In my inaugural blog post I reviewed an example of the single most important piece of gear needed by every runner: a pair of gait-appropriate shoes. Obviously there are many other equally important items needed to get a runner out the door, but in this post I want to focus on some of the unheralded running products that should be in every runner’s gear arsenal. These products, while often overshadowed by shoes, sports bras and shorts, can play an equally key role in keeping your runs comfortable, safe, and even fashionable!
Technical Running Socks
First all, I would like to give a big fast and fabulous shout-out to the technical sock. Before you balk at the average price tag of $10 a pair, please consider that investing in proper running socks can afford you dry, happy feet and blister-free running. Technical socks, unlike their cotton counterparts, are made of synthetic materials that move moisture away from the foot rather than absorbing it. For you this translates into drier socks that stay in place and are free of friction/ blister-causing stretching and bunching. There are plenty of great tech socks out there, and you are sure to find one that aligns with your sock-height and cushioning preferences at your favorite local running store. My personal favorite is the Swiftwick Vibe. Available in 3 different cuts and a nice variety of fun colors, this plush yet thin, compressive sock offers a snug moisture wicking fit that stays put, plus a hint of comfy cushioning.
Check them out in full detail here: Swiftwick Vibe Sock
Next on my list of fabulous yet underrated running accessories are arm warmers (also called arm sleeves by some). Once solely the domain of cyclists, these are generally inexpensive and perfect for those spring or fall runs and race days when it is too warm for long sleeves but potentially too chilly for short sleeves. They essentially turn any short sleeve shirt into a convertible long sleeve, allowing you to easily shed added warmth should you find yourself heating up mid-run. Furthermore, arm warmers often offer other useful benefits like compression and sun protection, and many companies are capitalizing on their value as a fashion accessory by making them in plenty of exciting prints and colors. My cheetah print Moeben arm sleeves are an essential component of my cooler-weather race day ensemble. Just putting them on makes me feel a little faster! Check out all of Moben’s fun and funky arm sleeve options here: Fun, Funky Moben Arm Sleeves. If your style is perhaps more sedate than cheetah and tattoo prints, you will also find that myriad other companies, from Asics to Zensa (and many in between) sell arm warmers as well. Asics makes a great soft knit arm warmer that is cozy on a cold morning, Nike’s are featherweight, Zensa’s provide compression features to keep blood flow directed to your most important running muscles and De Soto’s “arm coolers” deflect the sun and use evaporative cooling technology to keep a runner cooler on extremely hot runs. The wide variety of arm sleeve options means that there are surely sleeves to fit every runner’s desires and needs.
Practical, light-weight Nike arm warmers in basic black, and fast, fabulous cheetah print Moben ones for days when you feel like walking (and running) on the wild side!
The Road ID
The third item on my list emphasizes both style and safety. Behold the Road ID:
This nifty little ID tag offers extra peace of mind for you and your loved ones by providing emergency responders with important emergency contact and medical information that could save your life! In purchasing a Road ID you have the option of setting up a secure, updatable online emergency profile to be accessed by medical personnel in the event of an emergency. As if that isn’t a good enough reason to go the Road ID website and purchase one right now, this awesome product is also available a whole spectrum of colors and styles that can be worn on the wrist, ankle, or shoe. With all these options you are guaranteed to find a Road ID option that caters to your personal style and safety needs. Check out Road ID options here: Road ID
Now, tell the truth…are you tired of putting your car key in that sketchy inner-shorts-waistband key pocket? Chafed from stashing energy gels in your sports bra? Suffering from carpal tunnel from clutching your iPod for your entire long run? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, I recommend that you drop whatever you are doing, drive to the nearest running store, and purchase a Spibelt immediately! This small, inconspicuous yet surprising expandable personal item belt can accommodate any standard smart phone or iPod/ mp3 player, your car keys, your ID, and enough gels to get you through a marathon! (According to the Spibelt website, it can hold up to 5 gel packs!) The Spibelt is super-adjustable, offering a bounce-free fit for even the most petite and slender runners. And you guessed it, like most products featured on The Fast and the Fabulous, it comes in a vast array of bright colors and it is available in a waterproof option and kid’s sizes! Learn more about the marvels of the Spibelt here: Spibelt!
Last but far from least, the Foot Rubz ball. This golf ball-sized piece of pure foot bliss may be one of the best deals that exists in the entire realm of running gear! Retailing for approximately $5.50 this little green wonder is a saving grace for many who suffer from sore arches and plantar fasciitis.
It is firm enough that it doesn’t compress under body weight and the little nubs provide just the right amount of targeted massaging action for often grouchy muscles and tissues on the underside of a runners foot. If you have ever longed for a foot rub post-run (or first thing in the morning, or at the office while sitting at your desk…) then this is the answer to your prayers. As a bonus it is much, much cheaper than an on-call foot massage therapist! More information on Foot Rubz here: Foot Rubz
So there you have it: my round-up of the 5 most underrated products for runners. I hope that they help keep you healthy, comfortable, safe and of course fast and fabulous in the long run!
Cheers to these unsung heroes of running gear and the brilliant minds that thought them up, to Allie, my favorite blogging consultant, proofreader, and photographer, and to all of you for reading!