The Keys to Running: Running Accessories

“Where does he get those wonderful toys?”

Let’s face it… geeks like love toys! From gadgets to video games, when a geek immerses himself in a hobby it is usually accompanied by a plethora of cool and cutting edge accessories. So here are all the running accessories I use when running. It might seem like a lot for someone who advocates “just get out and run!!!” but the setup is trivial, and nothing here is intrusive or distracting from the joy of putting feet to pavement.

Toys for Tracking Workouts

Running Accessories - Nike+ SportbandNike+ Sportband – The Nike+ Sportband is a very functional, lightweight wristband/watch that communicates with the Nike+ sensor, and tracks distance, calories, and pace, and you can save that data to the Nike+ web site, which will track each and every workout. I love this thing because it has everything I need without getting in the way. It’s a nice first step into the world of running technology as its functions are simple, and starting and stopping are as easy as holding the button down!

The obvious omission from something like this is the lack of GPS functionality. As I have relatively few routes that I know well, the added benefits of GPS don’t help a whole lot for me. I generally don’t map my runs, and the few that I do have interest in I can create manually. It would be a great nice-to-have feature, but not something I need at the moment.

(Check them out here on

Running Accessories - Nike+ Sensor KitNike+ Sensor – The is the sensor that communicates with the Nike+ Sportband. This little nugget gets inserted into the sole of your Nike+ shoes, or can be affixed with various pouches or clips that fasten it to your non-Nike running shoes. This sensor measures a ton of data points for you including your pace, distance, time elapsed and calories burned.  This cool little piece of technology sends this data to the Nike+ Sportband and it also works other Nike+ devices, including the Nike+ Sports Watch. It will also integrate with various iPod nanos and iPhones with an additional receiver as well.

All in all it is an inexpensive must have.

(Check it out here on

Marware Sportsuit Sensor Case for Nike+ – That’s a long, long name for what is essentially a pouch for a Nike+ sensor. Since I don’t run in Nike shoes, I need some other way to attach the sensor; so this little pouch secures the Nike+ sensor to my shoes, through the laces.  This is just one type of pouch, there are many others to choose from.

(Check it out here on

Nike+ Website – Not necessarily a running toy, but a great running accessory nonetheless. After a workout, all that accumulated data is sent to the Nike+ website, where you can see your historical data, identify what points in your run were fast or slow, track your time and distance, and set goals for yourself.  There are community and social aspects as well, if you want to post or tweet about how awesome you are!

Toys for Tunes

Running Accessories - iPod NanoiPod nano – The sixth generation is unique among all iPod nano models as it has a clip like the iPod shuffle. I definitely prefer this over wearing a cumbersome armband.  It clips on the waistband of my running shorts, and adds no bulk or weight at all!

Additionally, you can use the included Nike+ features of the iPod nano to track your distance. It relies on the built-in accelerometer to track your stride and cadence, instead of a Nike+ shoe sensor. In other words, you could use this instead of the Sportband and sensor combo if you so desire. I have found that it is slightly less accurate with tracking distance than using the Sportband and sensor, and it has on occasion just unexpectedly stopped in the middle of a run. For those reasons, I rely on the Sportband and sensor.

It also serves as a pedometer, a watch (if that’s your thing), and relies on the older 30-pin connector, now built-in to a lot of cardio machines at the gym.

(Check it out here on

Running Accessories - Sony MDR J10 HeadphonesSony MDR-J10 H.Ear Headphones – These are inexpensive and utilitarian headphones.  They clip over your ear, and the speakers rest in your ear without forming a seal like in-ear headphones while delivering decent sound. Honestly, I like these because they are really inexpensive and easily replaceable.  I have worn out one pair due to wear and tear, but considering the abuse these headphones take, I don’t mind replacing them every few years. They rest partially in your ear and they allow for listening to music but also do not prevent you from hearing sounds around you such as cars, bicyclists, and other runners.  Remember, safety first!

You’re not be overly impressed with the sound quality; bass is not particularly strong, and these don’t compete with in-ear headphones in terms of sound fidelity. Why I think these are the way to go is because the over-the-ear clip keeps them in place; these are not going to fall out!  The cord length seems perfect for a music player clipped on at your waist, but probably too long if your music player is strapped to your arm.  Also, the length of the cord and the shape of the headphones cause them to get tangled up badly. Every. Single. Time. You want to use them.

(Check it out here on


Don’t forget that these running accessories are all secondary to the simple act of running itself.  You don’t need any of the things listed above to get moving or to enjoy a workout! I am a data junkie, so I love looking at performance trends that Nike+ or Runkeeper can provide.  Stats such as “was my average pace faster this year compared to last year”, or “did I run more miles in May compared to April” motivate me to do more and improve instead of just maintaining.

So let us know what you consider essential running accessories in the comments below!

Brian Kehs

About the Author: Brian Kehs is a husband, father of two, a runner, and a manager in IT. In addition to running, Brian is an avid Star Wars fan boy who thinks Neil Gaiman’s Sandman may be the best literature out there. He regularly run 5Ks, 10Ks, 10-milers and half marathons. In his free time he coaches an elementary school running club.

Editor’s Note – If you are considering adding any of the above accessories to your runner’s utility belt please click on the links above and purchase from Amazon to help support this site so we can continue to bring you fitness tips, healthy diet advice and all around geeky goodness. Thanks for your support!

3 replies
  1. jilliannr
    jilliannr says:

    favorite running accessory for me currently is mapmyrun + from the ap store. you can get it for free with ads but it was totally worth the 1.99 .

    it tracks everything from pace, elevation, routes, distance, all through your phone’s gps and it give you audible feedback as you run. I love it.

  2. bdkehs
    bdkehs says:

    I have heard a lot of really great things about MapMyRun. I know a lot of people who use it and love it, but I have not yet had the chance to try it out. At some point I need to use a smart phone and an app instead of just the sports band and sensor.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] track your location as you run; the second receiver is used to talk to the Nike+ sensor (which we talked about here), a device that you can insert into your Nike+ shoes that is useful for tracking running data […]

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