Over-rated: Trendy Gadgets
Don’t get me wrong - gadgets like Fitbit, and Jawbone are cool. They track your sleep, steps, calories and much more. But do you actually do something with all that data? Does it help you run faster
? Unless you’re using the changes in heart rate and sleep patterns to determine when you need an extra recovery day or reassess what you’ve planned for your interval workout, these tools are cool gadgets with a lot of information.
Splurge-worthy, but you can do better with your money.
Useful Investment: A Heart Rate Monitor
The heart rate is an indicator of the amount of work the body is actually doing in a specific activity. This is especially helpful for runners who don’t have a good gauge on perceived effort. Knowing your heart rate allows you to be intentional about the kinds of runs you do. Aim to get in 1-2 workouts per week where heart rate gets elevated to 175-185 for interval sections. This could be a threshold type workout where heart rate stays in the 170-175 bpm range for 2 sets of 10 minutes with a 3 minute jog between, or a more Vo2 max type workout where you perform 4-6 sets of 2-3 minutes (with equal rest), holding the heart rate between 180-185 bpm . I also recommend taking 2 or 3 recovery days between hard sessions where the heart rate stays under 150-155 bpm for the entirety of the run.
Verdict: A heart rate monitor is a tool that allows you to be intentional about each run.
Barefoot, minimal, zigzag technology, ultra-flexible, toning, bubble technology…the list goes on. Each year shoe companies try to identify cool concepts that will sell more shoes. Now I’m not harping on new and interesting concepts. I’m only saying that they’re not guaranteed to work, they’re not guaranteed to help you, and you won’t know if they’ll work for you unless you try them. Sometimes it’s worth it…most of the time it isn’t. There is too much conflicting research to suggest that everyone can handle barefoot running
and there is not enough time before the next fad to truly study how different “technologies” affect performance. Stick to what has worked with you and let the latest fad be just that – a fad.
If you’re buying a shoe because it seems cool or looks pretty, use it to wear with jeans or non-impact activities.
Invest in: Quality and Longevity
There are plenty of options from many different shoe companies to provide a quality shoe for your needs and activity level. If there’s a shoe that has worked for you in the past stick with that. I always encourage people to be a little on the conservative side with a staple shoe and then use different concepts or elements, like a lower drop, as something you sprinkle in a little bit here and there.
Verdict: When it comes to your runs, stick with what works for you.
Nobody likes chafing, and with the weather heating up, each run will be a little sweatier, increasing the chances of chafing. So why fight it? By choosing seamless clothing options, you eliminate the chances of those seams rubbing and creating friction. Seamless options also provide a softer and lighter feel, helping you focus on what matters most: your run. Especially during the summer, nobody needs seams - go seamless!
Get the seams out of here!
Invest in: UV Protection
With summer in full swing the days are getting hotter and longer. And if you runs are lengthening then so is your sun exposure. There are many options for athletic fabrics that provide UV protection while also being lightweight and wicking. Check out any of the options from your favorite brand for a good way to ward off unnecessary rays while out on the road.
Verdict: This great technology has your back when you forget your sunscreen.
Over-Rated: Fancy Watches
I’m the first person to admit a love for my Garmin…. mainly because it’s really pretty. But you know what I use it for 95% of the time? A timer. That’s right I use a $220 watch to do the same thing as a watch I could’ve bought at WalMart for $12. This is not to say that there aren't some great features on this watch. When I have to hold a specific pace for a long time, I am REALLY glad I have a Garmin. But does knowing pace help most runners? Does it help you dial in race pace? Does it help you execute your workout? If so, then a GPS watch might be a good option for you, but most runners
should be a lot more focused on executing their hard workouts appropriately and taking their easy days at a true recovery pace rather than trying to beat their previous run’s time.
Most runners really just need to get in an effort for a set period of time rather than worry about whether they averaged 3 seconds per mile faster than Wednesday's run.
Like any cool gadget, a fancy watch gives you a lot of information, but unless you have a need and reason to do something with that information, it’s just another toy.
Useful Investment: A Running Backpack
Do you know what a running backpack can bring you? Run freedom. A quality running backpack will provide enough room for a change of clothes and some key shower items. Aim for a backpack that fits your torso well and clocks in around 1-1.5 pounds. There is nothing more efficient than turning your run into your commute. Most efficient way to get home? Run. Most efficient way to get to the gym? Run. A running backpack will make run-commuting possible and efficient.
Verdict: This will change your life and your legs forever.