Top runners’ tips for getting your kit just right
Today, we runners are spoilt for choice when it comes to kitting ourselves out. Whatever your budget, you’ll find product designed especially for the sport that can enhance your performance, protect against injury, and ensure your run is a comfortable one every time.
Obviously, the most important piece of kit is the right pair of trainers, and I’d recommend visiting a running store or specialist sports footwear shop like Size? so that you can get fitted properly and ensure you’re buying a pair that will give you the support your individual foot type needs. But good quality footwear isn’t the only item that’s essential for running safely and successfully. Whether you’re new to running or looking to improve your existing kit, these are my top tips for getting that kit just right. While brands like Converse may look good, you need to check whether they’re going to support your foot in the correct way.
Make the most of modern fabrics
Gone are the days when runners had to make do with a couple of old cotton t-shirts. Cotton absorbs water like there’s no tomorrow, becoming heavier and more uncomfortable the more you sweat or the more it decides to rain. Today’s running kit fabrics are specially designed to wick away moisture as you sweat, pushing moisture out through the material, keeping you dry as you run and reducing chaffing too. Also, modern wicking fabrics won’t absorb water when it’s raining, and dry far more quickly straight out of the washing machine too. So make the most of these advanced fabrics, and stick to garments manufactured from a blend of polyester, nylon, polyamide, Lycra or Tactel – your body will thank you for it.
Anyone who’s run a few miles will tell you that your temperature can change dramatically over the course of a session. As well as your own body heat changing in line with your level of exertion, there’s the inclement British weather to cope with too. Wearing a single running garment may be comfortable, but it leaves you little leeway to adjust your temperature and level of comfort. Instead, opt for two or more garments, allowing you to add or remove a layer as you need. In cold conditions, two layers will trap air, providing an insulating barrier against cold. In colder conditions, it’s best to wear a wear a wicking garment next to the skin, followed by an insulating layer, and then a breathable, water-repellent outer layer.
Get the right support with a sports bra
For female runners, it’s not just your feet that feel the impact of running shocks. Running can cause discomfort to the bust if you’re not wearing the right support, and over time can cause the ligaments that support the breast to stretch irreversibly. While a traditional bra will reduced breast movement by around 35 per cent, a good sports bra will limit movement by as much as 60 per cent. It really is well worth investing in a good sports bra – either a crop-top style for a smaller bust, or enhanced support through moulded cups for a larger bust – to make your running sessions more comfortable and protect the breast tissue and ligaments in the long term.
Many runners avoid tights as they think that this extra layer for the legs will cause them to be uncomfortably warm over long sessions. But for cold weather running, warm leg-wear is essential. Today’s running tights are made from wick-away fabrics, and are breathable and lightweight, but more importantly, they keep your leg muscles warm in colder temperatures, ensuring that they function more efficiently. Keeping the legs warm will not only make running more comfortable when temperatures drop, but it also reduces your chances of suffering a muscle pull or tear.
Runners have never had so much choice when it comes to footwear. With major sports brands like Nike and Asics investing millions of dollars in research and development each year, the running shoe market has diversified like never before. Now, no matter what your running needs you’ll find a trainer designed specifically to meet them, and we’re here to talk you through the most common shoe types to help you find the shoe that’s right for you.
As the name suggests, these running shoes are designed to control the motion of the foot. Recommended for runners whose feet overpronate – when the foot rolls inwards excessively as the foot hits the ground, and for bigger runners who need extra support and protection against impact forces – these are also ideal for runners with low arches looking for added support on the arch (medial) side of their shoes, providing enhanced control of rearfoot motion.
These running shoes offer a combination of robust support and midsole cushioning. Stability shoes are designed for runners with low to normal arch height, who are mild to moderate overpronators.
Cushioned running shoes are designed with normal to high arches in mind. Featuring enhanced midsole cushioning and minimum medial (arch-side) support, they’re ideal for biomechanically efficient runners with neutral pronation. As the cushioning is concentrated in the midsole area, they’re also the perfect shoe type for those who strike the ground with their forefoot or midfoot rather than heel strikers.
These shoes are specially designed to take you off-road. They’ll give you enhanced support and shock absorption when you’re running on unsteady terrain, where you encounter uneven ground, mud, rocks, twigs and other obstacles that can be tough on the feet. They feature greater traction, are often weather-resistant, are built low to the ground for extra stability, and are generally tougher all-round.
These shoes have been optimised for speed, designed to be incredibly light and aerodynamic. Like spikes, they don’t offer much by way of support or protection against impact, so they should only be worn if you’re free from current injuries and have a neutral stride. While many racers wear these competitively, others prefer spikes or performance training shoes on the track.
With their glove-like fit, these trainers are designed for speed. While they don’t offer much by way of support or shock absorption, their spiked soles are designed to grip the soft surfaces of race tracks. They’re an essential piece of kit for competitive racing, and for those doing speed workouts on the track.
Performance training shoes
Performance training shoes come in a range of support and cushioning types, based on your own individual foot shape. What really sets them apart from other trainers is that they tend to be far lighter in weight, and have a closer fit, designed to hug the foot like a second skin. These shoes are built with the race track in mind, but are also ideal for training, provided you are a neutral pronator.
As much as we hate to pack lunches for ourselves, it’s the best option to save money and eat healthy. Whether the lunch we pack is for us or our children, there are endless possibilities when it comes to packing nutritious and delicious lunches. Here are some of the best and easiest health food items to include in your bagged lunch from now on.
Fruits and vegetables
This is an obvious one, but fruits and vegetables are always great options for lunch. Cutting up some vegetables or fruit and putting them in bags is easy and simple for lunch and convenient to eat at any point throughout the day.
When it comes to granola, you have to be super careful of the sugars that a lot of store bought granola contains. That’s why homemade granola is your best bet, especially for lunch. Granola can be made is big batches, can be stored easily and is easy to transport. The grains used in granola are healthy and satisfying and made to keep you full longer, which is a huge advantage of eating it.
This Mediterranean dip made out of chickpeas and different spices and flavors is easy to make yourself and a delicious snack. Just blend together some chickpeas with your favorite flavors in a food processor and you could have hummus for a month! The great thing about hummus is that you can freeze it and save some for months down the road. Hummus is great on crackers, with carrots and even on different breads.
Cheese has a pretty bad reputation, but it’s not all that bad if you eat it in reasonable quantities. Pay attention to the quality of cheese when you’re buying and stay away from the overly processed cheeses at the store. If you check the labels and can’t understand half of the ingredients, you should probably pass. But if you can find some minimally processed cheeses, these make a great snack and provide a great source of calcium.
Peanut butter is one of those snacks that everyone has in the back of their pantry, well besides those with peanut allergies. Peanut butter is a perfect snack and great dip for fruits and even vegetables. Stick to the natural peanut butter when buying it at the store since it’s full of healthy fats and has no added sugar, no added trans fat and isn’t made with preservatives. The consistency might be something to get used to, but once you do, you’ll never go back to the processed stuff.
Trail mix is a great snack to bring to the office for lunch or even save for a mid-afternoon snack. Trail mix can be made to your liking, with nuts, dried fruits, chocolate, crackers, and anything else you wish! As long as you don’t have a nut allergy, trail mix is a great source of energy to pick you up at lunch time and get you through the rest of the day.
Whether you like sweet or salty, there’s a snack option above for any type of appetite. You don’t have to run to the vending machine next time you’re getting hungry. Save your money and the calories and pack yourself something easy and nutritious. Your body will thank you later, and you’ll feel better about the choices you made too.
Becky Karn is a freelance writer and health advocate. She’s researched and studied some colleagues who have gotten their online masters in health administration USC, and is still learning from their healthy choices and knowledge of nutrition.