It’s that time of year when the temperatures drop and temptations beckon…wondering how to stay motivated and on track during the season of excess? Well, you could take a page from my book and load up with cool, new running gear to keep that spring in your step OR you could send this blog along to your loved ones and friends in hopes that they might do this for you. ‘Tis the season of giving after all. Whether you are looking to kickstart your own training regime, or shopping for the special runner in your life, here are some ideas sure to please! I have done my homework extensively (read: I’m a shopaholic) in order to bring you this list of my favourite running gear and products. May it inspire you to invest in yourself or help you send some subtle hints to others as to what they should be running out to get you!
The Mother-of-all Gifts: The GPS Watch
I cannot think of a better purchase I made this year than my Garmin Forerunner 210. This has become my constant companion on the road, telling me my distance, time and current pace at quick glance. Drill down and there is so much more at your fingertips, like route elevation, splits which I love to analyze, and average pace which I enjoy trying to beat as I race myself. These bad boys can then upload their intel to the Garmin online site where you can slice and dice and analyze your run every way from Sunday. Garmin recently introduced a new model, the Forerunner 10, which comes in at a more affordable price point and is getting rave reviews. It doesn’t have all of the features of the higher models, but it does the trick for most runners and, best of all, comes in some really cute colours.
Perfect for the Music Lover: iPod nano
I love, love, love my pretty pink iPod nano which I didn’t even realize I wanted until I got one – now, I could not run without it. I consider iPod & Garmin to be my tag-team running partners. A perfect gift for the runner in your life, or an investment in keeping yourself on the road. Once I got this little nano, I couldn’t wait to hit the pavement and turn it up! For those already running with iSomethings, iTunes gift cards are always sure to be a hit.
For Your Reading Pleasure: Run Like a Mother + Train Like a Mother
I have read many running books over the past year, and hands-down, the best one has been Run Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea. It is the perfect book for moms on the run, blending practical tips with humour and wit. The book has a training partner, Train Like a Mother, which is just as helpful and hilarious. Read them both – you’ll be glad you did. If I could ask Santa for a gift, I would ask for a new book by these cool mother runners (Race Like a Mother, perhaps?).
Fashionistas Behold: The Sparkle Skirt
Have you ever seen anything as shiny and pretty as these light-as-air running skirts by Team Sparkle? For the feminine runner who wants to run with a bit of style and sass, look no further! These skirts make every run more fun and every time I have raced in one, I have PRed. Coincidence?
Let There Be Light: Knuckle Lights
The days just keep getting shorter and, for many of us, this means more and more runs in the dark. This handy little invention is pretty great – knuckle lights are a practical and easy way to light the road (and ensure your own visibility) without being a dork in a head lamp.* They come in your choice of great colours and may be able to double as a weapon, but luckily I haven’t had to test this theory.
*no offense to anyone running in headlamps…but seriously, you might want to check these out. Like, immediately.
Be Safe: Road ID
Sure, you never want to think about needing it – but it’s a great thing to have on you just in case. In the same way that it never rains when you have your umbrella at the ready, you may never need this bracelet if you have it on you…but I’d say that’s a pretty good problem to have. These bracelets can be personalized with your name, address and whatever other info you want to include. They come in varying sizes and a rainbow of colours, and they are quite inexpensive – not that you can put a price on peace of mind.
Buckle Up: Fitness Belts
Runners have stuff we need to haul with us, particularly on longer runs, such as cell phones, fuel, lip balm, music and keys, to name just a few. But if you feel like I do about fanny packs, you may be looking for something a little sleeker. Luckily for us, we have tons of choices in race belts: single pouch, double pouch, race bib clips, gel holders, hydration attachments, the possibilities are endless…whatever you need, you are sure to find it. There are many reputable brands with great products, but my personal fave is the iFitness belt. I actually have two belts – one for races and shorter runs (single pouch) and one for long runs (double pouch). I love their no-bounce guarantee, and appreciate the many different colour choices. iFitness is also proud to be the official running belt of runDisney!
Hurts So Good: The Foam Roller
I have a love/hate relationship with my foam roller. I dread having to do it, but feel infinitely better after I do the deed. This is a great tool in preventing injuries if you use it often. Or, like me, it may collect dust until things are feeling tight and you need some help. Rolling sore and tight muscles releases pressure and helps you feel strong again. The colours are not that exciting, it doesn’t sparkle or have a cute name – but this is a must-have for any runner.
Bling It On: The Medal Display
You came, you ran, you got the medal to prove it. Now what? Well, for me, a race experience is not complete until I pin my bib on my bulletin board and hang my medal on my display rack. I work hard for those medals and I love the bling – no way are they going to collect dust in my closet! You can find many adorable medal displays or even do-it-yourself by adding hooks to a wall hanging, but my favourite are the ones from Allied Medal Displays where you can custom create your own display to best suit your running personality and goals. This is a great way to celebrate your achievements!
Road to Recovery: Compression Gear
Some runners wear them while training, others save them for racing, still others swear by them for recovery. Compression sleeves, socks and clothing are kind of a big deal in the running world. The idea is that compression wear can improve circulation, aiding in muscle recovery – and I have jumped on the bandwagon, using compression calf sleeves after my long runs. They do a body good.
Let Go of Laces: Yankz Lacing System
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen runners move to the side of the road to re-tie their shoes during races, precious seconds ticking by as they do so. I can tell you that this will NEVER be me. I discovered Yankz and will never tie my shoes again! This genuis lacing system ensures a proper fit with no tying of bows or knots and double knots – and it looks pretty cool too.
Dress Up Your Shoes: Shoe Charms
Now that you have those serious looking laces and will never need to fuss with bunny ears again, you have time to dress up your shoes a bit! I love the look of “shoe bling” to make your shoes a little more individual and infuse your personality into them. My fave charms come from BeeCause Charms, where you can find bobbles of almost any theme imaginable. Running in fancy kicks may just make you run faster too…you never know!
Nothing and no one can run the miles for you, but the products above can make it a little easier and a lot more fun to kick some asphalt! If this post has inspired you to give yourself the gift of some great gear to kick off a healthy 2013 – or assists your loved ones in surprising you with some must-have running gifts – my work here is done. Who knew this Princess could moonlight as a Christmas Elf?