My Favorite Things For Running

"The Stash" A local favorite running trail 
I'm a minimal runner in many ways. Not only do I prefer minimal shoes or barefoot, but I try not to be a pack mule when I run. That means I usually run sans the technology or a ton of other gear. You won't find a big fat Garmin on my wrist and the only reason I bring my phone is in case I get lost or there's an emergency. Or if there's a big fat five foot rattlesnake in the middle of the trail that I come a couple feet from stepping on and I need to run back a couple hundred yards to facebook about it. Yeah. I did that. But I only facebooked about it because should it eat me alive (Seriously. That mother fucker looked like it had just swallowed a small deer) then people would know where to find my body. I happened to be running barefoot on the trails that day at sunset and could barely see the beast when I almost stepped on it. I don't think I've ever barefoot backpedaled so fast in my life!

There are times when I'll carry a pack and bring the ipod but that's only during an unusually long run which I almost never do. Even for my last long race I only carried two handhelds and broke out the ipod once for a small four mile section to get my running fiyah back.

Even with being as minimal as I am though its hard to avoid running without stuff so here are some "basics" that I use.

Running in the Buff
The Buff- I do like to run in the buff, but contrary to the fact that this blog is all about Running Naked On Sharp Pointy Stuff, I do not ACTUALLY run naked (except for my feet sometimes). Sorry to burst your bubble. I would probably be game for a naked run if the temps were perfect and mosquitos didn't find me so tasty and if it was, well... you know... legal. I've been using my old Merrell buffs that I've collected in swag from various races to carry my phone, keys, gels, etc... I slip it on over my waist and VOILA! it becomes a damn good race belt. It's actually better than any race belt I've ever tried and keeps stuff so close to my body that I forget its even there. Unless I'm carrying the kitchen sink it doesn't jiggle or smack me in the rear. This folded piece of knit tube fabric makes everything super accessible. I don't have to bother with zippers or velcro because the pocket is deep enough that nothing falls out. 

Gel Flask
Gel Flask - I hate the store bought gels and goos. Not only do I hate the taste of them but I hate having to deal with all the packaging and waste while I'm running. I don't like  sticky hands and I hate having leftover gooey crap in my pocket. I prefer to make my own gel and store it in a 5oz. gel flask. You can buy these flasks at most bicycle shops. I've found that one gel flask will get me through roughly about 15 miles. I prefer real food by far but this stuff has saved me from bonking on long runs. Here's my homemade gel recipe (which I've been known to add gin to for a little happy hour celebration ha!)...

Gel Iskiate Recipe

• 2 heaping tsp raw sugar mixed with about 4-5oz of water, boiled and reduced on the stove until its a syrup. About 8 minutes. (You may not need to do this if your sugar dissolves in water easily, but my raw sugar is large chunks so I thought it dissolves better this way.)

• 3 1/2 - 4 oz. water
(enough to almost fill gel flask)
• 1 Nuun tablet
• Juice of 1 lime
• 1 Tblsp Chia seeds
• Small pinch of salt

Fill the gel flask with the water. Add the Nuun tablet, syrup, lime juice, salt and chia. Shake and refrigerate until race day. I usually do this a couple days ahead of time.

Although I haven't tried it, my husband uses straight up frozen juice concentrate in his gel flasks for his long road rides and mountain biking excursions and he says it works just as well.

Trail Running Handhelds
Ultimate Direction and Camelbak handheld water bottles - I prefer to run with handhelds these days. I find it more comfortable than a hydration pack. I will often carry two handhelds (the Ultimate Direction and Camelbak) during ultras using one with electolytes to drink from and the other with water to drink or pour over myself. Although I prefer the Ultimate Direction bottle over my Camelbak because it fits my small hands better both have pockets that are perfect for carrying either small snacks or my electrolyte tablets. I've also been able to fit my gel flask into my Camelbak handheld pocket for easy access to my gel during a race. The Camelbak is harder to drink from for me which is why I use it for water only mostly to cool myself off. I prefer the soft pull up spout on the Ultimate Direction bottle. The Ultimate Direction bottle has an insulated sleeve and the Camelbak is an insulated bottle which keep my hands from freezing when its cold.

Nathan Women's Hydration Pack
Nathan Women's Intensity 2.0 Hydration Pack - I will wear my hydration pack for races where I don't want to bother stopping at aid stations or when I need to carry more than my pocket buff can handle. Rarely, if I need to carry extra food or clothing I will bring the pack but after reading Vanessa's recent post on handhelds I might try using Vanessa's trick of taking the bladder out and using the pack for lightweight items while carrying an extra handheld. This particular pack is designed for women and fits my small frame very comfortably. The thin, wide shoulder straps fit more like a vest than a pack. The bladder holds about 70 fl oz. and the pack has front pockets as well as a decent size back pocket. The stretchy nylon cord on the back is useful for tucking lightweight clothing into if I need to remove layers while running.

Little free packets of salt
Salt Packets - I don't normally carry salt pills. Instead I collect those little salt packets from In-N-Out Burger or other various fast food restaurants and tuck them in my pocket. I've used them on occasion when an aid station was out of salt pills and I like that I can take just a small amount if I find I'm craving salt or feel all sloggy in my stomach on a long run.

Arm Sleeves for Trail Running
Arm Sleeves - I borrowed some sleeves from one of my cycling shirts for one of my cold weather 50k runs and LOVED the fact that they were like adding another layer without well... adding another layer. When I shiver it wastes much needed energy. I hate being cold while I'm running, but there's nothing worse than overheating as well. So I prefer to dress in light layers that are easy to remove while running. Arm sleeves are some of the easiest to remove and lightest options to carry while running. They fit perfectly in my buff or I can even tie them to my pack.

Favorite Running Bikini
My Favorite Running Bra - I was getting pretty fed up this summer with boob sweat. How can I sweat when I don't actually have boobage? WTF?? So I decided to try running in my bikini. Well, the top anyway. It's water-proof, comfortable (hell I could probably go bra-less) and I don't sweat as much since its a string bikini and keeps me pretty cool. It is now my favorite hot weather running bra.

Trail Running Skirt - Brooks
My Brooks Running Skirt - This used to be my only running skirt up until a week ago when I bought another because I've decided that running skirts are very practical running wear. They usually include more pockets than the average running short (or at least the shorts I own) and they are the best clothing for peeing off trail standing up. Just move the undershorts aside and do your business. These are very lightweight and dry super quickly. The liner shorts in this skirt is a mesh short so its a little drafty but keeps me cool in summer and the fabric doesn't get sticky and shrinkwrap to my body when I sweat.

Funky socks and Merrell Pace Gloves
My Funky Running Socks and Merrell Pace Gloves - OK. I will admit to being not the most fashionable of runners on the trails. My style can be a little... well... funky. And as much as I like the Ink-N-Burn clothing, I will admit I'm not a huge fan of the style or performance fabric especially in dry 90 degree weather. I see ultra runners everywhere wearing the Ink-N-Burn clothing, but even with as original as it is, it just isn't me. Besides, it would totally clash with my choice of winter socks.

I even wore my funky socks when I was going exclusively barefoot for a while. I would cut the feet out and still have my knee highs to wear. And by the way, those are my Merrell Pace Gloves which happen to be my favorite trail running minimal shoe - by default really - since they are my only trail running shoe. Still, they've been a superb shoe so far and I will continue to use and abuse them.

Zaps Threads Tee
Zaps Threads Shirt - And how can a shirt like this NOT be my favorite? *grin* Its a Zaps Threads original and even though I wasn't too impressed with Spreadshirt's softened printing on this cotton fabric I think its still fun to wear. I think the digital direct printing on the American Apparel fabric is WAY better. 

And Yes. I run in cotton. For me its cooler for the hot, dry summer months especially once I pour a little water over myself. I prefer the performance fabrics in colder weather.

VANS - My favorite gym shoes
Vans Shoes - The best shoe and my all time favorite for lifting and gym work are my well loved Vans. Although I was told straight out by one of the gym employees that "those shoes are inappropriate for the gym" these have been the best shoes EVER for lifting, squatting, lunges, jumps or basically anything that requires proper foot position. My Merrells have a slightly curved up toe box which throws my balance off slightly while doing heavy lifts. Since my feet still pronate I'm working on keeping a strong foot position while doing these movements which will hopefully strengthen my feet and help with my pronation. Its easier to keep a strong foot position in an already flat shoe. Fighting to flatten my foot in a curved up toe box doesn't help me and makes lifting correctly hard to do. I loved these shoes so much I wore a hole in them and had to patch them up with a heart.

Luna Sandals
Luna Sandals - I had to replace my last pair of running huaraches. I had to replace them because I broke them and I loved them. I scored some Luna sandals during a big 50% off promotion and the Luna Monkeys made these custom sandals for my teeny tiny feet. The thing that I love about these sandals is that they are very comfortable especially between my toes which means running the downhills isn't as uncomfortable as it has been in the past with my previous huaraches. Although I haven't worn these for a long run yet, I'm considering wearing them for my 50k at Born To Run next year.

My Hobby Joggar Sweatshirt - This sweatshirt was given to me by my friends Jason and Shelly Robillard shortly after meeting them for the first time at the New York City Barefoot Run last year. This is the most coveted running related clothing item in my closet since its a reminder of two incredibly inspiring people and some seriously good times. The Robillards are and always will be a permanent part of my barefoot and ultra running family.


  1. Your idea of using buff as waist-pouch is awesome.
    I too will find some cloth for myself. :)

    1. Trunil - I was thinking the other day that making my own buff would be pretty easy. It would be even more awesome if Spreadshirt sold them as an accessory item that I could print my designs on. :-)

  2. Hmmm the buff huh...dont know if I got what it takes to run in that...been letting myself go lately :P

  3. Hey,

    Those socks made me dizzy! I've been MIA lately. Need to catch up with everyone. Hope you're doing well.


    1. Haha! Imagine what they look like while I'm running! Good to hear from you Ken! Hope you're happy and healthy these days. :-)

  4. I love love love funky socks! I cut the feet off too to go barefoot :) Great minds! Oh and speaking of great minds, a bikini top is my favorite bra too when I wear one and I must say you are freakin hot!! Seriously your abs are gorgeous!

    1. Thank you Angie!!! I know... I am so bummed that we haven't actually met. I think we have so much in common. :-)

  5. I usually only carry my iPhone and a house key and I've never really found a solution that I liked until now. I tried the buff on my run today and it is EXACTLY what I've been looking for. I'm kicking myself for not having thought of it myself since I have a half dozen of the Merrell buffs lying around the house (and just got more this last weekend at the Down & Dirty). I just wish you had told me about it earlier since now I have an Amphipod iPhone case that's never going to get used!

    1. Awesome!!! I'm so glad the buff worked out for you. I can't believe what a great solution that's been. I used the amphipod case too up until several months ago when I tried out the buff. I will never use the amphipod again either.

  6. Thanks for posting the gel recipe. I'm going to be crazy and try it out for the first time during a 15K race this weekend. I'm good with all of the ingredients, so I shouldn't have any problems. Your post also reminded me that I need to find another Ultimate Direction bottle. It seems like you can't buy their bottles without also buying the hand strap, which I already have.

    1. Aaron - let me know what you think of the recipe and if you change it up at all. I'm curious how it works out for you. Also, you can use more or less chia seeds to adjust the liquidity of the gel. Sometimes I prefer it to be slightly more gel-like and will add more seeds for that.

  7. So, I made the gel Saturday night before my race the next morning. I was lucky and found some NUUN tablets at the expo, which was otherwise a total bust. I got the berry flavored ones. I ended up using table sugar to make the simple syrup. In reading through so other DIY gel recipes, it seems like maltodextrin is the sugar of choice and there are a few sites that sell gel bases. Since I only needed enough gel for one morning, I figured table sugar would do just fine. Other recipes also seemed overly complicated.

    Everything went together super easy. I ended up putting more chia seeds in the mix because a) I like them and b) i thought that the gel they make when hydrated might make the end product thicker. I also fresh orange juice because I did not have a lime on hand. I refrigerated the mix over night and threw it in a bottle before I left for the run. I just used one of our kids' old sippy cups. Worked just fine. At mile 6 (of 9), I cracked open the gel and guzzled it down. It was thinner than packet gels, but that was welcome at the time. Packet gels can be hard to swallow, especially on the move. The flavor of the NUUN gels was pretty strong, and the mix was uber sweet, but it was tolerable. I felt the effect within a couple of minutes. I polished off the rest of the gel at mile 8. I definitely liked this recipe and will use it again. I also would prefer it to be a little thicker and will try more seeds to see if that works. Too many more and it might get chewy.

    I can see how this would be good with a little tequila thrown in.

    Thanks again for the recipe.

    1. Aaron - Glad it worked out for you. After you make it the first time you'll find you start tweaking the recipe to your liking. I agree that it can be uber sweet (which is the point I guess when you're using it more in a shot form as fuel) so I always follow up a shot of my gel with drinking a swig of plain water. You can try using only a half of the nuun tablet which is what I did the first time I made it or reduce the amount of sugar since you were also using orange juice which has quite a bit of sugar in it as well.

  8. Not sure how i missed this post but whatevs.. I'm definitely going to try that gel recipe. What I really wanted to comment on was how ignorant the kid at the gym was about your vans. Simple flat bottomed shoes like Vans of Chuck Taylors are PERFECT for lifting. Unless you buy lifting shoes your Vans are a perfect choice. Barefoot would also be great but that's against most gyms rules.

    I did a clothing optional 5k this summer at a nudist resort. Running in the buff was great hanging out afterwards for the results was the only time that I felt like putting clothes on. It's not comfortable sitting on the ground on your bare ass, there's a reason all the nudists carry towles everywhere they go.


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