1. Proper Running Shoes – Wearing the appropriate type of running shoes for the correct duration of time is vitally important to the long term success of any runner. Running is a repetitive motion. When that motion is forced into an unnatural position or isn’t adequately cushioned, however, problems can arise. Running in shoes that don’t fit the foot or account for the way that the foot pronates can force the body out of its natural form and add extra stress to areas of the body that are not equipped to support it. These small, errant adjustments to running mechanics caused by poorly fitting shoes are only amplified the more a runner runs, often leading to injury. Wearing running shoes that have lost their intended shock absorbing properties can also cause problems. According to this article, running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles to keep the shoes’ midsole from becoming overly compressed and placing extra trauma on the body.
Top pick: Too dependent on individual foot shape and running mechanics for a specific pick. Your best bet is to visit a run specialty store for recommendations as they often have team members who can assess your feet and guide you through the shoe selection process.
2. Foam Roller – Muscles and the connective tissue that surrounds muscles (fascia) are constantly being broken down and rebuilt as the body responds to physical activity. When muscles and fascia are rebuilding, however, it’s not uncommon for fascia to form adhesions (overlapping tissue - think knots) that restrict muscle range of motion and flexibility (source). The limitation of muscle lengthening caused by fascial adhesions thus places unnatural tension at both ends of the muscle where it connects to either tendon or bone, increasing the likelihood of injury. Foam rolling is a great way to stimulate the repair of fascial adhesions and consequentially help avoid injuries (source). Additionally, foam rolling has been strongly linked to increased oxygen rich blood flow in muscles (source), faster muscle recovery (source), improved flexibility (source), and increased range of motion (source), all of which aid to keep muscles and fascia healthy and performing at their best.
Top Pick: Rollga Foam Roller (Shop Here) – Rollga foam rollers are designed to reach and target muscles more precisely and comfortably than the traditional flat foam roller. Rollga Foam Rollers also make it easy to avoid tendons, bones, and unprotected organs when rolling.
3. GPS Watch – In the technologically advanced world we live in today, data is ever important. While running is one of the more simple activities we as humans can participate in, running still has not escaped the beneficial attachment of data. Knowing and understanding key numbers from training (such as pace, distance, and heart rate) can benefit runners who are looking to improve their performance. While reading into every data point that the modern day GPS watch is able to provide may often seem overwhelming and, quite frankly, unnecessary, having an accurate portrayal of key metrics can allow runners to both track their improvement and make adjustments that improve their training. GPS watches also erase the need to precisely map out and/or drive a route to know exactly how far you will be running, a hassle any runner who has been running longer than about 15 years can appreciate!
Top Pick: Polar Vantage V (Shop Here) – The Polar Vantage V features a best in class heart rate monitor and a GPS that is on par with other top brands. The customizable watch face and polar app also make tracking data easy.
4. Anti-Chafe Balm – Any long distance runner who is routinely putting in runs longer than about an hour (especially in the summer heat) can attest to anti-chafe balm being an absolute must have item. The sneaky development of rubbed raw skin paired with sweat and the pain of the post run shower, make chafing an issue to avoid at all costs. Thankfully, there are many great products that all but eradicate this issue when used properly. Pro-tip: use anti-chafe balm on an ankle blisters instead of a band-aid to reduce friction and avoid having the band-aid make things worse by wadding up in your sock.
Top pick: Body Glide (Shop Here) - Simple, no mess, effective solution to chafing.