For runners, the Engine represents your heart, physique, fitness and mental endurance; Gears refer to the latest running shoes, sports gadgets, compression apparel and supplements. Everyone was born to run, however, not every runner share the same physical needs and demands to be the runner they envision to be.

Some  might be lacking in their ‘engine’ and hence utilize more ‘gears’ to make up for it; Others believe in going gear-less and train their bodies to become a natural running machine. Despite having different training styles and ideals, runners will require both components and it is important that we take note of the balance we use in our training to suit our unique runner profile. In this article, we shall discuss some essential points of consideration to determine the mix we need:

Install, maintain and renew your ‘Engine’

Install – Back to basics

Without taking the first step in building a basic level of fitness, striding and breathing techniques as well as endurance, even the best gears in the world cannot turn you into an all-star champion overnight. Elite runners are not born within a day and it take countless of hours, days and even years to become who they are today.

Just like a marathon, there are no shortcuts to the finish line. Only with good running foundation and fitness can your running gears be utilized to its maximum efficiency and develop you into a better runner.

Maintain – Consistent training

Image credits: The Wall Street Journal
Image credits: The Wall Street Journal

Bill Rodgers (above), winner of four Boston and four NYC marathons, once said,“To be a consistent winner means preparing not just one day, one month, or even one year — but for a lifetime.

Indeed, you may be the fastest runner in your community, a podium finisher for a certain race and perhaps the top few runners in the region. However, without continuous effort to develop your techniques, fitness and mental strength, your skills will stagnate and might even deteriorate. Rodgers is one great role model runner who has consistently worked hard, never stopped running and continues to be a running inspiration for all.

Renew and refresh – Modify techniques and go beyond PBs

As you participate and train for races that occur at different times of the day, climate and running grounds, signs of wear and tear plus age start to catch up and interfere with your running. Your running style when you were in high school as compared to now being a full-grown adult is definitely different. As such, it is always important to modify your running style, training schedule and intensity to suit your body’s demands. Your friend’s running style and training regime might not work for you and vice versa because our bodies react differently under conditions of exhaustion, dehydration and stress.

In addition, setting new goals is necessary for progress and with the growing trend of social media running apps, you can set team goals with your friends and even send running challenges to them!

Gears – Needs or Wants?

Along the way as you develop your ‘engine’, you will definitely come across gears that can boost, enhance and even speed up your progress. Admit it, we are all guilty of falling for sports marketing gimmicks with fancy advertisements, attractive and cool product features paired with celebrity athlete ambassadorships. It is totally normal and common for everyone to do so.

However, not everyone will end up making a wise and value-for-money decision when it comes to purchasing gears that are suitable for their running needs, proficiency and priorities.

Dress for running, not for runway

Image credit: 123RF
Image credit: 123RF

Technical clothing is one of the most popular material worn by runners because they are extremely light weight, stretchable and non-bulky, as compared to our typical cotton t-shirts or tank tops. As such, even for runners in cold climates, a layer or 2 of thin technical wear tops would suffice in keeping them warm and comfortable for a good run. Night runners are also hyped on wearing reflective apparel that provide illumination to drivers and other road users as they enjoy their night activities.

As a result of market demands and effort to spice up the sports apparel industry, there has been a rising trend of fashion/sports cross-overs where fashion designers or artists collaborate with sports wear companies to develop new product lines. Yes they are attractive and enticing to purchase and collect. However, a wise choice would still be to access your running needs and see if both the style and substance of these products can contribute to your running progress. If they do, why not?

Training objective

Are you a trail runner? Tracker? Or a runner who wishes to exercise purely for fitness or losing weight? Sometimes there might be overlaps in your training objectives and goals as well. As such, it would be wise to prioritize these goals, then align them with your training regime. Take for example, you are a runner who loves training for trail and yet you compete for track events. Using the same pair of shoes for both running types is possible, however, why not get a pair for trail running and another for track so that you can develop your running skills properly? Wearing the wrong or worn-out gears can lead to increased risks of injury and mismatch of your training proficiency and gear.

Injury prevention

Image credit: 123RF
Image credit: 123RF

Compression tights, ankle and knee guards, Kinesiology Tapes – do you need them all? For runners who have old injuries or recurring discomfort, it is advisable that you use these supportive gear to prevent further injury and deterioration of discomfort. As for runners who do not really experience any discomfort or injuries, these supportive gears can help to reduce risks of experiencing injury during your trainings or races. However,you might want to try them on for a few sessions before your race date to ensure that you are used to the extra body-clinging materials and ensure that it does not interfere with your performance.

In conclusion, striking the balance between your running ‘engine’ and gears is a continuous process and it is definitely one that requires trial and error with some basic research on your own; sometimes the combination works perfectly while at times it results in a counter-effective situation. But all these experiences are exactly what makes our running journey special and interesting because you will never know what the next product or development in your running would be!