And whiskers on kittens….you know the rest – bright copper kettles, cream colored ponies, brown paper packages tied up with string. Well, here is a list of MY favorite things – at least my favorite exercise things. None of which include doorbells or schnitzel with noodles.
In the spirit of the (giving and receiving) season, I thought I’d share my favorite exercise gear, most of which I acquired in the last year or so. Prior to 2011, I was a total minimalist runner. I had good shoes, basic workout clothes and headphones. Then I started racing with Colby, running longer distances and cycling. Boy, has my gear increased. Exponentially. Colby, you are a bad, bad influence (in more ways than one. One of the many reasons I love you.) Do I need it all? Of course not. I ran 20+ years without any of the things listed below (except for the headphones). But every item listed below has absolutely improved my workout experience, without question.
Looking for a gift for a runner? Or to drop hints for something to find under the tree with your name on it? Check out the list below – all are tried, tested and Marathon AND Sprint approved.
Disclaimers: No, I don’t receive a dime for any of these recommendations. I don’t even think these companies know I exist. And no, I’m not Oprah, so everyone reading this will NOT receive a full set of these items for free. I wish! Someday, if Colby and I become co-Queens of All Media, we, too, will bless you with freebies. But for now, you’re on your own.
1. Garmin Forerunner. Yes, sometimes I hate the Garmin as much as I love it. But if I just ignore the big, flashing pace feature, I only love it. Without question, the Garmin has made the biggest difference in my running experience – knowing that I can set off in any direction, without a pre-arranged route, and still be able to track mileage? Awesome. Plus, it works on my bike, as well. Worth every penny that I didn’t spend (it was a gift).
2. Road ID. Really, a must for anyone who exercises outside. In the event that I meet my fate while out running or cycling, my final act of love for my loved ones will be ensuring that they don’t need to ID me by my dental records, thanks to Road ID. It even has space for a note of my allergies (Soy! Eurythromicin! Hazelnuts!), in case there is an incident that leaves me woozy and someone tries to feed me a vegan cookie slathered with Nutella before I have a chance to come to my senses.
3. Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. I love to run outside in the cold. I do not love to ride my bike outside in the cold, and riding on my local roads in snowy or icy conditions would constitute a suicide mission. (As much as I love having the Road ID, the goal really is not to use it.) Enter the Road Machine. Load bike on trainer, and voila, you’re cycling inside. On your own bike! It’s awesome.
4. North Face Torpedo Jacket. I have looked for years for the “right” waterproof windbreaker jacket. I looked so long, in fact, that I was still rocking a neon Avia jacket from 1988 in Spring 2013. In May, I finally found a replacement so I can give Neon Avia the rest she deserves. The biggest difficulty I had in finding a replacement was finding a jacket that wasn’t lined, wasn’t too heavy, and didn’t have a hood. If it is chilly, I’d rather layer under the jacket than be stuck with something that is too hot for warm-ish rainy days. And I’d rather wear a hat than a hood for running, any day. The North Face Torpedo jacket is extremely lightweight and excellent at repelling water. Does exactly what I want and nothing that I don’t want. And I got it for 50% off on clearance. Score!
5. YakTrax Run’s. For anyone who likes to run in the snow. Or hates to run on a treadmill. Or hates to run in the snow but is training for a spring marathon and lives in a snowy climate and has no choice. I love these babies. They are light, easy to use, barely impact the feel of my run and yet provide excellent traction. I ran through last year’s snowy winter with them without any problems. And the coming storm this weekend may give me a chance to use them again. I hope so!
6. Athleta Running Beanie. Functional and functional. Fits tightly, keeps head warm, and has a hole for my ponytail. I don’t look good in hats, but fortunately, I don’t care if I look good on my run. And I think it looks cute on everyone else.
7. Chica Bands. My hair is thick and strong. I’m pretty sure it is stronger than my biceps. A mere elastic is not enough to hold it back. I’m up to 2 elastics, a barrette and a chica band. The chica band does a great job of keeping the hair that inevitably escapes from my various traps from falling in my face. Stays in place. Does not move. Love it. There are plenty of other brands that make these non-slip headbands, and I’m sure they are good, too. I have only chica bands, so that is what I can recommend. I will say that if you go for another brand non-slip headband, make sure it is the type with a velvet backing – as opposed to some kind of rubber – because it will stay put without tearing your hair out. Your scalp (and hairline) will thank you.
8. Sansa Clip. My beloved mp3 player. It is tiny, light, has a handy clip and is only around $35. I do have an iPod, but rarely run with it because it is big and doesn’t have FM radio. What I really love about my Clip is that not only is it light and easy to carry, but at the $35 price point, I can have one just dedicated to running. I can keep it with my running stuff so it is always easy to find, and every song on it is good for running. No messing around with playlists – I can just turn it on and go.
9. Foam Roller. Ms. Colby sent me for my birthday last year. What a difference it makes in tired and sore muscles. Tight and can’t get to a masseuse? No problem. Just dig out the foam roller and DIY. No, you won’t get the full indulgent spa experience, but you will get happy muscles. It’s awesome. I need to remember to use it more.
10. Groovy Run Short. I’m not a lululemon junkie, but I must say that I own only two lululemon products and both are on this list, which says something. The Groovy Run Short is a great running short and the perfect race short. Lightweight, a waistband that doesn’t chafe, and a handy back zipper pocket for your keys or Gu. I picked them up this summer and have happily worn them to every race I have run since I bought them.
11. Bundle Up Jacket. Best winter running jacket ever. Light. Warm. Fitted. Detachable hood. Soft and cozy on the inside; waterproof on the outside. Sadly, it appears to be discontinued. If you can’t find it anywhere, the Fleecy Keen seems to be the replacement model for the Bundle Up – they look similar, at least. But check with your local lulu salesperson before you drop the $198, of course.
12. Alex & Ani Bangles. OK, I don’t wear these while working out. But I love them. I love the charms, I love what they mean, and I love the people who gave them to me. Consider them as a gift for any runner on your list!
Ho, Ho, Ho. Happy Shopping! And Opening!