, I of course went to
our local REI store and got what's called a Fuel Belt (kind of sounds
like something Speed Racer would have, doesn't it?). This is more or
less a glorified fanny pack with a couple bottles that clip to it. I
fill one bottle with Gatorade (I like the green) and one with water and
that usually gets me through 15 or so miles. The pouch holds about four
or five gels.
What are gels? Glad you asked.
So now we're at clothes, a watch, an armband for my iPhone, a fuel belt, and a continuous supply of GU.
And now let's talk shoes.
first pair of actual running shoes I purchased was a pair of New
Balances for about 90 bucks. They were extremely light, kind of
comfortable, and when I ran with them, they made the second toe on my
left foot turn black and raised a couple of wonderful blisters on the
tops of both feet. Not wanting to end up footless, I did some online
research and discovered that the general consensus on "best" brands of
running shoes are, in no particular order: Asics, Brooks, and Saucony.
When making my decision, the first question that occurred to me was, "How the hell do you pronounce Saucony?"
The last thing I needed was to walk into Big Five Sporting Goods, ask
for a nice pair of size eleven "suck-CONE-ee" running shoes, and have
the shoe expert start laughing hysterically. A bit of web-browsing took
me to the correct pronunciation, which is, "SAWK-a-knee."
Glad I looked it up.
trying on a few pairs of Asics and Brooks, I decided to go with a pair
of Saucony Phantoms (which kind of sounds like an Australian soccer
team, when you stop to think about it). And, oh my freaking goodness,
what a difference a decent pair of shoes makes. Suddenly, my feet
weren't threatening to go on strike after every run. Blisters went
away, my black toe returned to its normal pasty white color, and I can
run long distances in relative comfort.
Next time: Bloody Nipples. Not the name of a British punk band.