What’s in the Bag?

by Jean-Nicolas Carriere on September 13, 2012
This article originally appeared on Jean-Nicolas's personal website.

I was cleaning out my gym bag the other day and I thought to myself “Damn! I got a lot of stuff in here” So I thought I would share with you all what I typically carry in my bag from day to day when I’m training.

At any given time, a combination of these kicks are in my training bag

As a bobsleigh athlete i’m constantly changing footwear throughout my training. Some training days even require me to slip into all of these shoes during one training session. As a big guy I go through shoes as fast as people wear out their chap sticks, but this is one piece of equipment that is worth the investment, and you’ll quickly realize that having appropriate footwear can burn a big hole in your wallet. Oh that elusive footwear sponsor! What a glorious day it would be!

From left to right.

ADIDAS POWER LIFT TRAINER ($99.99) - These shoes are meant specifically for power lifting and Olympic style lifting. The red wedge you see as part of the sole of the shoe is a dense polymer (most olympic lifting shoes use similar style polymers or use classic wood wedges). This polymer wedge serves two purposes. 1. The wedge is normally 1″ thick, but there are some variations to the thickness between shoe styles and companies. The 1″ wedge serves to change the angle of your feet so that most of your weight is placed over the balls of your feet, this correction in weight displacement changes various angles in the foot and upwards through the legs and hips, placing your joints in a anatomically correct position which helps to recruit more muscles to help in lifting big weight! 2. The second purpose the 1″ wedge serves is to help in energy transfer from your muscles through the floor. If I were to wear normal running shoes to do a 600lbs squat (add another 245lbs for my body weight) the cushioning in a regular runner would flatten under the pressure and the shoes would become unstable under that sort of load increasing the danger of injury of rolling a ankle, or busting out a knee. These hard 1″ wedges serve to resist the compression from all that weight and also help to displace the force recruited from your muscles and transfer the energy into the ground, providing immediate response when doing explosive lifts such as the snatch or clean. I refuse to lift heavy weight without the appropriate footwear. At $99.99 these shoes are very affordable ( you can easily spend upward of $200.00 for these types of shoes) and are perfect for entry level lifters, and experienced athletes respectively.

MIZUNO WAVE CREATION 13 ($179.99) – These are hands down the best runners I’ve ever owned. These shoes are made specific for athletes who are 220 lbs+. The function of the shoes should be the number one factor taken into consideration when purchasing footwear. MIZUNO’s offer ap+ technology in the soles of their higher end shoes which is a dense, pre-compressed sole that will resist compression and warping over time. This was the biggest selling feature for me because I’m so heavy and place such a beating on my running shoes that normally 3 months after taking shoes out of the box they lose their stability and the cushioning starts to set in a eversion slope (meaning that the cushioning does not keep my feet flat to the floor, rather, there is a slope which pitches my feet so that most of the weight is placed on the outside of my soles. This is dangerous for rolling ankles, and also one of the major contributors to shin splints.) I’ve had these shoes for about 4 months now and they’re still pretty sturdy, but I only see myself getting about one more month out of them. Mind you this is pretty good considering that I wear these shoes 5-7 days a week, and spend anywhere from 5-7 hours in them while doing some pretty intense training. Make sure when buying a pair of quality runners, that you take the time to do research. Look up reviews and ratings online, and look for shoes that are appropriate for the type of activity you plan to do. It’s worth the investment to buy different style or functioning shoes for different activities you plan to do, by doing this you will increase the life span of your shoes, and you will place less stress on your joints and body.

ADIDAS BOBSLEIGH SPIKE ($300-$400.00) – Unless you are attempting to push a bobsleigh, or planning to have a footrace with Sidney Crosby in Skates you’ll never have to dish out this much cash for spikes. These shoes have roughly 400 tiny 3-4mm needle-like spikes on the forefoot of the shoe. Heel strikes while running will result in a YouTube worthy spill! These shoes are really hard to get since they are so obscure and unique to the sport of bobsleigh and sliding sports, that’s why the price is so high, and why they are almost impossible to find online. Most bobsleigh athletes have a special relationship with these shoes because basically you’re wearing knives on your feet, and when loading into a bobsleigh at 45km/h make you better make sure to point your feet or you will be tearing off a significant chunk of flesh off of your teammates’ back, bum, or legs. Chicks dig scars….

NIKE SUPERFLY R3 ($69.99-$119.99) These track spikes are made specifically to run on Mondo tracks (type of rubber). They have 9 strategically placed screw-in spikes which can vary anywhere between 5-8mm spikes with varying shapes such at the two most popular cone and christmas tree spikes. The goal of the spike cleat is to be as light as possible while being able to literally tear the ground under every step to propel you forward at blistering speeds. Most athletes wear these spikes without wearing any socks ir oder to keep the over all weight of the spike low, and also to provide the tightest possible fit. This makes for a somewhat uncomfortable shoe that is the main source of stench emanating from our training bags. Again, track spikes are made with all sorts specific functional goals, so research the shoes and make sure you pick out the right spike for the right event. Heptathlon athletes (Athletes that participate in a points based competition in 7 different track and field events) will normally have 4-5 different sets of track spikes for each discipline they participate in. As for me, these are awesome spikes for what I do. They have a very rigid foot plate, which is great in transferring all my mass and energy into the ground. I only do sprints up to 60m so these are great for pure strength and power events such as the 100m. Don’t even think of running a mid distance event in these, unless you like the feeling of stress fractures or plantar fasciatis.

So as you can see, shoes aren’t just shoes, maybe if you’re looking at casual shoes, but even then you wouldn’t go hiking with stilettos would you? Same idea here, the differences in the shoes are many so make sure to do your research. Pick a shoe first on its functional aspects and then, and only then start to think if they will be matching with pieces from your wardrobe.

ATHLETE TIP: I get a lot of my footwear from EASTBAY.COM it’s a great site for footwear and athletic clothing at discounted prices. Combine coupons found at RETAILMENOT.COM at checkout and you can usually save about 20% off of the retail shoe price found in stores!

Piece by piece this is what I found in my bag, they made the short list out of necessity.

This stuff is indispensable if you’re planning to take your training to another level! I know there’s a lot of stuff in this photo so I’ll try to go through the items from left to right.

LIFTING STRAPS ($10-$20) – These are very useful while lifting heavy heavy weight. These provide the grip if your forearm strength isn’t enough to keep with with your other muscles. I don’t normally wear them for olympic lifts because they restrict wrist mobility somewhat, but I’ll definitely use them for a power lift such as a deadlift. I have two styles here, Olympic style which is a closed loop with a short length of material to wrap the bar, giving you the ability to release the bar quickly and without danger if needed. the powerlifting style are usually have a longer length of material that you loop through a small eyelet and then around the bar a few times. This locks the bar in quite tightly, use with caution if using these during Olympic lifts as they are slower to release. These straps are generally made out of cotton, or leather. A great site for some of this gear isMUSCLEDRIVERCAN.COM, they provide great prices for quality products, awesome shipping time too!

TIGER TAIL (THE STICK) ($20-$50) – This is a great tool that most athletes have in their bags. It is essentially a muscle rolling pin, but instead of rolling dough, it is used to loosen up the fascia (small sheath surrounding the muscle) from the muscles. It’s a great tool to keep your muscles from getting tight,  improving mobility, and reducing aches in pains after long workouts. This item can be found at the RunningRoom or online for a fraction of the price.

MASSAGE BALLS ($2-$5) – You can get these anywhere, and they are great at addressing areas that the stick cannot get to. Same basic principle as the stick. Having different sized or density balls are great, depending on different sites requires various amounts of pressure.

EPSOM SALTS ($8-$12) - You don’t necessarily need to carry this in your training bag, but it just so happens that my training center at the Canadian Olympic Park has recovery tubs so I can get a good soak after training. Depending on the training schedule, baths will vary from Contrast (Going from a hot tub to a cold tube, with about 1:30 minute intervals anywhere between 4-5 cycles, meant to improve regeneration of muscles ), a strict Cold Bath (10 minutes in 5 degree cold tube, meant to reduce inflammation and improve recovery), and finally a strict 15-20 minute Hot Tub (meant to relax the muscles and the mind, normally done after a training session which is set before an off-day) I don’t really know what Epsom Salts do exactly, but I get these Eucalyptus scented salts which makes me a very popular bathtub partner at the BNTC! (Bob Niven Training Centre) Seriously, people will fight over who gets to tub with me when I use these! Can be purchased anywhere, but I get them from Shoppers Drugmart.

HEAT CREAM ($10-$20) – I’ve got two kinds in my bag. Tiger Balm (small little container with gold lid) which is a mild icy-hot type cream for those small aches and pains. It can also be used to relieve joint soreness by applying before or after a workout. When my body is aching and screaming I use Red HOT (blue and white squeeze tube) to help warm my body up and eleviate some of those aches and pains to help get myself in the right mindset for training. Red HOT is HOOOOOT! This cream is strictly for the experienced users, this stuff is long lasting, and will even leave your skin red from the heat! That’s why its set in front of a pack of latex gloves from application purposes!

ENERGY DRINKS ($2-$3) – The only drink I have during my training days is provided to me by my awesome sponsor Mixed in with my BCAA’s, Glutamine, and Creatine in my Nalgene Bottle ($15) It’s an amazing all natural energy drink filled with vitamins and herbal supplements that boosts not only your energy but your immune system as well! It also serves as an electrolyte drink to help prevent cramping during bouts of exercise! You can visit the website and order a trial pack absolutely free if you like! And if you are up to buy a 10pack you can use my promo code to get free shipping (PROMO CODE: MR2S) But sometimes QErnergy just isn’t enough to get fired up for a big push in the ice house, so rockin’ a RedBull is always a great way to increase your awareness and energy levels from 70% to a Bagillion!

FOR THE PAIN ($12-$18) – I’ve gotten into the habit of taking one Advil per day either in the morning or in the evening to remedy some aches and pains from training. It’s always a good idea to carry these around with you. Another great over the counter pain reliever to have (just in case) is a box of Extra Stregth Robaxicet! When you are lifting big weights and your muscles get really tight you are treading dangerous territory; you seem to be always on the verge of tweaking something. It’s happened to me a few times and Robaxicet is a great product to loosen your muscles up and keep you either from tweaking, or help you on the road to a speedy recovery.

MUSIC ($49-$100) – This is a must in any athlete’s bag. I don’t normally listen to music when I work out but on testing days I throw in some earphones and get fired up with some sweet classics from Whitey Houston…… ughhhhh I mean the Black Keys, but seriously….. The Black Keys are my favorite band. Some people use their iphones, but I prefer a small ipod because its less intrusive and I can concentrate on what i’m doing.

ATHLETIC TAPE ($2-$3) – Always a great idea to carry a roll of 1″ athletic tape in your bag. I normally tape up my thumbs and pinkies when I’m doing Olympic lifts. Hopefully you don’t tear off calices, but if you ever do, just throw some tape on it and keep working out! Suck it up bud!

TRAVEL BODY WASH ($2) - A great place to find travel size body wash is at a dollar store, it’s way better than carrying a full sized bottle in your bag just waiting to be squished and leaving your gear sticky and smelling like MORNING RUSH! Keep it clean, that’s all i’m saying.

GLOVES ($20-$60) – Some guys like to wear gloves to work out to prevent blisters or tearing calices, but I like having the bar in my bare hands. I have a couple pairs of gloves with a sticky palm (usually football gloves) when I push in the ice house. When I push from the breaks, I like to have my hands bare so I have an easier time making the hand transition portion of the “hit”, but when I’m pushing from the side I like to wear gloves just so my hands don’t slip off. But this isn’t a full proof plan! Last week I was doing a combo push with Jesse Lumsden (left) and me on the right, and I was supposed to get in second after him. We were moving along at around 44km/h when in the middle of Jesse’s load, my left hand slipped off the push bar and I bit it real hard. I’d compare it to jumping out of a moving car. Wasn’t the most pleasant of feelings, I ended up sliding down the ice house for about another 20 meters before I came to a stop, bruised, shaken and cut up pretty good.

WEIGHT BELT ($20-$80) – These belts are a must for anyone thinking of lifting heavy weight. I normally wont use it for anything under 300lbs, but for the heavier stuff you can be sure I’m strapped up. A weight lifting belt just helps to increase the rigidity of your core, and helps to keep your back straight byt tightening up your abdomen and diaphragm. Weight belts come in all shapes and sizes, I typically use a Large Herbinger polyester 5″ wide weight belt because I have a pretty long torso, but lately I’ve been trying some teammates’ leather weight belts which typically are a little more snug and fail proof. I might invest a little later on in a leather belt. These can be found online, but I ordered mine from BODYBUILDING.COM, they have a great selection and pretty low prices.

RX JUMP ROPE ($45) – This is a sweet rope! Its made for speed and is fully customizable. The lengths of rope are made from a dipped wire so you can get them in different thicknesses and colors. Also when you order them online, you get them precision cut to match your height. This is a great tool to get warmed up before your workout! RXJUMPROPES.COM 

A FORK FOR FOOD (Really?) – This is just smart. Always keep a fork in your bag because you never know when it might come in handy. I have an eating problem….

I forgot two items, A travel size roller, which is a bigger version of a stick. Think of a 4-5″ piece of PVC pipe used for plumbing. You basically roll your body parts over this roller to massage your muscles after a tough workout. I ran out of Chalk so I don’t have any the picture but this is really important to have when training. I don’t use gloves, and my hands tend to get pretty sweaty so having chalk just increases a good grip on a heavy bar.

That’s pretty much it. I know it’s a pretty long list, but hopefully if you’ve always wondered why athletes carry around such big bags, you finally have an answer. Hope your enjoyed.


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