How to Choose the Best GPS Watch for Running

Running seems easy enough. Pick a pair of shoes, throw on shorts and a tank top, and head out the door, right? Well, technically, yes (as long as you find the right pair of shoes). But the more you get into running, the more you realize there are tons of gadgets that can make it easier to get faster, get better, or even just easier to plan your runs. At some point, almost every runner will look into upgrading their basic watch for something a little more technical with a few more features. But then that opens a whole other can of worms – how do you pick one? You can ask your running buddy or running group, but we’ve narrowed it down to four of the best here (and even a couple that won’t break the bank).

Budget

Photo Credit: TomTom
Photo Credit: TomTom

The TomTom Runner is your best option if you are on a budget, coming in right around $100 (we found them anywhere from $89.99-$129.99). It’s one of the more basic watches, with an easy to read screen and reliable GPS. It’s waterproof, and can track indoor miles on a treadmill as well.

Mountain Running

Photo Credit: Suunto
Photo Credit: Suunto

While many other GPS watches track elevation, the Suunto Ambit3 Peak is designed for mountain running. It tracks elevation, weather, multiple sports (swimming, running, biking), heart rate, recovery time, and more. The face is easy to read, the buttons are easy to push, and it can sync with your phone. There are a few color options with the straps, too. But this one is gonna cost you a bit more – $400-500.

Just the Basics

Photo Credit: Soleus
Photo Credit: Soleus

It’s really easy to get into all the different features that these watches offer, so if you are looking for something more simple, the Soleus GPS Pulse + HRM ($199) is a good choice. That’s not to say it doesn’t have features, but the main ones include the typical distance, speed, and pace, as well as calories burned, interval timers, and a backlight.

The One Everyone Has

Photo Credit: Garmin
Photo Credit: Garmin

Garmin is a company that has made a name for itself in the running community. With a variety of options ranging from the Forerunner 15 ($119) that is similar to the basic Soleus, to the multi-sport capable Forerunner 735XT ($449.99) that measures everything from the regular distance to VO2 max and lactate threshold estimates. For a mid-price range watch that will have more than enough features for the average runner, the Forerunner 235 ($329.99) is an excellent option.

Feature Photo Credit: Forward Runner

7 Inspirational Running Books

Even the most accomplished athlete needs a little motivation sometimes, not to mention there are some days that the weather just isn’t cooperating. We get it – it’s tough to lace up and head out in a torrential downpour. So we put together a list of inspiring books to read when you’re feeling sluggish, or when you’re stuck inside. We have a feeling that lack of motivation won’t last very long!

Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon
Neal Jamison

You don’t have to be an ultrarunner to appreciate this book. Jamison interviewed 35 runners about everything from training tips, to pain tolerance, to what is going through your mind at mile 93 of a 100 mile race. Most of the runners aren’t pros, either, so this one might make you feel a little better about your upcoming long run.

Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America’s Greatest Marathon
John Brant

In this book, Brant chronicles the story of the men behind one of the greatest U.S. races of all time – the 1982 Boston Marathon. Not just about the race, but what happened to both men afterwards, this well-written story reads almost like fiction.

Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside With Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, And The University Of Colorado Men’s Cross Country Team
Chris Lear

Many beginner runners don’t know the reputation that the University of Colorado Boulder Cross Country Team has (I know I didn’t). This inspirational story follows the team in their 1998 season while the team was chasing their first national title and Olympic hopeful Adam Goucher (yes, the future Mr. Kara Goucher) was going for his first NCAA cross country title. This book goes inside the mind of the amazing, yet controversial coach Mark Wetmore, and gives readers a glimpse of what life and training is like for some of the best.
 
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Haruki Murakami

When Murakami decided to train for the New York City marathon, he also decided to write about the journey. This memoir about the intersection of his obsession with running and writing, and everything that comes up along the way. He shares his philosophy on running and on life, and is more about the mental process of training for a race instead of the actual training advice.

Sole Sisters: Stories of Women and Running
Jennifer Lin and Susan Warner

This book is a collection of inspiring stories from women from all over the United States. It’s about women who for friendship, for grief, for health, and for everything in between.

The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life
Amby Burfoot

After running for 35 years, and winning the Boston Marathon, you pick up a few tips. Burfoot shares the 15 life lessons he’s learned, essential traits for a runner, and inspirational quotes that have kept him going along the way. This is a wonderful read for any runner, whether you’re a newbie or have been at it for decades.

Pre: The Story of America’s Greatest Running Legend, Steve Prefontaine
Tom Jordan

Just about everyone has at least heard of Steve Prefontaine, the running phenom who tragically died in a car accident at the age of 24. He was destined for greatness and continues to influence the sport today, even though it’s been 40 years since his death.

9 Ways to Recover After a Long Run or Race

Recovery. One of the most important (and overlooked) components of a training plan. According to RunnersWorld.com, recovery is:

“the restoration of energy-producing enzymes inside the muscles, functional proteins, fat and carbohydrate stores, and the regeneration of the endocrine and immune systems, Stellingwerff says. Recovery comes down to repairing, resting and refueling–while still allowing the body to adapt to the training workload and reap fitness gains. So the seconds, hours and days between all those bouts of running matter.”

But what is the best way to start the recovery process after a long run or race? It’s normal to be tired and have some soreness after pushing your body, but there are a few things to try and see what helps your body bounce back faster.

Before you worry about recovery, though, make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating good foods, and staying well-hydrated. The better you take care of your body when you aren’t running, the more you can set yourself up for success in the first place.

Now, on to the recovery options!

1. Recovery Drinks

While studies have shown that chocolate milk and coconut water could be good options post-workout, a drink specifically made for recovery, with a 3:1 or a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is going to give you the best returns. Ideally, get this down within 30 minutes of finishing your activity.

2. Eat Something

If you didn’t eat something with your recovery drink, the other window for consuming fuel for optimal recovery is one to three hours post-run. This would be a good time for a nutritious meal.

3. Ice Bath

The ice bath is a strategy that some swear by, while other studies show that long-term use of the ice bath can actually hamper recovery. That being said, anyone who has soaked their legs in the cold ocean after a long run knows that it seems to have some benefit. Cold water (it doesn’t even have to be freezing!) can reduce inflammation and improve circulation to your muscles.

4. Massage

Getting a massage on sore, tired muscles will reduce swelling and put you back at 100% more quickly. The sooner after a hard workout, the better.

5. Foam Roller

Can’t afford or don’t have time for a massage? Pull out the foam roller or tennis ball, and get on those tired muscles!

6. ROLL Recovery R8

The ROLL Recovery R8 is a relatively new recovery product that has several spring-loaded wheels. You can get a deeper massage than a foam roller, but still do it on your own at home.

7. Compression Socks

While there is conflicting information about compression socks as well, they are known to reduce next day soreness. Like massage, the sooner you get them on after a hard workout, the better.

8. Stretch

Don’t let those tired muscles tighten up! A good time to stretch is right after your run, or after a warm shower, and can be anything from this squat to a set of post-run stretches.

What methods of recovery have you had success with after a long run or race?

Feature Photo Credit: Resilience Fitness & Nutrition

Beginner’s Guide to Running Gear

They say that running is great because all you need to do is lace up a pair of running shoes and go, right? Technically, that’s true, but most runners add a few more pieces of gear to their regular running routine. While most of the things on our list aren’t absolutely necessary, many of them are nice to have and will make running much more enjoyable.

1. Technical Clothing

If you take one thing away from this article, let it be that you should not wear cotton to work out. Cotton absorbs water and then clings to your body instead of wicking the sweat away and drying quickly. For shirts, it can mean nipple chafing for men, or general discomfort for women. For socks, it can cause blisters. The technical clothing is going to cost more, but (in general) will last longer and make you more comfortable while you’re running. Sometimes technical clothing also comes with fun pockets or other neat features.

2. Shoes

I always recommend going to a local running store and getting fitted for proper shoes. You may have some pronation going on that could benefit from some extra support, or you may not need anything and a support shoe would cause some discomfort. A good pair of running shoes is going to be an investment, but is worth it.

3. Watch

Watches can range from a simple sports watch to a more advanced GPS tracking watch. Garmin and Polar both have some great GPS options, and some can even be programmed with intervals if you are doing specific training, or if you are on a run/walk plan. While I know some people use phone apps like RunKeeper to track their distance, it’s easy to have it on your wrist and then you don’t have to take your phone if you don’t want to. The GPS watches are also more accurate that your phone app.

4. Sunglasses

A good pair of sunglasses can make a huge difference. Look for a lightweight pair that stays in place and has polarized lenses. Polarized lenses are great for summer or winter running!

5. Hat or Visor

This one is far from a requirement, but many runners swear by them. Some even have a moisture-wicking band along the inside!

6. Headphones or Earbuds

Almost everyone I know listens to music when they run, and you have a couple options here. There are headphones that go over your head, earbuds that go in your ears, or wireless headphones/earbuds. There is even a company out there called Aftershokz using bone conduction technology with wireless headphones so you don’t have to put them on your ears. Headphones and earbuds range from pretty cheap ($10-20) all the way up to $150+. Make sure you try them out first, if possible. They might feel okay for a few minutes, but you want something that will feel comfortable for your entire run.

7. Hydration

For me personally, I bring something with me for a run that is an hour or more, but I know other people who bring hydration for a 30 minute run if it’s hot enough, and others who don’t take anything out unless they are running double digit miles. It’s completely up to you, but at some point in your running “career” you are going to get thirsty out there. There are backpack type options with a water bottle or a bladder, waist options with a couple bottles (like a Spibelt or FuelBelt), or a handheld bottle.

You can fill your hydration pack with water, or something with electrolytes like nuun.

8. Fuel

Again, this is a personal preference, and includes gels, blocks, shots, “waffles“, or even a bar like a ProBar or Simple Squares. It’s just a little something extra to keep you going on those longer adventures.

9. Compression Socks or Sleeves

Compression socks are designed to move the blood through your legs, increase oxygen delivery, decrease lactic acid, and reducing overall recovery time. Some people love ’em and others never use them, so experiment with them to see if they work for you. You can try them during a long run, or putting them on to help with recovery for after a long run.

10. Headlamp or light

This is more for safety than necessity. If you are running in the early morning, dusk, or even at night, you need to make yourself visible. Even if you don’t go all out and get a headlamp, at least consider a little safety light.

11. RoadID

Also for safety more than anything else. A RoadID is something that can either be a little tag on your shoe, or a bracelet that has your basic emergency info. – who to call and any medical conditions/allergies. They don’t cost that much, and are worth it should anything happen!

Feature image: PRweb.com

Quick Guide to Running with Your Dog

If you are a runner and have a dog, chances are you would love to be able to run together. And even if your dog pulls, stops to pee every 5 seconds, or is terribly out of shape, in most cases it’s simply a matter of getting them in shape and used to running. That being said, check with your vet before starting your dog on a running program, just to make sure your four-legged friend is as ready as you are!

1. Make sure your dog is ready.

Besides a vet visit, this means:

  • staying up-to-date on vaccinations,
  • nail trimmings, grooming (if applicable),
  • sunscreen (if your dog has super light skin or thin fur),
  • make sure your dog is older than 1.5 years.

2. Get the equipment. 

You may want to get your dog a reflective collar or even a light to attach to his harness or collar. I prefer to run with my dog with a harness, just in case he sniffs something – I don’t want to jerk his neck.

You can also get a hands-free waist leash, which will make your life a lot easier and won’t interfere with your running form as much as holding a regular leash might.

3. Start easy.

If you haven’t been walking your dog regularly because of winter weather, start with walking a few days a week. As you are walking with your dog, don’t let him stop and sniff without a command such as “go ahead”, “okay”, or “sniff”, so that he learns that he can’t just stop and sniff anywhere he wants (which will be helpful when you start running).

4. Introduce running and gradually build up your dog’s endurance.

Depending on your dog, this may be a running/walking program, or a jogging program. Start with 10 minutes of running and see how your dog does. Add 10 minutes each week until you get up to your desired time/distance. At first, your dog may want to go much faster, but he will get used to your pace in time and after that initial excitement.

5. Other things to consider:

  • If it’s too cold or your dog has shorter hair, he may need a jacket.
  • In the summer, try to go in the morning or later in the evening when the pavement is cooler. Also, don’t give your dog boots in the summer because he may overheat.
  • Bring extra water for your dog when your runs start to get longer.

11 Tips for Running When You Really Don’t Want To

We get it – sometimes it’s just plain hard to get out the door to run, even though you know you will feel better afterwards. But don’t worry, we put together a list of tips that will help you get motivated to go the distance!

  1. Try new music.
    Whether you create a new playlist or just try a different set of tunes on Pandora or Spotify running, mix it up a little bit!
  2. Run a different route.
    It can get boring to run the same direction, the same loop, and the same neighborhood every day. Check out Strava or Map My Run for new ideas.
  3. Just walk.
    Get outside and start moving. Tell yourself you will just walk for 15 minutes. Whenever I do this, it’s guaranteed that I will pick up the pace and probably spend more time out there, too.
  4. Sleep in your running clothes.
    If you’re a morning runner, this eliminates one big step from your routine, and makes it so much easier to get out the door as planned.
  5. Call a friend.
    Assuming you aren’t running at the crack of dawn, call a friend to run with you.
  6. Find a running group.
    The accountability of knowing others are expecting you will get you to that workout (and you’ll make new friends!).
  7. Get inspired.
    Whether that’s watching a clip of Meb winning the Boston Marathon or checking out what other runners are up to on Instagram, get psyched and get out there!
  8. Try a new workout.
    If you usually head out for a few easy miles after work, try a track workout. If you always run on the roads, hit the trails. A change of pace is always a good thing!
  9. Sign up for a race.
    If my motivation starts to wane, I register for another race. If I’m registered for a race, I’m going to put in the work.
  10. Plan a reward.
    For some of us, that might be frozen yogurt, for others, that might be pizza, or a reality TV show. Whatever you want, make yourself wait until after you run to get it. And hey, it might even make you run a little faster.
  11. Think positively.
    Snap out of those negative thoughts! Instead of dwelling how terrible/long/hot/cold it is, focus on the positive feelings you will have afterwards. Think about the overall benefits of running. Think about how close you are to your race or weight goals, and get out there!

Feature Photo Credit: Green Yatra Blog