Since a particularly exhausting bout with growing pains in my college freshman year, I've been running to stave off stress, and stay in shape. Far slower than someone who does it as means to bring home the reduced-fat bacon, but leagues faster than the average fitness aficionado or weekend warrior, it's become one of those hobbies that often manifests itself as more than just a hobby.
In the past, I've posted a few useless strategies I regularly employ to get into consistent exercise patterns (along with my love for getting high on endorphines). But I couldn't ever step out the door without first being properly equipped, so this time, I'd like to show you how I gear up. Seeing as I already have an entire closet full of wicking shirts, compression tights, and windbreakers for every temperature, let's assume we're all running in regular gym shorts and a tee shirt, and just focus on the gear that enhances the simple act of feet in perfect rhythm, striking pavement.
1. Shoes. The condition of your feet will ultimately determine how often you go out, or stay in, so I can't stress enough how important it is to not go running in your mother's old basketball shoes.
I recently cashed in 500 miles on a pair of Nike+ equipped Shox, then started running on a pair of Nike Air Zoom Katanas. As close to wearing wings as I've ever been, it's critical for me to find shoes that don't impede my stride, stress my lower back, or give me blisters.
I barely know they're there.
2. Second generation iPod Nano. My perfect running partner; portable, light, versatile, moisture resistant, and always just a little bit faster than me. Apple has other crappy iterations of the Nano, but for running, the second-gen is ideal. Rather than list the million reasons why I'll never replace it, you'll just have to take me on my word--that this is the last mp3 player you'll ever need for exercise.
3. If you've spent more than nine dollars on exercise headphones, you're a moron. They should be simple; clean and clear, sweat resistant, and conveniently hook on your t-shirt when not in use. I've been using this same model without fail for something like six years. 'Simple,' simply does what it's supposed to do without screwing you over. Simple is best, people.
4. Twice a week, small running weights like these are great when you want your cardio run to wipe the pavement with your dragging ass. No need to overdo on size--I prefer a higher exertion combined with a lighter load (two 3 pounders), rather than running soft on too much weight. Bigger yield on overall performance in the end. The proper outcome burns more calories and helps tighten your arms and upper body. 6 extra pounds may not seem like much on paper, but try holding pace over a mile with them. Then we'll talk.
5. Two words: power song.
The Nike+ system completely changed the way I run. Part running partner, part training coach, and part motivational influence, it's become as integral to each run as my shoes themselves. When used in conjunction with the Nike+ website, you can compete in worldwide events, map out routes, and set goals. But if that's too much, you can just use it as a stopwatch/pedometer that plays Journey. Or Fall Out Boy. Most importantly though, it just forced me outside on days I didn't want to go, and made the days I did go out a hell of a lot more enjoyable. An added bonus, the internal female voice that tracks my progress and reports my times is downright sexy.
However, if you're balking at committing to a new pair of special shoes just to fit the sport kit transmitter, but you already have a Nano, then spring for a Lacelid instead--the $5 solution that will work just as flawlessly on a pair of Asics, as it will on your mother's old basketball shoes.
6. Released back in November, is the last piece of function to my system. Admittedly, while the Nike Amp+ remote was most valuable during last winter's cold weather when my iPod stayed tucked beneath multiple layers, it still provides quick, no-look access to pace times, volume, and song selection without having to fumble through a sweaty pocket mid-stride. Plus, it looks pretty sweet as a standalone timepiece.
All in all though, just as you have to figure out your body and find your own pace and rhythm, gathering gear that works best for you, and fine-tuning your own personal system (be it a playlist, a stretching routine, a certain running route, etc) is what helps make running so rewarding, and ultimately, worth doing.
I will touch the rain with all I have
I will breathe the air, just scream it loud
My feet will never touch the ground..."