Gear Check: My New FlipBelt Rocks!

Hip Hugger: I slip my ID, iPhone, and keys inside, give the tubular pocket a flip, and the FlipBelt secures everything inside.
Hip Hugger: I slip in my ID, iPhone, and keys, give the tubular pocket a flip, and the FlipBelt secures everything inside.

I’m really proud of myself for not being too spendy lately, but a recent trip to Sports Basement put me to the test. All I really “needed” in there was a water bottle, and instead of walking out after only buying that, my hands were very full on the trip back to the parking lot. I had refused the bag at the checkout counter, choosing to leave the store clutching the bottle and an extra goody, like a 5-year-old with a new toy. I’m happy to report that my money was well spent, and I ended up “needing” a FlipBelt after all!

Ever since Michael K. Farrell put his foot down about me running with my cell phone for safety last year, I’ve been resigned to wearing a nerdy waist belt. I’ve always hated the stupid thing. It sags. It bounces. I can hear my keys clanging around inside of it. I hate it. (Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. And I don’t hate much.)

The FlipBelt is a game changer. It seemed a bit risky to try it out on an 8-miler this past weekend, but I was almost home again when I realized I hadn’t thought about it once. The FlipBelt fit flush against the waistband of my shorts, the stretchy fabric didn’t ride up, and it never bounced, not once. My next runs with it were just as fantastic!

Clearly, my new little running buddy is a winner, and priced at $20 (at Sports Basement; online it’s $25) the FlipBelt is a reasonable running investment. (Unlike the new energy gel I decided to try—yuck! They keep those near the registers for impulse buyers like me, you know.)

Have you picked up any great gear lately? How do you carry your necessary items when you’re running?

Disclaimer: This post was all me. I didn’t receive compensation or nudges of any sort from either of the companies mentioned. 

What To Pack For A Trail Run (Hint: It’s Not The Kitchen Sink)

This stuff comes with me on every trail run.
This stuff comes with me on every trail run.

I’m an efficient suitcase packer. I keep it simple, only bring the essentials, and make sure everything fits neatly into the overhead bin. But when it comes to packing for a nice little run in nature, I have an overwhelming urge to load my backpack with all kinds of “might needs” and “just in cases”— like a headlamp (even though I only run trails in daylight) or a poncho (it never rains here in Silicon Valley!). In an effort to cut weight, I’ve forced myself to come up with this barest-of-the-bare sundries list that acknowledges my paranoia but doesn’t indulge it too much.

The North Face Enduro Pack Hydration Pack Better than a bulky backpack, The North Face Enduro Pack was worth every penny. It comes with a bladder to store my water, and the small size forces me to fill the pockets wisely.

Badger Sport Sunscreen CreamSunscreen Burns, brown spots, skin cancer—no thanks! I apply SPF head-to-toe before leaving the house, and then every two hours when I’m in the sun. I like this Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream SPF 35, because it blocks out both UVA and UVB rays, and it’s 100% certified natural.

Cortizone 10 Poison Ivy PadsPoison Ivy Pads The best way to avoid a painful rash is to steer clear of over-grown paths. Still, contact happens. Last summer Michael K. Farrell stood knee deep in 3-leaf itchiness—these single-use Cortizone 10 Poison Ivy Relief Pads would have been super helpful.

GU for the trailEnergy Gel I’ll suck down a GU on runs lasting more than an hour, but I usually carry four with me on the trails—you know, in case I get lost and need a “meal.” (GU Peanut Butter is still my fave flave.)

Toilet paper in a baggieToilet Paper Mother Nature doesn’t always provide this for you. I bring mine in a baggie, and I pack it back out with me to a garbage can if I end up using it.

The North Face Women's Verto JacketLight Jacket Shady woods and Bay Area winds can make temps drop fast, so I keep The North Face Women’s Verto Jacket handy—it scrunches up (hence, all the wrinkles) into its own pocket! It also happens to be water resistant in case of pop up showers. (Seriously, this fear is unfounded. Weather.com shows a 0% chance of precipitation around here most days.)

I also carry along my cell phone, sunglasses, and car keys—those are necessary for actually getting me to the trailhead and then home again.

Am I missing anything important? What do you pack for outdoor runs?

Road Tested: Pearl Izumi W’s syncroFuel Road II Shoes

Recovery runs are slow and boring, and I feel like they’re a waste of time. My coach assures me that doing it right (running 3 to 4 miles at a pace that would allow snails to pass you) helps your muscles recover faster after tough workouts. And then you’ll be able to push your legs even harder later in the week.

I’ve tried all kinds of things to make recovery runs more bearable. Running with music—but I tend to match the beat and my speed increases, even on slow jams. Catching up with a buddy is no good either, because I pick up the pace too much when I talk.

One thing that does help: Testing out new shoes. (This discovery is going to be rough on my bank account.) Having to slow down helps me focus on how my feet feel and the performance of the shoes. I recently tried the Pearl Izumi W’s syncroFuel Road II. Besides being cute, they’re really comfy—great for those who like to baby their feet on high mileage runs. I did experience some heel slip, but it was easily corrected when I lock-laced them. Do you know that trick? I tried to take a couple step-by-step picks to illustrate the technique.

Step 1: Lace your shoes normally. When you get to the top, create two loops (one on each side) by putting the laces into the last eyelets.
Step 2: Cross the laces over the front of the shoe, and thread them through the opposite loops.
Step 3: Pull tight and finish by tying as usual. Now the shoe will be extra snug around your ankle, correcting the heel slip.

Have you tried any Pearl Izumi kicks? Got any tips for making slow runs more fun?

Sock It To Me

I hate it when a sock starts to bunch up in the bottom of my shoe during a run—something that happens when it gets old and loses its elasticity. If I’m out for a short run, I won’t stop to fix it. For anything longer than 4 miles, a wrinkly sock puts you at risk of getting a nasty blister, which means it’s best to pull over and straighten things out. But what happens to that sock when you get home?

After a run, I typically strip down and toss my clothes—offending sock and all—into the hamper. Everything gets washed later and that wimpy foot hugger ends up back in the sock bin. Since a lot of my socks look alike (I try to buy them when stores have two-for-one deals), I can’t pick out the failure just by looking at it and it manages to stay in rotation for several more weeks.

This little game of sock roulette could easily be avoided if I simply threw the worn out pair into a garbage can instead of a laundry basket, but that just seems wasteful to me. Like the five pairs of past-their-prime running shoes snoozing under my couch, I want to use those old socks for lighter activities (walking the dog comes to mind), but when they’re out of sight, they’re out of mind too.

What do you do with your old socks? How many pairs of retired running shoes do you have lying around?

Here Comes The Pain Again

OK gang, I’m excited! So excited that I’ve been pushing the speed a little too much since last Thursday. The result: An angry left shin. But I’m confident that it won’t prevent me from finishing Boston—in 4 days!

This morning I attempted to do four 1-mile repeats at race pace, but I’m so keyed up that I was about 10 seconds too fast. To circumvent the post-run throbbing in my shin I tried something new; I pulled on a pair of Vitalsox Performance Graduated Compression socks (seen here in this lovely photo provided by the company). One run certainly isn’t a scientific study, but I think these things really do stimulate circulation and improve muscle recovery—my legs felt springier, and my feet were super comfy.

And even though they make me look more like a soccer player than a runner, I’m planning to wear them on the big day. My marathon photos will all be keepers!

Countdown to the Boston Marathon: 4 days!

Have you ever tried compression socks? Are you as psyched as I am for Monday?

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.

I Always Go Commando

When it comes to underwear, I’m very particular. Sports bras have to fit me just right—they need to hug my chest tightly, without being too constrictive. The best one I’ve found: Adidas Supernova Glide Bra. It’s supportive and prevents jiggle, yet it never chafes. I also love that I can snap my miCoach heart rate monitor right into the front.

But I wouldn’t dream of stepping into a pair of underwear for a run. (Especially not the set in this photo. Though, they’d be perfect for other, ahem, athletic endeavors.) I think they’re pointless—isn’t that why running shorts are lined? Still, I’ve seen a number of “sports panties” for sale lately. (I told you I’ve been online shopping…) To be an authority on the subject, I think I need to swipe my debit card and try out a pair this weekend.

Countdown to the Boston Marathon: 11 days!

Do wear underwear when you run?

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.