Running Success: The Gear You Need
Published on 09/03/2012
By Peter Reese
Running can be a dedicated pursuit or simply part of an outdoor athlete’s training regimen. Wise gear choices can make even off-trail courses a little smoother – or allow meaningful miles at night or in bad weather.
ILLUMINITE is a fairly new brand, coming on to the scene with night visibility as their primary objective. Testing the zip-pocketed MEN’S NOCTURNAL SOFTSHELL JACKET demonstrated the company’s approach doesn’t compromise comfort and utility as damp conditions failed to discourage the Nocturnal. More like a multi-season utility piece than a runners- or cyclists-only jacket, this one raises the bar for style among reflective performance apparel. Ditto for the MEN’S TRIATHLON VEST which rocks an external MP3 pocket and port like its sleeved companion. Women’s styles are part of Illuminite’s growing line of well-made products.
At ground level, testers are almost incredulous at the performance of Scarpa’s SPARK TRAIL RUNNING SHOE after running it in Colorado, Switzerland and Austria. From mud to forest trails to parched mesas and marble-round scree, SPARK danced across mixed terrain with surprising stability for a low-cut design. The first in a growing line built on the SPARK’s platform, this shoe puts able-bodied runners in position to climb, dodge and descend with confidence. Light enough to fit international travel plans, it carries suitable style to navigate dance floors should conditions permit. Wicking features and recycled materials round out what’s certain to be a story with many chapters to come.
On the wrist landed the TIMEX IRONMAN RUN TRAINER ELITE turning the power of data capture into worthwhile in-flight and post-run data. In concert with TRAINING PEAKS, this model is part of the company’s basics-to-biometrics line of training tools, one Active Junky testers found valuable. All the basics are covered as the athlete can dive into customizing the TRAINER to their goals. Testers are sold on the importance of the heart rate monitor including recovery rate timing to translate perceived exertion into informed performance management. Battery life at up to 8 hours is essential and USB recharging couldn’t be easier. Importantly, TRAINER’s displays are easy to read even through tired eyes with an Indigo Night-Light display that has yet to be beaten.
Back on earth, tecnica has advanced a footwear line that includes the DRAGON XLITE, tested in an energizing anthracite and lime color combination. Here’s a shoe suitable for trail and pavement at speed as well as spirited walking. Testers took this one to task across a wide range of conditions, giving DRAGON high marks for stability and comfort. Active Junky recommends this TRS energy return shoe as a one-quiver option for moderate-mileage runners that want go-anywhere style, particularly in travel situations. Tecnica’s construction and attention to detail have become AJ benchmarks. Sizing is well suited to American feet and tecnica stands behind their shoes with confidence born from repeated running success.
Hydration and electrolyte management are simplified with NUUN DRINK TABS. Of many products sipped and gulped by AJ testers, NUUN breaks away from other options with the right amount of taste and none of the stickiness. One international endurance athlete raved about NUUN, off the record, as another drink company sponsors his team. Testers gravitated to lemon lime as well as the lemon tea for the extra caffeine. Even so, splitting each tab into two, one-liter portions yields results and even better value from these easy-store tubes. Flavor options could fill the shelf, so try and share these DRINK TABS freely to find the three or so tastes that provide enough variety across the miles to come in 2012.