What I never leave home without (my running equipment)

At my recent triathlon, I was lucky enough to score a free shirt from the Garmin exhibit, which read:

If you see me collapse, someone pause my Garmin

Sadly, that sums me up SO well. There are some things that when it comes to training, I just don’t leave home without.

The shoes

This is where a bit of money goes, but not the most (you’ll freak when you see the cost of my watch).

I religiously lived for my old Nike Lunarglide, but they recently reached the point where I was blistering up again because they had reached point of death. It was time to move on.

When I went to buy some new ones, the lady convinced me to try on these Asics GT 2000 3 (D). Admittedly they were incredibly comfortable and soft to walk in, but now that I’ve finished reading Born to Run, I’m wishing I’d try for one of the barefoot style shoes. I’m still thinking about going that way.

My old Lunarglides never gave me any blisters when I started wearing them, and unfortunately I’m not having that same experience with the Asics. I’ll give them time however, I don’t want to drop all that money just for them to clog up space at home. Whatever shoes you opt to use, make sure that you’ve thought seriously about your aims, and got what’s best for you. Do not just go for something that looks good.

Running clothes:

Well, duh. Because otherwise I would be naked. I’m not your Lorna Jane princess though, as I still can’t really justify spending $80 on some shirt with a slogan designed to make me look sexy. When I’m running, there is nothing sexy about sweating and puffing. I’m not there to look good; I’m there to be comfortable and enjoy myself.

Thus my usual running clothing consists of some comfortable shorts; I’ve become a bigger lover of some that Adidas make that go about halfway down my legs. No short shorts here, no one needs to see this flub flapping around! I want leg coverage so that I don’t have to worry about showing too much skin, and can focus on my form.

Shirts, I do tend to spend a bit more on my singlets but that’s for a functional purpose – the ones from Nike with DriFit I adore. They’re so comfortable to run in and I don’t feel like the material sticks to my back.

Socks – give or take. I’m happy with some sort of ankle sock.

The watch and heart rate monitor kit

My greatest expense to date.

I never realised how much I wanted one of these until I started dating Mario. He gave me my first sports watch, an old Garmin 310xt. It could track different sports during a triathlon (to tell if you’re swimming, in transition etc) and for a regular run it used GPS to tell your distance. The Heart Rate monitor also tracked how much I was dying. A lover of statistics, this just started the obsession.

Unfortunately, coming up to my recent triathlon I managed to misplace my heart rate monitor, and I still haven’t found it. I wasn’t keen on losing stats, so we went out looking for a replacement. Just the heart rate monitor mind you.

Then I saw this watch. It had already bugged me that my old watch couldn’t handle swimming, whereas Mario’s could count swim stroke, distance (much more accurately than mine, the GPS would cut in an out and for a 400m swim it added over 300m) and more. I was very jealous. I was also wearing a pebble most days, to connect with my iPhone and alert me to my notifications. On top of that, I was also trying to use a step counter app on the pebble that linked with my iphone, and also trying out the iPhone step counter as well. It meant I had to carry my iPhone everywhere. I had started to think about fitbit accessories.

Enter my new Garmin. This is the 920xt. It has a step counter, it has a watch mode (for every day wear), it counts swim strokes, what stroke you’re doing, recommend drills, it has a heart rate monitor, it can track vertical oscillation, cadence and ground contact for reviewing my running form, it has all my regular cycling functions that I love etc etc etc. I could keep going on and on and on. I paid $600 for this baby on a day when I was shopping for a heart rate monitor, but I do not regret it.

One of the coolest features that I really do believe was a godsend during the triathlon, is the ability to enter a pace alert. I can enter in that I want to maintain a pace between 6mins 30 – 7mins per kilometre. If I’m over or under that it will vibrate to warn me, and display my current pace on the screen. I had this programmed for the tri, because the first time I did a sprint distance tri when it came to the run leg, I ran like a crazy lady. I ran so fast I was knackered within 200m, and I had only a 4km run to do. My run pace at the end of that 4km was still averaging around the 6min mark including my walk breaks, so I really had no idea what I was doing. Over a 10km run that just wasn’t going to cut it, particularly as I’d already swum 1500m and cycled 40km. I had my watch set, and for the first kilometre it did nothing but buzz. I kept having to talk myself into slowing down, but courtesy of that watch I ran non-stop for the first 6km. Then fatigue started to set in, and I started walk/running. Then blisters completely shattered my feet and the last 2km were pure hell. But I finished 🙂

With my upcoming marathon training, this watch is really going to prove its worth. I can program a workout into Garmin connect (the online interface, also freaking amazing), download it to the watch and off I go. Alerts to tell me when I’m meant to be running or walking, distance alerts etc. As I practise my swimming I can compare my stroke efficiency to get better at pulling myself along in the water while using less energy. I can tell if I’m training in the right heart rate zone for an easy run. Based on how much I have just spammed about this watch, you can tell I love it.

If you’re going to get serious, I can’t recommend a quality sports watch enough. Garmin make plenty of cheaper ones designed just for running, or a bit of swimming too (the level of statistical reporting will be a little bit smaller obviously).

So what about you, is there anything you can’t leave home without?