by John Schrup
I’ve never really been a shopper. Oh sure, back in high school or college, if someone I was interested in at the time said, “Hey, I want to go to such-and-such to get a little black dress or some Gloria Vanderbilts, and maybe do some other shopping, want to go?” I’d say, of course, “Hell yes.” My thinking was that if I could endure this, “shopping,” that she was so interested in, then maybe it would get me a bit closer to a little somethingsomething that I was interested in. Wait. Am I allowed to talk about this in a family setting? Ask editors.
So I’ve never really liked shopping. But, I’m not really into “things.” If there is something I really want, and pretty much know that I’ll die a horrible, tragic death if I don’t get it, like, I don’t know, some Japan-only issue racing flats or something, I’ll go get them. (Still don’t have them, because for me to buy those would be financially foolish, and the word is that they aren’t even made for US size 12.) For the record, several of the shirts I own and wear regularly were purchased when I was in high school or college, which tells you how much I like to shop. I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was so don’t even ask. Duran Duran was big.
I do, however, like to shop for others. One of the greatest pleasures is seeing people smile when they receive a gift. I enjoy other people’s birthdays, loathe my own. And so when it is time to buy things for others, I have no problem strolling around here and there looking for just that perfect thing, whatever it may be.
And I still don’t know nothing about no little black dresses, but I do know about running footwear, apparel and accessories, so let me be of some help to you with some things that I would buy for others, and that you might want to buy for your favorite people. Who knows, there might be a little somethingsomething in it for you if you do. Note: Have to ask editors if this is ok to include before publishing.
Soleus GPS 1.0 $100 Several years ago I had a Garmin, one of the first incarnations of the runner-friendly GPS thingys. Yeah, I liked it. Yeah, it was techy, but it weighed almost 9 lbs and it felt like I was wearing a deck of cards on my wrist. But I’m also a cheap sumbitch, and when the Garmin went dodo, I wasn’t about to shell out money for something like that again. Mostly, however, I’m a believer that too many people rely too heavily on their GPS devices to tell them how to run. And so when Soleus introduced the 1.0 a few months back, at only $100, I thought, “Hell yes GPS!” It is as simple and as functional as I want. Real time pace function is accurate enough to reinforce what I already know; distance is spot on. I can set the unit function for Km splits, since I have to do less math that way (metric FTW!) and makes me feel so Euro. You can’t upload the data to the computer, which sucks if you’re into that kinda thing, but all I want is simple reinforcement of the effort anyway. And I like Soleus because they are local (local FTW!) and if anything were to go wrong with it, it is much easier to get it replaced. (We’ve had people from Soleus hand deliver our orders for us!) GPS for Luddites, or something.
Saucony Women’s Strataflex Full Zip Hoody $75 Saucony’s apparel is really coming around, and like their shoes, they are quietly making some of the most functional, most fashionable stuff around. They make some men’s and women’s shorts that I would say are among the best, period. This hoody has some horizontal texture to add a level to the hipness factor, and the cut of is snug and slimming. It could be worn either as a completely functional yet hip running jacket, or as a simply hip zip up hoody when you want the fine folks at Whole Foods to know that your workout gear does probably not include jorts.
Brooks Men’s Essential Run Vest $55 Simple, functional. In Austin, because of the humidity and wide-ranging temps, it is possible to begin the run at 35 degrees and finish it at almost 60. I know. So when you start, the air is biting and the lungs burn; as you finish, you are a sweaty, steamy dynamic furnace. This is exactly why I go for a vest on most mornings when the temperature requires layers. On really, really cold mornings, if I’m going a bit longer, I’ll do a short sleeve with arm warmers under a long sleeve, under the vest. When it warms up to just really cold, the arm warmers come off for the last hour and I don’t feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust whilst on the corner waiting for the light. 360 degree reflectivity assures me that when I get hit by the car in the dark, the driver will know that I had on a really cool, functional vest from Brooks.
Manzella Hatchback Glove $30 For a while, I lived at altitude, where in winter the mornings could be the kind of cold that shatters yourself worth as a runner and makes you believe, if even for a moment, that treadmills are not such a bad thing. But because it was a dry cold, as soon as the sun rose over the mountain, it got a might warm to be all bundled up. About that time I got some of these here convertible running gloves. Brilliant. When you walk out the door, the windproof shell pulls over the fingers , keeping your ego intact and frostbite at bay. And as soon as it warms up, you stuff the retractable shell in the pocket on the back of the glove, and your are still as warm as you need to be without your hands swimming in sweat. I was afraid that when I moved here, I would no longer be able to sport these bad girls, but our varied temperatures and humidity-heavy cold makes them perfect for here too. Start warm, finish comfortable.
Nike Women’s Therma Fit Mid Layer Jacket $65 Yeah, so this isn’t really a running jacket, but it is exactly what you need for post-run, while waiting for your double dirty chai or comparing splits from the progression run on your Soleus GPS 1.0. It’s a light fleece zip with a hip faux down collar, to keep the neckal region cozy and warm. It is at once really dépêche mode and entirely functional, which is always a plus if you’re going straight from a workout to the Symphony Ball, or whatever it is you hoity toity people do. Nike apparel is arguably the best when it comes to that combination of things, so you really can’t go wrong with it. Well, if you went pantsless, that would be wrong.
Nike Women’s Thermal Full Zip Jacket $85 If I were a woman, I would wear this jacket, like, forever. Seriously, it is like a comfortably worn denim jacket or familiarly broken-in boots, maybe that perfectly soft t-shirt that you’ve had for 5 years. It is one of those pieces that you could wear every day if you didn’t have friends who would acknowledge it publicly. You can run in it. You can hang out in it. You could talk to that guy you see at Book People always reading the Paleo diet books in it. You could pick up your kids in it. You could do interpretive dance in it. You could get arrested in it. So what I’m saying is that the versatility is really high with this one. I’m not a woman, but I’m going to buy one, because I’m ok with that. And it’s Austin, so no one will notice.
VESPA $6.75 Those of you who are around Rogue for any continuous length of time know how I feel about carbohydrate intake. I’m not going to go into that here, but suffice it to say that I switched to VESPA a few years back and the only gels I’ve eaten since were as taste tests only so I can make flavor recommendations to customers. VESPA is an all-natural amino acid complex that enhances fat metabolism. English, per favore! you say. Well, you’ve got enough fat stores in your body to last you well beyond what it will take you to run a marathon, Rogue trained and with appropriate CHO supplementation. But if you’re doing anything two hours or less, I don’t wanna see a gel anywhere. If you eat the typical, carb-heavy American diet, VESPA won’t work as well, since your bloodstream is already overflowing with sugars and insulin, but if you eat a reasonable, food-based diet (rather than food products), VESPA is the shizz.
Brooks Pure Flow $90 This is the go-to from the new Brooks line of biomechanically appropriate footwear. If you wanted to, you could say it is the Brooks version of the Saucony Kinvara, both with 4mm differentials. But whereas I think the Kinvara is closer to a really well cushioned racer, the Flow is definitely a trainer. Sure, it’s lighter than most trainers so some will look at it as race worthy, but the Flow is a much more solid, durable, protective shoe, and one could expect many, many more miles out of it than the Kinvara. Plus, when jogging in the Kinvara, it feels much more cumbersome than the weight would suggest. Not until I really get rolling does it disappear on the foot. No matter the pace, the Flow feels clean on the foot, though I really think that they could do a bit better in making the shoe a bit smoother. A little more ground contact on the outsole, perhaps. This shoe should really become the go-to from Brooks. Ghost? Pffft! A little tweaking, and they could build a whole line around it. It’s that good.