When it comes to having a good run, sometimes all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes, a light, moisture-wicking outfit, and a pleasant sunny day.
But when you’re trying to take that run from good to great, the options are practically endless—and sometimes it can be hard to know what is going to help your run improve versus what might work better for someone else.
But there's no need for you to lose sleep over what the best options are, because I've worked 'round the clock to sort through everything for you. So let’s kick back and take a look at some accessories that might help each run reach its potential.
Before the Run
A lot of what can make a run great is a combination of practicality and fun. Put on a pair of Goodr sunglasses and you will find these definitely meet the requirements of both form and function. With polarized lenses that won’t fog, and a non-slip, no-bounce frame, these sunglasses have all the protection you need for warm sunny runs.
But these don’t just work great—they look great, too. All Goodr sunglasses come in the classic wayfarer style, and come in great color combinations with often humorous names for their color combinations (such as Sunbathing with Wizards or Gardening with a Kraken). Goodr’s mission is to make sunglasses that work, look, and feel great without being over-engineered. The result is a practically perfect pair of shades that come in at $25. Unbeatable.
Another sort of fun product that actually plays well in the function category are elastic shoe laces, the most familiar of which (to most people) are Lock Laces. Those of us who suffer from “lace bite” on a regular basis (an aggravation of the tendon that runs down along the top of your foot all the way to your big toe) can find relief using laces like these to distribute the pressure of the lacing system more evenly across your whole foot. Plus, you never have to tie or untie your shoes again. Hooray!
(One quick side note: while shoelaces can't improve your 5K time, elastic laces make a lot of sense for triathletes who are trying to minimize their time during transition from the bike to the run during training and races, since tying and untying the shoes become unnecessary.)
During the Run
Where most of us will get the most bang for our buck from accessories is during our run. Like I mentioned before, as we move to longer, faster running (and as the weather gets warmer), hydration and fuel on the run become more important to all of us.
A couple of products that act as both fuel and hydration are Tailwind and Sword. At face value, these are both drink mix powders; however, their purpose is to replace more traditional on-the-run fuel sources (such as gels and gummis, which need to be taken with water separately) with a drink that is light and absorbs into the bloodstream easily. Both of these drinks are easily digestible (read: won’t upset your stomach on longer runs) and are intended to offer a bit of flexibility to the user. Do you prefer to have a little more water and don’t need quite as many electrolytes and carbs? Dilute your mix a little bit. Are you a particularly “salty sweater” and you like a little more flavor? Add a little extra mix to your water.
You’re probably familiar with the “fuelbelts” (which, technically, is a name-brand, sort of like Jell-O or Kleenex) that people often use for longer runs. If you don’t relish the idea of having your liquid at your hips, you can put it in the palm of your hand with CamelBak Quick Grip Chill, a 21 oz. insulated bottle that will keep your drink cool (if that’s what you like). The size-adjustment strap is probably the most simple and user-friendly I’ve ever had in a handheld bottle, and the Jet Valve cap makes it leak-proof so no liquid comes out unless you want it to.
After the Run
And finally, let’s take a moment to admit that when the running portion of our workout is done, we like it to be done. Once we’ve put in our miles, we’ve done our work for the day. But a lot of us would feel a lot better the next day if we performed a few more preventive and maintenance measures in the evenings after our runs.
The R8 from Roll Recovery has got to be just about the coolest gadget in massage therapy right now. At about the same price as a pair of shoes, it’s not as easy on the wallet as some other products out there, but it takes almost all the work out of your post-run massage. The clamp-style device applies ample pressure on its own to any part of your limbs, including the groin and medial quadriceps area that are nearly impossible to reach with your typical foam roller and/or Stick massager. The R8 is one of the easiest ways to get a deep tissue massage without paying someone by the minute.
If you really just want to let the product do all the work, compression socks—like those from Feetures! or c.e.p.—might do the trick for you. While some might say the main purpose for compression socks is to enhance performance, the improvement in veinous return of bloodflow to the heart, as well as the support provided to the lower leg muscles can help speed recovery as well.
These are just a handful of suggestions for ways to make every run better. While not all of these solutions are going to be perfect for everyone, they might be just what you need to make your next run or round of training better than the last.
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Mike Ward is CRC's accessories buyer and manager of the Westerville store. He is a cat enthusiast and plays guitar for the Wet Bandits, your favorite '90s cover band.