I love running shoes. I never really loved shoes until I got into running. Then I REALLY got into shoes. Trying to find the just right shoe can be challenging, and involves a lot of trial and error. A good shoe sale makes it easier. I’m almost always looking at or looking for running shoes. Mostly looking for deals on ones I love, but also looking for new ones to love.
Around Memorial Day is one of the BEST times to shop, especially for running shoes. Memorial Day ushers in a lot of sales and the start of summer means new releases for most brands and sales on old inventory.
Why I love these: They’re soft, bouncy and have the Pegasus upper that I love. These do well on workouts and long runs, but I know people who also like them for recovery days due to how soft they are. I liked them so much, I bought a second pair. These can also be worn for races as they’re pretty lightweight. Most people go with a true “racing” shoe over these, but they’re very comfortable without being clunky.
Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit: $75-$110, link is men’s but women’s is on sale too and can be easily searched on their site!
Why I love these: Lightweight, durable, not quite the 4% but has a similar feel. These make for a great fast day training shoe or even some long runs. I’ve used them for runs up to 23 miles and they felt as fine as you could expect a shoe to feel at that point. At a market value of $160, the $75 is quite a steal!
Why I love these: Great workhorse, everyday shoe. These can handle a lot of mileage AND are fashionable enough to wear out which will save valuable packing space on your next trip. (I know, running shoes are for running only but I don’t have unlimited space in my carry-on so I tend to use my workhorse daily running shoes to walk around in.)
These I don’t have personal experience with, but if you’re a New Balance fan looking for a racing shoe these are worth a look or test trial (JackRabbit has a great return policy). They’re ~6 oz so you won’t be weighed down, but I’ve seen them worn for marathons and halfs so they have enough cushioning for distance (but this is obviously a personal preference and should be tested!)
Why I love it: This was my intro to fancy running watches. Previously I was rocking a hand-me-down Garmin or Apple Watch. Neither were particularly bad, but not great for the runner looking to analyze and improve their performance. This watch has all the fancy things you need (workouts, lap features, HR monitor) but none of the extra things that drive the price up. I love mine and have zero desire to replace it until the Forerunner 645 (same capabilities + music) comes down in price. Bonus! This is a massive discount from what I paid for mine a year ago.
Not on sale, but worth a plug anyways. Foam rolling is pain and difficult. This makes it easier and is more effective. I use mine almost daily and definitely notice a difference. It is best for the hamstrings, calves, glutes and IT Band. You can use it elsewhere, it just works exceptionally well for these muscles. I’ve had multiple hamstring issues, so I know how important it is to keep them loose – it’s not a muscle you want to mess around with.
What is your favorite running gear? What are your favorite places to look for deals?
It was a bold move to say I wanted more after the New Jersey half. Brooklyn and New Jersey were exactly 20 days apart and New Jersey was a respectable sized PR, on a flat course, with beautiful weather. Who was I to say, I can do it again and better despite hills and heat?
My splits for New Jersey were damn near perfect, I have a metronome like consistency. I had one slower mile due to a pit stop but other than that, I saw no room to shave off time. There was nowhere that I faltered or slowed or bonked; I had run my strongest race.
I buckled down and reminded myself that I was entitled to nothing. Just work hard for the sake of working hard; it would pay off in someway, somehow, sometime.
The week after New Jersey was peak week. Navigating this was tricky, but I knew with easy miles and “tempo” efforts, I’d be doing the best mix of intensity and volume possible without getting hurt. Tuesday I did a longer hill workout with some faster miles mixed in where I was feeling good (aka the downhills and then a little stretch in between bridges), then Thursday I did a shorter but more intense track workout. I skipped the 6 mile threshold run, attempted to move it to Saturday but by the time I got out to run it was far too hot so I split up the mileage slowed the pace a bit. I finished the longest training run I’d ever done for a half while cheering on my friends running the 5k. Four days of training later it was time to taper.
I haven’t tapered for a half, ever. This gave me a bit of confidence that I could chip off some time from my recent PR. My legs would be fresh for once.
The taper was rough. I went out for my dress rehearsal on Tuesday and it was a massive blow to my confidence. I barely managed a mile and a half at the pace I wanted to run a whole 13.1 miles at and it was a struggle. The proceeding half mile was even harder but the strides felt strong. I wasn’t sure what to think. I wasn’t sure if I needed to scrap my goal or what. Wednesday was a short, easy run; completely unmemorable. Thursday, I rested and Friday I did a hot hot hot shake out run in the middle of the day with a few strides.
Wednesday my mom flew in, she was also running but as a fun run. After work we went to the expo to grab our bibs, take a few photos and then get dinner with Joe. The expo was small and crowded but the location was amazing and I appreciate them removing all temptation for me to put extra steps on my feet. As per usual, my last best pace with NYRR was not my actual last best pace so with a recent race result I was able to be moved up a corral. This was super easy to do and I very much appreciated that they did this; now I was in the corral with a pacer for my moonshot goal time. I grabbed a pace band, I’m not sure why I felt so bold as to grab the 1:30 band but I did.
After enjoying the breeze off the river and views for a bit we headed out to dinner then home to sleep. I got up early, had coffee then off to work. After work we hung out at a patio on the river, got dinner then went home. I sat in the compression boots until I almost fell asleep.
Thursday night I was excited to get some quality sleep pre-race and have zero things to do the day before.
After a shake out, we attempted to get our nails done (apparently you need an appointment to do this on a Friday), decided that was not going to happen so we went to a boat bar on the river to kill some time before dinner.
This was the best choice and I want to make it a pre-race ritual to go there. Sitting on the deck with the boat gently rocking and in the sunshine was relaxing and a great way to de-stress. We got home around 7-7:30 and I spent the next 3 hours rolling out, relaxing, and getting my stuff together. I wasn’t worried that I wouldn’t be getting to bed fairly late since I knew I wouldn’t sleep much anyways. I spent about half an hour scrolling through my Instagram feed then shut it off and fell asleep.
I woke up frequently which I expected but I got 10 hours of sleep the night before so I felt fine. I had coffee plus a clif bar and rolled out a little. We left in an Uber for Brooklyn around 5 and got to the start around 5:30 AM. Knowing race day weather was looking quite toasty for racing, I hydrated a lot prior to race day and that morning. I got out of the car once we got close to the start and made a bee line for where I assumed there would be port-a-potties. I had hydrated a LOT. There were none before security/the starting corrals and I wasn’t ready to ditch my bag yet so I hunted down a semi-secluded tree.
I managed to find Joe and my mom again near the bag check, I changed shoes, grabbed my bag of food, gels, and biofreeze and checked my larger bag.
We went through security and we were in the corral area area by 6 AM-ish. We wanted to find a place to warm up but there was no room on the other side of the security area. I went straight for the porta potty; the coffee finally had kicked in. Afterwards I took half a dose of Imodium and sat on the curb with Joe for a bit. They had water just outside the corrals so I continued to hydrate. I finished munching on the cereal I brought and we attempted to warm up outside the corral a bit. There was not enough space for it and it was a little frustrating. I estimate that we got in about a mile in total. We hopped back in the porta potty lines and then squished up to the front as much as possible. By this point they had collapsed the corrals and I lost sight of the 1:30 pacer. I managed to squeeze up to the front a little further in my search for an open porta potty again. I had hydrated maybe a bit too much.
I started the race knowing I would have to make a quick pit stop. It wasn’t worth starting late and having to dodge too many people or not hydrating more given the temps. I spent around 20 seconds stopped between running over the porta potty and jumping back into the race. I also was in such a hurry that I didn’t quite get my shorts up before dashing out. Oh well, it saved 5 seconds.
I pushed a bit too hard trying to catch back up, my watch read 6:00-6:05 for longer than it should. I quickly reigned myself back in to reality. I had almost caught up to the pack from where I dropped off. Catching up took a lot of energy and once we entered the park and began climbing the hills, I could feel it. I could also feel the heat and humidity setting in a bit. I knew I’d need to grab water at every stop and even though this broke my pace a bit and required exerting a bit extra effort, had I not I would have bonked from the heat. I alternated Gatorade and water, being conscious of not taking in too much sugar to avoid any stomach cramping.
The first 5 miles really zoomed by. I couldn’t believe we were nearing the halfway point, the last and worst hill but also the last hill. This hill was rough. I focused on keeping pace with other people and not my watch. The girls around me looked competitive and so I assumed, correctly, that they’d be making efforts to hold on strong. As we exited the park, I saw a couple of friends and shouted out to them when they called my name. Seeing people I know always makes me so happy and gives me a massive boost. This was my fastest mile and it felt the best.
At this point I knew we were entering Ocean Parkway. Everyone complains about this section, it’s exposed, lonely and boring. It’s also flat so it was very welcome. There was a small incline, a good downhill and then we were on the steady stretch. Holding a steady and even pace is my strong suit. I am an absolute metronome and once I settle into a pace – I can and will hold it.
I started counting down the avenue blocks as check in points, every few letters I’d check in on my pace and how I was feeling. If I was feeling good, I’d reel in someone in front of me otherwise I’d focus on my form and maintaining what I was doing. At one point I felt like sub-90 was completely out and I decided I’d be fine with a New York City Marathon qualifying time but once I got to the 15k mark, I redid the math in my head and realized it was definitely not out of the question and I just needed to stay strong.
I kept counting down the avenues, I knew that once we got to Z we weren’t done, but we were in the home stretch and my friends were nearby at the cheer station! By mile 11 I was feeling amazing, I knew that the time I wanted was very much in reach and seeing them was that final boost I needed to keep it up.
Around mile 12, I was fading a little but the energy here was incredible. I saw the Strava final mile sign. I had clocked a 6:28 on a downhill mile earlier in the race so I knew this wasn’t really possible but I could maybe beat my 6:36 last mile from NJ. I focused on reeling people in. Once a pace felt comfortable, I pushed it a little more.
We turned a corner and I saw 800m to go. The first thing I did was check my watch. My best ever 800m was a 2:58 and not at the end of a half. I needed 3:30 or less to hit my goal. 3:15 was reasonable given some of my previous workouts and factoring in adrenaline.
By 400m I was feeling fired up, but so was my stomach. Either the heat or Gatorade was getting to me and I started to cough up a bit like I was going to lose my lunch so I did some quick mental math and reigned it in a bit.
At 200m, I don’t remember much except that I floored it. I knew my goal was within striking distance. I crossed the line in 1:29:46.
Somehow in the past 7 months, I’ve taken 11 minutes off of my half time. I worked hard through the winter, kept showing up, did whatever I could and had zero expectations. A lot of the workouts I did intimidated me or made me feel nervous about not being able to do them but at least trying made a difference. There was no special or fancy diet (though I did eat a LOT of beets, olives, hummus and nuts). Maybe one day I’ll cut back on my sugar intake but probably not any time soon.
I’m what you’d call a high maintenance runner. I have a lot of gear and I’m always shopping for new running things. Anything related to running and I’m probably in market for it or already have it. I like new gear. It’s fun and exciting. Anything from the latest and great footwear for every type of run to all the recovery tools.
One Monday a month I’ll bring you the latest gear I’m loving. However, for this post I’ll also cover all the other gear I use on a daily basis for those newer to running – you need the basics like a watch and good socks before worrying about the rest. 😀
Current Shoe Crush: Nike Pegasus Turbo Uses: Long Runs, Speedwork, Up-tempo Efforts
What I Love: These shoes really don’t get enough love. They’re lightweight (6.9 oz!), responsive yet soft and supportive enough to handle longer efforts. I find them best for speedier days and faster paced long runs but you really could use these for any run. I hear they don’t last as long as workhorse shoes like the Pegasus or Brooks Ghost so speedwork and long runs are probably a better use of this shoe’s limited mileage. I would even consider doing a marathon or half in these if I didn’t want to use my Vaporflys.
Price: Originally $180, but now marked down across most retailers.
Uses: Recovery, post or pre-run; legs and back What I Love: The shape of this foam roller is amazing. It is able to better massage my hamstrings and glutes since the grooves dig in but don’t hurt. I’m also able to massage my shins effectively with this little guy. My go-to non-vibrating foam roller.
Gels: Science in Sport Uses: Long runs, races What I Love: I’ve talked at length about my running-induced stomach issues. Particularly during races so I’ve been testing them all on long runs to find something before the Brooklyn Half that I can reliably use and not be worried about 💩. These have been the most reliable. No water needed, not too thick like GUs and the taste is decent all while being gentle on my stomach. The only drawback is the weight. These guys weigh 2 oz a piece. For a half, no big deal – I’m only carrying one gel anyways; but for a full marathon you may want something more lightweight to have adequate fuel without being weighed down by gels everywhere. And the price of these is in line with other gels.
For Aches and Pains:KT Tape + Biofreeze Uses: MINOR aches and pains, workout soreness What I Love: If you need extra ankle or knee support taping it can help but if you need tape you probably need to rest instead. Same thing with the Biofreeze. That said a little extra support and pain relief feels good. KT Tape stays in place for days (please shave before you apply, I’ve made this mistake and OUCH!) and is super easy to apply. They also have tons of YouTube videos showing you how to apply. KT Tape was a life saver both times I got shin splints. Biofreeze is great after a hard workout, I find that it soothes the pain better than Tiger Balm and IcyHot.
Other gear: Watch: Garmin 235 What I Love: Has all the things I want/need, without any of the extras I’m not going to use but that would make it more expensive. I can program workouts into it, see my heart rate, and set up different data screens to see things like my cadence, current pace, average pace, etc. I don’t need the extras since I’m only running and cross training indoors. Garmin is also super accurate so if it says I ran 20 miles, I didn’t actually only do 19.5 like some of the phone apps do. Also important for doing workouts so I’m not cutting an interval too short. The price is also really good for what you’re getting and you’re not being charged for bells and whistles you won’t need.
Socks:Stance and CEP Compression What I Love: Stance is comfortable, stylish and I’ve never gotten an sock related blister with these. They’re also very reasonably priced and Jackrabbit usually has great deals on these. For compression, CEP is a favorite. These are not cheap but if you’re looking for true compression, they won’t be cheap. These will also last FOREVER. I like using compression socks for races and hard workouts. I like the tight feel and I don’t have the strongest ankles in the world so having a little extra support is nice. Zensah calf sleeves also deserve an honorable mention as they’re true compression, slightly less pricey and have super cute colors.
Shorts: Lululemon Speed Up Shorts (4″) and Tracksmith Session Shorts What I Love: The Lululemon shorts have pockets (just as exciting as when dresses have pockets) and they’re built into the waistband which keeps my gels stable and not flopping around, getting in the way or irritating me on the run. These also fit great on any legs and are cut so they don’t ride up. They also come in a lot of fun colors/bright colors (great for helping your friends/family spot you easily in a race). For shorter races, Tracksmith is the way to go. The pockets aren’t as great as the Lululemon ones but the fabric is incredible and light and I could (and have) sleep in them. These are the most comfortable shorts that I own, hands down. The fit is great and they don’t hold sweat like other brands do.
Sports Bra: Lululemon What I love: Again, THE POCKETS. Way more exciting than a dress with pockets, is a sports bra with pockets. This time around, being a female has a distinct advantage – extra storage! I always run with a phone, it’s unsafe not to and I like running with music but I hate armbands. My phone fits perfectly in this one and I can carry gels in the other pocket. I caution against putting your keys here though. 100% not the place you want to chafe. Aside from the pockets, this bra is supportive and comfortable. I’ve run 2 marathons and a half marathon in 75* weather in it with 0 (boob related) problems.
Everyday Running Shoes:Nike Pegasus 35 What I love: The ultimate workhorse shoe. Comparable to the Brooks Ghost but lighter and more colorway options. These can go for 400+ up to 500+ miles before they need to be traded in. These are stable enough for a slight overpronator (like me!), lightweight, but also fairly cushy. I’ve taken these for short runs, long runs (up to 21 miles), speedwork and recovery runs. I also love them for travel. Since they work for a variety of runs but also look cute I can use them to walk around (this does shorten your shoe’s lifespan! Walking miles still count and do breakdown the shoe) meaning one less pair of shoes to throw in my suitcase.
Where to buy:JackRabbit (best deal I’ve found, plus rewards points!)
If you’re still with me, one: thanks for reading this far and two: what’s your go to running shoe? And where do you tend to go for running gear?