With less than 3 weeks to the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, now’s a great time to share some of my favourite things with you, fellow runners (or people who like to laze around in crops and listen to some banging tracks!) Here, I’ve separated my favourite finds into quick sections you can reference if you’re looking for some inspiration, or to freshen up your current collection, whatever that may be. Without further ado:
I used to only have two pairs of running pants, and both were from Lululemon, but lately I’ve been experimenting with lower priced pieces, and even wore one cheaper pair on a long run. The verdict: if the environmental conditions are right (ie. It’s not too hot so you don’t have to worry about wicking, high technical quality) lower-end pieces will do just fine. I love the new mesh panel trend and these burgundy crops from Old Navy (get them here) are both flattering and practical:
Of course, I’d still recommend running pants from Lululemon like these Wunder Under 7/8 length pants. I’ve had these for about three years and they haven’t lost elasticity, the threading is perfect, and they fit well, not to mention they have pockets which I’ve stuffed with chocolate and blackberry running gels on various runs!
I have this Gap v-neck tank in two colours, and it’s my absolute favourite top of all time. It’s got great support, falls in a flattering way, and the v-neck makes it look like I try to look presentable. I haven’t been able to find it since I first bought it a year ago at a Gap Factory Outlet, so if you see it anywhere, please let me know!
This flower print sweatshirt is perfect for colder weather, with sleeves that extend to cover your hands, and holes for your thumbs if you feel so inclined (that’s what she said). It’s got great structure so it won’t stretch easily, and it covers your neck against the wind. It's by a brand called MPG and I bought it at Winners so it’s another reasonably priced piece.
|I've also had to crop my face out of almost every picture because when my sister takes photos, the punchlines that come out of her mouth make it impossible for me not to look insane while trying not to laugh|
Sometimes it’s hella hot and you need to wear something super breezy. Enter Under Armour. My girlfriend and I recently checked out their outlet and bought matching neon orange sports bras (soft, supportive, and no annoying underwire) and this neon yellow racer-back tank. We both loved that the tanks don’t slide around too much and have a super flattering cut, and Anais actually loved hers so much that she went back and bought more colours – and then a couple more for me. She is actually the greatest.
I really love this Lululemon scoop-neck tank because of its breathable material and how much support it offers when I’m running those long runs. I have it in pastel green, pastel purple, and neon orange, and though I’ve worn it a lot, it just won’t quit on elasticity, which I love and have come to expect of Lululemon.
I’m not a nutritionist by any means, so this is entirely my opinion, but I really can’t recommend these protein supplements enough. The first is the MRM Veggie Elite. It has no artificial flavors or sweeteners, it’s all natural, and has 24 grams of protein per scoop, at only 130 calories. It’s sweetened with Stevia so it doesn’t have all that chemical crap, and it’s got a pretty great chocolate mocha flavor. I’m not gonna say it “tastes just like a chocolate mocha so mmmm treat yourself” because you’re not an idiot, but for what it is, it’s pretty damn good.
The second thing is a Vega One nutritional shake powder packet. This one is green but unflavored, and I typically pour it into a green smoothie that already has flavor by virtue of kale and bananas/strawberries. This one also has no sugar added but gives you 50% of your daily intake of vitamins and minerals. At 123 calories per pack, this guy is also sweetened with Stevia but I can't really taste it.
The third item (and the one I use the most) is the Vega Sport Performance Protein Powder, in a very modest, simple “Vanilla” flavor. At 131 calories in a scoop, this one is gluten-free, with no sugar added, and is a complete protein blend. No whey (just like the others), nothing toxic, just pure post- workout support. The best part is that I’ve been drinking both this mix and the MRM with just water, and both are pretty good. Up until last year, I didn’t think I could stomach a shake that wasn’t mixed with almond milk, so this has been an eye-opener!
Also, my dad gave me these power bars for my birthday ("Because of all that training you're doing") and although I'm usually a little skeptical about vegan granola and power bars on account of their taste slightly resembling that of a ground-up retainer, these ones actually taste amazing. Highly recommended, with bonus points for being organic.
Songs to Get You to the Finish Line
I would rather skip a run than run without music. I find the sound of my feet hitting the pavement absolutely maddening, and I really rely on Chumbawumba to drown out the atrocity of my allergy-induced gasps for any shred of remaining air. I usually listen to really fast music when I run, and that sort of music (when it’s not Chumbawumba) tends to be aggressive and the kind of music Vin Diesel would probably roll a cigarette to. That and I really like Ellie Goulding, Die Antwoord, and Santigold. And for those runs where you need a little something extra, here are some songs to guarantee you make it to the finish line. I will certainly be listening to these by the 40th kilometer next month:
Nicki Minaj – Roman’s Revenge
(this one is super fun when you want to pretend you’re mad about something)
Pharrell Williams – Freedom
Daft Punk – Contact
(this one makes me tear up every now and then, so listen at your own risk)
Kanye West – Power
Shakira - Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)
(an oldie but still makes me so happy!)
Shoes to Get You to the Finish Line
Shoes should always be chosen based on what fits you best, but these are a few models that I’ve worn for years, and can vouch for their flexibility, fit, and durability:
I had originally bought these for winter running because they’re darker and have a cool reflective print, but now I’ve switched to them to train, because they’re big enough to accommodate my feet swelling from long runs. The Lunarglides have a more accommodating fit than any other model I’ve worn, and seem to get wider in the toe area.
Nike Zoom Pegasus 30:
These shoes have the most cushioning and bounce when I wear them, especially when I stick the insole in. I bought mine in New York City when they first came out, and it was so funny seeing half the city wearing them too. I would highly, highly recommend.
Nike Zoom Pegasus 31:
I bought these shoes in Tallinn on my last trip, and they’re a tad too small, which caused my toenails to turn purple after a long run. I blame the fact that I don’t speak Estonian, and the fact that I ignorantly didn’t wanna look like my feet were huge, so I bought shoes that fit juuuuuust right. Big, big mistake. Overall, though, I would also recommend the Pegasus model because it hugs your foot in a way that makes you feel secure and like your ankle won’t roll. I’ve had some really great runs in them. I just wouldn’t wear them on anything past 15km.
*Always, always, always make sure your toes are comfortable in your shoes. Don’t be shy about asking a sales person to help you determine whether you have the right size shoe. For really long distance running, I would also highly recommend buying a shoe at least half a size bigger, because your foot will expand. I’m currently wearing my Nike Lunarglides because they’re a size bigger and towards the end of a 20+ km run, they start fitting just right.
To Protect Your Feet
I love, love, love these Dr.Scholl’s Active Series insoles. Just as with other insoles, you cut them to your shoe size, slip them in, and feel the difference immediately. They have a good amount of arch support (you can feel the plastic base underneath) while their padding provides just the perfect level of shock absorption. I switch them up about every 5 months and at roughly $25 a pair, they’re a worthwhile investment in the world of over-the-counter insoles. Insoles generally help protect your feet from shin splints, stabilize your ankle, and absorb the shock of pounding the pavement, among other things. I personally would never run without them.
I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I’ve managed to injure myself pretty badly, and by that I mean I am basically living with 24/7 pain from sciatica and some other nerve that I’ve hurt, the name of which I can’t for the life of me remember. First of all, if for some reason your body starts hurting, don’t wait to see a doctor- do it as soon as possible. Secondly, before you do something really intense, try physiotherapy. If you live in Ottawa, I highly recommend Kyle Andrades of Get Physical Physiotherapy.
Kyle is super strong and can pull your body apart and put it back together just enough to make everything feel like it’s where it’s supposed to be. Apparently, my feet are now misaligned because of my newly rotated pelvis. Sometimes Kyle likes to tell me that I’ll need a “special shoe” (like an Elton John platform) for just one of my feet. Sometimes I feel like crying because I’m scared he’s not joking, or because he crunches my bones apart so hard I think I’ll literally break in half. But every single time, I leave his office feeling so, so great, and I haven’t cried yet, so he's obviously doing something right. Kyle is also super funny, super positive, and will remind you about your L4, L5, and L6 (I don’t know what those are) until you remember them, because he’s really focused on educating his patients, which I really appreciate. He also does acupuncture and will even offer to pass you your phone when you’re covered in needles and can’t reach it. You really can’t go wrong.
And there you have it- a few of my favourite things!
PS. Not all of these photos are mine. If you'd like to find out their sources, drop me a line in the comment section!