Running Gear – What I use and some advise
Last Updated on: 11th September 2013
When I initially wrote this page I thought it would be pretty static, I was wrong, I have come back to update it quite often. Unfortunately I didn’t date stamp my updates. From now forwards (11th Sept 2013) I will date stamp all updates.
11th Sep’13: In July 2012 about 2 months before the Hyderabad Marathon (AHM) I really racked up the miles on my Free 3.0 V2 doing several 275-325km months even during the hot summers. It was time to change shoes. This time I decided to invest in a pair of Free 4.0 instead of the usual Free 3.0 as a compromise between low profile and some additional cushioning. The Free 4.0 V2 has done well racking up 1550km and still going pretty strong.
I am a sucker for deals, in Sept 2012 I got a fantastic deal from Myntra on a Free 3.0 V4 and bought a pair. This shoe has seen very little use since I want to preserve it for races, tempo runs and speed workouts.
Heard a lot about the Saucony brand, especially the Kinvara, which unfortunately is not available in India. Then saw and got feedback from a fellow runner (Noel) on the Kinvara 3 and decided that I too wanted a pair. This summer (2013) I had a holiday planned for the USA and immediately went to runningwarehouse.com and ordered a pair of Kinvara 3.0 (yet another fantastic deal) to be shipped to my sister who lives in North Carolina. I just love this shoe.
So how does my shoe collection look like at the moment:
– I just gave away my 5-year-old Adidas Supernova (Pre-2009) “monsters” ! Even walking in them would make my legs ache 🙂
– A Black Nike Free 5.0 V4 (June 2010) – which I use for everything but running and with suits these days. It just goes on and on
– A Grey Nike Lunarglide Plus (June 2010) – it’s still in great shape but don’t use it at all. Probably time to give them away too
– A Light grey & red Vibram Bikilas (Oct 2011) are still at the back of the cupboard with a couple of minor holes developing. Want to see if I can do ADHM 2013 in them. Haven’t used them in a while so will need to get back to feeling the ground !
– A Lemon green Nike Free 3.0 V3 (Oct 2011) – this shoe has seen a lot of training and racing action all over India and even in Singapore (estimate is about 1800k distance). The upper structure is in super shape but the sole has craters ! Still lying around for sentimental reasons although I keep convincing myself that they are still good for VO2 Max workouts and maybe even some short races
– A Grey & yellow Nike Free 4.0 V2 (July 2012) – even after 1550km this shoe is in fantastic shape. Prefer to use it these days for recovery runs and sometimes for the weekend long runs
– A Black & grey Nike 3.0 V4 (Sept 2012) – marginally used but should be my racing shoe of choice for up to HMs till middle of 2014
– A Flourescent Blue & black Saucony Kinvara Progrid 3 (June 2013) – but for the fact that I want to conserve these (currently 250k on the odometer) I would probably use these for all my runs! Right now I use them for my aerobic runs and for most middle and long runs. Waiting for a deal and opportunity to invest in a Kinvara 4
Original: Use two shoes for training. A Nike Free 5.0 and a Nike LunarGlide Plus. There is a reason for why I use two shoes which are fairly different. UPDATE (~May 2012): For the last 9 months I have moved to Nike Free 3.0 and Vibram Bikilas. The Free 3.0 has done 1500km plus and the Bikilas about 600km. Both are still going strong. I will change them only when they completely fall apart (to hell with the people who say change your shoes every 500-750km!).
Personally after years of wearing all sort of crappy pronation support shoes (now in hindsight) about a year back I got a pair of Nike Lunarglide Plus (minimal pronation support) and a pair of minimalist Nike Free 5.0 (very little support, extremely flexible). The reason I did this was because I wanted to move into minimalist footwear (unfortunately no Vibram’s available in India). I am completely flat foot by the way and have suffered from Plantar Fascia injuries almost continuously in the past. Now after 1 year plus of using both these shoes my injuries have just vanished (touch wood)!!
BTW it is unlikely that you will find the Free 5.0 in India (I asked someone to pick-up a pair for me during their US trip), you may find the Nike Free or Free Plus (no “numbers” on this). You should buy a half-size or one size up from the regular Nike size you wear but again the brilliant sales/marketing folks in the India office of Nike have decided not to stock half-sizes in India. The shoe may look odd on your feet to begin with but hopefully you will love them after a couple of runs. Use these shoes without socks or with very thin synthetic socks (see further down for “socks”).
I wouldn’t recommend running all out in Nike Free’s straight away (or for that matter any other minimalist shoe) since that puts too much strain on the foot and calf, make sure to start with short runs of 5km or less. The Lunarglide with some support and a very light weight allowed me to make the transition to the Free. About 4 months after buying my Free’s I was doing 20km plus runs in them. Now my shoe of choice for long runs are the Nike Frees. But I still mix my runs between the two shoes since I think it keeps the feet and me challenged.
With more than a year with these two shoes and about 1000km on each I am now looking at adding a few more – so this time I am going with some more aggressive footwear – the Nike Free 3.0 (the barest Nike till now) and a Vibram Bikila. I will have these shoes by October (when my sister visits from the USA). My last two shoes were half-size up but this time I have decided to go another half-size up, hopefully it will help with my “black toe-nails” problems. Hope to do the Mumbai Marathon 2012 in the Vibrams !!
We have all been brought up on the notion that cotton clothing is good to run in as it will absorb moisture. Worst thing that can ever happen to a runner/athlete is to have clothing which absorbs moisture. Never ever wear cotton clothes for running.
Cannot over emphasize the need for “Technical Clothing”. So many people would run better; faster; un-chaffed and with less exhaustion if they just made the move to technical clothing. What’s technical clothing – special synthetic fibre which allows moisture/sweat to be removed from your body as it builds and keeps you cool and dry. All the major sports goods manufacturers have it. Nike “Dri-Fit”; Reebok – “Play Dry” and Adidas – “ClimaCool” are some examples.
This clothing is marginally more expensive than the cotton clothes but they will last you several years and kilometres of training and running. Buy them during the sale season to get great deals !
No jockeys or cotton/denim shorts please, invest in proper “running shorts”. How do you know they are running shorts? Well most major manufacturers will state the use on the label. Clearly avoid football, basketball shorts if you can. Running shorts will also have a few extras – soft inner so that you don’t need to wear briefs and a few pockets for change, id, keys, etc. If you are lucky you will find a short which also has space to store a small ipod/mp3 payer. I use shorts from Nike and Adidas for training. A specific Nike short is my “short of choice” for long runs and races.
If you don’t find these shorts at least invest in some technical underwear. The folks at www.runningandliving.com sell some excellent technical “briefs”.
I use singlets for running be it summer or winter. The body warms up pretty quickly and anything more than a singlet in our weather is going to overheat you after a few kilometers. Again I have several Nike & Adidas singlets. Again make sure these are “running singlets”. They will say so on the label/price tag.
I also have a few half & full sleeve technical T’s. This is for the real cold Delhi winter runs. I will sometimes wear the full T over a singlet so that I can take it off after a while and tie it around my waist.
You can also do this with a light jacket. But remember the more stuff you start with the more a burden it is later in the run.
Again, no cotton socks, please, not even cotton socks from Nike, Adidas, etc. Just use regular synthetic socks or if you want to experiment, buy “technical running socks”. These are quite difficult to find in India. I started using Adidas T-Liners a few years back (which I found at a shop in Noida by chance). This time I picked up an upgraded T-Liner (specifics – T Run Liner2pp) during a trip to Singapore. You will thank me for all the chafes and boils you won’t get on your feet 🙂
I will also have some “five-finger” Injinji socks in October. Watch out for an update on them in November/December 2011.
A great accessory to buy is “3M Micropore Tape” or “Doctors tape”. This is easily available at chemist shops. This sticks easily on skin, does not get detached when wet (or sweaty) and causes minimum pain when you want to finally remove it. What do I use it for? To protect nipple chaffing on the long runs. I tape my nipples in a plus before my long runs. Do this if you have nipple chaffing or bleeding problems and then write me a thank you note later 🙂
Earlier I used to use a trusted old Casio digital watch with a stop watch as my standard running tech and Sony Walkman phone as my mp3 player. Till a few months back I was using www.mapmyrun.com to keep a track of all my routes and workouts. About a year back I bought a Samsung Galaxy S Android phone. This phone is equipped with a GPS which I now use exclusively to track and measure all my runs. As part of this I also tested out various online apps and finally settled on Endomondo (www.endomondo.com) because it was fairly accurate and the online community looks strong. My Endomondo app automatically updates my twitter and Facebook accounts (handle “runindiarun” on both) with my running route and stats.
Another app which I use extensively during the “training months” is HIIT for Android, sort of short for “High Intensity Interval Training”. This works great to set-up interval workouts or run-walk cycles. Highly recommend it for any one on interval training.
And of course my Galaxy S is also now my mp3 player. I also invested in a Nike running belt which is very compact but yet large enough for me to stash the phone, gels, keys and other odd items.
Ok. Signing off now. But will be adding to this so check back from time to time.