Are you listening, MasterCard?

As I clicked submit on several online orders lately (Oiselle, Sparkly Soul, Road Runner Sports – just to name a few), I got to thinking. Running is EXPENSIVE. A far cry from the “just lace up your shoes and go” line I heard all too often when I first took up the sport.

Sparkly headbands to keep your hair out of your face

Sparkly Soul Team USA

Anti-chafe sticks to keep you comfortable on the run

Anti-Chafe

Sweat-wicking socks to make your feet happy

RRS Drymax

Headphones that stay in your ears for 10+ miles

Yurbuds

Shoes with the perfect balance of support and cushion

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A GPS watch to track your pace and mileage

Garmin Forerunner 305

And let’s not even get started on the race registration fees.

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Something I don’t recommend doing? Using Mint as your budgeting tool and tagging every single running expense. I did that for 2011 and nearly had a heart attack when I reviewed my annual expenses at the beginning of this year.

You know what would be nice? If we were rewarded for spending our hard-earned dollars on running-related purchases. Sure, some races hand out medals and shirts. You might win a pint glass for an AG win. Or receive a complimentary beer at the finish.

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But that’s not what I had in mind.

What if there was a credit card that could only be used for running-related purchases? What if every dollar you spent on Mizunos, Nuun, Gu or Lululemon earned you points? And then after hitting a certain threshold, you could redeem those points for running clothes? Or race registrations. Or running shoes!

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Gone are the days of feeling guilty for buying that pair of shorts you didn’t really need. Those shorts edged you one step closer to a free half marathon registration. Or a new pair of racing flats.

Are you listening, MasterCard? Runners need a credit card!

What do you think? Would you take advantage of a running credit card?

What do you spend the most money on when it comes to running?

Friday Favorites {Running}

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  • Shoes. After a trip to Road Runner Sports back in May, I discovered I was now a neutral runner and stocked up on a few pairs of the correct shoes:

Saucony Kinvara 2 (discontinued & super cheap!)

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Saucony Kinvara 3

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Mizuno Wave Rider 15

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  • Once I invested in a couple pairs of shorts, I knew there were two items I needed to add to my arsenal. They’re KEY items for a comfortable run. Please God don’t let me ever forget to use them…

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  • Garmin Forerunner 305. This guy has made a world of difference in my running. And mayyyybe turned me into a neurotic numbers obsessed girl. But hey – that’s how you get fast, right?

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  • iPod Shuffle & Yurbuds. I go back and forth on music while running. Sometimes I’d rather run without it and focus on my breathing. Sometimes I REALLY don’t want to run, so I need the music to drown out my thoughts. When it comes to headphones, I’ve been through pretty much every set on the market and NONE of them stay in my ears the way Yurbuds do. Great investment!

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  • BIC Bands. My hair turns into a hot mess when I’m running & these sparkly miracle workers keep flyaways out of my face. Plus every month they donate a portion of profits to a different charity! So awesome.

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  • The Grid. This helps me abuse my legs into a state of bliss. It gives new meaning to the phrase “hurt so good”

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  • RRS Drymax Socks. Unfortunately, these socks are expensive ($24.99 for 3 pair) but luckily I only run 3x a day (oh hey FIRST training plan!!) so the one pack I own works just fine. They keep my feet dry and blister-free. Oh! And they don’t effing slip down because they have the tab in the back. Happiness. Nothing I hate more on a run than having my sock fall down and wedge itself under the arch of my foot. ANNOYING. These fix that. THANK YOU BEST SOCKS EVER.

RRS Drymax

 

  • Pro Compression Marathon Sock. After I’m done stretching and beating the crap out of my calves with a foam roller, I compress the crap out of them in these glorious socks. They hug my feet and legs perfectly, making them feel wonderful. Perfect to sleep in or even wear to work. Compress your little heart out all day long. I have them in both pink and purple, and Brad has them in orange. And I’ll probably buy more colors because I have no self-control. Dear Pro Compression, can you make sleeves? I will love you forever. Please and thank you. I know Ashley will buy some too.

Pro Compression

 

  • Nathan Handheld. After I bought one last summer, I pretty much turned into a hydration snob. Now if I go for a run without it, I’ll whine the whole time about how thirsty I am. Don’t I sound like a real joy to be around? Anyway, to cut down on the bitching I’ll bring this thing every time. I’ve been running with it for a year now and honestly forget I’m carrying it. Keeps me hydrated and LOVE it during races. Avoid water stops? Yes please! Recently I bought a new one (the one below, in traffic cone orange) and its big enough to hold my ginormous phone. WIN!

Nathan Handheld

 

  • Road ID. NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!! Seriously, if you don’t have one, please get one. It can save your life!

Road ID

Jeez that’s a lot of stuff. I remember when I first started running, someone told me it was a cheap sport. They DEFINITELY lied to me. Rude.

What’s your favorite can’t-live-without-it piece of running gear?

The One Where Road Runner Sports Made Me Buy All of the Things

When I was in New Jersey last month, I finally had the chance to visit a Road Runner Sports store. I enter my credit card number on their website on a fairly regular basis and am a member of their VIP Program, but unfortunately (well, fortunately, for my bank account) they don’t currently have any stores in Austin. Or Texas, for that matter. I knew there was a location in Shrewsbury and included it on my to-do list before the wheels even touched down in the Garden State.

Monday after the marathon we set out in an attempt to drown my DNF sorrows with some retail therapy. There was only one thing I wanted from the store: custom insoles. Obviously something I can’t buy online. I met with an employee who asked me countless questions (what are you training for? any injuries? how many miles do you run? where do you run?) and then I stepped onto a machine to determine what kind of arches I had.

She asked me what kind I thought I had, to which I promptly responded matter-of-factly with flat. Apparently I was WRONG. I have high arches, but flexible ones. Basically this means they collapse fairly easily (which is why I was led to believe I had flat arches), causing shin splints. Oh! I know what those are! I’ve had them 245843957 times! Next she watched me run on the treadmill, where I learned I’ve corrected my form tremendously since my last gait analyis but still pronate a little bit. She pulled out a pair of insoles and, using a special machine, heated them up to mold perfectly to my feet. Pretty cool!

Since my form is much better than in the past, my pronation has decreased a lot, and my diagnosis of arch type is now high – I am now classified as a neutral runner. I knew what was coming next, and so did my wallet as it immediately tried to make a run for the door.

New shoes.

If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know my addiction to running shoes. In the past it was mostly a quest to find the perfect pair that kept my shin splints at bay. Once I settled in on the Brooks Adrenaline 11s last summer, I purchased them in a few colors and ceased shoe shopping. When the Saucony Guide 5 came out, I purchased them for shorter runs but was pretty nervous to log any serious miles on them due to the 8mm drop. Shortly after that my running burnout was in full effect and shoes were no longer an issue.

Until now.

I’m not opposed to buying new shoes, but that wasn’t the purpose of the trip to RRS on that particular day. Especially with the 49.0 pound suitcase I brought home with me. New shoes certainly wouldn’t fit in there without hitting the 50 pound threshold, resulting in a $50 overage fee. But I humored the salesperson and let her bring out shoes for me to gallivant around the store in.

I was pretty adamant about my feet not liking Nike shoes but she still brought me out a pair of Vomeros, insisting I give them a try. And I did – still not a fan. I pulled on a pair of New Balance 890s which were incredibly light but the toebox felt a little small. I tried on the Brooks Ghost but didn’t love the way they fit, and the Launch, which again were really light but didn’t fit right. I mentioned to her how I’d really prefer a lighter shoe, but something that would hug my foot a little better.

Enter the Mizuno Wave Rider 15. I tried this style (maybe the 11 or 12?) out a few years ago when I first started running and they didn’t work for me. Well obviously. They’re a neutral shoe and I needed something very stable, borderline motion control.  But that day when I added the insert and laced them up, they fit incredibly well. I jogged throughout the store a few times to get a feel for the shoe and really loved them.

While I was wearing out the carpet, the salesperson had pulled another pair of shoes for me: the Saucony Kinvara 3s. They were beautiful (I know, not important…) and SO.DAMN.LIGHT! I couldn’t get over how much lighter the shoe was than the Mizunos.

After much deliberation in my “must-have-all-the-shoes” brain, I just couldn’t talk myself into buying one or the other. I needed both. Okay fine, I didn’t NEED both. I wanted both. With marathon training coming up the Kinvaras would be perfect for speedwork at the track and short tempos, while the Mizunos would carry me through my weekend long runs on the trails.

I had already made the decision in my head and my mom could see it in my eyes. Brad was telling me I should buy the Sauconys now and get the Mizunos later. My mom kindly read my mind and informed him that I clearly wanted both. His response? “So get both!” Such an enabler he is. And by “get both” he meant he was going to buy the Mizunos for me. So it only made sense for me to return the favor a few weeks later and buy him the Green Lanterns.

I bought the inserts and the Kinvaras, and did a happy dance all the way to the car. Until a few miles down the road where I realized the cashier didn’t put the inserts in the bag and we had to make a u-turn. Oops.

So. I’m a neutral runner now. Glad we got that all straightened out before Philly training started.

Oh, and I ended up needing to check an additional bag for the flight home. Turns out 2 pairs of shoes > 1 pound.

New Jersey Marathon Expo

After a 3am wakeup call, two flights, and a minor nervous breakdown in Newark Airport over a lost suitcase, we finally arrived at the New Jersey Marathon Expo at Monmouth Park in Oceanport.

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The expo was a bit smaller than expected, but had all of the staples you’d expect to find at many other race expos.

First order of business: packet pickup!

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Personally I thought the shirt ran a little small, but the people working the shirt booth were extremely generous and offered to swap out sizes for me without a problem.

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Since the race shirt has long sleeves and Texas temps would allow me to wear that oh, mayyybe twice, I decided to invest in a short-sleeved shirt as well.

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Due to the aforementioned lost suitcase, I replaced a few packs of Gu Chomps and Shotbloks, and picked up a new stick of Body Glide. Other than that, the wallet stayed shut. I know, I was shocked too.

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I almost picked up a pair of heavily discounted Newtons at the Road Runner Sports booth, but unfortunately my feet were a tad too big for the only size they had out on the table. Bah!

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And that was that. New Jersey Marathon Expo, done and done. We were in and out fairly quickly, which is definitely a plus. Sure, there could have been a few more booths but I think it would have cramped the space a bit. There were a good amount of vendors for the space Monmouth Park provided.

Side Note: Road Runner Sports, can you please open a store in Texas? Or make appearances with your $50 shoes at Austin race expos, at the very least? I promise to give you lots of money. Thank you!

GU and Shoes

A few months ago I purchased the Brooks Ariel (affectionately referred to as the Geriatric Shoe) in attempt to correct my atrocious overpronation. Everything was going well until the mileage ticked upwards past 10-12 miles. The shoe is pretty bulky, and my legs started to push back once I was spending more time on my feet.

Since Road Runner Sports has an awesome VIP Program which offers a 90-day Wear ’em & Love ’em Guarantee, I was able to ship the Ariels back and receive store credit. By the time my return had been processed, I had already started running in a pair of Brooks Adrenaline from HCR. I used my credit to order the same pair in a different color to break in starting a few weeks pre-marathon. With my VIP discount I was able to get the shoes for $89.95 (from $99.95), plus free shipping, and I still had a $5 credit remaining on my account.

Exactly one week after my new Brooks had been delivered, RRS hit my inbox with a Top Secret Shoe Sale promotion. The shoes were now only $74.95 (sale + VIP discount). RRS happily agreed to credit me back the difference. Their customer service is phenomenal.

Just after lunch today I received yet another promotion from them: for four hours only, VIPs would receive 20% off any one item. I perused the website for a bit and came across something I could use the discount + my account credit for, and essentially receive for free:


The sampler includes 9 GU gels, 3 Roctane gels, 2 Electrolye Brew, 1 Recovery Brew, and 2 packets of GU Chomps. It came to $19.19 after the discount, so my $20 credit covered it perfectly.

After stocking up on my GU products, I headed to the gym to get in my 3 mile run.

I started & finished with a 5 minute walk. Here are my splits:

Mile 1: 10:14 (easy)

Mile 2: 9:23 (fast)

Mile 3: 8:46 (faster)

Mile 4: 9:48 (easy)

4 miles in 38:10 (9:32 pace)

Yeah, I wasn’t supposed to do 4 miles – only 3. I felt like I could push for another mile, so I did.

Last tempo run of MCM training = done.

What’s your favorite running fuel? Gu? ShotBloks? PB&J? Peanut butter filled pretzels?