There are many reviews out there on running accessories that are way better than I could do and in more detail. However I thought I would include a list of my top 5 more obscure running accessories and a bonus one at the end for an item I received for Christmas, but have not yet used!
I do not have any affiliation whatsoever with any of these companies and the items have all been bought and trialed by myself (apart from the bonus item that was a gift :)).
1. Squirrel Nut Butter
Hmmm….how many of you are now thinking about Nut Butter (with Jelly for you readers in the US!)….whoa…hold on I don’t mean that type of Nut Butter!
Many runners get so far into a race and realise their clothing is causing chafing……or get into the shower at the end of a run and get the sudden realisation that they haven’t ‘lubed up’ and their bits are red and sore!
I used to use petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to avoid this. However it is very greasy and can damage your clothing.
However, whilst I was on holiday in California last year I discovered ‘Squirrel Nut Butter’ at the local Sports Basement store.
This, all natural, anti-chafing product comes either in stick form (like a deodorant stick) or in small tins, so it is easy to carry with you.
The product contains coconut oil, cocoa butter, bees wax, vitamin E oil and essential oils. It doesn’t contain nuts as far as I am aware 🙂
Does it work? Since using it I haven’t had any chafing issues! and resists sweating / rain and any other elements the weather can throw at you!
The downside for me is that it isn’t available (as far as I am aware) in the UK. However I have recently taken delivery of three sticks that my girlfriend bought for me! Hopefully these will last me a year or so!
9/10 – loses a point for having to get it from the US!
2. Garmin etrex 30
I can read a map and like to think I can navigate. However that is in daylight, in good weather conditions and when I am not moving any quicker than walking pace. The difficulty comes when I am running.
I have been trained in how to do this, but putting that into practice is a different matter….running with hands free to allow you to thumb your map and keep on top of where you think you are is not always that easy in my opinion.
Hence the reason I bought a Garmin GPS unit.
A lot of people are put off from these as the OS maps are as expensive as the GPS unit itself (and more so in some cases!)
However a lot of units have a basic map installed. I would not like to navigate myself out of a tricky situation using this. But I use it to follow a route that I have previously planned and downloaded to the unit.
In this instance it is a godsend! As soon as I turn it on and the unit has found the GPS signal, it will tell me where I am on the route. I can then follow the planned route knowing that I am heading in the right direction.
I plan the routes on the Ordnance Survey Online mapping site and save them to the GPS unit as a GPX file. These tend to be very small and do not take up much space in the unit’s memory. Even in constant use the batteries (2 x AA) last a long time and I have not yet had the situation where the batteries have died.
I give this a 7/10 – marked down for a couple of minor points: It has a facility for a micro SD card. However getting the unit to recognize it is there is not that easy; and there is no means of locking the unit to avoid losing the map if you accidently touch one of the other buttons!
I had looked for a long time for a suitable means for my partner to track where I am on one of my long runs. As I had passed out on a run a few years ago, it is a necessity for her to know where I am if I fail to return on time. There are a lot of apps that can do this, but these rely on there been a mobile phone signal and your phone battery needs to last long enough!
This matchbox sized device uses GPS satellites to affix its position, then transmits that information via a mobile phone network to a smartphone app. From the app, you can see where the monitor is in real-time, or where it has been over a certain time period.
The unit is customizable to provide location updates at a customizable period from one minute to two hours. I set mine to every five minutes. Battery time is excellent and if it is not moving it goes to sleep to preserve battery life, restarting when you are on the move again. From the smartphone app, you can ping it to see where it currently is in real-time, or do an history search to see where it has been over the past few hours / days / weeks.
The downsides to it are that it does need a mobile phone signal to send your position. However the sim card with the unit picks up any mobile network, anywhere in the world (I have only tested this in the UK and the US though!). Another downside is that after the first year you do have to pay a ‘management fee’ of around 5 euros per month. If you and your family like the comfort of knowing where you are, then that is a small price to pay.
My girlfriend recently used this to track my progress in a race on the North Yorkshire moors and walked out to meet me at a location near the finish with pinpoint accuracy!
I give this item 8/10 – mainly losing marks due to the monthly running costs which may be high if you do not use it that often!
Many runners often find themselves wet and cold at the finish, with the possibility that there is nowhere to change clothing whilst maintaining your modesty.
I had seen other runners at races using towelling robes, however I found myself drawn to the larger robes that surfers and triathletes are using made by Dryrobe!
Dryrobe manufacture different types of robe but I went for the top of the range deluxe ‘Advance’ version.
The advance version is a long sleeved full length waterproof robe. The interior has a warm lining with pockets for essentials…..such as underwear! I went for the extra large size which has plenty of room to get changed comfortably. Dryrobe will personalise your robe if you wish. I went for the standard design. Various colours are available too.
10/10! I cannot fault this item!
5. Road ID
Three years ago, when I collapsed whilst out running. I had no form of ID with me. Fortunately when I came to the paramedics were able to get enough information from me to contact my family. However it made me think about what I would do if they weren’t able to bring me around?
I started to look around at what was available. At the time there didn’t seem to be much in the UK that was discrete and suited my needs. I came across an American company called Road ID that had a selection of ID bracelets and other goods that were exactly what I wanted.
Have a look at their website to see the ever expanding range of goods available. I have got a slim rubber band type with a discreet ID sleeve that gives emergency contact details. I also got a sleeve to fit my Fitbit Charge Band (perfect fit!)
It would be a crime if I didn’t also tell you about their android and iPhone app too.
I use this all the time if I am heading out on my own for shorter runs ( for longer runs I use the TRACKIMO to avoid running down my phone battery). This is free to download from Apples Appstore.
The app sends out an eCrumb (electronic breadcrumb) to your friends or family whilst you are out for a run. They can then track you to see where you are. If you stop moving for a length of time, it will alert them that you have stopped by sending a text message or mail so they can see where you are from their phone or computer.
It also has a function for creating a ‘lock screen’ on your phone that includes your ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts as well as any important health information such as allergies, medical conditions etc. If only other running apps did what Road ID does! Strava have now created their Beacon App. However this is for prime users and my initial reviews are that it doesn’t work anywhere near as well as the Road ID app.
Having ID with you is something most athletes think about and know it makes sense…however it tends to get put to one side until the time you really need it! Don’t leave it to chance!
10/10 Excellent products; excellent service ; excellent App!
“Your feet pound the path. Your breathing is deep but steady. As you lengthen your stride the trees along the path become a blur.
Then, a hundred yards ahead of you, you spot the blockade—three people walking abreast and chatting cheerfully. They probably don’t even realize they’re blocking your path.
You clear your throat, but the pedestrians are engaged in conversation and do not hear you.
What do you do? It feels rude to shout, and even ruder to barrel your way between them.
Runbell lets you communicate your presence in a polite way. The clear ring of the bell cuts through traffic and conversation noise to get the attention of others who share the trail or sidewalk.”
The above is taken from Runbells’ own website. I was bought one of these for Christmas last year. It does look good and a quality manufactured piece of kit. However would I run with it? I am not sure. I have never seen or heard one whilst out running yet, and I am afraid I don’t intend to be the first. Meanwhile it will sit in my drawer! Great idea though!
What are your favourite running accessories away from the usual larger items such as GPS watches etc?
Would any of you consider the Runbell?