Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Year End Gear Endorsement

Let me say at the outset before I plug various companies and gear --- I have not received an iota of compensation from ANY of these manufacturers.  NOBODY sends me a single thing for "free evaluation" or for review.  I'm not anyone's "ambassador," or "runbassador," or whatever the hell the cool kids have named themselves.  I'm "fitfluential" in the sense that I'm a walking "before" picture for most runners or triathletes, so I guess I "influence" them to start getting fit before they look like me.  Anyway, companies don't give me a thing.  This is all just my own view -- I won't even alert any company that I've plugged their product, because I'm not going to use traceable links.

Ok, with that said, here's the gear I've been using in 2013, and will continue to use for a foreseeable future, because I'm happy with these products:

Let's go from the bottom up (yes, yes, I know . . . TWSS) --

Shoes:  I have zero brand loyalty. I believe in wearing what fits, and what works.  That's it.  Having said that, I shifted from ASICS in 2011 to Saucony in 2012, and stuck with them.  I was a slight pronator, but now I am a neutral runner as I lost weight and got both healthier and faster.  So I wear Saucony Ride 6s, (instead of the Saucony Guide series) and they are the flame-reddest shoes you've ever fucking seen.  I'm buying another pair soon, because the Red Shoes of Doom will not be denied.

These shoes will chase you down and take ALL YOUR LUNCH MONEY!

Socks:  I wear Feetures socks.  If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would end up preferring "no-show" socks, I would have thought you crazy.  But I love that kind the most. Now, anything coming up even near my ankle isn't going to cut it for running.  Years ago, in gym class, guys were teased at the idea of wearing "footies" socks.  Well, fuck that, asshole jocks who've lost all their hair and gained 100 pounds.  I wear footies, and I'm proud.

Underwear:  Commando.  Ok, I'm kidding, I just wanted to see if you were still reading.  I wear Under Armor compression shorts, and they are fucking TIGHT.  Sheesh.  Ladies, I will be right there beside you when the time comes for Spanx-burning.  And while I know most running shorts have an underwear-like liner in there, it isn't . . . constraining enough (blush).  So I have to cut the liners out, and then I wear the compression shorts underneath the running shorts.

Shorts: A completely unscientific test of shorts seems to show that Brooks Running shorts often have a couple of small but deep pockets on each hip, allowing you to keep at least 2 gel packs in there on each side.  You can even fit a sleeve of Clif Shots, or a pack of Gu Chomps in there.  So the pockets are deep, but have velcro to keep them closed while you run.  Really, the shorts are perfect for anything over 12-14 miles (barring really hot conditions, I don't even hydrate for anything 10 or less).

Wrist:  Based on a recommendation from the must-read-all-the-time DCRainmaker, I went with a Garmin 610 a couple of years ago.  It's my everyday watch.  I wear it to Court, and leave it on for races.  I've gotten quite adept at charging it at night, so I never worry about having a paperweight on my wrist.  The 610 is an epic watch.  I don't use a bunch of the bells/whistles it has, so I probably could have gotten away with a Garmin 210, but the touchscreen of the 610, wireless data transfer, and everyday wearability of it makes it a real must-have for me.

Shirt:  I'm a huge baseball fan.  Therefore, while I don't shy away from wearing race shirts when I run (and this year's Marine Corps Marathon technical mock was great), I tend to just wear one of several Washington Nationals curly W shirts.  That's NATIONALS, people, not WALGREENS.

There's a difference, dammit!  An actual difference!  There's . . . aw, fuck it.  They are pretty close.

Sunglasses:  I actually broke down a few years ago and bought Oakley running sunglasses from Potomac River Running in Reston.  They weren't cheap, but they really do a nice job during training runs and races.  You can actually see your Garmin readout through them, which is new for me, because I used to wear a pair of polarized fly fishing sunglasses, and actually had to lift them up every time I wanted to see my Garmin.  Plus, you know, I look all Terminator-like.

Hasta La Vista, ankle socks.

Hat:  Apparently, some people wear hats when they run on hot days.  I should get on that.

Nutrition:  I have a few things that worked well for me during a long year of (1) getting back to who I used to be, and (2) training for two marathons 20 days apart.  The first was good ol' Gu Gel packs.  I know some people aren't huge fans of sucking down a fluid (heh heh), but I'm not discerning during a race or training.  I have also found that Gu Chomps (watermelon FTW) provide surprisingly potent energy, despite the hassle of having to chew.  I think they're really great to eat in the car on your way to a long run, they're rather candy-like.  Finally, turned on to them by my friend Jennifer, I tried Tailwind Nutrition as an additive to water.  It had good results, much better than taking Powerade for those days when I broke down and wore a fuel belt.  Jen has a more in-depth review at her blog if you're interested.  Tailwind won't do for me when it comes to races, because I refuse to carry water then.  That's what those wonderful volunteers are for!  But, in terms of long runs, or days where I was sweating to death doing Yasso 800s in 90+ degree heat, yeah, it's a nice boost.

Safety:  This list starts and ends with one company:  RoadID.  There is no substitute.  If you have ANYONE in your life who is important to you, or anyone who might be remotely sad if you were gone, you owe it to them to do the right thing.  It will cost under 20 bucks, and potentially save your life.

Running Stores:  The bad news is, I have no endorsement.  The good news is, that's because each of the three running stores I've frequented are outstanding, with enthusiastic and knowledgeable runners to help me out.  Those stores were:  Pacers in Pentagon City, Potomac River Running in Reston, and Road Runner Sports in Falls Church.  Basically, you can't go wrong with these shops.

Ok, so from toe to head, that's the list of gear I use/wear, and will continue to use/wear.  Once again, nobody paid me or comped me to endorse their product.  These are just the things I like.  I didn't include my tri bike, bike trainer, or any swim gear because I'm just getting my bearings back in those sports, but I anticipate having more to say about them next year.

If you have a product you swear by, and think I ought to try, leave it in the comments! 


  1. I don't f***ing understand why the m*****f*****s at CUCB wouldn't f***ing choose you to be their f***ing social media ambassador this year. A**holes.

    Seriously, a good writeup. I'm more brand loyal than you are. Maybe I should do one of these.

    1. Dude, thanks very much! And not to blow smoke, I'd genuinely like to see a list of your stuff. I end up learning about products through these things (like Tailwind with Jen). You are meticulous, and I wouldn't mind seeing what you've liked this year.

  2. You mean we're supposed to wear underwear underneath shorts and tights? Oops.

    Any idea how Tailwind compares to Nuun? I currently use Nuun but am looking for an alternative that has more fuelage.

    Can't remember when I added you to my feed, but great write up!

    1. Hi Charly! And many thanks, glad to "meet" you! ;)

      I'm holding an unused tube of Nuun right here, and basically, it says "3 calories per serving." From what I recall, it's basically homemade Gator/Powerade Zero, but without the sugar. It hydrates you, but doesn't necessarily fuel you. I bought it recently, figuring I needed to make a better effort at avoiding soda, my weakness, but haven't brought it to work yet.

      Compared to Nuun's 3 calories, Tailwind has roughly 100 calories per serving/mix, although I had a supersaturated one for the Marine Corps Marathon, so it was even more. But it's definitely aimed more at fueling you while hydrating at the same time.