I’ve tried out tons of different clothing, shoes and other products since I started running. Some have been used once or twice and then consigned to a drawer (or to a small hangar on the outskirts of town, in the case of that giant hovercraft I bought. The Parkrun organisers really need to make the rules a lot clearer about that sort of thing). Other products are never far from my kit bag, and I consider them to be as indispensable as my legs or that part of my brain that tells me I can eat two cakes for every mile I’ve run. Here’s a thing about some of my favouritest ever running products, in two instalments (just because):
1. Garmin Forerunner 610
I’ve tried a few running watches, and have yet to find one that comes close to the 610 for functionality, features and ease of use. I love the fact that it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, and it’s so easy to tailor it to different types of run. After 2-3 years of using the watch, I still feel like a secret agent from the future whenever I use the touchscreen controls1. Unfortunately, my trusty 610 is on its last legs and, as much as I love the thing, I can never resist the temptation of trying something newer and shinier. I’ll probably end up opting for the 620, although I’ve heard good things about the Suunto Ambit too. Hmmm… Maybe there’s a reason I’ve got two wrists.
2. Crew Room shirt
When I managed to snaffle a place at this year’s Mizuno Reading Half-Marathon as part of Team Write This Run, the lovely folks at Crew Room (who I’d never heard of until that point) kitted us out with some ace running gear. I own dozens of running tops, but the Crew Room t-shirt is the one I wear about 50% of the time. I’ve even been known to hover in front of the washing machine, impatient and bare-chested, waiting for it to finish being washed rather than going out in anything else. There are no magic bells and whistles on it (although adding actual bells and whistles to anything is always an improvement); it’s just incredibly comfy, well-fitted and very nicely designed.
3. Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit
I’ve already posted a full review of these babies (here it is if you don’t believe me), but I still maintain that they’re the comfiest shoes ever made. My one concern when I first got them was that, due to their oh-so-minimalist ethereal design, they probably wouldn’t have the same 500 mile life expectancy of normal running shoes. Well that was six months and 500+ miles ago, and they’re still going strong.
I kept reading about how amazing these earphones were, so I finally decided to try them for myself. I’m happy to report that they’re every bit as great as I’d hoped. Sound quality is good, but where they really score points is in negating the two medical conditions that are the bane of every runner who wears earphones, namely Swamp Ear and Falling-Outness. Unlike every other earphone I’ve tried, the Yurbuds don’t make my ears feel like they’re stuffed with sweaty slime, and their bold claim of staying firmly in your ears2 is spot on. Pop them in, give them a little twist, and for the entire run it feels like they’re being gently held in place by angels.
5. Event Clips
These little chaps are the epitome of a simple idea well-executed. Forget safety pins – these four little clips hold your race number firmly in place without damaging your shirt (or nipples). I’m a massive fan of these You’ll probably need to poke holes in the corners of your race number though; I tend to stick a hole punch in my race bag for this very reason (I’m a bit of a neat freak, and I also find a spot of hole-punching strangely relaxing). These things work really well and I now swear by them, although I do have a bit of a gripe with the postage cost. The clips themselves are well-priced at £1.99 for 4, but the postage is then another £2.07 on top of that, which doesn’t seem very reasonable for something that weighs practically nothing and would be swallowed by a standard envelope.1 Although that’s not saying much. I tend to spend a lot of my time pretending to be a secret agent from the future, so you could just as easily substitute the words “touchscreen controls” with “lawnmower” or “toilet”. 2 Which is where they’re supposed to be; if you’ve been putting them behind your knees you should probably speak to someone.
NOTE: Because I write a blog, companies sometimes like to send me free products to try out, in the hope that I’ll write stuff about them. They usually end up regretting this when they read the sort of nonsense that passes for a “review” on here. There are a couple of things on this list that I didn’t pay for (namely the Nike shoes and the Crewroom shirt), but all views posted on here are unbiased and genuine. Basically, if a freebie makes this list then it means that I’ll end up going out and buying one for myself anyway, once the original product succumbs to wear and tear or gets left on a bus or eaten by a badger.