Tag Archives: Gear

Stridebox: October

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 9.11.18 PMIt’s finally time for another Stridebox review! In case you missed last month’s post, Stridebox is a $15 monthly subscription box for all things running related. For some reason it’s taken me a long time to get through October’s box, but I finally did and I’m ready to talk about all of the items I have received.

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Skratch – Matcha Green Tea & Lemons: I hate to start this review off on a negative note, but sadly I couldn’t finish this drink 😦 Maybe another flavor would have been better? My pregnant taste buds are super sensitive right now and it just tasted off to me. I had high hopes for this because it’s an all natural sports drink that uses real fruit juice for flavor. I would love to try the raspberry or pineapple flavors someday! Retail: $1.95/packet

HoneyMaxx Sports Hydration (Orange): As I’ve said before, I am not a fan of anything orange or orange-flavored, so I passed this onto my husband. He drank this after a run one day and here’s what he had to say about it: “I was excited to try this drink because it sounded really good, but it was more bland tasting than I expected it to be. It tasted like very diluted orange water and I couldn’t taste any honey.” Retail: $22.95/10 packets ($2.30 each)

Bonk Breaker – High Protein Bar (Cookies & Cream): Now onto the positive- Oh my goodness, this was SO GOOD! I had heard of these bars but hadn’t seen them sold in any stores near me before, so I was really excited to see one in my box- especially in the flavor Cookies & Cream! This did not disappoint. It tasted delicious- not chalky at all like some protein bars- and best of all, had a ton of protein (13g) which kept me full and satisfied for hours. I was sad when this was gone! Retail: $33.00/12 bars ($2.75 each)

Barnana – Organic Coconut: For some reason I really put off trying these. I love bananas and I love coconut so I’m not sure why, and once I ate them I wished I had tried them sooner! These little bites of dehydrated banana and coconut were delicious. I had them before an early morning Body Pump class, and they gave me just the right amount of energy to get me through it. I love that they are high in potassium too. They also have chocolate and peanut butter flavors that look super yummy! Retail: $2.49/pouch

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gel (Chocolate): Yum, yum, yum! I have been a Honey Stinger fan for a while now. I love their chews, bars and waffles because they are so easy to digest and get into my system quickly. I hadn’t tried their energy gels yet, so I was excited to get one in my box. I took one along with me on a long run and had it about halfway through. It was delicious- the chocolate flavor had a hint of honey too which I loved. I also like that it was naturally caffeinated with Green Tea Extract for a little extra boost. I will be picking up more of these! Retail: $33.36/24 servings ($1.39 each)

PROBAR – BOLT Energy Chew (Berry Blast):  I loved these little chews! They were so delicious that I made sure to stretch my pouch out as long as I could. I ate two chews before each of my short morning runs one week since I wake up hungry these days. It was all I needed to quiet my growling tummy until I could eat a real breakfast and gave me energy to run in the 5:00 AM hour. Plus, the berry flavor was really yummy. I will definitely be buying more of these. Retail: $29.88/12 pouches ($2.49 each)

BottleBand: This invention is GENIUS!!! It is a simple piece of rubber (?) that turns any bottle into a handheld for running or any activity. The website says, “The BottleBand stretches to fit any sized bottle – from a Nalgene to a 16 oz generic bottle. Its one-size-fits all construction can also be tightened by pulling the circular bands apart to fit any hand size. The BottleBand is also extremely mobile. After you’ve finished your water, you can throw your disposable bottle away, put the band on your wrist, and run unencumbered.” So simple yet so smart! I have a handheld that I love but this is awesome for the convenience factor, and for those days that I don’t feel like carrying a bottle for my entire run. Retail: $5.99 each

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Running Sticker:  Who doesn’t love a little motivational sticker? They’re a super cute addition to my planner and perfect for some extra inspiration as I plan out my workouts for the week 🙂

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I received my November box a couple weeks ago and have already tried a few of the items. I am really loving getting such a variety of gear and nutrition each month. It’s been really fun so far! I’ll be back with another review soon!

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Stridebox (I wish I was! LOL). I purchased this subscription myself and all opinions are my own.

Stridebox: September

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 9.11.18 PM I’ve been eyeing Stridebox– a monthly subscription box for all things running related – for a few months now and finally signed up this past August. For only $15, I thought it was at least worth a try! I received my first box in early September, and have slowly been testing out each product that I got throughout the month. Now that I’ve sampled them all I can give a full review of the products and what I think about Stridebox in general!

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A3 Bar – Peanut Butter & Jelly: I took this bar with me to eat before Body Pump class one morning. The class I take during the week is from 5-6 AM and I get pretty hungry if I don’t eat anything before. This bar is like a fig newton but denser and gluten-free. It was really tasty, and even though it was small it has a decent amount of calories and protein so it filled me up until I could eat my real breakfast [a green smoothie] a couple of hours later. I would purchase more of these for sure! Retail: $26.40/12 bars ($2.20 each)

Clif Shot Bloks – Cran Razz: I’m normally a Honey Stinger Energy Chews girl, but I do occasionally eat shot bloks. I especially like the Margarita flavored ones that have extra sodium. They are great for those summertime, super sweaty long runs. I ended up really loving this new flavor of shot bloks though (At least I think it’s new, I haven’t seen it before). They were delicious! I’ve been waking up hungry lately so I ate two of them before my morning runs throughout the week, and I could tell a huge difference in my energy level and even my pace while running. I would definitely use them during a long run too. Retail: $35.75/18 packs ($1.98 each)

Gu Energy Gel – Root Beer: Although I like and use Gu energy gels (salted caramel and peanut butter are my current favorites!), I am not a fan of the flavor of root beer so I passed this onto my husband who is. Here is his review: “The Gu had a slight root beer flavor. It didn’t really live up to my expectations. I wouldn’t buy it again.” Retail: $11.60/8 packets ($1.45 each)

Beet Elite Neo Shot – Regular Flavor:  I have to admit, I saved this one for last. I don’t know why, but something about the thought of ingesting powdered beet juice made me nervous. Apparently it helps the body make more Nitric Oxide to increase endurance and improve the intensity of your workout. It also helps with recovery afterward. It’s called a “shot” because you are supposed to mix it with only 4 ounces of water. I tried it before a run where I didn’t get much sleep the night before, hoping it would give me a boost. It was a little hard for me to get down, but I was hoping the benefits outweighed that. Unfortunately I was still dragging hard on my run so it was difficult for me to see if this type of product would be worth using. They also have a black cherry flavor, which I would probably try.​ On the Stridebox website there is a ton of information and research about it. It’s all really interesting, but I’m not sure I would pay $3.50 for one little packet on my own though. Retail: $34.99/10 packets ($3.50 each)

MRM Reload Recovery (Watermelon & Lemonade): I really liked this recovery drink. It contains amino acids which help with muscle fatigue and recovery. I drank the lemonade one after a hard workout and it took a while for the powder to fully dissolve, but once it did it tasted great. However, after letting it sit for a while I didn’t like it as much. It had a strange aftertaste and the consistency changed a bit. I would recommend drinking it all at once if you can. I tried that with the watermelon one and it worked out much better. Retail: $29.99/24 servings ($1.25 each)

SK Energy Shot – Strawberry Lemonade: I let my husband have this too because I drink quite a bit of coffee and didn’t want to overload myself with caffeine. He’s more into the energy drinks and shots like these anyway. This one is a bit different than the ones he usually drinks because it contains natural caffeine from green coffee beans. Here’s his review: “The energy shot surprised me for never having heard of the brand. It was flavorful and didn’t leave a dry taste after drinking it like most other energy shots do. I felt the energy rush almost immediately and it was enough caffeine to push me through my morning. Also, I never felt any type of ‘crash’ that most other shots have.” Retail: $35.88/12 bottles ($2.99 each)

Multifunctional Seamless “Run”dana: This is one of Stridebox’s own products. It is a multi-use bandana that is tube-shaped and can be worn in a variety of ways. It’s also anti-UV, which is a nice perk. Kevin tried it out and wore it around the house one day, and I’ve worn it while running as a headband and around my wrist as a sweatband, but it comes with a card that shows all the other ways you can wear it. I think it would be nice to wear in the winter around your neck or to cover more of your head to keep it warmer. Retail: $9.99 eachDSCN3452

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Running Sticker:  Super cute reminder that it’s always a good time to go run! If you would like to sign up for your own Stridebox, you can click here. It’s only $15 a month, and after receiving two boxes I can say that what you receive is worth more than that. It also gives you a nice variety of different products that you might not otherwise get to try without having to buy a large package of them. The other nice thing about Stridebox is they are working on opening their own Stride Store. So if you end up liking something a lot, you will have the option to purchase more of them at a discounted price on their website. Currently you can access the different company’s websites through a partner link, which can get your some discounts too.

The full product list that comes in the box

The full product list that comes in the box

I just received my October box and am going to be trying those products over the next couple of weeks. I’m very excited about a few of them! I’ll be back with another review at the end of the month! Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Stridebox (I wish I was! LOL). I purchased this subscription myself and all opinions are my own.

My Favorite Running Gear Lately

It has been over two years since I shared some of my favorite running gear. I thought it was time for me to do an updated post on that topic, because things have changed a bit since then. Here are some of my favorite running things lately, with a bonus personal item at the end 🙂

Margarita Shot Bloks. I am a Honey Stinger lover all the way, but I tried these Margarita Shot Bloks with extra sodium to help with my summer long runs. I am a very sweaty runner, and I noticed these shot bloks helped a ton with cramping and keeping my electrolytes balanced. Even though it’s not as hot as it was in the summer, I still take these in the beginning of my long runs, a half pack at the 30 minute mark and the other half at the 1 hour mark. I feel like it really helps my body to frontload with the salt and electrolytes. Then I switch back to Honey Stingers for the rest of the run. This has worked very well for me and I plan to do the same at my marathon next week (eeek!).

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Zensah Compression Sleeves. I can’t remember when I got these sleeves, but they are a staple for me when it comes to long runs. I have always worn recovery socks after a long run, and then I started wearing the sleeves as well during the run. I feel like they keep my blood flowing which helps my legs stay fresh and not get as fatigued. I love them!

Amanda with her pink sleeves and me with my black ones!

Amanda with her pink sleeves and me with my black ones!

Experia Socks. I love these socks. They are pricey, but luckily my local running store has a buy 3 get 1 free deal. They are cushiony without being too heavy, and they always stay in place and never slip down (a huge pet peeve of mine). They also come in super cute colors (of course I’m wearing boring black in the picture…).

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Brooks Adrenalines for Long Runs. I love wearing my Brooks Adrenalines for long runs. After getting my running gait re-analyzed, I discovered that I don’t necessarily need such supportive shoes for my shorter, weekday running since I am not over-pronating as much. However, on my long runs I found out that I do still need the support for when I start getting tired and my form isn’t as strong.

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Asics GT2000 for Short Runs. These are the shoes I wear for my shorter runs during the week. I really like them because I feel like they fit me like a glove, and since they are less of a ‘support’ shoe they really allow me to run the way I am naturally meant to.

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My New Running Jacket. My aunt sent me this jacket for my birthday and I LOVE it. The brand is MPG, which I hadn’t heard of before she sent it to me. She actually got it at T.J. Maxx. It reminds me of Lululemon, very well made, cute colors, and nice features like a zip pocket in the back for gels/chews/a key, thumb holes, and even a hood! It’s very lightweight and perfect for fall long runs. I love it!

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My Massage Stick. I have had a traditional foam roller for a while, but have been wanting one that could get deeper into my muscles and was more portable. I had heard of “The Stick” and tried it at my chiropractor’s office. I went to my local running store and got myself a Range Roller, which functions the same way as the Stick. I really love it and it works great at getting out those tough spots that can be tough to target with a foam roller.

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Run Pace Calculator App. This is just a simple app that is fun to play around with. I will use it to figure out how long it might take me to do a long run or a race at a certain pace. It also allows me to dream of goal times that I want to run sometime in my life, and the paces that I would have to run to get there.

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Running Blogs. There are 3 running blogs that I am loving lately: Hungry Runner Girl, Mile Posts, and Run Eat Repeat. When new posts from them pop up in my Feedly I always read them before other blogs. Janae, Dorothy, and Monica are super motivating and inspiring, entertaining, and REAL.

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BONUS (Non-Running) ITEM: My Amazing Erin Condren Life Planner! Okay, so I am totally and completely Type A. I love planning, lists, and organization. Filling out my planner makes me overly excited. So when I discovered Erin Condren and her amazing life planners, I could hardly contain myself. They are not cheap (starting @ $50) but it was a birthday present from Kevin and for me, it’s worth it. It’s something I really enjoy and makes me happy 🙂

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What new running gear (or personal items) are you loving lately? I am always looking for new things to get addicted to 🙂

For Two Fitness

I would like to take a minute to rave about For Two Fitness, an amazing company that sells the cutest maternity fitness clothing. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I bought their “Running for Two” racerback tank, and it literally stretched along with me throughout my entire pregnancy as I grew.

5 Weeks vs. 37 Weeks!

             

This tank top is comfortable, flattering, and made of good quality material for exercise. It fit great from week 5 all the way through the end of my pregnancy, and I felt confident running in it and showing off my growing bump. I wore it to almost all the races I did while I was pregnant, and had so many people compliment me on it and ask me where it was from.

Here is a little photo progression that shows how my Running for Two shirt looked throughout my pregnancy. The last time I wore it was on September 8th at the Arlington 9-11 Memorial 5K when I was 37 weeks. Baby Kevin was born 4 days later!

Every proud pregnant runner should have one of these shirts! I can’t wait to wear it again for baby #2… eventually 🙂

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with this company and I bought this shirt myself. I’m just a big fan that wanted to spread the word about For Two Fitness and their clothing!

New Gear I’m Loving Lately

Back in July I wrote about a few of my favorite running things, and since then I’ve discovered a few new loves to add to the list!

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12

I’ve been wearing Saucony Hurricanes for the past couple of years. They were great for giving me stability and correcting my overpronation problems. However I had heard that the Brooks Adrenaline shoes were almost the same as the Hurricanes, if not better. I also liked that they were cheaper (I bought mine for less than $100, the Hurricanes are usually $120 – $130). I go through shoes quickly, and it really adds up! I was nervous to switch to a new shoe but I’ve been LOVING them. Compared to the Hurricanes, they feel lighter yet more supportive. I think they do an even better job of correcting how my ankle rolls inward, and they support my high arches as well. I’m a Brooks convert now!

Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves

These have been my savior on my double weekend long runs. I wear them during both runs and the compression works to support the calves and shins. The sleeves also keep the oxygen flowing to the legs so that blood circulates well. I have worn these two weekends in a row- when I did a 16 miler on Saturday and 10 miler on Sunday, and then a 10 miler the following Saturday with an 18 miler on Sunday. I was amazed by how fresh my legs felt as I was running and even the next day on my second run. Usually my legs are dead tired and feel as heavy as bricks- not with these sleeves! I also haven’t been sore at all. I also wear my compression socks for recovery after running but these are the best to wear during a run. I’m so thankful I found them!

Injinji Lightweight Performance Toe Socks

When I went to the running store recently I was talking to one of the guys there about how I tend to get blisters and calluses, especially in between my toes. He recommended these toe socks which I was unsure about at first, because I thought they would feel weird between my toes. He was so convinced that I would love them that he gave me a pair to try for free. I tried them on my long run that weekend and absolutely fell in love. They felt good and my 8 mile run was completely free of any friction, and I could feel the muscles in my feet and toes working independently instead of one unit confined into a regular sock. They’ve kept my feet in great shape- callus, blister, and pain-free! I went back and bought two more pairs, and I’m sure I’ll be back for more later.

Mizuno Breath Thermo Layered Running Tights

   

These aren’t exactly new- I bought them last winter- but I’ve been loving them lately. They have special thermo technology inside the fabric on the inner thigh and calf that converts moisture (sweat) to heat to warm up your body. These tights are AMAZING. They are my go-to pants any time the temperature goes below 30 degrees. They keep my legs nice and warm 🙂

Lululemon Headbands

I don’t own anything from Lululemon except for these headbands. I love everything Lululemon and I know the clothes are amazing quality but it’s just too expensive for me right now. I already gave Kevin the hint that a gift certificate or an outfit might be nice as a special gift for a holiday 🙂 Anyway, I do love these headbands. Unlike other headbands that refuse to stay on my head, these will remain where I put them for hours. I wore the gray one last week on my 18 mile run and it barely moved at all.

Kettlebell

I bought this with a gift card that I had to Walmart (LOL) because I wanted a way to do some strength training at home. I love Body Pump, but the classes at my gym don’t always work with my schedule.  I looked up some Kettlebell circuit workouts on Youtube and it’s been a great alternative that I can do on my own time without having to leave my house.

Fruit & Protein Smoothies

I guess this isn’t considered ‘gear’ but I’ve definitely been loving smoothies lately. It’s kind of strange because it’s winter, but I cannot get enough! We got a new blender for our wedding and it’s made all the difference in making deliciously smooth smoothies 🙂 My current favorite is frozen banana, strawberries, peaches, almond milk, and Sunwarrior protein powder.

Kindle Fire

Again, this isn’t really ‘gear’ but it has helped me with one of my most dreaded tasks – running on the treadmill. Kevin got me the Kindle Fire for Christmas and it’s been a lot of fun, but especially great for keeping me occupied and not bored to death when I’m forced to run on the treadmill. I love downloading books and reading them. It makes the time fly by!

What new gear have you been loving lately?

Me vs. the Foam Roller

I have a love/hate relationship with my foam roller. I hate how painful it is when I use it but love the results it provides my muscles when they are sore and tight. When I first began running long distances I kept coming across articles about foam rollers but had never tried one before. I am a horrible (and lazy) stretcher which leads to tight hamstrings and knots all over the place in my muscles. Once I learned about what the foam roller can do, I decided I should get one and try it out.

Who knew this foam cylinder could cause so much pain?

The idea behind the foam roller is to literally roll out your tight muscles and knots. It’s important to get these out because if they are neglected they can cause pain, stiffness, and long-term injuries.

Running Times has a great article that explains how to use the foam roller. Basically, you use your own body weight to apply pressure to your knots (or trigger points) to release them. It’s like a really painful massage that feels great once it’s all over. According to Running Times, you should:

  1. Roll back and forth across the painful or stiff area for 60 seconds.
  2. Spend extra time directly over the knot or trigger point itself. (Trust me, you will KNOW where the knots are located. You can feel them.)
  3. Roll an injured area two to three times a day. To prevent injuries, two to three times a week is recommended (I don’t do it that often, even though I should!)
  4. Avoid rolling over bony areas.
  5. Always stretch the area after foam rolling.

I broke out the foam roller tonight while watching Big Brother and asked Kevin to document the process… it wasn’t pretty!

I started with the hamstrings… my hamstrings are sooo tight. I can’t even straighten my leg all the way to stretch it most of the time.

Lifting up one leg will increase the pressure.

Then it was time to roll out the quads.

Ouch 😦

The IT band was next. This. Is. The. Worst!!!

The IT (Iliotibial) Band is made up of tough fibers that run along the outside of the thigh. I never would have known that I had so many knots in it without using the foam roller. You can truly feel the big knots inside when you roll across them.

It is so painful, especially when you stop right on the knot to apply pressure and release it.

But it’s really important to roll out your IT bands (both sides!) because if you don’t those knots can lead to ITBS (IT band syndrome) and knee injuries.

Calves are next. I skip the shins because they are too bony and it hurts a lot. I know some people roll out their shins, though.

Then I attempted to roll out my back but Kevin kept making me laugh 🙂

Whew… glad that’s over!

It truly does make a huge difference though. I know that tomorrow when I run my muscles and legs will feel so much better. Worth it!

Here’s the weekly rundown:

  • Monday: 5 mile run (47:26 / 9:29 pace) + Body Pump (1 hour)
  • Tuesday: 7 mile tempo run- 1 mile warm up, 5 miles @ 7:58 average pace, 1 mile cool down (Splits were 7:57, 7:56, 7:56, 8:01, 8:00)
  • Wednesday: Spin class (1 hour) + Body Pump (1 hour)
  • Thursday: 6 mile run (57:05 / 9:30 pace)
  • Friday: Body Pump (1 hour)
  • Saturday: 11 mile run (1:46:05  / 9:38 pace) – this doesn’t count our many walking breaks! Here’s a recap if you missed it.
  • Sunday: Rest

Can’t believe tomorrow is August 1st! Wow!

A Few of My Favorite (Running) Things!

One of the things that I love about running is that you don’t need much to do it, unlike some other sports and forms of exercise. When I first started running I had nothing except some old cotton shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers. I didn’t even have a watch and I didn’t really care to know how long or far I ran. If I ran outside, I would glance at the clock when I left and when I came back, estimate how long I ran based on my natural pace that I had determined from the treadmill (which was about 10:00 – 10:30 per mile) and call it a day. But as I learned more about running through books, magazines, and the internet, I started discovering all the awesome gear, clothing, and extra items that runners used. I started caring more about my training and signed up for races. Suddenly I just HAD TO HAVE some of these running supplies, starting with some good exercise clothes, then a Garmin watch, and from there my collection grew and grew. I knew that investing in some quality items would help me stay healthy and motivated, and improve my running.

Along the way I have tried many things and learned what I like and don’t like through trial and error. Here are the things that I can’t live without now!

Gear & Clothing

Garmin Forerunner watch. I put this first because it’s my favorite thing! Mine is on the left and Kevin’s is on the right. Mine is older and less attractive but I love it. I actually trained for and ran my first marathon in November 2008 with a regular stopwatch and my dad got me this for Christmas that year. Ever since then my Garmin watch has made a huge difference in the quality of my running. It has a GPS that tracks your speed, distance, and time, and it has tons of other features as well. It is very motivating and great for people who want to take their running to the next level. I got Kevin his for Christmas before we started training for his first marathon and he loves it too.

Good running shoes! I cannot stress how important it is to go to a running store and have them analyze your running style and feet in order to get shoes that are right for you (it’s free too!). I have done this a few times and it has made a huge difference in my running and injury prevention. I have high arches and I overpronate (my feet roll inward when I run), so I need shoes with a lot of stability that support me and correct that. An employee at my local running store videotaped me running on the treadmill and observed me running outside, and then put the video in slow motion so I could see exactly what my feet were doing when I ran. He explained how choosing the right shoes could help fix the problem, and then gave me a lot of options (in different price ranges) that I could choose from. I tried these types of shoes on and he videotaped me again. It was amazing how it corrected my running and my overpronation. These shoes help keep my body in alignment when I run, and if I had continued to wear neutral shoes without the support I needed it could have caused a lot of problems in my body. The shoes I wear now are Saucony Hurricanes. I alternate between two pairs and I keep track of the mileage on each pair. I get new ones after 300 – 500 miles, depending on how they feel. I can tell I need new shoes when my feet start hurting and I feel lots of aches and pains when I run.

Quality running shorts. Having good shorts is so important to me! I finally found a pair that I love by Nike so I bought a couple pairs of them. I bought another style last week and tried them out on a run and I hated them. They were so uncomfortable, kept riding up on me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It ruined the whole run and made me mad. So yes, shorts are important to me!

Quality running shirts (and sports bras).  Along the same lines as shorts, the tops (and sports bras) that I wear have to be lightweight, sweat-wicking, and comfortable without any annoying seams that will cause chafing. I have a whole drawer full of tank tops, t-shirts and long sleeved shirts and I love them all!

Spi-belt. I got this belt at a race-expo and it has been the best thing ever for long runs and races. The little pocket expands to hold everything you would need- gu, phone, chapstick, etc. The best part is that it doesn’t ride up your body like most running belts do.

Recovery Socks. I always wear my recovery socks after long runs or intense speed work. They are compression socks, so they help with the blood flow and circulation which helps the legs recover faster. Plus they feel good! Kevin has some black and green ones. (Please excuse my banged up knees! They’re still healing from the Warrior Dash).

Nutrition / Hydration

Coffee! All of my long run mornings start with coffee. It’s just necessary for many reasons, including caffeine and digestive purposes 🙂

Energy bars. After coffee comes pre-run fuel. Before my long runs I always used to eat Clif Bars, but after three years of eating them before every long run they make me feel sick to my stomach now. Lately I have been eating these Honey Stinger bars and I love them so much!

Energy gels and chews. Whenever I am running for more than an hour and a half I need to bring some fuel to eat during the run. I have always used Gu (Vanilla is my favorite flavor) but I recently tried the Honey Stinger energy chews and they are my new favorites. They are chewy without being too sweet, and each one is 16 calories (each Gu packet is 100 calories). I like that because I can eat a few here and there without having to eat a whole packet of Gu that sometimes makes my stomach hurt. Also, they are one of the few energy chews that are gelatin free, which is good for this vegetarian! 🙂 On my last 20 mile run I ate the chews 5 at a time every 40 – 45 minutes (at 55 minutes, 1 hr. 35 min., 2 hr. 5 min., and 2 hr. 45 min.) I try to eat them before I feel like I really NEED them, because by then it’s usually too late and things go downhill. This was the perfect amount and great timing. I never ran out of energy and never got any stomach cramps.

Camelbak. Getting a Camelbak was one of the smartest things I ever did. When I first started running long distances I wouldn’t carry enough water, which led to all kinds of bad things like dehydration (obviously), nausea, and dizziness/seeing stars once I got back home. I was worried that carrying something on my back would be heavy and annoying but it’s not at all. I am so thankful for it and I never have any hydration problems anymore. I wear it on runs that are over 12 miles. Mine is on the left (it’s a women’s fit)  and Kevin’s is on the right.

Water Bottle. For shorter runs, this bottle is the best because it holds enough water and it also has a little pouch for my keys, chapstick and an energy gel if I need one. It has a strap on the other side that you just slide your hand into so you don’t have to grip it the whole time.

Coconut Water. I used to guzzle Gatorade like crazy after long runs but I never liked how it was super sweet and full of sugar. I heard about Coconut Water and how it does a great job replacing electrolytes like Gatorade does and it’s all natural, so I gave it a try. I am hooked! I love drinking it immediately when I get home from a long or super sweaty run.

Nuun. This is another form of hydration/electrolyte replacement but it’s in a tablet form. I usually drink a big glass of water with one of these tablets dissolved in it the afternoon after a long run. It helps continue the hydration process and keeps afternoon headaches away. It tastes good too!

Protection / Personal Items

Body Glide. OH BODY GLIDE! How I love you. I put this on before long runs and it helps keep me from chafing in certain areas. The worst place I used to chafe was right under the bottom of my sports bra. It was super painful and left nasty red marks. It’s also good for feet, thighs, and anywhere else you may rub together. Kevin uses it on his nipples to avoid bloody nipple syndrome that so many male runners experience! It has worked so far!

Chapstick. Probably my second most necessary item after my Garmin watch. I can’t stand the feeling of having dry lips, it bothers me so much. I’m definitely addicted to my Burts Bees. I actually dropped it during the Nashville marathon and almost started crying when I realized it was gone. I need it!!!

Sunscreen. So important to me!!! I always wear Neutrogena Sport on my face and other exposed body parts, especially on long runs. Running in the sunshine for an hour or more can do some serious damage. I like this brand the best because it stays on and doesn’t run into my eyes or make me break out. I actually wear this on the beach too and it protects my skin very well. I haven’t gotten sunburn in a couple years.

Pepper Spray. Kevin got me this mini pepper spray to carry with me when he doesn’t run with me. Although I don’t need to carry it often, it makes me feel much safer when I have it and I’m running alone. It’s small and really easy to carry in my hand.

Ped Egg. A runner girl has to keep her feet pretty! Ped Eggs are a must! Haha.

Extras

Runners World! I learn so much from this magazine every single month. It never gets old. Love it!

Mapmyrun.com. This is a great website that I use to plan out my longer runs before I go. It’s also great for figuring out where to run in a new area or if you are traveling. It pulls up maps (even satellite) and you can create your own routes and see the elevation profile for it. Below is an example of a map I made before a 20 mile run. You can also log your runs on the website. I used to do that, but now I use Daily Mile which I will talk about next.

Dailymile.com. This is my favorite social networking site all about running. You can keep track of your training, talk to other people who care about the same things you do, send motivation, share photos, and more. You can see my full page here!

Sometimes I think back to when I first started running and I can’t believe that I didn’t use any of these things! Also, as I look at this list I remember certain things that I used to love and need when I ran, but as I evolved as a runner I changed my mind about them. The biggest example of this is music. I know that many runners love to run with music and there is nothing wrong with that! I used to rely on it so heavily, though, that I couldn’t run without it. I remember one time on a long run, my iPod died halfway through and I couldn’t fathom finishing the run without it, so I stopped. The fact that I needed music that badly in order to run worried me. I wanted to be able to run without it, so I slowly weaned myself off of it. Now I have only run with music a few times over the last 3 years, and only if I am forced to run on the treadmill (UGH, the worst!). Instead I like to spend my time running thinking about anything and everything, talking to Kevin, and taking in my surroundings.

I’m sure that later on I will look back at this list and laugh at some of the stuff that is on here, but for right now, it’s all perfect for me. I don’t use it all at the same time obviously, but I pick and choose based on the weather, the length of the run, and how I’m feeling. Sometimes I like to carry a lot of stuff and sometimes I don’t. I actually went on some runs without my watch last year and it felt very freeing. I might have to try that again soon!  🙂

What are a few of your favorite running or fitness items?