Whether you’re running the 10k, 5k, or the fun run, the right running gear can shave precious seconds off of your finish time. Sure a poor craftsman blames his tools and all that jazz, but those “tools” can make a huge difference in the running world. In this case, the “tools” are socks and headphones, but tools nonetheless.
Here are a few of my gym bag essentials and the reasons I love them:
2XU Women’s Compression Performance Run Socks – Not in the least bit attractive, let’s just get that out of the way right out of the gate, but these socks help to keep your legs fresh even deep into your long runs. Although I don’t use compression socks for every run, they do give you extra “oomph” with each strike of the pavement. I love these 2XU socks but also own the Mojo Coolmax Recovery & Performance Sports Compression Socks. Notice the title- these bad boys can be used for recovery as well. Overall, the idea of compression products is to keep your blood flowing during physical activity and prevent swelling in your extremities.
Saucony Women’s Kinvara 6 Running Shoe – One of the most common questions for running newcomers and veterans alike is “What kind of shoes should I be wearing.” Like many other runners out there, I thoroughly jacked my feet up running in Nike Free’s. Just don’t Do It. Aaron Hewitt, P-AC of OrthoCarolina gets this question from his patients often. “Air pockets. Over pronation. Under pronation. Minimalist, Shock absorption. Midfoot. Heel strike. All of these terms companies use to get you in their product.” His expert advice?: “Find a pair that works. Don’t buy the cheapest. Don’t buy the most expensive.” Every runner is different and finding that Cinderella-fit is elusive but rewarding. I am a Saucony and Brooks loyal, but know that those brands and especially the styles I prefer aren’t the best choice for everyone. For me, they work great and I buy them in bulk and rotate shoes on alternating run days.
Be sure you make the right choice for you using OrthoCarolina’s running shoe buying guide here.
Balega Hidden Comfort Socks – From my days in the dance studio, to sky-high heels, and (of course) distance running, my poor feet have been through the wringer. I use good ol’ paper first aid tape to avoid blisters, but these socks make that practice almost unnecessary. I got mine from Run For Your Life on Kings Drive. The importance of thread count and benefits of wearing the right socks for your shoes and distance is driven home by their large selection of this often overlooked piece of gear.
Fabletics Duds – Have this top, NEED these leggings. Fabletics offers awesome deals on activewear you’ll actually want to wear… and maybe even be active in (I see you, chick in the running leggings at bottomless mimosa brunch)! There’s a brand new SouthPark Fabletics store front you can shop in-person if buying activewear online is not your thing. Although their sizing can be a little wonky, don’t fret, Fabletics offers no-sweat exchanges with free shipping both ways.
Incredible by Victoria’s Secret Sport Bra – I’ve heard murmurs that Vicki is going to stop pedaling much beyond push-ups soon. That means no swimwear, no workout wear, etc… I for one am none too please because the Incredible Sport is truly incredible. I have 3 currently and just stocked up on more after hearing the sad news about VS’s drastic reduction in merchandise options. Typically I avoid the excessively glittery, bright pink lacquered Victoria’s Secret store, but would live in that Barbie Dreamhouse-esque hell hole if they would keep making these babies. Not only do they hold your, ahem, assets in but they look pretty in the process with a very pretty shape thanks to light padding and underwire you somehow can’t feel. While other brands (like my very effective, very matronly Under Armor number) work fine, this bra does it with style.
Violet Love Headband – Admittedly, I have a personal allegiance to this brand. Rebecca Michaels left her job as a Civil Engineer to start Violet Love, a vegan headband brand made in LA. Not only is she smart and business savvy, but she’s gorge too. That’s her modeling the Natalie headband above. Michael’s names her styles after famous ladies (the Natalie is named after Natalie Wood) and she just launched a new black label line of headbands with thicker, more absorbent fabric for your hardest workouts. I love running in these headbands- they keep my hair tame and the sweat out of my eyes.
Fit Spirit Foam Rollers – One of my favorite post-run rituals is to lay out my yoga mat, turn on a vintage episode of The Office, grab a snack and some water and foam roll as I stretch. This model has a nifty smaller roller that easily stores inside of his big brother and helps you to really dig into your tightest muscle groups.
Pro Tec Roller Massager – Foam rolling is amazing, but this little torture device is otherworldly. The ridges give you variation to stretch out your muscles in a way you wouldn’t be able to without an aid. During especially tough training periods, you can find my roller tucked in my work bag, on my passenger seat, or otherwise by my side.
JayBird BBX1MB BlueBuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphones – Bluetooth headphones can get pretty pricey. Ever the deal-hunter, I found this discontinued model of a reputable brand for a steal. They stay secure, have a volume control toggle on the chord, and enough battery life to last me through a half marathon! With all headphones, however, make sure that the seal isn’t so good that you can’t hear your surroundings. Especially running in a city like Charlotte, it’s important to be aware of what is around you at all times. Don’t forget a killer playlist like the one I put together for all of your ScoopCharlotte readers training for the Ortho 10k- check it out here.