When getting started with running, it can be tempting to get carried away by bloggers and retailers recommending long lists of gear and gadgets that will make you a better, faster, more efficient runner. But the big secret is most of that stuff is completely non-essential. In fact, the list of things you really need to run is minimal.
Here are the essentials:
- Excellent shoes. If there’s one thing any experienced runner would tell their beginner selves, it is to take the time to select the right shoes for their feet and running gait. Too many beginner runners make the mistake of running in cheap or ill-fitting shoes and end up with painful, easily avoidable injuries. Instead, take the time to go to a specialty running store and get a professional fitting. This is a one-time cost that will save you much mental and financial strain later on, not to mention will make buying running shoes a breeze for the majority of your running career.
- Dedicated running clothes. Running clothes will prevent you getting uncomfortable on your run because your clothes are damp, chafing, too loose, or too tight. At the very least, buy a couple of pairs of running socks (yes, these are pricey compared to normal socks, but trust me that you’d rather have the expense than blisters!), and pick a pair of running pants you find comfortable. These are the most common (and very easily avoidable) sources of irritation for runners. (Psst: Here are some ways to save money on the gear.)
- A method to carry your keys. Lastly, you can usually pick up a wristband with a little pocket in it for $5 or less at any shop that sells workout clothing. Some running clothes also come with built-in tiny pockets that hold your keys in safely. Whatever your method, take a bit of time to consider how you will carry your keys, because nothing is as annoying as having to tie them to your shoe or carry them in a loose pocket and having them poke you or jingle for the entire duration of your run.
A some useful nonessentials that can improve your experience:
- An excellent sports bra. For women runners, it can be tempting to skimp on the cost of a sports bra, as a good one can be quite a pricey commitment when you’re first starting out. But the pleasure of running with a well-fitting, supportive sports bra compared to an ill-fitting, weak one, is truly immeasurable. Take the time to pick out a good one and it will last you a long time.
- One piece of good rain gear (in rainy climates). There’s nothing that will throw your training off the rails as much as avoidance of slightly-imperfect weather. While nobody should be expected to go out in a downpour, a drizzly day should not be a deterrent to a good run. All you need is a piece of clothing that will remove the annoyance and discomfort, whether that’s a wind-proof, water-proof jacket, or a hat that keeps your face dry.
- A way to track your progress. One of the best ways for new runners to stay motivated is to note how quickly they improve with regular practice. Whether it’s a training group, a log-book, or an automated tool like the WalkJogRun app, any way that you can use to keep track of your progress will be incredibly beneficial to helping you stick with your running habit.
Written by Varia Makagonova.