Recently I humblebragged about running over 5.000km in a little over 3 years1.
One of the questions I got at the time was what shoes I run with. I’ve been asked a variation of what my running gear is a couple of times so I decided to write a short blog post about it.
When I decided I’ll start running in June 2014 I first needed to get some running shoes. I read a bunch of reviews and forum posts as one does and thought I knew it all. Then I came across this (at the time) less known brand On. Their shoes were completely different from anything I ever saw. Their main marketing pitch were the clouds which enable you to land soft but push off hard. It made sense. They also had quite low heel-to-toe drop which is what I was looking for so I bought my first Cloudsurfers.
I loved them. So much so that I soon ordered another pair. And then one more. And then they redesigned it and I ordered yet another one. This shoe is the first shoe in which I enjoyed running. It might be the shoe it might be my state-of-mind but it worked so I didn’t change it2.
I did try other shoes here and there but I’ve never committed. For example for trail runs I bought Salomon Speedcross 3. These are widely regarded as one of the best trail shoes you can have. And to be honest - I never liked them. They seem clunky and unstable and don’t even have that amazing of a grip. So when On came out with their own trail line Cloudventure - I knew I had to have them. And again - love ‘em. Super light, super responsive, very comfortable, and most importantly, they’re incredibly grippy.
Last year On introduced a new style of shoe - Cloudflow. It looked like a cross between Cloudsurfer and Cloud - their light shoe. It used tech they call CloudTec® Zero-Gravity. That means that the clouds in the sole are not made out of rubber but out of EVA foam. This makes the shoe lighter and more responsive. I was skeptical at first but after running over 1.000 km in them I recently ordered another pair. To me, this is the best running shoe I ever had. It even got a gold ISPO award.
While Cloudsurfer is great it’s not very forgiving to bad running technique which is why I rarely recommended it. But the Cloudflow doesn’t care what you do. It always gives you the best it possibly can. So I can (and do) recommend it to anyone that will listen.
In May 2014 I said to my parents that all I need are running headphones and then I’ll start running. This wasn’t the first time I said something like that so they didn’t take me seriously. To be completely honest, neither did I. I expected to give up after a week or two. So I wanted something with good price/performance ratio. I settled for Pioneer SE-E721-K. They aren’t pretty but are cheap, sweat-proof, comfortable, provide stable fit, and have dual coiled cords. These prevent them from pulling hard on your ears no matter what you do. They were not only great for podcasts and audiobooks but delivered solid performance for music as well.
About a year later it was clear that I’ll stick with running so when I was thinking of upgrading my headphones I was prepared to spend more. Being more flexible on money I could reach for the ultimate freedom: cordless. If you read my blog in the past you’d know what my pick was: Jaybird X2. Everything about them is great: sound quality, battery life, Bluetooth performance, and comfort. But they died on me and I entered the support from hell.
You’d think that after experience like that I wouldn’t go near that company again. I researched and tried a shit ton of headphones. But…well…Jaybird is the best at what they do. Bar none. So now I have Jaybird X3. They have even better sound quality, are even more comfortable and lighter, and have the same amazing battery life. I don’t know how they do it but Jaybird sure knows how to make sport headphones. Look no further. Just hope you won’t have to deal with their support. 🤷️
Run logging ⌚️
I began running with a running plan in the Runkeeper app. It was great at the time but the app got gradually worse. They did a very bad3 redesign user experience wise. They complicated screens while moving many features to their premium tier Go. For me personally it also got slow and unreliable. I was experiencing crashes every 3rd run or so. That’s a pain since then you can’t focus on your run but you have to fiddle with your equipment. I do not recommend it.
At that time I also got Pebble Time and Runkeeper promised deep integration. It never happened even though the feature request got a lot of upvotes. I went looking for alternatives and found one of my favorite apps to this day - iSmoothRun. The name is silly, but the app is anything but that. It’s extremely reliable, gets frequent updates, and supports all the 3rd party accessories you can imagine4. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who runs with an iPhone. It’s the best. It just is.
I wrote about the amazing pairing that is Pebble Time and iSmoothRun about 2 years ago and the app only got better. Pebble though - not so much. If you’re still reading you likely know the story but TL;DR - it’s gone. I replaced it with a real fitness watch - Garmin Forerunner 935. I wrote a blog post about it. About half a year later - I still love it. And my Forecast Line widget is doing great as well. It has over 10.000 users already. 😱️
Now this is a very personal category. You might care more about looks than function. I don’t 😅️ I have a lot of running shirts5 because that’s the easiest purchase to make. You also get one at every run event you sign up for. I do have a couple of favorites though.
My top running shirt that I can’t get anywhere anymore is one I bought completely randomly in an outlet. It’s called Adidas Adizero and it got that name by weighing nothing. It’s so light that it feels it’s made out of air. And it feels like air against the skin as well. It’s very hard to describe and I couldn’t find it online but it’s my go-to race shirt.
My other favorite shirt is not amazing performance-wise. But it has huge sentimental value. It’s the Berlin Marathon finisher T-shirt from last year.
Pants-wise I swear by CW-X Stabilyx 3/4 tights for the majority of the year. By far the best tights I ever had. But in the hot summer I wear those really short running shorts. They look way better on women than they do on me, but they’re very practical. 😅️
We’ve already established I’m an On fanboy so of course I bought their Running Shorts. The idea of 2-part pants is great but unfortunately I can not recommend those. I first got them in the M size and I couldn’t even get the inner part past my knees while the outer part was too loose. I exchanged them for a bigger L size and the inner part is still way too tight but the outer is even looser. I don’t know what they sized it on but it’s completely off.
I’ll keep this one short. For the long runs/races I prefer Gu Energy gels. I’ve tried many brands and flavors but these are the only ones that not only deliver the energy I need but actually taste good. My favorites? Salted Caramel, Tri-Berry, and Maple Bacon 🥓️.
But after long runs you do need more. And that’s when I drink High5 Protein Recovery. I recommend the Summer Fruits flavor. It’s great either with water or milk.
Being a geek I love data. And running sensors can get you a lot of data. The most important one in my opinion is heart rate. Now my Forerunner 935 measures this great6 on the wrist. But before that I relied on Polar H7. It’s precise, it works via Bluetooth, it’s widely supported, and the battery lasts for ever. If you want to up your game, look no further.
I also like to measure what my feet are doing. I used to measure just the cadence with the Adidas miCoach Footpod but that product since got deprecated. Not long ago I upgraded to MilestonePod. It’s very cheap7 and besides cadence also measures gait metrics like foot strike, ground contact, leg swing, rate of impact, and stride length. It’s got Bluetooth and recently got a firmware update that made it real-time. It can connect to many apps and fitness watches. It’s not the best sensor out there8 but it’s amazing for the price.
I usually don’t carry much things, but when I do, I put them either in a belt or a vest. For both of these I rely on Ultimate Direction. I love the brand not only because Scott Jurek9 is their ambassador, but also because their products are simply the best. From the materials to the functionality they are unrivaled. And they also look nice. The belt I have is Jurek Endure and the backpack/vest is Anton Krupicka Mountain Vest.
Rarely10 I go for a very long trail run. That’s when I need more water. And the best water reservoir/bladder by far is HydraPak Shape-Shift. It packs 1.5 - 2l of liquids and features this Shape-Shift tech that gives it a slim profile and increased stabilization. You have to try it to believe it. It’s also fully reversible which is a must with these things.
On late nights you need extra light. And for this look no further than Petzl Reactik +. For a lack of better term - this is a smart headlamp. It has 2 beams - one for distance and one for close-range. It features reactive lightning which means it adjusts on the fly how much and where it throws light. And it does it in a split second. What this means in practice is you turn it on when you start running under street lamps. It detects light so it’ll conserve battery by turning both beams off. Then when you approach the forest it’ll seamlessly turn brighter and brighter. And when you look at your watch it’ll turn off the distance beam so it will never blind you. It works like magic. Oh, and you can control it from your smart phone via Bluetooth. 📲
Want more? 😅️
Yes, I have even more. Things like hats, buffs, and other less important gear. I’m not so passionate about those.
I hope this blog post will help somebody. But if you want to know more about anything I’ve written feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email.
Now you’ll have to excuse me. All this writing about running gear has me lusting for a run. 🏃️
3 years 1 month and 7 days but who’s counting 😁️ ↩
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it ↩
In my personal opinion that is shared with many members of the community - there was a huge pushback ↩
Seriously, it’s not even funny anymore - I can’t close the drawer ↩
This varies from person to person but it is extraordinarily precise for me ↩
It used to be $20 but now it’s $25. Still very cheap for what you get. ↩
But more and more often ↩