With a 10-month old and a 7-year old running around, our house is perpetually cluttered and chaotic. I try to keep my running gear in a “safe” place so that it doesn’t get mixed up with all the toys, books, video games, clothes, and the million other things that seem to always find their way onto the floors, tables, chairs….you get the idea. Enter the running gear drawer.
Because I’m always curious what products and gear other runners find helpful (or not, as the case may be), I thought I’d share a glimpse inside my running drawer and take the opportunity to talk about what I’m currently using (and loving!) on my runs.
- FlipBelt. I’ve already reviewed FlipBelt, and for the most part, I still really like the product. I have found that it continues to slide up my waist for the first few minutes of most runs – almost like it needs to find a spot to settle – but once I can get it situated comfortably around my hips, I’m good to go. It makes carrying my phone, water, and fuel much easier than any other method I’ve tried.
- Huma Gels. I raved about these during my training for the Wineglass Half, and I still find that these gels are my absolute favorite fuel on the run. I can actually feel myself become more energized after taking one, and they generally sit well in my stomach. I’m fortunate enough to have a sister-in-law who got me the Huma variety pack for Christmas, so I’ve been testing out different flavors to see which ones work best for me. Right now, I’m all about the raspberry Huma.
- Body Glide. I don’t use this too often, especially in the winter, but it’s a running staple. Good to have around when you do need it, because chafing is the worst.
- Sunglasses. I bought these sunnies from Under Armour a few summers ago, and they have held up through several years of runs in all kinds of weather. Since they are the only pair of athletic sunglasses I’ve ever owned or used, I don’t have much to compare them to, but they seem to get the job done, stay put, and are light enough that they don’t cause headaches or any other type of pain. In fact, I barely notice that they’re there when I’m wearing them.
- FlipBelt 5 oz. Water Bottle. Over the years, I have tried so many ways of carrying water with me during runs: hydration belts, handhelds, you name it (one thing I’ve never used is a CamelBak – I put one on once and immediately knew that it wasn’t going to work for me on a run). I’ve never had long-term success with anything, so I began just leaving a water bottle on my driveway and running loops for long runs that would allow me to stop and sip water every 3-4 miles. However, during a recent trip to my local running store, I came across this little water bottle designed to fit inside the FlipBelt. While I can’t say that I absolutely love it, it has worked better for me than any of the other options I have tried over the years. It fits nicely inside the FlipBelt, and it’s small enough that I don’t really notice that it’s there. Unfortunately, because it’s so small, I find that by the end of a long run I’m only getting a small swig of water because that’s all that’s left. As a result, I’ve been experimenting with a 13 ounce Simple Hydration bottle that can be tucked between the FlipBelt and my back. Results are still pending on that one.
- Headlamp. Another running staple. I have used this same headlamp, the Princeton Tec Vizz, for several years and have generally been happy with it but will probably start looking for a headlamp with a stronger light soon. It’s very dark in the early morning hours where I live – few or no streetlights on most of the roads – so I need a serious headlamp to truly see where I’m going and feel safe.
- Pepper spray. Another staple for those super-dark early morning runs. The issue of runner safety – especially for women – is a huge one that I won’t delve into now. Suffice to say, pepper spray is my personal choice for protection (along with using the RoadID app) when I’m running alone in the dark.
- nuun tablets. If you’ve been around the running community long enough, you’ve almost certainly heard of nuun, a brand of hydration products – specifically, electrolyte tablets – to help you stay hydrated and energized while running. I tend to be skeptical of products with a lot of hype surrounding them, but as I’ve been on a mission to figure out what fuel and hydration strategy works best for me, I decided to give nuun a try. So far, I’ve been really happy with them. They taste good and don’t sit heavily in your stomach, which I’ve found to be the case with Gatorade and Powerade. Even better, they promise “clean” ingredients, which in my book is a much smarter option than the list of stuff I can barely pronounce that goes into most sports drinks.
- Gloves. These have come in very handy with the recent wave of Arctic air that has been plaguing the East Coast. As you can see, I have a lighter pair of Nike gloves that I wear mostly when it’s in the 30s, and a heavier pair of Under Armour Cold Gear Infrared gloves that I wear when temperatures drop below freezing. Both of these pairs see about equal use, and I have had both for several years with no complaints. Bonus: when it gets really, really cold out, the lighter pair fits inside the heavier pair for a double layer of protection.
- Garmin Forerunner 220 Watch. I know. We can spend all day debating which brand and model of watch is the best for runners. But not right now. After some research, I invested in this Garmin during marathon training in Fall 2015, and have worn it on virtually every run since. I have few complaints about my Garmin – it does exactly what I need it to do, and has been extremely reliable.
- Knee Braces/Straps. Tucked back in the corner of my running drawer are a selection of knee straps. I have had knee issues from playing various sports ever since I was a teenager, and sometimes on runs my knees will still act up. I find that a few runs using a strap and using that old standby, the RICE method, tend to resolve the little flare-ups that come and go.
- Hats and Headbands. Another runner staple: a variety of headwear. Stacked here, you can see my Under Armour fleece beanie (which I love because it has a ponytail hole in the back), a UA fleece headband, and a baseball-style cap that I use for rainy runs (and only when absolutely necessary, because I think I look ridiculous in it). Not pictured: the extensive collection of headbands I wear for “normal” runs. They take up their own drawer, in my bedroom.
- AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Headphones. I have reviewed these headphones in detail already, and continue to love and rave about them every chance I get. They are a necessity for me whenever I want to listen to music or podcasts on the run.
- Light-up Armbands. I’m ending this little tour of my running drawer on an unusual item. My brother-in-law discovered these inexpensive light-up armbands (I have no idea who makes them) at a hardware store and thought I could use them for running in the dark. They have a velcro strap that fastens them around each of your arms, and the translucent part of the band lights up red when they’re turned on. They can either blink red or stay solid. Although I will probably seek other running-specific light-up gear in the near future, these armbands get the job done for now.
So that ends the running gear drawer tour. I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring the gear I’m using and that I find essential as a runner. If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments. And I’d love to hear what’s in your “running drawer”, too!