3 running must-haves

I made a last-minute trip home to Davis this past weekend and returned to San Francisco with some new running toys :) One trip to the local Fleet Feet and $250 later and I'm now the happy owner of a Garmin Forerunner 210 (https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=83280&ra=true) and a pair of CEP compression socks (http://www.cepsocks.com/cep-running-progressive-compression-socks.html)! Many thanks to Mom and Dad for the belated birthday gifts :)

Running is a pretty low-maintenance sport compared to cycling or skiing, where you need a ton of expensive equipment. Runners really just need a good pair of trainers and a watch. But there are a couple other gadgets you can invest in to aid in your training -- here are my 3 running must-haves:

1) A Garmin GPS Watch

 I've been meaning to get a Garmin for a while now. Being a slave to splits, I hate doing workouts based on feel -- I much prefer knowing my pace and how fast I'm going. While in school at Davis a majority of the routes we ran had measured miles, so most of our workouts were done with specific pace targets and mile splits. However, here in SF I don't have that luxury. There's a great mile loop at Crissy Field (with great views of the Golden Gate and the SF skyline!) and there's a 1200 meter dirt loop around the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park, but these routes don't work as well for longer tempo efforts. I once tried to do a 6 mile tempo around the 1200 meter Polo Fields and just about went crazy doing so many 1200 meter loops... so Coach (aka Dad) and I decided that getting a Garmin was a very important training tool. After a lot of research, I settled on the Forerunner 210. Small in size and with an easy-to-use interface, I think it'll be the perfect GPS watch for me! Can't wait to try it out on my 6 mile tempo on Friday!

2) Compression Socks
I jumped on the compression sock bandwagon and what can I say -- they're amazing! Here's the basics on compression socks: they're super tight-fitting and come all the way up to your knees (fashionable? the jury is still out...). According to some research, the socks help minimize muscle fatigue and hasten recovery time. Whether the socks truly work or whether it's just the placebo effect that makes me think they work, I don't care - because I wore the socks on a 15 miler and my legs have never felt so good on a long run!  I truly felt great even in the final miles, when I'm usually feeling achy and sore and running like an old lady. My friend Natasha (a McMillan Elite athlete and Olympic Trials qualifier!) wears them a lot so I decided to give them a try... and lo and behold, they're wonderful! Now I'm converted!

3) Running Rain Gear
We've had some beautiful spring-like weather in SF the past few weeks, but all good things must come to an end... the forecast now shows rain for the next 4 days :( Last weekend it rained a lot too and I ended up doing mile repeats in a downpour (the middle of my mile loop featured a 20 meter stretch of standing water -- maybe the steeplechase is in my future?). Running in the rain is no picnic -- you're wet and cold and if you're alone, it can be pretty miserable. Some good running rain gear can make the workout a bit more bearable. I wear a mesh baseball cap in the rain to shield my face from the onslaught of raindrops and also wear a lightweight water-resistant jacket to keep my other layers dry. I might look a little ridiculous in all that gear, but hey, I'm dry!

Hope you enjoy my running must-haves -- happy running!