Monday, April 19, 2010

Running Gadgets and Gear Part II

Remember all those nifty things I recommended in my post two weeks ago? (Click HERE for a refresher with pictures!) Now it is time that I share with you some gear and gadgets that I do not recommend for running. They might seem great and useful, but most people don't need them. Life gets so complicated with accessories sometimes; running brings us back to simpler times. It is a minimalist sport. Some people don't even wear shoes while running! (Although those people are not typically running on paved sidewalks and paths like the rest of us.)
          So here's the list:
  • running socks
  • water bottle belt
  • heart rate monitor
  • personal alarm
Here's why:

You may find that you get blisters or have issues with your socks while running, but you may not. I haven't had any problems with this, but my running partner has. She develops blisters on runs longer than 10 miles. So she has specific socks that she wears, but they aren't some expensive set that she found at a specialty running store. She just figured out a particular type that work for her. I wear regular athletic socks and they are prefect for me. So before you go out and buy fancy socks, try what you already have. Make adjustments as you need to. The same goes for gloves and hats. Keep it simple. Or make it fun with some cool shark socks like these.

I discussed the water bottle belt in my last post, but I have decided to officially add it to this list of things I don't recommend. No, I haven't tried one out yet. However, the more I read and hear about other runners' opinions on this the more I see it as superfluous. And obnoxious. And just another expense.

Heart rate monitors are distracting. I can understand having one if you have a condition that you need to monitor, but otherwise it just keeps you thinking about the work your body is doing rather than the fun you are having. It turns a liberating activity into a strenuous workout. To that I say, "No thanks!"

Last is the personal alarm. These are marketed for women in particular and emit a loud siren when you press the panic button. It is designed for safety from predators, but I believe in other methods that also happen to be more affordable and possibly more effective. Fortunately, I haven't had to put these methods to the test, but they are: always have a buddy or group and always run during daylight hours, preferably in very public places. Sometimes a training schedule and time constraints will cause you to run when visibility is low. You can pick up reflective belts or other accessories from military surplus stores for cheap. Still take extra precaution by having one or more person with you, though. These alternatives to the personal alarm will help you to avoid danger and high costs of running accessories. Win, win!

So there are still plenty of other running accesories out there and I haven't tried most of them. My message is that a vast majority of them should be called excessories. I see them as a waste of money.  Running is meant to be simple, so keep it that way. Just as all the authors on here have already demonstrated, healthy living does not have to be complicated, nor does it have to be expensive.


Kathy Haynie said...

Good advice! Just like those marketing folks to make our fun workouts more complicated...

I DO love my pedometer. I got one for $20 five or six years ago. I paid $5 extra for a little strap to clip it to my waistband, and I've never lost it; have only had to replace the battery once. It motivates me to walk more.

And I confess...I did go to the running store to buy running socks before the Goat Mountain Gallop. I had been having trouble with blisters in a couple of spots on my longer training hikes, and the socks did seem to help. But I wouldn't need them every day, just for the longer distances.

alee said...

Here in Humid-ville, the dri-fit socks that wick the moisture away from your body is a must! I haven't really found that the running version of these is any better than the regular old version of dri-fit athletic socks though.

Amen- healthy living shouldn't be complicated and expensive! :) My sister likes to run with one of those Nike chips in her shoes to work with her ipod, but I can't really even make myself run with an ipod when I am outside...I love the simpleness of the sport for sure!

Jhonne said...

Excellent post! I've been searching for a good quality socks for running. I'm grateful to have my smartwool socks that provide the utmost comfort.

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