Back in March 2008, I provided readers with a series of posts pertaining to some of the essential aspects of ultra-running, mainly pertaining to gear. As a refresher, I welcome you all to take a look back and read some of these posts:
Part 1: The Outer Layer
Part 2: Nutrition and Hydration
Part 3: Medical and Misc.
Part 4: Crews and Strategies
A lot of what I covered in those posts still holds true. However, it goes without saying that after 2 years go by, new products emerge, we all find some new things that work for us and we continue to educate ourselves along the way. Given those sentiments, I find it important for us to take a look at some changes that I've made over the last 2 years and to also introduce you to some new top notch products that I think will make any ultra-runner's experience more positive.
Changes: I've gotten rid of the idea of wearing a pair of Injinji toe socks. I actually started to get blisters wearing their socks for entire races. Now I save them for emergency purposes in races where my feet have been saturated for hours and my toes are in need of separation.
Smartwool has also disappeared from my repertoire thanks to my friends at Darn Tough. Smartwool socks were causing my all ready sweaty feet to sweat more and this was causing more frequent blister production as well. Darn Tough socks are made of Merino Wool and have Coolmax fabrics in them. This helps with the wicking power of the sock and in turn helps with blister prevention. You can read about my Darn Tough v. Smartwool experiment HERE for more info on the change.
I'm also wearing a pair of Brooks Equilibrium CoRe Short Shorts underneath my Brooks Revelation Pacer Shorts. While not completely preventing my on-going chaffing problems, they compression shorts give me a little more freedom in terms of how long it takes for the chaffing to "rear" it's ugly head.
Last spring I received a pair of test shoes from Brooks. They were a test pair of Brooks Adrenaline ASR 6's. Let me just say that in 2009 I wore the piss out of those shoes. They became my go to shoe and continue to this day be my go-to shoe even with over 1600 miles on them. In October I wore them in my run across New Hampshire, all 125 miles without changing into a different pair even though my pinky toes were hanging out of the holes worn in on the side. These shoe's are amazing hybrid running shoes. Great in any weather and on any surface. They are my go-to shoe.. and I love them!
You can't go wrong with a flashy pair of Peppers Sunglasses! Durable, comfortable and affordable, they do the trick and look sharp. The brighter the better. Cars can't miss me and it's easy for my crew to spot me. Check it out!
North Face Hat. After much searching the search ended with me picking up a new hat off of Runningwarehouse.com I ended up grabbing a Headsweats Race Hat in red. I've been wearing a Headsweats hat on my hikes and runs for awhile now. You really can't go wrong. The hat is made of mesh for optimal ventilation. Offers protection from the sun while being breathable and it's light.
Nutrition and Hydration
Changes: No more Camelbak HAWG as I wore the bag into the ground and it no longer serves it's purpose. Yes.. you can wear a bag to the point that it no longer functions properly. So instead, last year I picked up a Nathan HPL #759. Even though this bag received 4 stars on Amazon.com, word from Nathan is that it is no longer in production and has been taken off of their line. They had 3 left in the warehouse.. I've snagged one. Now.. they have 2. GET IT! This bag is the BEST lightweight small pack I've ever used and will continue to use as long as the item holds up. Which should be an eternity given the myriad of places I've squeezed and dragged the bag into and through in the last year.
Nuun is long gone. The product had sorbitol in it which is something you'll find in nutri-sweet. It offers no caloric intake and I find provided me with more bloating issues then it did any kind of electrolyte replacement. YUCK! and good riddance!
Gone are also Clif Shot Blocks. I'd like to introduce you to an amazing new product made by PowerBar. PowerBar is now selling their new line of Gel Blasts Energy Chews. (Click for Free Samples) For those of you in the know, imagine Gummi Frogs and Gushers. 1 Package contains 190 Calories, 60mg of sodium and 45g of carbs. They are infused with C2 Max Energy Blend also found in PowerGels and 1x Caffeine.
Medical and Misc.
Changes: Not using the Vaseline so much these days as I've switched to Bag Balm for a backup. Just a little bit of the stuff coats an area well and provides the protection I need for the long run. Love the stuff... though I will admit, it's hard to wash off clothing and it smells terrible.
I realize now that I really didn't touch base on Headlamps much when I made the original post. I've been wearing a Black Diamond Zenix IQ Headlamp for the last 4 years. I realize now that it might be time to get a new headlamp in the coming year. So I'm going to reveal what I'd buy; The Black Diamond ICON. I have also been running with a Fenix P3D handheld flashlight. I could easily run with this light alone, though because it runs on CD123 Batteries, I try to only use it on trails to eliminate shadows and leave it off on the roads.
Would love to entertain questions on this topic.