Friday, May 24, 2013

3 Season Gear

All week long I have been thinking about this post, making a mental list of all of my gear, and wow….I have accumulated quite a bit over the years! Also, due to the fact that I live in New England, I need significantly more gear than if I lived somewhere with a climate like San Diego’s. With that thought in mind, I’m only going to write about the gear that’s relevant right now. I will do another post once the temps start going down again.

Shoes: The only thing you really need when you first start running. I don’t even remember what I wore when I did the couch to 5K in 2009, but they definitely weren’t anything fancy. Shoes are important once you start logging more miles, and everybody is different. I highly suggest going to a running store to get the proper fit. I ran my first two half marathons in the same shoes …they lasted me a good two years before I started getting pain in them. I cannot go wrong with the Brooks Adrenaline and will probably buy another pair after the marathon. Yes, they are the traditional cushy sneakers with a drop, but….they work well for me. And I land mid/fore-foot with every step. Can’t complain.

Bike: Oh, the road bike. I have done a couple triathlons using my Mom’s 10+ year old Mongoose mountain bike. Sure, I still got first place, but I had to work extra hard to maintain speed on the bike. I vowed to purchase a real bike this year with my taxes, and this I did. I went to a local bike shop, used my Mom’s connection and bargaining skills, and was able to get a GT Series 4 for $540 that was originally marked at $900. I cannot express how much I appreciate having this bike as my own. It’s comfortable, fast, and light-weight. Hills are no longer such a bother which means I can ride to/from work with ease. Plus, the low weight means I can get the bike into the elevator at work without a problem!

Swimsuit: I bought a TYR brand reversible swimsuit off of Sierra Trading Post when my 7 year-old girls-sized Speedo finally wore out on me. I took someone’s excellent tip at using this website and was able to get a swimsuit for $30 that usually goes for $70. This suit is great, it’s thick, and it fits perfectly. I invested in this because I swim at least once a week and will continue to do so for awhile.

Bike Shorts: I just bought my bike shorts online and I love them! I have never ridden a road bike before now and boy, are they different from what I am used to. Even the bikes used in spin class are nothing compared to my road bike! These shorts are a great length, the gel padding is thin but gets the job done. I borrowed a pair of my Mom’s shorts to see if I could benefit from buying a pair. I can say that I really appreciate how much less bulky these are and am pleasantly surprised. They are even comfortable to run in during my brick workouts! I did some research on brands, pricing, etc. and found the Canari Gel Pro Short on Campmor, bought them for $40 and they are originally $70!

Bike Shoes: I probably should mention that I do not always get a long with bikes. In my short life I have broken an arm, sprained two wrists, gotten a severe cut, bruised my collarbone, and separated my first rib all by falling off of a bike. For some reason I continue to ride without fear, BUT, I do not think I can ever wear the clip-in shoes that the pros (or my Mom!) use due to all my injuries. I took advice from my step-dad and wear sneakers that have little padding so that I do not lose energy in that absorption. Enter…my indoor soccer shoes! These babies are a boy’s size 6 and were only $20 at Sports Authority. They have served me well in three winters of soccer plus many spin classes and now bike rides. Easy solution to a potentially expensive problem.

Fuel Belt: I recently purchased this, and as of now it is untested. However, I bought the fuel belt NOW so that I could use it for the triathlon. I figure it will be a lot easy to put my bib number on here after the swim rather than pulling on a shirt over my bathing suit. Also, this is obviously something that will be needed as I train for a marathon in the dead of summer. After much research I decided to purchase the iFitness Neoprene Hydration Belt for $40 off a website called Holabird Sports. I wanted to buy from the iFitness site, but they didn’t have anything in my size! The belt includes two 8 oz. bottles, a place to store two snacks (I don’t use gels), and a zippered waterproof front pouch for phone, keys, cards, etc. Also, the toggles to hold the bib number as I mentioned. I have tried it on and it seems comfy, the reviews are all positive and it is supposed to stay in place well. My only problem? I like to put my arms down by my side when running distance, but will have to hold them up higher to keep them away from the bottles. Small price to pay for keeping hydrated though!

Running Spandex: The last part of gear I want to mention, that is also untested, is the long running spandex I bought from Aero Tech Designs. I bought the Classic Fitness Compression Shorts in order to avoid chafing and possibly assist with muscle fatigue when running long distance. I recently discovered with my half marathon training that running in my stretchy cotton capris is infinitely more comfortable than traditional running shorts for anything over 8 miles, but not really advised for mid-summer running. Enter….the long spandex. They fit nicely, I will see how they treat me this summer. They were only $20 so I figure it’s worth a shot.

Everything else that one needs for running, I buy used, second-hand, almost always from Savers. I do not see any point in spending ridiculous amounts of money on brand new matching outfits by Adidas/Nike/Under Armour, etc. and spending at least $70. My running wardrobe has held up quite nicely and is obviously multi-purpose. I am not one to care about matching and looking great while running so this is not right for everyone. But when you’re on a budget, there’s no reason to worry.

Additionally, the socks and sports bras I wear are at least three years old and holding up nicely. Again, no reason to buy the name brand or spend extravagant amounts of money on these items, they are standard necessities but will not make or break a workout.

I was able to accumulate all of these items because I did not purchase them all at once. I budgeted, saved, and researched before completing any sale and made sure that I truly was in need of these items. Working out is my hobby, my greatest by far, and this is where I choose to spend my money. Obviously, my choices would be a lot different if I prioritized vacations, coffee/alcohol, meals out, etc. Training and participating in these athletic events are what help me get through the day-to-day crap of living as a poor volunteer/student in America and I always look forward to the next workout.

I am able to pay for the events I participate in because I research, write out my goals, and figure out what makes sense with my budget and time. I am lucky enough that my friends and family support my decision to regularly participate in such events. For my birthday, my boyfriend paid the registration fee for my April half marathon. And the marathon was paid for using any money I received from family for my birthday.

I am lucky to be able to enjoy myself and be comfortable when I work out, I remind myself every day. But it’s not always luck….sometimes it’s just about being smart and making good decisions. After all, I started running for the simplicity of it, all you need is your legs and a pair of shoes to get started. And some people will argue that you can get by on less!

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