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Ask Me Anything – Running Tips & Pointers

The recent closure of gyms and exercise studios has led to a lot of people discovering the joys of running. Being able to get out, raise that heart rate, build up a sweat, see progression and clear your head, are just some of the reasons that running is such a great activity for you to take up or keep up. In this blog we are going to address some running gear essentials for summer running with tips to make sure you get the most out of your runs and are able to keep it up. We are also going to dive into the world of trail running, what the differences are between running on trails and roads, things to be conscious of and gear essentials.

Road Running

Understandably the road is where most people start running. The ease of starting and finishing from your front door is undeniably very attractive for those of us with busy lives and limited windows for exercise. There are a few things to consider if you are getting into running and starting to ramp up the amount of times you go out or the duration of the times you spend running.

Warm Weather Gear Essentials
The “recommended gear list” for road running depends quite a lot on what distance you are planning to cover. For a shorter run there is no great need to take supplemental food or drink, however if you are planning a longer run, perhaps greater than an hour you could be very glad of a drink or snack. The Duro Handheld from Osprey is ideal for such a run, it has a 250ml soft flask included and a zippered stash pocket making it ideal for helping you complete those extra few miles, hydration being especially important for running in warmer weather.

Shoes. Shoes are a very personal part of a runners kit. We recommend looking for something with a good amount of cushion, this is especially important if you are planning to do long runs on the road. The Hoka Clifton 6 is a brilliant option, they are light, really cushioned (feels like you are running on clouds!) yet they are still responsive, meaning if you want to pick up the pace they add a nice spring to your step. They fit true to size.

Socks! You’ll find that normal socks or cotton gym socks aren’t ideal for much more than a warm up on the treadmill. If you are going out often we recommend something more specialist. A bit of extra padding at the toes and heels goes a long way when the mileage starts to ramp up. There’s the option of ankle and no show socks too.

Tunes. Roads can get a bit monotonous after a while. A lot of people motivate themselves by listening to something in order to occupy themselves, whether it’s a podcast or some music. The bone conduction technology in Aftershokz headphones makes them ideal companions for any distance of run. The open ear design ensures that you can still remain aware of your surroundings while not sacrificing audio quality.

Watches and tracking. Tracking your distance is an important consideration if you decide you want to run with more focus. Free options such as using the Strava activity tracker on your phone is a great place to start, providing you with accurate GPS data on your run; distance covered, running pace, and time elapsed. If you are taking your running seriously a GPS watch is an awesome asset. If you are starting to tackle interval sessions, event specific training or strava segment hunting, the ability to have all your running data displayed as you like it on your wrist, hands-free is of great benefit, some watches even have music storage that talk directly to bluetooth headphones, keeping messy cables out of the mix altogether. We have a range of sports watches to suit all budgets on our website. A brilliant feature that all of our Garmin GPS watches have is free access to “Garmin Coach” where your device can help you achieve your 5km, 10km or half marathon goals by creating a personalised training plan. Our FitBit wearables have tons of training assets too, from the simple features of the Inspire to the feature packed Versa and Charge Ranges.


Trail Running

With your new found love for running you may well find yourself running in the hills. Trail running is a great way to get out in nature, see some beauty and really clear that head, there is not much else you can think about other than where you are putting your feet at times!

Warm Weather Gear Essentials
There are many similarities in the recommended gear whether you are on trails or roads. There are a few differences though, so let’s go through it.

Shoes. What we discussed regarding road shoes still stands, cushion is nice, however trails are generally easier on the joints to run on so you may not need as much cushion. Stability is, however, more of a consideration for trail shoes. Since you will be on an uneven surface it is more important that the shoe is supportive to ensure you do not roll an ankle. How aggressive the lugs (grips) are on the shoes is also a consideration, some “crossover” shoes that are at home on trails and on road have less aggressive lugs, whereas some shoes that are designed for mountain running have much more aggressive lugs that, if worn on road, will wear down quickly. We have a wide selection of off road running shoes on our website to suit most types of terrain, the Salomon SpeedCross being a firm favourite.

Layers. If you are venturing onto trails we would always recommend bringing some extra clothing, as weather can change quickly. A light, packable softshell jacket, on cooler early mornings or evening runs and a base layer can also be a lifesaver when you get above the treeline. There’s plenty of choice to be had in running clothing with the Columbia Zero Rules tees a fantastic mix of technology and comfort but the most important thing is freedom of movement. Another good product to consider, especially during warmer runs is Body Glide Anti Chafe balm, trust us, if you need it, you’ll be glad you had it.

Nutrition. Some extra food is great to have. For shorter runs a single gel can suffice, but for longer days in the hills something like a clif bar can really give you the energy you need to get home! Some extra protein afterwards can also help recovery.

Bags. Since the recommended kit list is a bit more extensive for running on trails than road, you need somewhere to store all this kit as you run. For shorter trail runs the Duro Solo is ideal, the built in water bottle is a great way to keep dehydration at bay. If you decide to push distance in the hills, a good running bag is essential. Our favourite by far is the Osprey Duro 6, it is the perfect size for any run, has space for a hydration bladder, a zip pocket for keys/phone and it comes with two 250ml soft flasks that are positioned so you can hydrate as you run. If you feel the need to carry more, there’s also a 15 litre version too.

IMRA. If you think that you could benefit from a bit of healthy competition while running, The Irish Mountain Running Association have hundreds of events annually, the community is very welcoming and the events are a great place to test your new found fitness.


Safety

Navigation. The more “out there” your route choice, the more self-sufficient you have to be. Most good GPS watches have the ability to sync a route to the watch that you can follow in real time. This ensures you don’t get lost. If you are not using this feature we recommended sticking to tracks you know well, unless you have great navigational skills and plan on running with a map and compass.

First Aid. Accidents can happen. It is worthwhile packing a simple first aid kit in your running bag if you are planning a longer trail run. Better to be safe than sorry. Having a survival bag is a trail running essential, even in the summer. Once you stop on an exposed hilltop your body heat will quickly disappear. If something were to happen to happen to you in the hills, the ability to stay warm until help arrives is vital.

Social Distancing. Being aware of people around you when you are out for a run is very important. If you are planning a faster run where giving way to walkers would be an inconvenience we recommend going for your run at less busy times. This is especially relevant for trail running where often the trails do not have much space of passing while keeping socially distanced. Making walkers aware of you as you approach them from behind is of paramount importance. A simple “coming up on your left” can save a lot of unnecessary resentment. We all have to share the paths, tracks and trails!

#GOexplore
The most important thing is to get out, enjoy nature and push ourselves.

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