Gear: Runners can get a leg up with handy devices
Reviews of Black Diamond Sprinter LED headlamp, Elliptigo 11R, Injinji Lightweight toe socks and Fuel Belt Revenge R20.
Runners need to take care of themselves. Danger lurks on every run: blisters, dehydration, drivers who can't see you. Survive those long enough and the miles you log will take a toll on your knees. The following devices can help.
Black Diamond Sprinter LED headlamp: Elastic headband with a white light in front and a red light in back for running safely after dark.
Likes: Convenient, effective and unobtrusive. The two lights — a bright (75 lumen) white beam and flashing red light — are powered by the same lithium polymer battery, which lasts five hours on full power and recharges in five hours in a small USB recharging dock (included). The front light dims when you hold a button and strobes when pressed twice. At 3.5 ounces, it's small enough that you don't feel it, and it doesn't bob on your head as you run. Rainproof and waterproof for 30 minutes when submerged to 1 meter (3.3 feet). Also great for nocturnal cycling or other activities.
Dislikes: Lacks a small carrying bag to store the USB cable, strap, recharging dock and headlamp; something will eventually get lost. Can't be used with conventional batteries.
Price: $69.95. (801) 278-5552; http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com.
The 20 mph knee saver
Elliptigo 11R: 11-speed elliptical bike with ultra-light carbon fiber foot pedals.
Likes: Although it doesn't replicate running as precisely as a treadmill, the Elliptigo's erect body position and no-impact elliptical motion is close enough that it's used by masters runners to get a near-running workout without joint strain. It's addictively fun and as fast as a bike. There's no real learning curve if you've been on an elliptical machine; neighbors of mine hopped right on, circled the block and didn't want to stop. Includes lightweight carbon-fiber crank arms and an 11-speed internal rear hub, shifted by fingertip levers, that handles high speeds and steep hills great — much better than the 8-speed model I reviewed two years ago. The adjustable handlebars fold down to 35 inches high.
Dislikes: Not light (39 pounds), not small (6 feet long and 49 to 55 inches tall) and not quiet (sounds like you're sawing wood, but you get used to it after a while). Also, it's not cheap (although the 8-speed version costs $1,000 less).
Price: $3,499. (858) 876-8677; http://www.elliptigo.com.
Minimalist blister fighters
Injinji Lightweight toe socks: Extra-thin five-toed socks made of a CoolMax-nylon-Lycra fabric.
Likes: Prevents blisters and provides super comfort at the same time. Toes can't rub together with Injinjis, and this super-thin model is ideal for wearers of individual-toed and other minimalist running shoes who want as much ground feel as possible but don't like sockless sweatiness. Comes in three lengths: No-show, mini-crew and crew.
Price: $10. (888) 465-4654; http://www.injinji.com.
Fuel Belt Revenge R20: A two-bottle padded running belt with zip pocket.
Likes: Bottles are easy to access, ideally shaped to minimize skin contact, just the size to get you to the next aid station and topped with a soft rubber valve that is easy to pull out with your teeth. The shaped, padded Velcro-closure belt fits snugly in the lower back and stays in place. The flexible plastic holster grabs the bottle and keeps it from falling out, no matter how hard it's bumped. The zippered pouch is big enough to hold a smartphone.
Dislikes: It takes a while to get the motion of pulling the bottle out and pushing it back into the holster.
Price: $39. (888) 666-2358; http://www.fuelbelt.com.
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