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As our editors round-up the things they loved in 2021—that got them out the door, kept them moving, and made swim-bike-run more enjoyable—be sure to check out our gear editor’s picks too and stay tuned for the rest of our editors’ much-loved items.
Nathan Pinnacle 12L Hydration Race Vest
I feel like I spent a sizable chunk of the spring and summer with this vest on my back as I prepared for Leadville 100—and dang, this thing is indestructible. It carries up to 1.6L (54oz) in the main bladder, with the option to carry another two 16oz flasks in the front pockets if needed. There are endless (well, actually 13) exterior pockets to stash away all your fuel and goodies, and even though (when fully packed up) it might look like you’re carrying a Thanksgiving turkey on your back, it’s remarkably easy to run with, has never ever chafed me (and I must have run hundreds of miles with it by now), and is convenient to pack, unload, and clean (simply get in the shower with it and, voila, you’re good). The folks at Nathan clearly spent some serious time, effort, and energy ensuring this vest was intelligently designed—and it shows.
Osmo Rapid Recovery
After big gym workouts or swim sessions, a couple of scoops of Osmo Rapid Recovery (chocolate flavor) thrown in a blender with milk, a banana, a squirt of honey, and a blob of peanut butter has become my go-to recovery shake. It packs a hefty protein punch (17g) together with carbs, caffeine, and sodium and it takes care of refueling in a quick, simple, and tasty way.
The more I use the FitrWoman app, the more I love it. Knowing how your menstrual cycle can impact you, your training, recovery, and performance seems like such a no-brainer to me—and the insights, details, and information that this app has has proved really helpful. Once you’ve plotted the dates of your last period into the calendar, it will give you info on your physiology (hormone levels, inflammation, recovery capabilities, appetite and cravings, potential for sleep disruption, mood changes), as well as training tips. It’s great to get a heads-up on the fact that a certain week is better than another for heavy lifting or high-intensity work, knowing that your body will get the greatest gains from this training at this time in your cycle. Perhaps most importantly (and helpfully), the nutrition section of the app points you in the right direction for what your body needs most of/more of at each stage in your cycle and can help you get ahead of PMS or disrupted sleep patterns. I will, most certainly, be diving into more of FitrWoman in 2022.
RELATED: Period Tracking for Female Athletes
This is my all-time favorite hydration drink—and I’m a self-confessed hydration nerd, so I realize I’m making a bold statement here, but Liquid I.V. can back it up. If you’re someone who struggles to drink enough or stay hydrated then, in short: You need this in your life. It comes in a range of good-tasting flavors (lemon-lime or passionfruit are my faves), is super easy to get down, and boasts rapid absorption of water and other nutrients into your bloodstream. Believe what it says on the packet: it works.
Tracksmith Twilight shorts & tank
$58 + $52, tracksmith.com
I love running in the Twilight shorts and tank combo; you can’t lose. You look good, you feel good, you (almost) always run well. Tracksmith’s gear is next level, in my opinion, and the Twilight range is one of their best so far. Both the shorts and tank are super lightweight, extremely well made, and very comfortable. Like the Nathan vest, I’ve run hundreds of miles in this kit and not once had so much as a hint of chafing. Just treat it with care when it comes to washing: cold wash, no dryer.
NB FuelCell RC Elite v2
My shoe closet would suggest that 2021 has been the Year of the Shoe. The combination of training for an ultra and testing/reviewing run shoes for Triathlete and other brands in the Outside Inc. family often meant I was running in two or three different pairs of shoes every week. While there are many I’d pick for my shortlist, it’s probably the NB FuelCell RC Elites that pop out on top, largely because they get so many things right when it comes to carbon-plated shoes: speedy without being aggressively so, lightweight but supportive, comfortable yet fast. I’ve enjoyed many, many miles with these on my feet this year—and never regretted a single one.
Coros Pace 2
If you listen to our training podcast, Fitter & Faster, then you’ve probably already heard the Gear Guru and I waxing lyrically about Coros watches. The Pace 2 is a $200 watch that delivers the same/similar functionality and battery life as many watches twice its price. I’ve worn it all year, for almost every training run, and its battery life never fails to impress. While it’s very simple to use if all you’re looking for is data such as time, distance, pace, and heart rate, it’s also just as simple to dive into the deeper metrics such as power, recovery time, and sleep monitoring. While it doesn’t have navigation—and the nylon wrist strap isn’t for everyone—it’s a darn good watch that I continue to love.
RELATED: Reviewed: Coros Pace 2 Smartwatch