You may have heard that one of the fantastic things about running is that you can do it anywhere & you don’t need much gear to do it! This is true. On the other hand, you’ve probably seen #runnersofig all dressed up and taking selfies in the latest and greatest gear. Now that we have shoes covered, here’s the skinny on what you need versus what you don’t need, in order of importance.
MUST HAVES – sports bra, socks & a watch
Sports Bra – depending on the size of your breasts, you may want to invest in a sports bra designed specifically for running. It’s important to keep the girls supported. Run-specific sports bras typically have more support than sports bras designed for yoga or athliesure 😉 Here are my recommendations:
- Breastfeeding / large breasts: Moving Comfort Women’s Juno Bra
- Small breasts: Prioritize comfortable and stability (no slipping or rubbing). I’m currently obsessed with a Lululemon bra that isn’t available online, but if you’re on a budget, pick up a Champion Sports Bra for $10. Just ensure the material is a synthetic one that wicks sweat away, not cotton.
Socks – believe it or not, run-specific socks can make a big difference in your comfort while running. It may make sense to try a few different kinds while you’re shoe shopping. My favorite brand is Balega. Their Blister Resist Running Socks are pretty awesome. Run socks will run you anywhere from $6 to $12 a pair.
Watch – You definitely need one, but you don’t need to start off with a GPS enabled $300 model. The benefit of a watch is simple – you know your average pace per mile. And if you get a watch that tracks GPS, you don’t have to plot your course before or after to obtain the mileage. If you get one that measures heart rate, you can begin to understand how hard you are working and train deliberately at specific effort levels. This will come later.
- If your budget is limited, I’d recommend picking up one of these Ironman sports watches for just over $20. They’re virtually indestructible. Alternatively, you can use an app, like MapMyRun, on your phone. Before kids I never ran with my phone. Now, I bring it sometimes in case there’s an emergency. Even when I have it with me, I usually tuck it away. Holding it in your hand can impact your form. Plus, I find that a watch is easier to access during a workout. If you opt for this, you can either use gmaps pedometer to plot out your course or your phone.
- If budget isn’t an issue (and running is your focus – not triathlon) the Garmin Forerunner 235 is amazing. It is GPS enabled, tracks heartrate and has about a million other cool features!
NICE TO HAVE – Hat, Run-specific apparel, apparatus to carry stuff
Hat: these are important because they protect you from the sun. For warm weather, choose a light-weight hat or visor. I also usually choose a light color so that my head doesn’t soak up too much sun. I have one from Brooks that I love. This Nike Hat is also good.
Tops: You can toss on a cotton t-shirt for your first few runs, however, once you start getting serious about the sport, it makes sense to invest in tops made from synthetic materials that don’t get heavy when you sweat. In my opinion, run tops are a matter of personal preference. Here are a few considerations for when you shop for them:
- Do you prefer your shoulders covered? Or not? I prefer not to have fabric on my shoulders, however, some women chafe on the inside of their arms when they wear tank tops. Plus, sleeves gives you more protection from the sun.
- What is the appropriate length? Will this top ride up? I like mine long, but if they are long and tight, they tend to shimmy up my body as a run. No bueno.
- How loose-fitting do you like your tops? Run singlets and t-shirts tend to be looser. I like tighter fitting tops. I find that I actually feel them less once I get going. I have these Lululemon Cool Racerback tanks in a number of colors as well as this Swiftly Tech top, which comes in long, short and no sleeves (tank).
Bottoms: There are several options here depending on your body type. If your thighs tend to rub together when you run, opt for tight-fitting bottoms, like capris or “spandex” shorts to minimize chafing. If you have loose belly skin from your pregnancies, choosing a high-waisted version is a good idea. If you don’t typically experience chafing, a run short should be fine for you. These all contain liners so there’s no need to wear underwear underneath, though you can if you want to!
- Budget shorts: Nike Tempo Shorts are great and you can typically find them for less than $30 each.
- Splurge: Oiselle Distance Shorts are so comfortable!
Apparatus for carrying stuff: I love the SPI Belt because it is super minimal, but expands to fit your phone, nutrition, cash, etc. Also, it doesn’t bounce around while you run.
Sidenote: If you’re running in an area where you don’t feel 100% safe, invest in pepper spray, and always carry your phone – OR – opt to stay inside on the treadmill. No run is worth risking your safety.
JUST FOR FUN
Apparatus for hydration: Yes! Hydration is fun. But really, what happens to your body when you’re dehydrated is NOT fun so drink up. The Nathan Hydration Belt is great for when you start running longer if you’re on a course that doesn’t have water fountains. I usually don’t bring mine on runs that are less than 60 minutes.
Headphones: Some days you have to run with music. On those days, I opt for Sony Active Sport Headphones for $15.
And really just for fun – Rundies!!
P.S. Don’t forget the sunscreen – Blue Lizard is the best.
Have you been running already? If so, what’s your favorite piece of gear for running? Why?