In the event that you decided to start a running routine, I wanted to share with you some of the gear that I’ve found most useful. Thankfully, running is one of the least expensive sports to get hooked on, but there are still some modifications that need to be made, particularly with regard to the weather. In the post below, light gray font indicates that I’ve included a hyperlink that will take you to the website of the particular gear that I’m describing. Just consider me your own personal product tester. Alright, let’s get started.
1. Shoes. First and foremost, you really do need to get outfitted with shoes that work with your feet. The absolute best way to do this is to go to a running store and allow them to pick them for you. If you don’t know of one in your area, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to find one for you. By the way, you don’t need to purchase the shoes from that running store – simply make note of the make and model that they put you in and then find the best price on the Internet. And in case you are worried about them trying to put you in the most expensive shoes out there, I’ve been to three different specialty stores (in Ft. Lauderdale, in Tallahassee and in Asheville) and in my experience that has not been the case. I’m in the New Balance 859s and my brother is in a pair of Brooks, both of which retain for under $100. I usually find mine online for about $50 a pair.
One thing to note about running shoes is that they only last about 300-400 miles before the internal structure starts to breakdown. I thought that this was just something they said in order to sell more shoes, but whenever my ankle pain kicks in, I realize that I’ve maxed out the mileage on that pair and it’s time for a new one. Also, you may need to purchase separate insoles for your shoes depending on your pronation. I won’t go into over pronation and under pronation here, but they can detect it immediately when you stand before the specialist barefoot at the running store.
2. Socks. You need a sock that has cushioning on the toes and on the heel (trust me, your battered toes will thank you), but that are also made of wool so that they whisk the moisture away from your feet, thus preventing blisters. I have run for hundreds and hundreds of miles and the single time that I got blisters, it was due to running a half marathon in the rain. In other words, running-specific socks are all that they’re cracked up to be. My brother and I both like these Thorlo socks. They’re comfortable, functional and last forever. I bought 3 pairs a year ago when we began our marathon training and they’re still good as new.
3. Sports Bra. Obviously, this is for the ladies here. As I’m sure that you’re uber aware of already, it is imperative that you have good support. Regardless of your size, you can find a comfortable and supportive sports bra. I have three different ones that I use. This Champion Action Shape sports bra is by far my favorite and the one that I wear in every race. Make sure you order from a website that has easy returns and exchanges because it definitely took me a number of failures to find some that worked. If it’s any help, all of mine are made by Champion.
***Edited to add*** Since I’ve been nursing Lexi, my Champion sports bras have not been cutting it and that’s primarily because they don’t, err, fit. Not by a long shot. As a result, I’ve invested in the Moving Comfort Maia Sports Bra and it is incredible. I really was questioning whether I would be able to run with my current…assets, but this sports bra definitely does a great job of minimizing discomfort and bounce.
4. Clothing. For this one, I want to break down the clothes that I wear on the basis of the outside temperature. If you aren’t currently a runner, this list is going to make it look like I’m seriously under dressed, but trust me, you will get hot fast and in my opinion, it is better to be cold in the start than overheating for the next 5 miles.
60+ degrees: If it’s at least 60 degrees outside, I almost always train in a cotton tank top and running shorts. I stock up on Target’s long and lean tank tops and use them for everything – running, sleeping, running around town. The reason that tank tops are great for running is that they’re fitted and leave your arms free to move. There is nothing worse than running in a t-shirt, which sticks to you in certain spots when you start to sweat and rubs your arms as you move. Yuck.
For shorts, I’m partial to low-rise shorts that sit on my hips. I don’t like the feel of shorts on my belly. Quite frankly, I don’t like to feel like I’m wearing shorts at all. These Sugoi’s are great as are the Nike Tempo Track shorts. Your local running store is a good place to try them on. Some good features to look for are a key pocket (usually sewn into the front waistband) and if you’re going to race in them, additional back pockets are great additions.
50-59 degrees: When it’s in the 50s, I usually trade in my cotton tank for a fitted shirt with sleeves made out of a wicking material, like this one from Nike. While you’ll still heat up fairly quickly, you want to make sure that your skin isn’t getting wet and the wicking shirt definitely prevents that. If it’s sunny out, I’ll stick with my running shorts, but if I’m running in the dark, I usually opt for fitted capris like these Nike ones. (P.S. I am in no way affiliated with Nike – well, beyond using their slogan as my mantra – I just happen to find that their apparel fits me well).
40-49 degrees: When it dips into the 40s, I usually stick with my capris, but I trade my top in from a short-sleeved one to a long sleeved one made out of the same material. Usually, I’ll add in ear warmers like these by Mountain Hardwear, which are just a fleece headband that wraps around your entire head. It is amazing what a difference these make! If it’s closer to 40 degrees and it’s dark, I’ll also throw on a pair of glove liners.
30-39 degrees: Now we’re getting to the chilly temps. If it’s during the day time and sunny, I’ll dress the same way that I did for 40 and dark above. (Am I confusing you yet?) If it’s closer to 30 degrees and dark, I’m trading my glove liners for fleece-lined mittens and I’m throwing a light jacket over my long-sleeved wicking shirt. My favorite running jacket is actually one made by Champion that you can find at Target. Whatever jacket you choose, you want it to be snug to hold in body heat. I wore this one all the time on those cold Tallahassee mornings during the marathon training. Again, as long as your ears and your hands are warm, your body will heat up just fine.
Under 30 degrees: I made 3 awesome purchases for when it’s in the 20s that have kept me amazingly warm during the cold, dark mornings. The first of which was this compression shirt by Under Armour. This shirt, which doesn’t look like it should keep you warm, has overheated me on many a 30-degree morning. It is amazingly warm, particularly when I pair it with these Mountain Hardwear fleece running pants. In fact, I’m wearing them right now because it’s chilly in my house and they’re incredibly comfortable. Finally, I added a neck gaiter, which sits around your neck like a loose tube of fleece, but that you can pull up over your nose and mouth. Again, extremely effective.
If it’s drizzling, my only modification is adding a hat to keep the water out of my eyes.
On very sunny days, sunglasses are a must. I bought these Native Silencers right before the marathon and they are awesome! They are virtually weightless and as an added bonus, they sit on my head without moving in the event that I start running in the dark or clouds move it. Worth every penny.
I usually keep bottles of water at my car or I drop them off at 3-5 mile intervals around the loop that I plan to run. I promise, no one will touch a random bottle of water propped against a tree. The only other things that I ever have with me are tissues (which I either tuck up my sleeve or leave with the water) and packets of Gu energy gel (tucked into the back pocket of my shorts) I use Gu for runs that are upwards of 8 miles and I usually consume a packet every 5 miles or so. Gu is kind of like a concentrated Gatorade that provides you with sugar, sodium and caffeine (if you pick a flavor that includes it). When you feel your energy waning, it definitely gives you an extra little kick.
Well, that’s it. All of my running gear knowledge. Best of luck in your endeavor and God speed.