Gadgets and the Trail Runner

Gadgets and the Trail Runner

Hello there!

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend and are ready to tackle another week. I, for one, am kicking back and relaxing with my family today to celebrate the Canadian holiday – Family Day.

I had a fabulous weekend full of snowboarding, long runs and a delicious lunch date at Thrive foods with AngelaScreen Shot 2014-02-16 at 1.41.19 PM.

 

Alright. Let’s talk gadgets and running. 

As a trail runner if running gadgets are a help or a hindrance and you will get a flurry of opinions. Some can’t live with them, some can’t live without them! I think that gadgets are at odds with the type of people that trail runners are perceived as being. I have been told I am unusually sociable for a person who spends 5 hours on a Sunday in the middle of the forest alone. And it’s true. Being plugged in, dialed in and engaged to the world is often the opposite of what trail runners are trying to achieve in a long run, so bringing a smart phone can seem completely counterintuitive.

Because each gadget brings something completely different to the table, I have broken it down.

The Smart Phone:

phone

I used to take off on an afternoon, leaving a cryptic note on the fridge “Be back in 4 hours…ish”. I would leave without road ID, without money and without a phone. 

Eventually my loved ones tuned into this and I began carrying my phone with my in my hydration pack pocket just in case.

Is it ideal? No. But considering some recent local tragedies, it makes sense to have a back up plan.

The IPod

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Although I love listening to music as much as the next person, I can completely understand that it can be unsafe to not have all senses engaged while scrambling over rocks and hills in the middle of no where.

I often train at the hydro cut during the summer which is a local trail for mountain bikers so it is not only dangerous, but it is disrespectful of me to be tuned out of my surroundings because I am sharing the trails with other athletes.

When it comes to running with music, when I am on the trails, I leave the tunes at home.

GPS Watch

Meet my archaic Garmin Forerunner. It is so old that when I see someone at a race with one, we raise our wrists and do the nod.

When I am headed to train on the trails, I will never leave the house without this. Not only will it track my elevation during hill training, but it also has saved my hide many a time when I got lost with the map feature.

This is one gadget that I think every trail runner can agree is important for a run.

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Running in the Rain

So this happened this weekend:

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I was in Toronto all day on Sunday, so I knew I would need to get up nice and early to tackle my long run on Saturday morning. I awoke to a dark room and the sound of pouring rain. Not exactly the motivation I needed to roll out of bed before 7 am on a Saturday.

Nevertheless, I geared up, laced up and set out. Running in the rain is slightly different than running in sunshine. Besides the obvious, there is always this:

042cfb314e999eff5a61737c3f420355But there are a few things to be mindful of when setting out when it is pouring.

Wear a hat with a brim. 

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Other than making you look cool beyond words, it will block the wind and keep rain from falling into your peepers. It also keeps your hair dryish and you will feel more sheltered from the elements. (Aka – false sense of security).

 Wear Body Glide. 

Or Vaseline. Or SOMETHING. I had no idea that things chafe more in the rain and it turns out…they do.

Dress in layers: 

I went with shorts, a tank top and arm warmers and they worked fabulously. You can always shed the arm warmers if it warms up or miraculously stops raining. For me, it poured the entire 3.5 hours. Avoid cotton unless you fancy being a sponge. Also, rain does not equal extra layers – you will just be weighed down.

Make sure your electronics are waterproofed. 

Put them in plastic, ziplop bags. I knew the pocket in my hydration pack was water proof, so my iPhone when inside. Seems obvious, but you never know… (See next step.)

Don’t take headphones. 

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Trust me.

AFTER THE RUN

Dry your shoes out. 

When you get back from a drenched run, take off your running shoes, loosen the laces, take out the inserts and stuff them with crumpled balls of newspaper. This will help them keep their shape and the paper draws moisture out of the material. Don’t put wet shoes on direct heat, it will mess with the construction and integrity of the shoe!

So there you have it. Consider yourself equipped to run in a storm.

Ever run in the rain? What trick am I missing?

 

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There’s an app for that

christmas-lightsThe moment I finally got my iPhone, I immediately set about downloading all of the apps that I knew I had been missing out on.

Twitter. 

Facebook. 

Instagram. 

Pinterest. 

What’s App. [For all the lovely people in my life with Blackberries.]

But I compiled a short list of some of the others that I dug a bit deeper for and I am already loving!

Camera Awesome:

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A free camera app that easily outpaces the default one on your iPhone. You can tap into a variety of presets to enhance your images, as well as use stabilization, burst mode, and timers, plus the app outputs to a wide array of sharing services. Numerous filters are also available for further image tweaking. So like Instagram 2.0.

Runkeeper

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Runkeeper lets you track your runs, bike rides, and other fitness activities via GPS and maps, with built-in coaching and stats to power your activities.

Shazam
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You know when you are browsing a store or eating in a resturant and an amazing song comes on but you don’t know the name? Turn this app on and it will instantly find the song and direct you to where you can buy it!

Dark Sky

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This app gives you not only the current weather, but will give you a weather radar update of what the weather will be in 2 hours for now. Perfect for runners or people who just want to know if they should bring an umbrella or not…

EndoMondo

 

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EndoMondo is one of the only apps that can track of your duration, distance, speed, and calorie burn during any outdoor activity.

Mint

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Believe it or not, this helps empty my wallet. Of receipts that is. I input all my expenses and my Mint app links directly to my bank account and credit card to give me a real-time look at what is happening. I love this app so much!

Pocket Whip

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This app brings me insane amounts of joy. Hailing from the Big Bang Theory tv show, it provides the satisfying sound of a whip that you can tape and send to your friends via music. Considering I have been called the Marquis de Sade of Fitness instruction, I may have to start using it in my classes. 

Having just started using this over the weekend, I am still growing my list of favourite apps.

What are yours? 

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chasing the footprints of those better than me.

Happy Monday, one and all! I hope your weekend was as relaxing as mine. I spent as much time as possible outside, soaking up that amazing sun!

On Friday, I hinted that I went shopping for a something that I had been waiting for over a year for.

phone

phoneWhich means I am now on instagram! It is a whole, new world of filters, friends and selfies. I kid. Self portraits are one of my least favourite things in the world. So on the off chance that I need to perform them, I will try to do them as creatively as possible.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

The very first picture I put up on Instagram was this lovely piece:

Screen shot 2013-03-10 at 11.42.11 PMNow. I promise that I will be more creative in the future than putting my mud caked, sweaty runners online for the entire world to see, but I truly felt as if it were myself or the shoe. So really, you all won. And I was so excited about the fact that I went on a long run on the most beautiful day in 2013.

I thought I would take this opportunity to use this seamless leeway to tell you another running story. A good one that is at the foundation of why I run. It is wrapped up in a single person who is fuelled by foreign beers and anger.

My father has a long time employee, we will call him George, that keeps to himself except to utter a few sarcastic tones and is generally not thrilled with people as a rule. However, if you want him to talk, ask him about running.

George has a way of deflating your best stories with a single word. I remember in high school when I was winning cross country races, I would go to him and tell him I ran 5 KM in less than 19 minutes. Without missing a beat, he would throw back at me: Run an ultra-marathon and let me know if you are good then.

And so I did. 

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t just as easy as just strapping on shoes and running. You had to join a club first. George invited me out to a trail running group that met every Tuesday night and introduced me to his friends, and then told me to run with another group.

Typical.

So I did. I found the most advanced group, who were winning ultra marathons around the region and I kept up, even if it meant returning to my car with blood and mud on my legs and either the taste of blood or vomit in my throat. (I am such a lady).

And I kept running until I fell in love with it.

George still talks to me when he sees me. Rushing over quickly to tell me about the latest race and checking in to make sure I am still running. He is over 60 and runs at least an ultra marathon a month in racing season. Beyond his crusty exterior, I found he has become fond of me, and what’s more – proud. He has invited me to his house to celebrate race victory parties, to train with him before a long race and has even let me sub in for him on a 30 km race for free.

Despite trying other sports, in a very strange and inexplicable way, running is like coming home every spring. Long winter months of fitness instruction and the odd foray into the icy weather to gingerly scamper over snow banks make me forget the pure joy of just running hard and fast until your breathing syncs with your foot  falls and your brain becomes quiet and it is just you and the road and maybe some birds for miles and miles and miles.

Sometimes I break my quiet runs to chase those who are better than me, to remind myself how far I have to go. But no matter how far he finishes behind me, I always can count on George to tell me that I would have been that much better if I would have ran straighter, had newer running shoes, or had been on the trails one more day a week.

And I love it. Because it was his dissatisfaction with my 5 KM that made me think I could do 50 KM. And why I am in the midst of planning to make it 50 miles. Sometimes overt pride from people suggests that your accomplishment is the best you can do, and I love that there is someone who always will have something I could have done better.

No matter how old I am or whether George is always in my life, I will always have his crusty voice telling me what I am doing wrong and how I could be doing it better which keeps me running. Running after perfection. Running after the finish line. And mostly, running for the sheer beauty of running.

Who inspires you in the things you are passionate about?