Sure, a good pair of running shoes is the only equipment you really need. But anything that makes running easier, safer, more health-enhancing and more enjoyable is also a good idea.
So now, for the first time ever, we've collected hundreds of top-notch running products together in a complete Gear Guide for runners. Whether you're interested in big-ticket items like home gyms and stairclimbers, or smaller devices like chronographs and water carrying systems, you'll find them all here (except treadmills, which we'll review in a special article next month).
We suggest you save this guide for future references. Experience has shown that you can never tell when you'll be needing one of these products. It might not be today, but there are plenty of tomorrows in your running career.
After shoes and clothing, the runner's next most important piece of equipment is the sports watch. These come in a range of functions: you can find anything from the simplest stopwatch to one that measures your blood pressure.
If all you ever want to know is how long you've been running, a running watch with a timer is all you need, but if you regularly do speedwork, you'll benefit from one that records and stores lap times.
Must-have features: Waterproofness, stopwatch, digital display
All-Sport Instalite by Armitron
This is a good basic chronograph with a stopwatch function for those who simply want to know how long they've been running. It has a night-vision display that allows you to read the time in the dark. $25. (800) 937-0050 (ask for Armitron).
BP 100 by Casio
If you're interested in quick and easy pulse and blood pressure measurement, you'll like the BP 1 00. You simply place your fingers on sensors on the watch, and your pulse and blood sure appear on the display. The BP 100 also has a stopwatch, which measures total time and split time. $169.95. (800) 962-2746.
100-Lap Ironman Triathlon by Timex
This watch offers so many features, it can just about substitute for a coach. It has an internal log that can store and recall 100 laps compiled over many training sessions. The log displays the session number, date, total time and your best and overage lap times and split times. In addition, you can program up to nine timed intervals with up to nine repetitions each. Also, the watch has a memo log for phone numbers and dates. It will hold up to 10 entries of 24 characters each. $54.9 5. (800) 367-8463.
Performance Series PSX005S by Pulsar
In addition to all the basics--stopwatch, water resistance, alarm--this watch counts up to 99 laps and can recall 30. It also has a countdown timer and a tachymeter for calculating average speed. $79.50. Available wherever Pulsar watches are sold.
Predator by FreeStyle
For serious speed training, the Predator gives 75 split times, and you can measure improvement equal-distance laps from day to day or week to week. This watch also features a countdown timer. It's so new we couldn't even get a sample to photograph. $49.95. (800) 776-6449.
One of the best ways to cross-train on your off days or stay fit when you're injured is to take your running to the pool. Pool running uses the same muscles and ranges of motion that road running does. The difference is, your body doesn't get pounded.
You don't need aqua gear to run in the pool, and you'll get a harder workout if you don't wear any. But when you want to go easy, or if you're so lean you sink like a rock no matter how hard you work to stay up in the water, use an aqua vest or belt.
Or shorts. Aqua gear comes in a variety of forms. Any of the flotation devices described here should offer you enough buoyancy. Pick what will be most comfortable for you.
Must-have features: Adequate flotation, comfortable fit
AquaJogger Pro by Excel Sports Science, Inc.
If you drop like a brick anytime you get into a pool, this buoyancy belt may be the one for you. It's thicker than the company's Classic model and provides 30 percent more flotation. $59.95. (800) 922-9544.
AquaTunners Footwear by Excel Sports Science, Inc.
"Running shoes" for the deep water, AquaRunners are worn along with an upper-body flotation device. They boost your buoyancy a little, but their primary purpose is to increase water resistance for a tougher workout. (800) 922-9544.
[H.sub.2]O Works Shorts by ERO Industries
In this piece of aqua gear, pads of EVA foam for flotation are sewn inside a purple waistband attached to neoprene shorts. Zippers on both sides of the shorts make them easy to put on and take off. $49.99-$59.99. (800) 323-5999.
Wet Vest II by Bioenergetics
True to its name, this flotation device fits like a vest over your whole torso. Because the buoyant maternal is spread over a wide area, the vest has a less bulky construction than other flotation devices and provides more stability in the water. Suggested retail price: $169.95. (800) 938-8378.
Though they may look alike, all gear bags are not created equal. The most basic have just one compartment into which you dump everything--your running shoes, shorts, T-shirt, sunglasses, towel, soap, sports bars.... The best have several compartments or pockets so that you can organize your running gear and personal items for easy access.
Also, multiple compartments keep wet towels and sweaty gear separate from dry clothing so they don't all tumble together into one pile of smelly, soggy stuff. Mesh pockets on the outside of a bag are especially nice, as they allow you damp things to dry out
Must-have features: Multiple compartments, mesh pockets
Laguna by Mizuno
The Laguna has two mesh pockets, one at each end of the bag, and there are zip pockets inside and out. $50. (800) 966-1 234.
Mesh Gear Bag by TYR
If you want mesh, here it is. This is a full mesh bag with two nylon pouches on the front for personals. $27. (800) 252-7878.
Mesh Signature Duffle by Nike
A zippered mesh pocket covers one whole side of this gear bag. Inside, there's a special small pocket for personal items. $37.50. (800) 238-2775.
Mini Wet/Dry Gear Bag by Patagonia
This bag is split down the middle into two compartments: mesh on one side and nylon on the other. An interior zip pocket holds personal items. $62. (800) 638-6464.
Runner's Duffle by Asics
This bag has two outside mesh pockets, and a water-bottle holder on the front. Inside there's plenty of room for gear. $35. (714) 962-7654.
Signature-Team Duffle by Reebok
The Signature-Team Duffle has several compartments, including an interior expandable nylon pouch for wet clothes and a diagonal zippered pocket at one end shoes. $25. (800) 228-7867.
Training Duffle by Adidas
A large outer mesh pocket can hold all your wet clothes, and there's plenty of room inside for other gear. $59.99. (800) 448-1796.
Have you ever been running on a beautiful trail or in a new city and seen something that you wished you could photograph? Next time you're headed for a scenic run, take a camera with you.
Most manufacturers of photo equipment make "point-and-shoot" cameras. They're small, lightweight and fully automatic, and they take high-quality photos in a snap. Many are rugged and weatherproof, and some have zoom or panoramic features. Don't leave for your next run without one.
Must have features: Fully automatic mechanism, light weight easy operation
Infinity Mini by Olympus
Neither rain nor snow will harm the Infinity Mini. This weatherproof camera weighs only 6 1/2 ounces and takes high-quality photos. $1 80. (800) 221-3000.
IQZoom 90-WR by Pentax
At 15 1/2 ounces, the IQZoom is a little heavier than the other models reviewed here, but it's worth its weight in features. It has a zoom lens, a detachable remote control unit that operates both the zoom and the shutter, and a contour design for easy grip, and it's fully weatherproof. $402. (800) 255-0415.
Lite-Touch by Nikon
The lightest point-and-shoot around, this camera weighs in at only 5.5 ounces. It has a panorama mode for wide-view shots, and the quality of photographs you'll get with the Life-Touch is hard to beat. $1 64. (800) 645-6687.
Mermaid by Konica
Take the Mermaid on your next running/scuba vacation. It's completely waterproof for underwater photography and has a "sports finder" attachment for framing underwater shots. For wide-view shots, the lens switches easily from standard to panorama format. It weighs 12 1/8 ounces. $450. (800) 695-6642.
Mini Zoom by Leica
This supercompact camera has a zoom lens and weighs a mere 6 1/2 ounces. To try and catch those fleeting moments you encounter on the run, hold the shutter release down, and the camera will shoot continuously. $379. (800) 222-0118.
RW-1 by Ricoh
The RW-1 is weather resistant and offers a panorama mode. A databack, which imprints date and time and shows the number of pictures taken, is optional. The camera weighs 9 1/5 ounces with the databack and 8 4/5s without. $129. (800) 225-1899.
Sure Shot A1 Date by Canon
This waterproof camera will survive underwater depths of about 16 feet--in case you happen to fall in a lake or something. Two layers of glass on the lens ensure that it won't fog up. The Sure Shot weighs 11 1/5 ounces. $345. (800) 828-4040.
Weathermatic Dual 35 by Minolta
This camera is also waterproof to 16 feet. It weighs 14 1/8 ounces, and its lens changes from standard to telephoto. $320. (201) 825-4000.
Not to be confused with fluid-replacement drinks, carbo-loading drinks have a much higher concentration of carbohydrates: approximately 100 grams per serving, versus 30 grams for beverages such as Gatorade or AllSport. Most of the carbohydrates come from glucose polymer (a complex carbohydrate), and a small amount comes from fructose.
Drink these carbo-loads before a workout or race to store up carbohydrates and glycogen, and take them afterward to replace spent energy stores and speed recovery. Carbo-loading drinks are good for those runners who have difficulty with solid food before or after a long run or race. As with other food products and beverages, you need to try several brand to find what tastes best and work best for you.
Must-have features: High carbohydrate concentration, easily digestible formula, good flavor
Carb-BOOM by TriBro
Not quite liquid, Carb-BOOM is a fruit-puree base blended with a concentrated complex carbohydrate solution. One serving (4.93 ounces) provides 78 grams of carbohydrates. $7.95 per six-pack. (800) 554-2791.
GatorLode by Gatorade
GatorLode gives you 70 grams of carbohydrates (280 calories) per 12-ounce serving. $23.90 for of 24 cans. (800) 884-2867.
Ultra Fuel by Twin Laboratories, Inc.
In addition to supplying 100 grams (400 calories) of carbohydrates in each 16-ounce serving, Ultra Fuel provides 100 percent of the RDA for vitamin C and several B vitamins. Other nutrients include chromium, potassium and magnesium. Only available through GNC stores and Nature Food Centres. For more information about Ultra Fuel, write: Twin Laboratories, Inc., Ronkonkoma, NY 11779.
During an hour of running, you can easily lose more than 2 quarts of water through sweat If you don't replace water as you sweat, your blood thickens, forcing your heart to work harder, transport of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles slows, and your performance suffers. If you become overly dehydrated, you may become weak, dizzy, nauseated or worse. The message is clear: Drink during your run.
Unless you know a route that takes you fountains at regular intervals, you'll need to can ids with you. Fortunately, several manufacture have recognized this need and have designed carriers for easy transport of fluids. There is a range of water-carrying systems to choose from, depending on whether you're out for a long training run or crisscrossing the Grand Canyon
Look for the lightest, simplest carrier what will meet your fluid needs. Make sure it's comfortable and won't bounce around as you run.
Must-have features: Comfortable, snug fit; easy access to beverages
Go-Be by Camelbak
The Go-Be wraps securely around your hips and holds up to 50 ounces of fluid in an insulated pouch. You drink through a plastic tube that extends from the pouch around your waist or over your shoulder, so there's no fussing with water bottles. Side pockets hold extra items. $63.95. (800) 767-8725.
[H.sub.2]O Rapido by Outdoor Products
The Rapido waistbelt carries one 21-ounce bottle in an insulated pouch. It has two side mesh pockets with zippered closures. $20. For a dealer listing, write to: Customer Service, The Outdoor Recreation Group, 1919 Vineburn Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90032.
Liquid Solo Belt and Liquid II Storage Pack by OGIO International
The Liquid Solo Belt carries a 21-ounce bottle in a foam-insulated pouch and has two zippered pockets. For trail runs, take along the Liquid II Storage Pack, which holds two 21-ounce bottles and has more room for carrying gear. Solo Belt, $20; Storage Pack, $50. (800) 922-1944.
Sierra and Stansport by Winter Creek
The Sierra has four pouches along its belt, each holds a contoured, 16-ounce bottle. A fifth pouch stores small items. The Stansport is designed more like a fanny pack. It carries two 21-ounce bottles and has a roomy compartment for carrying additional items. The Sierra uses a Velcro closure, and the Stansport a quick-release buckle. Sierra, $58; Stansport, $47.99. (714) 536-1522.
Solo, Extender and Nimbus by Ultimate Direction
All three of these carrying systems fit securely and comfortably, have insulated holders to keep beverages cool and feature zippered pockets for holding other items. The Solo carries one 22-ounce bottle and is great for long training runs. Trail runners might prefer the Extender, which holds two 22-ounce bottles and has extra space for food and other items. If you're planning an extended excursion, you'll want the Nimbus, which carries 82 ounces of fluid and 12 to 14 pounds of gear. Solo, $24; Extender, $70; Nimbus, $100. (800) 426-7229.
When it comes to long runs and marathons, you'll perform best if you refuel along the way. Energy bars supply a lot of carbohydrates, but the fiber, protein and fat they contain slows digestion. Energy gels contain only carbohydrates and are more easily digested.
They come in 1-ounce plastic or foil packets that fit in the palm of your hand. Each packet provides 70 to 100 calories from carbohydrates with small amounts of electrolytes. You simply tear off the top, squeeze the gel into your mouth and swallow. Follow with water. Currently, there are four energy gels on the market. Try them all to find what works best for you.
Manufacturers recommend that you eat one packet every 30 minutes of your run or race. Of course, before using one of these gels during a race, test it out in training.
Must-have features: Easily digestible formula, easy-open package, good flavor
GU by Sports Street Marketing
In addition to its carbohydrates, GU contains tiny amounts of calcium, herbal extracts, beta-carotene and vitamins C and E. It also has a slight amount of caffeine--equivalent to 1/5 cup of coffee. GU comes in chocolate, vanilla and orange (vanilla reportedly tastes best). The bottle-shaped packaging makes it easy to use on the run. $1.25 per packet. (800) 400-1995.
Pocket Rocket by Sports Pep
Pocket Rocket comes in lemon-lime and chocolate--go with the chocolate, say taste-testers. $1 per packet, $1 4.95 for a box of 12. (800) 833-8737.
ReLode by Gatorade
ReLode is more syrupy in texture than the other gels. The banana flavor is reported to be pretty yummy. Other flavors are grape and "unflavored," which tastes like vanilla. $1 per packet, $9.99 for a box of 10. (800) 884-2867.
Squeezy by Perfect Performance USA
Squeezy comes in lemon-lime, peach, pineapple, vanilla, strawberry and banana. The lemon-lime, strawberry and banana taste best. $1 per packet, $10 for a box of 10. (800) 853-7746.
You've read those training stories that tell you to do your easy runs at 65 percent of maximum heart rate, tempo at 85 percent and speedwork at 95 percent. Great, but how do you know when your heart is beating at the proper percentage? It's easy with a heart-rate monitor.
Some heart-rate monitors use sensors that attach to the ear, and others pick up signals from your hand, but the chest-band type works best under a variety of conditions. Heart-rate monitors work on the same principle as hospital EKG equipment. Sensors in the chest band pick up signals from your heart and then send the data to the receiver on your wrist where you can read your heart rate as clearly as the time on your running watch.
The simplest monitors display only your heart rate, but others will tell you the time of day, give you elapsed running time, alert you to when you are over or under your target zone and more. Most are waterproof and highly accurate. One thing to keep in mind regarding wireless heart monitors: because they use radio-type signals, they may be affected when you are near electrical equipment (such a treadmills and stairclimbers) that can interfere with those signals.
Must-have features: Wireless construction with chest strap and wrist-band receiver (all models below are this type); easy-to-read display; simple operation
CardioChamp by Sensor Dynamics
If it's simplicity you're after, the CardioChamp is the monitor for you. It gives you heart rate only, it's a cinch to use, and its display is very easy to read. $89.95. (800) 764-4327.
Heartsafe-T by Cardiosport
This monitor displays heart rate, time of day and elapsed time and can record up to 30 sample heart rates at set intervals of 5, 15, 60 and 120 seconds. An alarm indicates when you are above or below your target zone. $129. (800) 494-4320.
Protrainer by Polar
The Protrainer, one of several excellent models from Polar, can display heart rate, lap time, elapsed running time and time of day. It has alarms that signal when you are above or below your target zone; calculates time spent above, below and within your zone; and records your average heart rate for total exercise time. $219. (800) 227-1314.
Some insoles, such as the Cross Trainer by Superfeet, provide extra stability for your feet as you run, but most simply add an extra layer of shock absorption to your shoes.
Heel inserts or cups may provide just the adjustment some runners need in their shoes to end heel pain, Achilles tendon pain or even lower-back pain. However, insoles are not orthotics, so if you think you may have a biomechanical problem of any sort see a podiatrist
Must-have features: Comfort cushioning, breathability
Cross Trainer and Heel Cups by Spenco
Not just for cross-training shoes, the Spenco Cross Trainer has forefoot and heel-strike cushioning to protect the whole foot. Spenco's Heel Cups provide extra stability in the heel and have a neoprene heel drop for good shock absorption. Insole, $1 7.50; Heel Cups, $8.40. (800) 877-3626.
Cross Trainer Low by Superfeet Inshoe Systems
Designed to provide some stability as well as shock absorption, these insoles are semirigid. They're made from full-length foam with a 3/4-length polypropylene stabilizer cap. Superfeet has developed a Trim to Fit technology that allows you to tailor the insole to your shoe. $27.95. (800) 634-6618.
Sof Sole Insoles by Implus
The foam used to make these insoles has an open-cell structure, which allows air to move freely and moisture to evaporate for cool, dry feet. In addition to the full-foot insole--the Sof Runn Plus--Implus makes a heel pad for runners, as well as a gel pad that fits under the heel and may be a solution for those who experience lower-back pain or heel pain when they run. Sof Runn Plus, $1 5.99; Sof Sole Heel Pad, $3.99; Sof Sole Gel Heel Pad, $6.99. (800) 446-7587.
Ultra Performance Air Pro by Kiwi Performance Group
Designed to keep your feet dry and cool, this insole features a DynaPump system that pushes air through channels on the underside of the insole from the heel forward and then up to the foot through more than 100 perforations. In addition, the fabric on the top of the Air Pro wicks moisture away from your skin. $14.95. (800) 289-5494.
Ultra Sole Runner/ Walker by Spectrum Sports
Sorbothane is one of the oldest and best-known insole materials, and it's the basis of the products made by Spectrum Sports. The manufacturers ore so confident of their insoles they offer a moneyback guarantee with every product. Full-foot insole, $18.95; heel cups, $10.95. (800) 321-4145.
Reflective and Safety Gear
If you're like most runners, you make time for your run when you can, even if that means after the sun sets or before it rises in the morning. On those days when you have to head out into darkness, be sure to don some reflective gear or take along a safety light. There are several safety products available now, from the standard reflective vest to clip-on lights.
Must-have features: Reflective material or some source of fortable fit; ease of use
Jogalite Reflective Vests and Wallet by Jogalite
Just slip on one of these lightweight, easy-to-use vests and attach the straps at the front to Velcro strips. Reflective stripes across the vest let drivers know you're coming. Available in several styles and colors. $6.50 to $8, depending on model. A reflective wrist wallet is $3.25. (800) 258-8974.
Lightning Belt by Austin Innovations
Weighing around 6 ounces, this belt adjusts comfortably and snugly around your waist. It contains a light ship powered by a 9-volt battery. The green glow of the Lightning Belt is visible from 5,000 feet away. $24.95. (800) 966-2275.
OGIO Safety Light by OGIO International
This 1-ounce light attaches with a belt clip or an arm band (included). It can be seen from over a half-mile away and provides more than 160 hours of light. It's weatherproof and durable. $8. (800) 922-1 944.
Tetra-Glo Reflective Gloves by Polygenex International
Be seen day and night with Tetra-Glo reflective gloves by Polygenex. The fluorescent orange color can't be missed during the daylight hours, and reflective yarn woven into stripes makes the gloves visible in the dark from over 350 feet away. $12.95. (800) 380-0071.
Zeonz by Barker Technologies
Some running shoes have reflective stripes on them, but if you really want to be seen, consider the Zeonz. This 6-inch neon tube clips to your running shoe. At the flick of a switch, the light beams a bright red. It comes with batteries that last 80 to 100 hours. $20 for a pack of two. (618) 462-3527.
Ah, rebel That's what your tired feet will feel when you step into a pair of sport sandals after a hard run or a race. Sport sandals let your feet recuperate on a comfortable, anatomically correct footbed. And, of course, sandals protect you from all kinds of nasty stuff--from broken glass and sharp stones to locker-room bacteria.
When you consider a sport sandal, comfort, fit and stability should be your first concerns. Also think about where and for what activity you'll be wearing them--the house, yard, pool, beach or trail, for wading, hiking, even running--as recommended use varies by product
Must-have features: A footbed perimeter slightly larger than your foot's dimensions (an oversized footbed lets the foot settle comfortably and securely into the shoe and allows room for socks); a strap and closure system that's adjustable for a customized fit and made of durable fastening materials
Air River Guide by Nike
The superior control you get from the advanced "wet" traction outsole pattern is a river rat's delight. Easy-to-adjust, double-layer straps provide reinforcement and a custom fit. $75. (800) 352-6453.
Amazone Ultra by Reebok
The lugged outsoles of these sandals grip the ground with authority, and full-grain leather hook-and-loop straps will keep your sandals securely in place on land or in water. $59.99. (800) 843-4444.
Gel Sport Sandal by Asics
The padded, double-layer closure system delivers a secure fit and comfort that will keep you walking. Constructed with Asics's high-quality Gel insole. $40. (714) 962-7654.
Gulf by American Sporting Goods OP Sandals
Life's a perpetual beach when you strap on the fully adjustable Gulf. The sturdy, ridged outsole lets you comfortably and securely negotiate the steepest dune or deepest creek. $34.95. (800) 848-8698.
M'Bogo by Avia
Durable, gripping and stable, this sandal is made for aggressive outdoor use on land or in water. Adjustable mid- and forefoot strops customize fit, and the footbed's raised diamond texture eliminates slippage. $50. (800) 345-2842.
Milano by Birkenstock
Milano's "ergonomic" design lets your foot rest on an anatomically accurate contoured footbed. The shock-absorbing cork insole supports arches, and top-quality leather uppers will last for miles and miles. $89.95. (800) 597-3338.
Molokai by Merrell
A state-of-the-art closure system and an extra-supportive midsole invite you to hammer, trash and generally abuse these shoes in the great outdoors. Secure fitting features prevent "sandal flop." $70. (800) 869-3348.
Mundaka by Roof Brazil
Tired feet will rest easy on the Mundaka's soft-cushion EVA/neoprene footbed. The leather upper with quick-release buckle is easy to open and close. $64.95. (800) 423-6855.
Na-Pali by Adidas
An easy-to-use, lace-and-toggle closure system keeps you snug and secure for any outdoor venture. The rubber outsole with lug traction pattern gives you a safe foothold on soil or sand. $50. (800) 448-1796.
Shaka Whitewater by B-West
These imports from Africa were designed by the Zulus for use in rugged outback conditions. Fully adjustable ankle, arch and forefoot straps ensure comfort and custom fit. $59.95. (800) 293-7855.
Terra-Fi by Teva
Teva brought flip-flops out of the five-and-dime-store age in 1983 by adding heel straps to hold the feet in place. Now the company has cut channels in the topsole of the Terra-Fi to drain water and increase ventilation. $70. (800) 433-2537.
Topozoic Sandal Plus by Timberland
The gripping lug rubber outsole of this sandal is in a zone of its own in providing walking security on uneven topography. The strap system with Velcro fastener is fully adjustable. $85. (800) 445-5545.
Whitewater by Hi-Tec
Well-constructed yet lightweight, this sandal provides a cushioned, stable ride in both wet and dry conditions. Suede uppers with Velcro closures wick moisture away. $39.99. (800) 521-1698; (800) 558-8580 in California.
Runners looking to stay fit when there's snow on the ground are finding great cardiovascular and aesthetic satisfaction in snowshoeing. Anybody who can walk--or run--can master basic shoeing in minutes. Stamp out the old image that snowshoes are big, clunky, rough-hewn things worn by grizzly mountaineers trapping for their next meal. Today's high-performance, metal-frame shoes are light fast and stable. Just strap yourself in and go.
When deciding what snowshoe is best for you, consider whether you'll be walking, running or racing in them and what conditions and terrain you're likely to encounter. For running or racing, you'll want smaller, narrower, lighter shoes than you might use for walking.
Must-have features: A cleated traction device on the bottom of the shoe for secure stepping over a wide range of conditions, especially steep climbs and ice; a solid decking for better flotation, resistance to tear and elimination of ice or snow buildup; custom-fitting, supportive bindings with the flexibility to accommodate running shoes
Redtail by Redfeather
A solid training snowshoe for runners under 160 pounds, the Redtail is light yet strong. Steel talons on the front and rear provide excellent traction in soft snow and ice. Drifts on the trail won't slow your progress, thanks to this shoe's upturned forward "shovel." $219-$244. (800) 525-0081.
10-K by Tubbs
If snowshoe racing is your thing, take a look at the 10-K. This asymmetrically shaped shoe provides superior balance and control. Light and efficient, the 10-K comes with toe and heel crampons that will steady your ride and let you air it out over packed race courses and trails. $210-$249. (800) 882-2748.
1022 by Atlas
Efficient in both the back country and the backyard, the 1022 is a small snowshoe that works well in tracked a untracked snow. Its spring-loaded binding lets you stride without drug, and its dual-cleat cleat system gives you great traction without weighing you down. $229. (800) 645-7463.
Rehabilitation & Injury Prevention
Those nagging running injuries. We've all had them, and we've all sworn to take better care of ourselves the next time. Well, now is the time to finally keep those promises. Whether you're plagued by shinsplints, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis or even back pain, we've found a handful of rehab devices to help you prevent those annoying aches and pains.
Lower-leg injuries can put you on the injury list for weeks. To prevent long-term pain, you need to stretch and strengthen these important muscles regularly. Here are two devices that can help.
Flex-Wedge by Flex-Wedge
By stretching with this incline device, you can increase the mobility of your feet,, legs and lower back, which decreases your risk of shinsplints and many other lower-leg injuries. The Flex-wedge has an incline board that con be set to any one of four angles depending on your range of motion. An illustrated manual describes 12 exercises. $39. (800) 477-7466.
Step Stretch by Prism Technologies
With this rolling device, you place your foot on the flat platform and slowly rock back onto your heel until you feel tension in your muscles. The Step Stretch exercises your plantar fasciae, Achilles, calves, shins and hamstrings. An instruction manual is provided. $29.99. (800) 432-8722.
What's the answer every time you ask what to do about a running injury? "Ice it" Every runner should have an ice pack in the freezer, and the pack shown here is top of the line.
Thera P Gel Pak by Norsk
Even when frozen, this pack remains flexible and conforms to the contours of your body. Velcro straps keep it in place so you can do other things while you're icing your injury. It can also be heated in the microwave when you need to soothe and loosen fight, achy muscles. Thera P Gel Paks are available in different sizes and designs for treating knees, ankles, thighs, elbows and other areas. $14.99 to $34.99. (800) 667-7510.
If you experience lower-back pain, you probably need to do some strength training. Strong hamstrings, abdominal muscles, obliques and lower-back muscles all help support the lumbar region. But while you're getting in shape, you can get some support and pain relief from a back wrap.
BackThing Back Support by Sportstech
Wrap your lower torso with this support, and your back will thank you. Made with a high-density, closed-cell latex foam pad that conforms to the curve of your spine, the BackThing provides good support, won't fide up while you work out and is flexible and comfortable. It increases circulation in the muscles of the lower back, keeping them warm and promoting healing. $69.95. (800) 279-7123.
Injuries happen. Stretching and strengthening, ice and rest help you recover and can help prevent injuries from happening again, but sometimes you need a little extra support the following devices will provide it. They help to absorb shock, reduce the stress that running puts on your muscle relieve pain by applying compression and warmth and stabilize weak ankles and knees.
Cheetah Ankle Brace and Ankle Support with Hool Cups by Muellor
If you're prone to ankle sprains and injuries, slip on a Cheetah Ankle Brace. It can also help relieve shinsplints and pain in your heels, ankles, knees and Achilles tendons. Use the Cheetah Ankle Support when less support and stability are needed. A key feature of these products is the built-in Tuli's Heel Cup, which is very effective in absorbing shock. Brace, $29.95; Support, $19.95. (800) 356-9522.
Cho-Pat Sports Straps by Cho-Pat
If you're suffering from knee pain due to patellar tendinitis, the Counter Force Knee Wrap helps alleviate that pain and stabilizes the kneecap while allowing full mobility. The Cho-Pat Achilles Tendon Strap helps reduce the pain of Achilles tendinitis. It also promotes early heel rise for an easier push-off during running, thus lowering the stress on the Achilles. Both wraps are made from neoprene fabric and have Velcro fasteners. Knee Wrap, $23.95; Achilles Tendon Strap, $18.50. (800) 221-1601.
Count'R Force Arch Brace and Shin'aid by Medical Sports
If plantar fascritis plagues you, then the Coun'R Force Arch Brace could be your ticket to happier running. Two strops hold the once up gainst your arch. The curved design provides a wide surface of support. For shinsplints, try the Shin'aid, which can also help relieve calf injuries. Arch Brace, $15.45; Shin'aid, $22.95. (800) 783-2240.
Hyperflex Bionic Knee and Ankle Brace by Seirus
Bothered by weak knees or ankles? Try the Hyperflex Bionic Knee Bruce or Ankle Brace by Seirus. Both wraps are made of breathable neoprene, which provides maximum support and allows moisture to evaporate. The Bionic Knee uses Lycra behind the knee to provide support without bunching up or inhibiting knee-flex as neoprene would. Bionic Knee, $34.99; Ankle Brace, $7.99. (800) 447-3787.
Kneed-It and Kallassy Ankle Support by One-up Health & Sport
The Kneecht knee guard absorbs shock at the knee and relieves minor pain by applying compression and warmth to the soft tissues in front of the knee. If you're weak in the ankles, the Kallassy Ankle Support will prevent your ankle from turning or rolling over as you run. Kneed-It, $29.95; Kallassy Ankle Support, $35. (800) 997-6789.
Lastrap by Coopercare
Lastrop supports have bio-engineered Thermovibe pods, which absorb shock, lessen vibrations and retain body heat for increased blood circulation. Whether your pain is in your knee or your shin, the Lastrap can provide relief. $29. (416) 741-9675 (ask for Coopercare).
Pronation/Spring Control (PSC) and U-Wraps by Fabrifoom Products
The PSC support/control device, which wraps around the foot and ankle, boasts the holding properties of a tape wrap, the alignment effect of an orthotic and the lifting function of an arch support-all in one. The PSC is recommended for the prevention and treatment of shinsplints, plantur fascilitis, heel spurs, stress fractures of the foot and other foot and ankle injuries. U-Wraps are breathable, reusable Velcro wraps that provide support for the wrisst, ankle and knee and help relieve tendinitis of these joints. PSC, $29.95; U-Wraps, $8-$20. (800) 577-1077. Indoor exercise machines might seem about as inviting as jury duty, but they do have their place. They can help preserve fitness during injury-related layoffs from running, because most are low or nonimpact. They can target muscle groups not effectively taxed by running. They can provide a reprieve from running in less-than-friendly weather And they can offer variety, even if it's the negative kind (nothing like staring into the dashboard of a stationary bike for what seems like an eternity to make you want to hit the roads all the more). That said, here's what's out there--or, rather, in there. As a rule of thumb with all exercise devices, put function and construction ahead of frugality. Unless it works the right muscles and does so in a smooth and stable fashion, chances are an inexpensive machine is only going to exercise your ire.
Races are not won by legs alone. Upper-body strength is needed for maintaining the most efficient running form, especially as fatigue begins to set in, and that's where rowing makes a good adjunct to your running. Rowing works the arms, shoulders, chest abdominals, buttocks and back.
Even the legs get a good workout as an estimated 75 percent of the force generated by a proper rowing stroke comes from down under. Moreover, because this force is nonimpact, workouts on a rowing machine can be a good way to keep the quads, and to a lesser degree the hamstrings, in shape while you're on the mend from an impact-related injury. Let your comfort be your guide when using a rower, however. if the action in any way aggravates an injury, head for shore.
Rowers come in two basic types: flywheel and hydraulic. The flywheel design most closely replicates the feel of rowing on water. All the models described here are flywheel types, and all also have monitoring systems that show elapsed time, number of strokes and calories burned.
Must-have features: A comfortable seat and a good, smooth action (if the machine's seat doesn't slide smoothly or its rowing action feels inconsistent or clunky, you won't enjoy using it and it probably won't last)
Aerow Pro 971 by Ross Fitness
The Aerow Pro's onboard computer allows you to choose a preset workout or program your own. An ergonomically designed seat and padded pull-handle provide a comfortable fide. Guaranteed for the lie of its original owner, the Aerow Pro is certainly no toy. $999. (800) 338-7677.
Concept II Model C by Concept II
The third generation of Concept II rowers, Model C offers quieter operation, collapssibility for earlier storage and a redesigned seat With this rower, you can set up to four different kinds of workouts, and an optional interface enables you to monitor your heart rate. But perhaps best of all about the Concept II is the competition it invites you to join. Called the C.R.A.S.H.-B Sprints indoor Roxong Championships, the tournament allows you to pit your rowing prowess against that of thousands of competitors taking part in over 80 races held nationwide. Ordered from the factory: $725. (800) 245-5676.
R740 ECB Rower by Tunturi
At 119 pounds compared to 61 and 97 pounds respectively for the Concept 11 and Ross rowers, the Tunturi is more difficuff to tote around. However, this rower is stable and quiet to use ond has a comfortable, onatomically designed seat. The magnetic resistance design of the flywheel allows you to set stroke resistance at numerous levels. $1,099. (800) 827-8717.
Stationary bikes were the first, and in many ways still are one of the best ergometers for runners, especially when ridden in a standing position, which studies show comes closer to the action of running than any other indoor exercise (except treadmill work). When shopping for a bike, stick to those that allow you to adjust pedal resistance so you can simulate hill training.
Also, keep in mind that models that provide pedal resistance by way of a flywheel or belt drive generally are more durable than those that derive their resistance from mechanical friction. And if you're intending to monitor your workouts in terms of miles covered or calories burned, opt for a bike capable of making such calculations. All the bikes presented here have monitoring systems.
Must-have features: A comfortable seat, smooth pedal action and basic structural integrity (if the unit wobbles or feels generally flimsy, it's probably going to find a home in your garage)
Airdyne by Schwinn
A "bike" that works your upper body, too, the Airdyne has handlebars that move in tandem with the pedals and give your arms and shoulders a great workout as you ride. With the Airdyne, resistance is created by a flywheel with numerous air-grabbing fins. $499.95 to $799.95, depending on the model. (303) 545-1 725.
F510 Executive Recumbent Cycle by Tunturi
If you're having a bout of back trouble, a recumbent bike is the way to ride. The body position you take on a recumbent, plus the back support and seat, minimize stress to the lower back, whereas the posture required on an upright bike or a stairclimber may aggravate any problems. Recumbents exercise the some muscles as upright bikes, but because the contractions occur in different areas of the muscles, recumbents give the abdomen, inner thighs, hamstrings and calves a better workout than other areas. The unit's monitor displays standard workout information. $449. (800) 827-8717.
Futura EZ 947 by Ross Fitness
Another flywheel and duabaction bike like the Airdyne, the Futura EZ 947 differs from the Aire models in that it allows you to work the upper and lower body either together or separately. Also, pedal straps enable you to pull on the pedals (good for the hamstrings) as well as push on them (good for the quads). The Futura's electronic monitor uses an ear-mounted sensor to measure heart rate. $525. (800) 338-7677.
HOMCycle by Universal Gym Equipment
Belt-driven but quiet and smooth, the HOM-Cycle is a rugged, no-nonsense ergometer. It offers three options for training by target
Lifecycle 3500 by Life Fitness
Want to combat the boredom of cycling to nowhere by playing a litfle Nintendo, Speed Racer or Pac Man? Then hop aboard an LC 3500. The unit's LED display screen interfaces with some pretty entertaining software (the Life Fitness Exertainment system), not to mention some no-nonsense fitness programs to moisten your brow. Cycle at a moderate 65 percent of your maximum heart rate, or a cardia-training regimen at a more demanding 85 percent. You can even watch TV on the bike's ample console. $999 for the lifecycle plus Exertainment system. (800) 877-3867.
MS.2E/L Personal Cycle Trainer by Precor
No belts or even wind-ressisting flywheels her--just a precission-balanced aluminum disk spinning freely between variable magnetic fields. As the magnetic force increases, so does resistance, totally without friction, so durability is this units middle nome. The bike's display panel features a host of preprogrammed as well as programmoble workouts, fitness tests, a weightloss program, plus elapsed time, RPM's, heart rate and colories burned. $1,300-$1,850. (800) 477-3267.
Wavecycle 502 by Dicor
Here's a novel and durable approach to the standard stationary bike-using water to provide pedal resistance. Difficult to wear out for sure. The patented technology uses H2O for a smooth and friction-free pedal ressistance, which can be adjusted even while the unit is in use. Resistance also increases with pedaling speed, giving even greater variety in intensifies. The computerized dashboard shows heart rate (via a sensor worn on the ear) in addition to the usual data. $399. (800) 985-8999.
Wait a minute--you're trying to run faster, not kick sand in anyone's face.
Chill. Strength can be a good way to do it Strength-building exercises recruit primarily fast-twitch muscle fibers. Research shows that strength-building workouts can be a valuable complement to speedwork Arm, shoulder and torso exercises also can build the upper-body power needed for faster times.
In selecting a strength-building machine, look for one capable of giving a full-body workout. Put a priority on basic structural integrity as well as smoothness of operation. And if time is important to you, be sure the adjustments needed to implement the machine's different exercises do not require a workout in themselves to employ.
Must-have features: Apparatus for a full-body workout, with exercises for the legs, arms, shoulders and back
Bowflex 210 Pro by Bowflex
The Bowflex supplies resistance isotonically (force must be generated not only to perform a lift, but also to return to the lift's starting point) via a unique system of flexible `power rods' attached to pulleys. This allows a freedom of movement not possible with many similar units, as well as an impressive variety of exercisesin 64 all. The unit is relatively light in weight and even collapsible enough to be stored in a closet when not in use. $999. (800) 269-3539.
Complete PersonalCircuit Multi-Station Gym by Nautilus
Employing the patented Nautilus cam--a device that allows smooth movement through the entire range of motion of exercise--this large unit offers 12 exercises (eight for the upper body and four for the lower). As many as three people con work out at the some time. Resistance is supplied tonically, and changing exercises takes only 5 seconds. $5,985. (800) 628-8458.
Direct Drive 200 by Cybox
"Direct Drive" refers to this unit's more-efficient-than-most cable system, which attaches to weights hidden inside the machine's center column and allows an immediate application of resistance. Exercises for all major muscle groups are possible, and in one of the smallest spaces for a multistation machine of this type--just 49 square feet. $3,595. (800) 926-4704.
Multi-function 880 by Hoist
"The simpler the better" is the main theme of this machine. The other is saving space: it requires only 13.5 square feet of floor space, yet offers 1 5 exercises that work all major muscle groups. Pulleys attached to cost-iron weights (up to 200 pounds) provide the machine's mode of actioh, and all seated exercises are possible without cable changes from just one position--a plus for exercisers in a hurry. $2,395. (800) 548-5438; (800) 541-5438 in Calgornic.
NordicFlex Gold by NordicTrack
With a patented resistance system that adjusts automatically to the amount of force you generate against it, this unique unit from Nordictrack requires no changing of weights or cables between exercises--just the position of your body. Over 30 exercises for all major muscle groups are possible, and a Power Meter measures the number of repetitions and pounds of force generated by each lift. $799.95. (800) 445-2360.
On-Line 1800 by Vectra
This rugged unit offers 29 exercises for 11 major muscle groups. It employs pulleys attached to weights (all the way up to 305 pounds' worth) and uses a cam system to ensure that resistance remains consistent through the entire range of motion each exercise requires. The unit also boasts a unique, space-saving design that allows it to be set up in a corner of a room, as opposed to the center--a limitation of most similar multistation machines. Only 65 square feet of floor space is required. $3,995. (800) 283-2872.
Pacific 2000 by Pacific Fitness
Your own body weight provides the resistance with this clever design, and yet an impressive 25 exercises are posssible for targeting all major muscles, abdominals included. Resistance levels (adjustable from 3 pounds to 129 pounds of user's body weight) are changeable without leaving the machine's seat, and the unit is a space saver, taking up only 16 square feet. $1,049. (800) 722-3482.
Persona Fitness Trainer 1000 by Paramount
The PFT 1000 features biomechanically correct positions for all of the most popular strengtl/building exercises. It uses a smoothly operating pulley system that hoists plates of cast iron. No cable changes are required during exercises, and weight selections are made extra safe via a custom-designed selector pin. The units leg-press station is optional. $2,895. (800) 721-2121.
Pro Form Cross Trainer by Icon
Versatility is the claim to fame of this multifaceted unit--an upper- and lower-body strength trainer plus an aerobic stairclimber all in one. Resistance is supplied electronically and in easily adjustable, 1-increments (all the way up to 250 pounds). Over 30 upper- and lower-body exercises are possible, two people can work out simultoneously, and the stepping machine features variable resistance as well as an electronic display of elapsed fime, distance covered, cadence and calories burned. $799. (800) 727-9777.
TriFlex by the DTX Corporation
Hydraulic cylinders provide the resistance (up to 500 pounds) in this versafile yet compact unit. The device is very user-friendly, as resistance adjusts automafically to the amount of force generated, and only changes in body position are needed to perform most of the machine's 40 exercises. $795. (800) 600-3050.
A relatively recent addition to the ergometer family, stair-climbers, like stationary bikes, can be a great low-impact way to keep the legs and cardiovascular system strong while nursing a stress-related injury. Steppers work primarily the quads, hamstrings and buttocks. (Stairclimbers generally are not effective at improving leg speed, however, so be forewarned if speed more than endurance is your training goal.)
In shopping for a stepper, expect, as with ergometers in general, to get what you pay for. what you may save in money, you'll pay for in durability and pleasure of use.
Must-have features: Variable resistance, an electronic readout showing energy expenditure, a handlebar design that's comfortable for you (if you find yourself leaning too far forward, you'll be putting undue strain on your back) and "good feel" (that is, smooth pedal motion)
Aerstep Pro 986 by Ross Fitness
The patented step-drive system of this machine uses air resistance, so that as you increase your effort, the resistance of the machine increases. Computer-controlled magnetic tension also allows you to program the base resistance level to change at certain points throughout the workout. The Aerstep includes six preset programs, or you can design your own. Time, distance, calories burned, step rate and heart rate are all displayed on the monitor. $999. (800) 338-7677.
Dynastep 759 and 859 by Dicor Fitness
Both of these steppers have independent stepping action, variable magnetic resistance, four hill programs, a manual setting and a display that features step rate and calories burned. The 759 allows you to program a target heart rate, and if that heart rate is exceeded, the stepper resets to its easiest setting to let you know you've exceeded your upper range. The 859 has a heart-rate control computer, which automotically adjusts the machine's resistance to maintain proper heart rate. 759, $899; 859, $1,050. (800) 985-8999.
4000 PT by StairMaster
Known for its "great feel," the 4000 features a patented design that provides a nearly constant spied during the entire downward motion of the pedal. This stairclimber uses an independent stepping action, so a stronger leg can't overcompensate for a weaker leg or force the weaker leg through a posssibly injurious movement or range. The monitor displays time elapsed, step rate, course and calories burned. 2,195. (800) 635-2936.
5500 by Life Fitness
This self-powered stepper has five workout programs, including a Heart Rate Zone Training program that adjusts pedal resistance automotically, based on your heart rate and stepping pace. It offers two stepping actions: independent, in which the pedols move separately from one another and you control the height of each, and dependent, in which the pedals are linked together. The monitor displays heart rate, elapsed time, colories burned, stepping rate and terrain. $999. (800) 877-3867.
M7.2E/L Personal Climber Trainer by Precor
This stepper has some of the most sophisticated fitness software around. Its computer con store information about weight, preferred work level and best performances for up to four people. The M7.2E/L offers several preprogrammed courses, or you can create your own. A fitness test measures your heart-rate response to different levels of exercise, and this stepper includes a weightloss program based on research from the Cooper Clinic, that will help you burn the most calories during a 30-minute workout. The monitor displays course, work level, time, elevation, steps per minute, calories, heart rate and your fitness score. Wheels make this stairclimber easy to move. $1,400. (800) 477-3267.
Professional 330 by Schwinn
Rugged enough to withstand commercial use, the 330 boosts friction-free electromagnetic stance, self-leveling footheds, independent leg action and multiposition handlebars for optimally comfortable stepping posture. The device also offers 16 levels of resistance, five preset workouts and digital readouts of elapsed time, steps per minute, distance covered and calories burned. $1,299.95. (303) 545-1725.
Quantum by Monark Bodyguard Fitness Corp.
Smooth, sturdy and virtually silent, thanks to new noise-reduction technology, the Quantum has three exercise modes: novice, intermediate and expert. It offers several programs, including heart-rate control and race programs, or you can manually set your own. The computer monitor displays calories burned and step rate. $1,795. (800) 665-3407.
VersaClimber by Heart Rate
The VersaClimber takes stair climbing to new and potentially more exhausting heights. It can be used as a conventional stepping machine for working the lower body only, or it can provide a more complete workout by employing the arms, chest, shoulders, bock and even abdomen when used in its "ladder-climbing" mode. Complete, too is the information the VersaClimber gives you on its digital readout: elapsed time, climbing speed in feet per minute, distance climbed, number of colories burned and (optionally) heart rate attained. $1,295; with heartrate monitor, $1,595. (800) 237-2271.
Touted as effective simulators of the highest calorie-burning activity of all, cross-country ski machines work not just the legs but the chest, shoulders and arms. Because your feet don't leave the ground, there's no impact. Ski machines come in "Yugo" as well as "Mercedes" forms, however, so beware. You can spend as little as $100 for some models, but if you do, you'll soon want to heave it into a snowdrift somewhere.
Must-have features: A smooth, comfortable and stable action; padded hand grips; snug but comfortable foot grips
Achiever by Nordictrack
Unlike most cross-country skiers, the Achiever allows you to custorn-tailor your workouts by adjusting upper- and lower-body resistance independently. Resistance is supplied by a flywheel, so action is smooth, and the units platform can be filted upward to simulate the even more exhausting expedence of skiing uphill. All this effort gets closely monitored, moreover, in terms of speed, distance covered, time elapsed, calories burned and heart rate reached, by way of a digital readout mounted for easy view. $769.95. (800) 445-2606.
Abstract: An array of running gear, with descriptions and prices, is presented. The equipment includes sports watches, water gear, carbohydrate drinks, water-carrying supplies, gear bags, sports cameras, heart-rate monitors, reflective clothing, and exercise equipment.
"Runner's World 1995 gear guide." Runner's World Dec. 1995: 50+. Gale Power Search. Web. 31 Aug. 2011.
Gale Document Number: GALE|A17632802
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Sure, a good pair of running shoes is the only equipment you really need. But anything that makes running easier, safer, more health-enhancing and more enjoyable is also a good idea.