During my experience as a runner I have learnt a lot of things and sometimes it’s all the little things that can make the biggest difference. Whether that’s out on a training run or a big race event or adventure challenge. Here’s my wee list of the small things that matter to me.
- Hat – Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just for when the sun is out, a visor make a great rain shield for your eyes as well you know! I have a variety of hats and visors for different conditions. I love running in a visor in the UK, the sun is not that hot or scorching that you need the full head cover and the visor actually means you can let the hot air from your head escape easily. My favourite is the Compressport pink visor. For more full cover I use the Salomon XA cap which I used during Transvulcania this year. When I head to the desert though nothing beats my Raidlight Sahara Cap, aptly named as it works a treat in the Marathon Des Sables through the Sahara desert keeping you neck covered up from the scorching and unrelenting sun.
- Sunglasses – A recent convert to Julbo sunglasses after a thorough and glowing recommendation from hubby, Dion, I’ve got myself a pair of the Julbo Run version. They sit well on my face without slipping down the bridge of your nose. Previous to that I had been using Naked Runner sunglasses which had served me really well too, lasting about 2 years through some pretty hard core events so they certainly took a beating.
- Beanie – I don’t like the cold, so I have to keep my ears and head warm and I turn to my X-Bionic Soma Cap Light, it fits as snug as a bug and keeps me toasty warm up top.
- Headband – When I’m not wearing a visor/hat/beanie I use a headband as my fly away bits of hair can get quite annoying when they hit you straight in the eye, so I reach for my Lululemon Cardio Cross Trainer Headband or their Fringe Fighter Headband (which can also double as an ear warmer in the slightly cooler temperatures).
- Sunscreen – It’s all too easy to get burnt out there, so I always reach for an all day protection called P20 so I don’t need to worry about re-applying when I am out all day, or out in the extreme temperatures of the Sahara desert (I use the 50+ for that).
- Socks – I don’t know whether I have just been lucky or smart but I won’t be changing my sock formula anytime soon as I don’t (touch wood) suffer from blisters. I have two favourites. I love Injinji socks and they have got me through a lot of multi day stage races wearing just one and only one pair of socks through extreme heat and sandy conditions without washing, and secondly are the X-Socks range from X-Bionic that just keep on going in the same way no washing required! Ideally washing is great, but I can safely say these socks are fantastic and it is definitely worth investing in a few decent pairs to keep your tootsies in tip top condition.
- Salt tablets – During exercice you lose a lot of sweat and more specifically, sodium (or salt). As most of us have probably cut down our intake of salt over the years based on nutritional advice you could be not getting enough. Especially if you are an endurance athlete. I tend to use salt fairly generously in my day to day cooking due to the level of exercise I do, and rely on salt tablets only for endurance events so anything where I will be out for longer than 4 hours. During an ultra run I will look to take a salt tablet every 1-2 hours depending on the conditions (I took 1 every 2 hours in the Ultimate Trails 110km in The Lakes but I took 1 every hour during the Marathon Des Sables and KAEM.) I have found during events if I haven’t taken my salt consistently then I can feel nauseous which then means I don’t eat, which means I don’t have energy to compete and then subsequently suffer from cramps during the night. Other runners I know have complained of other symptoms such as cramping, disorientation and slurred speech. This is probably why you might find yourself craving savoury items rather than sweet during heavy exercise or soon after, your body does try and tell you what it needs after all.
- Menstruation – Just for the ladies, but it happens and it can be a pain in the you know what. I’m lucky I can plan my cycle (with the pill) around races so I don’t have the added hassle during an event but for when it is due I like to use a Moon cup rather than tampons or liners. The moon cup is a reusable silicone cup that you insert and as required remove, rinse and re-insert. It’s safer, greener and cheaper and you can find them at your local Boots store. The good thing with the moon cup is that it doesn’t need to be changed every few hours, I can pop it in and go all day and sometimes all night depending on which day of the cycle I’m on without needing to remove which is really handy when you are out for some long days on the feet.
- (R) Underwear – As a long time sufferer from chafe I was delighted to find out about Runderwear. For years I have stuck to running commando for the lower half, but still ended up with some chafe especially if the heavens open and it’s that delightful mix of sweat, rain and all sorts of dust and debris rubbing together to make that un-loved and rather painful chafe. And for sports bras, I have tried every brand of sports bra out there and even though I am not that well endowed up top anymore (only just scraping a B cup these days) I still got chafe for any run over a half marathon distance. Throw a running vest/back pack on top and I have scars to prove just how bad chafe can be, my solution to this was to tape my hot spots up with zinc oxide tape which does work but what a ball ache! But no more! Runderwear to the rescue! I was sceptical to say the least but after trying out a pair of briefs, g-string and crop top I am converted. To date they have got me through a marathon (wearing a running vest too) without a hint of chafe. The Runderwear briefs and g-string are perfect for all but the crop top doesn’t offer the full support some of the more voluptuous chests would call for, but I would highly recommend for anyone fitting into a B cup or below as it gives me enough support. Stay tuned for a full write up on the Runderwear in full brief (get it!).
I hope these ‘little’ things help you in your running adventures.