I’ve been reading a lot about minimalist running strategies in the past year, which mostly seem to consist of trading in traditional running shoes for something closer to bare feet. I’m not heading in that direction any time soon (or ever, really) but I have been paring down my gear. Specifically, I’ve ditched my iPhone in favor of lighter, less connected options. And I couldn’t be happier.
When I tell people that I’m no longer running with my phone, they always ask if I’m worried about my safety. My answer is no — I run in my neighborhood, which is a well-populated area, and I’ve never felt threatened or scared. I typically see the same people every morning, out running and walking and cycling, and I know that most of my neighbors are home when I go out to run. There are plenty of people around, should anything happen.
I also run with a Road ID, which has my name and birth date and address on it, as well as Wade’s name and cell number. In a real crisis, someone could call him to come get me.
I still use RunKeeper to track my miles and pace, but I enter everything manually on my laptop after my run. Last summer I realized that the RunKeeper GPS wasn’t working properly and was dropping up to a mile off each of my runs, which was frustrating. Instead of relying on the temperamental GPS, I map my routes online and then time my runs with a basic sports watch. Super easy.
I like running without a GPS because it lets me focus on the run, not the pace or distance. I know where miles one and two are on my route and I can check my time at those points, but after that I just run — and it’s been really liberating, particularly now that I can confidently run longer and longer distances. I don’t need the reassurance of the GPS program telling me how many miles I’ve covered — I just run until I’m finished, however long that may be.
I still run with music; I replaced my big phone with a tiny Shuffle earlier this spring and I can’t get over how light it is. I clip it to my sport bra and tuck the headphone cords down my back and go. I buy low-end Skull Candy earbuds, because then when I sweat all over them it doesn’t matter. They stay in my ears and the quality is good, but I can also hear road noise over the music, which is a nice thing. I ran one morning with my super fancy Apple earbuds and couldn’t hear anything but the music — not a good feeling (although the sound quality was amazing).
Other than my shoes, that’s it for running gear for me. What are your running essentials?