I’m something of a man of habit and, when I find a brand I particularly like, I tend to stick with it. This is particularly true of my running kit, where I’m not keen on changing things if I can help it, and where I’ve steadily developed a stable of preferred brands for various different tasks. These are, I like to think, my ‘sponsor’ brands, except for the fact that they don’t actually sponsor me and I have to buy their stuff myself, so that’s a bit sad 😦
Before I was really into athletics, I kind of hated Nike. I had this idea of it as sweatshop-produced, overpriced, more branding than performance, and more commonly worn as everyday clothing by the style-challenged. I remember it actually took an effort of will to buy my first pair of Nike dri-fit shorts when I started running seriously, but since then I’ve realised how wrong I was. Their running gear is absolutely second-to-none. I only ever run in their dri-fit shorts with integrated lycra undershorts and I firmly believe that nothing else even comes close. Similarly, their running shirts are perfectly-fitted, perfectly-engineered, and stylish; coming in a range of styles and colours many of which don’t immediately look like your standard running gear. Although I occasionally compromise on the shirts and wear a race shirt or other freebie, if I had my choice I’d be clad in Nike from socks to neck.
I sometimes think my obsession with Garmins is actually unhealthy, and yes I occasionally have to remind myself that exercise not logged on a Garmin still counts as exercise. I think I currently own two Forerunner watches, a Garmin Edge cycle computer, a multisport/triathlon watch, an indoor swimming watch (though I may have lost that one…), a Foretrex hiking GPS, a Virb camera, and a vivofit. And I owned a third Forerunner watch that I sold.
Yes, Garmin Connect may be fairly rubbish, (though it’s improving) but that’s ok because it syncs automatically with Strava, and they might be pricey but they’re worth it. Constantly innovating and improving, each individual category is perfectly suited to what it does and adds both practicality and enjoyment to exercise. The Forerunner watch, in particular, has totally changed the way I run (for the better). People think that being tied to technology restricts your enjoyment of running but in my view it’s the opposite: knowing that I can monitor and record my distance and speed on the fly gives me the freedom to just step outside my front door and run, and then figure out where I’m going on the go, and still do the necessary distance. Before then, if I wanted to do a particular dstance I had to painstakingly plan routes in advance and then try to remember them as I ran.
Brooks Running Shoes
I’ve run five marathons and an Ironman in four different generations of Brooks Ghosts and I absolutely love them.
Oakleys make hands-down the best sunglasses for running. Their ‘unobtanium’ rubber ear and nose pieces mean that the glasses, unlike similar-looking cheaper pairs, stay fixed firmly in place even on the sweatiest of runs. It’s almost creepy how well they grip the face, but without ever getting uncomfortable. The range of shapes and sizes, as well as the wide variety of lenses for different conditions, make these perfect for almost any endurance sport. I have two pairs that I use, with different lenses, for running, cycling, sometimes shooting and general casual wear. If I could afford to, I’d own even more pairs.
When it comes to trail running, which I started doing a lot of in the run up to my sadly aborted Marathon des Sables attempt, I started having to consider wearing a bit more than just my Nike t-shirt and shorts for every run. As I mentioned in my post on trail running, when you’re going to do a run that will take five or six hours and cover thirty miles or more of open terrain, it’s vital to have options that will keep you warm and dry in variable weather, but aren’t ridiculously heavy. The Arc’teryx shell which I was given as a present last Christmas is absolutely perfect for this. And that’s before I even start on my love of their hiking gear; fleeces, mid-layers, trousers, and so on. It’s beautiful stuff!