I follow quite a few blogs and running websites on Facebook, and some of the bigger ones often encourage social media interaction with open questions such as “you know you are a runner when…” For me, you know you are a runner when almost your entire Christmas wish list is made up of running products.

The first item on the list was a new heart rate monitor. In general, my previous HRM has seemed relatively stable, although it has had a tendency to spike or drop when you wouldn’t expect it to. The strap itself however is falling apart and has been repaired with super glue in a number of places. Nowhere that would affect readings but, as it is now a few years old I decided a new one was required. After telling my wife what I wanted, she admitted that she wouldn’t know where to look and what for, and so told me to get the one I wanted and pass it on to be wrapped. I did a bit of research and looked at the Polar’s and the Wahoo TICKR due to their reputation for accuracy. Although I’ve yet to try it, the Fenix 5X supports Bluetooth connectivity, so this widened the options. In the end though, I went for Garmin’s own HRM-RUN. The main reason for this was continuity. I figured, rightly or wrongly, that two Garmin devices would interact far more reliably than cross brands, particularly with recent connectivity issues with other Garmin’s. The fact that, with the HRM-RUN, I can now utilise the Garmin Running Power app is merely a bonus. I’m really not convinced by the whole running with power movement. The fact that different companies use different algorithms and return different figures surely mean the figure displayed cannot be in Watts, and therefore cannot be actual power. I understand those that use Stryd speak very highly of it, in particular over Garmin’s version, but I still have serious doubts, and will have for some time. Until all developers can produce results that are measurable with each other, as they are with cycling, I will not be bought into it. I will however track it as a metric in the background of my runs.

The second item on my list came courtesy of my mum. I tend to change my trainers every 450-500 miles, which generally means that a pair last me 6-7 months. With this in mind, I knew that a new pair would be required around Christmas time. Again, my mum asked me to go out and get what I wanted and pass them on. I had a pair of Asics GT-2000 a few years back and really struggled with suspected shin splints. I changed my footwear to a pair of New Balance Vongo’s and gradually the shins got better. When it came to renewing, I went for the same pair and have now been running injury free for just over a year. In a case of ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ I decided to go with the Vongo’s again this time round, although these are the v2 so may be slightly different. Same size, same brand, same model though, hopefully all will be fine.

The other items aren’t quite Christmas presents in the sense that I have gone out and bought them for myself, although admittedly with money that I have received over the festive period. The first of which is what can be described as an ultra vest. Of course, I have no desire to participate in any ultra marathons, but I wanted a lightweight running backpack that could carry a few items, along with some fluids, during sessions such as running to work and hiking. Upon looking at what was available, I was surprised to find out how expensive these items tend to be. Ultimate Direction seem to be one of the market leaders and their cheapest version is around £50, whilst they have a number of models in the £100 bracket. This is far more than I was hoping to pay. I therefore reverted to Decathlon, and found one for just £25. I’m a big fan of Decathlon and most of my running kit is of their own brand, Kalenji. It’s relatively cheap but tends to be of quite good quality too. Highly recommended. Anyway, the chosen pack has everything I need and, while it may not be made to the same quality as the Ultimate Direction equivalents, it will certainly be more than adequate for the amount that I intend to use it.

The final item in the photo is a pair of gloves. Again, my previous pair are a number of years old and are beginning to develop holes, somewhat affecting their ability to keep my hands warm. After struggling online (Wiggle seem to be out of all running gloves on their site), and in the trusty Decathlon store (none left in my size), I went for a pair of Ronhill Wind Blockers that I found in a running store in Birmingham. I don’t imagine they will be 100% effective, but they feel quite warm and should do a worthy job of protecting my hands during those icy early morning runs.

On top of these, I also have a few pairs of Inov-8 socks on order from Wiggle, along with a couple of light arm bands for running along path-less roads in the early hours. The only other thing on my ‘want’ list now is a footpod. It’s another item that I’m not entirely convinced I need, but I do have problems with pacing when running in shielded areas. There are a number of specific areas on some of my regular routes where the F5X struggles. There’s also the treadmill, where the watch really struggles to calibrate, despite several attempts. Whilst this isn’t an issue indoors as the treadmill tells you your pace, it does raise questions surrounding the pacing when outdoors and with lost GPS. The footpod would of course help with this, preventing any unnecessary chasing of seemingly lost pace. I went through a short tunnel recently and the displayed pace dropped to 10:15/mile. Once it had caught up at the other end, it was in fact almost three minutes quicker. Slightly disappointing. So do I need a footpod? Absolutely not. But would it help? Most certainly. It is my birthday at the end of January…

Merry Christmas to you all.

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