Gear Geek: Holiday Edition

Justin (RunVermont’s Rookie) and I were talking last week about pulling together a holiday gift guide and he wrote a great post on his holiday running wish list. Joe from SkiRack and I also got together to brainstorm and added a few items to the list. This season is all about the best bang for your buck and outfitting for a comfortable, warm marathon training season. My favorites are highlighted below, but the staff at your local running store will also be able to help you with what’s best for the runner on your list.

Headlamp: It’s dark out there and uneven sidewalks, potholes and cars threaten your healthy training season. The new headlamps are light and bright and often feature both solid and flashing beams, depending on your needs.

Compression Gear: I love my 2XU calf compression sleeves and regularly don them after workouts. Compression can help recovery by improving the rate at which blood “recycles.” Some people are comfortable working out in compression gear as well. Expect some adjustment time; compression is significantly tighter than even spandex and can take some getting used to.

Hydration Belts: I have the Nathan Trail Mix and the Fuel Belt Helium 2. I use the Nathan on longer training runs because it has more storage space and the Fuel Belt on runs where I only need hydration. I also own a handheld, which I use in the summer. If I just had to buy one? The Nathan Trail Mix wins for best fit, least bounce and most storage. Does your runner already have a belt? Consider replacing their bottles and caps because they get nasty fast. Want to make the gift even sweeter? Stuff the pocket with Gu, ClifBloks or another food product.

Reflective Vest: With the plethora of items on the market, there’s no reason not to be seen. Although a reflective jacket is also a great purchase, the reflective vest is more versatile and can be adjusted to fit over whatever the day’s weather calls for in terms of warmth. I have the Amphipod Vest and wear it daily in the winter.

Socks: As Justin will corroborate, there’s nothing like realizing that your old cotton socks just don’t cut it for marathon training. The polyester and wool blends do a better job of cushioning your feet and preventing blisters and feel just like cotton. Darn Tough is my favorite brand, but SmartWool and Balega also have great offerings. Help your runner build their collection by buying a couple new pairs this holiday season. The rule is, though, that for every new pair of socks an old pair has to go!

The Stick and Foam Rollers: Join the rest of us who have discovered just how good it hurts to foam roll or use The Stick. Marathoning comes with sore muscles and these tools can help relieve the pain. I use the Stick every night before bed on my problem calf and a foam roller twice a day to keep my IT band loose and happy.

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