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Essential Gear for Runners

October 01, 2015

Essential Gear for Runners

 

As I gear up for my marathon this weekend, I am looking back at all the “little things” I did this training cycle that have made a huge difference in my fitness and ability to rebound from strenuous workouts.  As a relative newbie marathoner, the build up for my past couple 26.2 efforts has been less than ideal.  Poor hydration choices and poor recovery methods have plagued my ability to tackle consistent mileage.  So, how did I go from struggling to run 60 – 70 miles per week to peaking my weekly mileage at 98 miles this training cycle?  One simple answer:  small investments into really important gear!

  1. Buy a comfortable hydration pack
    I met with a sports nutritionist in early July of this year and she encouraged me to track my sweat rate. I had no idea that I was losing up to 40 oz per hour on hard runs.  I immediately saw an improvement not only in my training, but also in my recovery, once I started focusing on drinking towards my sweat rate for long runs and workouts. 

    Recommended item:  Hydrosleeve Hands-free Hydration (http://www.hydrosleeve.com/, $44.97)
    How it works:  The hydrosleeve attaches around the bicep of one arm (available in 3 sizes), much like a smart phone holder.  The hydrosleeve bladder holds 7.5 oz of water that you can access via a valve on the sleeve. 
    Best feature:  As you drink from the hydration valve, the bladder continuously compresses, which minimizes sloshing.  Anyone who has ever run with a hydration pack or water bottle knows what an annoyance the sloshing can be!
    How it differs from other products:  The hydrosleeve is hands-free, and only requires you to lift your arm to your mouth, which can easily be done mid-stride.  This is the best hydration pack for runners

    2.  Be sure to refuel within 30 – 60 minutes of a hard or long effort
    A second problem uncovered by the sports nutritionist in my training was the long periods of time I would allow to elapse after a workout without replenishing my glycogen stores.  Just as with hydration, not refueling was negatively affecting my muscle recovery. 

    Recommended item: 
    Picky Bars, (http://pickybars.com/, $27.50/10 bars)
    How they work:  One catch-phrase of the Picky Bars co-creators is “It’s freaking science dude!”  Picky bars ensure a scientifically approved 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, which is formulated specifically for muscle recovery. 
    Best flavor: Ah, Fudge Nuts!
    How they differ from other products:  Picky Bars are free from common allergens (i.e. what, soy), and use only real foods and natural/organic ingredients.  In comparison to other bars of similar price, Picky Bars are larger, thus giving you more bang for your buck. 
  2. “Stick” your muscles
    Before I decided to focus solely on running, I rarely had time for any recovery exercises. Stretching?  For wimps.  Yoga?  Nope.  Core?  Yeah, right.  The very last thing I thought was necessary was to use the Stick.

    Recommended item:  The Stick (https://www.thestick.com/, $44.50)
    How it works:  The Stick is a massage tool (similar to a rolling pin) that you roll up and down tired muscles to improve circulation and help work out knots and trigger points.  
    Best feature:  The Stick is available in different flexibilities, lengths, and there even exists a Stick for dogs!  First timers should try the original and then decide if other options are right for them. 
    How it differs from other products:  Unlike with other self-massage techniques, you can fully control the massage pressure, as well as location you are targeting. 
  3. Compression sleeves
    Have you noticed a recovery trend here? The biggest lesson I have learned during my grand experiment of going pro is that the workouts do not matter if you aren’t doing everything you can to properly recover! 

Recommended item:  Compression Calf sleeves (http://www.2xu.com/, $25.95)
How they work:  Compression items promote muscle recovery by improving blood circulation.  Extremities, such as feet, ankles, and lower calves, are especially susceptible to slow recovery due to decreased blood flow to these areas. 
Best feature:  The lightweight material of 2xu sleeves is more breathable than other brands.
How it differs from other products:  Independent research has shown that the engineered fabric used in 2xu compression wear performs better than similar brands. 

Anna Weber

Keywords:  #recovery #hydration #hydration pack for runners #compression #stick #nutrition





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