In "Training Bag", we have a look at the various products and equipment that I use.
My training flat of choice is the Nike LunerRacer+ 3.
I have been using the LunaRacer for the past two seasons. The shoe is very comfortable and fits a standard foot. One of my favorite design features to the shoe is the soft, mesh material used on the top and tongue. This not only makes the shoe fit like a glove, but also allows you to run without socks and not worry about blisters or cuts that can arise from aggressive seams.
The shoe weights only 6.3 ounces ( 180 grams ) and feels almost as light as a spike. I use the NikeLunaRacer3+ for all workout types, from pure speed to aerobic capacity. The lightness to the shoe and its homely fit makes it a great flat for every occasion.
The shoe wears pretty well. During the offseason, I would use the LunerRacer for the majority of my track workouts. I recycle through pairs every 4-6 months.
If you like the sound of these flats, I have attached a link below to a store. **NOTE - I would personally suggest ordering 1/2 a size up on the shoe if you plan on wearing socks. The shoe fits quite narrow, and I would recommend ordering that smidgen on the safe side. There is nothing worse then a shoe that suffocates your foot- especially if you are going for a long run!
I have been using the Nike Vomero series since 2011. I switched from the Asics Gel Nimbus to the Nike Vomero and have been very happy with how the shoe responds to my needs for an athletic trainer.
The Nike Vomero is a great shoe with lots of support. This support does come at a weight cost though, with the shoe tipping the scales at 11.9 ounces ( 340 grams ). I wear the Nike Vomero's for both training and during everyday activities. The shoe is very 'strong', and offers a lot of impact protection- great for trail running.
The shoe wears pretty well. As I mentioned earlier, I use the Nike Vomero for both training purposes and everyday actives. I recycle through pairs roughly every 5-6 months.
The Vomero's fit like a normal shoe and I would suggest ordering your standard foot size.
Nike Maxcats & Nike JA's
I have been using the Nike Maxcats since 2010. Growing up, I enjoyed trying as many different models and brands of spikes that I could get my hands on, but none compete with the Nike Maxcats. From the first time I put them on, I knew that they were going to be a great spike.
The Maxcats are a light spike. Weighing only 6.0 ounce (170 grams), the spike feels like you are not wearing anything at all. The spike plate is strong but not rigidly stiff. This allows you to run distances from 100-600m without discomfort.
The Maxcats are quite a narrow fit if you select your 'proper size'. You can wear them with and without socks -** but do note that you may blister and cut your pinky toe because of the narrowness. This narrow design makes the shoe feel like a glove.
Another thing that you will need to be conscious of with the Maxcat is tearing through the lace holes. I have to admit that I am an aggressive shoelace tier, but it is not difficult to pull too hard and rip the lace out of a hole. I have done this many times, and am probably going to do it again.
Overall, these are an awesome pair of spikes!
A purchase link can be found here.
For the 2014 season, I was looking to try a spike with a little more support then the Nike Maxcat. My motive for this change was due to running my first "indoor" track season. With the constant hills and the bank of the track, I was keen to try a spike with a bit more stability.
I tried the Nike JA's and have not looked back. The spike feels a lot more aggressive when compared with the Maxcat. The Nike JA's are an ounce heavier, and don a fierce spike plate.
I have been very happy with how the spike has responded to my needs thus far. I was worried that the extra weight of the spike might detract me from using them, but this has not been the case. Although the spike feels heavier, you also feel that you are getting more out of the track with each step. So as long as you can maintain the same knee height coming down that last 100m of a 400m race, then the Nike JA's are a great option.
The Nike JA's are a little wider then the Maxcats. I have not had a problem with ripping the lace hole or cutting my pinky toe on the side of the shoe. I must note that I do wear socks with these spikes (opposed to the Maxcats- where I go barefoot).
My running watch of choice is the Garmin Forerunner 620. I have been using the Garmin Forerunner model since I first invested in a running watch in 2011. In terms of bang-for-buck, the Garmin does set you back about $400. This was my biggest hesitation with making the purchase- how much value could I get out of a watch that will take me 20hours of labour to afford?
I can happily report that buying the Garmin was one of the best purchase decisions that I have ever made. It may have taken blood, sweat and tears to save up the money, but once I had this baby on my wrist, it was all worth it.
The first thing that you will notice when you pick up a Garmin Forerunner 620 is how light the watch it. It is ridiculously light! Garmin have done an impressive job with the 620 version of the Forerunner series. The 610 model has a poorly designed strap and weights a lot more then the new and improved 620.
You can set up the watch interface to pretty much whatever you want. And to flip through screens to different data fields is as simple as swiping or taping the touch-sensitive screen. The watch is also waterproof to 50m depth, and functions perfectly in the rain.
The watch has a myriad of incredible features, but my favorite is probably one of its simplest. The Garmin Forerunner 620 has the ability for the user to set "Alerts". These can be set for many different things including a target HR, pace, time, distance. I use the time feature most. When I am doing aerobic capacity workouts, I know that if I get the pacing wrong on the first few reps, I am going to have a painful finish to the workout. The "alerts" function allows me to program the watch to beep and vibrate at a set time.
So- for example, if I am doing 600m repeats and I am trying to run an even 17sec 100m pace, I can set the watch to beep and/or vibrate every 17 seconds. From that signal, I can gauge whether or not I am heading for success or failure. You can even program your whole session into the Garmin before you even start! How cool it that!!!
I can honestly write so much about this watch, but in short -- I highly recommend it.
If you would like a comprehensive review of all the Garmin Forerunner 620 features, please click here for an exception in-depth review.
Another expensive but worth wile investment is a pair of quality noise canceling headphones. I love music, and the Bose QuietComfort 15 will definitely heighten your appreciation of quality sound.
I use these headphones all the time. From studying, to traveling, to warming up and cooling down - these headphones quickly become your best friend.
If music is as big a part of your life as it is mine, then I would suggest saving up some coin and purchasing a pair of Bose. They fit so nicely on the ears that you forget you are even wearing them. I also have a pair of Beats, but the only time that those come off the shelf are when my Bose have run out of battery. The Bose are just quality headphones.
If you are looking into the possibility of investing in some noise-cancelling headphones, the review by Cnet linked here can be of help.
If you ever have seen me train or race, you will know about my water hysterics. As an athlete who overheats, I am known for my outrageous water antics, which include giving myself a shower with my eight water bottles throughout my practice workouts. After a tough session, the inside of lane one looks more like a swimming pool than a track.
Although it looks ridiculous, water serves many important functions within the body. Some of these functions include:
They say that on average, an individual should consume 8 glasses of water a day. On a heavy training day, I can consume eight water bottles, let alone glasses! Dehydration can impede our training and performance, so avoid it! Mix up water intake with some sports drinks during intense exercise for an extra sugar kick and rehydration boost.
A few toys of mine that I always keep in my training bag include:
These pieces of equipment help me both stretch muscles and tendons as well as break down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue.
Quick physiology Lesson!
A soft connective tissue known as the "superficial fascia" is located just below the skin. This fascia wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels to the body. Muscle and fascia make up the "myofascia system". Our fascia can become stuck together when we damage muscle whilst exercising or partaking in everyday activities. This adhesion restricts muscle movement and can cause pain and reduce flexibility of a joint.
My "tool kit" allows me to help break up these adhesions (also known as myofascial release). As well as aiding my recovery and performance, these tools will help keep your body healthy and allow you to improve your training by having more flexible and pliable muscle.