Gear Check: Unexpectedly Awesome Running Purchases

By: Rachel Gibson

What is the best piece of gear you've ever purchased for running?

It seems simple to answer, yet so many things come to mind that I find myself in a rabid frenzy of giddiness over the gear that has entered my life in the past few years as a runner. And don't even tell me I'm the only one that gets like this--mentioning any facet of accessories, appareal, techno-gagets or shoes around the running community is like dropping chum into a sea of great whites, but with more excited chatter and less gnashing of teeth. Hmmm, I might need to rethink my analogies...

I could write about the different shoes I’ve fallen in love with over the years. (currently crushing on Nike Free Runs—comfy AND lightweight, who knew those could coexist?!) Or about the myriad of jackets I’ve splurged on as a result of PRs. (running jackets are, hands down, my BIGGEST weakness in life and anyone who gives one to me knows that I will henceforth pledge my eternal love to them. For real, I will.) Or technology based gifts. (I seriously could never have run 20 marathons without an iPod, but I feel like in this day and age, an iPod is a given. Right?) But instead I’m going to go with the obscure.

While my yaktrax run a very close second (there is absolutely no way I could have logged winter miles along my non-plowed Chicago street without these bad boys keeping me from busting my tail every other step), I’m going to have to say that the best random purchase I’ve made was to get a pair of Yurbud headphones.

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I started running on a VERY strict budget, which meant that things like new fangled headphones were out of the question back in the beginning. Which was fine, I try to be a minimalist when it comes to “stuff” so I didn’t object to training and racing with the wrap-all-the-way-around-the-head-and-rest-on-your-ear-causing-discomfort-by-mile-14 headphones that were so old I’m not sure there was even a brand associated with them. Seriously, old school. And I didn’t complain because I’d rather spend money on race registrations than headphones any day. But after 2.5 years of logging miles and immediately after marathon 15, the good ol’ boys finally gave out for good. Kaput.

I went into Best Buy looking for an exact replica replacement; I don’t do well with earbuds, they fall out and drive me nuts and ruin my breathing pattern so that I become this flustered runner out there hating it all. Kinda' like if a great white were to hop on to dry land and attempt to run. It's just not pretty. So I just KNEW a replica of my wrap-arounds was what I wanted.

It took twenty minutes of two floppy-haired teenagers convincing me that these “custom fit” earbud style Yurbud headphones were the way to go before I hesitantly took the box (very un shark-like indeed). And honestly, I was 100% certain that I would be back to return them after the week’s risk-free trial. It’s now been 4 months. But they really, truly work! I never have to wonder if they’re going to fall out, my Teflon cord takes a beating without worrying if it’s going to fray and I can actually hear my music that is no longer muffled through the decaying foam covers I’d once used. It’s crazy what a difference it makes!

And the best part of this article is that I know YOU have something randomly awesome, some purchase that you never anticipated making such a difference, that you’re going to share in the comments below because that’s what the running community does. It helps each other out by giving recommendations or sharing amazing discoveries. So what’s your favorite running related purchase you’ve ever made? I can't wait to hear it!

And of course for more running blather, follow me on Twitter: @nomad_runner!

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