Runners are their own tribe, I think. To turn what seems like a bit of torture and turn it into a point of pride and a source of joy is one reason so many are drawn to it. We have been constantly impressed by our good friend and barefoot runner Chris Gkikas and we've asked him to pick 5 things to buy the runner in your life.
"I've been running for about two years. The first couple months were in shoes. The next month was spent recuperating from a swollen knee, during which time I found some YouTube videos about barefoot running and read 'Born to Run.' I've been running (and living) barefoot ever since.
My bare feet are undoubtedly what surprise people the most. People sometimes seem very shocked to see me running without shoes. Also, that I love running as much as I do, since so many people see it as a torturous exercise chore."
1. Born to Run
Aside from being a gripping and entertaining read, nothing will light a fire under you about running like Christopher McDougall's 2009 bestseller, "Born to Run." It's the Kool-Aid of the recent surge in interest in the sport, and will no doubt fill you with a desire to find the Zen state of distance running. Aside from its colorful cast of characters and inspiring story, it contains a great deal of practical training advice, including a provocative look at modern running footwear that can (and should) lead you to make a much more informed decision of which (if any) running shoes to purchase (and how to run in them.)
Unless you're a complete aesthete, you'll probably be interested in knowing how fast and far you've run. A reliable GPS watch like the Garmin 410 with Heart Rate Monitor will not only record your pace and distance, but how hard your body worked. A heart rate monitor is one of the best ways to keep from overtraining, which can lead to injury. Garmin uses wireless ANT technology to sync to your computer and upload the rich data to Garmin Connect where you can track, analyze and share your runs.
3. Moisture-wicking clothes
If you live in warmer climes, you will very quickly learn a lesson about wearing cotton clothes on a run. That added weight of your sodden tee-shirt flapping and clapping with every stride is going to do far less to make you a stronger runner than an aggravated, soggy one. You can go plain-Jane or neon-plaid, as long as it's "moisture-wicking" tech material (yay plastic.) Check out the expressive looks you can create from California-based apparel company INKnBURN.
4. Body Glide
It won't be long after you begin running that your distances will begin to lengthen. The longer you're out there, the more likely you are to experience the horrors (the HORROR) of chafing. The sensation is one you'll not want to experience twice. Of course, it usually occurs in your nether regions. To ward off this uncomfortable issue, there is the standard lubricant: Body Glide. Don't be caught on a long run without having applied liberally to any part of your body that's going to experience any friction at all.
5. The Stick
An inevitable byproduct of running is muscle soreness and tightness. After all, you used to not be a runner and now you are. That transition may've taken place in your head already, but your (possibly) long neglected legs, hips and joints will take time to adapt to the new rigors you'll be subjecting them to. And not just your legs. Your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes (oh, the glutes) will thank you over and over if you take care of them with self-massage. Tight muscles and tender spots can be gently worked out with a tool many runners swear by, The Stick. It's billed as a toothbrush for the muscles, and that's no understatement. The foam roller is also a great therapy tool when used correctly, and will come in handy as you continue to push your personal limits.
Chris' proudest running achievement would is the Ragnar Relay last year that he ran each of his three legs barefoot, including the 10 mile night run the length of Islamorada.
He says that if he had to stop running, he would miss the charged, amplified blood flow feeling that stays in his body for hours after a run. Also, the peace and quiet.