It never ceases to amaze me when I go to races and look at runners sporting the latest and greatest techno-gadgets. GPS watches, heart rate monitors, bungee cord lacing systems, and Camelback hydration backpacks to name a few. Against my better judgment, I did break down and purchased a fuel belt to wear while training for the New York City marathon a few years back. My husband even warned me that I wasn’t going to like all the bouncing around that the belt created. I should have listened to him because he was right. I did not like the extra weight around my waist. Call me a minimalist when it comes to carrying extra gear while I am running. Some of these fuel belts I see people wearing must weigh a ton with the amount of fluid and protein supplements secured in the pockets and elastic holsters of these belts. Back in the day, it was a special treat to receive Gatorade at an aid station during a marathon. Now sports drinks are almost a guarantee.
I remember in the early days of my running when all you had to suit up for a run was a cotton tee and shorts and a pair of sneakers to lace up. It would take weeks to obtain the official race results in the mail. The timing systems used in the 1980s were either hand-held stopwatches or the pull tag system. The pull tab system was better and an advancement, but a person needed to manually match up the bottom tag ripped off from your bib number to some computerized print out. Not to mention your real-time if you started in the back of the starting line. There was no such thing as net time when the race results were posted. The only race I remember having an adjusted time factor was the Boston Marathon. Fast forward to the present day and all we hear about is “chip timing”. In fact, I purchased three Championchip timing chips from the New York City, Chicago and Cincinnati Flying pig marathon, so that I had my own special chip to wear during races. But today, these personal Championchip timing chips are pretty much history. New alphabet disposable timing systems such as D-Tag and B-Tag is the modern way to go because you eliminate the need of volunteers having to remove the timing device from your sneaker.
What will they think of next?
I am so happy with many of the technological advances that are available now to make my runs more enjoyable. I would have to say that my top 5 favorite gadgets are as follows. Hey, if Oprah can list her favorite things, so can I.
1. The Apple iPod– weighing in at less than a half an ounce and little more than an inch in size, this little device is happening. You get to listen to a variety of music that you choose and it tucks right in the key holder pocket of your shorts or pants. In fact, so many companies are adding an “iPod” pocket to their running apparel so you don’t even have to think how you will carry it. Compared to the yellow Sony Sports AM/FM Cassettehand-held walkman clunker I used to carry on my runs long ago, the iPod wins thumbs up. I can’t believe it is retailing for $399 on Amazon in the link above. hmmm- I still have that exact Sony….. do I see an eBay auction in the future?
2. Lululemon– I love Lulu!! This is by far my favorite athletic apparel. It is beautifully constructed, wicks away moisture and the clothing lasts a long time. Yes it is pricey, but you get what you pay for. I like the fact that it is feminine and unique. You will not see lot of ladies at a race in the same outfit – even at big races. They limit the amount of pieces produced and if the item is a hot seller, you better buy it while it’s hot. Because when it’s gone, it’s gone. The Lulu skirts are probably my favorite items. Let’s face it ladies of a certain age, running skirts are so much more attractive on our mature fit bodies.
3. Brooks Adrenaline GTS sneakers- I was not blessed with perfectly arched feet. I have Fred Flinstone flat feet. Therefore, I have always needed sneakers with arch support. The Brooks sneakers work well with my type of feet and running form. I have tried and been loyal to other brands in the past but the Brooks just work for me. I do reminisce, at times, about the Saucony Jazz 1000 series I ran in -circa 1990s. They were awesome sneaks. Styles do come back because shoe stores like zappos.com and Urban Outfitters are selling these “retro” sneakers to the up and coming hip teenagers right now.
4. Chip timing- I’m just a timing junkie and I admit it. These technologies are incredible. It was pretty cool when I received a print out list of all my times and age group placements in swimming, biking and running seconds after I crossed the finish line at Syracuse Irongirl.
5. Speed laces– I don’t know why I vetoed these type of bungee laces for so long. I just started using the bungee cord laces for my last triathlon in hope that it would shave off time during transition. Once I figured out the right length of cords I needed after several exchanges, I was hooked. Highly recommend – It takes away the worry that your laces will come untied during a race and the ease of slipping your foot into your shoe and taking off is what sold me. I literally would adjust my laces at least five times before heading out for a run. There are several brands out there but these were the ones my local running store sold.
I’m sure new gadgets may come and go, but I have to say, that my sneakers will always be on my favorite list. If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t buy it!
What are your favorite running gadgets? I would love to read about them.