I got a Sony Sport Walkman when I was eight-years-old. I bought it for $30 at the local Circuit City, which was over a month’s allowance. It was bright yellow and wrapped around my arm like the sleeve-garter of an old-timey bank teller.
Thus began my lifelong relationship with running, and more relevant to this website, the gear that I’ve used when I do it.
I’ve never been very fast, my PR from high school cross country was around 24 minutes, but I have been consistent. I don’t think I’ve taken more than a month without a run in at least 10 years. I really enjoy getting out there. And even if you aren’t running fast, feeling fast is one of the best sensations Zen running practice says you aren’t really running until you forget you’re running–a goal I continually aspire towards.
When I was a kid, I just ran in whatever clothes I had. My typical getup was just my one pair of sneakers, shorts, and a t-shirt and off I went tuned into the music of Third Eye Blind on Alice 105.9.
It wasn’t until high school that I owned a pair of “running shorts”. My cross country coach made unisex black Soffes with a one-inch inseam the uniform for the entire team. This was in the mid-2000s, when shorts were supposed to go below the knee, so races were as much an exercise in shame as they were in physicality.
The short shorts (or “panties” as they’re labeled), however, did serve a purpose. My legs were free of the endless “swoosh-swoosh” from their previous swaddling of basketball mesh. For good and for bad it was like I was wearing nothing at all (nothing at all) and it opened up my perspective on what running gear could be.
My running and general exercise clothes are at the same time the most and least Heddels things I own. They’re pretty much all synthetic, made overseas by large faceless corporations, and you can find them at most any sporting goods store. But at the same time, I’ve had many of these items for over a decade, I’ve worn them at least once a week, and repaired them when they’ve needed it.
My Current Running Kit
This is a small sampling of what I’ve got, it’s my “top of the laundry pile” choices for both my cold and warm weather and the year I acquired them. This is everything I have on my body when running:
Warm Weather (Above 55F)
Under Armour compression shorts (2007)
This is another item from high school that just won’t seem to die. I originally bought these when I did BJJ and MMA and needed something to wear under a cup. I currently won’t run or work out without compression shorts and I’ve yet to find a better example. Current UA compression shorts are still good, but not nearly as heavy and robust as these old ones.
Road Runner shorts (2009)
I have yet to see a better pair of running shorts than these. Two slash pockets up front, one zip in the back, and a little pouch inside the waistband. The crotch seam busted open about five years ago and I sewed it back up by hand. They have a stretchy liner and are made from a lightweight nylon.
Feetures Elite socks (2017)
I lose running socks very frequently. These are cheap and don’t give me blisters.
Mizuno Wave Horizon 2 running shoes (2018)
Don’t buy running shoes based on looks. DON’T BUY RUNNING SHOES BASED ON LOOKS. Go to your local nerd running store, have them do a gait analysis, and try on like 8 pairs before settling on the ones that work for you. Running shoes are sadly disposable. They can’t really be repaired after you’ve compressed 300-500 miles onto the foam soles. For me that’s about every 6 months. Good brands to look for include Asics, Brooks, my own Mizunos, and Saucony. I pronate (roll my ankles in), so I have to get something with stabilization, which I pair with:
Good Feet arch support insoles (2018)
I used to use a generic Superfeet green insole but my right knee started crunching early last year so I decided to go bigger. These little pieces of plastic cost as much as a pair of Iron Hearts but they’re cheaper than knee surgery (I hope).
American Apparel track tee (2005)
I bought two of these t-shirts when I was still in high school and they’re both still in my regular rotation almost 15 years later. It’s a 50/25/25 cotton, poly, rayon blend that’s soft, drapes well, and breathes. It’s also incredibly light, almost sheer, which helps avoid chafing. If you’re looking to buy one of these now, don’t bother, I tried when AA declared bankruptcy a couple years ago and the current offering is far inferior.
Cold Weather (20F – 40F)
In between 40F and 55F, I usually just throw the Patagonia top over the warm weather setup. I don’t run when it’s colder than 20F.
Under Armour tights (2008)
Yep, I’m one of those dudes that runs in just tights. I bought these to row crew in college and there was no room or reason to pair them with shorts in the boat so I just kept not wearing them. The mobility is liberating and running in sweat pants is terrible.
REI polypro base layer (2008)
Another spoil from crew season. A common mountaineering saying is “cotton kills” and that’s due to its poor ability to insulate when wet. Don’t wear cotton when exercising in the cold, it’ll sponge up your sweat and be colder than not wearing anything.
Patagonia Capilene 4 quarter-zip (2008)
In my opinion, Patagonia peaked in the late 2000s. I still have a duffel bag, a windproof fleece jacket (which I foolishly traded in for an inferior later model), and this top. It’s lightweight, very warm, cut perfectly, with a single-zipped breast pocket, and all flatlock stitched so nothing has ever even thought about unraveling. I was lucky enough to buy another in green and I’m going to keep them for as long as I fit.
Smartwool hiking socks (2016)
Another reminder that cotton kills and that Smartwool still makes a good warm sock that’s relatively affordable. Wear them over the tights not under.
Mountain Hardware liner gloves (2013)
I bought these to use up a store credit that was about to expire at Sierra Trading Post. I don’t often run with gloves, but when I do, I want it to be something that just barely cuts the wind and these work perfectly. They also have a little buckle to snap them together, which is probably why I haven’t lost them yet.
Amphipod hi-vis reflector vest (2015)
My ideal running time is between 6 and 7pm, right before dinner. This is great in the summer, but in the winter it usually means running in the dark. The rest of my setup isn’t all that visible so having a reflective is kind of a must when running near traffic or in a park that also has cyclists. I definitely overpaid for this because I bought it at a running store and not a surplus shop.
Mizuno Wave Horizon 2 (2018), Good Feet arch support insoles (2018), Under Armour compression shorts (2007)
Odds & Ends
Anachronorm bandana (2016)
I have long hair so wearing a bandana on my head is essential to keeping it out of my face and eyes. It also collects sweat in the summer, keeps me slightly warmer in the winter, and is a lot easier to wash than a hat.
Apple iPod Shuffle (2011)
I haven’t updated the music on this in like five years. I only run with my phone when I’m going 10+ miles and might need to call someone to pick me up or I want to listen to a podcast.
Sony MDR-G45 headphones (2016)
When I bought that yellow Sony Walkman, I also bought a pair of these headphones. I ran with them for 16 years until the speakers gave out. I immediately bought another pair that isn’t as comfortable or made as well.
Casio F91W watch (2018)
The watch used by everyone from President Obama to Al Qaeda bomb makers is also used by me. My daily wear watch overwinds when I run with it so I had a G-Shock as my workout watch for the last 8ish years. I couldn’t find it for a few weeks, so I picked up this for $9 in the hopes that the G-Shock would eventually turn up. It did, but I preferred the low profile and simplicity of the F91W.
Good Art Hlywd E-Z Slider keychain (2015)
This is always on my body whenever I’m out of the house. Always. I was never a keychain person, I would stuff my key ring in and fish it out many times a day. Then Good Art founder Josh Warner gave me this to try out at Inspiration a few years ago. The design is so simple but so ingenious, it just slides onto whatever piece of fabric you want it to hang off of and your keys dangle below. Mine spends most of its time clipped to the inside of my front pocket but secures just as well to the waistband of a pair of running shorts or tights (or belt or jacket pocket or backpack). The sides of the clip are offset so it can be squeezed or opened to fit the thickness of whatever you desire.
Driver’s license and credit card
I always carry some form of ID so if I get hit by a car or something it saves a lot of people time and energy in identifying my body. My dad told me about a friend of his overseas that had his name and address tattooed on his butt cheek for this same reason but putting my license in my pocket currently seems more reasonable. The credit card is ostensibly for if I get tired and need to get a cab or a bus back, but I’ve never done that and most often use it to buy takeout or groceries on my way home.
What do you like to run with? Are there any more Heddels-esque items you can recommend me?