Get the gear.

There are endless gadgets and gear that you can buy to support your running habit.  Some of them are vital, some are cool, and some are just a money drain. The single most important  piece of equipment you can own if you play outside is an Id.  For a lot of years, I just tucked a scrap of paper with my info on it into my waistpack or bike bag.  A while back, at a race, someone stuck a flyer on my windshield for Road Id. This is a great company, and they make ids in many styles to wear on your neck, wrist, ankle or shoe.  The engraved tags can be moved between multiple bands (good thing, cause my first one was pink and didn’t stay nice for very long!)  You can find them at Road Id.

Next, you need a way to carry stuff like keys, water, epi-pen or inhaler, camera or phone, energy bars (candy bars taste waayyyy better), or extra layers.  I’m partial to a waist pack.  I’ve tried a camel bak, but find it too hot and bouncy.  And a handheld water bottle doesn’t leave free hands to breakfall or to grab a tree to slow a descent. I have a couple of different models, depending on my needs for different runs.  I have a really tiny one that will hold  just a key and epi-pen.  The one on the right is a medium sized one that will hold key, epi-pen,and phone (for taking pictures, not texting while running!).  You can add other pouches to it, or little bottles for water or gel. The bag on the left carries a bigger water bottle, but less other stuff, my phone won’t fit.  If you want to carry a bigger bottle, a slanted pack is the way to go.  A big bottle carried straight up and down is uncomfortable, and one carried horizontally will eventually fall out of the belt.  You can find these bottle, and lots of accessories and add-ons at Amphipod.  Then you can just tuck a windbreaker or gloves into the belt.

One thing you can always be sure of when running trails in the summer is bugs.  I’m lucky, and rarely get bitten, even when my running companions do.  I use bug spray with 100% DEET.  My kids tell me that it’s too toxic and will kill me, but I’ll wash it off right after running, and take my chances.  I’ve seen too many people with life- altering cases of Lyme disease to take a risk.  You also have to worry about other tick-borne diseases, as well as West Nile Virus and EEE (eastern equine encephalitis). If you think too hard about what might kill you, you’ll never get out of bed, just hide under the covers and cower.  Opt for the bug spray.  I get mine at EMS.

Many runners wear a heart rate monitor.  I have tried to run with one, but the chest strap is just way too annoying.  Wrist -only monitors don’t give you a constant readout:  you have to stop and touch the buttons.  I’ve seen a strapless monitor that you wear on your upper arm, that gives a constant readout.  But so far, the reviews are bad (and how do you see it in the winter?).  I don’t wear a GPS, either for the same reason.  And much as I love all my i-gadgets, I’m not sure I want running gadgets.  Back when I was racing, my speed and milage mattered.  Now all I need to know is stuff like:  I’m gonna run for an hour or so, gonna run the waterfall trail, gonna stay on the west side of the river, gonna stop and look for snakes and frogs.  I don’t need gadgets or numbers to do any of those.

One piece of equipment that you should absolutely  not use when running is a music player.  On the road, it prevents you from hearing traffic, and dogs.  In the woods it prevents you from hearing other people coming along the trail, riding bikes, or motorcycles, or walking dogs (put the d@*m dogs on a leash please).

You need more stuff to run in the winter (I really, really hate winter!!!)  but we can wait and talk about that when it gets colder. Right now I don’t want to think about being cold. Just want to enjoy the rest of the sunshine before I’m dragged screaming into winter.  Go run!!

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