Friday, 24 January 2014

Top 10 running needs

I think I've probably bored the pants off everyone now with my constant references to my upcoming half marathon (too bad Hugh Jackman doesn't read my blog eh?). But this week my race pack arrived - including my number and the little microchip I have to wear to make sure I don't catch a bus part of the way round. And suddenly it all seems VERY REAL!

While my friends and family have all been very supportive of me as I have been training (thank you!) - I think it is me that is the most shocked that I have signed up and worked my way up through the miles on my run schedule. But as well as all the lovely people in my life, I probably wouldn't be running without the rather fabulous things I've listed below:

1. ASICS gel-kayano 19 trainers from Sweatshop

I'm a little bit in love with my ASICS. At first I was a bit put off by the colour, I felt a bit, um, overly visible? But now that I'm running on the road in the winter (as well as bouncing up and down at the gym) I can see that is a good thing! They are comfy and have been suitable for gym workouts and my runs.

2. iPhone

Okay, I know I am barely seen without it anyway, but who knew it would also prove to be invaluable during my training. Why? Please see below...

3. The Nike+ running app

I'm not known for my spatial awareness, and this little beauty allows me to pre-set distances, monitor my pace and measure calories burned. There's also a little voice that tells me how far I've run, when I'm at the half way point and when I'm nearly at my goal. Sometimes, somebody famous congratulates me. Sometimes I don't even know who the famous person is. There's lots more functionality on it too - but I'm happy with the basics (and I really don't want to be posting to Facebook each time I run!). I also like the fact if I was brutally murdered the police might be able to locate my body from mapping my run/GPS signal. I think I probably watch too much Silent Witness...

4. Spotify

This is the other app I have loaded onto my phone. I've created a running playlist that is available off-line so I can have music wherever I go. It has everything from Amy Winehouse to The Zutons (not the same song obviously) - and all sorts of music too (happy, shouty, cheesy). I just have to remember not to sing along to CeeLo Green too loudly.

5. Padded socks from Runners' Retreat

Normally I buy  a bundle of cheap sports socks from a cheap sports shop (you're not going to make me admit I go there are you?). But I did treat myself to one pair of proper padded socks from Thorlos, and they are worth it. It's like cosseting my tootsies in their very own duvet as I pound the pavement.

6. Running tops from Sweaty Betty

First up, I should admit that I love this brand. I have stacks of its stuff; tops, bottoms, jackets, vests, outfits to warm up, work out and cool down in, in fact, the whole kit and caboodle. I like them because they are comfy, dry fast, come in great colours, look good and last. The run tops I have also offer an 'audio port guide' (somewhere to stick the cord from your earphones!!).

7. Neotechs arm band via Amazon

And this my friends is how I carry my iPhone as I run. It's not perfect, I had to sew a pleat in it to make it small enough for me, and on  my longer runs it has started to rub if it is directly on skin (as opposed to over a long sleeve top). However, it is miles better than holding my phone (gives me shoulder ache) or shoving it in my run tights or down my bra (keeps switching itself on and off - possibly out of embarrassment). I'm thinking of upgrading to this or this (both available from Sweatshop) - maybe neoprene doesn't chafe???

8. Ronhill running tights from Henley Sports

Stretchy, light and reflective, with proper zips at the ankle like real runners wear! I've never owned running tights before but given I sometimes run early in the morning I really needed something that was full length but not flappy.

9. Shock Absorber bra

Look away boys, I'm talking about boobies. Apparently all boobs big and small bounce during exercise - some can even move up to 14cms!!! So, if you're working out you need an effective sports bra for comfort and to protect the skin and ligaments that support breast tissue (alternatively start saving for surgery). The Shock Absorber range has always worked for me (the one below is the 'Ultimate Run Bra' £38).

10. A race right on my doorstep!

The Mizuno Reading Half Marathon has been running since the 1980s and starts and finishes at the Madejski Stadium. It's a fast and flat route (well, we'll see about that!) and has a reputation for welcoming both professionals and amateurs. One of the highlights is finishing in front of roaring crowds (15,000 people strong), which sounds downright scary. Everyone I know that runs, loves the Reading Half for its atmosphere and route through the town centre. I guess I can let you know...

So it's over to you! Is there something that's essential to you missing from my roundup? Or are you good to go? Let me know what helps you workout in the comment box below.

Thanks for reading


  1. You'll love Reading! I agree with all the above but also the Road ID app that tracks where I am while I run, it sends a link to a up to 5 email addresses so others can track you and sends an emergency text if I stop moving for more than 5 minutes

    Also the Run Mummy Run facebook page is a great place to ask all those stupid running questions that I cant face asking in a sports shop!

    1. Oh, thanks for that tip! I wonder which 5 people I could freak out...?! Thank you for reading & commenting.

  2. A half marathon is an amazing goal! Music is definitely the one I can't run without. I don't listen to enough music at home....the house is noisy enough anyway.....and it's my opportunity to plug in to all those old rave tunes I used to love to dance to (sure it makes me run faster too!).

    1. I always tell myself I used to dance all night so there's no way I can't run for a couple of hours! Thank you for commenting.

  3. Hi Vanessa,
    I've been running since 1st January LAST year and need all the tips and help I can get, so I'm going to jot some of your shopping list suggestions (I like your emphasis on clothes - I agree, it's most important...) and let's compare notes. I cannot get past the 10k barrier myself (and that is a rare event) so I am full of admiration for you. My main question is - how do you make TIME to run for more than 1 hour regularly? No one can answer this for me. Much love, Ginnyxxxxx

    1. Hi Ginny! Lovely to hear from you. 10k is far! I actually fin the first 3 miles the worst, then after that it stops hurting... And yes, I don't think I could carry on 'training' for half marathons (at my speed anyway) as doing a long run at the weekend and taking a couple of hours out of a Sat or Sun is asking quite a lot of the family...

  4. Thanks for all the info on good running gear! I'll have to check out that sports bra for sure!

    1. Put it all to the test properly yesterday on my half marathon! Glad to say it held up well. And yes, sports bras are worth their weight in gold! There's no point in getting trim but ruining your boobies!