So you’ve decided to start or get back into running. Good for you! Yes, it’s hard as a busy parent, but now’s the fun part – the shopping!
While running may seem like an affordable sport – you don’t need really anything but the open road – you should make sure you stock up on the right gear as you’re getting started. The right pair of shoes, for example, can really make a difference in your overall running experience, so it’s better to invest from the beginning. Here’s what’s on my list, plus a few extras:
1. The right pair of sneakers. Before getting started with running you must make sure you’re wearing the right shoes. Do your feet overpronate? Or do you have flat feet? Do you need a neutral shoe? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then you should take yourself to a specialty running store (such as Fleet Feet or Second Sole), and let them tell you. They will watch you run and/or walk and from that, can tell you exactly what type of shoe or inserts you may need. Take it from me – I’ve run with the wrong shoes before, and that ended in an injury, which you don’t want.
2. Good headphones. Will you be listening to music or podcasts when you run? Then you want to invest in the right headphones, especially ones made for exercise and that can handle sweat and movement. I find that I can’t run in earbuds, but I love the feel of wireless headphones when I’m running. My personal favorite are the Powerbeats Pro – they fit my ears, don’t fall out when I’m running and are sweat and water-resistant.
3. Phone-carrying case. I do love my running gear with pockets, but I also prefer to run with my phone in my arm or hand. You can find an affordable, yet functional, phone carrying case at any running store, race expo, or even Amazon. Make sure to find one that fits the size of your phone and is also sweat resistant. I like that mine also carries my ID and a credit card, should I need it. (PSA – If you don’t carry your ID with you, you may want to check out another way to carry ID, such as Road ID)
4. The right clothing. Your first few runs you may find you’re able to get out there in an old cotton t-shirt and pair of shorts you have had since college (not that I’m speaking from experience …). But you’ll soon regret it. Wicking, sweat-resistant clothing is a must, for all seasons. This includes sports bras (for those that need one) and even high quality socks.
You’ll want to think about all seasons, too – what you wear to run outside in 70 degrees will be different from 40 degrees and 20 degrees. Plan on dressing for about 15 degrees warmer than it actually is. For example, if it’s 40 degrees out, you may start out feeling like it’s 40 degrees, but after a few minutes of running, your body heats up and it will feel like it’s closer to 55 degrees (if you were just out for a walk or sitting there). You may want to wear layers, too, until you figure out what is ideal for your body temperature. When it’s 45 degrees, I usually wear a shirt and light jacket (that I can take off) and capris. If it’s in the 50s, I wear shorts.
5. Body Glide or other anti-chafing solution. No matter your size, shape or skill level, you may experience some sort of chafing on your body. To prevent this, find an anti-chafing solution that works for you. Some people swear by Body Glide. I find that my Dove anti-perspirant is a great alternative as well.
As goofy as I look in this race photo, you can see I’m sporting some of the essentials – a running headband, GPS watch, phone-carrying case and my favorite sneakers.
Bonus: These are nice to have, but probably not necessary:
- If you have longer hair or flyaways, a running headband can help keep the hair off your face. I love Sparkly Soul headbands, they are some of the few ones that stay on my head.
- For recovery, you may want to invest in a pair of compression socks. I also love wearing these on long car rides, especially before race-cations.
- To help calculate your mileage, a GPS watch made specifically for runners can make a difference. There are free apps you can use if you just have a phone (like Map My Run or Strava), but I love my Garmin Fenix 5S. I can view my splits, record lots of different runs (my husband also records his swims and golf game on his Garmin), can program in workouts to follow, etc. It also tracks my sleep, gets my text messages, etc.
- To keep yourself accountable and motivated, a running buddy and/or community. I know this isn’t something you buy at a store, but I’ve found that running buddies –whether in-person or online – always make it easier to keep running. Find someone (or some people) to keep you motivated, offer advice, and run with you.
Running is better with friends!
Runners, what else would you add?