When you lose yourself in an invigorating run, you feel like there is nothing but you and the terrain. Whether your chosen course is the buzzing hive of city streets or the lonesome silence of wooden nature trails, you push yourself to your limits, build stamina, hone muscles, and burn away troubling thoughts.
It is a solitary endeavor, but you need not do it alone. You can—and should—bring some useful gear with you to improve your experience and keep you safe. The sections below discuss each item in detail.
1. Calf Support Tights
Calf support tights are a compression garment that helps prevent uncomfortable chafing and rashes that form due to friction. The gentle “squeeze” they provide helps runners avoid post-run muscle soreness and stiffness. They also minimize recovery time. Moreover, they keep runners warmer during cold-weather runs. Many brands also feature reflective materials to improve runner visibility during low-light situations.
If you are not wearing calf support tights when you run, you are missing out on all of these benefits, as well as increased flexion and muscle extension, which reduces hamstring strain and other tendon damage.
2. GPS Wristband
A GPS wristband is especially useful when you run in unfamiliar neighborhoods or twisty trails that fork and branch. It keeps you from getting lost, and lets you think about your training instead of your location. Moreover, many GPS bands made especially for runners have other useful features. Some can measure your heart rate and track your fitness level. A few can make predictions about the time it will take you to complete certain common race distances, while others make suggestions as to how long you should wait during recovery before you resume exercise.
Many brands let you upload your data to an online fitness log to track your progress and share your stats with an online community.
3. Waist Pack
A waist pack is a convenient carryall for your stuff. If you run in light shorts and a t-shirt, you may not have a place for your phone or keys. A waist pack lets you carry all your necessities, and some things you might not have considered.
The right waist pack should be lightweight, load balanced, and designed to ride just above your hips for greatest comfort. The pockets should be large enough to carry your phone, your keys, a wallet, and even an energy bar. Many brands feature one or more bottles, so you can carry up to 32 ounces of water or a sports beverage. My personal favorite is the SPI Belt (which we will feature in a separate blog post).
4. Reflective Gear
Reflective gear keeps you safe and visible during low light situations. “Low light,” in fact, need not mean complete darkness. Even at dusk, visibility declines dramatically, and unless you are wearing bright or white clothing, you may not be as easy to see as you believe. Reflective jerseys, trunks, and shoes improve your chances of being seen, and thus keep you safer during your run.
Runbell is a stylish, durable runner’s bell that lets you signal your presence to distracted drivers, cyclists, and other pedestrians. Whether you run on city streets or backwoods trails, you are sure to encounter others, and these people might block your path, step in front of you as you pass, or let their dog lunge at you should you startle it. A polite ching of your Runbell alerts others that you are near, and gives them time to get out of your way or get their dog under control.
Runbell is finely crafted, and designed to fit any hand. It comes in men’s and women’s sizes, and comes with smooth, circular silicone inserts that let you fine-tune the fit for greatest comfort. The bell rides atop your knuckles, so your hands are free for reaching into your waist pack, tugging up your calf support tights, or pressing buttons on your GPS wristband. Runbell produces a bright, clear sound that cuts through ambient noise and politely warns others that you are drawing near.
If you are a runner, these five accessories are essential. Each can improve your experience dramatically, and thereby help you stay fit, exceed your exercise goals, and enjoy your run to the fullest.