When you’re out for a run, you shouldn’t have to concentrate on your running gear. Your run isn’t going to be fun if your socks are chafing your feet and your shirt is stuck to your chest from sweat.
Good socks that wick the moisture away to go along with the best running shoes will keep you focused. Just like anything else you undertake, having the essential running gear makes your runs better, more productive, and more enjoyable.
When you first start, it is best to stick to the basics and add gear as you add miles. But what are the basics?
Essential Running Gear for Beginners
Good running gear helps ensure safety and comfort, whether you’re an expert runner or just starting out. While it’s tempting for beginners to just put in the miles in whatever workout clothes you have handy, investing in some dedicated gear can make all the difference in terms of comfort and enjoyment.
Injury from running is a real possibility. Many more experienced runners would rather not train without the bare essentials. Beginning with everything you need, whether it’s shoes, clothes, or a pair of sunglasses, just makes sense.
Running shoes are going to make or break your efforts, so they are probably the most important piece of running gear you’ll have.
My own thoughts on beginner’s shoes are to just start out with a name-brand shoe that feels great.
Do not buy footwear in the morning or at the beginning of your day. Your feet will expand as the day goes on by about 4%. So if you buy them in the morning, they could be too small that night.
- You want to be sure your foot has a little room between your toes and the end of the shoe with the same or same weight socks you’ll be wearing when you run.
- Try to get them almost the width of your thumb across your nail longer than your foot.
Road Running Shoes to Start Out With
This post is primarily about running on roads, tracks, or treadmills and not on trails, so we’re talking about running shoes for roads, tracks, or treadmills.
And to tell you the truth, there are many more choices than running shoes for the trails. That means buying a pair can be overwhelming for beginners.
You may be thinking of wearing your trusty sneakers out on the road. Although at first glance, this may seem like a decent plan, you should know that they are not made for running.
Road running shoes are made for the road and give your feet the most comfort and support. They offer support underfoot, making them ideal for activities involving repeated heel-to-toe motions.
Good running shoes are made so that the outside edges of the foot are stable and comfortable while you run. Because exercise involves a lot of side-to-side movement, they are made with extra support on the sides.
Most people who try getting by with an old pair of gym sneakers wind up with shin splints and sore feet. So, go ahead and take the plunge for a real pair of running shoes.
Finding the best shoes comes with experience and trial and error. So, look for a good shoe that will give your foot room to move a little from back to front and that you can lace up to fit firmly but not too tightly from side to side.
Old Shoes are Bad News.
Old shoes lose the ability to absorb shock and keep your feet and ankles stable, which in turn stresses ankles, knees, and hip joints. Shop around for a decent pair that:
- Has the same general shape of your foot
- Your heel doesn’t slip around in and allows your ankle to move comfortably
- A sole that flexes with your foot (you do not want shoe soles that are stiff and unbending)
Trail Running Shoes
Trail running shoes are made for trails and are different from what you should be using on streets and treadmills.
Trails need your feet to be protected against harmful objects like rocks and roots by a combination of internal and exterior features. The material in the upper is tough and can better bear wear and tear.
They are designed to limit the amount of forward motion your feet can experience while wearing them. Furthermore, pronation control is not a major factor in trail running because of the shorter, more varied stride required to land on ideal ground.
Good Running Socks Are A Must
For your first pair of shoes, look for comfortable, premium material, adequate support and cushioning that feels right for you.
To tell you the truth, I ran for years with whatever socks happened to be handy when I reached for them. I might have a pair of ankle socks one day and calf socks rolled down to my ankle the next?
Don’t do that!
Quality socks are essential to run in.
Low-cut compression socks will make all the difference in the world. They will add support to your muscles and increase the blood flow to your feet.
The best running socks will give you more endurance because they improve the oxygen flow through your legs and feet, so they are worth it.
You should expect good running socks to:
- Wick away moisture
- Hold down odor and fungus from exercising your feet for long periods of time
- Reduce fatigue and soreness
- Be soft and comfortable
I would definitely consider good socks made for compression and support to be part of the original running gear for any beginner.
Sports Bras Make Running More Comfortable
You should know right away that I’m not a woman. However, having been around women all my life, including women runners and athletes for a good part of it, I know a sports bra is crucial gear for women.
In fact, a sports bra is a must for some women.
All of my information about bras comes from women who have run without them, and now advise me they would never dream of running in anything other than a sports bra.
I am advised that you do not want to get into jogging thinking your boobs flopping around is just part of the drill?
That’s about all I have to say about running with that piece of basic running apparel for women, other than that, a running outfit should be as comfortable as possible.
Running Apparel for the Winter
Fall is just setting in as I’m writing this, and it won’t be long before the days are cold. Paying attention to the best clothing articles to wear when you start running will help make it a natural part of your life.
Running in the cold and rain (up to a point) is just part of the drill for many of us. However, there are a few things beginners tend to overlook when it comes to cold weather, like:
- You’ll want to add about 10 – 20 degrees to actual temperature when you decide what to wear on cold days. You’ll find out quick enough that you will start out cold — but your body quickly warms itself up leaving you with too much running clothing.
- When the temperature starts dropping below 50 degrees start thinking about tights, gloves, a headband or skull cap, and sleeves.
- Most people wear warmer shirts and start adding thermal wear and running tights to the mix when it gets in the 30s.
- Before the temp gets in the 30s and sometimes lower, I am still running in shorts with T-shirts and a sweatshirt most days.
Layering on cold days is a real plus for a couple of reasons:
- Layering your clothes is usually warmer than one piece of heavier clothing
- As you warm up it’s easy to start shedding layers. You’ll learn to tie shed clothing articles around your waist and shoulders as your body warms.
Of course, with a good treadmill or other cardio pieces in your home, you won’t need to battle the elements at all.
Dealing With Sweat On A RunIt won’t take you long to realize that the best clothes to run in are often synthetic fibers because they are able to wick the sweat off your body, into your clothes and then evaporate into the atmosphere.
The thing about cotton clothes for running is that they stick to your body during a workout.When that happens the rough cotton fibers start scratching, chaffing, and making raw places.
If you run, you will sweat.
One thing I’ve learned about dealing with sweat is that the more conditioned your body becomes to running — the more you will sweat!
As your body learns what you’re up it starts to sweat quicker. Your body becomes more efficient at cooling itself than when you first started.
What that means to you is that the further you progress into a regular routine, the more serious attention you give to your clothes.
And don’t forget, you will likely sweat summer and winter.
Storing Clothes You Take Off On A Run
The thing about layering on cold days is that I always start out with more on than I wind up with. Even though it might not be essential, a good backpack for running is a great way to take care of that extra garb.
On my long days, I usually wear a very light backpack with a bottle of water, my wallet, and keys, summer or winter. If I don’t have it along, I wind up hiding keys, and having shirts and sweaters tied around my waist and shoulders by the time I finish.
Here’s why I consider a stopwatch essential running gear, just like my running shoes. I can set it for how long I want to run prior to starting out and clear my mind of looking at my watch, or wondering how long it’s been.
Sometimes I know the route I will take, and time isn’t a factor at all, other times I take a different route, want to add to it, or to get to the office by a certain time. In any case, you can get a very inexpensive watch with a stopwatch function.
If you don’t want a wristwatch, you can get a stopwatch to either wear around your neck, or carry in a pocket? Either way, for just a few bucks, you’ll find it a great piece of equipment.
Sun Shades for a Run
Unless you are running at night, you will find yourself squinting from either the glare or just facing the sun.
If you’re jogging for 40 minutes to an hour most days, 2 or three times that on the weekends, you might as well make life as comfortable as possible, right?
The sky’s the limit when it comes to how much a pair of sunshades will cost, but you can pick up a decent pair of wrap-around shades for just a few bucks and save your eyes, and maybe a headache?
Not me, but it generally looks like I’m the only runner without earbuds these days.
Personally, I expect a run to clear my head of all the collected garbage and noise, destress me, and leave me rather empty when I’m finished — most days?
When I do want to listen to either music or some motivational something or the other, I can tell you these are the best bluetooth headphones I’ve used.
I know, I know, they aren’t the name brand earbuds people spend a ton on for bragging rights. However, these earbuds stay in my ears quite comfortably with great sound for a fraction of the cost of most others of the same quality.
I use them when I’m in the mood, running or sitting in the library, but you will need to decide for yourself if headphones are an essential part of your own running.
What Are You Doing With Your iPhone?
Are you still carrying your phone in your hand while you run? There are two things that amaze me about that: 1) how inexpensive phone armbands are 2) that people are still carrying their phone or sticking it in their waistband. Given the price of an iPhone in comparison to an armband that protects it from falling and gets it out the way, I am amazed.
Not only are phone armbands inexpensive and provide a handy place to keep your phone, most now provide storage pockets and something florescent on them for added safety when it’s dark.
Of course, a lot of the gear you use will depend on your own budget, the climate of your area, and what time you run. You’ll also have to take into consideration your own goals and just how dedicated you’ll be to the activity.
For instance, if you’re only trying to lose weight and you belong to a gym, you might not need to invest in winter tights or cold weather gear?
You could get your cardio in on a stationary bike, a treadmill, or a rowing machine, right?
On the other hand, if you run outside and are quite serious about your running, you will probably need good winter gear, especially if you live in a cold climate.
Let’s face it: essential running gear for beginners is really a good pair of running shoes and socks, and most any loose clothing that won’t chafe and bind.
In my own experience, these just make up the basic running kit to making your running comfortable and satisfying. Whether you think of beginning to run for long term exercise and cardio or just long enough to lose a few pounds — get good shoes, socks, sports bra (if applicable), and stay warm.
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