How many times do we find the perfect pair of shoes, backpack, or piece of gear, only to have a new model released and they’ve slightly modified it! Turns out that “slight” change ends up being the one thing you don’t like about the new model. This means heading out and searching for the “perfect” piece of gear begins again!
Recently, I have found myself trying to figure out the perfect gear again to run my next stage race, the Grand 2 Grand Ultra. I had it figured out perfectly, less than two years ago and here I am once again, pretty much starting over. I am continuously learning what works best for me and I am no longer afraid to do things differently.
Word of advice:
You should never write off something that might just need a slight modification to work for you!!
Below are a few of items I’ve modified or changed to work for me:
Backpack (my favourite was discontinued): I’m using the Ultimate Direction Fast Pack 25 for my upcoming stage race. Overall it’s a great pack with more than enough volume to carry everything I will need. My modification was to add a front storage using the Osprey UltraLight Grab Bag.
I know that I need easy access to my in race nutrition, phone, map etc. so having more storage upfront is important to me. Easy right?! BUT it wasn’t obvious at the beginning!!
Shoes: I was so disappointed when I learned that my favourite shoes had been discontinued! I’ve tried a number of new shoes and although most are “okay”, none of them have felt perfect for me. My wish list for the ideal shoe is a combination of a wider toe box, low heel to toe drop, good cushion, narrow heel cup, and good grip on the trails when required.
Last fall, my coach Ray, recommended that I try out the Sketchers Performance Go Run shoe for my road shoe. I was very skeptical about the shoes but decided to try them anyway. I ran a 100km road run with only 5km’s on the shoes and my feet felt amazing throughout the run. I couldn’t believe it! They have since become my road shoe of choice. Heading into the trails again this spring, I had to find a new trail shoe once again and Ray recommended the Sketchers GoTrail 2. Not bad. BUT definitely not perfect. I could wear them for about 20km’s, but after that my toes hurt. So when they released the brand new Sketchers GoTrail Max 5 with a wider toe box and more cushioning he suggested I at least take them out for a run!
They did a fantastic job and they felt absolutely amazing right out of the box! I was convinced these were the shoes. The only comment here is that they provide so much cushion I was still a tad cautious on the technical downhills as I could’t really “feel” the trails! I had made the decision to wear the trail shoes when Ray convinced me to try my Sketcher road shoes on the trails instead! What?! On the trails?? BUT I’ll slip!
He has never led me astray and I trust him, so I took them out to a 50K night trail run and again I was so surprised at how good they felt!! I had been struggling with my downhills for awhile, which was frustrating as the downhills are where I usually can make up time (I’m not super fast, but love technical downhills). While trying out new shoes I was suffering from bruised toes or painful soles as the shoes were not giving me the foot protection I needed to run on the trails.
They road shoes felt so comfortable on the trails! I felt more engaged and connected to with trail and in control again. Although, still not perfect as they do not have the upper protection on the top of the shoe if I was to hit something, however, they gave me back the confidence, and underfoot/toe comfort to run the downhills faster again. I will still use the GoTrail Max 5 shoes for long recovery runs, but believe I’ve decided to go against logic and use a road shoe instead of a trail shoe for my 7-day stage race.
Shirt Lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Shirt (Breezy):
I’ve loved the Lululemon Swiftly Tech Shirt since discovering it 2 years ago. For stage racing not only does it need to be comfortable but it also needs to be light weight, seamless (reduce friction/chafing), odour control and moisture wicking/dry fast!! The only complaint I had with the short sleeve shirt is that the sleeves were to short and after 2 or 3 days I started chafing. I spent months trying to find a replacement shirt when my son asked me, why don’t you buy a long sleeve shirt and have them tailor it!! Say What!!?? I can do that!!??
So off I went to our local Lululemon Store and sure enough they were more than willing to cut the long sleeve into a shorter sleeve for me! AND JUST LIKE THAT I have the perfect shirt for my race!
Sometimes, I believe we overthink things or put too many things in neat little compartments and do not even think to go outside the norm when looking at gear. We are all individuals with different needs, it only makes sense that we would require some items to be tailored or be very specific to us. Just because something works perfect for someone else, doesn’t mean it will be the right fit for you. It is important to test things out for yourself and figure out what works best for you! Don’t be afraid to mix brands, combine pieces, or use an item that is intended for something else to modify an existing item you own.
Training runs are the place to figure all of this out and when you do, don’t get too comfortable because within a year or two, it’s probably going to be upgraded to a new model or discontinued anyways 😉
What about you? Have you modified anything to make it work better for you? I would love to hear about it in the comments!