Every day this season I’ll be posting some recommendations on gifts for your favorite runner.
It is tough to buy for runners. To start off, we really don’t NEED much. Heck, outside of scaring the neighbors, we could just pop outside naked and head off on a run. Most running equipment is there for comfort rather than necessity. And if we’re runners, we likely have the basics like shoes, a hat, etc.
One our first gift day we’re going to hit up 3 areas that new runners tend to not think about, and that experienced runners might grumble about: nutrition, hydration & lubrication. You can run (to a degree) without these things, but it sure makes it better when you have them!
Mostly I’m going to talk about pre-run and during run nutrition here. There is a ridiculous amount of options, so I’ll focus on what works for me and tastes good too. I’m of the opinion that the pure sugar options are just not good, even for running. People argue that on shorter runs the energy comes on quicker, but I counter that shorter runs don’t need it.
With that said, my favorite portable calorie packs are the PocketFuel Haze products. They come in both a chocolate and a vanilla, and combine real food with digestible sugars for a nice spread of both quick onset and longer term energy. As a bonus, they are ridiculously tasty, and made from whole foods. Drawbacks? They’re a little expensive and the packaging sometimes is difficult to get all of the tasty bits out of (PF claims they’re working on a fix for this). However, the packaging is reusable and washable, so it can help to reduce waste and litter.
I’ll handle the physical gear (like vests and bottles) in another gift post, but mostly what I want to hit on here is what to add to your water to replace electrolytes. If you’re on a short run and the weather is fairly cool, you’re probably all right with just plain filtered water. If you plan on being out for more than, say, a 5k, you should probably consider replacing some of the potassium and sodium your body is sweating out.
Again, there’s a stupid amount of products out there that claim to do this, but my money is on NUUN. These little tablets are portable (you can bring them along and add them to water you get while out), low in calories and have a mild taste that doesn’t wig you out after 10 miles on the trail. As a bonus, you can get tablets with caffeine added for a little boost, and they come in an absolute rainbow of flavors. My favorite is the black cherry.
This one is fun. Or maybe not so fun. Listen, there’s people out there who can run with none of their parts experiencing friction and wear on the run. I’m not sure who they are, but Goddess bless’em. For the rest of us, things rub. Sometimes it is the thighs (and it doesn’t matter how fit you are, some people’s thighs just rub. Go jump in a ditch Lululemon). Sometimes it is other parts. For discretion’s sake, let’s just go ahead and say that this can cause discomfort of a type that can literally end a race (or stop someone from wanting to run).
Enter the wonderful, if confusing, world of body lubes. Now I’m not talking KY here, get your minds out of the gutter. We’re talking the bars and pastes and creams designed to keep chaffing to a minimum. I am especially prone to this, unfortunately, no matter what shape I’m in. I’ve tried a LOT of stuff. Jellies, bars, pastes, liquefied powder (wtf?) but what seems to work, and work REALLY damn well, is a product that isn’t honestly marketed towards runners in particular. It is marketed towards bike riders.
The product is called “chamois butt’r” by Paceline products, and if you can get past the name, it is really the most amazing stuff ever. The biggest issues with most lubes are access and staying power. Bars are tough to apply evenly, and liquefied powders seem to wear off way too quickly. The “butt’r” is just thick enough to stick around while not feeling too odd, and doesn’t stain skin or clothing. As a bonus, if your skin is rough or chaffed already, it can help soothe and increase comfort right away. For me it was a game changer. Having to reapply lube multiple times in the middle of a run sucks in a way that I’m not going to discuss in a PG rated blog. Suffice it to say that with this product I can run well north of 10 miles without any worry.