Unlike many of the faces you pass in the halls here at Running Warehouse, I haven’t actually been running my whole life. I started out as a gymnast, then transitioned to pole vault when I entered high school and took that through my collegiate career. Coming out of college, a puzzle emerged: How do I honor my lifelong dedication to competitive athletics without the same diligent regiment that organized sports always brought to my daily life? Cue my job here at Running Warehouse and the similarly emergent solution: running.
In truth, I wasn’t always certain that I would learn to love running the way I loved pole vaulting. I started getting accustomed to daily runs on the same few routes, but I took note of my halfhearted enthusiasm as I told people about my new sport of choice. As I wrestled with my newfound athletic pursuit, I wondered, did my competitive nature really have to get packed away along with my old jump spikes?
These days, I’m finding harmony in piecing that puzzle together one day at a time. I’ve learned to make all my runs into little games, competing daily without donning a bib or picking up a pole. On the roads, I practice running intervals, assessing how my body feels and trying to run a little faster for a little longer. On the trails, I pick one of the mountains around San Luis Obispo and set out for a new personal best time. With each ascent I memorize the twists and turns of the trail a little better, delighted each time I discover new ways to shave off seconds. As summer turns into fall, I’ll be gearing up for a new season of play with the following …
The Nike Zoom Fly is the perfect shoe for my typical road runs, where I aim to maintain energy through lots of tempo changes. Even on tired days, I look forward to getting out the door knowing that the Zoom Fly’s snappy forefoot will allow me to pick up the pace effortlessly. 33 millimeters of stack height in the heel keeps this shoe comfortable even on the inevitable slower days, making it versatile enough for almost all of my runs on the road.
When I’m on the trail, I’m looking to save time wherever possible: clambering over rocks, slashing through loose dirt, all while feeling nimble and quick on my feet. For these requirements, the Salomon Sense Ride is my Goldilocks shoe. New responsive VIBE technology with an astoundingly grippy Premium Wet Contragrip Outsole gives me the spring and agility of a high-end S-Lab racing shoe, but the additional foam and durable upper create a shoe that I can throw on every day without worrying about how my body will hold up.
I don’t want my socks to get in my way, and these Feetures Ultra Light No Show socks disappear as soon as my shoes slip on. Undoubtedly designed for high performance, an arch band and rear tab keep these sleek socks secure through all of my runs. They even boast a left/right specific construction for a truly dialed fit.
I’m not asking for too much when it comes to sports bras; I just want something minimally intrusive while still functional. The Oiselle Verrazano Bra is soft against your skin with a good amount of stretch, providing security as it conforms to your body without feeling suffocating. I love that I can be out for hours on the trails and never once think about the clothing directly against my skin.
During fall, crops and capris are my go-to length. It’s usually chilly when I start runs in the evenings, but keeping my ankles free ensures I never get too toasty. These Lucy Revolution Run Capris have everything I want in a crop. The material is supportive without being constrictive, and a back zippered pocket lets me pop in small items before longer excursions. Flattering stitching and a wide waistband are convenient pluses.
I try to remind myself that I’ll warm up a few minutes into my run, but it can be hard to get out the door when the fall breeze kicks in. This Patagonia All-Weather Zip Neck is a great solution, with thin, silky fabric that keeps off the chill without having to lug along a heavy extra layer. A quarter-zip design along with mesh panels along the side and back keep me from overheating once the blood is pumping.
While it may not make any fashion headlines, I often opt for a glove and short sleeve combo during the fall. Sometimes even a half-zip provides more heat than I’ll want on a run, but my hands still get terrible circulation and can prevent me from losing myself in the run even as the rest of my body warms up. I throw on a pair of thin gloves like the Brooks Dash Gloves, and I can run freely without numb fingers. It’s also easier to stow gloves in a pocket or waistband than it is to stow a whole jacket.
I can’t take down my own records without a trusty watch. I didn’t expect to need a GPS watch when I first started running, but I went for it and have been thrilled to be able to track all my workouts. It’s so easy to sync my Garmin to my phone after a run, making it a breeze to compare my favorite routes and check out my pace graphs to see where I can improve.
Elena has been running for two years since graduating from college, where she pole vaulted on the UCLA track team. At this time, she remains the only documented case of a pole vaulter learning to love running. She can hardly believe it either.