For those of you in the US: Hope you had a great Thanksgiving with friends and family with lots to be grateful for.
A few years ago I wrote a short Christmas shopping guide for the endurance athlete that has everything (OK, almost everything) and I had a few requests to do another one for this year. The funny thing is that I would put most of the same things on the list again. Foam rollers are still something that I consider almost mandatory for endurance athletes; a Road ID bracelet is an excellent idea; and compression socks are still a good tool to help with recovery and keeping the legs fresh after long days (CEP and 2XU are still my favorites for sports compression socks). However there are a few new tools in those categories I would recommend as well:
New in the world of self
torturefascial release is the R8 Roller. The R8 roller uses powerful springs to provide the appropriate amount of pressure on the muscles. It works great on the entire leg (especially on the hip flexor attachments and IT band) and I have also found it to help with wrist extensors in the forearm. This would be a great tool for the cyclist, runner, or triathlete. These are primarily available online but if you live in the Monterey Peninsula area the Treadmill in Carmel is a stocking dealer (they also have the best selection of compression socks in the area).
110% Compression gear are not your typical compression clothes. They are compression clothing with pockets for ice packs to provide recovery for sore muscles the same way that an ice bath will help push blood near the skin surface into the body of the muscle to provide nutrients for tired and damaged muscles. Combining compression to help venous return with cold treatment is a very good way to speed recovery. I could see this product being extremely valuable to athletes on the drive home after a long road race.
After reading the last few articles I posted, you could probably guess what my next recommendation would be. A device to measure heart rate variability can be extremely valuable to an athlete. My suggestion would be an Omegawave device for both android and iPhone, or Sweetbeats for iPhone.
A while back I also wrote an article on quantifying activities both in sport and out to get a better a complete picture of the athlete. The two devices I would recommend would be the Basis Band and the Jawbone Up. The Basis band has become my go to device in this category. It tracks heart rate, body temperature, perspiration rates, steps, ride time, run or walk time, and movement to give an extremely accurate estimate of calorie expenditure. All of this data syncs via blue-tooth to your smart phone, or through a USB cradle to your computer, and is accessible both in their app and on the web. The Jawbone is a close second but it is a bit more simplistic only measuring movement. Even with just measuring movement, the Jawbone does a good tracking steps, movement, and sleep to provide a lot of useful information. The Jawbone app is also a bit nicer than the Basis app.
Of course a Burnham Coaching pre-built training program or gift certificate would be an awesome gift for the self-coached athlete looking for some training direction, or any cyclist or triathlete wanting a professional bike fit. Coaching has been shown to provide more improvement on a dollar-to-dollar basis than money spent on any other piece of gear. It many not keep you warm on a cold winter night, but it can make you a faster on a warm summer day.
One of the nicest pieces of kit for this time of the year is a good jacket to keep you warm and dry while putting in the miles. There are a lot of good options out there these days but I have been really impressed with the Zoncolan jacket from Castelli. It is warm without being too warm, provides rain protection while still being a bit breathable, and fits well. It is a bit pricey (not Rapha pricey) but well worth it in my opinion.
Have any other ideas you want to pass along? Leave them in the comments below.
Shop local ya all!