Products And Apps I Use For Running
Good morning! I'm often asked how I got into running and what products/apps I use to make the experience better. Below are some helpful links and such so you can start your running adventures like me.
I always used to run with normal earbuds, but they were kind of uncomfortable and always in the way. I finally decided to try out some wireless buds, and these are great! They're noise-canceling, they fit fine in my ears (and come with several sizes), and they're only $25.99.
This isn't the one I bought personally (seems to be sold out), but mine is similar to this. I can put my phone, license, cards, and keys in here and run with no problem. I like this better than the arm belt, but that will work too if this isn't your thing!
I love a good RX Bar! I used to fuel my runs with Quest bars all the time, mainly because they are tasty and lower in Weight Watchers SmartPoints, but lately I am more about ingredients. Quest has a ton of chemicals and hidden sugars, while RX Bars have a small number of ingredients — all recognizable, all natural. I personally love Peanut Butter, Chocolate Sea Salt, and Chocolate Chip!
I use these tablets on long runs when I feel like I need an extra boost of energy. You can just drop one tab into a bottle of water, let it dissolve, and drink. I prefer these over Gatorade or a sports drink because they're low-cal, low-sugar, low-carb, no high-fructose corn syrup, and no artificial colors or flavors. They help alleviate cramps and improve muscle function.
The first time I ever tried this was during the 2017 Disney Princess Half-Marathon race, and it worked like a charm. By mile eight, I was completely exhausted and needed an energy kick. They pass these out on the course, and you just take a shot to help improve your performance. I would recommend trying this out before you do a big race, just to make sure your body is ok with it. As for taste, it really does taste like vanilla gel. I can't really explain beyond that, but I enjoyed it!
I love these shoes, but please note that you should get a proper shoe fitting before buying a pair. I went to the Nike store, made an appointment for a fitting, and they recommended options based on how my feet hit the treadmill, how much support I needed due to a previous compound fracture, etc. You also want to make sure you're actually getting the right size in order to avoid blisters and other injuries. If Nike is not the brand for you, ask any other running store (like Jack Rabbit in NYC) if they have the fitting option with a treadmill test and they will provide a list of appropriate shoes customized for you.
There are plenty of running apps out there, but Nike+ Run Club is my favorite by far. You can unlock achievements, look at your pace and splits, view maps of your runs, and see how many miles you've clocked per run, per month, and overall. You can also compete with friends (which I don't have many on there, but whatever) and the app will tell you your progress at every mile. It also hooks up to your iTunes or Spotify playlists.
This is the app that taught me how to run, and I recommend it to all beginners! It is designed to help you run your first 5K, and it's done in a way that builds your endurance and strength gradually so you don't risk injury. It's usually 30 minutes long and includes a 5-minute warm-up and and a 5-minute cool-down. The remaining 20 minutes is a series of walking and jogging, and it changes every week to include more jogging as you progress. After I completed my first 5K, I then upgraded to the 10K app, and eventually the 13.1 app. I did the free versions, except the 13.1 app (I think you have to pay $10 for it, but it's worth it in my opinion).
I cannot stress this enough: Foam rolling is SO important for recovery! After a run, I always foam roll first, and THEN I stretch. Stretching actually tightens your muscles, so you want to make sure you alleviate them first. Rolling increases blood flow and releases muscle tightness that can interfere with proper running form. Anyway, I always roll my ankles, legs, hips, lats, and thighs. It hurts, but you'll feel so much better afterwards. You can learn more about how to foam roll here.
Unfortunately for me, I've had plantar fasciitis a few times in my life, which can make running (and even walking) very painful. I went to a podiatrist and was recommended to use a massage ball tool to help roll away those deep muscle knots in the ball of your foot. I bring this to work and just massage my feet throughout the day, and that along with specific stretches helps get rid of the pain.
Ok, obviously this is a bigger investment than free apps on your phone, but I find the Apple Watch to be completely worth the price. Full disclosure: I got mine for free from BuzzFeed (it was a gift if we met a traffic goal, which we did), but if I had to pay for it, I would be satisfied with my purchase. Your watch can track your steps, calories burned, your heart rate, etc. I mainly just use the green running man app, which you can use to track activity like walking, spinning, stairs, and other (strength training). If the Apple Watch is too expensive for your budget, maybe look into cheaper FitBits. I've heard great things, and I think having some sort of tracking tool on your wrist makes you much more aware of your movement and will encourage you to be more active.
So this is actually something I made when I was bored, and I love it. I put a dollar in the box for every mile I run, and then at the end of the year, I'll use it towards a vacation. You can make this motivation-type box for whatever best fits your lifestyle, but I found that this is a great way for me to save some cash and get miles in. :)