Tales of Running: What's in My Tool bag?

It's time to go for a run and you're thinking that about going for a long one.  What do you pack?  What's a must for you to have on any run?  Not just the physical goods but what's in that toolbox (ok, probably a bag since who runs with a box, right?)?  Well, I was thinking about what I need to pack both physically and mentally and here's what I came up with for my tool bag:

Physical Tools for Running

Vibrams five-finger shoes
Vibram five-finger shoesThey're a must for any run as I've said many a times here.  I find it hard to run otherwise.  

Content Belt
For lack of a better phrase, it is essentially a fanny pack.  But short of a backpack, there's not any other ways to carry extra items without weighing down your shorts/pants.  The belt holds tight to the waist and largely doesn't bother your form.  I've found that the one I have and sometimes also provide some back support depending on where I position the pack part and how tight I have the belt clip.

iPad Nano
Music is the tool that has gotten me past many a literal and metaphorical finish lines.  I have to wonder if the increase in running can be directly correlated to the increasing individual music machines (mp3 players) that are light, long-lasting, and rechargeable.  I tend not to fixate on one particular band or even genre but just an amalgam of music that I've found motivating over the years.  

I've tried hats and will use them if it a particularly sunny day but they are slightly irritating to my bald head.  By contrast, bandannas are perfect for keeping my head protected and soaking up the sweat.  Also, if tied correctly, the back part of the bandanna can become the low point for the sweat to exit from so that it drips down your back and not on your face.

Honey Stinger Chews
People use different fuels for the runs when they need to load up on some more carbs while logging in longer distances.  I like Honey Stinger Chews because they are tasty as well as organic.  Ultimately, anything will do and if I don't have Honey Stingers, I'll opt for whatever else is around.

A few bucks
I generally don't like to carry a water bottle during my runs.  They are distracting to me and I'm never likely to be able to carry as much as I need for a long run without seriously weighing me down.  Therefore, I carry about $5 on my in order to grab drinks on the go as well as back up money if something happens and I need to make a call.

Unless it's an official race that I registered for, I will typically carry my license and health insurance card on me in case something happens to me.  I know there are Road ID bracelets but one more thing to put on my wrists (see below) might be too much.

Basis watch for health monitoringMy Basis is a great tool as it gives me heart-rate and steps taken.  I've talked about it before and though it may be a bit ridiculous in tandem with the GPS watch below, I'm still inclined to run with both.  I'm sure the next generation of gadgets I get 2-3 years down the line will have them both combined.

GPS Watch
The GPS watch I have isn't great.  It takes usually 7-10 minutes to sync and sometimes, I'm know sure about its accuracy.  But it does give me a good sense of my distance and can help me keep track of my progress.

Mental Tools for Running

Always one more step.
It's a mantra I have readily accessible, particularly when I know I'm having or going to have a rough run.  I simply tell myself repeatedly and almost exclusively to all other thoughts, "There is always one more step you CAN take."  And there usually is.

All this is profit.
I coined this phrase when ran the marathon back in October.  It \ means that once you've pasted a distance that you haven't done before (or past the distance that you had originally planned to do), that every step after that is purely beneficial and supremely rewarding.  As someone who used to hate running, this is a profound concept for me.  I never ran more than I had to and usually did my best to get around even that.  So finding myself in a place where I want to go further than before is profit of all sorts.

Projecting running when not running.
Particularly when I'm gearing up for a big race where I want to achieve a new distance or new time, I make sure to spend a lot of time in the weeks leading up to picture myself running and in doing so, feel the muscles throughout my body.  I have also talked about this in a previous post as well of trying to get my mind and body preparing before the actual run.  Training the mind can help to train and prepare the body for the challenge that awaits you in any run.  

Setting markers for walks.
This is something that many people do not always value or understand especially when running long distances; planning and taking time to walk.  Granted, this is not relevant if you are trying to win a race against others.  But I'm talking about us who are largely just racing ourselves.  Particularly when it comes to half-marathons or longer, I usually get out about 4-5 miles and then use the water stops as a time to hydrate and walk for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  While some people feel this might threaten a personal best, I find that time and again, it has helped me achieve a personal best.  First, it breaks up the running into smaller chunks that are easier for me and my body to handle.  It also alleviates inner stress of thinking about how many miles to go before I can comfortably stop, even if it's only for a minute. Finally, it keeps me from having to stop outright.  Many  people run until their body is so worn they can't keep going or they get progressively slower.  By planning your walks, you better care for your body which helps get you to the end quicker and healthier.  

A high and a low mark for success
I try to set a range for my finished time.  The low-goal which is something I think is feasible but still requires me to give it a solid effort.  The high-goal is something I aspire to and may not achieve in this run but having it in my sights gets me mentally ready to achieve it some day.

Thinking cup - Image Source: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3023/2808468566_6d19c9e090_o.jpg
Thoughts for Running
I often try to prepare a few things to think about on my run.  Though even when I don't have them, I usually find them.  It's a great opportunity to get lost in thoughts and problem solving or reflecting.  This also helps the time go by quicker as you try to figure out something in your head.

Tools that Don't Accompany Me on My Run

I see many people use their phones in versatile ways, but I'm not at a point where I enjoy taking my phone with me (unless I find it absolutely necessary).  The distraction to take photos of scenic landscape or check my email and messages is also a bit too strong and would take from the run itself.

So what's in your tool bag?

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