Category Archives: Running kit

Gadget boy

In last month’s edition of Runner’s World, there was a page entitled Beyond the gadgets which discussed what happens to your running when you leave technology out of it. As my iPod has basically given up the ghost after so many miles, I have been running Nike+ and music free for months now. I figured it made sense when I was training for Cruce de los Andes, as there was no way Maria and I were going to run together without nattering on. And now, at week four of our half marathon training, there are still no gadgets for me.

For Martin, it’s a different story. He’s using his iPhone and an app called Endomondo. He loves it. He loves hearing the mile markers pass, listening to the times for each mile, knowing his maximum speed of the run and collating all this information easily so he can compare with previous runs. And throughout all this he has his music blasting as well. Even just writing that sounded like overload to me.

But I get it, we’re in training. We want to get stronger and faster, that’s the whole point of it, right? So, I have been mapping runs prior to setting out and taking a watch. But even this can be misleading. If I head left out of my road, there are hills. If I turn right, it’s flat. Surely it’s not fair to compare routes like this? I must be slower with hills than with flats… But then, the other day I beat my flat 3-mile time on the hilly route. What would the gadget say about that?

There’s something to be said for the competition and motivation that gadgets can provide. But then we can come to rely on them too much. They aren’t perfect, and this was shown to us once when a running app routed 4 miles, but unless I had suddenly increased my pace by a minute a mile, there was no way it was the full 4 miles and I had to keep running past my house to make it up, judging the time on my regular watch. Because that’s the other great thing about just using a watch; you become far more in tune with how you are doing and feeling if you’re running slower or faster, especially when you are an expert at the routes and roads you run so often around your neighbourhood. Sometimes, I can feel it’s a fast run and I force myself to not look at my watch; to wait until I get home and check the time to see if what I am feeling when I run is right in the results of my times.

And it usually is.

Looking the part

Another week has flown by and we are another 7 days closer to waking up in our tent, having breakfast, packing peanut butter sandwiches and heading out into the unknown; known as El Cruce 2012.

This week, I’ve been taking a look at my gear and what else I might need out there. Maria has filled our first aid kit with all kinds of delights. And we have both succumbed to buying new running packs. We can now carry enough peanut butter sandwiches for an entire travelling circus, elephants included.

Anyway, here in London, I have one pair of running pants and one pair of running shorts. They are both over 4 years old (good ‘ol Nike) and serve me well. But kit for 3 days on the trot; kit which might have to be changed due to volcano ash/being wet/temperature changes – delete as appropriate – I don’t have. At least it’s January and the sales are on.

Maria and I maintain we are not the freaky type of runners, and I have realised this week that kit comes into this. I wanted some long running socks. You can get a pair for £38. I imagine quality comes as standard, but £38 for a pair of socks?

The same goes for all other manner of clothing and kit. Running packs for £160; capri pants for £70; vests for £40! I am in Runner’s World magazine (UK) this month in an article called Why I Run and my reason was that it’s for everyone. All you need is  a pair of trainers and off you go; fast or slow, it doesn’t matter. Wearing head to toe elite running gear, or a Garfield t-shirt and pyjama shorts, it doesn’t matter. You’re still a runner.

So, I bought a couple more items for my running wardrobe. By the time they arrive I won’t have been able to do a long run in any of them (you’re starting to see we’re not the freaky types, aren’t you?) but it’s exciting anyway. Why? Because just by having a bit of extra gear, I feel like a more serious runner. If I look the part, surely I’ll be the part?

Or, more to the point, if I look the part, at least I will feel the part?

Don’t worry, I’m not naive enough to believe that a pair of incredible capri pants will get me up those volcanos and mountains. But I think there’s something in the boost you can get from a new suit/dress/overpriced pair of running socks.    

 This week I also got our team flags for us: one British and one American.  It seems you can also look the part, in the right colours, for the bargain price of £3.50.