Making the Leap into the Ultra-World: Gear

making the leap 2

There are so many neat running toys out there and more come out every month. Not all of it is necessary, but it’s nice to have during an ultra.

Necessary items:

Good shoes and socks: this is pretty self-explanatory. You’re on your feet for a really long time and you train a lot. Make your feet happy or they will ruin your race. I’ve written a post on choosing trail shoes as well click here.

Appropriate clothing: Have you heard the saying, “There is no bad weather, only bad gear”? Clothing should be number one in this area. You don’t need to buy the most expensive stuff. I get a lot of my running clothes from Target. Layers are important because weather changes. My bottom layer is what I expect to be wearing the whole race (unless I have to completely change for some reason). It could be shorts and a T or long pants. From there I add depending on weather at the time. Hats and/or visors and gloves also go down on my necessary list.

Headlamp and extra batteries: You’re going to running in the dark and trails can be tricky. There are different ways to wear a headlamp if you don’t like it on your head. I wear mine on my hips. You can also wear it around your chest. A flashlight or knuckle lights are good options if you can deal with the movement of the light and having something in your hands. If you fall, your flashlight could break or go missing, so have a back-up option. I carry a small flashlight with me because I’ve had my batteries die, and even with a headlamp you could fall and break it. Find something lightweight and throw it in your pack.

Hydration system: I use the word system because there are various options: handheld, vests with bottles, vests with small bladders, belts, and hydration packs. Different strokes for different folks. Aid stations in ultras are far apart either by distance or time, sometimes both. It’s not unusual to have ten miles between aid stations. Even if it is only five miles, there could be a lot of climbing which could take hours. I like packs because I need my hands free to get food and such. I like the storage space. And they typically hold more water. The drawback to a full pack is weight, but if you train with it, you get use to it. In fact, you should train with any system you choose.

Blister kit and medical kit: I’ve already talked about the need for these in my last post, so I’m not going to go through it again.

RoadID: You should have identifying information on your person when running regardless it being during a race or not. Even if you have your phone, the battery could die, it could get damaged, or password protected. A race number will help people who are a part of the race, but not someone else. RoadID is a Velcro band that goes around your wrist or ankle. It allows you to put emergency contact information and medical information on it.

Nice to have:

Garmin: Or any devise that tracks your distance, pace, and whatever else is nice to have while you are out there (or maybe you don’t really want to know). I like to know how far off I am from the next aid station and if I am hitting my goal times. My ability to estimate distance travelled diminishes the longer I am out there.

Stash jacket and arm sleeves: Clothes you can “easily” take off and put on while running or at least without the need to stop and remove your hydration pack and other things is a special treat. The stash jacket is an Altra product. I think this is a great jacket because it comes with its own belt and pocket. It also has a cut out for your hydration pack, which means you don’t have to take anything off to put it on. Sleeves are also an item I like. You can pull them up and push them down as needed when it’s cold.

Flip belt: this is a belt that is essentially a pocket all the way around. It has slits where you can put your keys, phone, gu, or whatever in and then flip the belt so nothing falls out. It’s a little added storage space.

Gaiters: Gaiters keep debris out of your shoes. I’m sure some runners would move these to the necessary list. They are great to have because it sucks to stop and take tiny rocks out of your shoes. They can be a hindrance if you need to take your shoes off for any reason.

Sun glasses: I don’t use them because they bounce. I’ve found my hat does just as well. Sun glasses would be nice in the wind to keep debris out of your eyes. You do need to spend a little money on these. They need to be scratch resistant, have UV protection, and be lightweight.

Compression clothing: Compression clothing is meant to assist blood flow and increase efficiency by decreasing unnecessary muscle movement. Increased blood flow makes sure the muscles stay filled with nutrients and oxygen which they need to continue to work. They can also help speed recovery time because of the increased blood flow. Many people who have shin splints use calf sleeves or the knee-high socks.

Enjoyment purposes: Camera, Go-pro, and Ipod or other music


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