HELP FOR THE ROAD
A cardinal rule of running is to never line up at a race wearing brand-new shoes -- that’s begging for blisters. But if you’re running the L.A. Marathon this Sunday, it’s not too late to pick up some small, no-risk, last-minute accessories that could make those grueling 26.2 miles a lot less stressful. These items can help prevent the bonk, eliminate painful chafing, and have you crossing the finish line looking forward to doing it again next year.
-- Roy M. Wallack
Nip Guards: Tiny, sweat-proof, adhesive bandage disks that protect men’s nipples from rubbing against a shirt during long runs, preventing abrasion and bleeding.
End the friction
Likes: Low-cost solution to a common, but often forgotten, marathoning problem. Nips apply easily and comfortably to the areola and have a built-in cavity to accommodate the nipple tip. They even stay on underwater, making them practical for triathletes.
Price: $8.95 for 10 pair. (877) 369-1600; www.nipguards.com.
Sportslick Pocket Slick: Small 0.75-ounce, 4-inch-long tube of waterproof lubricant gel made of silicone, aloe and petrolatum (the main ingredient in Vaseline).
Likes: Stops chafing. Stays on well. Feels smooth. Apply pre-race (and mid-race if necessary) to underarms, undercarriage, inner thighs, feet, toes and other problem areas of skin-on-skin and skin-on-clothes rubbing. Washes off with soap and water. Pleasant vanilla scent.
Dislikes: Can lose the screw-on cap; a pop-top lid would be more convenient.
Price: $4. (800) 946-6146; www.sportslick.com.
H2O on the go
Body Bottle: Form-fitting, plastic, 10-ounce flask worn attached to an elastic Velcro arm band.
Likes: For some, an alternative to hip-belt hydration. No irritating jostling at your hips, as with some fanny pack bottles. Small enough not to throw off your stride while holding enough fluid to quench you between water stations. Convenient size for under-one-hour training runs; good stability for trail running. Bikers, hikers and paddlers may find it convenient. If you’re so inclined, it’ll fit around your ankle and tuck under a pant leg too.
Dislikes: Pulling the bottle off the Velcro armband with your opposite-side hand disrupts your stride. The old-fashioned twist-off bottle cap (instead of a water bottle-style pull tab) is a hassle -- you could drop it -- and requires two hands to use. The armband may lead to chafing under the armpit area.
Price: $10.95. (202) 558-6488; www.bodybottle.com.
Enlyten Electrolyte SportStrips: Edible, paper-thin, fast-acting, 1 3/4 -inch by 1-inch sheets embedded with sodium, potassium and other electrolytes that are lost in sweat, often causing you to hit the wall.
Likes: Easy to use -- slide small plastic cassette open with one hand like a tiny desk drawer, then draw a single sheet out with a wetted thumb. Insert the calorie- and sugar-free strips between tongue and cheek, and let dissolve. Nearly weightless; easy to carry. Dislikes: Requires two hands to use. So small that you may lose it in a fanny pack. You have to fight the urge to slosh the sheet around and swallow it, which could reduce its effectiveness. (The product maker claims it replaces lost minerals faster and more efficiently than energy drinks by bypassing the stomach and going directly into the bloodstream through the cheek walls.) Quite -- maybe too -- sweet. Lack of carbs speeds electrolyte absorption, but provides no energy boost.
Price: $8.99 for three cassettes of 18 strips each. (888) 570-4776; www.enlytenstrips.com.
A safer way to listen
AirDrives Interactive Earphones: Speakers that rest on the outside of the ear, not in the ear canal, letting you hear ambient sound along with your music.
Likes: Safer for your eardrums and for running on the streets, because you can more easily hear traffic. Can be worn tight or loosely.
Dislikes: Big money for earphones; you can buy two iPod Shuffles for this price.
Price: $99. www.AirDrives.com.
An energy boost
Hydrapak Soft Flask: Soft, flexible, nearly weightless urethane flask with bite valve that holds 8 ounces of energy gel.
Likes: Simple to use. No mess. Clever valve releases gel only when you slightly bite on it, then suck -- not when flask is squeezed. Can be used for water and energy drinks, too.
Dislikes: Cleaning this thing won’t be easy if not washed out immediately after a run.
Price: $9.99. (510) 595-8318; www.hydrapak.com.
Stow your stuff
Amphipod AirFlow Endurance: Compact, snug-fitting fanny pack with large zippered compartment and two external quick-access pockets for all the essentials.
Likes: Enough room to hold most of the stuff mentioned above, as well as a couple of energy bars, cash, keys and phone. Comfy and bounce-free.
Price: $27. (800) 806-1288; www.amphipod.com.
Irvine-based endurance cyclist and runner Roy M. Wallack is the coauthor of “Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org